Tuesday, August 9, 2011

End of a year, beginning of another...

Wow...has a year gone by already? Several year anniversaries have already passed for me...It's been a year since I came on a 10-day missions trip with my church to serve in Los Anonos, Costa Rica. It's been a year since I applied to come stay as an intern in the community for a year. It's been a year since I gave my 4-weeks notice at the children's hospital and officially decided to make the move here. September marks 1 year over seas living and working as a missionary. In that year I feel like I have seen, experienced, and learned more about what it means to be a follower and lover of Jesus Christ than in all other years before.

Here's a brief run down of my year:
~Arrive on September 11, 2010...a quiet day to fly. No kidding.
~It started to rain. Every day. No kidding.
~I started English and exercise classes in the casita. Every child in Los Anonos learned my name. And uses it more than my own mother.
~Rodney heard the Lord tell him to make 2,000 sandwiches. The when and the where and the how were left out of the Lord's message. Rodney decided to make them the first week of November.
~We started renting the Casa Nueva!! Let the Extreme Make-over, Church Edition begin!!!
~Christina Potter, another intern, arrives in October. A week later the community has a minor flood. Several houses are damaged, but repairs are fairly quick and easy.
~Steve decides to dread his hair. Maybe not such a good idea...
~The Vida 220 discipleship school boys start to work in Los Anonos. Yay George, Dago, and David!!!
~We made our first 100 "sandwhiches" for the community. They were just hot dogs, but they were a hit.
~On the 3rd of November, the community was devastated by another flood and landslide. The families were moved into shelters, where they stayed for 3-6 weeks. Many families were relocated to other towns. Many have moved back in with relatives in the community.
~By the time we finished with emergency flood relief, we had made over 2,000 meals. God still speaks!!!
~The Harvest Hands house (AKA Rodney, Cindy, Steve, Christina, and I) make a quick escape to the beach after the drama in the Quebrada settles a bit. I meet some new wild life.
~Demolition by the municipality started and by the end of January, the majority of the Quebrada and the hillside was removed. Many people who had come on previous short term trips noticed the stark difference.
~The gringos celebrated Thanksgiving by inviting some Costa Ricans over. Turkey and pumpkin pie were enjoyed by all.
~Missions Trip to Nicaragua!!! Who would have thought that during my missions trip I would be doing a missions trip?!? Sooo cool!! We took a group of the young guys from the community and some other gringos who flew in and drove to Managua, Nicaragua. We helped build a roof for a new Vineyard church in Tipitapa, Nicaragua, in David's home town.
~Jules decides to get hair extensions. Maybe not such a good idea numero dos.
~Christmas came and 2010 went.
~Extreme Make-over Church Edition continues in the Casa Nueva. The backyard is leveled in preparation for a new cement floor. The walls are painted. Little by little the house starts to look more like a "church"
~TEAM SEASON!!! We kicked off team season with a team from my home church in Grand Rapids, Michigan, followed by a team from the New Life church in Columbus, Ohio. Columbus built a yellow house. A wedding dress was made for the first wedding in the new Vineyard Anonos.

~February brought about the renovation of the Casita into a thrift store. Adriana was given a job as store keeper. The women in the community were taught how to cut hair and crochet...not at the same time or by the same team, but they learned some pretty sweet new skills. I did, too!!

~Will and Jessie are married in the Vineyard Anonos church!! Jessie looked stunning in the dress that the Ohio team donated and one of the women altered for her. 

~Another yellow house is built in March. The teams really make connections with the people here in the community. As team members come back year after year, they are able to communicate even more and friendships form. March also brings our first official church service is held in the Casa Nueva!!!! God is soooo faithful!!!!!!!! Los Anonos has a totally bilingual church. We continue to pray for more workers. When we first started services, we would have worship nights in the front room. When we packed in almost 50 people into that room, we decided we needed to head outside.

~Team season is over for a bit. April showers brings May...wait a minute...it's the end of the rainy season! There are almost no rain showers in April!! It's the end of the rainy season!! Woot woot!! We focus on the community. My birthday is celebrated on a bus during a visa renewal trip to Nicaragua. Not exactly how I thought I would celebrate turning 28, but it was cool.
~Plans for a roof in the backyard of the Casa Nueva were started. We needed something to shade us during the morning Sunday sun as well as the afternoon, and some times unpredictable, rains.
~The other Vineyard church hosted a worship conference. Jeremy Riddle came to Costa Rica as a keynote speaker. AMAZING!!!!!!!!!
~Professional skateboarder, Jud Heald, visits. Most of the kids skateboard here. Steve and Tito started a skateboarding ministry for the kids. Ramps and rails were constructed.
~Baby Bruce is born! The first baby born into the new Viña Anonos!!!

~A new Bible Study for people wanting to go deeper into the Word is started. It's been awesome seeing the guys want to grow in their relationship with God. God is setting a fire in their souls!!!
~My parents visit me for 2 weeks!!!!!!!!!! I had a great time showing them the community, my classes, Bible studies, and friends here. We also spent some time touring the country.

 ~The Princess Club starts. What an amazing opportunity to teach the girls about their identity in Christ than with a princess themed club?!? A group of ten 8-12-year-old girls are invited to learn about their Father, the King of kings. 
~The Columbus, Ohio team comes back!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! They help with handyman work around the Casa Nueva and build a safer swing set for the kids. I no longer have to stand on the swing set pole and yell at the kids for being on the same party line. They can swing safely!! Some of the guys from the community climb the mountain to the cross with the team.
~The beginning of July was a hard time here. Dean Stoeklin, one of the guys on the Ohio team, died of an aneurysm while serving here in Costa Rica. The impression that his life had while working here will never be forgotten, either by the team that was serving alongside him or by the young guys of the community who he invested in while in Los Anonos.
~Taylor comes for a visit! She is the intern that lived here in the house with Rodney and Cindy the year before I did. She was serving here when my team came a year ago in June. She had a blast seeing the growth of all the kids. It was also a shock to see how much had changed in the community in only a year.
~Summit comes from Virginia to host an eye-glass clinic in the beach community of Nosara and here in Los Anonos. Several hundred pairs of eye glasses are fit. 
~August is a busy month with 3 teams. A team from New Hampshire come to work around the community. They participated in the trash clean-up and other projects at the Casa Nueva. A team from our sister Vineyard church in Managua, Nicaragua comes tomorrow! Thankfully I won't have to translate for that team ;) One more team comes from Denver, Colorado at the end of the month.

WOW!! I can't even believe all that has happened in a year! This is only a broad brush stroke of the things that has happened here. I can't even begin to write about all the stories of hanging out with the guys and hearing about their dreams for the future. The growing pains of teaching kids and teens who have never been disciplined how to live Godly lives. Seeing drug addicts go in and out of addiction. Learning how to lead and teach in a small group Bible study...in Spanish. Being stretched into leading worship instead of just playing back-up. Leaving my friends and family and watching my nephew grow up via Skype. So many learning and growing opportunities!!

With all of that said, when I first left to come on this crazy adventure, I had asked for prayer. Thank you all for your prayer support. God has been so faithful in answering your prayers for me and the community! Is is amazing to see God working in the community and especially in the hearts and lives of the families and teens in the church. Thank you also for all of your financial support, without which this would not have been possible. Thank you for your sensitivity to the Holy Spirit when giving to this mission.

As most of you know, Costa Rica is now deeply embedded in my heart. Rodney and Cindy have asked me to stay another year to continue working here with the church. After prayer and consideration, I have decided to stay. I feel like there are still things the Lord wants me to do here in Costa Rica before I can come home.

I will be coming home to the states as originally planned on August 27th. I will be staying for 3 weeks and will be splitting my time between Ohio, Indiana, and Michigan. I would LOVE to see all of my family and friends while I'm home. Please feel free to shoot me an e-mail or facebook post to set up a time to visit. I don't want to miss seeing any of you!!!! 

During this time I will also be raising prayer and financial support again. If the Lord lays this on your heart, please let me know and I would love to tell you how to donate to my mission here in Costa Rica.

Again, thank you for ALL of your support, especially the prayer support. God is faithful, kind, and compassionate with all His children.


  1. hey Jules, thank for taking such great care of my wife, sister and niece down there this past week! Jess cannot speak highly enough of you and your team in CR.

    I hope the upcoming year is full of opportunities to image Christ to your community. May God richly bless you!


  2. Jules you rock!! Reflection over a year is amazing thing...God has so much for you. I am blessed to have been able to be apart of it along the way. Love you! Psalm 27:7-8

  3. Jules, I really enjoyed meeting you and reading your blogs! U have touched my life! You are a wonderful young lady and God has done a wonderful job in your life! Your parents must be so proud!! Wish you lived closer cause I would love to see you when you come back to the states.. Let me know on face book when you are in the states and maybe we can at least talk on the phone!! Take care my friend! Tell everyone I said hi and i think of them often!! Much Love, Joy And Blessings! Keep up the good work!
    Michelle!! From NH

  4. Jules:
    I know we have never met (and I hope to change that soon). Reading your blog makes my heart grow warm and my eyes grow moist. My body is here but my heart is in Costa Rica. And the string that ties me to Los Anonos is very tight. When I read your blog it pulls my heart strongly that direction. I came the first year that the Lafrances began the ministry there. At that time some of the young men you were talking about would smoke weed and hang out, with no respect for God, the community or themselves. But through the endurance, prayer and commitment of people like yourselves, God truly created La Quebrada Dulce in there hearts. And now, to see ALL that is happening overwhelms me. This is inspiring me and God is using Los Anonos to birth vision in me. Thank you for your service and commitment to my friends in the great barrio of Los Anonos.
    John Manning