Monday, November 1, 2021

November 2021 Prayer letter

Dear Friends and Family,

Last month, we were able to put a stronger emphasis on evangelism. One woman named Emilia received Christ as her Savior. We will continue to encourage her and help her understand the importance of believer's baptism and church membership. We are continuing to seek new ways to get the Gospel to the Costa Rican people. Over the years, there is a great number of people who have asked us if we could teach them English. We are now praying about the possibility of beginning an English ministry. We are also looking at a new meeting location. We will look at a few other options before making a decision. We have also made a little more progress with the establishment of our religious association here and now have our legal books. We hope to soon be able to move forward with other steps like opening a church bank account. Also, beyond the normal church services each week, Jeremy was able to preach in a supporting church of ours by way of a prerecorded video.

As we approach Thanksgiving, we have much to be thankful for. We are reminded of what the Apostle Paul wrote in 1 Timothy 1:12 - "And I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who hath enabled me, for that he counted me faithful, putting me into the ministry..." What a blessing it is to serve our Lord! We are also quite thankful to be fully recovered from covid. The kids are now back in school and we are once again operating at 100%. The kids are making excellent progress in their Spanish. The funny thing is that Elijah sometimes uses the Spanish word for things when he doesn't know the English word. He gets things a little mixed up, but is definitely coming along! Lila and Ellowyn help Jeremy on Saturday evangelism. It is important for them to see the hard work that goes into establishing new churches, as well as understand not to take their faith for granted! As they get older, they will be able to help out more and more!

Thank you to everyone who prayed for us as we were recovering from covid. We really appreciate that. This month, please pray for the following:

1. That God will help Emilia and her son Michael to begin attending church and follow the Lord in believer's baptism.

2. That God will lead us as we pray about the possibility of an English ministry.

3. That God will lead us as we seek a better meeting location.

4. That Jesus will continue to save souls and build His church here in Costa Rica!

In Christ,

Jeremy, Michelle, Lila, Ellowyn, and Elijah Blanz

Friday, October 1, 2021

October 2021 Prayer Letter

 Dear Friends and Family,

We hope that you are doing well and staying healthy! September was a very difficult month for us. It started out well with all of our normal ministry activity. We continued our focus on evangelism, discipleship, and normal church services. We held a special "children's day" service. We had plans for a special independence day service. We were going to have a special Costa Rican soup called "olla de carne" after one of our services. However, that week Elijah was the first to come down sick... then Lila... then Jeremy... then Michelle. We moved our services online out of precaution. When Jeremy lost his sense of smell and taste, we knew something was wrong... we were likely dealing with covid.

At this point, we had to put our ministry plans on pause and get tested. Michelle was tested for covid and the results came back positive. Around the time that it seemed like we were getting better, things took a turn for the worse and we had to put ministry on a minimal "survival mode" of shorter online services. Ours girls were able to continue their schooling online, and we have done our best to keep pushing forward each day and take care of the family. We were given isolation orders from the government and were unable to leave the house for any reason. Many from the church have offered to help, pray for us, etc. Some have brought us food and medicine. Our isolation orders are now done, but we are far from healthy and are still very weak and sick feeling. The kids have recovered well, but Michelle and I (Jeremy) are not able to eat well or do much of anything. On the bright side, there are some who we have not seen at church very much this year who have begun attending faithfully again. Surprisingly, our online services have been attended pretty well.

We are both young and healthy and it has been surprising how hard that covid has hit us. It's also been surprising how long and slow the recovery seems to be. It is also hard for us to not be able to do the ministry as much as we would like. This month, please pray...

1. For our health... that we can make a full recovery quickly and get back to operating at 100%.

2. For our church plant... that God will strengthen the church during this time when we are weak.

3. For God to guide and lead the church as we seek a better meeting location.

* Thank you for all of your prayers and support during this time. It means a lot to us.

In Christ,

Jeremy, Michelle, Lila, Ellowyn, and Elijah Blanz

Wednesday, September 1, 2021

September 2021

Dear Friends and Family,

Greetings from Costa Rica! We hope that this letter finds you doing well. This last month was a little bit slower. We have continued all of our regular church activity and visitation evangelism. We have had some days of higher attendance and some days of lower attendance. One lady who has visited told me how much she appreciated the Biblical preaching and that she will be attending regularly. One night as we went to church there were very dark clouds and we knew it was going to rain hard. Jeremy prayed that instead of it affecting the attendance negatively that the Lord would send some who needed to be saved. As we began the service, it began to rain. Two men entered the church. They live about 3 hours away, but had been working on a house nearby. They heard the music and decided to come attend. After the service, Jeremy counseled them and they called upon Christ as their Savior. We have also seen a few other visitors. Jeremy has continued doing the discipleship studies with one family from our church. We hope that in the long term, we will see the number of disciples multiply.

Last month was a bit unusual. Lila and Ellowyn had a short break before beginning the next school year early as it operates on a different schedule. We were able to spend a little extra time at home before going back to school. Michelle's parents also came to visit us. It was good to see them. Jeremy's sister came to Costa Rica and it was good to meet up with her. Near the end of the month, we celebrated Elijah's 4th birthday. It's hard to believe how fast time flies! He will be beginning a pre-kindergarten class this year and will surely make a lot of progress in learning Spanish. Next month, we will be celebrating Lila and Jeremy's birthdays. We will also have Costa Rican independence day and another holiday here called "Children's Day."

We are thankful for all of your prayers. Last month, two other churches sent special offerings towards our land and building fund. We are thankful that God has been working in hearts and providing towards this need. This month, please pray for the following...

1. For God to continue to save souls and add them to the church!

2. That the believers will grow spiritually and that the church will be strengthened.

3. For God to guide as we seek a more suitable meeting location.

4. For God to continue to provide as we seek to buy land and build or buy a church meeting location.

In Christ,

Jeremy, Michelle, Lila, Ellowyn, and Elijah Blanz

Sunday, August 1, 2021

August 2021 Prayer Letter

Dear Friends and Family,

This last month was an exciting month! We began with an evangelistic children's outreach in one of the communities of San Pablo. Thankfully, the man who threatened to make sure that it didn't happen was unsuccessful in his efforts to hinder the Gospel. We had a great turnout from our small church plant and had 5 volunteers from another church. We began the event with only a few people, but more and more showed up. By the time we finished, it was mostly full. Jeremy shared the Gospel and there was one child that received Christ. The rest of the month was a little bit slower, mostly with our normal church services and evangelism. We forgot to mention that last month there was one teenager named Joshua who received Christ as Savior by faith. This month, one lady named Anabel trusted in Jesus as Savior. We hope and pray that they will take the next step to attend church and be baptized. One of the things that we are learning about Costa Rica is that there is a big gap between one's profession of faith and them taking the next steps (baptism, church attendance, growth). This is not only with new believers but also with many who have professed faith in Christ for a very long time. This month, we are beginning a one on one discipleship course with a few faithful members. Our desire is that upon completion, they will be able to disciple others. In this way, we hope that this will help to promote healthy relationships, spiritual growth, and multiply our capacity to disciple others.

As for our family, we are now getting into a new routine. Michelle and the kids will all now go to the same school where she is helping out. Jeremy is able to focus more on the ministry during this time. As of late July, Michelle should be losing her driving privileges for the last time before getting her Costa Rican license. Lord willing, that will be one more obstacle out of the way! This month, Michelle's parents will be able to visit us for a little while. That should be a blessing. Near the end of the month, we will be celebrating Elijah's 4th birthday! Where does the time go?

During the month of July, we received an additional donation towards our land and building fund. Thank you to all who have contributed! We are continuing to trust in the Lord to provide. This month, please pray:

1. That God will continue to save souls and build His church in San Pablo, Costa Rica.

2. That God will guide us as we seek a new meeting location.

3. That God will bless our new discipleship program and use it to strengthen His church!

In Christ,

Jeremy, Michelle, Lila, Ellowyn, and Elijah Blanz

Thursday, July 1, 2021

July 2021 Prayer Letter

Dear Friends and Family,

June was a big month for us and despite heavy government restrictions, we have seen God's hand in many things. First of all, the covid cases are now lowering from the massive second wave (or is it third?). Early in the month, while getting a haircut, Jeremy was able to speak with the barber about the Lord. He is a Christian and from Nicaragua. He has been attending pretty faithfully. Jeremy also held another men's meeting, and we were nearly maxed out on space. We also did our first baby dedication and had several visitors. We have been planning to do an evangelistic children's outreach. Several who attend our church plant have volunteered to help. We have been praying for two things: 1 - To meet some Christians in the area of the evangelistic outreach beforehand and 2 - To be able to secure a location where we can hold the event. The Lord has answered both prayer requests. The barber, named Donald, actually just moved to that exact area on June 15th! So not only have we met a Christian in the area... but one who attends with us! Jeremy was also able to hunt down information and get ahold of someone in charge of a community center and was able to reserve it for the event. Given the opposition and restrictions we face, this is a huge breakthrough!

After requesting prayer last month for some of the red tape to be cleared, we have made significant progress on several things. After four trips to the bank and providing tons of paperwork, we now have a Costa Rican bank account which should save a lot of time on paying bills and such. Jeremy also was able to finally get a Costa Rican driver's license, which is also much harder than it should be. And lastly, after a year and a half of waiting, our religious association is now registered with the government, which means that once we receive the final document, we will be able to take several steps forward as a church as well as be able to help sponsor missionaries to get into the country in the future.

As for our family, we have been adjusting to every change and rolling with the punches! Our girls are working very hard in their virtual classes. They will have a two week break before returning to school. Currently, many public parks are still closed and we are still only able to drive every other day. We have had to be creative to find things to do as a family, but the Lord has given us some special times together.

Last month, we received another unexpected offering towards our building fund. Praise the Lord! This month, please pray:

1. For the Lord to bless abundantly in the evangelistic children's event on July 3rd and to save many souls.

2. For the Lord to continue to provide towards our church land/building fund.

3. For the Lord to save many souls and strengthen His church here in Costa Rica!

In Christ,

Jeremy, Michelle, Lila, Ellowyn, and Elijah Blanz

Monday, May 31, 2021

June 2021 Prayer Letter

 Dear Friends and Family,

We hope that this letter finds each of you doing well. Last month was a challenging month for us. Costa Rica has been hit very hard in another wave of the covid pandemic. For nearly all of the month, Costa Rica has been either 5th or 6th in all of the world for most new cases per million. After the previous lockdown, we went to increased restrictions for the month. We are only able to drive every other day. This makes it much more difficult to get everything done. Thankfully, we were able to continue holding meetings in person on Sundays, though the attendance has been affected. We have seen a slight increase in attendance on our Tuesday night Bible studies on zoom. Due to the previous lockdown, our last Baptism service had to be canceled, but thankfully, we were able to do it on another day. Three people followed the Lord in believer's baptism, including our daughter Ellowyn. Near the end of the month, Michelle held a special ladies meeting which was a blessing. This upcoming month, we are planning to do a baby dedication and a men's meeting.

Another part of the restrictions for May and June is that the ministry of education has completely canceled classes for all public schools. Private schools are not canceled, but have also been forced to go virtual. We have had to convert our bedrooms into small work spaces for the kids to do their studies. On some days we are working in 4 different places of the house all at the same time all while taking care of Elijah. As difficult as this is, we are thankful that they can continue to have classes virtually. Family life has been difficult as even all of the parks outside are now closed. We have tried to continue taking the kids outside and find ways for them to get exercise and stay healthy. We are considering the possibility of doing an evangelistic children's outreach, but we are still very limited by the number of people who are serving in the church plant.

There was a special blessing last month that came in the form of an unexpected offering towards our land and building fund. It is always amazing how God works in unexpected ways. This month, please pray:

1. That God will help those who are sick and help us to share the Gospel with them.

2. That God will continue to provide the funds needed for the church to get it's own meeting location.

3. That God will help clear some of the red tape that has hindered us in the church plant.

4. That God will continue to open hearts and save souls here in Costa Rica.

In Christ,

Jeremy, Michelle, Lila, Ellowyn, and Elijah Blanz

Tuesday, May 4, 2021

May 2021 Prayer Letter

Dear Friends and Family,

Greetings from Costa Rica! We are now beginning rainy season and are once again discovering new leaks in the roof that need to be fixed! Last month was a slightly better month than the one before. We have kept on keeping on and were encouraged that one lady from the church has begun helping out with door to door visitation. One young man named Joel called upon Christ for salvation. Please pray that God will motivate him to come to church and grow in his faith. We have also spoken with several others who are interested in attending. Unfortunately, throughout the month we saw new cases of COVID skyrocket to twice the highest peak from last year. In fact, we are now seeing about twice as many new cases per million as India, one of the hardest hit countries. Many hospitals are now full and people injured in car accidents are now being sent to other hospitals farther away to get treatment. Anticipating another round of lockdowns, Jeremy was able to do some grocery shopping for our family and a few other needy families. Within a few hours of that, the government announced one week of lockdown for everything deemed "non-essential" and stricter restrictions for the whole month of May. This means that churches are once again unable to hold normal services. On a positive note, we have received a good report from Nicaragua. The newest church that was planted out of the church we started is now coming along quite well.

As for our family, we have been doing well and constantly adjusting to the situation here at any given time. I believe we are much better able to handle lockdowns and such after what we went through last year. Thankfully, at the moment, the kids are still able to attend school in-person. This means that we are able to get more done throughout the day. One of the downsides of the lockdown is that we have had to reschedule our baptism service for our second daughter, Ellowyn, and two others. She was saved last year and was excited to finally be baptized, but it looks like she will have to wait a little bit longer. The girls have recently been helping out more in the kitchen and learning to cook. Elijah has been working towards doing "big boy" things like cleaning his room and helping out with chores around the house. But all of our kids seem like they are growing up quickly!

Last month, we requested prayer regarding Michelle's ID and residency process. Thankfully, we were connected with a man from a church we attended back when we were in language school who works in the government. He was able to find the problem and get it resolved. Michelle now has her resident ID. That is one big obstacle out of the way! This month, please pray:

1. That God will continue to help us reach the lost with the Gospel in creative ways.

2. That God will help us to find a better meeting location for rainy season.

3. That God will continue to build His church here in Costa Rica.

In Christ,

Jeremy, Michelle, Lila, Ellowyn, and Elijah Blanz