Saturday, December 27, 2008

Christmas Reflection

Christmas was a bit different for us this year. Obviously! It was the first Christmas where I could look out my front door and see palm trees. It was also my first Christmas since I left home for college 12 1/2 years ago that did not involve some sort of travel to see family. It felt strange not to be packing up to go some where. It was also the first Christmas in which I did virtually no Christmas shopping. When we were in MN seeing Tracey's grandma we purchased the kid's Christmas presents. For some reason shopping in October does not seem like Christmas shopping. Yet while we were thousands of miles away from most of our friends and family Christmas was still special. We had a great time both Christmas Eve and Christmas with our good friends and teammates the Janzens. We had a fun celebration with just the four of us Christmas morning and enjoyed visiting with family via the phone (We love our Magic Jack!).

I think what makes Christmas so special is stopping to reflect on the fact that we are celebrating Jesus moving into our neighborhood as Eugene Peterson translates John 1 in The Message. When I stop to reflect on the God of the universe choosing to move into our stinky, smelly neighborhood it is pretty overwhelming. It makes our moving to Costa Rica no big deal. We moved across a border, Jesus moved across the universe! He moved so that we might have abundant life and so that we would be able to have a close, intimate relationship with him. It is amazing that God would pursue you and I so intently.

So while Christmas is different this year it is no less special. We have enjoyed and continue to enjoy the celebrations here in San José (I can hear fireworks going off as I type). There will be celebrations through the 4th or 5th of January here. What makes Christmas special is remembering that God reached out to you and me in the form of a baby. Unfortunately it takes a holiday to remind us of this. May we live every day of the new year remembering what God did for us and allowing that to drive how we live. Merry Christmas!

Thursday, December 25, 2008

"I do it myself"

From December 2008

From December 2008

At first glance these photos are pictures of a two-year old sitting at a messy desk. However, the other day when I was in the shower I heard podcasts begin to play on the computer. I thought, "Tracey must have gotten up with the kids." When I got out of the shower I discovered Tracey and Olivia still sound asleep and Sawyer at the computer. When he heard me coming he turned around and said, "I do it myself!" He had grabbed the remote for our iMac and found the "Blue's Clues" podcasts and was watching one after another. Not bad for a two-year old. If you are reading this and wondering what a podcast is just ask Sawyer, he would be happy to explain it to you.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Exciting Times!!

We are super-excited to announce that we have signed papers to rent a HOUSE in Desamparados!!!! We actually have the keys and will start moving stuff in during the next couple of weeks! It is a beautiful house that we consider a blessing straight from heaven! It has plenty of space for guests, a big garage, even an ample office/potential-future-semester-program-classroom space! The only thing it lacks is a yard, but there is still plenty of room for the kids to play--actually it'll be a killer hide-n-seek house! The location is perfect, the rent is great--the Lord has provided. Thank you for praying with us in this!

We will also be getting a vehicle on Thursday, assuming everything goes as planned. We are buying a 1995 Hyundai Galloper in great condition, with very few miles on it. It's diesel and manual (cheaper to run and insure), and holds up to 7 passengers. So, we can haul around people that might want to visit us. . .hint, hint! We've negotiated a good price, and we are praying that this car lasts a very, very long time! I'm also praying for the courage and ability to drive stick again. . .in San José!

One other bit of exciting news is that Jeff and I have finished ("graduated from") language school! We will very likely find a tutor to work with us on polishing our Spanish in the future, but for now we're done. And it feels good.

Here's a picture of us at graduation.

From December 2008

We'll get pictures up of the house and car soon. Thanks again for keeping us in your thoughts and prayers!

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Christmas Programs

Here are some videos from the kids' school Christmas programs. Sawyer's is on top and Olivia's is on the bottom. Enjoy!

Thursday, December 11, 2008


Thank you to everyone who has been praying for my grandma, and for our family. Grandma Rosell went to be with Jesus yesterday a little before 4p.m. It was a peaceful passing, with Grandpa, my mom and all her siblings surrounding her bedside. You can read about it at

I've said before that it is hard to be in Costa Rica knowing that all of this is going on 'back home.' Even more so at this point. We have been praying that God would be merciful and end Grandma's suffering. He has, even if not in the way we initially hoped. She is now completely healed and worshiping Jesus, and we are so happy for her. However, those of us who are left behind are suffering because of her absence, especially Grandpa. Please pray for him. Almost 60 years of marriage is a long, blessed time. Pray that God would wrap his arms around Grandpa in a very close and special way during this next season. Grandma was an amazing lady, whose influence has been felt far and wide. We pray that her legacy of obedience to and love for Jesus touch many, many generations to come! We are thankful that her suffering is over, and that we have the hope of being reunited with her again. But, we will all grieve as well. It will be a hard Christmas, among many other hard things.

God, help us; we were not meant for this.

Sunday, December 07, 2008

December Newsletter +

We recently sent out our latest prayer and update letter, so be watching for it in the mail, complete with Costa Rican stamp! If, however, you'd like a sneak peak, click on this link (bonus: it's the color version). December Newsletter We will also be emailing it to those of you whose home addresses we do not have.

A couple of quick things:

*I forgot to mention our health in the newsletter. Our immune systems seem to be fighting every new germ they meet, and we have been sick a lot here. PLEASE pray for health!

*We are scurrying to find a vehicle and a new home! We've seen a few of each. . .so far nothing has panned out. PLEASE PRAY that God will provide 'just the right' of each. We need a car that will fit our family, be versatile for guests, reliable, good price (HA!), etc., etc.. And we need a house that is close to our ministry area, that fits our family and possibly holds space for an SI office, is in a safe and convenient area, and has a yard (is that too much to ask??? I'm asking anyway!!) Also, the quicker the better. . .Olivia keeps asking about a Christmas tree. . . Please pray as the Lord leads you for these things! Thank you so much!

Thursday, December 04, 2008


We had a great thanksgiving celebration with our teammates. Of course we went to school in the morning and then celebrated in the afternoon. We looked for the traditional turkey, but the best we found was a 15lb bird for about $40. So we decided to pass and Erin Janzen roasted two lovely chickens instead. Following dinner the kids all made pilgrim hats out of cookies and peanut butter cups. Below is a slide show of our Thanksgiving festivities:

Sunday, November 23, 2008

In Process!

The words, "In Process," have never sounded so sweet. After our appointment at Immigration on Tuesday, plus a little more work from our lawyer, Juan Edgar, later in the week, to re-authenticate our paperwork and re-submit it (part of the normal procedure--actually we would have had to go back in Feb. for an appointment to re-authenticate if he hadn't done it himself!), we are OFFICIAL!! We will not have our cedulas (like a soc. security card/number) until our paperwork receives final approval, which could take anywhere from a couple of months to a couple of years. . .but until then we are free to stay in the country and have residency rights--or at least some; we'll keep you updated. The biggest thing is that we don't have to leave every 3 months on a tourist visa. This will obviously save us lots of time and money!

A few impressions of our experience with La Migración. :) First of all, let me say that I'm sure the immigration office does have a system of organization. It has to. However, I cannot say how it was organized. We basically went into this huge partially-partitioned room with desks lining 2 walls and crowds of people sitting on chairs. Some of the desks had signs above them indicating who could be helped where, but not all. The section we went to (with Juan Edgar) was for lawyers with appointments only. This was the only section that had plexiglass in front of the desks (not sure why). Anyway, it made it a little hard to communicate with the lady behind it, and of course everyone's meeting was public. We waited for about an hour (not too bad, actually) for our appointment. Then J.E. and the Licensiada behind the glass exchanged, stamped, signed and organized all the papers. A couple of times Jeff had to run outside for some timbres, which are stamps that the lawyers stick on your paperwork to make it official (it shows you've paid the right amount, among other things.) The best part about the timbres was the place Jeff bought them. It was a little portable booth outside the gate of the Immigration campus with a hand-painted sign. Besides the timbres, they also sell snacks, drinks and cigarettes! Nothing like government, is there?!

Thank you for praying with us through all of this! Please pray now that nothing will get in the way of our final approval and that it will happen quickly. We also need to figure out the best way to advise our team, as well as future staff, about residency/visas, etc. So much fun. Pray that we would be able to learn the system quickly and be wise in all of this!

Thursday, November 13, 2008


Costa Rica has recently changed its residency laws. How does that affect us? Good question! We would like to know as well. We are in the process of applying for temporary residency. Residency would make life easier for us. It would allow us to have cell phones (you are not able to get a cell phone unless you are a resident), make other logistics easier, and would allow us to stay in the country for longer periods of time. Without residency our option is to stay on a tourist visa. Tourist visas are good for 3 months. So each 3 months we would need to leave Costa Rica for 72 hours and then re-enter on another tourist visa. This would not be the end of the world, but would be inconvenient and an unexpected expense. However, we hear Nicaragua and Panama are good places to spend a long weekend :).

We have an appointment with immigration on Tuesday, November 18 at 10am. Please be praying for this appointment. Pray that we would have favor in the eyes of the immigration officials and that our paperwork would be approved. Pray for a clear understanding of the immigration laws and their impact on us and the rest of our team. Pray that God would give us and our lawyer, Juan Edgar, wisdom and the right words to say on Tuesday.

Strategic Planning

strategic |strəˈtējik|
relating to the identification of long-term or overall aims and interests and the means of achieving them : the company should take strategic actions to cope with fundamental changes in the environment | strategic planning for the organization is the responsibility of top management.
• carefully designed or planned to serve a particular purpose or advantage : alarms are positioned at strategic points around the prison.
(New Oxford Dictionary)

I am sitting at the airport in Dallas Texas on my way to Strategic Planning meetings for Students International. These meetings are significant as we are in the process of developing a strategic plan to continue to carry out the God given mission and vision of Students International over the next several years. Of course these plans will need to be adapted along the way, but this weekend could go a long way towards determing direction for SI in the next few years. Please be praying for these meetings. Pray that we would follow God's agenda and hear His voice. We only want to do what God is calling us to do. No less, no more.

Please also be praying for Tracey, Olivia, and Sawyer while I am away. Pray that this weekend would be an "easy" weekend for them. Both Olivia and Sawyer have been sick at different times this past week, so please pray for health as well.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Oasis de Esperanza

I looked over at the clock Sunday morning as the alarm was going off. 5:32! I had overslept! I leapt (okay more of a groggy roll) out of bed and woke Tracey up. We needed to leave in an hour for church. An hour later we walked out the door, found a taxi to one of Tracey's teacher's houses to go to church with her and her family. We walked into church as the worship team was singing the first song just after 7 a.m.

Tracey's teacher, Anna, invited us to go to church with her and her family. They attend the largest church in Costa Rica (Their website says that 10,000 people attend their services). It feels like you are walking into any large church anywhere in the States, except for the language. The church is called Oasis de Esperanza (Oasis of Hope). We enjoyed a powerful time of praise and worship and were encouraged and challenged by a sermon about walking in the Spirit. Olivia and Sawyer enjoyed their classes as well.

Following church we went to Ana's house and enjoyed breakfast and visiting with Ana, her husband Federico, their daughter Gloriana, and their son Federico Jr., who is the same age as Olivia and in her per-school class during the week. We have spent a lot of time praying for various things in preparation of moving and since we have been here. A couple of things that I have overlooked a bit in prayer have been that we would find a church home and for Tico friends. Sunday was a great day of fellowship that we greatly enjoyed as well as a great time of worshiping our King. Please join us in praying for both a church home and Tico friends.

Thursday, November 06, 2008


We have now been back in classes for a week--hard to believe! Our time in MN was a bit of a whirlwind, but we are SO glad that we went. Amid the many blessings were seeing many family members, "Thanksgiving" dinner, and going to Target and Costco (where prices never seemed so reasonable!) The biggest blessing was that we were able to spend a couple of days with my Grandparents at their farm, which was the main purpose in going. Grandma had many good moments, for which we are thankful. Since we left, however, she has been having some hard days--please pray for her. She is not afraid of death, but of pain. Pray for Grandpa, too, as this is, obviously, extremely difficult for him. Also, my Aunt Bonnie is staying up there as a caretaker for the next couple of months and could use prayer as well!

Many have asked if it is hard to be here knowing that Grandma's days are numbered. Of course I say that, yes, it is. (I don't think CA would feel as far away in this situation.) There have been many moments in this past year or so when I have grieved things like this--or the idea of them. When we were at MTI almost a year ago we were encouraged to think about loss and to start grieving all the losses involved with moving to a faraway land. Everything from loss of conveniences, familiar systems of doing things, freedoms (for me, as a woman), proximity to those we love, etc. Our hearts have ached with friends in similar situations, some that live in places much farther away than we do, with more social or religious limitations, higher costs of travel, less access to internet and phone service--they are missing out on births of babies, the lives their friends continue to live back 'home,' funerals for loved ones, birthdays, weddings, etc. These are definitely the hardest things to sacrifice.

So, pray for Grandma and the family, and pray for us, too. Pray that God would provide a community here in Costa Rica--a community that we can call family--and thank him that our team is part of that!! I'll also put in a plug for anyone else you may know living far from home for whatever reason, that God would make up for their losses and the things they sacrifice.

We are so thankful for our families, our heritage. Thank you, Grandma, for the influence you have had on my life, for your prayers, for your faith in, and faithfulness to, God for so many years. Thank you for being someone whose life is worth imitating! And thanks for letting us visit you last week. We know it may have been the last time in this earthly setting, but we know we WILL see you again someday!!

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Visiting Grandma Tic Tac

From The Farm

We leave in a couple of hours to fly to Minnesota. In September Grandma 'Tic Tac'(Tracey's Grandma Rosell) was diagnosed with stage 4 cancer. The doctors have told her that she does not have much longer on this earth. Praise God she will live in his presence forever! So we are making a trip to see her. It is a quick trip as we come back Sunday. Please be praying for Grandma as well as for us during this next week. We anticipate it will not be an easy trip, but we are grateful that God has provided both the opportunity and the resources to go.

Krysta Arrives!!

Saturday afternoon Krysta Williams arrived in Costa Rica. Krysta is joining our staff team and we are thrilled to have her! Like the rest of the team she is fantastic and brings a lot of strengths to add to the mix. We are excited to see how God will use her! Krysta and Cailah have started language school and are adjusting to life here in Costa Rica. A link to Krysta's blog is on the right side of our blog. Please be praying for their transition.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Poás and Sarchí

Monday was a day off school, so we decided to take advantage of it to see some sights. We headed out with the Janzens, Cailah, and the Diems (another family in language school with us). We went to see Volcán Poás. Poás is about a 90 minute drive from San José. Once you get out of the city the drive steadily climbs through the hills passing through coffee growing country. Poás is often covered with clouds making seeing the crater impossible. Fortunately when we arrived at the top we were able to see the crater. It was amazing! After admiring it for a while we took a short hike up to a lagoon that used to be the crater.

From Poás we drove to a town called Sarchí. Sarchí is known for handmade furniture and ox carts. Ox carts are a big part of Costa Rican culture as they were used to haul goods to port or market. Now they are ornately painted and used as decorative pieces. Here is a slide show from our day. Hope you enjoy!

Cailah Arrives!!

Cailah Pritchard arrived into San José last Saturday evening! We are excited to have Cailah as part of the SI-Costa Rica staff team. She has interned with SI for a few summers and has done a tremendous job! We look forward to seeing all the Lord will do in and through Cailah in the next few years. Please keep her in your prayers as she adjusts to life in Costa Rica. If you would like to follow life from her perspective there is a link to her blog on the right side of this page. Here is a picture of Cailah and Tracey on the top of Volcán Poás.

From October 2008

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Lamb's Book of Life

From September 2008

This post is about a month late in coming, but none-the-less is the most exciting thing to hit this blog space. On September 14 Olivia invited Jesus to come and live in her heart! She was reading a children's Bible with Tracey and when they read about the Lamb's Book of Life she asked if her name was written in it. After a long discussion with mommy and daddy Olivia decided she wanted to wait to ask Jesus into her heart. Well she waited about 5 more minutes. Needless to say we are overjoyed with her decision and pray that God will continue to shape her into the young lady he desires for her to be.

The picture of her was actually taken that night at an Independence Day celebration. We then had a little celebration of our own at Musmani (a local bakery). We enjoyed some chocolate milk and pastries to celebrate Olivia's big decision.
From September 2008

Under the Sea

From Scuba Diving @ Playa del Cocos

We had the opportunity to take a Scuba Diving class to become certified scuba divers through a connection at our language school. We decided it was too good to pass up! So last weekend we completed our training dives off of a beach called Playa de Cocos. Tracey had a great time! She enjoyed seeing God's incredible under water creation. We saw several varieties of fish, a sea turtle, sting rays, spotted rays, eels, and a couple of white tip sharks. Jeff's equipment didn't work properly and he lost his wedding ring on our last dive, so while he enjoyed seeing the wildlife it was a frustrating time. One of the guys diving with us has an underwater camera. These photos are courtesy of him. Thanks Dick!

Click the photo below for more photos:
Scuba Diving @ Playa del Cocos

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Saprissa vs La Liga

From September 2008

Yankees/Red Sox
Red Wings/Avalanche

Are all great sports rivalries we are familiar with in the States. Well as heated and as important as they are to the fans of those teams they do not compare to the rivalry between Saprissa and La Liga here in Costa Rican fútbol. Lately the rivalry has been a bit one sided as Saprissa has won or tied the last 20 straight, including a 2-1 victory last night.

I was able to go to the game last night at Saprissa Stadium and the atmosphere was like no other. The streets around the stadium were filled with chanting fans at least two hours before the game. As the players entered the field fireworks went off in the stands, rolls of paper were launched onto the field, fire extinguisher like things were set off, and flares were glowing around the stadium. It made me wonder what would happen if Saprissa scored. About 15 minutes into the game Saprissa scored off a corner kick and the place erupted. Fans leapt from their seats and clung to fence that surrounds the field.

Throughout the game fans beat drums and chanted. Reacted to every play. Every bad pass, touch, or shot by La Liga brought jeers and whistles from the Saprissa fans. It was an entertaining game of quality soccer, but the atmosphere was even better.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Pirates, Firemen, & Macaroni Peguins

While our life here is a little different than it was in Visalia, there are more similarities than differences. Sawyer and Olivia have been battling a virus that is going around. Olivia was able to overcome it in about a day. Sawyer came down with it Sunday night and is still not quite over it. So he has not been in school this week. So just like when we lived in Visalia when one of the kids is sick one of us has to stay home to play nurse. So after waking up, yesterday Sawyer dressed himself appropriately (see the picture below) and we sat on the couch and read books for hours. Some of the things we read about guessed it pirates, firemen, and macaroni penguins. Of course the rain boots were a necessary accessory as when you are reading you never know where you will end up!

From September 2008

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Independence Day

September 15 is Independence Day throughout Central America, including Costa Rica. We had a good time learning about Costa Rica's traditions surrounding independence day and taking part in some of the festivities. In general Costa Ricans are very proud of their country and proud to be Ticos. This comes out around Independence Day as throughout the country people hang flags in front of their houses and decorate with the colors of the flag (red, white, and blue).

The evening of the 14th starts the celebration of independence day. At 6pm the national anthem is played on the TV and radio stations. A large number of people throughout this small country stop what they are doing to join in the singing. Not long after this people take part in the parade of the "faroles" (lanterns). On the night of the 14th (the night before the official documents were to be signed in Guatemala to declare independence from Spain) there was a meeting in Costa Rica in which people who could not get in stood outside holding lanterns.

Now something needs to be said regarding a point of extreme pride for Costa Ricans. There is no military here. Instead the money that would have been spent on a military has been put into the education system. During a presentation about Independence Day the comment was made that in most (if not all) of the other Central American countries Independence Day is marked with military parades. Here they say that the strength of the country is not in a military, but instead in the children. So the festivities here are centered around children and schools.

So shortly after singing the national anthem people gather at local schools and have the parade of the lanterns. Children design and then carry paper lanterns and parade through the streets lead by the school's drum core. Some schools have competitions to see who can make the best lantern. They are incredible! Anywhere from the traditional ox cart, a typical house, flowers, and even spider man.

On the morning of the 15th there are more parades of school children. The children are doing various activities. From marching in typical dress, to drum cores accompanied with xylophones, carrying flags, baton twirling, and cheer teams. These parades can include multiple schools and can go on for hours. We enjoyed watching one of these and also enjoyed a typical treat called "Copos" It is basically a layered snow cone. The layers are shaved ice soaked in flavored syrup, a few teaspoons of powdered milk, shaved ice again soaked in flavored syrup, and topped off with sweetened condensed milk. Delicious!

Below are some pictures from the festivities:

From Costa Rican Independence Day

Olivia in the parade at her school Friday morning (September 12th)

From Costa Rican Independence Day

The drummers leading the parade of the lanterns (Desfile de los faroles)

From Costa Rican Independence Day

Olivia with her Lantern (Yes, there is a lit candle inside that paper lantern!)

From Costa Rican Independence Day

Children carrying flags in a parade the morning of September 15th.

From Costa Rican Independence Day

Children riding in a traditional ox cart (Originally these carts were used to take coffee to port for export.)

Click here to see more pictures from Independence Day.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

"Goin' On Venture"

From September 2008

The other night Sawyer and I went on an adventure to....the bakery. Hey when your two, its raining outside, you get to wear your rain coat and boots, and walk all the way it is a pretty big adventure. He only fell 3 times on the walk, and of course the first time he tripped a puddle was waiting to catch him. As he was laying face down in the puddle he was sure to tell the sidewalk, "Goin' on venture."

One of the things we have enjoyed is living close by some good and inexpensive bakeries. Often we will walk and get a loaf of fresh bread to eat with dinner. The cost is usually under 500 Colones (the exchange rate at the moment is about 550 to 1) and the bread is usually hot out of the oven. This loaf of bread is from our favorite bakery Musmani.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008


We have just written our latest newsletter. It will be emailed out tomorrow (hopefully) and snail mailed out next week. If you are not on our mailing list and would like to be please let us know. For those of you who want a sneak peak at the newsletter click here (or cut and past the address into your address bar) to download a PDF file of it:

Just a reminder that our newsletters are always available to download in the newsletter section on the right side of the blog.

Wow, this is a pretty boring post. But alas no time to spice it up as a counter full of dishes await (hopefully no ants are waiting with them :), as well as homework for grammar class, and preparing for an oral test in my conversation class.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

He Delights!

Just when I start to think about what I need to "do" for the Lord, he brings a gentle reminder to help nudge my thinking and priorities back into place. Here is the last couple of sentences from today's "My Utmost for His Highest:"

"The spirit that comes in is not that of doing anything for Jesus, but of being a perfect delight to Him. The secret of the missionary is - I am His, and He is carrying out His enterprises through me.

Be entirely His."

To read all of today's reading from "My Utmost for his Highest" go here:

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

"¿Y el bebé?"

This evening I walked to Mega Super (a grocery store around the corner from our apartment) for a couple of things. As I was paying, the clerk (who I don't remember talking to before) asked, "¿Y el bebé?" Implying how is the baby (Sawyer) doing? We proceeded to talk about our families (she has a son about Sawyer's age) while I paid. So after a week, our blond, blue eyed son with a million dollar smile has already made a name for himself.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Our Apartment

Several people have asked to see pictures of our apartment, so we have uploaded several to our Picasa web album. Click on the picture below to see more pictures of our apartment complete with captions.


Saturday, August 23, 2008

1st Costa Rican Rain

On Thursday we had some rain in the afternoon, which is fairly typical for this time of year in San José. Olivia and Sawyer were anxious to try out their umbrellas and rain coats as you can see below.

Commissioning and Fare Well

Here are some pictures from our commissioning service at Savior's Community Church and the farewell dessert we had. The other couple are our teammates Erin and Jeremy Janzen.

"I'll hold you..."

This morning I (Jeff) woke Olivia up as we were meeting friends (Janzens and Elledges) to go to the feria (farmer's market). As she started to wake up I whispered in her ear, "I'll hold you, if you want." After a couple minutes of squirming and stretching she crawled on my lap and said , "I want you to hold me daddy." She then said, "I'm almost too heavy for mommy to hold, but I'm not too heavy for you."

So often the Lord teaches me about himself through my relationship with my kids. Just like I was there for Olivia this morning he is always there whispering in my ear that he will hold me if only I crawl into his lap. Just like Olivia's faith that she is not too heavy for me to hold, I am never too heavy, nor is any baggage I may carry with me too heavy for our heavenly Father to carry. He is there to hold me, all I need to do is ask.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

We made it to Costa Rica!

We arrived in San José last night! The kids did great on the flights (mom and dad did too)! It was a blessing to travel with the Janzens and for Olivia and Sawyer to be able to play with Ella and Judah.

This morning our friends Rich and Jil (Our "big brother" who are going to the same language school and have been a huge help in helping us get situated here) took us for a tour of our new neighborhood. It was fun to explore a bit and we look forward to exploring more!

The last week has been a whirlwind of loading the container to ship, packing, a commissioning service at church, and saying goodbyes. Once we download the pictures from our camera we will post some pictures for you to enjoy. It was a good last week in Visalia.

We find ourselves being emotionally, physically, and spiritually drained yet energized at the same time. Both sad to leave close family and friends, yet excited to enter into this new season. During our training time at Mission Training International we talked about living in the midst of paradox. We are definitely experiencing this.

It is all still a little surreal to think after years of looking forward to this day it has finally arrived. I don't think it has quite sunk in yet. We are so grateful for everyone who has played a part in helping us get to this point. Thank you very much!! To say we are grateful is an understatement. We look forward to continuing to share this adventure with you!

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

In Less than a Week

Next Wednesday we leave for Costa Rica! It all seems a little surreal at this point in time. We find ourselves putting the final details into place. The last shopping trips, loading a container (yesterday!), selling our car, saying good-byes, choosing insurance, and writing a will are all on our to-do list (nothing like procrastination!). Olivia had a dentist appointment yesterday, we are gathering last minute prescriptions, taking oral typhoid vaccines, and making a file of all our medical records. Who knew there would be so many details?!?!

Monday, July 28, 2008


It was a busy weekend around the Dixon house. Saturday Tracey and I woke up early to do a yard sale. The first customers arrived shortly before 6am. Needless to say we weren't quite ready for them. The yard sale was nothing short of miraculous as by the end of the day we had made about $1,000! Our good friend John Crook came early in the morning to help us set up and then entertained Olivia and Sawyer for a few hours. This was a tremendous help. Thanks John!! Praise God for bringing people to buy our things! These funds will help us to replace some of them in Costa Rica.

Following the yard sale we finished packing up our house. We did take a break for a picnic dinner from McDonald's in the dining room. This was followed by all of us laying in the living room (all the furniture sold) to watch Finding Nemo on the computer (The TV sold as well). It was a memorable last night in our home. Once the kids were asleep we worked to finish packing.

Sunday after church we loaded our things into a trailer, the back of two pick-ups and a few odds and ends in a suburban and moved out of our house. Thanks Hector, Jonathan, Tricia, Micah, Noah, Owen, Mike and Carol for your help moving! Mike and Carol Alipaz are graciously allowing to stay with them until we move to Costa Rica. So our things are stored in their garage and driveway. This time has reminded us of the tremendous blessing good friends are and how God has richly blessed us with many great friendships.

This week we are busy with things like doctors appointments, painting and cleaning our house, working on support raising, and trying to get a little bit of rest. Though we are tired our hearts are full of gratitude and we are overwhelmed by the love and care of friends and more so of our Heavenly Father.

Please remember to keep us in your prayers, especially Olivia and Sawyer during our transition. They are doing amazingly well considering their world's have been turned upside down!

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Packing Up

Our house is filled with bins and boxes and looks like a tornado came through last night. Slowly but surely we are packing up and getting ready to move. We hope to be packed up today and to move our things out of the house tomorrow! Please remember to pray for us and for a smooth transition especially for Olivia and Sawyer.

Tickets Have Been Purchased

Last week we bought tickets for Costa Rica! We leave Wednesday morning August 20th!

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Current Temperatures

Visalia, CA: 108
San Jose, Costa Rica: 69

Enough Said!

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Monterey Bay Aquarium

While both sets of grandparents were here visiting we decided to go to the Monterey Bay Aquarium. It has been on our list of things we wanted to do and we decided it was now or never. We had a great time! Olivia and Sawyer enjoyed watching the fish. Sawyer especially enjoyed the otters! After we left the otter tank we heard him say "mo ottr" the rest of the day. While Olivia enjoyed watching the fish she was not too sure about touching them as you can see in one of the pictures. We are thankful to have had the opportunity to go and enjoy the wonders of the sea and to spend time with both the Roubs and the Dixons.


Sawyer and Olivia are now 2 and 4 respectively. Sawyer turned 2 on June 25th and Olivia turned 4 on July 2nd. About a week ago we had a party for them filled with kiddie swimming pools, princesses, Thomas the Train, friends, and family (Both sets of grandparents were here for a visit and at the party)! Here are a few pictures from our time in the sun:

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

June Newsletter

Our June newsletter will go out in the mail in the next couple of days. If you are just itching to read it you can download it with the link on the right. It is in the "Newsletter" section and titled "June 2008." Creative titles don't you think?

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

That's God's job!

As we prepare to move to Costa Rica God has been impressing upon my heart the reality that we will see some difficult situations. People in desperate need of help, so much so that it will be overwhelming. He has been speaking to us and the rest of our team that he is the one who will do the work and that we only need to be obedient to follow his voice. It is not our job to right every wrong, to bring justice to injustice, and to defend the weak and oppressed That's God's job! He chooses to use us to do those things from time to time, but ultimately that is his responsibility. How comforting and reassuring that thought is as we prepare. We find great hope in passages like Psalm 146:

Praise the LORD.
Praise the LORD, O my soul.

I will praise the LORD all my life;
I will sing praise to my God as long as I live.

Do not put your trust in princes,
in mortal men, who cannot save.

When their spirit departs, they return to the ground;
on that very day their plans come to nothing.

Blessed is he whose help is the God of Jacob,
whose hope is in the LORD his God,

the Maker of heaven and earth,
the sea, and everything in them—
the LORD, who remains faithful forever.

He upholds the cause of the oppressed
and gives food to the hungry.
The LORD sets prisoners free,

the LORD gives sight to the blind,
the LORD lifts up those who are bowed down,
the LORD loves the righteous.

The LORD watches over the alien
and sustains the fatherless and the widow,
but he frustrates the ways of the wicked.

The LORD reigns forever,
your God, O Zion, for all generations.
Praise the LORD.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Kings and Commanders

Kings and Commanders is a crazy game that is a mix of capture the flag, dodge ball, and too many other elements to explain. A friend of ours in Connecticut, Jeff Panasci, invented this game and all the necessary equipment (two large rubbermaid bins worth) about a year ago or so. Members of his church, young and old, have been playing it enthusiastically ever since. We (Tracey and I) had the privilege of playing with them a couple of weeks ago while we were in Connecticut visiting Riverbank Christian Worship Center.

We have been connected to this church for a few years as it is a sister church of our church, an SI board member is part of it, we spent a week with them 3 years ago, numerous SI recruiting trips in the area, and we were in the Dominican Republic on a family outreach with several families from it a year and a half ago.

I mention this crazy game as it was indicative of our time with them. While we were only there for a few short days they welcomed and embraced us. We had a the opportunity to share what God is doing in and through us as we prepare to move to Costa Rica in an informal fellowship time and on Sunday morning. We had a great time of fellowship and left encouraged and empowered.

Thank you to Joe and Ruth Mascia (and Jordan and Joel) for hosting us during our time there, to the leadership and mission committee for inviting us to come, and to the entire church for your warm embrace of us. We look forward to staying in relationship with you all and to seeing how God will continue to intertwine our lives.

Saturday, June 07, 2008

Caveman to Phantom in under 20 hours

A week and a half ago Tracey and I set out on a journey to Connecticut to visit a church on a support raising trip. As it was a fairly quick trip and 3 time zones away we decided to leave the kids with some friends thinking that would be easier for everyone. What Tracey didn't know about this trip is I had a little trick up my sleeve, as her 29th birthday was a May 25th and we left on May 28th.

On our way to the airport in LA we had a flat tire in Bakersfield. Off course it was about 9pm and there was not a tire place open anywhere. As we were changing it on the side of the highway a man stopped to offer to help and said his friend owned a tire store and he would have him give us a call. Well when he did call he was going to be gracious enough to charge us for his time and millage (from his home to his shop) to see if he had a tire that would work for us. And if he did have a used tire that would fit he would only charge us about $150. So all in all we would pay about $100 in the hopes of him having a tire and another $150 if he had one. Oh, and the conversation was completely in Spanish. Flat tire and working in Spanish, we couldn't have designed better training for moving to Costa Rica if we had tried.

So after declining the $250 used tire we set out towards LA on the "donut" hoping and praying to find a solution as we HAD to catch our 7am flight the next morning from LA to Newark. After driving for about 50 miles or just over an hour on the "donut" we pulled into a Flying J truck stop at about 10:30. As we pulled in Tracey noticed a auto shop with its light on across the street. So after she convinced me we should stop we pulled in and met Caveman.

We asked if he could patch a tire and he mumbled, in true caveman fashion, that he would take a look at it. Turns out his boss actually looked at, as he was on his way out the door to tow someone to LA. On his way out the door he handed us his card and sure enough there in black and white was his name "Caveman." (No joke I kept the card for proof). Well our tire was unpatchable, but they had a used tire out back with good tread on it and for $50 it could be ours. Well that looked like a great deal to us after the last offer we had, so we jumped on it. About 30 minutes later we were on our way again praising God for providing through Caveman.

After a short night of sleep at an airport hotel we arrived at LAX about 5:45am for our 7:00am flight to Newark. Checking in everything showed it was on time, until we got to the gate to discover a 3 hour delay. After talking to 3 different airline reps and calling thier reservations line and having everyone tell us there was nothing they could do for us we resigned ourselves to arriving into Newark at 6:15pm instead of 3:30pm as was scheduled. No big deal, but you forget I had something up my sleeve.

I had decided a couple months ago to take advantage of being in New York without the kids and to surprise Tracey with a Broadway show. You guessed it we had tickets to Phantom of the Opera for the 8pm show that night. Not just any tickets, but front row mezzanine, some of the best in the house. So as we sat waiting for the flight I gave Tracey the envelope with the tickets in it. I said, "I hope we can make it!"

So by the time we landed in Newark, got our bags, and got into our shared ride shuttle it was 6:45pm. Not nearly enough time to get from Newark to Manhattan, check into our hotel, and get to the theater. In taking with our shuttle driver he said he had a stop to make near Times Square where the theater was and that he would just drop us off at the theater. What do we do with our bags? Where will we get dressed?

Fortunately Tracey dressed casual but nice enough to go to the show. I changed shirts in the back of the shuttle and we called it good. At 7:50pm the shuttle dropped us off half a block from the theater and we ran down the sidewalk pulling our bags behind us. We walked into the theater bags in tow, put our bags in the coat check room, and found our seats just in time.

It was indeed an incredible show and watching Tracey enjoy a show on Broadway (a dream of hers) was even better!

Saturday, May 24, 2008


A few years ago, we got some blackberry bushes (sticks, at that time) from a friend. They are contained in a plot next to the garage, or they would have overtaken the yard by now! These bushes produce some of the best berries, and we have been enjoying them for the last week or so. The kids had fun picking them--Sawyer picked a lot of green ones. . .and Daddy went out to buy vanilla ice cream to have with them that night. Yum.

Jeff's 30!!

Jeff turned 30 on the 14th, and on the 16th, I tried to surprise him with a party after a nice dinner at the Vintage Press. It was a lot of fun, though not really a surprise. :) Oh well. Jeff was a good sport and played along very well. Thanks to everyone that helped with food, decorations, baby-sitting, etc.!!

Jeff and the kids on his actual birthday.

Jeff and Olivia at the surprise party.

Finishing FIRST 5

I have worked for the FIRST 5 grant program for 5 years. The last couple of weeks have been ones of finishing. Our Preschool had a 'graduation' on May 8 (see pictures--note the cute blond student :)) We also had our last Home Visits, Mommy and Me group, Family Fun Night, and a Collaboration meeting between preschool and kindergarten programs. Then I packed and brought my things home and tied up the last loose ends like turning my key and my cell phone in. So, I am done. My last day was this past Friday.

Some of the Preschool class

Congrats Olivia!!!

Olivia and I with Elaine and Maritza (two of my coworkers)

People have asked how I feel about being done. Mixed, I say. Strangely, I do not really feel sad. That may come later, but I think for now it just feels like I'm going on my summer break! There are people I will miss, but I plan to make an effort to keep in touch with them. I feel good. I feel like I completed what I was supposed to in Ivanhoe. There will always be more to do, and who knows, perhaps I'll return there someday, but for now the work is someone else's responsibility. And it feels good to know that I was faithful to my part. Beginning work this year, I knew it would be my last, and had specific goals in mind all year within that context. We made some program changes that I wanted to help implement before I left, which we did. I guess the word complete describes my main feeling upon leaving--and that is satisfying.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Silly Spring Pictures

Here are some silly pictures we've taken recently. Enjoy!

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Radiant Church

On Sunday we had the opportunity to share at Radiant Church. We had a great time of both sharing our passion and the Biblical basis for our passion for the poor, marginalized, and oppressed as well as what God is calling us to in Costa Rica. As we prepared to share we (Tracey and Jeff) decided to share together each taking a little section and then going back and forth between us. While this makes for a little disjointed presentation we wanted to communicate with our actions that we are truly in this together and see ourselves as being an equal team.

We are excited to have Radiant as part of our support team and look forward to watching how God will continue to weave our lives together. Thank you to the leadership team and the church body for so warmly embracing our family. We are indeed blessed.

Garage Sale/Yard Sale

Have you ever wondered why we call these things garage sales or yard sales? Neither the garage or yard us usually for sale. A more appropriate title would be junk sale or to be more optimistic 'treasure sale'. Anyway this past weekend the families at Olivia and Sawyer's daycare all pitched in to have a garage sale for us. Everyone contributed their unwanted treasures and we sold them with the proceeds going toward our moving expenses. All in all about $340 was raised.

More encouraging to us was seeing people, some whom we know well and others we don't, continue to come around what God is doing. It is yet another confirmation to us that God is the driving force of this journey to Costa Rica. Thanks to all who helped with this garage sale, especially to Mimi for being the driving force behind it and to Malina for helping set everything up at the crack of dawn on her prom day.

Thursday, April 10, 2008


Last week a childhood friend of Jeff's and his family came to visit for their spring break. So we headed off to Disneyland with 4 big kids (aka adults) and 4 little kids ages 3 1/2, 3 1/2, 21 months, and 9 months. We had more fun at Disneyland than we ever imagined we would. The kids (young and old) loved meeting the princesses and Mickey, watching the parades, catching a show, and riding the rides. It was also a great time for Jeff to catch up with a good, old friend and to get to know his wife and kids better. We are thankful for the time we could spend with them. Greg, Rachel, and girls thanks for coming to visit!

We rounded out their visit in good ol' V-town (Visalia) and even made it up to the mountains for a day.

For more pictures of our time at Disneyland click here:


Wednesday, April 09, 2008

MN Trip

We had a great trip to MN. We were busy from the time we landed until the time we left and came home exhausted. However, we were able to spend quality time with family and friends. Tracey's parents hosted two support raising open houses which were a great success as significant out-going expenses and new monthly supporters were raised at these. We even managed to catch a few snow storms and visit the children's museum with Grandma and Grandpa. We also enjoyed getting to know Kara's (Tracey's sister) boyfriend Ethan.

To those of you whom we were able to see we sure enjoyed seeing you and hearing a little about what is going on in your lives. To those we missed seeing we hope to see you the next time we are in frigid MN!

The Farm

While in Minnesota in March we were able to spend the night at Tracey's grandparents farm after we shared at Rose City Free Church. It was a special time with Tracey's grandparents and to play with Olivia and Sawyer in some of the same old cars and old school desks that Tracey enjoyed playing in as a little girl.

Teacher Tracey and her prized pupils hard at work!

"Grandpa Tic Tac" (Olivia calls him this as he always has Tic Tacs in his pocket) giving the kids a tour of the farm.

Sawyer and "Grandpa Tic Tac" dancing to the player piano

To see more pictures from the farm click here:

The Farm

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Rose City Evangelical Free Church

This is my (Tracey's) grandparents' church in Rose City, MN (population 35). They have committed to supporting us, and on Palm Sunday we had the privilege of sharing with the congregation about SI and what we will be doing in Costa Rica. We are excited about this church joining our support team for a couple of reasons. One is that I grew up visiting there, and my mom and all her siblings were raised there; so it feels like a "home church." Also, their support was a complete surprise to us and further evidence that God's hand is in this whole process. Please pray with us that God would speak clearly to other churches and individuals that he would include on this team.

Thursday, March 06, 2008

To the Jungle and Back...Again

I (Jeff) returned Tuesday evening after 12 days or so in Costa Rica. I had the privilege of being in the jungles of Talamanca Costa Rica with 25 other men seeking to know Jesus better each day. We spent time hiking through the jungle, pouring concrete for a new dorm, planting banana trees, and serving in medical clinics. More than the work and service activities I cherished the countless hours of fellowship. This was by far the most difficult trip for me to leave Tracey and the kids, but the other men on the trip embraced me and took a genuine interest in my life and the journey God has our family on to a greater extent than I could have ever hoped for.

After the team left Dave Hansen (SI's president) and I spent a couple of days meeting with people and exploring various aspects of Costa Rica for future ministry options. God continues to open doors and to line everything up for our move. I even had a chance to see some friends we met at MTI in December who are in language school in San José, and to enjoy an afternoon with them. Elledges and Gorniks it was great to see you (We won't mention pushing Malachi into the tree on the swing, that can be our little secret.)

Here are a couple of pictures to put some images with the trip:

Before the Hike

Crossing a river during the hike. I have grown quite fond of my rubber boots!

Working to pour the floor of what will be a dormitory for a Bible School. That's me dumping the wheel barrow.