A look back on our first few months in Cartago

We’ve been in Costa Rica for seven months!  If you pay much attention to our blog you’ve noticed that this is the first blog post in a very long time.  (However, we send emails bi-monthly & short facebook posts regularly. Hopefully you’ve stayed up-to-date with us one of those ways!)   Now, I’d like to take a quick trip down memory lane & share our world here in Costa Rica with you a bit more.

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In April 2018 we reached our financial goal & set plans to move June 7th. Packing, sorting (what stays, what do we ship, what goes on the plane & what just has to go anywhere but with us?!), visa paperwork & readying the house to be sold filled our last weeks in the States. And there were the many many goodbyes. Goodbyes to people & places.  I’m grateful we visited our favorite parks, Lake Michigan, ice cream shops and other favorites purposefully as a family prior to moving. It wasn’t until I moved abroad that I would realize that I actually would miss places more than I anticipated. People, of course. I knew I’d deeply miss many people. But I was struck by surprise at missing quite a few places.  Just looking at this picture makes me both happy & sad. It reminds me that the kids bring up missing our home in Waukegan and it still holds place #1 as their favorite house we’ve lived in.


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In June we arrived in Costa Rica!  Mom/grandma came with us our first two weeks & helped with the kids.  This meant when we hit the ground we could work quickly getting our home set up with furniture & making it livable. We were also able to get the kids enrolled in school prior to my mom leaving.  She is such a blessing to us!


We arrived in Costa Rica having joined the San Jose City Team.  This was the team we had visited on our Vision Trip two years prior.  However, many changes had taken place over the last two years & what was once a very large team had become a very small team & the other couple of remaining members had plans to move back to the US when we arrived.  As of December the SJCT ceased to exist. Through the help of ReachGlobal leadership & prayer it was determined that Carlos would best be able to receive the support he needs & still work in the area of leadership training by joining LACRET (Latin America Caribbean Regional Equipping Team).  His team is spread throughout Latin America. They meet virtually regularly & there are over 300 combined years of leadership training experience in Latin America & wisdom to glean from others on the team.


Some other “oh…that didn’t work out how we’d planned…” items include that due to extremely odd, difficult & disgusting (ex. sewer water made to intentionally back up in our home) circumstances with a neighbor we decided to move from our first home in Costa Rica in October.  We are now happily settled into a new home & grateful we made the move. We miss having a yard… But the house is actually nicer than where we were, more ideal for hosting, we feel safe here & it’s still in a great location for getting around the city & the many trips back and forth I make to the kids’ school.

We had hoped to initially be part of a new church plant. But that didn’t work out the way we had thought it would either. Carlos is often, as anticipated, visiting different churches & the kids and I are regularly attending a church that has three services.  It’s much bigger than we are used to & admittedly I feel a bit lost at times having not made a ton of connections there yet. I don’t know what the future holds for us in this regard but for the time being this is where we are. We would like to be plugged in more, serving in the church & see our kids make significant connections.   

The kids have done amazing as they too have experienced many transitions & some unpleasant experiences.  There have been some new health situations for Elijah & he has quite a few doctors’ visits each month. Ale experienced a bit of bullying for the first time at school but we’re grateful it was handled quickly.  They miss family, friends & surprise me at times with what seems to trigger a memory or longing for a place or a person in the US.


We knew…because life anywhere is this way…there would be ups & downs.  We knew that due to the many losses we’d begin to grieve & culture shock we’d experience that perhaps there’d be more downs than normal for a period of time.  We knew that ministry plans & ministry reality wouldn’t all line up just perfectly.  We didn’t know in what form they’d come, but we knew the challenges & disappointments would come. I’m grateful for all of the preparation ReachGlobal provided us and the resources available to help us through the challenges we faced in our first half a year on the field.

In the midst of the challenges we’ve experienced great joys too. One great joy we have experienced is becoming friends with another missionary family here in Cartago.  They serve with ProMETA which is based out of Costa Rica. ProMETA is the seminary where Carlos (via online) is getting his master’s degree. They welcomed us & have been a tremendous source of support & information.  They’ve guided us through & given us head’s up on the many governmental hoops we’ve had to (& still have to…) jump through in regards to residency, drivers licenses, the public healthcare system, etc. But more importantly they’re fun to be around, wise, caring & people who understand what it’s like to be living cross-culturally as missionaries.  They are a tremendous blessing to our family.


Likewise there are a handful of tico (Costa Rican) families/individuals who have gone out of their way to help us, welcome us & connect with us.  They’ve been subjected to countless questions about just about everything…can you recommend a doctor/dentist/lab/vet/butcher/mechanic? Where can I find…brussel sprouts (it’s been a fruitless quest so far unfortunately)/this, that, the other school supply/school uniforms when it’s mid-year & they’re nowhere to be found?  How do I get logged onto the kids’ online school platform? How much should we pay a babysitter? Can you recommend a babysitter…? Do you pay the guys that supposedly watch your car while you’re parked downtown? Do you pay the neighborhood guards? When do we have to renew the car sticker? How do we do that? What does diay/en aguas/bulto mean? The ticos sure do have a unique vocabulary.  Each Spanish speaking country has its own particular terms for certain things…but we think the ticos take it to a new level 🙂 These tico friends have welcomed us into their homes and taken the time to help us learn, they’ve celebrated our kiddos first birthdays in Costa Rica with us, took in Ale for a night prior to Elijah’s surgery so she wouldn’t have to sit around the hospital for hours, they’ve laughed with us (or at us, ha ha!!) & encouraged us as we’ve stumbled through some challenges these first few months adjusting.  While we are working on getting to know many people…there are some that have already become significant friends & we are grateful to God for this provision.


We look forward to this new year with joy.  I have hopes that we’ll have a smoother school year as we’ve got a little bit of experience under our belts now as to how the system here works.  Carlos continues to form relationships with pastors & leaders & we pray that this year a larger pastors’ network could begin. We are praying about running the Alpha course.  I’m praying to see in what ways & where I can serve outside of the home at church and in the community using my gifts.


Happy New Year!

Three questions. A deeper look into our call.

When are you moving?  

Ok, this isn’t deep, this is just by far the question we get most often!  We wish we were at the point that we had a solid answer to that question.  Most missionary work, including ours, involves raising the necessary financial support involved to move, minister and live on the mission field.  


Our goal and prayer is still to be heading out by the end of summer 2017.  

We have felt the Lord’s leading, we’ve said yes and we want to get to the field and begin serving alongside of pastors and leaders as soon as possible.  

Why Costa Rica?  (Or, why not Honduras?)

Our passions and calling line up with identified needs and opportunities currently available in Costa Rica.  We didn’t chose Costa Rica, rather, we feel we’ve said “yes!” to God’s leading to go and partner with the work He is doing and wants to do in Costa Rica. 

A year after we got married we moved from Honduras up to the States. The largest factor in that move was so that both of us could continue our studies.  The last 10.5 years has been about a lot more than just continuing education.  We’ve sunk in roots, picked up (in my case) with old friends and made lots of new friends.  We’ve been blessed to be near my family.  We’ve continued to serve together in our church and community.  We’ve weathered serious health concerns in our family and other difficulties.  

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We’ve celebrated the births of our two amazing kids, Carlos’ US citizenship, degrees completed, birthdays, the end of each school year (as a teacher – it’s worthy of celebrating – trust me!), and countless other large and small joys God has blessed us with.  Carlos has learned English and experienced living in a new culture.  We’ve had all kinds of ups and downs and twists and turns along the way.  We’ve grown stronger as a couple and more in love.  We are so grateful for these years we’ve had here.   But….

It literally went without saying that we’d one day move back to Latin America…and that meant, to Honduras.  But, that’s not how this story goes.  Just another twist along the path.  We looked at many ministry opportunities across Latin America.  We were drawn to an opportunity with ReachGlobal in Costa Rica that lines up with Carlos’ passions and gifts.  He is passionate about serving leaders, he’s a networker, loves getting things off the ground and loves to get people working together.  

We entered into a process of learning more about ReachGlobal and the needs in Costa Rica. Pastors and leaders are asking for help in Costa Rica to help build unity and desire access to solid theological and ministerial training.  Through much prayer, wise counsel and our visit to Costa Rica we felt peace, and continue to feel peace, that this is the Lord’s leading.

Why missions?  

My interest in Spanish and Latino cultures really began in junior high.  For several years I regularly volunteered with an after school program for young Hispanic children that met at my church.

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In high school and college I had several opportunities to participate in short term mission trips to Mexico.  My interest in cross cultural…well, everything, just kept growing.  On my first two-week long mission trip as a 15 year old I went forward during a final service in which we were asked if we felt called to be a missionary.  I’ve struggled to share this experience from when I was 15 because I wasn’t always sure of the call; I second guessed it…and, later on, I guess I tried to ignore it.  It’s hard to fully explain the things that God simply places in one’s heart – an interest and love for other places and cultures.  Along with that is the feeling, the draw, the call that God has something else for our family elsewhere.  

Carlos and I met in Honduras when I was there as a short term missionary (for several years) in my early 20’s.  Carlos was at seminary, helped lead his church’s youth group, preached occasionally and also volunteered with the national youth ministry.  We met volunteering together with that youth ministry.  

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We were an odd pair from the beginning: US suburban girl meets rural Honduran boy in the capital of Tegucigalpa.  We both grew up in Christian homes.  That’s about the extent of what we have in common in our upbringing.  And, even that common ground was lived out in each of our families differently.  What brought us together?  I think that the true beginning of the connection that developed between us was that we both saw in the other a person who loved the Lord, loved others and wanted to serve in ministry.    

Carlos felt called into full-time ministry prior to us meeting and he was praying for a wife who loved missions.  He has faithfully continued his studies as he has felt called to better prepare himself for future ministry opportunities.  He has continued to grow and expand his understanding and view of effective and healthy leadership and churches through many ministerial experiences and through relationship with other leaders.  

   The evangelical church is growing numerically in Latin America.  However, many of those leading the church in Latin America have had little to no training.  Helping support the church leadership in the areas of leadership development, theological & ministerial training and mentoring are vital to the health of the church in Latin America.  

We’ve been called to come alongside of nationals and support the Latin American Church.  We love Latin America and have a great passion for spreading God’s love, hope and truth in Jesus to the nations.  

 Now, a question for you:  Will you join us?  

We’d love to talk with you about partnership.  Please check out how you can partner with us here and please get in touch to find out more.  We’d love to have you along on this journey with us!

Here and there.

We find ourselves in an interesting in between time right now.  In many ways life continues chugging along as it did pre-journey-to-the-mission-field.  We are both still working, we visit parks, take walks, exercise, visit with family, have playdates, cook, eat, sleep. : )  

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This stage of life is particularly busy, fun and at times…exhausting.  During this busy season of support raising we are even more aware of our need to rest and not get swept up in endless activities.  At times, it seems very difficult.  We pray that God helps us be present in the moment, especially for our children.

However, “business as usual” isn’t everything these days.  For example, while we are still serving in our home church, we have had to pull back significantly from some ministries as we are often visiting other churches to share our call to missions, preaching and visiting with others during the week.  We already feel a little less connected than usual with our home church family and we miss them when we don’t see them for awhile.  I guess that’s just a small foretaste of what’s to come…

Also, there are the lurking thoughts of, “is this the last…”?  More accurately the question in my mind is really, is it “the last” for awhile, or “the last” of what has become our way of life?  We’ll travel back and forth, but, new norms will form as we shift home base to abroad rather than here in the US.  

Is this the last time we’ll celebrate Ale and Elijah’s birthdays with family and US based friends?  20161119_155209

Is this the last fall we’ll enjoy for some time?

 Is it the last Thanksgiving and Christmas in Chicagoland?  Will this be our last winter season for awhile? (That one, Carlos and I wouldn’t mind a bit!!  Alesa might have some different thoughts about it, though.)  So, we try to make the most, enjoy and celebrate the things we know will be very different when on the field.  So, we’re here.  And, we know that when we do move there are many, many people and things we are going to miss.  We want to enjoy these “lasts.” 

The other part of our current reality is that Costa Rica is an everyday thing around here these days!!  There are many prayers, efforts and thoughts in anticipation of getting to the mission field, getting adjusted & settled and participating in the ministries God has called us to.  So, we’re here and yet we’re wanting to be there.  There is a large part of us that longs to go asap.  We spend parts of every single day either talking with others about our call to missions or coordinating and preparing materials, meetings, etc. related to the mission in Costa Rica.  

We have felt God’s call, we’ve responded and we want to go!  We feel God has been sharpening our vision for what He wants to do amongst the pastors and leaders in San Jose.  We want to go be part of getting it started.  

So, we’re here.  And, we’re there.  I anticipate this being the rest of our lives. To a certain extent it already has been – pieces of our lives and hearts spread across Honduras and the U.S.  Soon, we’ll add Costa Rica.  

We invite you to pray for us during this season of living here and anticipating what’s to come.  

We invite you to pray and contact us about financially partnering with us and help get us to the field!

Happy Thanksgiving!

Aquí y allá.

Nos encontramos en un “mientras tanto” actualmente. Ambos seguimos haciendo la rutina de la vida; trabajando, visitando parques con los niños, salimos de paseo, hacemos ejercicio, visitamos familiares, jugamos con los niños, cocinamos, comemos, dormimos 🙂

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Esta etapa de la vida es particularmente ocupada, divertida y a veces … agotadora. Durante esta temporada de levantar fondos para el ministerio, estamos aún más conscientes de nuestra necesidad de descansar y no dejarnos arrastrar por las interminables actividades de la vida. A veces, parece muy difícil. Oramos para que Dios nos ayude a estar presentes en el momento, especialmente para nuestros hijos.

Sin embargo, “lo que ha sido costumbre” no es necesariamente lo que está pasando con nosotros hoy día. Por ejemplo, ya no tenemos mucho tiempo para servir en diferentes ministerios de la iglesia debido a que con más frecuencia salimos a predicar o compartir de misiones los domingos o días de semana. Nos sentimos un poco desconectados que de costumbre con nuestra familia de la iglesia y realmente que sí extrañamos a nuestros hermanos cuando no los vemos por un tiempo. Supongo que eso es sólo un pequeño anticipo de lo que está por venir …

También, a menudo vienen pensamientos como, “¿es este mi último …?”

¿Es esta la última vez que celebraremos los cumpleaños de Ale y Elijah con familiares y amigos en los Estados Unidos?


¿Es este el último otoño que disfrutaremos durante algún tiempo?

¿Es el último Día de Acción de Gracias y Navidad aquí en Estados Unidos? ¿Será este nuestro último invierno? (¡Bueno, Carlos y yo no nos importaría un poco! Alesa, sé que piensa diferente a nosotros.) Así que, tratamos de disfrutar al máximo y celebrar las cosas que sabemos que serán muy diferentes cuando estemos en el campo misionero. Hay muchas cosas y personas que vamos a extrañar. Queremos entonces ahora que estamos aquí, disfrutar lo más que podemos de ustedes, las estaciones y festividades de esta temporada.

¡La otra parte de nuestra realidad actual es que Costa Rica se ha vuelto algo cotidiano en estos días!  Hay muchas oraciones, trabajo y pensamientos anticipados sobre el campo misionero y el llamado que Dios nos ha hecho. Así que estamos aquí y sin embargo estamos deseando estar allá, vivimos en un “mientras tanto”.

Hay una gran parte de nosotros que anhela ir lo antes posible. Cada día pasamos hablando con otros sobre nuestro llamado a misiones, coordinando, preparando materiales, reuniones, etc. ¡Hemos sentido el llamado de Dios y hemos respondido sí a ese llamado!  Sentimos que Dios ha estado dándole forma a nuestra visión de lo que Él quiere hacer entre los pastores y líderes en San José. Queremos ir a formar parte de lo que Dios está haciendo en San José.

Así que estamos aquí. Y, estamos allá. Anticipo que así será el resto de nuestras vidas. Hasta cierto punto ya ha sido – pedazos de nuestras vidas y corazones están en Honduras y los EE.UU y muy pronto Costa Rica.

Te invitamos a orar por nosotros durante esta temporada de nuestra vida de que estamos aún aquí, pero deseando llegar pronto al campo misionero.

Te invitamos a orar y apoyarnos financieramente para llegar al lugar que Dios nos ha llamado a servir.

¡Feliz Día de Acción de Gracias!

Vision Trip Video: See what we experienced!

Our 10 day Vision Trip was great confirmation of our call to return to Latin America and specifically to join the ReachGlobal San José City Team in Costa Rica.

  • We enjoyed our time spent with the missionaries and feel the fit of the team is right for us. They must have agreed because they invited us to join the team! 
  • San José – it’s a city!  This suburban girl will have to get used to contending with congestion, traffic and tighter spaces again.  The good news is we felt very safe and comfortable in the city and can see how, although it’ll be an adjustment for us all, it’s a good fit for our family.  We are happy with schooling options, recreation for the family and the safety of the city.
  • Pura Vida??  This is an expression that is very commonly used throughout Costa Rica.  We had heard of it before. The literal translation would be “pure life”, however, it can be used as a greeting, goodbye, “everything’s great”, “never been better”, etc. We were ready to hear it and experience the go-with-the-flow pura vida lifestyle. So, what happened Costa Rica?? We didn’t hear the expression even one time!!!  The wait must go on…until next time Costa Rica!
  • Decaf coffee, anyone?  We like coffee, but, admittedly we’re decaf people most of the time.  I guess coffee without caffeine just doesn’t make sense to Costa Ricans. You might agree.  We never saw any decaf in the grocery stores, or Walmart, that we visited.  Rumor has it there’s this one grocery store that probably carries it…we’ll have to check it out upon return.  

Ministry Involvement:

We now have a better understanding of some of the needs & opportunities, the ministries ReachGlobal staff are already involved in and our initial fit with the team.  We will be involved in:

Helping form a collaborative, inter-denominational, group that seeks to serve the Costa Rican pastors and provide training and resources.  There is a great need for coming alongside of pastors and providing sound biblical and practical resources that will better equip them to lead their congregations and build healthy churches. This is a relational ministry and one that will take time to grow and develop as relationships are formed and trust is built.

Bridging a gap between missionaries studying at the language institute (for a year before moving on to another country in Latin America to serve long term) and local churches.  Many missionaries in language school are overwhelmed and stressed with the language learning, culture shock and many adjustments they are experiencing.  Some of them find it difficult to find a church, let alone integrate into one in a meaningful way while they are studying.  Churches are not always sure how to assist, connect with and find spaces for the missionaries to serve in their church while they are there.  We will work to connect the missionaries with local churches and do so in a way that is both enriching and beneficial to both the missionaries and the churches.

Destination: Costa Rica!

What seemed like a perhaps inevitable, but probably still distant, return to Latin America is now upon us. We are so excited to share with you that we have been accepted on staff as ReachGlobal missionaries. We are excited about how God has been leading us and for what lies ahead.


Perhaps most surprising for us is that at this point we aren’t headed back to Honduras! However, we’ll be a lot closer to Honduras than Chicago.  We believe God is leading us back to Central America, specifically to Costa Rica.

We are praying to be headed to Costa Rica the summer of 2017!

We just got the dates of our Vision Trip set up for July. This trip is part of the process to confirm our placement. We feel that the opportunities and needs in Costa Rica line up well with our gifts, passions and calling. We are excited to meet the San Jose City Team and get a feel for the ministries as well as what life will be like for our family in San Jose, Costa Rica.

What are our current next steps?

  • We have begun the process of seeking out both prayer and financial supporters to come alongside of us.  Will you join us?
  • Trainings coming up in August and November through ReachGlobal
  • Vision Trip in July

Please check out the other areas of the blog for more information!