Ten Surprises We Have Found In Costa Rica

Missionaries Have Big Families

When the Downing family went anywhere in the United States we stuck out by our sheer numbers.  Here at the Instituto De Lengua Española we are simply an average sized family.  We will have to have more babies to stand out here, (a proposition neither of us are willing to consider).

Our Kids Trying Spanish 

It is hard to describe the joy we feel when our kids try to use Spanish.  Our kids from youngest to oldest are unafraid to try to speak to other kids at the park, at school and at church.  What a pleasant surprise!

We Know Enough To Know We Don’t Know Enough

One surprise is that we know a lot of Spanish already (and we aren’t even counting the Spanish we’ve picked up at Taco Bell and Chipotle)!  On the other hand we are also surprised at the magnitude of Spanish that we aren’t yet acquainted with.  We have a lot to learn!

Unlearning Is More Difficult Than Learning

Language makes paths through our brains.  Abandoning a well used path and paving a new one is a tedious task.  Phonetics, letters, grammar, and spelling are all different in Spanish.  Of course, that is to be expected but what we did not expect was how easy it is to fall back on the English pathways and on our previous and poorly learned Spanglish.  Unlearning is hard to do!

Natural Strengths Are Tempered By Natural Weaknesses

We were surprised to learn that (at our level) there is no such thing as being good at Spanish, only being good at parts of Spanish.  We each have our strengths and weaknesses and were one of us is week the other seems to be strong.  We praise God he has knitted us together on this great adventure!

Immersion Learning Is The Best

Because the learning never stops!  We might learn the proper grammatical structure in class but we will learn how to communicate with our newly learned grammar on the bus later that day.  In fact every interaction we have conforms, stretches, and teaches us as we are immersed in our new language.

Tranquilo Is Our New State Of Mind

When learning a second language mistakes are inevitable, looking out of place is common, and misunderstandings are a daily occurrence.  We have learned not to worry about any of that.  We have embraced being tranquilo.

The Vast And Beautiful Body Of Christ

Doctrinal differences and worship practices mean far less to people who are broken for a lost and dying world.  We were pleasantly surprised to find the issues that normally divide the North American church are dealt with maturely among the missionaries we have met.  We all seem much more interested in sharing the Gospel of Jesus than arguing about our faith.

Worship Transcends Language

Our favorite time during the week is Sunday morning when we have the privilege of worshiping with our brothers and sisters at Iglesia de Dios Esperanza Viva.  We understand little but worshiping God is much bigger than the language of the song or the sermon. Experiencing the move of the Spirit and enjoying the body of Christ is great in any language!

We Are So Grateful

We have always  felt deep gratitude for our support network but today we have a new depth in our gratitude for your prayers, encouragement, and funding.  It is by your support that we are here, your encouragement helps us to keep going, and by your prayers God is giving us “ears to hear” and the ability to learn the marvelous language of Spanish.  Thank you for all you do for us!

In His grip,


The Downings

(If you would like to speak with someone about partnering with our mission please call 1-800-848-2464 and ask for Debbie Taylor and she will walk you through the process).

2 thoughts on “Ten Surprises We Have Found In Costa Rica

  1. Your journey brings back so many memories of God’s guidance and loving care. Keep up the good work! He is faithful and we are praying. – Karen

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