Saturday, July 4, 2009

Rain Rain Rain update!

Hello from confused Costa Rica. The rainy season is amazing here. It's like the country doesn't know what it wants to be. The mornings are full of incredible sunshine without a cloud in the sky....birds chirping, bees buzzing, etc.
About the time you think, "surely this will be the day that it doesn't storm in the afternoon, it's just to beautiful", the clouds begin to roll in. By 1:30 or 2:00 in the afternoon, the sky is completely dark and the lightning and thunder begin to dominate the sky. Lightning that lights up the windows on both sides of the house and thunder that rattles the windows and sets off car alarms. If you think I'm exaggerating come for a visit and experience it yourself. :)
Since it has been so long, this is a rather lengthy update. Feel free to "skim".

It's been so busy since I last updated, and I'll try to catch up. We had a great time in Nicaragua over the school break catching up with friends and again catching a vision for Christ being glorified in Nicaragua. It's hard to explain the two extremes that I being how great the need is in Nica. It's immediately noticeable just crossing the border, leaving the green and lush landscape of Costa Rica for the dry and dead Nicaraguan scenery. Many Nicaraguans who were already hurting now feel hopeless and even more helpless with the political developments over the last couple of years. It's a little overwhelming to see so many parts of a culture broken. Fortunately this extreme is opposed by the growth of the church. Seeing so many vibrant ministries and people changed and being discipled by the truth of the Gospel gives hope that all is not lost for the people of Nicaragua!
I've talked before about the vocational/discipleship training that our organization is starting in Managua. We met the couple who are heading up the woodworking/metalworking school and felt a real connection with them, and it looks like we will be starting in this area of ministry when we arrive later this year. Some exciting things are happening, including land being donated for a new, bigger shop in a central location, and plans are in the works to move forward with funding and construction. The old shop has been very serviceable, but has become crowded and is in a location that limits it to one community. It feels like the time is right to move to a location where we can offer training to a wider group or people. We are READY to get to Nicaragua and get started with ministry!
A huge answer to prayer was finding a house. We had been praying for a safe and secure home that would be good for our boys, and we found just the place! The house is in a small development (maybe ten homes) that is very secure with 24 hour security. The landlords are very nice and God seemed to make it happen for us. It's a little cramped as the houses are pretty close. The neighbors say that you can hear everything that goes on in your neighbor's house as well as your neighbor's neighbor's house! Furthermore, for the cherry on top, the exterior color is hot pink. It's really my dream house, hot pink with no privacy. :) I guess it's a fair trade for feeling secure when I leave for work and Kate and the boys stay home. It's also very open outside with great neighbors, beautiful landscaping, room for the boys to run a little bit, and we're looking forward to settling in to a little more permanent place. We are very thankful for God's provision, and feel much peace about this house.

Please continue to pray for Nicaragua. Political tensions are so high, and a few days ago the mayor of Managua, the capitol city, was found dead from a gunshot wound, presumably suicide. So many things are happening down here in central america and only God knows which direction things will go. We are so thankful that we serve a God who is in complete control. Here's a link with some information about the turmoil.

Language School
That brings us back to life here in Costa Rica, which is basically study, study, study. This second trimester has contained a much bigger workload and we've been pretty much swamped with school. The boys are doing great and have made so many friendships here, it will be hard to leave. Cohen loves his class and teachers at school, and they just held and art show for the parents last week. Titus loves his teacher Sonia, and she says he spends his days showing off for his lone classmate Avery and constantly asking her to get out the "bombas", which means bubbles. He's saying a couple words now, and I think his Spanish vocabulary is bigger than his English one. "Hola", "ciao", "gracias", "bombas", and "oh my goodness" seem to be the extent of it. Kate and I are doing well, we are very happy we stayed for this extra trimester of Spanish. We'll be far from completely fluent when we leave, but we are finally becoming comfortable that we'll be able to communicate in a real and personal way in Spanish. That being said, it had been ten years since either of us had been in school and we are ready to move on to Nicaragua! :)
I am serving as one of the student body chaplains this trimester(the title is a bit misleading, considering the actual duties), and this week is Spiritual Emphasis Week on campus. This means no homework and no tests, and we've brought in a guest speaker who is sharing and teaching with us all week. We have two chapel services per day, and it's been a great week so far, taking a breather from homework and being spiritually refreshed!

Our schedule after language school is starting to fall in place. We graduate from school on August 15, and will be leaving directly for Nicaragua. We plan to spend a month there furnishing and settling into our house as well as developing relationships. In mid-September we will fly home and Kate and I will then fly to Florida for two weeks of orientation with Missionary Ventures. Once back California we will more permanently pack up the "stuff" we've left and prepare to return to Nicaragua for good in mid-October. We are looking forward to being back in California for a little while and seeing everyone!

We continue to thank God for His providence and faithfulness to us. He's taught us so much in this time at language school; how to depend on Him and others; How to selflessly serve as well as humble ourselves and be served. We've developed strong friendships here, through ups and downs as language learning is fertile ground for spiritual attacks through discouragement. We would love if you would partner with us in praying for a few needs.
1. Dave will be taking a car trip to Nicaragua later this month with a load of house stuff. Dave's brother Mike will be also be bringing a computer in by plane. Please pray for easy border crossings with minimal "fees" having to be paid.
2. Our family as we prepare for another time of transition. There so much to do in a short period of time. Unlike here in CR, the house we'll be renting comes completely unfurnished. That means not even a stove or refrigerator. Tracking these things down are incredibly time consuming compared to in the states.
3. We have been so blessed by God and all of you in providing for our physical needs. We pray this will continue as we make another move from one country to another.
4. For our hearts as well as the individual hearts God places in our path. Pray that we continue to have humble, thankful hearts that reflect His hurting people's lives can be eternally changed.

With thankfulness to God and much love to you all,
Dave for Kate, Cohen and Titus

PS. If you are reading this by email update, there are a few updated pictures here.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Regresamos a Costa Rica!

We made it back!
The trip to Nicaragua was a resounding success...we had a great time reconnecting with friends and narrowing down areas of ministry to start working in later this year. We also found a house to live in that is very secure with great neighbors. We're very excited how God worked some things out to remind us He cares and is intimately involved with our lives.  I'll write more on this trip later, including the 3.5 hour border crossing.

We've started our second trimester of Spanish school and wow, the workload this tri has at least doubled for both Kate and I. It's going to test my good student habits, to say the least. :)

I have to get the boys dressed for school, but I wanted to write a quick note to let you know we did make it back safe and sound. 

Thank you for the prayers,

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Vamos a Nicaragua!

Hi everyone! 
We are finished with our first trimester of Spanish!  Woohoo!
It's been tough, much harder than we thought it would be. It's not the intake that is such a slow process, but the output!  Nevertheless, God has been gracious to us and we are very pleased with our Spanish progress. 

We have a break from school this week as graduating students leave and new ones arrive, and we have to leave Costa Rica for a minimum of three days to renew our visas. This means a road trip up to Managua, Nicaragua to visit our team leaders, the Loftsgards!  It has been two years since I have been there, four years for Katie, and the boys have never been.  We are very excited to spend several days catching up with old friends and seeing again firsthand what God is doing!  I'm planning a current update after we return about Missionary Ventures Nicaragua and the areas of ministry there. 

Please pray for safety on the drive to and back from Nicaragua!  My research tells me the drive can be anywhere from 7 to 12 hours, depending on how long you are stuck at the border.  So if you want more specifics, pray for honest and ungreedy border officials, sleepy boys, and that our 15 year old, Korean engineered and manufactured fine specimen of an automobile will chug it's way up and down the mountains without a hitch. 

 God bless and we love you all!
 Dave for Kate, Cohen and Titus

Monday, April 6, 2009

Gracias a Dios!

Hey everybody, hola once again from the land of coffee and tourism!

Another month has came and went since our last post, and it's hard for us to believe that Easter is almost here.  Our family is finally healthy, and we praise God and thank you for praying with us! I think we've finally gotten through the initial time of illness, building up our immune systems against all the new "bugs" in this place.  

As I write this, Katie's parents should be enroute to Costa Rica, and we go to pick them up at the airport early in the morning.  Needless to say, we are extremely excited to see them!  This week is Semana Santa (holy week), and a huge catholic holiday in Latin America. Nearly the entire country shuts down on thursday and friday. We have the rest of the week off of school, and Kate's parents have been so kind to rent us a house near the beach and we are driving with them tomorrow to the coast to spend some much needed family time together.
After a months long search for some shoes for Cohen, we finally found some last week that seemed like they would last and were the right price. Clothes items can be expensive here and quality is seemingly an unknown quality(did that make sense? That's why I'm glad I'm learning Spanish instead of English!). Anyway, Cohen is extremely excited about showing his shoes to his grandparents. He woke up early the morning after receiving his new shoes, and by the time I got up at 5:30 am he was already traipsing around the house with his shoes on the wrong feet.  As I was helping him get them switched around he said, "Dad, I really want to take my new shoes to heaven. I'd sure like to show these shoes to Jesus!"
I can't remember what my reply was, being that it was 5:30 in the morning, but I think I assured him that Jesus would be delighted to see his shoes. You can't argue with 3 year old theology!

If anyone is wondering how are Spanish is coming, I'll update you in a minute on where my grammar class is. For now, I have a quick lesson. While Harina(flour), and Orina (urine) are pronounced much the same, they have very different meanings.  Earlier this trimester, Kate announced in her class that she had plastic canisters of Orina in her kitchen. By her teacher's reaction, this is as highly irregular in Costa Rica as it is in the States.  In interest of full disclosure, at around the same time I announced in my class that I cut my wrists every two weeks, instead of my fingernails.  Thanks to ourselves, we do get to laugh a bit in school.
Back to the update,  my grammar class just finished direct and indirect complement pronouns, reflexive verbs, and most recently special intransitive verbs. All of these require removing your brain from your head, flipping it around backwards, then replacing it.  After Semana Santa, we will be starting on Preterit verb conjugation.  While sometimes learning Spanish is difficult and can be as fun as watching nails rust, we have really turned a corner over the past few weeks. I'm excited for the next trimester, because I'm signing up for a little different academic program involving developing relationships with people around town and spending time every week going on a "route", speaking with them about various subjects. It will be a welcome change from the classroom setting and I hope to get better at hearing native speakers speaking Spanish.  God has been good to us in learning Spanish!

On a personal note, there have been some rough times as well as good, and one of these has been with Seth and Renee and baby Travis.  Having to grieve with them from far away has been very difficult, and we were very homesick for them and our church family at BCF on the day Travis was laid to rest.  We are incredibly grateful for a God who holds and sustains us.  In the midst of this and some other experiences here with people living with so many needs it feels hopeless,  a passage in John jumped out at me one morning. It's from the beginning of chapter nine, when Jesus and his disciples happened upon a man who was blind from birth. His followers wondered whose fault it was that he was born blind, his or his parents. Jesus replied that neither was at fault, but he was born blind so that God's works could be made manifest in him.  I love the comfort we can find in this, that Jesus with his compassion feels our pain when we go through seemingly unbearable things, and yet it is not for nothing, God does have a plan for it.  Even though it doesn't take the grieving and the pain away, it can make it bearable, and we know that someday all things will be made right. I long for the day when our eyes are opened, and all the things we can't understand, like a baby going home before we get a chance to hold or know him or children living in conditions we can't fathom, are finally fully understandable.  

If you are still with me in the rather long update, thanks for taking the time. :)  We love and miss everyone at home, and God has been so gracious to us with a strong network of support.

May God bless you richly, 
Dave for Kate, Cohen and Titus.