Blessings from Costa Rica and happy fall to all those back in the States,
The month of September has been a complete rollercoaster of emotions, activities, and God’s work being done. This month has flown by the fastest so far for me, as most of my days were packed full of learning the Spanish language and/or culture and service oriented activities. Living in San José, I’ve gotten to experience a whole different side of life in Costa Rica. Although I can’t wait to get back to Jaco and I’ve confirmed the city life is not for me, I have appreciated the opportunity to meet new people and to minister to others in a different way.
The Spanish Language Institute, or ILE, is the school I have been attending for the past 5 weeks, and with only 1 week left to go, I can say that I am sad to be leaving soon. I have met some amazing fellow missionary friends that I hope to keep in touch with, have learned more Spanish than I can really wrap my brain around, and have participated in activities that have celebrated many different cultures. First, we celebrated Korean Thanksgiving with a large dinner set up by the Korean students that attend ILE. There were so many different foods to try and they even taught us how to make sushi! Then, I was here to celebrate el Día de la Independencia de Costa Rica, which was a multi day event. We had a recital where all the kids of the missionaries danced a traditional Costa Rican dance. There was also a dinner where we tried traditional foods and drinks like empanadas, arroz con leche, and agua dulce. The next day, we traveled to the heart of San José to watch a 3-4 hour long parade for their Independence Day. And lastly, because we had a long holiday weekend, a group of us were able to travel to see Volcán Arenal and spend some time giving our brains a break from Spanish. Despite all the fun, being at ILE has really helped develop my Spanish speaking and listening skills. My one other classmate and I have worked through 2 textbooks in just 5 weeks and are now onto the third. So thank you so much for all the prayers and donations put towards my schooling here.
Additionally, one of the perks of going to language school in the same country that I am serving in is that I was still able to plug in and serve the community of Jaco and Herradura on the weekends. Earlier in the month, I was blessed with the opportunity to serve as a leader at the Horizon Church youth camp. This camp took place in the mountains of Costa Rica at a place called La Montaña. This place had all sorts of fun activities from an intense water slide, to a high ropes course, to roller blading. But besides all the exhilarating outdoor fun, it was also a time of amazing, focused worship and a time to explore what it means to be someone who loves Jesus radically. I had four girls in my cabin that were very new to the idea of having a relationship with God. They really challenged my ability to defend my faith with some hard questions and I enjoyed getting to know them and their stories. I’m grateful that God put them in my life and gave me the ability to mentor them and at least try to answer some of their burning questions. Overall, I left that camp so excited to see what this generation will accomplish in the name of Jesus!
Keeping with the theme of powerful weekends, this past weekend NOW CR hosted its first mission team since my arrival to the country. I was able to spend 3 full days getting to know and serving alongside an awesome team from Howerton’s Baptist Church in Tappahannock, Virginia. This team of 5 spent 5 packed days of missions in Jaco. Once I arrived at Jaco from my school in San José, we dove right in and held a Vacation Bible School for the children at Windsor and River’s school, Pequeños Angelitos. They taught about Zacheus and Jesus and then split into groups to rotate stations. The kids were so engaged and hung onto the lesson about Jesus. I was also amazed by how God equipped me to do some English to Spanish translating during this time. Although I’ve been in school learning the language, it felt like a miracle! That same day, we held a youth rally for all the kids in the NOW CR programs that consisted of an intimate time of worship, games to get to know the teens better, and a powerful message from Pastor Randy. The rest of the weekend was spent pouring into the local churches. We served at a Saturday night service at a smaller church in Herradura we call the Cristo Rey Church. The team also served in the baseball ministry at Horizon Church. The presence of God in Jaco and Herradura was so evident through the work of this mission team. As a longer term missionary, it was very encouraging to see some of the concrete results of what we have been working towards for the Lord.
The month of September has definitely been full on in every way. The Lord has provided immensely in all the work there is to do here. But as many highs as there were and as grateful as I am to be here, I also experienced some emotional lows. I have felt the most homesick for my family since being here and have been brought to tears of frustration trying to comprehend the Spanish language. But I know this wasn’t promised to be easy and, overall, God has given me the peace and joy I need to be here. Thankfully, in just a few days, my parents will be coming to visit! I’m excited to spend time with them, catch them up on my life here, and plan a little bit for my upcoming wedding! God has also given me a clearer vision of how He wants me to serve in my community here. I’m planning on starting a volleyball ministry for the youth in Herradura where we’ll learn about Jesus and volleyball on a makeshift outdoor grass court. I strongly believe that sports are a great tool for ministry and a way to spread the love of Jesus. I will also be starting separate mentoring and tutoring sessions for specific girls in the program very soon. Pray for God to work in all of these ideas and in the lives of the kids we are trying to reach!
Please pray for the singles and families attending the Spanish Language Institute as they learn Spanish and embark on their own missions.
Please pray for one of my 13-year old students in my NOW CR girls group who is struggling in her relationship with herself, her family, and God.
Please pray over our upcoming border run trip to Nicaragua. Pray for safety as the whole Ailor family, my parents, a friend, and I all journey together by van to a country we’ve never been to before.
Please pray for the upcoming mission team that we will be hosting, Beale Memorial Baptist Church (6 person team) October 10-17, and their work.
Please keep the land we are in the process of purchasing in Herradura in your prayers. Pray that God’s will is done in this process.
Please pray for the future possibility of starting a volleyball outreach program with the youth in Herradura and for the possibility of opening up the NOW CR groups to new teens in the area.
Thank you all again for your support, prayers, and for all the encouraging messages I have received. It all means the world to me. I could not do any of this without the support of all of you that God has placed in my life. I pray that you stay safe, especially now with Hurricane Ian running its course in the States and particularly Florida. May the Lord be with you all.
“For I have come down from heaven not to do my will but to do the will of him who sent me. And this is the will of him who sent me, that I shall lose none of all those he has given me, but raise them up at the last day.” John 6:38-39