Monday, September 20, 2010

New Developments

Hello again!
At this point, Joshua and I are well into the trimester and continue to see improvement on our Spanish every day. I was actually pretty sick last week with a cold/flu and am happy to say that I am starting to feel better and was able to go to school today. My teachers were very understanding about everything and thanks to information from my classmates I was able to stay caught up on my work.

Last week was a big week for a number of reasons:

First, Josh and I were able to have a conference call with a key member of MMI who gave us more information about what our first few months in Ecuador will be like! It has been decided that we will spend our first 2-3 months in Guayaquil in southern Ecuador. This is where the existing hospital is located, and starting out here will give us a chance to get to know the MMI staff currently in Ecuador and familiarize ourselves with the set up of the hospital. From there we will spend 2-3 months in Cuenca and 2-3 months in Quito (we don't know in what order yet) to investigate possible locations for the new permanent medical center. We received a lot of other helpful information on that call, but the closer we get to arriving in Ecuador the more we see that this is God's project and we are simply lucky enough to be involved in what He is doing in Ecuador. We must use the knowledge the He has given us to make logical decisions, but He will be driving this project - and has been since before we were even involved. We give thanks to God every day for giving us the opportunity to be here and also for all of you who are supporting us. Thank you!

Secondly, after our time in missions training in Colorado and spending time with all of the missionary families who are here in Costa Rica, we have realized that an indispensable item for a missionary is something called a "prayer card". This is basically a postcard with our photo, information about what we'll be doing, and our contact information that we can keep with us and give out to people. It enables us to keep in touch with people that we meet and also spreads awareness about our work in Ecuador. The more people praying for this endeavor the better! So . . . I asked a classmate of mine who is an amateur photographer (and VERY talented) if she would help us create a prayer card. We walked around our neighborhood and she took some great photos of Joshua and I and then she designed a prayer card for us. We will be ordering them soon and you should all be receiving one by the end of the year!

Thirdly, September 15th was Costa Rica's Independence Day and it was wonderful to get to see the way that they celebrate. Although July 4th revolves a lot more around yummy food, there are a lot of similarities between the two days. We saw red, white, and blue everywhere (since those are Costa Rica's flag's colors as well), and there were fireworks. Also, it is a national holiday so we did get a day off of school to watch the Independence Day parades. There are, however, some differences. For one thing, on the 14th of September at 6pm, the entire country stops what they are doing and sings the national anthem - pretty neat! Also on the night of the 14th, there are special parades of "faroles" which are elaborately decorated lanterns made by the kids and every school has a parade of faroles. The students practice for months at their schools to perform in the parades held the morning of the 15th. There is a band, baton-twirlers, cheerleaders, a drill-team, and the youngest kids are dressed up in traditional costumes and ride along with the parade. Even though I was a bit under-the-weather, I was able to see some of one of the parades on Wednesday morning. Here are some pictures:

Well, Josh and I both have tests tomorrow so we better hit the books. Hasta luego!!

Love and God Bless,

Stephanie and Josh

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Back to School!

Backpacks are packed and pencils are sharpened! It's just like back-to-school time in the states - except for the fall colors :-). Classes at the Spanish Language Institute started back on Tuesday and these teachers mean business! They know we have one trimester under our belts so they are cracking down right from the start. Josh has 2 hours of conversation class followed by 2 hours of grammar. He is definitely feeling challenged, but I think he's up for it. I just hope his teachers give him more homework this trimester so I won't be the only one staying up at night working! I have 2 hours of translation class and then 2 hours of conversation class with a focus on the Bible. The translation class is very intense - from day-one we started translating passages from Spanish to English and from English to Spanish in writing and verbally. The goal is to be able to clearly interpret for someone in either direction. Everyone in the class has definitely had to get over our nervousness and stay on our toes because our teacher will put any one of us on the spot at any moment. Thank goodness it is a loving and encouraging environment! The conversation class is very similar to the one I had last trimester, just with a different emphasis and more complex sentence structures.

Josh and I have also decided to take extra classes to learn medical Spanish. One of the teachers at the school will be tutoring us for an hour two days a week so that we can be as prepared as possible for work in the medical community once we arrive in Ecuador.

We anticipate this trimester being even busier than last. On top of harder classes and extra tutoring, we are involved in volleyball one night a week at the school and I am continuing to perform traditional Costa Rican dances around the community when our group receives an invitation. Additionally I will have a women's Bible study one night a week, Josh and I will meet once a week with a pastor and his wife for mentoring, and we are praying about joining an ESL program for Ticos in our community.

Things are still going very well with our Tica family and we have made some very strong bonds with fellow missionaries at the Institute. Some of them have gone or will be going to live in Ecuador and I can't tell you how nice it is to already have a network - albeit a small network - of friends there when we arrive. A couple that we met here just left yesterday for Quito and they already told us that we can stay with them when we first get there while we are investigating locations for the hospital.

Well, time to get working on homework! We love all of you - thank you for your continued prayers and support!!

Love and God Bless,

Steph and Josh

From Josh:

If anyone would like to send us a letter we would love to hear from everyone back home. Our address is:

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

Also, we will be back in the USA from mid-December - mid-January and we will be spending time fundraising and sharing about our ministry in Ecuador. If you know of any churches or organizations were we might be able to go and speak please let us know!