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Sunday, December 7, 2008

Jesus Loves the Little Children

La Carpio

All of these boys and girls...

live in houses like this,

have faces like this,

have smiles like this,

and need to know that Jesus died so they could have hope!

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Family Update

Hey everyone (all 3 of you that read this blog)! I just wanted to give a quick update on the family. All is going well here in Costa Rica. We are about halfway through our studies at the language institute. Jenn is really learning a lot. She is not totally comfortable speaking yet but she has really improved over the past couple of months. She has been studying circles around me this trimester. Shame on me!

Jordan will probably end up being the best Spanish speaker in our family. He tries to say stuff constantly and practices the stuff he learns each day. He has no fear of being wrong.

Trevor keeps his Spanish abilities a mystery. He really doesn't like to speak in English to people he is not comfortable with, so he definitely doesn't want to use Spanish. He is probably like a Spanish speaking Ninja. One day he will probably appear out of nowhere and destroy everyone with his linguistic abilities. Until that day comes, I will continue to wonder if he can say anything more than "hola" and "gracias."

My experience this trimester has been a little weird. My teacher was flying through the book early on in the term. I barely had time to figure out the rule we were about to be tested over before she moved on to the next rule. I feel like my speaking ability has digressed a little but I'm not sure. I just have a ton of grammatical rules floating around in the empty space between my ears. Some days it comes out of my mouth better than others.

One difficult thing about our life is having to say goodbye all the time. In a little over a month many of the friends we have made at school will leave for their countries of service. Realistically, we will never see most of them again. That kind of stinks when we've already had to do that once when we left the states. But that is the life to which God has called us and we are excited about being used by Him.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Microphone Monkey-Bone

This is what my hair becomes if I let it grow out for about 5 weeks.

Anytime your hairdo draws comparison to a microphone with a fuzzy windscreen, that is never good. I basically have a recipe for hair disaster: 1 part matted down, 1 part cowlick, 2 parts going every-which-way and a dash of gray. I was reaching my breaking point lastnight so I decided to buzz my hair which is my normal custom. Jenn usually goes over it when I'm done and then trims the back and sides with a shorter attatchment. However, she was already asleep. So I decided I could go as-is for a day or so until she had a chance to finish the job.
Today, fresh off a mediocre self-administered haircut, I was the subject of another hair story. While sitting on the floor with a group of 20 or so 6-8 year olds, I began to retell the Bible story we had just heard. They were all listening fairly intently with little to no distractions (gracias a Dios). My friend Karen was sitting in the circle across from me holding one of the kids and I saw her looking at what was going on behind me. I knew there was some activity back there but none of the other kids seemed bothered by it so we pressed on with the story. [Then, as a sidenote unrelated to hair, a boy began to poke at my ginormous adam's apple and say "hueso, hueso" or "bone, bone." Did my man think I had a chicken bone lodged in my windpipe or what? I'm not sure, but it was funny.]
Shortly after the "hueso sighting" I began to feel atleast 2 different girls leaning on my back and messing with my hair. Strange, but then again not really. As I continued asking questions to the group I caught a glimpse of Karen's eyes. I could only see her eyes because she was deliberately covering the rest of her face with her Bible as she was laughing at these 2 girls. Afterwards, she told me it looked like two little monkeys grooming the bigger monkey. Never before have I felt like such a well-groomed, microphonic monkey gagging on a chicken wing!!!

Monday, October 20, 2008

The voice of Darwin

Last week I had the opportunity to share my personal testimony with a group of children at La Carpio. I was so excited to have the chance to share something personal with them. I had a good feeling as they all gathered around to listen to what I was going to say. "This is going to be good," I thought to myself.
That's when I heard it. It was the strangest thing I've experienced since arriving in CR and it caught me off guard. It was the audible voice of Darwin. Of all the audible voices to hear, why would I be hearing that one? Perhaps a better question would be: "Why is Darwin yelling 'Gringo como frijol, Gringo como frijol'."(White man like a bean, White man like a bean.)
Darwin (pronounced: Dar-bean no pun intended) was the 8 year old boy sitting on the floor right in front of me. He thought it was hilarious and it had the potential to really distract everything that was about to be discussed. I asked him if he was really saying what I thought I was hearing. He was and I thanked him for sharing. As it turned out, Darwin was one of the most attentive listeners that day and he participated in the conversation. I pulled him aside later and really bragged on him. I told him I was proud of him and I was impressed with how he changed his attitude and behavior. He had that bashful 'Aw Shucks' look on his face and he had a hard time receiving compliments. It was a cool moment for me and a little sad at the same time.
I'm challenged to reach out to the Darwins in my life. That could have turned out so differently and usually does with me. However, the Lord gave extra patience in that moment and only he knows exactly what Darwin needs and when he needs it. May Darwin come to know Jesus personally at an early age like I did.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Dirty Hands

Before I left the States, I worked at UPS for 12 years. In those 12 years I learned exactly what to expect when I went to work:

  1. the work would be tough
  2. my body would hurt at some point during the shift
  3. my clothes would get filthy
  4. my hands would be dirty when I left work

Not a day went by that I didn't experience all 4 of those truths. Now I am studying Spanish in Costa Rica. I haven't stepped foot inside a warehouse for 10 months (praise God). However, this week I began to see the similarities between working at UPS and working at La Carpio:

  1. the work is tough- breaking up fights, having patience with kids who are making fun of a special needs child, trying to shout the Bible story loud enough that a bunch of rowdy kids can hear it over the rain beating down on the aluminum roof.
  2. my body hurts at some point- I've been jack-slapped upside the back of my head by a little girl who just wanted some attention, grabbed around the neck, jumped on, almost tackled multiple times, accidentally poked in the back with a pencil by the boy who was using me as his desk.
  3. my clothes get dirty- I know not to wear khakis on Thursday. Jeans and a dark Tshirt are the only way to go when you know you'll be sitting on a dirty floor, wrestling little guys who are wearing dirty clothes, navigating mud puddles, and avoiding the occasional random mangy dog that might wander through the building.
  4. my hands get dirty- we use those cheap inflatable balls that Wal-Mart sells out of that sky-high wire basket in the middle of the toy section. They are dirt magnets and the kids love to go wild with those things. At any given moment 6 or 7 of those things could be flying around the room. We sit in the floor with the kids. We pick up the trash they have been throwing on the floor for the past hour.

When was the last time you got your hands dirty? I don't ask that in order to draw attention to anything I have done. When I was in the States I lived a pretty sterile life. I was good at operating within my comfort zone (i.e. being around people who were like me). I missed out on being a blessing to others and being blessed by them.

I've been thinking about who Jesus hung out with. It wasn't the people in his Sunday School class, or his pastor, or the middle-class guy that lived across the street. Jesus hung out with fishermen, prostitutes, and tax collectors (dudes that ripped people off for a living). I'm pretty sure his hands were getting dirty. I'm challenged (and commanded) to do the same.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Childish Thoughts

I've been asked on more than one occasion recently, "Why haven't you updated your blog?" I can really only think of 2 reasons: 1- I'm a loser. And B- I guess I just haven't had anything to say (kind of like now, except I'm typing something anyway). You know you haven't blogged in awhile when you forget your own blog address.

La Carpio
That is the name of the barrio(neighborhood) where we have started helping with a children's ministry. This is one of the poorest areas I have seen in CR. Most of the people are Nicaraguan immigrants and generally there is a lot of racism directed toward them by the Ticos. Each Thursday afternoon we have a Bible story, games, and activities for a group of elementary kids. Usually, the group numbers between 50-100 (give or take 50-100). Honestly, it's hard to get that many excited kids to sit still long enough to count them. But hey, who's counting anyway?
These sweet kids are desperate for attention. When they see us pulling up in the van they start waving and smiling. Actually, everyone that sees this van starts smiling (that would be because we have 22 or so gringos packed into a 15 passenger van). But hey, who's counting anyway?
I had the opportunity to teach the Bible story this week in Spanish! It was actually not as intimidating as I thought it might be. The Lord helped me get through the lesson without making any of the dreaded pronunciation mistakes, which you find out later was actually the correct pronuciation of some word you would never say in a Bible study or to 100 children. Praise God!!!
Some of the other leaders can't go this week so I get to teach again:) I love to teach children that Jesus loves them. When I was a child I admitted to Jesus that I was a sinner and I needed his forgiveness and I wanted to follow Him. I know first hand how God can work in the heart of a child. Jesus said you can't enter the kingdom of heaven unless you become like a little child. When I came to Christ as a child it was very basic, very simple: I knew I had done things that God says not to do (that is the definition of sin); Sinners go to Hell (Holy God doesn't allow sin in His presence); Jesus died on the cross for my sins so I wouldn't have to go to Hell (He took my place because He loves me). That is the Gospel (the Good News) and children can understand its simplicity. As adults, we tend to over-analyze or add junk to it. I mean after all, we're the educated ones right? I guess it just depends on who you ask.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

I Smell Cookies

Today was the first day back to school for the boys. Their teachers survived and everyone seemed to have a lot of fun. Afterwards, we went with a group of 20 or so to an extremely poor barrio (neighborhood) called "La Carpio" to minister to the children there. It was similar to some things we have done in Mexico with our homechurch. We played games, sang songs, told a Bible story, and had some activities related to the story. All the kids were very sweet and you could tell they loved the attention they received.

At the end, I saw one of the regular workers passing out some cookie packets to some of the kids. Somehow my kids each ended up with a pack. I told them they should give them to one of the other kids because they never get treats like that. It was a no brainer for my oldest. He quickly went to another boy and in his best spanish asked the little guy if he wanted some cookies. "Si, gracias," was the response he heard.

My youngest was not on board with giving away something he already had in his possession. After all, he is only 6. He began to chow down like the cookie-monster ending a 40 day fast. As he was nearing the end of the package we noticed the skinniest little dog you can imagine. This poor, hairy, skeleton of a canine was walking up to everyone looking for something to eat. A couple of us began to coax my son into giving his last cookie to this hungry little dog. Maybe it was guilt, maybe it was peer-pressure but he put the cookie on the ground for the dog to eat. That scraggly little pup timidly approached the cherished morsel, gave it a couple of good sniffs and quickly decided that sometimes it's just better to be hungry. I want to know who picked THAT snack. As for the fate of the rejected cookie, last I saw, some kids were trying to feed it to some random chicken walking down the street. Try to find a street like that back home.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Waste Not

I'm just going to pretend like the last 3 weeks never happened so I won't feel guilty for not updating my blog for the 2 people that actually read it. Actually, it was a time filled with final exams at language school, an oral proficiency exam, and a visit/vacation with my parents. Not fun, Not fun, and fun (respectively).

The past couple of months God has put a thought/idea/truth on my heart that I think of everyday and I want to throw it out there for you to consider.
"Worship is never wasted" This is the thought that I wake up with and carry with me throughout the day. When I close my eyes at night it is there.
Now let me explain what the Lord has shown me in these 4 words. Over the past 2-3 months we have learned: One of our dear friends was diagnosed with cancer; A missionary colleague and mother of 5 suddenly died on the mission field; A young college graduate died in a car accident while serving as a summer missionary in Peru; A friend of ours had to return from her field of service due to back surgery. That is a lot of disheartening news over such a short period of time. All of these individuals love/loved the Lord and are/were following Him in obedience. As I began to think about 'worship' God showed me something. The very root of true worship is obedience. It is impossible to worship the Lord while you are walking in disobedience. If you haven't tried it, Don't (just take my word for it).
When most people think of a 30 something dad of 3 young boys having cancer, or a mother of 5 dying suddenly, or a recent college grad dying tragically, or a 22-23 yr. old with back surgery to the point she has to go home from the mission field they think, "What a waste!" Honestly, that was my initial reaction to such news. That's where it all started. I still see the news as extremely sad but I have a new perspective.
As a christian, I am called to offer myself as a living sacrifice to God. This is an act of worship. God knows the details. He knows I have a wife, 2 young sons, that my desire is to tell people how to have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, that I'm a "good person" or whatever. He knows all of that. But if something happens to me or my family while we are walking in obedience does that make God bad or unloving? I say, "No!" We live the way we live out of worship, not for some earthly reward. If our lives of worship are "cut short" or altered, they will be "cut short" or altered by the one receiving our worship. By the one who doesn't allow worship to be wasted.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Down the Drain

A few things seem to be going down the proverbial drain right now. As I type this, Jenn is puffing on a nebulizer because she has managed to get Bronchitis and some other medical junk. She is on 'Roids right now (She said the doctor prescribed them, but I think she's just trying to get in the Olympic spirit.) You know how former gymnasts are.

I'm definitely not a Spanish speaking whiz but many of the things I have known for years and even re-learned this trimester have suddenly decided to go down the drain. I am experiencing some kind of Span-mnesia. These kind of symptoms are usually the result of massive head trauma. Thankfully, the only trauma my head has experienced is massive information overload. My brain is like a glass (more like a shot-glass); it can only contain so much before it overflows in order to make room for the new stuff. I'm losing some of the basic stuff. I feel like it's in there somewhere but I can't seem to remember where I put it. Not to worry though, I have four whole days to get my stuff straightened out before my 1st Oral Proficiency Interview (OPI). YIKES!

For a reprieve from the mounting stresses, I took the boys to play soccer in the park with some of their new Tico friends. Five minutes into the game and the ball was in the street. No big deal except for the fact that all the grates which cover the street drains have been jacked. I was able to lower 3/4 of my body into the 5 feet deep hole and retrieve the ball with my feet. It was game on once again. 15 minutes later and the ball was back in the street. Fortunately, the oncoming car saw the ball and slowed his car to a crawl. Unfortunately, his front wheel "crawled" over the ball. It had a certain egg shaped appearance after that. One of the Ticos said it looked like an American football:) Everyone knows that soccer balls have atleast 3 lives so we played on. Within a few minutes, the ball had found its home-away-from-home (i.e. the street) again. We all watched hopefully as the ball traveled westbound. So much for that. Immediately, it found another drain. We couldn't see the ball this time so I lowered one of the boys into the curbside cavern. However, it was all for nothing because the ball had already made its way into the maze of pipes never to be seen again. As we returned to the field/vacant lot, the 9 year-old owner of the ball was visibly sad. After consoling him for a bit, we said, "Well, atleast we have buddies to play with in Costa Rica!"

So here we stand, certainly with struggles but BLESSED!

Friday, July 18, 2008

Culture 101

Every culture is unique. Each has its own set of norms, does and don'ts, etc. There are also things that are found in most every culture. For example, mothers are usually the primary caregivers for the children. Men are usually the ones to do the manual labor. Children don't obey their parents (Oops, did I say that?). Obviously, these aren't written in stone but they are generally true.
While sitting at McDonald's the other day I made a new cultural observation. I was pounding a McPollo Sandwich when I noticed this old dude at the table next to ours. As I checked out his hairdo it hit me: The Comb-over is universal. This was truly a revelation. I thought comb-overs were only found in the States. OK, to this guys credit, his basically began at the part in his hair and traveled due East until it reached his other ear. He wasn't trying to throw down the Benny Hinn look which, aside from being hideous, is completely hilarious and sad. No, this fellow was just trying to hang on to his youth like any other guy. News Flash: No one was fooled but hey, Pura Vida.

Observation #2: Ticos just call it like they see it and that is totally acceptable. Political Correctness is absolutely nowhere to be found in this lovely country. If someone is "heavy/overweight" they are addressed as "Gordo"(fat). They don't see it as saying, "Hey, Fatty!" The person is simply big and they are simply referring to the big guy. If a guy is of Asian descent you call him "Chino." I have no clue what our pastor's name is because everyone calls him Pastor Chino. My teacher made 4 references to Chinos eating dogs and cats this week in class. We were all cringing in our seats and she was like, "Well it's true." NO COMMENT!

I just hope I'm not around when an overweight Asian man with a comb-over walks into a pet store.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Becoming More Like Jesus

The goal of every Christian should be to become more like Jesus everyday of his/her life. Some days and weeks are better than others. Those of you who are followers of Christ know exactly what I'm talking about, don't you? At times, you hit a spiritual growth spurt and you feel so close to the Lord as you are being conformed to his image. Then there are those times when you seem to be going nowhere spiritually. Even when you read His Word, you don't seem to get anything out of it.

Missionaries are no different. We have the same capabilities as you: To Grow & To Grow Stagnant. I personally want to thank each of you who remembers to pray for us. We cannot do this without the prayer support of the people who love us. We think of you guys often and it is good to know that we haven't been forgotten.

As you pray for us remember to pray...

  • for our spiritual growth
  • for our physical health and safety
  • for language acquisition
  • for our family life
  • for the boys

This weekend we became more like Christ in one area of our lives. We did not choose this nor would we choose it again but, last weekend we were without running water from Thursday to Sunday. And so we went without showers for the better part of 4 days. The Lord didn't exactly have access to an awesome showerhead, under which he could shower on a daily basis either. At the beginning of his ministry, Jesus fasted in the wilderness for 40 days. He probably had some serious B.O. too (Remember he was fully God and fully man).

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

This Tune WILL Get Stuck In Your Head (My Bad)

I have discovered quite possibly the most random video EVER made. This is definitely one of my all-time favorite finds on the internet.
Remember Highlights magazine which could be found in any doctor's office across America. There was always that one page that had random objects hidden in a bigger picture. You are about to experience the musical version of that page.
To prove its randomness, I have made a list of things that can be found in the video.

  • Way too many overalls
  • Shorty shorts - shirt + jacket= sweetness
  • Deja Vu of the closing scene from "Nacho Libre"
  • Safari hats topped with pinwheels
  • Frying pan
  • 4 yr. old drummer wearing Paris Hilton's shades
  • The most amazing elbow dance ever created

When you're ready to be blown away, go to the very bottom of my blog and push pause on the project playlist so you'll be able to hear the music in the video clip. Then buckle your seatbelt and hold on for dear life.

Isn't Spanish AWESOME?

Thursday, June 26, 2008

10 & 2

Last week was an incredible time of refreshing for me spiritually. The language institute brought in a guest speaker who addressed the spiritual life of missionaries (and Christians in general). Every one of his messages really hit home with me. He spoke about trusting God, addressing sin, forgetting the past, finishing well, culture shock, language learning, things that really matter, etc. He preached every morning at chapel and every evening we had a time of worship followed by another sermon. I may be a missionary but that's just way too much "church", or so I thought at the beginning of the week. Then the Lord started working in my heart and speaking to me through his Word and his messenger. Now, I sit here thankful for every opportunity I had to worship the Father during spiritual emphasis week.

I realized one "not-so-spiritual" thing last week during one of the speaker's stories. He was describing a road rage incident he had while in the midst of culture shock. And then it hit me! I haven't sat in the driver's seat of a car since April 27, 2008. Not only that, but I may not have my hands at 10 & 2 until I get to Peru in May 2009. That's weird. Ironically, I hated to drive in the states (just ask Jenn). After seeing the wild driving in CR, I'm a little relieved not to drive here.

Some of our taxi rides have been real doozies. We had this one grandpa taxi driver that was rockin' out to some hilarious music. He was singing along like fifteen year old girl. He was working his neck like one of the Roxbury Guys and swerving through traffic like Ricky Bobby trying to catch Frenchie. In different cabs, we have heard "Thriller," "Xanadoo," and Frank Sinatra. Don't feel sorry for us; the best of US culture is only a cab ride away BABY!

Monday, June 23, 2008

A Little Child Shall Lead Them

Remember Jr. High when you would dare your friend to ask the teacher an embarrasing question. Immediately, said friend would raise his hand and say, "Teacher, Brian wants to know if you..." In those moments you totally felt outed and humbled. Yeah, that happened to me the other day. I took the boys and our 4 year old neighbor boy to the park. Now rumor has it that this little guy can speak Spanish pretty well but he doesn't speak it to Gringos. I always try to get him to say stuff in Spanish but he rarely will. On our way home we saw two Tico kids jumping rope. I asked Caleb how to say "jumprope" in Spanish but he didn't know. I said, "You could ask them." Immediately said friend called out, "Ey, Como se llama eso porque el no sabe." (Hey, what do you call that because HE doesn't know.)
It was humbling on many levels:

  1. The young girl looked shocked as this little blonde gringo spoke perfect Spanish for the big, dumb gringo.
  2. Blondie totally threw me under the bus.
  3. I have thirty years on this little guy and I will never catch up to his Spanish ability.
  4. He should be looking up to me but I realized I was looking up to him.

In Jr. High you could get even with your friend when he hosed you like that. Atomic wedgies were the great equalizer. But this time I've got nothing. All I can say is, "Caleb Rocks!"

This week is spiritual emphasis week at school. We have a guest speaker Dr. David Sills from Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, KY. I am really praying that God would draw me close to his heart this week. I guess he was just giving me a headstart in the humility department last week:)

Friday, June 13, 2008

Mmmm...Good Toast

Everyday, at some point in the day, I catch a big whiff of TOAST. Not a little hint of dough or bread. I'm talking about an overwhelming intake of toasty goodness ascending the nasal passages. There are a lot of "panaderias" (bakeries) around town but somehow the smell travels specifically to the place where my nose is. It's random but there seems to be a pattern at the same time.

I have played basketball for 28 years but I just learned something new about the sport which I love so dearly. Apparently, when playing pick-up ball in CR, sustaining a broken rib does not automatically mean a foul will be called. Unfortunately, I learned this lesson first hand as some guy's elbow was making an indention in my rib cage. After enduring a week and a half of pain I went to the doctor, whose X-rays revealed a 'fissure' in the 2nd rib just under my collar bone. Not to fear, the pain might go away in 4-6 weeks.

Last Sunday night was a small linguistic breakthrough for me. We took a 10 minute cab ride which only took about 30 minutes to complete. While we were stuck in traffic, I had a chance to talk to the driver about his relationship with Jesus. He shared that his 2 babies had died in an auto accident and he was in an ugly custody battle for his little girl. He has reached the point where he doesn't believe God exists because his prayers always seem to go unanswered. I told him that he has something in common with God, because God knows what it is like to be without a son. Pray that God would pour his grace on Jaime and reveal His love to him in a very special way. Jesus took 5 loaves and 2 fish and fed 5,000 maybe he'll take my 5 nouns and 2 verbs and feed 1.

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Life in the White House

It looks like a medium security prison but we like to call it "Home." You'd be hard pressed to find a house in San Jose, CR that doesn't have bars, a wall, razorwire or some combination of the three. Our stately mansion comes complete with 1 black iron gate (with dead-bolt) topped with spikes and rusty razorwire, bars on every window, bar doors (with dead-bolts), wooden doors (with dead-bolts), and an old alarm system (minus the keypad) that probably hasn't functioned since the early 80's.

This is the view from the top of our street. Aren't the powerlines just lovely this time of year? If you look really closely you might be able to see some mountains in the distance:)

This is a photo of the exciting cinderblock wall in our backyard. It was tough to capture this action shot because the banana trees and palm trees kept getting in the way. Actually, it's not as dreary as it looks. We like our backyard and we have a covered patio complete with washer and dryer. That's normal... right?
These 3 crazy pizza chefs were caught creating one of their masterpieces in our kitchen. The head chef won't know this photo is on the blog until it's too late... HaHaHa.
We really do like everything about our house and new life in CR. We are having a great time and everything we have here (or anywhere else) is a blessing from the Lord and it all belongs to Him anyway (even the Ipod).

Monday, May 26, 2008

All things "empleada"

Having a new 4G Ipod Nano: $148
Downloading your first album from itunes: $10
Having a maid clean your house 3x/week: $30
Having said maid wash your new Ipod in your pants pocket: Priceless

True story!

I keep telling myself, "It's just stuff!" I'm sure that will help, eventually (i.e. when I buy another Ipod). Our empleada (maid) is awesome. She works for 5hrs on Mon, Wed, & Fri. We have her cook traditional Tico food and we are loving it. She also does the laundry, washes dishes and cleans the bathroom and floors. It is a good fit for us because it is super cheap and it allows us (and by us I mean Jenn) to have more time to study.

Costa Rica has a social security system. Every month we pay our empleada's social security which covers her insurance also. She doesn't make that much each week (by US standards) but we pay for her benefits as well. It is a set up that was in place long before we arrived and will be around long after we leave. We are just grateful for all Lisbeth does for our family. She constantly thanks us for employing her as well.

In my next post I will put some pics of our house, street, traditional Tico food, and other daily things.

Hasta luego.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Daily Life & Stuff

All is well in the "Rich Coast." Classes are moving along and so is life. We've been blessed in that we have not had a lot of culture shock (yet). We're getting used to walking everywhere or taking a taxi/bus if our destination is too far away. Next time you're leaving Wal-Mart or Kroger with a trunk full of sacks, be thankful for that trunk. Everytime we walk home, loaded down with sacks, I think about that trunk that I always took for granted:) The boys are always a big help on grocery trips. They have to carry a bag or two home each time. It's pretty cute.

We have been attending a church in the neighborhood called "El Lugar" (The Place). It is comical because 1/2 the people in the church are "gringos" from the language school and the other 1/2 are "Ticos" (locals). I can usually understand about 75% of what is being said. Jenn came here with no spanish background so it is more difficult for her. However, this Sunday she said she understood quite a bit of the sermon. That was really encouraging to her.

Last Saturday we started the boys in a "futbol camp." Every Saturday from 8-11am they go to the camp and learn soccer skills and play games. They are excited because this coming Saturday they are scrimmaging another local team. The crazy thing is it only cost $4 per child each month. When I was talking to the coach/director (in Spanish) I misunderstood and thought it was going to cost $4 per child each week. In the States, that would be a cheap price to pay for 3 hours of instruction. When I restated what I thought I heard, he looked at me like I was crazy. He said, "No, $4 per month!" I was thinking, "Sweet, I would've paid 4 times that much!"

Pura Vida!

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Things that have made us laugh

When you're living in a different culture you're bound to come across funny stuff. We run into oddities everyday in Costa Rica. I'll give you a few examples (several of which have come out of my own mouth).

  1. I was trying to greet the little girl nextdoor as Jordan and I were entering our house. I offered a kind "Hello." Then that little lightbulb appeared above my head as I remembered she speaks Spanish. Quickly correcting my mistake I blurted out, "I mean, Hi!" Jordan looked at me as if to say, "Dad, you're jacked." When I finally said "Hola" Jordan and I stepped through the front door and started cracking up.

  2. We begin every class with a student led prayer in Spanish. Therein lies the problem. Lucky me got to be the guinea pig on the second day of class. I was rollin' along asking God to help us in our studies, etc. Then I wanted to express thanks for our teacher so I said, "Gracias por nuestra muestra." But instead of thanking God for our 'maestra' (teacher) I thanked him for our 'sample.'

  3. It is the beginning of rainy season and umbrellas are a necessity. Another necessity is knowing that in this culture men only carry solid black umbrellas. Striped, printed, and bright colored umbrellas are reserved for women and "homosexuales" (their word, not mine). I found out this valuable info after sporting an umbrella straight out of Mary Poppins for a good week and a half. Thanks Costa Rica!

  4. In CR, you can have McDonalds delivered to your house by a dude on a motorcycle. That's random. So are the toys that come in the cajita feliz (Happy Meal). Hence the creepy little dudes in the picture.

We laugh a lot (mostly at ourselves and other gringos). But hey, as they say in Costa Rica, "Pura Vida." (loosely translated: It's all good!)

Monday, May 5, 2008

Sorry Miriam

I've been reprimanded for not updating the blog. I'll try to do better but face it, I'm a slacker!

This is what we "have" to look at when we step out of the classroom... EVERYDAY!

This is a picture of 2 gringos at the language school where we will be studying. All they have to do is turn around and they will have seen more mountains than most Texans will see in a lifetime. All that while leaning on a palm tree:)
This is just a taste of our new ministry setting. Now that I know how to post pictures I'll try to put them on regularly.
Thanks for noticing.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

We're still alive

We're finally in Costa Rica after 3 1/2 weeks of travelling the US. We visited most of our family on the way home from VA. We made stops in WV, KY, LA, and TX before boarding the plane on Sunday April 27. We threw in one last stop in GA and saw one of our old friends Tyler. His church was such a blessing to us and another family that flew to Costa Rica with us. Westhills Church paid for our stay in Atlanta at the Airport Hilton and treated us to one last meal at Chili's. God uses his people to minister to eachother for sure.

Our new house is really cool. We have two palm trees and two banana trees in the backyard. The boys have caught 2-3 geckos in the yard already. We have an old rusty machete in the backyard as well. Every boy needs a "lucky machete." So far it has rained every afternoon but the temperature has been very nice overall. From our front yard we can see the mountains which are very pretty. As the day progresses you can see the clouds roll in and the mountaintops become difficult to see. Its really cool looking. It reminds us of Hawaii.

We are in language school orientation through Tuesday. Classes will officially begin next Wednesday. We are ready to get going on the Spanish. We have been brave little soldiers since we arrived, making several trips by bus, taxi, and mostly on foot. We will not have a car until we get to Peru in another year. Maybe that will help me lose the 10 lbs. I gained at orientation in VA.

I'll post some pictures of our new life, house, etc. as soon as I can get to it. Until then just use your imagination:)

P.S. We have a new phone # with an (817) area code. It is a free call for most of you back home, especially if you call from your cell. IF you want the # e-mail me and I'll send it to you.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Almost finished

We are happy to report that we will be finished with orientation in one week! Next Wednesday 4/2 to be exact. Our time here has been a blessing for sure. However, a man's stomach can only handle so much cafeteria food and then it goes on a hunger strike. My limit is drawing very near.

If you had our Vonage ph.# and tried to use it, you quickly realized that we disconnected it. The internet out here is so slow we couldn't even use an internet phone. We are trying to decide what service to use when we go to Costa Rica & Peru. We are leaning toward using Skype. That is basically a computer to computer call over the internet. We will even be able to make video calls using our webcam. It is pretty sad when you have to move out of the country to get high-speed internet.

As far as the family goes, the boys are having a great time here. We have seen God working in both of their lives over the past few weeks. Trevor read all 507 pages of his Beginner's Bible in less than one week. His teacher said that he would lay under the table and read it during playtime. He also surprised us one day when he just started quoting all of these long Bible verses from memory. We were like, "What in the world?" I have been praying that God would give Trevor a hunger and passion for His Word and the Lord keeps answering, "YES, YES, YES!"

My prayer for Jordan has been that God would make him a bold witness for the Lord Jesus Christ and that God would use him to witness to his new friends overseas. Already, Jordan has been learning how to share his faith with people. His favorite method is using Chronological Bible Storying. He asked me one day if he could share the story of Jesus' baptism with our small group which consist of 19 people. He did a great job! He also told me the other day that he wanted to get a Beginner's Bible in Spanish so he could tell the stories to the children in Peru. God answers prayers!!!

Thanks for all of your prayers.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Lessons from the Wood Shop

We continue to be blessed and challenged daily. We just had the privilege of sitting under the teaching of Dr. Tom Elliff for the past several days. We learned so much as he shared with the group. He is one of those guys who knows the Lord so intimately and knows the Bible like the back of his hand. Usually, those are the kind of guys that are really annoying and can't relate at all to the common man/woman. This guy is awesome though. His teaching style is to break everything down to most simple form instead of talking over everyone's head. He also had a ton of really cool stories that he used to reinforce his points.

He told a story about a time he and his granddad were in the wood shop building a piece of furniture together. His granddad was holding two pieces of wood together and asked Tom to hand him a certain tool. Tom wasn't sure what tool he was referring to, so he guessed and began to reach for the wrong one. His granddad said, "No, the one right up there." Tom took another shot at it but still guessed wrong. Again, his granddad tried to point him in the right direction. On the third try Tom got it right. When he went to hand the tool over, his grandad said "Never mind, I already used this screwdriver to do the job. It wasn't the best tool for the job, but it was the one closest to my hand." His grandad stopped and told him "God doesn't always use the best suited tool for the job but the tool closest to his hand." He explained how so many people in this world seem more gifted/qualified for certain tasks but they will never be used because they are far from God.

God has really used that story to issue a challenge to my heart. My prayer is that I will be close to the Lord's hand, that I will make myself available to Him.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

True Followers

This has been an interesting week. We have been studying the persecuted church. We had 2 days of sessions on what God is doing in countries where following Jesus is hazardous to your health. The things that believers go through in some of those places is unbelievable.

In the US, we worship in freedom so it is hard for us to picture anything different. However, persecution is the norm for a large part of the world. I get a little irritated when I hear people in US churches talking about how hard it is to be a Christian, or how much persecution they experience at their job or school. In the states, it is illegal to do to people what is being done to believers around the world. In some countries, when a family member decides to follow Jesus his/her father (or another relative) is obligated to kill them. This usually occurs within the first 72 hours after their conversion. Others are tortured until they deny Jesus. Others have bones broken, houses burned, or property stolen. The locals will no longer sell them food in the markets.

My God is the God who brings life out of death and He is showing himself faithful among those under persecution. Church planting movements are springing up in some of the darkest places. Their church looks different than what we are used to and it has to. Many of them meet under the cover of darkness. Most of them meet in houses. They baptize new believers in bathtubs. In the midst of danger, they boldly tell people about Jesus Christ. That is very humbling to me.

This Sunday as we sit in our comfy chairs/pews let us remember our bruised and scarred brothers and sisters who are literally in dark, rat-infested, confinement cells singing heart-songs to Jesus.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Drama and Stuff

Well, we are in the swing of things here in VA. We have kind of settled into somewhat of a normal routine. The Lord has been faithful to us as we have gone through some testing of our faith. We were without any way of calling home to family for a couple of weeks and everything we tried just seemed to fail. That is a long story and I don't want to bore myself with it so just trust me on this one, OK? Then we had car trouble and almost got stranded (without a cell phone) in the middle of who knows where. Eventually, we had the car towed and I had the opportunity to share a little bit with the tow truck driver about what we were doing out in the middle of nowhere in a "compound" that looks like it was designed by David Koresh (sp?). In the end, I prayed for him and his mother who had just broken her back after falling off her horse (insert joke here). Ask the Lord to use our conversation and prayer to stir his heart to know more about the Savior.

The focus on this week's sessions is being a cross-cultural witness. Today, we studied a lot of anthropology. It was interesting if you like that kind of stuff. We are also studying the book of Acts from the point of view of a church-planter. Basically, we are studying the patterns that Paul and the disciples used as they planted the early churches. It has been good to really get into the Word through a book study. It has been a little while since I have done that. Our final month before moving out here was so hectic, I let my quiet time dwindle down to next to nothing. Thankfully, God has been teaching us a lot from His Word since we've been here. It's amazing how you can be spiritually revitalized when there is no TV around to distract you. Do TVs still exist? I was just curious because we've been a little out of touch with reality lately.

Thanks for the prayers and everything.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

In the Beginning

We have reached our destination in VA and have started our training. Everything is going well and the boys are having a lot of fun meeting new friends and playing sports everyday.

Here is our typical schedule (in my opinion):

  1. Get up way too early (and you still miss breakfast)
  2. Go to morning seminars
  3. Go to lunch
  4. Go to afternoon seminars
  5. Play with the kids for an hour or so
  6. Go to dinner between 5-6pm only (that's just crazy)
  7. Play basketball for an hour or so (not nearly long enough)
  8. Campus turns into a ghost town at 8pm sharp (weird, huh?)

That's basically our life for the next 7 weeks. The seminars are very informative and usually very challenging spiritually. I have already felt hugely inadequate to carry out the task set before us. I have said this over and over but I'll say it again: I am just a regular, common, ordinary person just like you. There is not one ounce of 'super-spirituality' in my whole being. I simply said, "I'll go where you send me Lord." Imagine if the Lord sent you half way around the world to make his name known to a people who have never heard. Think of how dwarfed you would feel from such an awesome responsibility. Now you are beginning to get a glimpse of what is going through our hearts and minds.

Here are a few things that we would ask you to pray for:

  • That we would fall deeper in love with the Lord Jesus than we ever have before.
  • That we would seek His face in earnest prayer everyday.
  • That we would weep over the lost like Jesus did.
  • That we would boldly share the message of the cross.

Thanks for caring.

music llamas listen to :)