Saturday, May 29, 2010

Becoming a Part of the Community

We have officially been in Costa Rica for a month - and what a month it's been!

Since we've been here we have tried to take advantage of every opportunity to get involved and learn more about the language and the culture. We are really enjoying the church that we are attending with our Tica Family, and this past Sunday they held a Walk/Run to increase their presence in the community. We were hesitant to commit to running the 5k, but we eagerly signed up to walk the 2k with our Tica sister. There was a great turnout and it was a ton of fun. Once everyone arrived at the finish line, we had a church service at the local park and heard the testimony of a former professional soccer player. At the end of the event, Josh claimed the prize for the second fastest gringo in the race, but I didn't have the heart to tell him there were only two of us ;-).

I am thrilled to say that I have been able to combine my love of dance with my language learning! In July, the school celebrates Costa Rican Culture Day and every Monday a group of girls meets with one of the Spanish professors to learn traditional Costa Rican dances to perform for the school. It has been so much fun getting to merge my passions and I can't wait to perform!

On Thursday, Josh and I visited a local Nicaraguan community called La Carpio. This is an extremely poor area and the Spanish Language Institute has set up a ministry providing computer classes for the men, jewelry-making classes for the women, and childcare for the kids. It was a very moving experience taking part in this ministry and is one of the poorest areas I've ever seen. Our host family has explained to us that the government tries to help this area continually but there are huge problems with alcoholism and crime so it hasn't done much good. They told us that ambulances can't even go into the area because while the paramedics are helping the victim, people steal things from the vehicle. We are praying that God will show us if and how we can help with this ministry.

We are looking forward to jumping into June with enthusiasm and continuing to learn more of the language. We will keep you updated!

Love and God Bless,

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Costa Rica Update

School is really ramping up and we are working hard! The professors are very encouraging and do a great job teaching, but it can definitely get overwhelming. We are so blessed to have each other and also to have such a great Tica family that is willing to help us any time we have questions.

This past weekend was crazy, but very fun. Early Saturday morning, we went with Flor (our Tica mom) to la feria (outdoor market) to buy fruits and veggies. It was fascinating and a great learning experience. Our family thought that we needed a little break from school so after la feria they took us on a surprise trip to Irazu Volcano about 30 minutes from San Jose. Since we arrived here I have been talking about how much I wanted to see a volcano, and I was so excited to have the opportunity! Here are some pictures of our trip:

On Sunday, I had the opportunity to go to a real tica baby shower for one of the teachers at the school where Flor works. What an experience! There was food, games, more food, presents, and more food. I got a LOT of practice on my Spanish talking to all of the wonderful women there.

This week has been going well so far. Each Monday, I have to give a 20 minute devotion in Spanish for my language class and this week I focused on the parallel that exists between the homesickness that I feel being away from my family, and the homesickness that Christians experience being here on earth. 2 Corinthians 5 talks about our heavenly dwelling and says:

"Now we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, an eternal house in heaven, not built by human hands. Meanwhile we groan, longing to be clothed with our heavenly dwelling. . . Now it is God who has made us for this very purpose and has given us the Spirit as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come."

It is comforting to know that just as I have the very real hope of seeing my family and friends again here on earth, we also have the very real hope of the return of Jesus Christ to take us to our permanent home with God the Father. What a comfort!

Joshua and I would ask that you would pray for us as we continue to work hard to learn this language. We are so grateful for your continued encouragement and love.

Love and God Bless

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

School Days

We have officially been in classes for a week today! And what a week . . .

Josh and I are in different classes (which is probably a good thing!) and we are both learning a ton. The classes typically only have 4-6 people in them which means we get a lot of one-on-one attention, and with our Tica family at home, we are getting plenty of practice speaking. In the morning, we each have a language (conversation) class mixed with some phonetics. Then, we have two hours of grammar class. We come home and eat lunch and then do our homework and practice with our Tica family. The school does a great job of encouraging us to get out into the community to learn. For example, each week I have to come up with at least 4 questions on a topic of my choice and then find 2-4 people out the community and ask them the questions. Today Josh and I went to a local park and talked to a woman watching her grandchild for about 30 minutes. It's definitely nerve-wracking to just walk up to some one and start asking questions in a foreign language, but it is really good practice and she was SO nice! She even gave me two mangos to take home :). We are treating this as our full-time job right now and so we tend to spend about 8 hours per day working on our Spanish. We can already tell a difference - even if it's a small difference - in the way we communicate!

We are eager to learn more about the Latin culture as this will be very important when we get to Ecuador. Our Tica mom was nice enough to volunteer to take us to see the inauguration (or "la toma de posecion") of the new Costa Rican president who also happens to be the first female president of Costa Rica. It was an inspiring experience and a real celebration of Costa Rican culture. The heads of state from countries all over the world were there - Georgia, Colombia, Honduras, Spain, Panama, Nicaragua, Bolivia, and lots more. Plus, there were performances of traditional dances and songs and every one was more than willing to help the "gringos" understand what was going on. It was another great opportunity to practice our Spanish. Here are a few pictures:

The new president

Josh and I taking it all in

It was great to see the national pride

A true patriot

Once again, we are so grateful for all of your prayers and support - please pass our website on to anyone who might be interested in our ministry. Feel free to email us at We will keep you updated!

Love and God Bless!

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Stephanie does not let me write much on the blog so while she is in the bathroom I decided to post this picture. This is me and our wonderful Tica mom (Tica is what most Costa Ricans call themselves). While we were sitting around the dinner table talking, in spanish of course, we noticed that she is either really short or I am really tall. Thank you all for your support. Please keep in touch. If you want to, you can also send us mail at:

Joshua and Stephanie Tucker
Spanish Language Institute
P.O. Box 025240
Miami, FL 33102

This is a forwarding address to our school in Costa Rica.

I have to go Stephanie is back in the room!!! :)

Monday, May 3, 2010

Settling in

I can't believe 6 days have passed!

We are starting to get into a rhythm here as we understand more about the culture and how things work. For instance, you never leave a room where people are talking without excusing yourself, you have huge lunches and small dinners, and you take your umbrella with you every time you leave the house. Plus, each day we are able to speak Spanish with our family for at least a couple of hours, and we've had the chance to label almost everything in our room with its Spanish name. As eager as we are to start classes on Wednesday, it is probably good to have this time to adjust and prepare.

This weekend was great! On Saturday a group of students from the school got together to learn the bus system and go into downtown San Jose. We were planning on going to the National Museum to learn some Costa Rican history, but Saturday was Labor Day for them and so it was closed. We did get to see some performers and the major park in the area. I bought a small map of Costa Rica to put in our room to learn a bit about the geography of the country. It was a great time!

On Sunday, we got to attend church with our Tico Family and it was such an awesome experience. The church was very contemporary and had a praise band - the worship music was a great way to practice our Spanish! I can definitely see us going to this church regularly.

Today during orientation we had a program about security that was very eye-opening. The leader had been a SWAT team member in the states and has been in Costa Rica for 4 years training the police force here and evangelizing. He explained that since 1) we are obviously foreigners 2) most of us don't know the language and 3) we aren't familiar with the city, we are big targets for crimes. He said that just by doing a few things (i.e. don't go out after dark, travel with other people, lock your windows and doors, etc.) you can significantly reduce the likelihood of a crime being committed against you. We feel very safe in our home and we feel that the more we can get to know the neighborhood (during the day!) the better off we'll be.

Our pictures will be posted on our facebook page since I am unable to post them here - I'll keep trying.

Love and God Bless!