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It is crazy to think that I have already been living and serving in Costa Rica for just over one month! I am so grateful to be here, and I am beyond thankful to my friends and family in the states who are giving and praying faithfully so that I am able to take this journey with The Lord.
Life here, in the neighborhood of Los Anonos is quite different than it was for me in the States. Being here longer than my previous ten-day trips has definitely opened wider my eyes to this reality. For starters, most of my friends here appear on the surface to be not so different from me…similar styles, similar personalities, similar interests…However, being able to really be a part of their lives has been eye-opening, and at times a hard reality to swallow. I get to be in their homes and to see the true poverty that they live in. I get to be with them, hanging out in the streets at night, where they are not unlikely to see a drunken parent passing by, or a drug-addicted sibling hanging out at the corner. BUT, in the midst of all of this, I still get to celebrate life with them, worship with them, joke around with them, and be encouraged by them! In them, I see God building up a young generation of believers who want to know Jesus more, because their hope is in Him – I see this in the emotion in which they worship and in which they pray…Their faith challenges me to be more expectant of my God!
In addition to the lifestyle here, the other obvious difference is the language; creating a struggle to communicate and build deep relationships. To share a story, one night a couple weeks back I was sitting in the 20s group, listening as Jono was speaking. He spoke very charismatically and passionately, people seemed to be very engaged in both thought and laughter, and I sat there struggling to understand ANYTHING! Then in our breakout groups following, people seemed to really be speaking from their hearts and sharing powerful things, but I just sat there in silence, smiling timidly, unable to share in any of their words…The best way to describe my feelings is that I felt dumb, shy, unconfident, and lacking personality. I am used to engaging with people, learning about their lives, and using my words to love, affirm, and encourage…I am used to making people laugh, joking around, and telling stories…Instead, I was just sitting in silence with nothing to contribute, feeling frustrated and awkward! BUT in this, God was humbling me, reminding me that I am here to draw attention to Him and not to myself. And also, reminding me that His plan for me in Costa Rica was written by Him and not me, and that He will and is already using me…but in His own way and timing (Proverbs 3:5-6).
The other cool thing is that although I often feel that my Spanish skills are improving at a snail’s pace, God will occasionally bless me with an unexpected opportunity to engage in one-on-one conversation where I realize “woah, I know more Spanish than I thought!” These are great gifts, and please keep praying with me for boldness and quick learning in Spanish speaking.
The last major difference that I have noticed while here has been the pace of life. Without hosting teams until January, the pace of my day is definitely slower and less full than it was in the States. There are often large chunks of unassigned time in the afternoons, and Mondays are meant to be whole days of rest…And those of you who know me well know that being quiet and still are not my “spiritual gifts.” Haha. I have been wrestling with feeling like I need to be “doing” more. But, I know that being still and quiet before The Lord is something that He wants to culture in me, and I am learning to enjoy this time as a blessing and strengthener in my relationship with The Lord.
Please be praying for my ears and heart to be open to the voice of The Lord and the leading of the Holy Spirit…God continues to bless me richly here, and although I miss my relationships in the States, I am really enjoying where He has me!
Today puts me just over 3 weeks away from my departure for Costa Rica on October 14th! It has been an encouragement to me over the past several weeks to see people excited to partner with me in prayer and in financial giving. It lifts me up to know that I am not the only one excited about diving into this opportunity! Just over half of my financial support need has been met, and I am anxious to see how God continues to provide in this area!
I have noticed that as October 14th gets closer and closer my excitement is increasing, but I am also a little sad or uneasy about leaving my friends and family for a year. God has surrounding me with an incredible support system of believers, and giving up real time with these people will not be easy. But, as I have seen Him do abundantly before, I know God will provide for me people who encourage and sharpen me in my walk with Jesus! Philippians 4:19 - “And my God will supply every need of yours according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus.”
Lord Jesus, I do not know the details of what you have ahead of me, and I lay all of my personal agenda and expectations in Your hands. Through Your Holy Spirit in me, increase my love for You and others and let me share more of Your heart God! -Amen