Blessings from Costa Rica,
November marks the 5th month of my time in Costa Rica! This month was all about building community, sharing my life here with loved ones, and giving thanks. It was very similar to what the holiday season is for you all back in the States, but also pretty different. As most of you pray for a white Christmas where you live, we are all still praying for summer to finally come! No more rain every day please! But despite the continuing rain, we have so much new and old to be thankful for here in life and ministry! One of the biggest new things being that Pepper and Jordanna have signed for the land! Thank you all so much for your earnest prayers over the land that, with your continued donations, NOW Costa Rica will build an educational center and rancho on as a stable, consistent place for all the NOW CR ministries and groups to meet. Please watch the video attached below and consider donating specifically to the financial amount that is needed for this build. Donations given before December 31st will be matched!
The first half of this month was spent brainstorming, planning, and preparing for the new trial groups/programs that Jordanna and I wanted to start to finish out the year 2022 strong. In the midst of my planning, I was also visited by a few friends my age that I met while I was in language school. We played volleyball, walked the beach and Jaco strip, and went to my church here together. It was so nice getting an update on life at The Spanish Language Institute as well as being able to share a bit of what I am doing here with them. One of them, Mackenzie, even came back later in the month and spent a whole Saturday with me doing all the ministry work I do every weekend. Speaking of visitors, my fiance, Cody, also came on his first trip to Costa Rica after exactly 4 months of us not seeing each other! He got to meet the family I’m staying with, the friends I’ve made here, and some of the people I work with. We had a ton of fun on hikes, beach visits, and meals out. We even saw monkeys twice, which was just about the only thing he really wanted to do here. But in addition to all the fun and vacation, we did serve together in delivering diarios across a river to a neighborhood in Herradura. We also attended a Grace Marriage session at Horizon Church to prepare ourselves more for marriage. I’m so grateful for a future husband that takes time off of work to come see my life here and who supports me fully in God's purpose for me.
After all my visitors had gone, it was time to dive straight into my two 5 week programs that I wanted to start. The first I started, with the help of my parents bringing an outdoor net and a couple other volleyball fanatic missionary friends, was the NOW Costa Rica volleyball ministry. This ministry was intended to bring kids ages 9-18 together in the community of Herradura to teach them volleyball skills, but also the Gospel through athletics. The first session wasn’t nearly what I expected it to be in terms of language, but it was still a great success. We had 16 kids show up who spoke a mix of Spanish, English, or both. However, we overcame the language and translation obstacle quickly and the next weekend we had even more kids show up eager to learn! We also had to overcome the obstacle of weather since there are no indoor courts here and we meet outside in a field at a local community center, the Salon Comunal. Even with the devil’s attempts to trip us up, the ministry has quickly become an amazing tool for God. The kids have so much fun and they are hearing and practicing God’s Word at the same time. During the last session, I gave my first bilingual “charla” or short lesson about where we find our identity. It can’t be found in people, sports, or achievements. 1 Corinthians 6:17 says that we are one with God. We are His children and our identity should be found in Him.
The second 5 week program I started was my younger girls discipleship group. This isn’t a new group, but we took a long break while I was at language school and just started up again this month before we take another break for the Christmas and holiday season. For this session, we are learning about God’s love leading up to the story of Jesus’ birth and a Christmas party at the beach to end the year. However, this group, as well, did not start how I imagined. The first session, I only had 3 girls show up to a group that is normally 6 girls. It was hard not to take that personally and let it hurt my feelings. But, I tried to focus on the good. There were girls there that needed to hear what God had to say and I was able to teach the whole lesson in Spanish. It was hard to go from having 6 girls to having much less, so I prayed for more to be interested at least in the new year. But God being the amazing and miraculous God He is, sent me 6 new girls the very next Saturday. They all came from the Cristo Rey neighborhood that we work with. We met with their parents on the Friday before the group and they attended the Bible study the very next day. Not only did they come to the Bible study, they also came to the volleyball ministry in the morning and brought two of their older teenage friends. The girls brought such a light and new energy to the group that we really needed. Please pray for all of them and their hearts, in addition to the girls who have been in my group for a while that you have already been praying for.
With everything that we’ve started and revamped at the end of this year, we also have so much more that we are planning for in the new year. Jordanna has started a trial run of her Revelation Wellness classes that I’ve been attending. She plans to hold more of those in the new year and charge a small fee that will go towards the building of the educational center. Additionally, I have taken on a morning commitment where I will be serving the missionary families in the Jaco area. There has been a huge need for a school that the missionary families here feel comfortable putting their children in. Horizon Church has heard that cry and is in the process of planning and constructing a Christian private school. However, this school is not scheduled to open until August 2024 and many of the older kids will miss the cut off age of students allowed to attend that first year. So these families, who are mostly homeschooling their children now, are worried about the socialization and education of their children. Within the last 3 weeks, a solution has been brought up, approved by elders, and planned for. We are going to be starting a 20 week homeschool co-op program at the church. I will be volunteering to teach the upper elementary level students, grades 2-4. I’m super excited to get some more experience teaching curriculum before I go back to the States to be a full time teacher. But, I am mostly looking forward to getting to know these missionary kids and their families better. It’s another awesome way to give back to the community and to get plugged in even further.
Lastly, I just want to share how thankful I am for all the people I’ve met here. I have an amazing support system at home all over the U.S. However, meeting such amazing people here has made my service so much more enjoyable than I could've imagined. We celebrated the birthdays of two of the teachers and missionaries of NOW Costa Rica, Jenna and Cristian. They are both making such a great impact here and it has been so fun working beside them. Additionally, I was lucky enough to be invited to two separate Thanksgiving dinners, one with Horizon Church and one with the young adults from a ministry called Ocean’s Edge. Both were so much fun and gave me a small taste of American culture I didn’t know I needed. We also banded together as a church to decorate the church for Christmas. It was so much fun being a part of a church that works together so well and works so hard to serve this community. Specifically, I helped create the life size nativity in the sanctuary. The nativity was decorated with real palm leaves and bamboo which was just an amazing experience. Even though it’s different and we don’t have the normal snow and hay to put around the nativity, we all serve the same God and celebrate the birth of the same Jesus!
NOW Costa Rica finally owns the land to build our educational center on!
We’ve successfully started 3 new programs/sessions: 5 week girls group session, volleyball ministry, and Revelation Wellness classes.
Successful flood recovery efforts.
Please pray for the families of Jaco and Herradura who are in need this Christmas season.
Please continue to pray for the students that attend the NOW CR groups, volleyball ministry, and mentoring groups until the end of this year.
Please pray that the financial needs to build the educational center on the land are met.
Please pray for all of the many missionaries here, including myself, that will be traveling back to the United States for Visa runs and Christmas.
Please pray for the efforts, new programs, and mission teams that will come to fruition in the new year.
Thank you all so much for your support and prayers especially in this holiday season when homesickness is a strong feeling. God is moving so hugely in this area and it would not be possible without your giving heart. I hope you had a happy Thanksgiving and will have a very Merry Christmas! Peace and blessings be with you.
“For us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful COunselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.”