Language school

Language school

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Our Daily Sights

As you all know we having been living in Costa Rica for almost a year now.  We're not sure what you think of when you think of living in Central America (if it's the beach, well, we're not anywhere near one unfortunately!), so we thought we'd take a few photos of things we see everyday and share them with you!
the "fería" or farmer's market

We shop here every Saturday and buy all our fruits and veggies

this is a very common sight! We are the dishwashers here

The back gate of the school. This is the entrance we use every morning.

Some sort of fly/bee nest down the street from us...

The electrical wiring is just fascinating here!

Anybody know what these are?

Mowing the grass.....

Barbed wire is very fashionable here!
Here's the front of the first house we lived in here.
Here's the front of the house we live in now!
A pretty tiled wall we walk past everytime we go to the grocery story.
An overgrown fenced in empty lot.
Line of taxi cabs by Parque Bosque.
Parque Bosque. (Also the park where Lucy was bitten.)
Trash day.
The foot bridge we cross to go to the grocery store.
Our favorite grocery store! (Peri) Only a 15 min walk from our house.
Did we mention it was rainy season?
Beautiful mountains!
Most streets have guards, This is one of the guard shacks.
We walk to this bus stop every Sunday morning to take the first of two buses to church.

We have such pretty flowers here!

We are blessed to live in this beautiful country.  Many of the things you see above are a shock when you first arrive.  It takes some time to get used to all of the gated homes and barbed wire, but it's a place where God is at work in the hearts of many, and has been a wonderful transition country between the luxuries we take for granted in the US, and the basic things so many do without in Honduras.

"My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me." (John 10:27) We know this is where God has called us to for now, so that we can learn a language and learn cultural differences that will better allow us to reach the people He has called us to serve in Honduras. Thank you all so much for your prayers and support! We can't wait to see ya'll in December!!

Also, we made a short video clip about our time here in Costa Rica! Enjoy!
Costa Rica 2014 Video

Saturday, September 27, 2014

The Beginning of the End

We are almost a month into our 3rd and final trimester of language school, which means we have a little over two months left before we get to see many of you again!! We cannot believe just how fast this year of language school has just flown by. We have learned a lot and will continue to learn for the rest of our time here. Jeff is enjoying his challenging translation class and Leslie is enjoying time out of the classroom getting to know some of the locals through practicing Spanish and learning new lingo.

We had a great time during our final visa renewal trip to Honduras. Yet again we were encouraged by the amount of Spanish we were able to understand and speak. It's a wonderful feeling seeing your hard work pay off when a child smiles at you, knowing you understand him or her and he or she understood you. We can't wait to begin working with and discipling these kids when we return to Honduras in February.

Fun with the younger boys at the shelter on our final Visa renewal trip

We are looking forward to seeing as many of you as we can when we come back to the States in December!  Please be in prayer for our health and the health of our fellow students.  One of our very good friends has had medical issues come up recently that will result in her having major surgery in the coming weeks.  Please also be in prayer for the organization we'll be working with, Forgotten Children Ministries, and the children and workers as the main phase of our building projects finish up and we prepare to move both the children and most ministry activities away from Tegucigalpa out to the farm.  This is on schedule to happen later this year and, while a major challenge, will go a long way toward keeping the children safe and giving them a place to run and play and just act like kids!

The Team Building at the farm, where FCM will host short-term mission teams

Thank you for your continued prayers and support!  We will see you soon!

Jeff and Leslie
In God, whose word I praise, in God I have put my trust.  I shall not be afraid.--Psalm 56:3-4a

Monday, August 25, 2014

Two Down, One to Go!


We hope everyone had a great summer! For everyone else, it's back to school season. As for us, we've been in school all along!  We just finished the second of our three trimesters of language school and are gearing up to start the third next week. Unfortunately, the end of a “tri” means saying goodbye to friends who are finishing up their year of school. The good side of this, however, is that we now have friends sharing the GREAT news of Christ in countries all over Central and South America!

We're gonna miss these two, and many others!
 

It also means meeting the new students coming in to begin their year of language school. This time around, this means new fellow Forgotten Children Ministries missionaries, the Stewarts!  We've had a fun time showing them around town and helping them get settled in.
 
 
Our new FCM missionary friends, the Stewarts, who are new students this trimester!
 
The other highlight of our break has been seeing another volcano! Volcano Irazu is about a 45-minute bus ride from here and sounded like a fun (and cheap!) day trip. We had heard it would be cooler on top of the volcano, but nobody mentioned that what we'd really need is a winter coat! It was about 45-degrees and sleeting, which was definitely the coldest we've felt since leaving the US in December. We're not looking forward to the cold of an East Tennessee winter at the end of the year, but a morning up there was good preparation for us!

What we could see of the crater through the fog and sleet
Please be in prayer for our many friends who are traveling and settling into their new countries and ministries. God has sent out a wonderful group of missionaries this month, and we know that He has great plans for them! Please also pray for the Stewarts and other families who are beginning language school next week. They have each chosen to give up everything for the call of Christ, and they need our prayers as God uses this year to change them and teach them. It is a time of great testing of each student's faith, but God is good, and He is faithful to show each of us His glory through this time!

Finally, for us, please pray for our upcoming visa renewal trip in September and our final trimester of language school. Our Spanish has progressed so much this year, but this will be the most difficult trimester of all, as we will have a more difficult class schedule along with more complicated, abstract topics of Spanish that aren't used in English. I will be adding on a class in translation this time around, while Leslie will be taking “FARO” class, which requires her to find people in the community to talk to about certain topics each week. Please pray for her safety as she spends more time out and about, and for helpful Costa Rican friends who will be willing to discuss these topics each week!

Monday, July 21, 2014

A Little Over Halfway There!!

The end of July is fast approaching. Next month we will be finishing up our second trimester of language school and saying goodbye to some of the dear friends we have made in the short time we have been here. We will also be gearing up for our 3rd and final trimester of language school. We'll be "seniors"! Which means hopefully we know enough about living here now that we can help out the new missionaries coming in to begin their language journey in August.
Last month we went on our second visa renewal trip, and we decided to go to Honduras this time.
We got to spend some time at the girls' shelter. And Jeff did the tango! 
We got to play games and practice our Spanish. It's so wonderful to be able to communicate. It's proof of how far we've come! 
We got to watch the girls do a couple of their special dances they had prepared to show the teams. 
And we got to sing with the kiddos and spend time at the boys' shelter. We had a great time, visiting with the kids and our fellow missionaries there. We were able to ask all kinds of questions about moving to Honduras, etc. to help us feel a little more prepared. We can't wait to go back!
The weekend after we returned from Honduras, Leslie and Lucy were walking in the park near our house, when a big dog attacked Lucy. Lucy ended up getting 10 stitches and we learned that she had picked up an earth borne disease (from eating the grass), and had to be put on antibiotics for a week. Now she's well on the mend. She's back to playing ball and destroying stuffed animals as per her usual routine (to hear Lucy's side of the story, check out her blog: www.travelingterrier.blogspot.com). She's still pretty jumpy at sounds, and shakes every time she leaves the house. Hopefully over time she will recover from this as well.
Earlier this month, my baby sister Kristen and her husband got to come and visit us for a weekend. We thought we'd show them one of the many beautiful areas of Costa Rica and took them to see Volcan Arenal.


We got to visit the hanging bridges. There are several of these bridges in the rain forest area, and the further up the mountains you climb, the higher off the ground these bridges were. Eventually we were looking down on the treetops and those trees are tall! 

This is a great place for a photo op with the volcano in the background.....when it's not cloudy! 
Not only did we get to visit and spend time with them, but Lucy got to spend some time with them too. She was so excited! And they brought her some new stuffed animals to destroy!
This past Saturday we had the privilege of spending time with the youth at our church here in Costa Rica. They are a great group of kids and we really enjoyed spending time with them. Hopefully this will be another great way we can practice our Spanish and share the love of Christ here in Costa Rica!

Praises!
- we had a safe and encouraging trip to Honduras
- Lucy is recovering from her dog attack
- we've made it past the 6 month mark!
- Kristen and Brandon were able to come visit!
Prayer Request!
- continued healing for Lucy
- our friends that will soon be graduating and moving to the countries God has called them to
- that we will continue to study hard as the end of 2nd tri approaches
- the new students/missionaries getting ready to come to Costa Rica next month to begin language school


Friday, June 13, 2014

Sticker Shock?!

We have been living in Costa Rica for almost 6 months now, and one of the questions we keep hearing is "what surprised you the most about living in Costa Rica?" Hands down, I think the most surprising thing was safety (and drinkable tap water). We came down to Costa Rica prepared to live how we would in Honduras. When we arrived we were pleasantly surprised that it is much safer here. We actually take the public buses quite frequently (something we will never do in Honduras!), we walk to most of the stores we go to (which would also be a bad idea in Honduras). We don't feel the need to constantly be looking over our shoulders when we walk anywhere. In fact, many times I (Leslie) have taken Lucy for walks by myself and been very safe.
One of the other big surprises here was the prices of certain food items, things that were cheap in the US, and/or things we were accustomed to eating in the US. So we took a few pictures of some items and thought you might enjoy seeing what we see every time we go to the grocery store! (Disclaimer: these prices are from the cheapest grocery stores in the area. Also the exchange rate is approximately $1 USD to roughly 550 colones, which is subject to change.)

For all the non-math people (like me), allow me to translate the exchange rate! :) This 56 ounce bag of my favorite candy is approximately $15. 
$4 for the bottle of Hersey's syrup (notice the security tag!). And this is actually a very good price! These are usually $6-7. 
Almost $6 for this 2 cup bag of semi sweet morsels! 
Ok, something besides chocolate! haha! A nice big bag of Doritos for only $7ish! 
My favorite cereal from the States for only almost $6! (We have since found other things to eat for breakfast most days!) 
Who doesn't like a good peanut butter and honey sandwhich?? The big bottle on the right is only $9! 
And what recipe doesn't require cheese?? The white cheese on the left is only $9 for 400 grams! (I am unable to translate grams, sorry!)
Classes at 7:30 in the morning require caffeine (and unfortunately, neither of us are coffee drinkers). These 2.5L of coke are approximately $4 each. 
We found this gallon of lemon juice at the store this week and it is $16ish. (And who needs a gallon of lemon juice?!)
Ahhh bacon......I love bacon, however this bacon is 3 lbs for $19....I guess I don't really love bacon....
I hope you enjoyed our entertaining pictures and prices! Sometimes we go into the store and just laugh (or come out wide eyed and in disbelief!) But it reminds us time and again how thankful we are for all of our supporters and just how precious you are to us! Because of you, we can afford to go into the grocery store and buy the things we need to eat. But it also reminds us of the other people who live in this country with us (and will be living with in Honduras). They go into these same stores and see these same prices, and probably have more mouths to feed than us! How amazing would it be for our support to be doubled by the time we get to Honduras, so that we can help feed extra mouths! Have people over for lunch or dinner and share food and the Gospel with them! Through you and through Christ, may we be used to be a blessing to those around us!

Monday, May 5, 2014

Back to School!

We've had a break full of excitement, but it's time to go back to school!  Today was our first day back, and we enjoyed meeting our new teachers who will be teaching us for the next 4 months.  During our break, we were able to do lots of fun things like go on a tour of downtown San Jose courtesy of our former Lenguaje teacher Gerardo, show Leslie's parents around San Francisco (the town where we live, just outside of San Jose), join Leslie's parents on their trip to the beach in Guanacaste about 5 hours north of here (thanks, Chuck and Susan!), and move into a new apartment. 

So, with all that's gone on, where to begin?  How about with everyone's favorite, the beach!  We spent a week in Playa Azul, Guanacaste, with Chuck and Susan (Leslie's parents).  Playa Azul is about as far away from civilization as you can get in Costa Rica, requiring a 30+ minute drive on gravel roads to get there, and situated over an hour from the nearest city.  Thanks to this, we almost always had the entire beach to ourselves!  It was also a great opportunity for us to practice the Spanish we've learned thus far!


 


Once we returned from Guanacaste, we got to move into our new apartment.  It's just a few blocks away from our old one, but is smaller and has a nice yard for Lucy to run and play.  She certainly gives her approval of the new place, complete with gated yard away from the noisy street, and a comfy couch!



 
Now that we've had a nice break, we're back to daily Spanish classes.  Leslie's birthday is coming up on the 16th.  If anyone wants to send her a card or a letter of encouragement for her birthday, I'm sure she'd love it!  Our mailing address is:

Jeff and Leslie Vanvactor
Instituto de Lengua Espanola
Apartado 100-2350
San Jose, Costa Rica
America Central
 
We have several things we hope you'll pray about in the coming weeks. 

  --Homework and general difficulty level will be ramping up quickly during the second trimester.  Pray that we're able to have great attitudes, good health (so we don't miss any classes), and minds ready to learn a lot in a short amount of time.

--Many new students started today, with a few more still traveling here this week.  Please pray that these students have safe travels and acclimate well to the new culture, and that God will help us to be welcoming and encouraging to them.

--The rainy season is starting, so there will be lots of rain in the afternoons and throughout the night.  Because so many missionaries live in our area due to the Spanish school, there are many homeless people who live near us who will be sleeping outside during these stormy nights.  Please pray for God's hand of protection and provision on them, and for opportunities for us to show God's love to them even through their difficulties. 

Thank you for keeping up with us on here, and especially for your prayers.  As you can see from the graph near the top-right of the blog, we're still not quite where we need to be financially for moving to Honduras, but we know that God has and will continue to provide.  If you feel that God might be calling you to support us financially, or if you know of an individual or church that might want to know more about us and the ministry we're preparing for, please send us an email at jeffandlesliev@gmail.com or send us a Facebook message.  If you just want to send us some words of encouragement, those are also the best ways to do that, and will greatly brighten our day!  And finally, if you want to see what Lucy is up to here in Costa Rica, she has her own blog at travelingterrier.blogspot.comUntil next time, Dios los bendiga!

Jeff and Leslie