If I had one word to describe our first month in Costa Rica it would be WOW! Wow, we had no idea how hospitable Ticos (Costa Ricans) are. Wow, we had no idea much walking we were going to do just to buy food, get to school many times a day, and run errands. Wow, we had no idea that we were going to learn so much about language, culture, Ubers, buses, and what it takes to learn a new language. Wow, we didn't know God had so many blessings planned for our family here in Costa Rica including new friends, new experiences, and His constant reminder that He is with us and He has a plan for us here. We are so grateful to be a part of Latin American missions where together we desire to fuel and sustain a biblical movement to reach Latin America for Christ by coaching indigenous leaders, catalyzing clusters of church planting, and creating appropriate structures to facilitate and support the growth of the church.
We have seen the Love of God so clearly this past week, in both large and small ways. First, as God places people in our path to love on our kids, like when Ellie´s teacher sought her out during orientation and welcomed her. Or when a family from the school came over minutes after we arrived to meet our kids and take them to the park to play with them. Second, as God shows us his heart for the Ticos (Costa Ricans). God has led us here, and many others to share his love with a hurting world. We´ve been encouraged to remember every encounter with another person is an opportunity to share the love of Jesus, even without language. And third, we have felt and experienced the love from you, our supporters, family, and friends. We felt loved through your hugs, prayers, encouaging texts, and thoughtful gifts. We really don´t feel like we are doing this alone, but with a great cloud of witnesses. Thank you for being a part of our journey, and a part of God´s great story.
Here We Go
Thank you so much for praying for us and supporting us as we transition from the known to the unknown and then to our new known. The kids did great flying down here. The flight was uneventful, with amazing views out the windows. Everything went smoothly, and we even ended up with all our baggage when we arrived here in Costa Rica. Unfortunately, we overpacked, so we have 5 suitcases waiting to make their way south in the future.
This week has been a bit of a blur. We arrived in Costa Rica on Monday afternoon. We were met with much love and hospitality from the District Superintendent Victor with gifts (see top picture), as well as our ´¨Big Brother¨ from the Spanish Language Institute. A large tour van and two small SUV´s transported us to our house. After we unloaded our luggage, Victor took us to eat at a Chinese restaurant near our house. On Tuesday our orientation began, and Wednesday was the kids´ first day of school. The kids seem to be doing great. They are enjoying making new friends and are trying to learn new systems, rules, and expectations. They felt a little overwhelmed in their Spanish class where the teacher only speaks Spanish (except for Ellie´s class). Glenn and I will begin classes on Monday.
What an amazing year 2016 has been!
What an amazing year 2016 has been! If you follow us on Facebook, you most likely know that we have moved, sold our house in Kansas, traveled 10,000 miles across the USA in our van over the summer, moved to Michigan and into my (Wendy) parents’ home, started the kids in a new school, and are moving to Costa Rica on January 2, 2017 to begin language school. Since you already know that, I want to use this opportunity to focus on what God had done and what he is continuing to do.
Story #1. Community, good goodbyes, and love. Churches and individuals alike talk about what it means to live in community, to have community, and to be a community. As we were preparing to leave our home in McPherson, Kansas we saw the true meaning of community lived out in the lives of our friends (which includes family, church family, school families, neighbors, etc.) People provided meals, lawn care, taking kids to orthodontist appointments, prepping the house for sale, packing, cleaning, moving, painting, taking trips to help our stuff find new homes, and the list could go on and on. Over 30 people showed up to help us move out of our house, and two families stayed to see us off. To say we felt loved would be an understatement! Reflecting on this time in our lives, I see how community really is another word for the body of Christ. In some ways, it made it harder to leave, and in other ways it was a reminder of why we are leaving. The body of Christ (community) strengthened us so now in turn they could send us out to strengthen the body of Christ in Central America. Thank you, friends!
Story #2. Hellos, nice to meet you, and new friends! Our family had the privilege of attending a missionary training in August called MTI. This was like a pressure cooker for language learning, cultural training, and developing friendships. We were together for four weeks. We lived, ate, played and learned together. MTI provided training for our whole family and it was an amazing experience for each of us. A few of our takeaways include a common vocabulary that we can use to communicate with our children about transition, paradoxes, culture and languages. Other highlights include connections with other families doing this crazy thing called missions and cross-cultural living, interactions with former missionaries and third culture kids, and learning tools to help learn language and make connections in our new culture. But the best gift was the community. We made friends that will be life-long friends. Besides making new friendship at MTI we were also blessed to visit friends along our partnership building route this summer. It was encouraging to see the body of Christ as we traveled. And it is the body of Christ that is supporting, encouraging, and loving us as we continue to trust God on this journey.
Story #3. Transition. The definition of transition is the process or a period of changing from one state or condition to another. It has been difficult as a parent to watch our kids move from one transition to another. First, they left their schools and friends in Kansas. We traveled all summer ending up in Colorado at MTI. At MTI, they made new friends only to leave them 4 weeks later. They started a new school a week after the other students started and they will say goodbye to their new friends in Michigan and say hello to even newer friends in Costa Rica in January. To say it’s been difficult would be an understatement. My heart has broken for our kids’ loss of friends and normalcy during each transition. And yet (I love the word yet!), like a caterpillar must transition from a familiar state to an unfamiliar state to become a beautiful butterfly, I also see God at work in our family, and we too must trust him as we move from the know to the unknown. Our transformation has not been as dramatic or as quick, but God is doing something amazing in our family and the lives of our children. God is using these transitions to create the experiences each of our children needs to become the godly man or woman He has created them to be. And it has been exciting (and a little scary) to be on the front row watching.
We are excited about the year ahead. We are looking forward to what God will teach us and how he will guide us. We are thankful that God has been leading and guiding our every step. We realize that we are participating in just one aspect of the Great Commission, and that you are also learning and growing in faith and service. We would love to partner in prayer with you on your journey. Please let us know what God is doing in and through you and your community. Use our contact information below to share with us how we can participate with you and your ministry through prayer, partnerships, and opportunities. Likewise, if you would like to keep up with our stories of what God is doing in Central America, email us and let us know.
May the Peace of Christ be renewed in your soul this Christmas,
Wendy (for the Lorenzes)
Wendy and I attended a Costa Rican leaders gathering in early November for resourcing and celebration. We also visited the school we will attend beginning in January!
Some of the pastors and spouses pictured above were newly received as ministerial candidates. Wendy and I will be privileged to participate in their pastoral formation and leadership development plans as they continue to work toward ordination in the Free Methodist Church.
The green rooftops in the foreground are part of the Instituto de Lengua Espanola, the school that we will be attending. The clouds roll in over the mountains just about every afternoon during rainy season!