Wednesday, July 28, 2010

We've reached the 3-month mark!

2 more weeks of classes left in this trimester! Wow! We have definitely picked up speed in our classes over the past few weeks as we try to learn as much as possible before we change classes. Josh is learning past tense verbs (it's great that he can speak in more than just present tense now ;-) ) and I learned the 15th out of 15 rules of the subjunctive today. We have continued to use a lot of Spanish around the house and have gotten creative :-). Some friends of ours loaned us a fantastic board game called Settlers of Catan. We have been playing almost every night with our Tica family in Spanish and it's a ton of fun, not to mention great language practice. The currency in the game is madera (wood), ovejas (sheep), ladrillo (brick), piedra (stone), and trigo (wheat) - we will never forget those words in Spanish ever again!

I have been blessed with the opportunity to do a lot of dancing recently through the school! I have mentioned in previous blogs that we have been practicing traditional Costa Rican dances throughout the trimester and in the past two weeks we have gotten to perform them twice: once for the school's Cultural Day and once for the Costa Rican community around the school. It was an incredible rush to get to perform what we'd been working so hard on and it was super-fun to get to wear the traditional Costa Rican skirts, blouses, and shoes.

Also, for the past two weeks I have been choreographing and rehearsing a liturgical praise dance to perform at chapel and last Tuesday I got the chance to do so. Psalm 149 says "Praise his name with dancing, accompanied by tambourine and harp" and I am so grateful to have the opportunity to use a talent that God has given me to glorify him! I danced to the song "Shadowfeet" by Brooke Fraser. She is an awesome Christian contemporary artist and I'd definitely recommend checking out her music!

Josh and I have started meeting once a week with a missionary-pastor, Mike, and his wife, Tricia, to augment our scriptural knowledge. It has been an unbelievable blessing for us! We have realized that while we have a clear understanding of the importance of LIVING our faith day-to-day as a witness of Christ in our lives, we really need to focus a lot more on sharing the gospel verbally with those around us. Mike and Tricia have been talking with us about various ways of lovingly sharing our faith and answering any questions that we have. I have shared my testimony before but it feels great learning how to clearly articulate the gift of Christ Jesus and what that can mean for someone. We plan on continuing to meet with them in the weeks to come and want to specifically learn about Roman Catholicism in Latin America and ways to serve and minister to Roman Catholics in Ecuador.

There has been cause for praise as some of our best friends here at the Institute had their first baby on July 17th: a healthy, beautiful little girl named Eliana. We visited them in the hospital and have been over to visit at their apartment quite a few times and they are doing very well. :-D

We are definitely missing some people and things from home after 3 months here in Costa Rica. We've started really craving some foods from the states and Josh just tortures himself by watching the Food Network at night. Overall though, we are still incredibly happy here and blessed to be living in the will of God. Thank you for your prayers and love and enjoy the rest of your summer!!!

(We wanted to post a pic of Josh's birthday party from the last blog as well!)

Love and God Bless,

Steph and Josh

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Panama, 4th of July, and Josh's Birthday!

What a crazy month its been!!

We've been in Costa Rica for over two months now - wow! Things are going great and we are continuing to learn a ton of Spanish. We only have 5 weeks left in this trimester so the teachers are really picking up steam so that we can learn everything we need to learn before our second trimester begins. We both have grammar exams tomorrow. It's hard to believe, but we are already picking which classes we'll be taking. Josh will be continuing to focus on grammar and conversation, and I am planning to take a Spanish/English translation class and also a Spanish Bible class. The translation class will be invaluable to me when mission teams come to Ecuador - I will definitely need to know how to translate for doctors, nurses, and pastors in the hospital. The Bible class will give me a lot of the tools I need to be able to clearly share my faith with the people we come into contact with. Also, we would like to hire a tutor to learn some key medical words and phrases so that we are prepared for the communication we will need to do. We are very excited about the upcoming semester!

We've also been kept very busy helping our "Little Brother" family. We've been talking to landlords over the phone (in Spanish - what a challenge!) and setting up meetings to view different houses. Tomorrow we will be meeting with the landlord of the house that our family has selected and signing the preliminary paperwork. I can tell already that having this experience will help us a ton once we are in Ecuador looking at properties for ourselves and for the hospital we'll be building.

Since we've been in Costa Rica so long, we needed to get our visas stamped so that we could stay in the country. At the end of June, Josh and I went with about 40 other people from the Institute to Panama for a weekend to achieve that goal. It was great fun, but also served its purpose. Panama was beautiful - but VERY hot! Thankfully the hotel that we stayed at had air conditioning and we got to enjoy AC for the first time since we arrived in May. We are now legally in the country for 90 more days!

A few weeks ago we had a family get-together for Fathers Day and our Costa Rican brother's 20th birthday. Once again our "new" family included us in the cooking and celebrating. Josh cooked a buffalo chicken dip, which was another great taste of home. This was also a very good opportunity to force ourselves to practice our spanish. We will try to post a picture of this later when the internet is working.

It was very interesting celebrating July 4th in Costa Rica. The week of July 4th was also Spiritual Emphasis Week at the school and we had chapel twice a day and a lot of other activities focused on unity and families. During that week, the school threw a 4th of July party complete with games, hotdogs, chips, and cupcakes so we definitely got a taste of home, and of course I made sure to wear red, white, and blue on the actual day! The only thing we were missing was fireworks :-). Check out the photo below. We were so happy to have a hotdog.

And finally, Josh's 25th birthday was yesterday! A girl in one of his classes bought him a small cake from a bakery close by and the he and I used some of his birthday money from his grandparents to enjoy dinner together last night. It was a lot of fun and as awesome as it is living with our Tico Family, it was very special for us to have just a little time alone.

We are looking forward to the upcoming weekend and we will continue to keep you updated! As always, we can't thank you enough for your support, prayers and love - we could not do this without your encouragement behind us.

Love and God Bless,

Steph and Josh