Wednesday, May 1, 2019

May 2019 Prayer Letter

Dear Friends and Family,

We hope that this letter finds you doing well! We have been working to get established here in Costa Rica and to begin a new church. As we were praying and developing plans on how to get started, we were contacted by a fellow BIMI missionary here in Costa Rica. He is working in a church plant, but some things have come up and they are in great need for a furlough for many reasons. We have agreed to take over their church plant so that they will be able to take the much needed furlough. This is an excellent and unexpected opportunity to help another missionary, begin serving in Costa Rica, and will help us as we seek to establish future church plants. Since then, we have begun transitioning into the work. Jeremy has begun preaching. Since then, we have seen one man trust in Christ as Savior and 2 others make decisions to rededicate their lives to the Lord. Michelle has been helping in the children's ministry. We will also continue to build relationships and lay the groundwork for our next church plant in San Pablo. It is also a possibility for the current church plant that we are assisting to aid in starting the next one. In the meantime, we have also been working to iron out an issue in the process of obtaining legal residency. We also had to work in a quick trip to the Nicaraguan border in order to renew our visas. There are a few obstacles, but we are trusting the Lord to work it all out.

Thankfully, last month was much smoother than March. Lila's eye is doing much better and Ellowyn's problem with the mosquito bites has been resolved. All of our children are making progress in their Spanish. Here in Costa Rica, the week preceding Christ's resurrection is known as "Holy Week" and most businesses close. We were able to build some relationships with our neighbors and focus on the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ. Unfortunately, as we were returning home on Resurrection Sunday, a motorcycle crashed into our vehicle and immediately drove off before we could get his plate number. He was likely uninsured and this type of "hit and run" is very common. Thankfully, we are all okay, but now we have to work out all of the repairs with our insurance company.

This month, there will be much transition. Please pray:

1. That God help us overcome the obstacles to us obtaining legal residency in Costa Rica.
2. That God will bless our efforts to bring the Gospel to the Costa Rican people.
3. That God will use our ministry to strengthen and build the church plant where we are serving.

In Christ,
Jeremy, Michelle, Lila, Ellowyn, and Elijah Blanz

Thursday, April 4, 2019

April 2019 Prayer Letter

Dear Friends and Family, April 2019

We hope that this letter finds you doing well. Last month, Jeremy took several trips to the city of San Pablo looking for a house to rent in the area where we will start our next church. It was very difficult to find a house at a reasonable price. Some houses were taken off of the market the same day that they were listed! Thankfully, by the middle of the month, we found the right house in the right area. Another renter had almost taken the house just before we could pay the deposit, but the Lord worked things out for us to get it. After nearly 3 months of waiting, we finally received Elijah's birth certificate. Michelle's aunt came down to visit us and stay with Michelle and the kids while Jeremy took a brief trip to Nicaragua. Jeremy had to work with customs agents to prepare our things for transportation to Costa Rica. During his time there, Jeremy was able to spend a little time with the church that we started there. It was good to see that the church is still growing and encourage the pastor in the work. Jeremy was able to provide some counsel regarding a church issue that had come up. Thankfully, the issue was resolved in a positive way. He was also able to spend some time sharing the gospel with a Nicaraguan family. As Jeremy was finalizing the details to transport our things, the Nicaragua/Costa Rica border was unexpectedly shut down to Nicaraguan transport trucks. Thankfully, after a few days of closure and delays, it was back to business as normal. Upon returning to Costa Rica, we were able to move into our new house in the city of San Pablo.

Last month, we were able to celebrate our ten year anniversary. As missionaries, it has been a crazy ten years! I (Jeremy) am thankful for a godly wife who loves the Lord and her family. As we moved into the new house, we ran into some new problems. Lila fell off of an exercise machine at the park, hurt her eye, and had to go to the hospital. Thankfully, they were able to use a surgical glue instead of stitches. Ellowyn also woke up to 80+ swollen mosquito bites from her head down to her toes. She is very sensitive to them and it may take a week or two for them to go away. Since then, we have waged war against the mosquitos by installing mosquito nets, screen boxes in the windows, and mosquito repellent products. We have also been very busy getting internet installed, assembling furniture, and unpacking our things from Nicaragua. It was not without problems, but we are thankful that we have successfully transitioned into our new house.

This last month, Jeremy also met with a pastor who planted a church in the neighboring city. We shared ideas and we will be attending his church until we get our next church plant off the ground. This month, please pray:

1. That God lead our family and protect us from sickness and injury.
2. That God open doors and help us to build relationships here in the community.
3. That God use us to share the Gospel with others who need to be saved.

In Christ,
Jeremy, Michelle, Lila, Ellowyn, and Elijah Blanz

Tuesday, March 5, 2019

March 2019 Prayer Letter

Dear Friends and Family, March 2019

Blessings from Costa Rica! This last month was a bit rocky with some unexpected setbacks. For the last couple of months, we have been waiting for Elijah's birth certificate from the US Department of state. After no progress over the last two months and many phone calls, our case was referred to a "specialist," and then to a supervisor. Nearly 2 months after cashing our check, they are now progressing to print it. We hope to have it soon. In the meantime, we have now found a residency lawyer who will be ready to begin the legal process. We also began the process of purchasing a vehicle. We had several problems with the wire transfer, but at the end of the month, we now have our car! At this point, most of the local taxi drivers now know us and Jeremy has been able to witness to some of them. Once we had our car, we were able to take a trip up to Heredia province where we plan to start our ministry. Not only are houses hard to find, but we have found that the houses tend to cost much more and have less space. We will also need to be creative in our outreach as a large portion are in gated areas with restricted access. We were also blessed that the Lord brought to us a missionary family who wants to help us in the church plant while they are in language school. We have received good news from Nicaragua. Our church plant is continuing to grow. They have several full time Bible Institute students and several more for the Saturday studies. They are also doing evangelistic services throughout the city with the hopes of planting other churches.

Our family is now going through many adjustments being in a new mission field. It has also been a bit of a transition from the grassy fields and horses we frequently saw in Nicaragua to metropolitan area of San Jose/Heredia. Lila is relearning to speak Spanish pretty quickly. It was more difficult for Ellowyn. For a few weeks, she struggled, but she is now much more comfortable with the new culture and language. Elijah surprised us the other day with his first Spanish words like "adios" and "gracias!" For a couple of weeks, our family struggled against some stomach sicknesses, but thankfully, we are all now back in action!

This month, we have some very important decisions to make regarding where we will live, where we will start our next church, and how we will begin. Please pray:

1. That the Lord will lead us to the right house and location to begin our next church plant.
2. That the Lord will open doors and give us opportunities to share the Gospel with others.
3. That the Lord will guide our plans and first steps in our Costa Rican ministry.

In Christ,
Jeremy, Michelle, Lila, Ellowyn, and Elijah Blanz

Friday, February 8, 2019

February 2019 Prayer Letter

Dear Friends and Family,

Greetings from Costa Rica! The last few weeks have been a blur as we've been working very hard in this transition. Although we are still waiting for one last document from the United States, we have proceeded to make our transition to Costa Rica. Last month, Jeremy and Pastor Kelley took a brief survey trip to Costa Rica. We surveyed 4 cities of significant population that do not have a single Baptist church! We also were able to get a house reserved for our first few months in the country. Upon returning, we then proceeded to get packed up for our move to Costa Rica. Getting through the airport was a challenge with three small children and all of our suitcases, carry-ons, strollers, and car seats, but thankfully, that is not something we have to do frequently. We just arrived in Costa Rica last week and are now starting from square one to get established. We now have the basic necessities for the house, cell phone service, and internet. We are also in the midst of searching for a reliable vehicle to help us be more effective in our ministry.

Moving our family from one country to another is always a bit of a challenge. With every move, there are always many things that we cannot bring, but our children did very well with that. After condensing down our things, we are now doing a short rental agreement until we find a house closer to where we will serve. Although life is more difficult here in some ways, it also has its benefits. Although there are too many things to get done each day, we sometimes have had to slow it down a bit and help our kids to enjoy the special things that Costa Rica offers. Ellowyn was very excited to eat some authentic Gallo Pinto (Costa Rica rice and beans) and we have all enjoyed the fresh fruits from the market. There is also a big adjustment in language and culture... even from Nicaragua! Ellowyn is now relearning Spanish and Lila is now remembering more and more each day!

Just yesterday, we received an unexpected blessing. A church where we had presented our ministry last year has recently voted to take us on for support. Praise the Lord! This month, please pray:

1. That God will bless and provide for the churches in Nicaragua during this time.
2. That God will lead us to the exact city where He would have us plant our next church.
3. That God will protect and help our family as we get established in Costa Rica.
4. That God will use us as a witnesses to lead others to Christ.

In Christ,
Jeremy, Michelle, Lila, Ellowyn, and Elijah Blanz

Monday, January 7, 2019

January 2019 Prayer Letter

Dear Friends and Family, January 2019

Happy new year! Last year went by so quickly for us. Though we did not travel the whole year, we presented our ministry in 70+ churches from southern FL to Northern MI. Near the end of the year, we had to change plans due to the crisis in Nicaragua, but we are glad to be on track to bring the Gospel to Costa Rica! Nicaragua is continuing to face greater sanctions and external pressure. In the mean time, we are maintaining a relationship with and supporting the church there during this trying time. We were glad to see many teens surrender to Christ and many follow the Lord in believer's baptism. We were also encouraged to see many families growing and serving in the church. God is doing a great work there in Nicaragua. We are encouraged that He will also do a great work in Costa Rica! At present, we have a short trip planned for mid-January to survey some areas and look at housing, schools, etc. We now have most of our residency documentation ready to go. We are hoping to have everything ready to arrive in Costa Rica by the end of January. We were also encouraged to be contacted by other missionaries who have expressed interest in helping with our next church plant. We will be seeking God's will every step of the way.

Although we did not originally plan to be in the US with our family for Christmas in 2018, we were glad to have the opportunity to spend the Christmas season with our family. The girls enjoyed singing in their Christmas play at church. Elijah has been zooming around the house with some new toy cars he got for Christmas. We were also able to send a special Christmas offering to the church in Nicaragua. They did a special Christmas service for the kids and gave them presents. Many families there can do nothing at all for Christmas, so it is always a very special time for them. Around new year's day, Jeremy came down sick with Strep throat. Thankfully, he is on antibiotics and is doing much better. This month, Jeremy will have the privilege of baptizing Lila. She trusted Christ as her Savior at home one night and has been growing in her faith ever since. She has learned about baptism and wants for all to know that Christ has saved her. Praise the Lord!

We send special thanks to all of the churches who sent us special Christmas offerings. Thank you! That was a blessing. This month, please pray...

1. That God will continue to bless the church in Nicaragua during this trying time.
2. That God will lead us to the right people and place for our next church plant.
3. That God will bless and as we make the transition from the USA to Costa Rica.

In Christ,
Jeremy, Michelle, Lila, Ellowyn, and Elijah Blanz

Monday, December 10, 2018

December 2018 Prayer Letter

Dear Friends and Family,

We hope that this letter finds you doing well. Last month was a busy month for us. Jeremy took some time to call all of our supporting churches regarding our temporary field change to Costa Rica. Since then, we have also been doing a lot of planning for our upcoming transition. We have already gotten our passports renewed and have been in communication with the Costa Rican consulate regarding the documentation needed for our transition. We will need to get all new birth certificates, marriage certificates, police records, and financial documents and get them all apostilled before leaving the states. In the meantime, we are also planning a short survey trip as we make plans for our next ministry. We presently have the dates set for mid-January and hope to secure housing and other things for our arrival in late January. We do not yet know all that the Lord has planned for us, but we believe we will be involved in church planting, evangelism, and discipleship. It is estimated that more than 10% of the Costa Rican population is made up of Nicaraguans, many of whom are displaced refugees from the crisis in Nicaragua. We are also praying for the Lord's guidance on how to reach them with the Gospel. We also will have some trouble and expense in bringing our vehicle in from Nicaragua. We are praying about how to best handle that.

Although we have much transition ahead of us, it was nice to have a little stability at our home church last month. Jeremy enjoys going on visitation. He was able to share the gospel with many, including some who could only speak Spanish. Michelle enjoys singing in the choir. Our girls have also been preparing for the Christmas musical. Michelle has been working hard on home-schooling the kids. We have been considering options for schooling in Costa Rica. There are many things we have to figure out, but we know that God is good and will guide us in these next few steps.

Last month, President Trump signed an executive order declaring the Nicaraguan crisis as a national emergency and a threat to the United States. He imposed the first round of sanctions against Nicaragua. He is also expected to sign into Law the "Nica Act" including much stronger actions against the government of Nicaragua. This month, please pray:

1. That God will guide the situation in Nicaragua and bring peaceful resolution to the people.
2. That God will lead us as we transition to Costa Rica.
3. That God will use us to lead others to salvation by faith in Christ.

In Christ,
Jeremy, Michelle, Lila, Ellowyn, and Elijah Blanz

Monday, November 19, 2018

November 2018 Prayer Letter

This month, our letter is being sent out a little behind schedule because we wanted to wait and include some big decisions. Last month, we completed the last of our scheduled meetings for furlough. We were part of one missions conference in TN and one other meeting with a supporting church in KY. After returning home, we enjoyed being able to be a part of all of the activity at our home church. Jeremy was also glad to teach Sunday school and help with events when he had the opportunity. Due to the civil unrest and economic crisis in Nicaragua, we have been able to help our church with a relief offering. Despite the economic crisis, we were proud to see three men attend their 1st year promotion of their studies at the Bible Institute. One is serving as an intern under the pastor, while the other two are actively evangelizing and planting the Gospel seed in 2 neighboring cities for upcoming church plants. God has blessed and even provided homes for meeting locations.

For the last several months, we have been closely monitoring the situation in Nicaragua. We had hoped and prayed for the crisis to be resolved, but there is still no resolution. The U.S. Embassy continues the level 3 travel advisory, stating "avoid travel due to serious risks to safety and security" along with many other warnings. After several months of prayer, seeking godly wisdom, and heeding the advice of our pastor and field director, we sadly come to the conclusion that Nicaragua remains too dangerous and too unstable for our family to return at this time. This is a very difficult decision that we never expected to or wanted to make. We have also been seeking the Lord's direction for our next term. At this point, we believe that the Lord is leading us to go to Costa Rica until Nicaragua has stabilized. There has been a massive migration of Nicaraguan refugees to Costa Rica and we are praying about the possibility of a special ministry to help them. We do not yet know all that the Lord has planned for us, but we know that God is doing a work that is much bigger than we can understand.

In the near future, we are planning to personally contact our supporting churches regarding these changes. This month, please pray...

1. That the Lord bring peace and stability to the people of Nicaragua.
2. That the Lord continue to use our church plant to win souls and plant other churches.
3. That God will direct and lead us regarding our future ministry in Costa Rica.

In Christ,
Jeremy, Michelle, Lila, Ellowyn, and Elijah Blanz