Graduation

Graduation

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Time to walk....

We've been back in the States for a little over 7 weeks now and the longer we're here the easier it is to get settled back into living the way we did before. Sometimes it makes me wonder....are we crazy?

Crazy for leaving our nice house 
and selling off our cars
and leaving good paying jobs (and friends) behind?
I know there are many people who would probably agree with this sentiment and will tell you we are crazy.
When I start to wonder this, I think back to my very first trip to Honduras in 2003, and remember when God whispered to my soul "this place, these people, this is where I have called you to share my love."
I look at pictures from previous trips.



God has called us to care for the widows and orphans.

I'm reminded of the story of Peter walking on water. If you're like me, you've read/heard the story a million times! We are no longer impressed, Peter walked on water until he took his eyes off Jesus and then he started to sink yada yada. That story was a BIG deal to Peter, because he lived it!
Peter saw Jesus walking on the water. And Peter said if it's You, tell me to come to you. So Jesus said "come". Peter left the boat. The safe, secure comfortable boat. Stepped onto the water. And began to walk. Peter walked on the water. Why? Because Jesus called him.

Jesus called to us and said I want you to leave your safe boat and move to a dangerous country to share My love. He has called us to leave the security of knowing you're getting a consistent pay check, trusting Him to provide. He is calling us to leave the comfort of our home. He is calling us to trust Him. Crazy trust. Like walking on water.

"How will they preach unless they are sent? Just as it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news of good things!” Romans 10:15

Here we go....
What is He calling you to??

Monday, January 5, 2015

Happy New Year! We graduated!

 
2014 has been one of the most exciting, difficult, and fun years of our lives.  We started out the year in a brand new country, waiting for language school to begin.  It's hard to believe it's been a whole year since then!  We're proud of the work we put in this year to learn Spanish and grateful that God has allowed us to reach the level of fluency that we were able to achieve this year.  We're even more grateful for the many new friends we made this year, and for any of those friends who might be reading this, we miss you dearly!  God is sending out a wonderful, willing group of missionaries to Latin America, and we can't wait to see what He does through all of us!
We closed out 2014 with graduation from language school and some time back in the US spending Christmas with family (unfortunately the last time we'll likely do that for quite some time).  Up next for us as we start the new year are visits to the many churches who are supporting us financially and prayerfully, and as much fund-raising as we can pack into the next month before we head to Honduras.  God willing, we'll be heading to officially begin work with Forgotten Children Ministries in Tegucigalpa, Honduras, in early February, and we'll be there for at least a year before our next visit back to the US.  The opportunities we had to visit and Skype the kids in the shelter there over the last year were so encouraging to us, especially as we noticed that we were able to speak with and understand them better and better as the year went along.  We can hardly wait to see them again! 
We have several things we hope you'll pray for over the next month as we prepare to go to Honduras. 
--Financial support:  This is our last chance to be here in the States to raise support.  This will cover rent, security, food, health insurance, gas and upkeep on a vehicle, and any other expenses we have on the mission field.  We are hoping to raise approximately $1,000 in additional monthly support while we're here.  Please pray that God would put on His people's hearts to support us as part of the work He's doing around the world.  There are so many missionaries ready to go into the field and spread His great news, who only lack the financial resources to get there.  Please pray about how you can help! To support us, just  go to www.fcmhonduras.org and click on the "donate now" button and follow the instructions! We'd also love to hear from you via email at jeffandlesliev@gmail.com

--Arrival in Honduras:  There are only a few neighborhoods in Tegucigalpa that are secure enough for US nationals to live, but cheap enough for us to be able to afford.  The other missionaries in our organization have found one that has been working well for them.  Please pray for a home to open up for rent in that neighborhood or one of the nearby ones so that we can have a home to move into soon after our arrival.  Please also pray that we'll be able to find a vehicle to purchase that is of good quality and fair price. Pray that our relationships with the children we're working with will grow, and that God will bring fruit in their lives as we minister to them. 

Thank you for your many prayers, thoughtful and encouraging facebook messages and emails, care packages, and the many other ways you all have blessed us this past year!  We hope you have a happy and blessed new year!

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!