It is difficult to believe that a whole month has already passed since the purchase of our truck and our last blog update. A lot has happened since then!
I will start with our trip to Nicaragua. We initially came to Costa Rica with the intent of applying for temporary residency by the time our tourist visa ran out. Well, like most things here, it’s a complicated and time consuming process! Anyways, the time for our tourist visa was up and we were in need of a trip to be able to re-enter the country and receive another 90 days of permission to reside in the country. We chose Nicaragua, as it was a short shuttle van ride away. It only took us about 6 hrs travel time each way. We were a little nervous about the border crossings and really had no desire to leave our Costa Rican mountain home, but we knew we had to go. We were so happy we elected to travel with the tourist shuttle van; crossing into Nicaragua was fairly easy and it was a comfort knowing we had other travelers with us. We were surprised at how many fees and stops there were in order to cross the border! First was the exit fee to leave Costa Rica and get an exit stamp. The second stop included a stamp to enter Nicaragua along with two more fees. Then as we drove out of the border area we had 3 more stops for passport checks! Matt joked at the passport check stops, “now here is where we pay $100, and here is where we pay $200.” Thankfully we were done with the fees at that point. When we reserved our hostel, I didn’t realize that it wasn’t actually located in the city we had booked travel to, but rather about 20 minutes outside. We easily acquired a taxi, however overpriced by at least 3x what we should have paid, we were just grateful we had arrived. I spent the next few days battling the frustration of having paid too much, but was eventually able to find the grace to let it go.
Our hostel was located right at a very secluded beach and it was beautiful! We spent most of our days playing in the cool waves or hiding in our somewhat air-conditioned room as the temperature was over 100° F! We were so miserably hot in comparison to our cool mountain weather. We did manage to squeeze in some adventures though! First was a couple of rounds of disc golf at the only disc golf course in Nicaragua, which just happened to be a 10 minute walk from where we were staying in the middle of no-where. Later that week we returned there for some delicious pizza! We also took a day to travel into the town of San Juan Del Sur where we immediately began to regret our decision. Not only was it incredibly hot, the power was out for some routine line maintenance. Within the first few minutes of being there we were having some difficulties with an ATM, followed by a very angry American yelling at us. I wished I could just hide back in our room that was now a bumpy 25 minute shuttle ride away. While feeling defeated by the heat, ATM, and a grumpy tourist, we pondered what on earth we could do to salvage this experience. We looked up to Jesus- literally. In San Juan Del Sur sits a giant 23 meter statue of Jesus. We decided that was what we were going to do: hike to Jesus, despite the over 100° weather and escape the less-than-great experience we were currently having. It was so funny to be asking people, “do you know how to get to Jesus?” But be asking for physical directions! 🙂 One extremely hot and steep hike later, we were there! It was so refreshing to feel the breeze and see the beauty from up high. I loved the parallel our experience made to everyday trials. There is always refreshment and perspective waiting for us at the feet of Jesus. With our spirits rejuvenated, we returned to the city and enjoyed a delicious meal at a beach restaurant, bought a pretty hand-crafted picture for our home, and rode our economical shuttle back. The shuttle was about 1/8 of the price we had spent on our taxi earlier in the week! We met some nice people from Australia on the shuttle and enjoyed our visit with them very much.
The return trip to Costa Rica began for us at 5:20 am and we were eager to get back. We went through a similar process in crossing the border, only this time we were held up by a man who was seemingly stuck between the two borders; he was on the phone with the U.S. Marines demanding a rescue op. While one guard was preoccupied by this scene, another window opened; all the people in line behind us quickly seized their opportunity to pass us smiling at us as they did! We were all taken aback at this line cutting but eventually were able to stop the flow and get into the new line. One of our travel companions from Spain spent the whole next hour re-telling the story of the upset phone man and the line cutters to our driver over and over again. It provided great entertainment as we made our way through the various passport check points. While our trip was miserably hot, we were grateful for the contrast it provided to our new mountain life; we are so blessed to be able to call Costa Rica “home,” and are so grateful to be back here with a fresh 90 days of Costa Rican Opportunity.
Tomorrow we hope to finally meet up with our lawyer to officially begin our residency process! We are very excited and would be grateful for your prayers. Earlier this month I chatted with an old friend from Bible college who had applied for Costa Rican residency in the past, but was denied. Before this conversation it hadn’t even occurred to me that we could go through this long process and be denied! My friend also mentioned that it was God opening and closing doors for he and his wife and he knew that God was leading them to the US at that point. It was a very needed reminder that even though the thought of rejection hadn’t occurred to me before, it was not a reason to panic. God is control of and over everything; He is faithful and has His plan. If we are able to acquire residency we will no longer need to leave the country every 90 days. We also will be able to begin our process towards permanent residency and maybe even eventually citizenship. Each of these steps simply make it easier for us to live and minister here.
Speaking of ministering here: Matt has truly been blessed with so many opportunities to simply build relationships and naturally share what God has done in his life with others. Even on our shuttle rides to and from Nicaragua we experienced this blessing of doors being open to share about God through who we are and what we are doing in Costa Rica. Seeing Matt share God’s love with such a natural and overflowing passion is incredible for this blessed wife. Guitar classes have also been going well and have proved to be a great opportunity to continue building relationships and share Christ’s love. I am also teaching a young girl from our Bible study separate guitar lessons and I am filled with joy when I think about the possibilities of what God may have for her in the future.
I have been praying for inspiration for ideas for the children’s bible classes for a while now. Yesterday we had Bible study here, and I hadn’t found time to prepare until that morning. As I logged onto the site I usually get the curriculum from, I was thrown into panic mode as I realized the Spanish translated worksheets had run out! I hadn’t even realized before that only a certain number of the teachings had these Spanish resources. While praying and worrying about what I was going to do for the class that evening, I found another location on the same site for an older curriculum. Not only were all of these lessons available with Spanish resources, they also included a teachers guide complete with activities and crafts throughout the lessons! This was such an immediate and long-term answer to my prayers. The class that evening went so well; the kids were engaged throughout the study and remembered all the answers to my follow-up questions in the end. God is good and faithful to provide for His little ones, and big ones too 😉 .
Thank you so much for continued prayers and encouragement from home. We are very aware of God’s movement in and provision for our lives daily here. He is so faithful to teach us, fill us, direct us, convict us, and strengthen us.