We have FINALLY got the opportunity to give everyone another update on what God is doing here in Costa Rica!
Amanda and I are almost three months into our language training at the Language Institute of Costa Rica. Neither one of us are by no means fluent yet, but we are very encouraged to see that we are understanding more and more with each passing day. I personally can’t carry on any sort of conversation yet, but due to the foundation of grammar being laid I am ALMOST able to start talking with people (without sounding stupid). 😉 Amanda is doing great as well. She had a significant advantage over me considering that she grew up hearing and understanding the Spanish language whereas I did not. She is building her vocabulary more and more and now she is realizing how to phrase sentences using correct grammar. Language learning is defiantly a stretch for us, but we are constantly reminded how important it is for us to be able to speak this language so that we may minister to the people of the latin americas and that makes everything worth it.
Both Amanda and I have been able to get plugged in with the school’s worship teams during the chapel hour twice a week. Luckily, I brought my djembe (aftican hand drum) with us so now the worship teams has some form of percussion in them. There is a total of 3 worship teams with different people in each one and we rotate services every Tues and Thurs. Since not many people can play a djembe at school, I play in two of the three services. I thank God for the opportunity to use the gifting He has given me!
Amanda volunteered to help run the sound board and she is being trained how to troubleshoot all the craziness that generally happens when you start putting mics on instruments and vocals! Last semester, the sound guy had next to no help at all and was super excited when he found out that Amanda would be there to give him a break! Although it seems small, we feel that this is something within the school that we can do to bless our fellow students.
Amanda and I have also received an AMAZING outreach opportunity to a very poor community named La Carpio.
La Carpio is a small community of Nicaraguan immigrants who have planted themselves here and are trying to get ahead in life. Every week we go into their neighborhood (consisting mostly of sheet metal and cinder-block homes) and
we play with and minister to the neighborhood kids there. The kids range anywhere from 4 years old to 13 years old. We play with 40-65 kids in a small concrete room that resembles a basketball court to some effect. We also do a brief drama of various bible stories so that the kids can get the word into them. After our drama, we will do a small craft which allows them to color or put together a small story book made from construction paper.
The first time that Amanda and I ventured out to La Carpio, our hearts broke for these families living in these homes. All the roads are dirt, eroded, and not very “car friendly.” The homes are tiny, crammed next to each other, and the only thing dividing one family from the next is a thin wall made up of cinder-blocks.
As we pull up to our normal meeting place in La Carpio, kids surround our van waiting for us to get out. The little girls are very giggly and absolutely LOVE Amanda’s pink hair! The little boys put on their best “macho” demeanor so that they wont appear weak to their older peers. However, even with their macho man attitude, it only takes moments for the Love of God to soften them up and they begin smiling, laughing, and trying to play with us!
The small group of missionaries we go with consists of 8-10 people and I have come to realize that the males in the group are viewed as amusement park rides to the kids! It only takes me 20 seconds of walking into the concrete gym before I’m surrounded by an ecstatic mob of kids wanting me to place them on my shoulders or wanting to ride my back! As soon as one kid gets off, there is ALWAYS another one (or four) tugging at my shirt informing me that it is “their turn!” Amanda will always come to me with a big grin on her face and a kid around her neck and asking me, “are you tired yet?” I just smile back at her and let the next kid monkey his way up my back!
We have fallen in love with these kids and it is such a joy to us to be able to love on them when they may not get that at home.
Amanda and I have also been blessed with the opportunity to serve at a local youth group of MK’s (missionary kids) as well. Every Saturday night we go out and fellowship with these kids and encourage them in the things of God. Most of these kids have an underlining feeling that they are only here because their parents are. Most of the kids genuinely love God, but some of them seem that they are losing sight of Him due to the fact that they are here only to live “mommy and daddy’s dream.” We can sympathize with that feeling but I know they are here for so much more than just that. We are praying for opportunities to minister to these kids and encourage them.
The youth leader’s wife and Amanda are heading up a women’s bible study for the youth group and Amanda feels such a divine connection with the girls who are in it. Amanda has such a relation with them and they are drawn to her. We both feel that God has opened up that door for a specific purpose and we are SO excited to see everything that God will do through that!
Other than hanging out with talking one on one with the kids in the youth group, I have been blessed with an opportunity to speak in front of these kids once thus far. I shared with them my testimony of how I was an atheist, how I sought after God, and how He brought me to the knowledge of His Son. I focused my message around the “Seek and you’ll find…” scripture. I asked if I could give an alter call afterwards and I was told that I shouldn’t due to the fact that this youth group is inter-denominational. I was told that I could invite the kids to talk to us about salvation after I got done speaking however, and that’s what I did! That night, we saw 2 teenagers get born-again and we also had one girl rededicate her life to God!! Even with the limitations put on the alter call, God STILL worked in the kids hearts and brought them home! Praise God!!
I have talked to the youth director about getting more opportunities to speak into the kid’s lives in order to follow up and continue to encourage these kids to find God for themselves and really seek after Him.
Amanda and I are SO excited to see everything that God is doing here! We are more excited now than we were when we first came! We love seeing God’s hand opening up doors of ministry before us and guiding us into what He would have us do! We consider ourselves blessed to have the opportunities to bless the kids in La Carpio and love them the way that God wants them loved, and also to help raise up mighty men and women of God who will touch the world for the Kingdom!
And as always, Amanda and I want to express our deepest thanks for EVERYONE who remembers us in their prayers. You prayer warriors have no idea the awesome things that you are doing for us due to your obedience to prayer and we want to thank you for that.
We would also like to express our sincerest thanks to EVERYONE who has sowed seed into our ministry, great and little. We want you to know that we always pray and give thanks to God when we receive our monthly support and we also pray for each and every person who has sown into us that they may receive a harvest 100 times what was sown! We expect to see miracles on your guys’ end as well as our own! Thank you so much!
Lastly, we would like to ask you to pray about sowing seed into this ministry that God has given us. All we desire is that you be obedient to what the Spirit of God lays on your heart to give and know that we are in agreement with you that a massive harvest will be reaped as a result!
We love you all!
Brian and Amanda Blalock