Two months into language school

So, how is language school? A lot of friends and family are curious what it’s like for us to live in San José Costa Rica for language school. School is a lot of work but there are some fun and quirky parts to share with you.

The majority of our time is now routine. Classes Mon-Fri start at 730am and end at noon. Everything is in Spanish. Usually I coach church planters in the US over the phone or video calls throughout the afternoon. We study, visit with neighbors, have dinner, study more and are asleep by 9 or 10pm. It still surprising that it takes so much energy. We are both doing well in our classes. The tutoring I received really helped with a big gap I had. The majority of our lives are spent with the work of language learning. Next semester I’ll be adding a third one-on-one class on how to translate.

So far we’ve visited four churches. We know a lot of the songs already from our bi-lingual church back in Atlanta. It’s great to be able to understand the sermons better but it will take a little more time for Elizabeth. We’re through the first phase of cultural adaptation and appreciate your prayers for health and ongoing learning and adjustments.

We’re adjusting and enjoying the good God gives too. Most of the other missionaries studying here have children. I’m actually the oldest regular student in our entering class and we’re one of only three empty-nester couples, so we get a little bit of practice grandparent time. Last Thursday our neighbors who will serve in Panama ran out of gas for their stove in the middle of cooking pancakes for dinner, so they finished cooking in our kitchen and we ate together. God has surprised us with a great community.

Weekends are for rest and going to the store. We had one paseo (trip) out of the city to a really cool tropical garden with waterfalls, hummingbirds, reptiles and toucans. See the photos at the end.

Another treat, is to eat at Subway occasionally (yeah we are so crazy, but it’s amazing what you crave away from home). We are getting to know fellow missionary students and I play full court basketball with a bunch of these young guys every Wednesday night. Well, what I do should not be called basketball. It’s more a disguise and distraction from running.

My mom is planning a visit at the end of March, so it will be fun to show her around the city. She is a retired Spanish teacher, so I think it’ll be great to have her observe a day in the life of the school too.

Quirky things have taken some getting used to. In no particular order:

  • When the US loses an hour on March 13, Costa Rica will not. Effectively putting us in Mountain Time. That will be a first for us.
  • There are no street addresses and numbers so our address is literally ‘San Francisco de Dos Rios, 100 meters east of the Delta Gas Station 300 meters south.’ There is effectively no mail service.
  • We are in high altitude 3700 feet above sea level so food cooks differently. Takes forever to bake anything.
  • The sun comes up at 5:30am and sets at 6pm. Every day all year. And we are 11 degrees from the equator so the sun is hot and bright. Heat of the day starts early. Typical day is high 79 degrees low 65. It’s the tropics but we are high in the mountains. Very nice. Elizabeth is not missing winter at all.
  • It’s ‘summer’ here. Which means it’s dry season and really windy in the afternoons. It has only rained once in two months.
  • ‘Winter’ or rainy season starts in May. We’re told it will rain every day starting at about 3-4pm and rain all night.
  • We have no TV but listen to Costa Rican radio on my laptop. The teachers actually say it’s part of our homework and helps improve comprehension. Bonus: I’m developing an appreciation for Spanish hip hop.
  • We live behind bars and barbed wire. The saying goes here that ‘the good people live behind bars’ to deter petty theft. So far we haven’t had the slightest safety problem other than locking our keys in the apartment once or twice.
  • San José, like any large international capital city has a lot of traffic, noise and pollution, but it’s not too bad. We bought a big fan at Walmart (yes, there is a Walmart) and turn it on to drown out the traffic and dogs barking.

It’s amazing to me that we have already completed two months. The next six will be the hardest but I’m looking forward to it.

Thanks to all of you who are praying for us and supporting us financially. The investment in our skills will help us train Cuban house church leaders and pastors.

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Most every day we make presentations in my conversation class.

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Elizabeth with Violet and Isaac some of our neighbors children at the waterfall garden.

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My wife bravely holding a live toucan. Neither of us opted for holding a snake later on.

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I was pretty excited about the hummingbirds. Really amazing up close!

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This is the view most of the time.

We are super grateful we can be here learning Spanish. Thanks again for your prayers and support!

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