Monday, December 21, 2009
Sorry we haven't posted since October. We have been busy. We finished up language school in November and returned to the US. We have been spending the past few weeks visiting churches, friends and family. We plan on spending Christmas with our family in the Roanoke area. Then we are headed to the Dominican Republic on January 13. We will keep you all posted.
Friday, October 9, 2009
La Carpio is a neighborhood of mostly immigrants in San Jose. It is a poor area streaming with young children. A few years ago, a Thursday afternoon children's ministry began to help minister in that area. Each trimester students from the Spanish Language Institute volunteer to be a part of that ministry. This trimester, I have had the opportunity to be a part of. The above pictures are of a few of the precious children that attend the program. The following link is a video about La Carpio that a former student of the Spanish Language Institute made. He is now serving as a missionary in Costa Rica and does some outreach ministries in La Carpio. Next week, I will be teaching a lesson at La Carpio in Spanish. So say a special prayer for me and the children of La Carpio. I'll update you again next week.
Saturday, October 3, 2009
Congratulations to Neil and Ashley and of course big sister Ava on the arrival of their newest family member. Harrison Ethan was born September 30 and weighed 7 pounds and 11 ounces. Ryan and Erin are proud to me Harrison's aunt and uncle and Micah is proud to be his big cousin.We look forward to meeting him when we visit the US this coming Holiday season. We are so thankful to God for Harrison and our family.
This past Saturday started out like a typical Saturday for our family. After off and on rain showers, Carlos came by to see if he could wash the car. Carlos is a Tican man that washes our car on a regular basis. He is deaf and unable to speak. He uses a little bit of sign language but communicates mostly with grunts and general hand motions. I looked to the sky, not wanting him to wash the car if it was about to rain, and noticed that the sun was burning away the darker clouds from the morning. “Okay, no rain for now,” I thought and nodded my head giving him permission to wash the car. Carlos smiled at Micah as he invited Micah to wash the car with him. “You’ll soak your tennis shoes! Go change them first,” I instructed Micah. Micah ran into the house to put on “car wash shoes.” I scrambled between assisting Micah with his shoe selection and helping Carlos hook up the water hose outside. I noticed that Carlos was looking at the sky but thought he too was trying to predict the weather. Carlos pointed to the sun. Our neighborhood guard, Luis glanced up at the sky, smiled and nodded. “Oh good,” I thought, “We all agree, it isn’t going to rain.” I returned to the house to see if Micah had finally made his shoe selection. When I came back outside, Luis and Carlos were still looking at the sky. I glanced up at the sky and then gave Micah the water hose. Carlos once again pointed to the sky and grunted “sol” which means sun. I grinned, happy to see the sun. But Carlos pointed again, this time handing me his sunglasses. I put on his glasses and looked at the sky again and noticed a perfect break in the clouds around the sun. “That’s neat,” I thought as I instructed Micah to put the water on the car not the sidewalk and gave Carlos his sunglasses back. Carlos joined Micah and they washed the car. A few moments later, Ryan came outside. Carlos stopped washing the car and pointed to the sky again. Ryan looked to the sky and exclaimed, “Wow, it’s a huge rainbow around the sun.” I looked to the sky and noticed what I now know is called a solar halo. There was a huge halo encircling the entire sun. Carlos had been trying to tell me but I had not listened. I had been too busy predicting rain, setting up the water hose, searching for the perfect pair of play shoes and telling my son what to do. I had missed it completely! I quickly got my camera and began taking pictures. The halo was so huge that I was unable to capture the entire circle on my camera, and minutes before, I had not even seen it! That day, God reminded me that many times we are so busy with our lives that we forget to look to the Son. Carlos repeatedly pointed me to the sky, but each time I missed it because I was preoccupied with trivial tasks. God is doing amazing things; we just have to slow down enough that we notice them. Usually His plans are so great we can’t even imagine what he may be doing. And when we finally see how is working, we are amazed that we didn’t see it before! Praise God for people like Carlos that help point us back to the Son when we get distracted by things less magnificent. And praise God for reminding me how great He is with Saturday’s solar halo!
Friday, September 4, 2009
Our vacation is officially over and we have been back to classes for a week now. During our vacation between the first and second trimesters, we had to renew our visas so we traveled back to the US. We enjoyed seeing family and friends but the trip seemed so short that we didn't really get to relax that much. Well this vacation break was two weeks long and we had some friends and family visit us! It was wonderful because we got to visit with friends and family, see some of Costa Rica, and relax! It was a much needed break. It was great how God used the time to refresh us in so many ways.
The first week of vacation began when we picked up Ryan's sister, and two of our best friends at the airport on Sunday. We got to enjoy one another's company in San Jose for about 24hours before we headed west to Punta Leona, a beach resort on the Pacific coast. My former teacher and friend, David offered us his grandparent's beach house for the week. So David, Daniel, Dana, Erin, Ryan, Micah and I spent the week in a house overlooking the Pacific ocean. It was a great time of relaxation with good friends.
The following week, Dana and Daniel returned to the US and Jeanie, my mother-in-law, came down for the week. We enjoyed hanging out in town while helping Erin, my sister-in-law, get settled into her new home and classroom here in Costa Rica. (Erin is now teaching 3rd grade at the Sojourn Academy, an international school located on the campus of the Spanish Language Institute (ILE)that we attend.) And with Micah occupied by his grandmother, Ryan and I had time to look forward to our approaching transition to the Dominican Republic.
During that same week, we also welcomed Andrew Butz to San Jose and to ILE. Andrew also wll be studying Spanish as he plans to work in the Dominican Republic (DR) with Eastern Dominican Christian Mission. His ministry focus in the DR will be a camp and conference center in the eastern portion of the country. We have had the opportunity to work with Andrew on a short term mission trip in the past and we look forward to being able to share this time with him while we are all in language school.
Near the end of our vacation, we gradually warmed up to the idea of returning to school by helping out with the new student orientation. The school welcomed a large group of students entering their first trimester at ILE. We are excited to get to know other students wanting to serve God in Latin America.
God allowed us to be renewed so we were able to enter our final trimester with excitement and a eagerness to learn everything we can in our last few months here in Costa Rica. What a nice vacation.
Monday, August 24, 2009
Saturday, August 15, 2009
We just completed our second of three trimesters in language school. Praise God! It really is amazing how quickly this past trimester has gone. I feel that we have learned a lot and sometimes I wonder where all the information will fit in my brain. Surely my brain has to be reaching its capacity! The greatest part is though classes ended Thursday, we live in Costa Rica, so everyday is a learning opportunity. Just this week, Ryan has had the opportunity to communicate with a mechanic (that's a whole different story) while I have had the opportunity to get to know our Tico neighbors. I feel the need to begin each conversation with an apology and warning, something like the following: "I am sorry. I am learning Spanish. Any way that I may slaughter the Spanish language in the following minutes is not intented to be offensive to you or any other Spanish speaker. Thank you for your patience." But I don't. I've learned that I CAN communicate, though not perfectly. I've learned that Ticos are wonderfully kind and patient. And I am thankful to God that they allow us to torture them with our terrible Spanish. So this weekend, we celebrate one more trimester down! One more trimester closer to serving the people of the Dominican Republic in a calling from God that we are honored to be answering. Please praise God with us for all He has done in our lives to make language learning rewarding and enjoyable. Continue to pray for us as we head into our final trimester, I believe it will be the most demanding one yet. And please pray for our new home in the Dominican Republic. Pray that God is preparing the way for us in the details of our anticipated arrival, as well as in the hearts of the people we will have the opportunity to serve along side of and minister to.
Tuesday, August 4, 2009
Ryan just pointed out to me that it has been over a month since I posted anything on the blog. For those of you that may be following us, I am sorry! This month has flown by. So I decided to just give you all a quick run down of some of the things happening in our lives. We began this month by celebrating Micah's 3rd birthday. A few of our friends got together at a nearby park and had a fun time together. Of course there was cake and icecream but we also had a pinata, a very Latin tradition. It was tons of fun and we were blessed by the fellowship and gifts that our friends shared that day. We also had a treacherous adventure to Sarchi, a nearby town known for its handycafts. However, the brakes on our "new" car went out on us and we spent the day at a mechanic's shop in Grecia (a little town 15 minutes from Sarchi) while praising God for his protection and provisions. (More details in our July newsletter) Since we had promised Micah a fun day, we spent a little bit of time playing baseball in Grecia's townsquare and eating icecream before heading back down to San Jose with our new brakes! Later in July, we had the opportunity to enjoy a birthday party of another friend. Micah and all the guests were thrilled to have inflatable games to play in. What a party! Then the department of health closed down all schools and child care centers in order to prevent a furture spread of the Swine Flu. But our language school did not close. So Ryan and I spent the week taking turns watching Micah while the other was in class. Though a week without childcare made our schedule hectic, I enjoyed being able to spend the days with Micah again. I am looking forward to settling down in the Dominican Republic when my role as a mother will once again consume most of my day. Then just at the end of the month, we had to leave the country for 72 hours to renew our visas. We decided to zip over to St. Petersburg, FL for a long weekend and got to enjoy the beach, Busch Gardens and shopping with some of our family. Ryan got to celebrate his birthday a little early with Dairy Queen Cake and pizza by the pool in Florida! Once back in Costa Rica, we celebrated Ryan's birthday with our housekeeper, Marta. Ryan and Marta share a birthday. We had a little cake and exchanged some small gifts after lunch that day. All this happened while spending each week in classes studying Spanish. (which continues to progress little by little, some days better than others! ) I am thankful to God for how He continues to provide for us, not only our needs but many of our desires. What a busy wonderful month!
Saturday, June 27, 2009
Since the rainy season is now here, it has made our life a little more difficult. The short walks to the grocery store, or to catch a cab to nearby shopping are now complicated by timing the trip to avoid torrential down pours. Though MANY people live like this, we have been praying that a affordable opportunity would arise for us to own a car. And God blessed us. A missionary associated with the school was returning to the states and wanted to sell his car and at a great price. So we are now proud owners of a 1992 Ford Explorer! We look forward to the convenience of life with a car again! We also are grateful that we already have a buyer for when we leave Costa Rica for the same price we paid! Praise God for helping meet not only our needs but our desires too.
We had a wonderful Culture day at school on Friday, June 19. The teacher’s shared with us about the tradition of the local “Turno” or carnival and how they are a large part of the Tican culture. Ryan and his grammar teacher, Francisco started the events off with a LOUD fireworks display as is traditional in all turnos. The fireworks were followed up by the commencement of carnival type games complete with our teachers as “carnies”. It was a great day to spend having fun with the staff and students at school without the stress of studying Spanish.
Monday, June 15, 2009
We celebrated our 6th wedding anniversary last night by going to a wonderful Peruvian restaurant called Inka Grill. We enjoyed delicious food and the company of one another. I thank God for my husband, whom leads our family to follow God's will in our lives. I couldn't be happier and plan to spend many more years serving God with my beloved Ryan. Happy Anniversary to us! :)
Saturday, May 30, 2009
Ok, in the states I am sure someone would sue for this, but we are in Latin America....not going to happen. This really is just a short blog about how life is a little different here than in good old Virginia. I went to a nearby pulperia (small grocery store) earlier today to buy a coke and a gatorade to replenish my depleated system (I have been sick for about a week). I reached my hand in the very normal looking refrigerator, the kind that you find full of cokes, pepsi's, and other sodas at a Stop-in or something. But when I put my hand in the fridge, I got shocked!! That's right, something shocked me and I jolted backwards! Simaltaneously the lights to two full fridges went out and the same time. After coming to (ok, it wasn't that bad), I looked inside the fridge and low and behold there were the electric wires for the fridge sticking out off the side of the fridge. Uncovered, contacted and exposed!! I had scrapped the wires with my pinky finger and received my first shock from a refrigerator!!! Hey, just part of being a missionary in a different country I guess.
Well, we have entered into the rainy season in Costa Rica, and it is just that. Evidently the rainy season begins in May and goes through October, progressively getting worse each month. Right now it is beautiful in the mornings and then gets cloudy about midday. Then it rains all afternoon and usually into the night. I asked our empleada "house-keeper" how she lives during the rainy season because this much rain is new to me. She laughed and responded with the word "Mojado," which means "wet." She said that you just take your umbrella everywhere and just expect to be wet all the time. Therefore, that is what we do. Everyday after class, we bundle up in our rain jackets with hoods, our waterproof covered stroller and make a run for it to our house, which is about a 20 minute walk from our school. Praise God for the rain and the good it does for our earth. However, it will take some getting used to for us Gringos that are not used to living in the rain.
Wednesday, April 8, 2009
Here in Costa Rica (and in most of Latin America) this week is called "Semana Santa," or Holy Week. There are numerous celebrations, parades and parties all throughout the country. However, many of the festivities are fueled by the Roman Catholic Church, which puts more emphasis on the death of Jesus than on the resurrection. Many times they leave Jesus on the cross. I pray that this week is a "Holy Week" for you. A special week in which you remember what Jesus did for you on that cross. But don't leave Him there. He is ALIVE! Jesus esta vivo! He is alive and He lives in me!! Amen! Praise God! Thank you Jesus!
Monday, April 6, 2009
Saturday, April 4, 2009
Sunday, March 29, 2009
Tuesday, March 24, 2009
Costa Rica has many wonderful things to see. They have cloudforests with thousands of animals, cities with dozens of museums, and beaches with beautiful water and wild monkeys. That's right, white-faced monkeys roam freely on the beach as if you are invading their space. Near the end of February, we had the opportunity to take Micah to Manuel Antonio, one of the closest white sand beaches in Costa Rica. Manuel Antonio is very popular and very touristy. Along with a beautiful public beach, Manuel Antonio has a National Parque that offers visitors the chance to see various types of animals. We decided to take Micah into the National Parque since we both love monkeys so much. On our short hike through the park we so several sloths, butterflies and a Jesus-lizard (it gets it's name because it walks on water).
The walk was great, but the 3 private beaches inside the park were what we were really there for. These beaches are beautiful white sand beaches with beautiful blue water dangling on the edge of a rain forest and are less populated than the public beach. Micah played in the sand and water with several of his friends from school all day long! At one point, the infamous white-faced monkeys begin strolling the beach and looking for things to steal. That's right, they walk directly over your towel and steal any food that you have lying out. Then the beach racoons came walking down the beach followed by the massive lizards. Talk about wildlife, this place is truly a paradise. Praise God for the opportunity to relax and play in the sand with Micah.
Monday, March 23, 2009
Monday-Friday we leave our house shortly after 7:00. On a good morning, we are out by 7:15 and we enjoy a leisure 5-10 minute stroll to school. We drop Micah off at his school first. After tearful good byes, Ryan and I head up the hill to the other side of campus where we begin our day's work. We don't punch a clock and our teacher's don't even seem to care if we are a few minutes late, but don't underestimate the task that lies ahead each day. From the moment we enter the classroom, our focus is LEARN SPANISH. We listen to Spanish, read in Spanish and try our best to speak Spanish. Our teachers have gotten a bit more ridgid since they welcomed us less than three months ago because they too understand the task at hand. We MUST learn Spanish. In order to function in our daily lives, it is necessary. Whether giving directions to a cab driver, talking to Micah's teachers, or meeting people at church, it is necessry. But that is just our day to day living. In order to answer God's call in our lives to minister to the people of the Dominican Republic, it is most necessary.
Saturday, March 7, 2009
Ryan and I enjoyed a beautiful evening with some friends high atop the mountains of Costa Rica at a wonderful restaurant, Ram Luna. We enjoyed fine dining and local music and dance. I even got roped into participating in a traditional dance. It was wonderful for us to leave our son with a trusted babysitter and have the time to enjoy one another. Our friends, that we dined with are also missionaries. We enjoyed hearing about the passion God has written on their hearts to serve the people of Central America, as we had the opportunity to share our heart for the people of the Dominican Republic. It's amazing how God used that one night to refresh and renew us. It also allowed us to see how God is preparing us and others to serve as missionaries throughout Latin America. We praise God for our date night!
Saturday, February 14, 2009
Wednesday, January 28, 2009
We've finally settled into our daily routine here in Costa Rica. On Monday through Friday, mornings are occupied with language classes. My first two classroom hours are spent in a classroom with a beautiful view of the mountains that surround us here in Costa Rica's central valley. It's nice that they remind me of the view of the mountains from our old house in Roanoke. And I am thankful that God has allowed us this year here to learn Spanish while living in such a beautiful place. Micah is usually wiped out in the early afternoon so he takes a nap. Since it is culturally acceptable to take an afternoon siesta, Ryan and I also participate on occassion! (We want to take in as much of the culture as we can, right!?!) When not taking a siesta, we use the uninterupted time to study and do homework. The afternoons are my favorite part of the day. We usually take some sort of outing. Since we live within walking distance of quite a few parks, we enjoy meeting other students and thier families and our Tico neighbors at the nearby playgrounds. Other afternoons are spent walking to the grocery store, local bakery or taking a taxi to nearby shopping. (We've discovered that Micah's stroller doubles as a shopping cart for the walk home. If it's a long walk home, Micah gets to ride on Daddy's shoulders.) We haven't ventured downtown yet but look forward to the many museums and other local attractions the downtown area has to offer.
Micah and Ryan walking to church It's a humble life. Our life in Costa Rica is at a much slower pace than that which we knew in the US. Our life now allows most afternoons to include a little boy to play game of soccer with his daddy. Our life now allows family trips to the grocery store. Our life now allows time for reading and reflection. I am thankful to God that this is my life. I am glad that this is where are am right now, learning what He is teaching me and doing what He would have me to do. It's the coolest feeling to be right in the middle of where God wants you to be. I am praying that you are experiencing that in your life, and if you are not, I pray that you will seek God and discover where He would have you to be and what He would have you to do. Whether it's in Virginia, Siberia, the Dominican Republic or Costa Rica, it's the best place in the world.
Here are some pictures of some of our everyday outings and adventures.My handyman and his little helper fixing the bed Micah's discovery of the tiniest gecko I've ever seen.
Ryan, Micah and our neighbor's little girl having a snack. A game of basketball after church. The biggest one and the littlest one belong to me.
The playground at Micah's preschool
Saturday, January 17, 2009
This week we completed our first entire week of classes at ILE. It has been at least 10 years since I attended school five days a week so the schedule was the biggest adjustment for me. Ryan teased me that naps were as much part of my day as they were Micah's! Ryan and I tested at different levels so we are not in the same classes. Ryan's more advanced placement required his language learning to begin with total language immersion (no English). Since I am just a beginner, my teachers try to speak only Spanish until they see vacant eyes returning their glances and then offer enough English to return us back to the same planet they are teaching from. I might be accused of being a nerd for saying this, but I have really enjoyed the classes. It is just enough of a struggle to be challenging but not so much as to feel overwhelmed. Through the ILE staff, God is blessing us in meeting us right where we are in preparing us to speak Spanish. Praise God for that! Language learning was my greatest concern, and God is alleviating my fears.
Today is Saturday and we are not in classes today. Today our language study will not occur within the walls of a hill top campus, but rather while visiting with our neighbors. We have plans to visit the local market and to see a little more of what life is like in our little area of Costa Rica. So. . . Adios. . . for now.
In His love and service,
Tuesday, January 13, 2009
I first want to apologize for not having posted anything since Thursday's earthquake. We are fine as well as all the others attending the Spanish Language Institute or ILE. Micah and I rode out the earthquake while in the bathroom, which actually turned out to be a very safe place to be. Ryan was nearby and since he was standing actually rode out the waves while the tremors endured. Though kinda shook up, no pun intended, it was not until later that evening that we became aware of the magnitude of the earthquake and the devastation it caused in nearby areas. Praise God for keeping us safe. I want to take a moment to ask you all to please pray for those that were not as fortunate as us. Parts of Costa Rica, close enough to be visible from our hill top campus, were devastated by the earthquake. Last I heard 14 bodies have been recovered with still 23 people reported missing. Today they have scaled back the recovery with the unsettling reality that those still missing are probably dead. Please pray for those that are trying to rebuild what they may have lost during the earthquake and even more so for those that are mourning the loss of a family member or friend.
Monday, January 5, 2009
We arrived in Costa Rica on Saturday and spent the weekend getting settled in . We've had the opportunity to meet a few new friends already and are looking forward to our time spent here. Our neighbors, Alison and Justin and our big brother and sister, Jason and Lindsey have been great in helping with our transition. Our house is more than we expected and we are settling in to make it a home. We are located in a safe neighborhood located near the school. Micah and Ryan have enjoyed scouting out the neighborhood with their walking adventures. We attended an orientation for Micah's preschool today. He had a chance to meet a few friends and he was excited to see the playground and toys. Our orientation for classes begins tomorrow. We are excited to begin classes but a bit nervous too. We have already began to miss our friends and family and are sure they are missing us too. We are thankful for the Internet so we have been able to communicate with them even though we are not close by. I am amazed at how small the world can be made to see with air travel and the Internet. God continues to provide for us and we are blessed to be able to serve him in Costa Rica. Please continue to pray for our family as we look forward to what God has in store for us.