Caskey Costa Rica Mission Trip Day 3 Party Time

Day 3 is now in the books. It was a pretty easy day today, by design, as we were resting up, and prepping for the Pastor’s conference, which starts tomorrow. But, that doesn’t mean we did nothing.

The day started with me wishing my oldest daughter a happy 19th birthday. Yes, she turned 19 years old. Man, am I feeling old. Then after everyone was up, we went on a walking tour of the town of Atenas. The town is your typical Costa Rican town with a big Catholic Church and a park as the center pieces on the main square. We got a glimpse of what life is like in Costa Rica by visiting the local grocery stores, some restaurants, walking through the church, hanging out in the park for a while, and just walking along the streets. The people are really friendly and very laid back. The slow pace here, could be very contagious. We had lunch a one of the local restaurants, which was nice. Also, we were able to pick up a few decorations and things for my daughter’s birthday party we were going to have later back at the Lucas’. I was also able to buy a few bags of Costa Rican coffee to bring back home. It was a requirement from my wife that I bring back some coffee. Costa Rica is known for it’s coffee and Atenas specifically is one of the largest coffee growing areas in Costa Rica. It’s the best I’ve had and it’s very inexpensive here. Bonus!

Later, back at the Lucas’ I spent some of the afternoon listening to and watching some iWorship DVDs in preparation to lead worship at their Wednesday night English speaking service at their church. Then, we got everything ready for my daughter’s birthday party where we had pizza and a delicious, homemade chocolate cake. What an experience she had spending her 19th birthday in Costa Rica.

After that, it was time for church. We got there a little early to get setup, and the church’s Spanish worship team was still rehearsing for their Sunday service. So, I got a chance to listen to them for a little while. That was pretty cool, but of course, I couldn’t understand hardly anything, but their sound was good. Finally, our service got started and it was a lot of fun getting a chance to lead worship for the group that was there. I’m glad I was able to help Steve out. It was a great night of teaching also, because Steve, as usual delivered a great message. It was awesome hearing him teach again. It was on Revelation 2 and the first part of chapter 3.

Once back at their house, it was time to get things ready for the Pastor’s conference to start tomorrow. We spent the rest of the time preparing the packets the Pastors will receive, the gift bags and going over the agenda for the next few days. It’s going to be a packed 3 days coming up, but  looking forward to it. It will be a privilege serving these Pastors at the conference. I look forward to meeting them and seeing how God can use me and my kids to meet their needs. I pray that they will be blessed, refreshed and equipped for their ministry. Please pray for them.


The Drama Queen’s Servant Heart

I say the title of this post kind of tongue and cheek because although I do affectionately call her a “Drama Queen” around the house, I know that deep down she truly has a servant’s heart. I speak of my oldest here, who has over and over again impressed me and shown me what a true servant she can be, allowing God to use her through her love for theater and performing arts.

As parents, my wife and I have always encouraged our kids to find an area to serve in our church. My wife and I both believe strongly that God has given each of us gifts, abilities, talents and passions of our heart, that He can use for His glory and to build up the church body. In other words, find an area that you think you can contribute in, and get involved.

Over the past couple of years, I’ve watched my oldest flourish and just take off. As a teenager she started out getting involved in our children’s ministry. This soon morphed into involvement in a children’s ministry worship team. In this ministry I was blessed to watch her lead the young kids in praise and worship of our Lord. I watched her blossom into a leader, being relied on and depended on by the adult leadership of the group. What a great joy and thrill it was for her to be recognized for her leadership and willingness to stepup. Now, her service in our children’s ministry has grown into her role as what we call a “Large Group Leader”, which is responsible for the worship and teaching of a large group of kids. This role involves music, theater, leadership, teaching, her outgoing personality, and her overall love for kids. You can’t imagine the joy I feel when watching her use her gifts. I am truly amazed and blessed.

Now, as we approach Christmas, I will have the privilege and thrill of watching her use her gifts to bless those who attend our Christmas Eve services. She is a dancer and angel in our Christmas Eve service. She has been hard at work for a couple of months already leading up to this. I look forward to being able to see her do her thing. The unfortunate thing is that I won’t get to watch it as it happens, I’ll have to watch it via video. That’s because I will have the joy of being on the same stage, at the same time with her. Not dancing or acting, but doing my thing.

The Shy One in the Play

This past week was a fairly busy week. I guess it really all started last weekend with the Back to School Retreat for our church youth group and then it kind of just kept going after that, with school being in full-swing and then the youth small groups starting last Wednesday. I had to get 2 kids to their small groups at different places, host 1 small group at our house and then get 2 kids back home afterward. Fortunately, I had some help from a friend to get one of them to and from theirs.

But there’s one BIG thing from the previous weekend that I didn’t want to let get buried in all the other events. My youngest daughter started 6th grade this year and as her elective, she’s taking Theater. During the previous week she was all excited about getting ready for the auditions. Well, she went to the auditions along with about 100 other kids from what I hear. We proud of her for going and giving it a shot. Then she found out the next day she had made “call backs”. We were shocked. She went to “call backs” and when she got home, she said they went Ok. No great expectations here. But, believe or not, the cast list was posted by the teacher on Saturday, on the school website, and there in front of our very eyes was her name. We were stunned and so excited! No, she doesn’t have the lead, but it’s a part none the less.

I know you’re wondering why it’s such a big deal if it’s not the lead. But, you see, it’s big because this is our extremely shy daughter who has struggled with mild dyslexia. For the past 2 years, she’s attended a private school that specializes in teaching kids with conditions like dyslexia. But, since she was beginning middle school this year and we thought she was ready, we decided to move her back into the public school system. This was a decision made after much prayer but still with a lot of fear. We were afraid that her shyness would cause her to struggle to fit back in, or that maybe she wasn’t ready. But all along the way God continued to show us things that let us know that He was in control of this, and that she was going to be just fine. In our eyes, this was a huge confirmation that God was in this and He’s looking after her. It was an answer to prayer that she’s not struggling and that she is ready.

As I really thought about it we’ve seen God doing things in her life to bring her more and more out of her shell. We’ve seen God really working in her in this area for the past year or more. During that time she participated in our children’s ministry worship team, called “Triple G”, where she began to gain confidence by leaps and bounds. She was even given an award as the “Most Improved Worshiper” because of how she continued to grow in her self-confidence. This is just another step down that road. God has given her an avenue to allow her to step outside of herself and out of her comfort zone. It’s been awesome watching her grow.

So, with all that, we’re so proud of our daughter. We’re so blessed to have her. Way to go Ashley!!!

Worshiping with Fusion

Last night was the opening of the Back to School Retreat for our church’s youth ministry, Grace Fusion. 3 of my kids are now part of the youth ministry, with my youngest daughter getting her first taste of the youth ministry this weekend.

The kids were pumped and ready to go and with every passing hour were asking “when are we leaving to go up to the church?”. Check in at the church was at 9:00PM, with a worship service to begin at 9:30PM. So, you can see why the wait seemed so long. But soon, the time came and we left. My wife decided to stay home and finish getting the house ready for the 10th graders to come over after the worship service at church.

Since it was late and I had already had a long day at work and then helped get the house ready, my intent was just to drop the kids off and go home, even though my wife had suggested that I stay for a little while. Once there, I thought I’d stay to see a few people and then possibly stay to hear Nick Thurmond and his band. I am so glad I stayed.

The service was AWESOME! It was so awesome that for the next 2 and a half hours, yes you read that right, I was completely drawn in by the music and then riveted to every word that the speaker, Ken Freeman, had to say. It was a powerful time of praise and worship with an engaging message on evangelism.

As the music started, all the kids rushed right to the stage, singing their hearts out, with hands lifted high, pouring their hearts out to God. Worshiping with the teens is a lot different than worshiping in the adult service. No one rushes the stage or sings and moves with the freedom and spontaneity that they do. It would really be a kick if we did though. Anyway, back to the teens. I decided I had to move down front right with them. The room was charged and hearts were being prepared. As a dad, an added joy was watching my 3 kids just let it go, even my youngest there, who is my most reserved child. It added to the charge that I felt in the room.

Finally, it was Ken’s turn. He’s a very energetic, straight-shooter who lays it right out there. You could sense the conviction in his heart and his passion for what he spoke about. Although his message was directed at the youth, his words constantly challenged me to evaluate my effort and effectiveness in witnessing and sharing my faith. I found myself falling short, very short. He closed with a powerful invitation, where a number of kids accepted Christ. Praise God!

As we finished, it was about midnight. I don’t think anyone in the room was tired. I know I wasn’t. I am so glad I stayed. To have missed that would’ve been a shame. I thank God that He started working on me to get me to stay for a little while and then He just pulled me in until there was no way I was leaving. What a great time and a great start to the Back to School Retreat!