Happy Semana Santa!
Wow, it’s already April! That leaves me with only 3 more months in this beautiful country serving these awesome people alongside some great partners in ministry. March has been full of ups and downs emotionally and physically. There has been a lot of sickness and injury in the Ailor household this month. Please pray for Jordanna as she continues to heal from mono. I was also sick for a few days after being in the airport. Additionally, I injured my foot playing volleyball at the beginning of the month and I haven’t been able to return to playing yet. It’s been hard to restrain myself from volleyball and exercise in general, which is normally an outlet and a time to be with God for me. So this month really tested my patience and faith in that way. However, there were also so many positives that I do look back at March very fondly. Mainly the people I have met here and built relationships with are the ones that help keep me accountable and positive in my service here.
At the beginning of the month, my soon-to-be sisters (in law), Mikayla and Lexi, came to visit me over their college spring break. We’ve been friends through our families for such a long time so it was so much fun to go on another adventure with them, and the first one with just us girls! It was so nice to bond and talk with them, as well as share my daily life in Costa Rica with them. They dove right into ministry work by helping me out with my volleyball camp on Saturday morning. We took some of the girls home that day and continued our book study on “Every Young Woman's Battle” before Lexi took some of the girls to the pool for a swimming lesson. Then we went back to the land for an event the girls had planned for. It was so well thought out and engaging for the kids in our program! Mikayla shared a message about our identity and image in God which paired perfectly with Lexi’s polaroid photo and stamp craft that the kids adored. They loved taking pictures with their friends and getting to take home a physical reminder of their time with NOW Costa Rica. Both girls really showed the love of Christ to all of those they met here. After a weekend filled with service, church, and monkey sightings, the girls also helped me in my classroom in the homeschool co-op that takes place at the church. I have been volunteering to teach these 2nd-4th graders for 10 weeks now, so it was awesome to have some help in a classroom of such curious, active kids. We were also able to enjoy the pool, sun, and playing some games together while enjoying the nature of Costa Rica before they left. I’m so grateful for such great friends that I’m also blessed enough to call family.
The day that Mikayla and Lexi left, another mission/vision team arrived in the country! God has blessed this organization and me with amazing supporters who are so invested that they take the time to come and serve the people and ministry here. This was a small team made up of a couple, Doug and Nancy Dillingham, who are retired missionaries themselves. Nancy and Doug have been praying for the Ailors and NOW Costa Rica for as long as it’s been here! They finally got to see all the places and meet all the people they have been praying for all these years. With a lot of experience speaking with missionary kids/third culture kids, Nancy was able to easily connect with the elementary, middle, and high school kids of the homeschool co-op that takes place at Horizon Church. The majority of these kids have lived in more than one different country and many of them are children of missionary families, which comes with a lot of challenges. Because of the large population of expats and missionary families here in Jaco, what Nancy did is a huge need and ministry. In addition to serving those kids, Nancy and Doug were also able to pray over the NOW CR land and hold an event for the youth of Herradura and Jaco that are in the programs of NOW CR. We played a lot of fun games with them, made bracelets, ate and fellowshipped over arroz con pollo, and heard a message on how we are all connected by God despite our different colors and countries of origin. We’re so grateful for such loving supporters who were able to truly connect with people in every aspect of our ministry here.
It has been amazing to have mission teams and visitors here as new faces that bring a fresh energy and love to share with the kids. But, in addition to all the new, I also want to update you on the consistent programs that have been a success for months and continue to be. I just finished the first half of teaching at the co-op here. The 8 incredible kids in my class have made amazing improvements and continue to enjoy learning together. We have all gotten used to each other now, which of course comes with a little more bickering and annoying each other. However, it has been awesome to be in an environment with Christian kids that I can outwardly help resolve their issues in a Biblical way. We have also continued with the NOW Costa Rica volleyball ministry, holding camps about every other Saturday. These camps encourage kids to get outside, exercise, speak to people in the other language, and hear about the gospel. It has been fun, as well as challenging, to hold these clinics trying to teach kids how to play volleyball and how being active relates to Jesus in both English and Spanish. Overall, it’s really brought the communities and ministries we’re a part of together. With our new schedule of volleyball Saturday mornings and land events in the afternoons, it has been an adjustment trying to find a time to continue the small book study group that I started with a couple girls last year. But we found a time to continue reading our book, “Every Young Woman’s Battle.” This group of NOW CR girls studying this book has also inspired another group to start a study in the church. We have just started reading this book with the middle and high school girls of the co-op with the goal of raising up leaders in the church who can carry out this message with the locals and youth closer to their age. The group has already allowed girls to open up and realize their true worth in Christ’s eyes. I’m excited to see how they can in turn provide a safe space and an education on the topic of purity for the people of Costa Rica.
To finish out March, I journeyed to Antigua, Guatemala for my third and final visa border run. That represents a crazy milestone that’s very exciting but also a little bittersweet, because it means I have less than 90 days left living in Costa Rica! I couldn’t have asked for better people to go on my last border run with me. I went for a long weekend to this beautiful country with a few of my fellow missionaries and Christian young adults from Jaco. There were 7 of us in total that traveled and experienced Antigua together, but 2 of them, Jenna and Alyssa, were the ones that I planned the trip with and spent most of the trip with. I had been to Antigua before on a mission trip 5 years ago. So, it was really cool to see all the places I remember from that trip in addition to experiencing new places! We walked all around the gorgeous city with perfect weather for the couple days that we stayed there. Jenna and I also signed up for a cooking class where we learned how to make typical Guatemalan dishes like pepian, tostadas, and reinitas. We had an awesome time in complete Spanish immersion, talking to very sweet people and eating great food. I’m very grateful for the time the 3 of us had to bond and for the time getting to know some of the other missionaries in Jaco around my age that I didn’t know as well before.
The Horizon homeschool co-op has had a successful first half of its first semester ever!
We had 2 successful trips of people visit and serve!
We have started a new girls group that will learn and grow in Jesus together.
Please pray for the families, women, and kids of Jaco and Herradura that NOW Costa Rica, Horizon Church, and Face of Justice are working with.
Please pray that the rest of the financial needs to build the educational center on the land are met.
Please pray that I am able to complete the book studies with the 2 girls groups that I lead.
Please pray for the families and leaders of the church to come to a conclusion about what school will look like in August for the co-op kids.
Please pray for Jordanna’s continued healing from mono and various other physical ailments.
Please pray that my foot will heal completely so I can get back to fully participating in our events and maintaining my own healthy lifestyle.
I know that you all are so busy with your own individual lives and families, so I really appreciate you taking the time to read this newsletter. I’m forever grateful for all of you who support me in doing the Lord’s work down here whether it’s spiritually in prayer or financially. Your kind messages and prayers keep me going when times are tough emotionally and spiritually. I hope to see most of you soon in June or July when I return to the States and get married!
“They took palm branches and went out to meet him, shouting, ‘Hosanna!’ ‘Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!’ ‘Blessed is the king of Israel!’” John 12:13