Time seems to fly by, especially since we are having so much fun on our mission path! We can’t believe it but we have been traveling our mission path for over five years now! As you can imagine we have thousands of photos….and we are dying to share some of them with you! Our goal is to post a photo from somewhere along our mission path each Thursday of 2019. We will provide a short description for each and you can help us relive our amazing journey so far!
Here is our first throwback.
With much love,
From the time we began traveling along our mission path we seem to have gone from one great experience to another. We loved pastoral ministry and short term mission trips, but when God called us onto the mission field, we throughly enjoyed traveling to churches and speaking about our missionary passion. After building a network of living link partners we were thrilled to arrive in Costa Rica for our year of language training. Today we graduated from Instituto de Lengua Española! As we wrap up our time in Costa Rica we do so with renewed passion for the country of our calling, we can not wait to be in Ecuador!
Here are a few photos from our Graduation day.
Our next few weeks will be very busy compared to the tranquilo way of life we were blessed with in Costa Rica. We have staff debriefings to attended, Christmas parties to enjoy, papers and important documents to gather, a passport to renew and suitcases to pack and repack. Then we get to go to Ecuador!
To those who support us, your investment in us is beginning to show dividends! We can’t wait to share with you the excitement of our next great experience. To you who pray regularly for us, thank you! It is by your prayers that we are equipped and emboldened to share the wounderful words of life!
Con mucho cariño,
Today marks 50 days until we board a plane and leave our cocoon of preparation. Since last December our family has been immersed in preparation for our ministry in Ecuador.
Over the past year our kids have had great practice engaging in the Costa Rican culture. This is an important accomplishment for them because in a few short months they will be expected to assimilate into the Ecuadorian culture. They have spent an entire year practicing the idea that things may be different but different does not mean better or worse it simply means different.
We parents are thankful to have had experienced many “firsts” in the safety of our cocoon of preparation. With a family of six there will be emergencies. We are glad to have faced some here before we face them while at the same time carrying a full ministry load.
These minor emergencies have given us the gift of experience. Now we feel more prepared for what may come.
Our family’s focus over the past year has been to study Spanish. The older kids have taken an organized approach. They take classes at school and have learned a certain level of fluency which is admirable. The two youngest are immersed in Spanish all day long at school. We are happy with their progress. They seem to be naturals. We adults have been drinking out of the firehose of Spanish for three trimesters. So far we have studied 87 themes in Spanish Grammar, Phonics, and Speech. According to the index in our grammar book we have 35 more themes to go (only 32 class days left). We are using Spanish in our daily lives but our older brains struggle to find the right tenses and conjugations consistently. Overall we do feel like we will make it. We might need to ask our kids how to correctly speak from time to time, but we will eventually be proficient on our own.
What happens after our final 50 days in Costa Rica? On December 12th we are scheduled to return to the United States to gather some important documents for our Ecuadorian Visas. After gathering our documents and celebrating Christmas with family we will travel to Ecuador. In the meantime we are actively searching the Internet for a good house to rent in Quito. We are speaking to our kids about our second international transition. We are making lists and remaking lists so that our transition will go smoothly. And, as always we are praying for God’s clear guidance so we can follow Him closely.
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,
(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).
Anagnorisis: in a moment of lucidity becoming aware of one’s identity and situation.
For us it is the feeling of awakening to the reality that we are living our long held dream.
This word perfectly describes our lives. It is as if each moment brings with it a fresh new awakening. We can hardly believe we are in Costa Rica learning Spanish. We are bombarded with new experiences infused with new meaning and a surreal excitement. A simple walk to the store can be an adventure.
We have much to share but for right now we are just living in the moment, prossesing the impossible, and living our dream!