Sunday, September 23, 2012

Prayer Requests for Ecuador

     Today Suzy asked me, "What are we gonna do for Kaia's 1 year old birthday?" It's still a few months away, but it brought my mind zooming to Ecuador. That's only a few months away, too! Having been here in Costa Rica for about 5 months now, it's hard sometimes to remove ourselves from this current existence and imagine what life will be like in December.

     I will say, doing this FARO program (click here to read more about what that entails) has begun to give me a glimpse into what life may look like in Ecuador. For the past 2 weeks I've literally gone out every day to talk with Costa Ricans. During the week it's with people who live or work in this community, and on the weekends we've spoken with people for hours (literally hours) at church ministry opportunities or with church friends.

     Its been great! It's draining at times and there are frustrating parts as well, but overall it has been enjoyable just to sit and visit with people. I'm spending quality time with these individuals, building a relationship, and having opportunities to discuss life, culture, and things of importance. This is hopefully what life will look like in Ecuador as well.

A home in Calacalí, just a few doors down from El Refugio
     Another question Suzy brought up today while walking home from church was, "What do you think our home will be like in Ecuador?" It was fun for a minute to daydream about having our own space again-- a permanent space that we can decorate, settle into, and really call 'home!' Again, my mind went zooming to Ecuador... and I realized it's not all that far away. We don't have a 'home' lined up yet, and we'll be arriving in less than three months! 

     A lot of you asked us when we were meeting with you where we planned to live. That hasn't changed-- we plan to live in the town of Calacalí, where El Refugio is located. We want to live among the people we're serving and building relationships with. The one discouraging thing is that Calacalí is a small, rural town, so it may be difficult to find a place to rent. Therefore, will you join us in prayer? We know God goes before us and we trust that He will provide the perfect place for us to live-- but we want to be diligent in praying that the details would all come together and that we would indeed find the most ideal house to call home.

The staff at El Refugio
 Would you continue to pray with us regarding the following things:

 - That our Spanish speaking skills would continue to improve and that we would be able to represent ourselves and Christ well through the words that we speak

 - That God would be preparing the hearts of the individuals we'll be starting relationships with in the town of Calacalí

 - That God would continue to protect us physically and keep us safe from danger

 - For the ministry currently happening at El Refugio in Ecuador as well as through the entire Youth World team that we'll be joining

     Blessings to you this week! May you be encouraged in your faith and filled with the peace of Jesus Christ, our Savior!


Mount Cotopaxi, Ecuador

Sunday, September 16, 2012


A road very close to the epicenter of the earthquake
     I have never experienced an earthquake before. Well... maybe I have, but they've never been strong enough for me to feel. Last week we experienced a very strong earthquake here in Costa Rica. It was originally said to be a magnitude of 7.9, but then later declared it to have been a 7.6. Either way, it was very strong and quite noticeable.

     I was in class when it took place and it was really a bit surreal. I always expected an earthquake to just feel like I was being shaken back and forth, when in reality, it felt more like being on a boat in really rough water. The ground beneath us was moving back and forth, up and down, and everything was just seizing in different directions. It wasn't incredibly strong at first, so we all just looked around for a few seconds before fully realizing what was happening. It continued to grow stronger and stronger, and as it escalated we all made our way out of our seats and outside as quickly as possible. 
A bridge that collapsed due to the quake

     There was a small degree of hysteria, as many people had never experienced an earthquake before and some that had were just very frightened because they don't like them. Many people immediately thought of the safety of their family members and were understandably worked up. Cell phones were quickly seen all around me (those of the Costa Rican teachers in particular) frantically calling their loved ones to be assured of their safety. Though it felt incredibly strong where we were, the epicenter of the earthquake was about 120 miles away from us-- which makes it scary to imagine how it must have felt to those at the center.

     The school's president was out with all of us and called an impromptu gathering of all the students after the earth stopped shaking. We spent time in prayer together as a student body-- thinking of those who were near the epicenter, or in buildings and locations where significant damage had occurred. We read portions of scripture together. The staff did a great job of reigning in all of the emotion and excitement and focusing that energy on our hope and trust in Christ, and praying for those who sadly don't have that assurance.
A road blocked by boulders and debris 

     Suzy and Kaia were back in our apartment and made it out in a timely fashion as well. Our neighbor experienced the massive earthquake in Haiti a couple of years ago, so when Suzy overheard her telling their daughter to get outside, she promptly got Kaia up from her nap and joined them outside.

     It was a surreal experience. Though I felt a little dizzy and nauseous, I didn't feel fear. Isaiah 54:10 says, "Though the mountains be shaken and the hills be removed, yet my unfailing love for you will not be shaken nor my covenant of peace be removed,' says the LORD, who has compassion on you." My hope is found in Christ. I don't fear the things of this world, because to live is Christ, but to die is gain. I can't imagine not having the assurance that we have in Christ and going through difficulty. Life is trying and difficult even with Christ; I can't imagine the fear, despair, and hopelessness others must feel when difficulty comes their way. 

     When the earth shakes, Jesus Christ is our rock, our cornerstone. When everything else in this world lets us down, God is faithful. When there is no one else to turn to, God is still patiently waiting. God has not given us a spirit of timidity or of fear, but a spirit of power, love, and discipline. And yet he tells us to cast all of our anxiety on him because he cares for us.

     So much has happened since we got back to Costa Rica-- physically, spiritually, and in our day-to-day schedules. Though we're incredibly busy, working hard, and the ground beneath is is shaking, Christ is faithful. He has called us here and we are overjoyed to be exactly where He wants us to be. Therefore, we praise his name! What a joy to live life for Jesus Christ, our Savior!


Sunday, September 9, 2012

La Ruta

A street right by our house where I'll be walking
   Instead of taking a standard 'language class' this trimester, I'm doing a program called FARO. FARO is an acronym for Facilitator, Assistant, Route, and Oir (which means 'to hear'). The spanish word for route is 'la ruta.'

     La ruta is at the same time the most important part of FARO as well as the most intimidating component. I need to create my own route-- meaning, I have to engage 8 to 20 Costa Ricans (or native spanish speakers) and ask them to speak with me twice a week for a minimum of 15 minutes per visit. The reality is in a culture like this, the minimum is more like 30-45 minutes. Time means everything here.

      Did you catch the intimidating part? I need to approach 8 - 20 people. Strangers. People who speak a different language than I do and have no idea who I am. And I have to speak their language to them to ask if they'll help me out. A stranger... who talks like a child in their language.

      I'd say that I'm a people person... but can't you  just feel that knot in your stomach that forms when you have to do something that is out of your comfort zone? You know it's good for you. You know how much it will help you. But what if the person behind that door doesn't want to buy your holiday wrapping paper? Or your girl scout cookies? Or those candy bars for your sports team?

      Tomorrow starts the second week of classes for this trimester. It's also the first week that I'll have to go out and walk my route, engaging with all of these Costa Ricans individually. I'll likely be spending 8+ hours talking with Costa Ricans this week. I'm both scared and incredibly excited all at the same time.

      I'll be planning out what topic to talk about with these people each time I see them-- so there will be a level of direction in the conversations. But I'm curious to see where some of them will lead. Please pray that God will use the little, broken spanish that I know to connect with these people I'll be investing in over the next 3 1/2 months.

      And if you're wondering about these 8 - 20 people, and when I have to go find them; that's what I've been doing since we got back. I'm just a couple of people away in terms of those who have committed to allowing me to talk with them on a weekly basis. And I definitely paced back and forth outside (nervously) for a while before talking to the first person... but it got a lot easier after that.

     Blessings to you and your family as we enter another week in the name of Christ, our Savior!