Seven years in missions

A couple weekends ago, when we were having welcome night for our new September quarter students, I realized that it was our seven year anniversary of being here in Costa Rica, and starting this crazy life in missions.

I thought it would be cool to reflect on the last seven years and everything that God has done in our lives since we both came here for our Discipleship Training School in September of 2010. Man, I feel so old!

Below there are more details, but here are some of the highlights from these past 7 years, celebrating God’s faithfulness:

2010 – God totally transformed each of us and gave us a heart for the Nations in our DTS.

On September 24, 2010 we both stepped foot on Costa Rican soil for the first time. It’s crazy to think that we both thought we were just coming for a 5-month school, and now this place has become our home!

September-December we were in the lecture phase of our school, preparing for the outreach, getting to know Costa Rica, and allowing God to transform us. During this time, we were each approached by Pablo, who has become one of our best friends, who invited us to film a documentary with him about child prostitution and human trafficking in Central America. We were still in our DTS, though, and wouldn’t be graduating until February, so it was something we started praying about.

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2011 
DTS outreach, graduated DTS, staffed a DTS in the Honduran jungle, bought a monkey, and filmed a documentary in all of Central America

On New Year’s Eve we were in Germany for our outreach, in which we saw God do some seriously miraculous things. We worked with refugee children, people on the streets, worked with some German churches to serve the homeless, and spoke to kids in schools. We had an incredible outreach and got to really love the country and people of Germany.
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While we were there, one of our school leaders told us about a base in the jungle of Honduras who had students lined up for a DTS starting in March, but they needed more staff. He invited us to pray about going to serve there, sent out from our base in San José. Individually, both Ryan and I felt like we were supposed to go.

In the second week of February, we returned to Costa Rica and graduated from our DTS. We each went to visit our families for three weeks, sell all our stuff, and return to Costa Rica. A couple days after landing in Costa Rica, we got on a bus that took us from San Jose to the capital of Honduras, Tegucigalpa. From there we took another bus to a town called La Ceiba and then got picked up in a bi-plane by the base director who is also a pilot, and flew into Ahuas, La Mosquitia, where we would live for the next 5 months while staffing the DTS. We had the opportunity to lead 6 indigenous students in a DTS in the jungles of Honduras, and see God transform their lives.

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When the DTS ended, we returned to Costa Rica where we prepared for our documentary. We got to be part of an amazing documentary team, filming and traveling in Nicaragua, Honduras, and Costa Rica. We met women and children who are trafficked, in prostitution, others who had been rescued, and most of whom shared their stories so that others can learn and bring change in all of Central America.

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2012 
Finished our documentary project, took an intensive Bible course, started a relationship together, helped film another documentary, worked full-time with Freedom Street ministries

We continued to film in Panama, El Salvador, and Guatemala. We met incredible teams of people who are bringing restoration to those who have been enslaved by the sex trafficking industry, and were able to film their stories to encourage our documentary viewers that change is possible. During this time, we both started to take interest in each other as more than friends. We finished the documentary in March, and from April-June we studied in an intensive Bible course in which we learned the inductive method of studying God’s word. Right after our Bible school ended, we traveled around Costa Rica helping another ministry team film a documentary focused on prostitution and human trafficking within Costa Rica. Oh, we also started dating each other in April, when we were doing our Bible school. For the rest of the year, we worked with Freedom Street ministries holding programs for women and young people (both male and female) to get out of prostitution. We had Bible studies and different workshops for them, and we really started to see the fruits of our labor when one of the young guys completely left the streets and gave his life to God.

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2013 We finished editing our documentary and started sharing it in universities, churches, high schools, and youth groups. The feedback was great, and many many people were educated and motivated to do something about child prostitution and trafficking in their countries. We got engaged, hosted several short term mission teams, and staffed a DTS. Nicole also started working on her Master’s in the middle of 2013.

We continued working in Freedom Street, and God continued doing amazing transformational things in the lives of the people we met on the streets. In September, we worked with a DTS and were able to disciple a group of 15 students as God transformed them. During this time we were also preparing our wedding!

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2014 
Got married, received a heart for the unreached, ran missions seminar in our local church, celebrated the Costa Rica National soccer team in the World Cup, started serving on the leadership teams.

We got married in the Redwood Forest at the beginning of the year and went on a honeymoon to Ireland, then straight to one of our best friend’s weddings in Colorado. We came back to Costa Rica and took on more logistical roles, while continuing to work in the media department. Nicole graduated with her Master’s in Marriage & Family Therapy in May! In June, we had one of the most amazing experiences of our lives being able to join on with the country celebrating the Costa Rica National Futbol team making further than ever before in the World Cup. The whole Nation comes together all unified around the team, and it’s truly an indescribable, beautiful thing. We love this country! God spoke to us about going to the unreached and being peace in places where there is no peace, for the first time in August of that year. We ran some missions trainings for our local Costa Rican church which were very fruitful! We also started serving on the leadership teams in 2014. At the end of the year, Nicole’s parents, uncle and aunts visited us!

2015 Took the Islamic Studies Seminar, went to a conference in Mazatlan, got pregnant, went to Egypt and Jordan, helped host teams to build homes, prepared to lead the Islamic studies seminar.

We took the Islamic studies seminar in January, and continued serving in logistical areas as well as media and staff development, and leadership. We received training in Inner Healing prayer, which was awesome and very applicable! We got pregnant with Olivia in July, and flew to Egypt to visit some missionary friends in August. Nicole was 7 weeks pregnant when we got there and threw up 8-10 times a day, which continued for nearly the entire pregnancy! She had to get an IV in a Cairo hospital, too! We met a lot of amazing people in Egypt and Jordan, and our heart for this part of the world really grew. We got to help with a big Homes of Hope build for families in a slum community about 20 minutes from our campus.

2016 Led the Islamic Studies Seminar, Olivia was born, prepared for the first Groundbreakers DTS, went to Kansas City for an international conference, coordinated another big home build.

We led the Islamic Studies Seminar in January with two awesome staff and 7 amazing students who became equipped to share their faith and grew a love for people from the religion of Islam. Olivia was born soon after the seminar ended! We spent time adjusting to having a baby, while continuing to work in different areas of base, serving on the leadership, doing more study, and preparing for the first ever Groundbreakers DTS. We also had the opportunity to teach in a DTS in Wollongong, Australia. We also got to help coordinate a Homes of Hope build of 7 houses for families who really got to experience God’s love and provision in a practical way. One of the best parts was seeing how it impacted the families who came from the States to build with us.

2017  Led the first ever Groundbreakers DTS, hosted two international conferences, and now are preparing for what’s next!

At the beginning of the year, the Groundbreakers DTS started, and we had a team of 5 staff serving with us to disciple 12 students. Olivia turned 1 year old on April 17. We had an incredible outreach in Germany with refugees from Iraq, Syria, Iran and Afghanistan, and sent teams who had fruitful times in Indonesia, Malaysia, and Turkey. Our students graduated in June with hearts to reach the people in the furthest corners of the globe. We hosted two major international conferences and grew in our knowledge about how to lead successful, fruitful discipleship schools. We are helping coordinate an 8 house build with Homes of Hope this November, and preparing for the next Groundbreakers DTS that starts in January!

In all these years we have met thousands of people who have been changed and transformed by God’s love, we’ve served in the Nations of Nicaragua, Panama, Honduras, El Salvador, Guatemala, Mexico, Germany, Australia, and the US, and sent teams to many more Nations! God has been so faithful to lead us and guide us over these past seven years of saying yes to partnering with Him to reach the Nations with His truth and love, and faithful to provide our every need.

We also want to thank every person who has partnered with us financially and prayerfully. We hope that you celebrate all of this with us knowing that you are just as key in bringing transformation to people’s lives around the world. Thank you!

Life sure has changed since first stepping foot here in 2010! We are so grateful for all we have learned and how God has shaped and molded us to be more like Jesus. Here’s to the next seven 60 years of life on a mission!

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