Running in Costa Rica

“Therefore since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us rid ourselves of every burden and sin that clings to us and persevere in running the race that lies before us, while keeping our eyes fixed on Jesus, the leader and perfecter of our faith.”
Hebrews 12:1-2

This past fall while at Intake ( our 4 month missionary training ) I was challenged by some friends to consider running a marathon. We found ourselves running basically every morning and our distances kept increasing… I’ve always enjoyed running but always needed a little push- even since my fourth grade PE days at Our Lady of Fatima school (shout out to fellow 4th grade 100 mile clubbers D.J Ashy and Paul Crochet… ), but up to that point in my life I had never run more than probably 7 miles in one outing.
So I rose to the challenge and continued to train for one of my bucket list events. I lost weight and eventually most feeling in my knees and barely crossed the finish line in a December marathon in Dallas, TX. My children looked at me like I was a 90 year old hobbling around the streets of Dallas after my race, but I felt great.

Like most first time finishers I went home and googled things like “how to not die in your next marathon” or “how to fix your knees before your next marathon and shave off time.” In short, I wanted to run more! I had no clue what God had in store for me in terms of running.

In Coopevega, Costa Rica we are surrounded by miles and miles and miles of dirt and rock roads leading to the some 50 small communities we have been asked to serve. In the dry season the dust and heat create a desert like environment. Dust on eyebrows, in the ears, dust everywhere. Heat so hot I can’t figure out if I am in Louisiana or if this place is hotter than a Louisiana July.

These 50 communities make up what I call a “forgotten” people. They are forgotten because most of them don’t own a vehicle, or a home, or a bike or even a horse to ride. Many of them live extremely remote lives and are afar from the modern conveniences I have so quickly become accustomed to: vehicles, stores, churches, refrigerators, iPads, entertainment, etc. Very few people go out to their communities to see them because there is essentially no draw for anyone to venture out there… except for themselves. They are the only draw out there. Theirs are lives of simplicity, hard work, sincere faith, and poverty. They are a beautiful draw and one so worth venturing out to meet and see. A people well worth RUNNING out to see.

Sometimes I hear Gods voice in Mass, in the Eucharist and every morning in Scripture. Often times I hear His voice in my simple daily desires.
I want to run!

Click below for an extremely inspirational video on running by John Piper 
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0elhYaESJkY

So I started to run. With my camel pack full of water and a banana, a pocket knife, and a few colones (Costa Rican currency) .
“Where are you running to?” Lacy would ask
“To meet some people in a new community” is often my response.

When we first arrived here I felt a need to meet so many people in such a short time and a desire to run. So I am doing both. In doing so I am finding such greatness in the “forgotten” people. Many of them are literally waiting for someone to visit them and many have been waiting for years for a visitor. You can imagine their faces when a sweaty gringo arrives at their door speaking horrible Spanish and reminding them of the love of Jesus. We have a family card with our family picture on it that I hand out and tell them that my army of gringos is coming back to visit soon to pray with them. I am logging plenty of miles – back and forth in these narrow and rocky roads.

The other day while running back from a small community my legs were aching and I was feeling all of my age of 37. I noticed that my water supply was running low and that I still had a good 5 or 6 miles to go. I usually try to ration my water supply and at the end of most runs I find that I have a good bit of water left. Water that is eventually wasted.
It dawned on me that when I die I do not want to have any water left in my tank. I do not want to have anything left in my tank. I pray that I will have given it all and not saved up a bunch for days that won’t ever come. I pray that I die having given it all.

Did I give and love freely or did I save up unnecessarily for myself? Did my wife and children know my love was unconditional or was there a doubt in their hearts? Did the poor truly know my name or did I simply see right through them? Did I speak the name of Jesus with my mouth and deeds or did my pride cripple me? Did I eat with the hungry or did I simply fill my own belly? In the end will my tank be empty or will I still have so much that I failed to give to God and my neighbor?

Now the seasons are changing here in Costa Rica and we are experiencing great downpours of rain. The dust is gone and the mud is here . The once dry and predictable roads are now tricky and tough to navigate. Time to run.

” Do you not know that all the runners in the stadium all run in the race, but only one wins the prize? RUN SO AS TO WIN.”
1 Corinthians 9:24

Dinner with Jesus

Like most men who sincerely struggle with the baggage of an addiction, Manuel has good days and bad days. Some days are filled with great sights and sounds, the warm embraces and smiles of his local coastal town. While some days are filled with nothingness…

I can clearly recall my first and second encounter with Manuel- first: him begging me for change outside of an ATM with his surroundings littered with trash and empty alcohol bottles and spare small coins. It was dusk and it appeared as though he had been there for quite some time. He was barely awake but had enough energy and sobriety to take off his croc and show me his two deformed feet… as if to say, “Look at me! I deserve some help here!”
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And the next time him begging me for change outside of a store clean across town. The first encounter I declined him while the next I sat with him a few moments and spoke choppy Spanish ( Spanglish ) with him. 
“All I have on me, Manuel is this change but can I pray with you ? Can I pray that Jesus would be truly present with you today?”
A sheepish and shameful half grin and a “yes my friend” was all I got.
My next encounter was on a Thursday evening with my entire family. We were leaving  church and had planned to grab something to eat as a family  for the evening. There he was- this time with a friend named Pedro-  they were sitting  at his post (outside of the ATM booth – which is a fairly genius post for a beggar to sit, in my opinion).
This time he recognized me- as a person… and I recognized him – as a person…
” Felipe, my friend!” He called out 
“Hola Manuel ! Como estas?!” ( that was about the extent of my Spanish)
He acknowledged my beautiful wife and children  and asked if they were all mine…
“Si. Es mi esposa y mi familia, Manuel.”
A huge smile lit up His face
“Ah muy Bonita Felipe ! Muy Bonita!”
In extremely choppy Spanish I said ” look we are headed to grab some dinner and would love for you and your friend to join us. Will you join us?”
His face lit up even more. Almost like a child finding out his dad had skipped work for the day and  was taking him camping or something .
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That night we prayed as a family at the dinner table  ( Manuel and his buddy Pedro there with us  as well. Pedro also struggles with alcoholism)
I invited them to order what they wanted and to enjoy a meal with us. They ordered beer (and food) because that’s what they are used to doing. We  attempted to converse in Spanish and essentially got nowhere so we ended up simply looking and smiling at one another over a meal for the most part…
Quite awkward at times but as they went their own way and my family went our way I asked my children what they thought the requirements were for us to go to heaven one day.
“We know dad… the golden rule…love God with all your heart, and mind,soul and strength and love your neighbor as yourself… you and mom have already taught us that” 🙌🏼 
“Bingo but listen to this” and I paraphrased the passage below

Matthew 25:31-46The Judgment of the Nations.*31f “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit upon his glorious throne,32g and all the nations* will be assembled before him. And he will separate them one from another, as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats.33He will place the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.34Then the king will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father. Inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.35h For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, a stranger and you welcomed me,36naked and you clothed me, ill and you cared for me, in prison and you visited me.’37Then the righteous* will answer him and say, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink?38When did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you?39When did we see you ill or in prison, and visit you?’40i And the king will say to them in reply, ‘Amen, I say to you, whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me.’41* j Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you accursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.42k For I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink,43a stranger and you gave me no welcome, naked and you gave me no clothing, ill and in prison, and you did not care for me.’44* Then they will answer and say, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or ill or in prison, and not minister to your needs?’45He will answer them, ‘Amen, I say to you, what you did not do for one of these least ones, you did not do for me.’46l And these will go off to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.”
I have often encountered Jesus in folks like Manuel. Folks I often assume I don’t have time or energy for. I often move in another direction to safeguard my time and my energy and I am ashamed to type that. I often view the poor, addicted, overwhelmed, and the beggar as someone who is not on an equal ground as me. How far from reality I am.
Were Jesus’ words above sincere? Did he mean what he so firmly stated? Perhaps the poor, addicted, overwhelmed beggar in this scene is actually me? Thankfully my shortcomings and addictions have yet to
Place me outside of an ATM begging for money. Thankfully I have family and friends who would probably rescue me instead of selfishly walking by if I ever found myself there. Thankfully I was born with two working feet. And thankfully on and on and on…

But if Jesus’ words are actually sincere then yes indeed my family and I were indeed the ones receiving that night- even more so than Manuel received from me. 
We sat with Jesus and dined that evening. Think about that for a moment. We sat with Jesus and dined that night. Think about that for a moment the next time you see someone in need , in addiction- someone requiring you to selflessly redirect your plans or energy.

I pray that Manuel will be freed of his addictions one day. I pray a prayer of thanksgiving for his brokenness and willingness to beg out of desperation as it indeed brought us closer to JESUS

-PJB

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Trinidad, General Cepeda, Mexico


We learned that we were expecting our sixth sweet baby a few weeks ago, but two weeks later, God called our baby to Heaven.  That evening I contemplated staying home in bed and skipping out on the thirty minute bumpy van ride to a small nearby town to give testimonies with the rest of our group. But I felt Jesus giving me the strength to go. We sang songs and a few of us went up to the front of the chapel to give talks and testimonies. Then we invited anyone from the town to do the same. Usually no one comes forward. But this night, a lady who had been standing all evening in the back of the chapel came forward with tears in her eyes.  She said she had a dream a couple days beforehand that missionaries would come to the chapel and that she needed to go to hear what they would say. So, she started to read her bible for the first time in a long time. And she said that the testimony I gave was what she needed to hear and she was so grateful. She said she now believes and knows God is real. 


Thank you, Jesus for your love. And for showing us how much you love us. 

  

Our Story

Sometimes God calls us to do quite simple things- like “Go and pray for a friend” or “Help your sister change her flat tire”. These things can be quite ordinary, but nonetheless they eventually reveal to us more and more in some capacity who the person of Christ is. Our lives so far as a family have been filled with these “simple things”. Take the kids to school, pray before dinner, teach your son to ride a bike, etc etc. And we have certainly seen the face of Christ in all of them. But over the last few years we have sensed that God was moving us in a deeper way- we just we not so sure exactly what that was…

We are a family of seven (at least for now) Phillip, Lacy, William (8), Annie (7), Miriam (5), Norah (4), Lily (1) and we will be using this blog to highlight the many ways God is speaking to us or revealing Himself to us. We are The Brupbacher’s or The BruCrew

About a year ago some dear friends of ours invited us to attend a short term mission trip in General Cepeda, Mexico. This was something that we have longed to do as a family but basically had always written it off because we assumed our kids were too young or simply because we were always expecting a child… But, the power of an invitation by some dear friends of ours proved to be just what we needed- just the proper amount of encouragement and invitation from God to eventually change our lives.

So we loaded up our van and made the two day drive into Mexico with a bunch of other families. While we ought to devote an entire blog to that trip we will simply state that the following occurred in our lives:
1. God showed us the beauty and truth in His words “Blessed are the poor in spirit- those whose entire dependence is based upon God.”
2. Blessed were we to even be able to dwell among them and serve them for even just such a short time.
3. Could we be called to live a life as a family serving and befriending the poor- sharing the Gospel with those in great need and learning from their simple and beautiful faith?

After our incredible week we headed back home with the question burning in our hearts “God could you actually be calling us to move to a foreign land to following you as a missionary? The question was both invigorating and terrifying. We sought out some spiritual direction and continued to ask God to move in our hearts and minds and to speak to us in this area of our lives.

Neither one of us is extremely trigger happy when it comes to these types of things so we simply kept bringing it to God in prayer. Over time we found that God continued to place this desire on our hearts and that indeed the calling was real. There was so much stirring in our hearts- “Come and follow me closer” “Come and serve those in great need” “Do not worry for I am with you” “You can trust me in the little things and now I am asking you to trust me in a larger thing”

Then one morning we were blown away by a video we saw on Facebook shared by a friend of ours- quite simply the video summed up everything that was going on in our hearts and minds.
Take a moment to view that video below:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2StRNNnBh4k

So, put simply, we found that Jesus was calling us to go deeper into our faith and to sell all we had to follow Him in preaching the Gospel and serving the poor. This is the calling He gave to us- and we are thrilled. We searched far and wide looking at various Catholic and Christian mission organizations and have found an unbelievable home with Family Missions Company. They are a group of lay Catholic Missionaries who dedicate their lives to preaching the gospel and serving the poor. We have joined into their formation program and will be sent out to a foreign land to preach the gospel and serve the poor in early 2017.

We will dedicate this blog as a family blog for those of you interested in following our simple little journey. We will also post prayer requests and various needs of those we serve. We have been so blessed with tremendous families and friends and we would love for you to come with us on this new journey of ours.

You can also learn more about how to support our mission at the following address:
https://www.familymissionscompany.com/project/phillip-and-lacy-brupbacher/

“I have come that you may have life and have it more abundantly” -John 10:10
“Life is short I wanna live it well” -Switchfoot

Sincerely

– Phillip 10/04/16