Isaac & Karen Del Rio

Always with us

We’ve been pretty busy lately, trying to establish ourselves & get ourselves ready to be able to start serving full time with the kids on February 2nd.  Getting ourselves ready has meant getting our home furnished, getting my classroom at the Joseph Project ready, figuring out where to have the baby here, finding a doctor, and getting a car.  Life without a car has been a challenge.  We’ve walked all over Johannesburg & have become quite accustomed to public transportation.  We are the only non-black people using the public transportation, and people often stare at us with a disbelief when we get in the taxis.  Most taxis here are not private- they are 16 passenger vans called “combi taxis” where the combi has a route that he drives, and people can get on and off.

On Tuesday we had an appointment in an area of Johannesburg that we don’t know well.  A friend dropped us off, and then it was up to us to find our way back home.  We got on a combi taxi after walking for several miles- because we knew if we made it to a certain road the combi taxis would go in the direction we needed to be going in.  A man who was also waiting for a taxi helped us get on the right one that was going to Johannesburg center.  As we started driving, we realized we had no idea where we were.  The man had told the driver we needed to be dropped in Ghandi Square- but we didn’t even know what Ghandi Square was.  Isaac prayed that God would protect us and guide us, and that it would look there were 4 of us, not just 2 people trying to get home.

We were now in the middle of Hillbrow- the area of Johannesburg with the worst reputation, and 2 guys in front of us said, “Um I don’t think the driver is going to take you to Ghandi Square- it’s better that you just get off here and walk.”  Accepting the little help we were offered, we got of the combi and looked around, totally lost.  The 2 guys suddenly got off, came to us and said, “We don’t mind taking you where you need to be.”  And they started walking.  We looked at one another and began following them.  They walked fast, and occasionally glanced behind to make sure we were still with them.  We told them that we actually didn’t need to go to Ghandi Square- but Commissioner Street.  “No problem,” they said, “we’ll take you there.”  They walked with us for 30 minutes until we got to Commissioner Street, and once we were there they asked us if we were safe enough now to make it home.  “Yes,” we told them, “and what about you guys?  Are you guys going somewhere here?”  They told us no, they were going to walk back to Hillbrow to catch another bus to get to where they needed to be.  We were stunned.  They went out of their way- walking for 60 minutes round trip, just to help strangers.  Did God send them to walk with us?  Isaac had prayed for us to ‘look like 4 people and not just 2.’

One thing we are sure of, is that God is with us wherever we go.  He leads us and guides us, and has used the fact that we don’t have a car yet to show us the kindness of people in this huge city.  The kindness of others results in us having an even greater love for Johannesburg- and an overwhelming gratitude for how God is always providing for us what we need exactly when we need it.

Love God, Love Your Neighbor

Before we even moved to Joburg, we knew we wanted to live in the neighborhood that the ministry center was in.  Our call as Christians is to love God with our all heart, soul and mind, and to love our neighbor as ourselves.  That is the foundation of what we believe and how we live our lives.  As missionaries, being a neighbor to the people we are serving and is something that we value.  Our friends here told us it would be hard to move in to the neighborhood because there is very little available that is safe.  But God provided a home for us that is in the neighborhood of the community we will serve, and it is very safe.  

We moved in on Sunday night, and have already had our doors open to new friends we’ve made.  We’ve made it a goal to be hospitable.  After having studied scripture for the last 3 months, it’s time to put into practice verses like these: Romans 12:13, “Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality.”  & 1 Peter 4:9 “Show hospitality to one another without grumbling.”  So this week, even though we’ve only been here 6 days, we’ve had people over 4 out of those 6.  Today we went around to give muffins and meet our neighbors, and one neighbor told us, “I wanted to go knock on your door to meet you because you seem nice, but I was scared so I didn’t go!”  We are so glad that we went- and now that we’ve reached out to our neighbors, they’ve reached back to us!  Later on we heard a knock on the door, and one of our smallest neighbors came right in and made herself right at home:


It was a bit of a challenge to hang our with our little neighbor because she doesn’t speak English, only Zulu & Xhosa.  She would point at different things around our home and we would tell her the name in English.  It was all fun and games until she got our toothbrushes 🙂  

We know that God has given us this home in exactly this location, not just so that we will be comfortable, but so that we can bring His Kingdom to this community.  And how do we bring his Kingdom here?  It starts with loving our neighbors.  

New Year, New Home!

Happy New Year, 2015!!

Since we’ve arrived in Johannesburg (and even several months before) we’ve been looking for a place to call home.  A family asked us to house-sit for them while they were on Christmas/New Year’s vacation, and it was perfect timing for us: we’d have a place to stay the first 2 weeks in Joburg, which would give us time to look for a place of our own.  There was an apartment building just 3 blocks from the ministry center, but we were told that all of the rooms were rented.  We went and talked to the building manager anyway, who shared with us that on Dec 31 a lady who lived in one of the 2 bedroom apartment would be moving out.  Before we had even seen it we told him we wanted it.  But there was quite the process of getting approved to move into the building!  We had to give copies of all of our documents, they ran a credit check on us, (we didn’t need a background check because it was part of our visa process), and we had an hour interview with the owner of the building.  Quite a thorough process, I must say! The good news is that we were able to prove that we’re not criminals, and we signed the lease agreement on Saturday and got the key on Monday.  There are 2 bedrooms, a bathroom, and a large room that is the kitchen/living room.  It is exactly what we need, and in a perfect location to walk to the ministry center every day!


It feels so good to now have a place of our own!  We’re still house sitting for the family and they won’t be back until Sunday, which has given us this week to clean, get some basic furniture and unpack.  I can’t even explain how good it felt to unpack my suitcase for good. Isaac and I have literally be on the road for the past 10 months .  We moved out of our apartment in March and have called 22 different houses “home” since then.  We are glad that house number 23 is our home where we can put roots down.  God has given us a home, answered our prayers, and even given us a house to live in while we get our home ready.  2015 is already off to a great start!

Merry Christmas from the Del Ríos!


Coffee from Costa Rica

Look what we found!


South Africa is not really a coffee culture, and so what is most commonly drank & sold is instant coffee.  We remembered that from being here a few years ago, and brought our own Costa Rican coffee with us.  Once we were here we found that they do sell ground coffee in the stores- and if you look closely at the picture, Costa Rican coffee was imported here and sold at our grocery store!  It isn’t as good as what we buy in Costa Rica, but it is still great coffee.

Hello, Johannesburg!

We dreamed of moving to Johannesburg 12 months ago.  And now we’re here.  This big city that Africans come to in search of a better life, is now our city.  



We still don’t have a home of our own- but once again God has provided us with a place to stay.  A family who went to Cape Town for vacation asked us to stay in their home while they are away, and we gladly accepted.  We will be living in their house until January 3rd, and we hope that we’ll have found our own place to live by then.  I have been searching online for months and have found nothing in the area that we want to live.  We were told that there were some nice apartments a few blocks from the ministry center, but that they were all full.  On Friday Isaac and I went for a walk, and when we passed the apartment building, we decided to go and talk to the manager.  He confirmed that all of the apartments were full, but then told us that a lady would be moving out on the 31st and her 2 bedroom apartment would then become available.  “We want it!”  we told him, both at the same time.  We won’t know if we’ll get it for sure, until the end of next week, but we are praying that we will be able to move in on the 1st.  

Today after one of Joburg’s light rainstorms, there was this amazing rainbow.  Six months ago, when we left Costa Rica, we flew over a rainbow as we left Isaac’s hometown.   Now, as we arrive in our new city, God reminds of his promises with another rainbow.  


photo-4I’ve had plenty of moments of anxiety, just wanting my own place to live, and with wavering faith that God will provide.  But He will provide- He always has, and always will, and in these moments of limbo, I must keep on trusting and believing. 


Big changes coming our way

Today we will be leaving the Western Cape of South Africa, and moving to where we call home for the next several years: Johannesburg!  We have been dreaming about this since January, and we are excited that today is the day we will arrive!  

We also have another BIG change coming our way:


Yes, that’s right, we’re expecting a baby in early June!  I am about 4 months pregnant 🙂  So now we get to look for a house/apartment with a baby in mind, and we get 6 months to establish ourselves in “Joburg” before our new addition arrives.  We’re excited for all of these huge life moments that are in our near future!

End of the Bible Core Course!

I apologize to those who have checked for updates and have found none until now- we have been quite busy studying & finishing up our course!!  Since I last posted we have studied Hebrews, Revelation, Deuteronomy, 1st& 2nd Kings, the Minor Prophets, Daniel, and read the entire Bible out loud!  Now do you see why we haven’t had much time to update?

This past Monday we had a night to share poems, songs, and creative art that we created based on the different books we studied.  I shared a poem I wrote from the book of Revelation, while Isaac shared a picture collage he made after studying 1st & 2nd Kings.




We finished the course on Tuesday with an exam about the Old Testament, and today we had the graduation and a nice lunch after.  This season of studying God’s word has been such a blessing to both of us.  It’s been a time where we have been refreshed in God, in His Word, and in our own individual callings.  To study God’s word on our own, and to be given the tools to continue studying has been invaluable.


We will be in Worcester until Saturday, and then spend 3 days in Cape Town.  On Tuesday the 16th we fly to Johannesburg and will quickly (hopefully!) find a home and being making a life for ourselves there!

Class trip to Cape Town

Last Sunday our entire class (and those with families) loaded up 3 cars and a combi-taxi and we went to Cape Town for the day.

We enjoyed the scenic drive…

CapeTownBeautyAnd stopped several times to take pictures!  Here is a picture of all of us on the trip:


Once we reached Cape Town we got to see the famous Table Mountain, and the Atlantic Ocean from this side of the world!


But the best part of our trip was seeing friends we haven’t seen in years.  Isaac has friends, literally, all over the world.  To give you an example, when we were in Mexico City getting our visas, we randomly saw a friend of his while we were in line to get ice-cream! And Mexico City is HUGE!… Anyway, one of his friends from the Leadership Training School he did with YWAM Tijuana-Mexico is from Cape Town and serves with YWAM at the Muizenburg base.  He came to see us while we were eating dinner at the beach, and it was so nice for him to see a familiar face from several years ago!

Isaac wasn’t the only one who met up with friends, though!  My friend Ruth, whom I met in 2011 and trained me to run Cherish groups was doing a training in Cape Town and met up with us for the day.  We actually left our big group for part of the afternoon to have coffee and catch up with Ruth.  It was wonderful seeing her, and sharing life for a bit.  She is part of the community of missionaries serving in Johannesburg, so we will be seeing a lot more of her once we move to Joburg in December.

When we got back to Worcester on Saturday night, we were tired but incredibly happy.  After a week of new revelation & understanding from the book of Romans we got to see ocean and spend time with good friends…what more could we ask for?

Just how big is Africa?

Check out this picture… it gives a better idea as to just how big the continent of Africa is!