Wednesday, December 10, 2014

December 2014 Prayer Letter

Dear Friends and Family,

We hope that you had a wonderful Thanksgiving. Truly, we all have much to be thankful for. It is hard to believe it is now the end of 2014. November was an exciting month for us. First of all, we have now received our Dimex cards which are our identification of legal residency. Somehow, this make it all feel a bit more “real.” We were also able to cover much new ground in our Grammar class. Up until now, our ability to communicate has been restricted to the grammatical framework that we understand. It is as if many new doorways have been opened in our ability to communicate in Spanish. We are determined to put a heavy emphasis upon this time of preparation because we know it will be essential to our future ministry. We are now near the end of our 2nd of 3 trimesters. We were also able to attend our first missions conference in Central America. It is exciting to see churches here with the same passion to reach the world for Christ.

As I mentioned in our previous letter, this was our first Thanksgiving out of the country. At our school, we helped plan a large-scale Thanksgiving event for the students and staff. At home, we prepared a Thanksgiving dinner and were able to have some fellow missionaries as well as a family from our church come over for dinner. Lila now speaks and understands much more Spanish than ever before. She frequently will sing songs in Spanish. At times, she easily switches to speaking Spanish. There was a pre-school Christmas program at our school, and Lila gave quite the performance as she sang in Spanish! Ellowyn only knows a handful of words, but she has already said her first Spanish word: Agua! We are very thankful to have this opportunity to learn a language, a culture, and especially to bring the Gospel to those who have not heard.

As you all know, we have had much difficulty with recurring sicknesses since moving out of the states. We have a praise that this last month was much better! This month, please pray for:

1. The Lord to help us in learning the language the best we can.
2. The Lord to give us direction as we plan our transition to Nicaragua.
3. The Lord to open doors for us to serve here during our time in Costa Rica.

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

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

November 2014 Prayer Letter

Dear Friends and Family,

We can hardly believe it is already November! School is coming along, and so is our Spanish. Thankfully, we have been able to do very well in our classes. And while it is a good thing to receive correction from our teachers, it is encouraging that we are needing fewer and fewer corrections. We are finding ourselves more and more able to communicate with the public. We are beginning to understand the culture more and more as well. This month, the church we attend will be hosting their annual missions conference. Although this church was previously started by a missionary, it is exciting to see that it has sent forth missionaries into several other countries. It is very encouraging to see the Costa Rican people get involved in missions, just like churches in America.

Last month was a difficult month, and in some ways, we had to learn how to slow down a little bit while Michelle was recovering. She is now doing a little bit better, and though we missed a few days of school, we are effectively back on track. Besides school and church, we have been working on completing our legal residency process in Costa Rica. We have both taken trips to the fingerprint registration office, and this week, we will obtain our Dimex cards (equivalent to US Green Cards). Although, we are over half-way done with our time in Costa Rica, this is a good warm-up for establishing long term residency in Nicaragua. We have now established a good legal contact in Nicaragua. This is going to be our first Thanksgiving away from home. Michelle and some student leaders are working to organize a school-wide Thanksgiving meal for the students here at the school who are away from their families. It will be a great time to give thanks to the Lord for all He has done for us.

We are very thankful for each of you that pray for us every month. It gives us strength to know that there are many who are upholding us in prayer. This month, please pray for:

1. That God will continue to help us learn the language
2. That God will continue to open doors and give us opportunities to share the Gospel here in Costa Rica.
3. That God will help keep our family healthy.

In Christ,

Jeremy, Michelle, Lila, and Ellowyn Blanz

Monday, October 13, 2014

October 2014 Prayer Letter

Dear Friends and Family,

We are now nearly one month into our second trimester of language school in Costa Rica. We are making modest improvements in our comprehension and ability to speak in Spanish. While we still have many struggles, we are becoming more and more able to communicate. Our coursework is not only helping us to learn the language, but to be prepared to minister in a Spanish speaking country. For example, Jeremy has been able to study and give a presentation (in Spanish) on the history of Roman Catholocism, which is the major religion in Nicaragua. Michelle was able to study and give a presentation on Judaism. We are also required to speak with the locals on a variety of issues, which helps us to learn the culture. Jeremy has been giving weekly devotions in Spanish, and has been able to preach and serve in student council leadership of the language school as well.

Our time in Costa Rica has been a good transition for us. This is the first time we have experienced “Rainy Season,” which is now in full swing! Because there is so much rain, we are staying indoors a little bit more. On the bright side, we are now beginning to use Spanish more around the house. Lila speaks good Spanglish. She frequently asks how to say words in Spanish ,and she enjoys learning. Sometimes, she will begin singing songs that we don't even know. Ellowyn is making growing quickly. She recently started walking and even saying things like “Hi,” “Bye,” “Hey Daddy,” and “Bath!” In October, we will celebrate her 1st birthday! It is our greatest desire to raise our girls up to love the Lord with all their hearts. Near the end of the month, Michelle began having some strange health symptoms. After a couple examinations, she was referred to the hospital for tests on her heart. After two days in the hospital, the results show that her heart is healthy. The doctors found a stomach ulcer, which they believe may be the cause for the strange symptoms. She is now on medication and a special diet.

Last month, we requested prayer for our language school counselor. He has had an amazing recovery- Glory to God! This month, please pray for:

1. The health of our family, especially for Michelle to recover.
2. Our language acquisition
3. The Lord to provide opportunities to be a witness and encouragement.

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

Sunday, September 7, 2014

September 2014 Prayer Letter

Dear Friends and Family,

August has been an exciting and busy month for us. We have now hit our first major milestone in language acquisition. We have now completed our first trimester of language school. Glory to God, Michelle and I received high A's in all of our classes. Although it is a slow process, we are learning more and more each day! We have now started our second trimester, and the difficulty has been cranked up a notch. Our classes are entirely in Spanish, and any communication in English is forbidden. We are also required to engage in conversations throughout the community in Spanish. While we still have a long way to go, we are steadily getting closer to being able to effectively communicate the Gospel in Spanish. Until then, we are being sure to stay faithful giving out tracts, and helping in the church we attend.

In our last letter, we asked you to pray for Ellie, who had a bronchial infection. Praise the Lord, she has recovered well. However, Lila was then diagnosed with bronchitis. After that, Michelle was diagnosed with bronchitis. Jeremy got sick as well, but managed to recover without seeing a doctor. We are now all healthy again, so thank you for praying for us. During our break, Michelle's parents came down to visit us for one week. We enjoyed being able to introduce them to life in Costa Rica, as well as visit a local volcano and waterfall garden. Although our double stroller broke at the end of the trimester, it was a timely blessing that Michelle's parents brought us another one from the States. During our 2 week break, we were also able to a blessing to incoming students at the school. We were privileged to help other missionaries adjust to everyday life here in Costa Rica.

We do have a special and urgent prayer request. Our campus counselor has recently contracted an unknown tropical illness/disease that has shut down his liver, and he is presently in critical condition. This month, will you please pray:

1. For this counselor- That the Lord heal his body and provide for his family.
2. For our health- That the Lord help us to stay healthy and able to serve.
3. For our communication- That the Lord help us to communicate the Gospel in Spanish.

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

Thursday, July 31, 2014

August 2013 Prayer Letter

Dear Friends and Family,

August is here and we are near the end of our first trimester of language school in Costa Rica. Michelle and I are both in full time language study. We are making considerable progress, but still have a long way to go. At the church we attend, Michelle is helping with the nursery. Jeremy was able to help with the Vacation Bible School. Each day, there was between 500-700 children. Jeremy was able to help out with security and take notes on how the church ran the VBS. It was a great opportunity for him to practice his Spanish, build relationships with the church members, and get involved in serving in a Spanish speaking church. During the course of the week, many children expressed interest in salvation and received individual counseling. Jeremy also learned that there will be another VBS in January, and he is looking forward to being able to be much more involved.

In many ways, we are adjusting to life in Costa Rica. It is a gradual process, but we are becoming more capable of communicating in Spanish. Our girls are also adapting well. Lila is also learning some Spanish. One day, as we rode in a taxi, Lila attempted to tell the driver where to turn to get to our house. Ellie also provides many opportunities for us to speak to people that we come across. Near the end of the month, Ellie came down with a bronchial infection requires antibiotics. Please pray that she has a good recovery.

We are so thankful for each of you that pray for us on a regular basis. This month, we will finish our first trimester of language school. We look forward to being able to use what we have learned much more during the break between trimesters. This month, please pray:

1. That we will quickly learn the language and be able to effectively communicate the Gospel.
2. The Lord continue to guide us in how to serve him as we learn the language.
3. The Lord give us physical health us we continue to adapt here in Costa Rica.
In Christ,
Jeremy, Michelle, Lila, and Ellowyn Blanz

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

July 2014 Prayer Letter

Dear Friends and Family,

This last month, was our second full month in Costa Rica. Our main focus has been upon learning the language. Although we have so much to learn, it is reassuring when native Costa Ricans are surprised how little time we have been learning Spanish! Our heart is to get more and more involved in sharing the Gospel. Despite the fact that our language is limited, we are learning to serve in the ways that we can. Although we can't do everything that we would like to do, we can surely do something. Michelle is now serving in the nursery and Jeremy will be helping with the Vacation Bible School at the church we attend. We are looking for more opportunities to help in the ways that we can.

Although we were able to stay healthy most of the month, we were ill once again in the end of the month. Thankfully, this is just a regular part of the process of adapting our bodies to a new country. Our girls are adjusting quite well. Ellie is now crawling everywhere and pulling up on things. Lila has become much more inquisitive. Although her understanding is very limited, she frequently asks for stories about Jesus, Abraham, Samson, and other Bible characters. Our greatest desire for them is that they learn to know the love of God and cultivate a relationship with Christ at a young age.  

This last month, it was encouraging to hear from many individuals who sent us emails to let us know they were praying for us. We are so thankful for all of the financial and prayer support that we receive. The apostle Paul wrote to the saints in Philippi, “I thank my God upon every remembrance of you, always in every prayer of mine for you all making request with joy, for your fellowship in the Gospel...” We are so thankful that you all are partakers in the Gospel and that your sacrifice will bring forth an eternal reward. This month, please pray...

1. That we acquire the language quickly.
2. That the Lord guide us in which ways to serve him until we are fluent.
3. That the Lord aid our bodies in adjusting to life in Costa Rica.

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

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

June 2014 Prayer Letter

Dear Friends and Family,

Last month was our first full month in Costa Rica. So much has happened, it's hard to know where to begin! First, we are both now taking full-time Spanish courses. We have also found a Spanish speaking church to attend. Due to our present lack of language, our ability to share the Gospel is somewhat limited. However, we are learning quickly! For now, we are staying active in giving out Gospel tracts, but we long for the day when we can communicate the Gospel in Spanish. For the time being, we are trying to encourage and minister to other students at the language school, as many of them will also be missionaries in Central America.

Our first full month in Central America could be characterized by the following word: “Adjustment.” For the first two weeks, everyone except Ellowyn endured sickness. After a couple weeks and a doctor visit, we are now much better! Another thing we had to adjust to was the cost. Nearly everything is significantly more expensive than the USA. However, there are a few things of interest that are cheaper: Coffee and pineapples. Thankfully, we love them both! While it may seem that life is slower, we find ourselves having less time because common tasks often take more time. Another change of pace is the result of using public transportation. Speaking of transportation, our daughter Ellowyn is now getting around by means of crawling! Despite all of our adjustments, our greatest desire is to allow God to use us while we are here in Costa Rica!

We are so thankful to have many churches and individuals who pray for us regularly. This month, please pray for the following:

1. For our family, as we adjust to a new country, language, and lifestyle.
2. That the Lord will guide us in ways to be used of Him even before we can fully communicate in Spanish.
3. That the Lord will allow us to quickly acquire the Spanish Language.

In Christ,

Jeremy, Michelle, Lila, and Ellowyn Blanz

Sunday, May 18, 2014

May 2014 Prayer Letter

Dear Friends and Family,

Greetings from Costa Rica! Last month, we made the transition from life in the states to life in Central America! We started the month by finishing a 17 hour drive home from Peabody, MA. After being gone for over a month, we had to catch up on a few things at home. Next, our mission was to begin trimming down our possessions dramatically. You never know how much stuff you accumulate, until it's time to put it all in a few suitcases and kiss the rest goodbye! It was also a bit hard for Lila, who did not understand what all of this meant. She kept a good spirit for much of the time and looked forward to getting on the big airplane to flying to Costa Rica!

Early in the month, we took a trip to Atlanta to meet with the Consul of Costa Rica. While gathering the proper documents and certifications felt much like a graduation test, meeting with the consul was much like the commencement! Jeremy's family had a big get-together in GA. His family was a big encouragement and blessing to us. Michelle's family helped watch the girls as we did a lot of work around the house. During the last week or so, we stayed in the prophets chamber at the church. We then had a big yard sale and sold off the vast majority of our things. The hardest thing of all, is to move away from our family and friends. Many people would never understand why we would do this. Jesus said, “every one that hath forsaken houses, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my name's sake, shall receive an hundredfold, and shall inherit everlasting life.” Though we may say “goodbye,” it is only “goodbye for now.” One day in Heaven, we will see those who heard the Gospel because somebody was willing to follow Jesus.

As we transition into life in Central America, there will be sickness, trials, and many other hardships. We are so thankful for those who diligently pray for us. These are they who know, “the effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.” This month, please pray:

1. The Lord to strengthen our bodies as we adjust to life in Costa Rica.
2. The Lord to help us learn the Spanish language
3. The Lord to use us as a witness during our time in Costa Rica.

In Christ,

Jeremy, Michelle, Lila, and Ellowyn Blanz

Thursday, April 3, 2014

April 2014 Prayer Letter

Dear Friends and Family,

Although March was our last month traveling on deputation, it was a busy one! Despite having a meeting canceled, we were still scheduled to be in 12 churches in the states of GA, MD, NY, CT, and MA. In between meetings, we drove nearly 4,200 miles! In March, we saw 2 new supporting churches and 2 others that have promised future support. We have sent off our documents to the Costa Rica Consulate and received communication back indicating that everything looks good for our student visas. We will meet with the consul this month to get our visas. Securing our student visas marks the end of this long journey of deputation.

Despite having a full calendar full of long drives, March also gave us opportunities to see places we would never get to see in normal circumstances. During our time in the NYC area, we were able to see the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island, where Jeremy's grandfather once came through as an immigrant. Also, during our time in MA, we were able to walk the Historic Freedom Trail in Boston. Ellie is now making a variety of noises, grabbing at things, and capturing the attention of people everywhere we go. Lila is always making friends. Between the two of them, they open many opportunities for us to speak with others and share the Gospel.

We are so excited to be finishing up one chapter in this journey and starting the next. However, this is also a difficult time, as we will be preparing to leave behind so much. This month, we are working to sell most of our stuff, clean out our home, and prepare to move to Costa Rica. Please pray for:

1. Our family as we transition from life as we have always known it, to life in a foreign country.
2. Our family as we meet with the Costa Rica consulate to get our student visas.
3. That the Lord will provide the last 5% of our needed support to be fully funded.

In Christ,

Jeremy, Michelle, Lila, and Ellowyn Blanz

Thursday, March 13, 2014

March 2014 Prayer Letter

Dear Friends and Family,

We hope that you are doing well! We may be near the end of deputation, but we are still pushing on full steam ahead! For the month of February, we were privileged to be in 7 meetings in the states of FL, GA, and NY. We were also part of a missions conference as well. In between meetings, we drove just under 4,000 miles. We saw 2 new supporting churches, 1 commit to future support, and few other possible supporters. We are presently at 93% of our needed support, and we are trusting the Lord to provide the rest before we leave the states. As for our student visa, we have acquired the final piece of documentation needed. We have also secured housing in San Jose, Costa Rica for our time in language school.

During our time in Florida, we were able to spend a little time with Michelle's family. As we prepared for our next trip to NY, we had to keep a close eye on Winter storm Pax. At the last moment, we had to make a decision to wait one more day before leaving. Due to extremely heavy driving and dangerous weather, Jeremy decided to make this trip alone. The Lord protected him on his way up to NY. On the morning of the first meeting, our car's back brake locked up completely, effectively disabling the vehicle. Thankfully, a church member assisted with transportation for both the morning and evening meetings. The next day, the brakes worked properly, and Jeremy was able to begin his drive back to FL. In the end of the month, we enjoyed the warmth during our missions conference in South Florida! As for our girls, Ellowyn is growing up quickly and is adored everywhere we go! Lila is constantly making friends and has become a professional at giving out prayer cards at each church!

Thank you so much for your prayers over this last month. This month, we will be on the road for our last trip of deputation. After this, we head home to pack our bags for language school! This month, please pray for:

1. Safety as we travel through much snow and ice.
2. The Lord to help us be an encouragement to churches and individuals.
3. The Lord to guide us raise our remaining support and secure our visa.

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

Thursday, February 13, 2014

February 2014 Prayer Letter

Dear Friends and Family,

As we are approaching our departure date in April, our time of deputation is rapidly coming to an end. In January, we were privileged to be in four scheduled meetings, including one conference, in the states of FL, GA, and NJ. We were also able to visit in a couple other churches that were not scheduled. We were invited to come to other churches and missions conferences, but had to decline due to a full calendar. Thankfully, we saw one new supporting church and two others commit to future support. We are working to secure plane tickets and housing in Costa Rica for our time in Language School. We now have all of our needed documents to get our student visa except for one. We are waiting for just the right time to apply this last document, as it must be less than thirty days old when we present it. We are so excited to make this transition to Central America!

During the first part of January, we were able to attend our home church. Jeremy always enjoys helping out with visitation and sharing the good news of Jesus Christ. In the second half of the month, we found ourselves right in the middle of a snowstorm passing through SW Virginia. Even worse, Jeremy got very sick for a couple days. Thankfully, the snow was not as bad as predicted, and Jeremy recovered just a little before our missions conference. Near the end of the conference, Michelle and Lila also came down very sick. We are so grateful for our hosts, the Ramirez family, who were so accommodating and helpful during this time. After this conference, we headed up to BIMI in Chattanooga for our exit interview. It was during this time that Winter Storm Leon paralyzed the South. Because we needed to avoid Atlanta, we had to drive up to Knoxville and down through the Carolinas in order to get home.

In the month of February, we are looking at a very busy month full of bitter, cold weather. This month, please pray for the following:

1. Safety as we travel through ice, snow, and other wintry weather.
2. The Lord to provide our remaining support for us to get to the field.
3. The Lord to guide us in obtaining our student visas for Costa Rica.

In Christ,

Jeremy, Michelle, Lila, and Ellowyn Blanz