Saturday, September 22, 2012

Random Thoughts

Today I thought I would share some random thoughts and pictures of things that we have found quite humorous, unique or never put much thought into before.

Thought 1 - Like today as I was braking ice out of ice trays, I thought back to the good ol' days when there were no ice makers and ice trays were all we had.

How many of you remember getting out a few pieces of ice and since there were more than half left, you put the tray back in the freezer, only to have your parents yell out later, "Who put the ice tray back without refilling it?"

Okay, so you don't, but I do. And oh, how I loved ice makers when they made their appearance!!

Needless to say, we have always had one since we were married.

I really didn't think about it too much until we arrived here in Costa Rica and Matthew saw this on the counter...

... and he said to me, "Oh, look at the cool egg thingy!" Hahahaha!

Thought 2 - Another thing we have found interesting is the wording of things, like this packet of Yipy!
They are vanilla creme wafers covered in chocolate...

...or as the package states...

"Chocolate enrobed wafer filled with vanilla creme." Ooh, Laa, Laa!! That just sounds more delicious!

Thought 3 - Speaking of food, it can get expensive here, especially if you buy North American products.

And if you love Maple Syrup, you better bring a small fortune with you because...

...the exchange here is 500 colones to $1 here, so that means this costs you $32 for 16oz!!!

Thought 4 - And the fruit here is amazing to say the least. The mangos, baby bananas and state it like we southerners do..."make you want to slap your momma!"

We have found a most interesting of fruits here called the...

Mamones Chinos (mem-MO-nays), or Chinese Suckers, are pit fruits whose skins are covered with soft red spines. You may have heard them called by the name lychee. Lychees or Mamones Chinos are slightly sweet, not very acidic, and have a chewy texture similar to that of a peeled grape. Their subtle flavor is addictive. The spiny skins are fun to peel into and resemble the seed pod of a Gum tree. Sold in big bags by street vendors, Mamones have unique taste that is not soon forgotten.

Personally, I will stick with the name our friends here have given them...Alien fruit!! It works and everyone know what you are referring to when you say it.

Aren't they cool looking? And we love them. Now you kinda have to chew them around the pit and spit that part out, but we sure do look funny when we are eating them. Kinda like those chewing tobacco in the south. ;D

Thought 5 - And speaking of more food, not all food here is expensive. In fact, some things are less expensive and definitely more fun to buy.

I have already shared about visiting La Feria, the open market, but let me show you what we buy there.

And this is just a sample. But Saturday morning at 7am, taking a walk to La Feria, to visit the vendors and buy these goodies is alot of fun. In fact, even Malachi woke up early this morning just to go back again this week.

We purchased a 5lb. bag of potatoes, 7 limes, 2 heads of lettuce, 3 huge pineapples, 5 avocados, another huge bag of apples, a bunch of cilantro, and a whole mess of green beans, all for around $20.

Thought 6 - Sometimes accidents happen and last week was one of those funny accidents. We were in our phonetics class and it was raining.

Imagine that! Raining in CR during rainy season! Shocker!

Anyway, our teacher was trying to tell us something and we couldn't hear her, so without turning to look, I reached back with my hand to tap Scott and shush him.

What I didn't know was that he had just grabbed his coffee to take a sip and I inadvertently...well, just see for yourself.

Yes, the picture was re-enacted for your benefit. But everyone in class got a good laugh out of it, especially about the spoon that was in the cup that stuck to Scott's shirt. :D

Last thought - We are experiencing life as we never have before from the crazy moments, to the hard days of Spanish-only classes, to the evenings of 6 people with homework, to the early rising sun @ 5 am and setting at 5 pm every day.

Moments like when my children wake up, literally at the crack of dawn, waking me up laughing and playing at 5:30 prompting my whispered yelling that I "never, ever want to hear laughter at 5:30 in the morning again!"

Those are the moments to remember and laugh about...later, in fact...much later.

Just like the times we are wiped out and feel like it is midnight only to look at the clock and discover is is just 7:30pm.

Most weekdays we collapse exhausted in the bed like we have found Matthew several times.

But each weekend, we are able to sleep in...a little, and refresh ourselves in preparation for a new week with new lessons and experiences to learn.

And these are the random thoughts from this past week.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Happy Tears!

Today I shed some happy tears!

I was able to experience something most people never get to see.

We had the opportunity, after school, to ride with Bill from Latin America Child Care (LACC) which just happens to share a gated entrance with our school (CINCEL) to visit one of the LACC schools in the San Jose area.

Los Guido LACC School is outside the city and up the mountain a little way.

LACC is one of the ministries that we get to help with in Venezuela.

One of the opportunities provided through LACC is for you in North America or wherever you live, to sponsor a child to attend an LACC school. Just like you would through Compassion International or other such organization, you get to pick a child that you will help to cover their costs to attend school and not only learn educationally, but be provided a way out of a continuous cycle of poverty.

Scott and I sponsored a little girl in Haiti through Compassion International, from the time she was 5 until she turned 20 and graduated from the program and moved on to college. We had the chance to go and visit her once when we were first married and didn't made me wish I had.

When we first arrived, Bill took us to one class in particular and had a young boy brought out. He spoke with him for a few moments and introduced him to our new friends, Randy, Lynne and their daughter, Jennifer.

I thought it was strange for a moment until I realized what was happening right before my eyes.

Randy and Lynne's friends in Washington state sponsor little Josue and they brought a letter with a picture of this family and hand-delivered it directly to Josue.

Then out of Lynne's bag, she pulled a large red and blue soccer ball that was a gift from this family to Josue.

He stood there kinda shy and shocked, and simply asked if the ball was his to keep.

As I stood there with tears welling up in my eyes or sweating eyes, whichever you prefer, I couldn't believe the opportunity that I had been given to witness this amazing moment.

This precious little boy, who probably has very little, just had someone take the time to bring a special letter and gift to him, all the way from another country to show him how much he is loved and cared for by people he may never get to meet.

What a God-ordained moment!

I don't think Josue will ever forget that gift! I know I surely won't!

And of course there were the funny moments today when the little kids thought that Scott's head was too funny in its state of bald!!

It was like rubbing the genie's lantern. They all took a turn rubbing the bald man's head!

Scott kept asking, "Donde esta mi pelo?" or "Where is my hair?"

The kids just giggled and rubbed it some more. He shaved this morning, so his head was soft and smooth to the touch. 

He is definitely glad he chose to shave this morning for such a simple, yet special moment for these little ones who have so little and so few opportunities for silly fun.

Another thing we won't forget anytime soon. I pray these children won't either!

And more happy tears fall as I think about the 5 days each week that they are in this wonderful LACC school where they get to hear about our Savior, Jesus, and the new life and hope that only HE can bring to their lives!

Here's a link to find out more about LACC, click here.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Cultural Nuances or...Things that Make You Go "Hmmmm"

Today I experienced a first.

I guess it would be one of those cultural things that make you scratch your head a little.

Anyway, I just have to share it with you.

We needed a few things from Price Smart, so we headed that way.

Now, Price Smart is like a BJ's, Sam's Club or Costco. In fact, it is owned by Costco, so it reminds us of home.

They normally offer samples like Tiramisu cookies (which are delicious) and little cups of freshly ground and brewed coffee.

But today was a first!

I have never seen in any store a sample like I saw today.

Let me just give you a picture...actually I am going to show you a picture.

Yes, you saw that right.

They were offering samples of COORS LIGHT BEER!!!

As I walked by, I thought they were offering the juice that was stacked right beside the sample table.

But alas, I was wrong.

Not only did I see the sample table, but I saw a wonderful mother holding her toddler, take a swig and then offer her child a drink!!

I have to say, this was a first for me! I'm sure the people didn't know what to think of the woman walking through the store with her mouth dragging the floor and tripping over buggies in my shock.

Of course, Scott had to find his own unique item.

If you can't read it, it is Budweiser BBQ sauce?!

Look, I understand some of the cultural issues like throwing your used toilet paper in the trash can. When the pipes are so small, then you don't want to constantly be plunging your toilet because of clogged paper.

Although I constantly remind myself, "Throw the paper in the trash. Throw the paper in the trash." It still somehow ends up in the toilet!!

I have been throwing it in the toilet for almost 34 years. (I figure I was potty-trained around 2.)

GIMME A BREAK PEOPLE! It is hard to re-train some things.

But back to my point. Toilet paper in the trash is one thing. Giving people free beer samples...really?

I guess that is just one of those...Things that make you go "Hmmmmm!"

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Costa Rica's Independence Day

Today is Independence Day here in Costa Rica.

It actually started yesterday as the children lit their "faroles" or lanterns and marched through the street commemorating the march for liberty back in the 1800's.

The children make their own faroles. Some of them really do a fantastic job (or at least their parents do), and others (like our kids) buy the paper ones with the LED lights in them. At schools around the country, they win prizes for their faroles.

We heard the stories and sang the national anthem, both in our Spanish Chapel and again last night at our children's school as they began the celebration.

We all wore the country colors, which just happen to match our own in the US.

Scott wore his Captain America shirt proclaiming he was "Captain Costa Rica." :D

Some of our new friends and staff at CINCEL wore traditional clothes and danced a broom dance for us.

Today as we walked back from La Feria (the open market), we spotted one of many parades around the country with all the beautiful costumes and dances and of course the drums! I didn't have my camera for that one, so I can't share any pictures. They are all in my head.

Below is an excerpt from another person's blog describing some of the celebration

Although September 15th is Costa Rica’s official date to recognize its independence from Spain in 1821, festivities begin on the 14th when a runner carries the “freedom” torch from Nicaragua to Panama.  (This re-enactment commemorates the historic event when a runner ran from border to border notifying the people of Costa Rica of their liberation.)  By 6:00 PM, the runner arrives in Cartago (the capital city at the time independence was granted) where it is welcomed by the president of the country.  At precisely 6:00 PM, the entire country comes to a halt as all TV and radio stations broadcast the anthem and young and old alike join in singing along in a burst of patriotism whether at home, standing on a street corner, riding a bus or watching TV.  Following the anthem, sirens announce the beginning of the parade of faroles, homemade lanterns symbolizing the original torch. The faroles are family projects and vary greatly – some resemble houses, others look like globes and others appear to be lantern-like – but all are carried proudly.  Following the parade, children in typical costumes perform traditional dances in the school and then the fireworks begin.  (No celebration in Costa Rica is complete without fireworks!)  Another parade takes place on the morning of the 15th and those of us in the barrio who live along the parade route make sure our homes are decorated with flags and banners.

All in all today was fun and an experience to remember! What a way to end our first full week here in CR.

And we get Monday off since the celebration continues through the weekend and into Monday!


I will be sleeping in on Monday, since I have been getting up earlier than I ever have before in my life.

Maybe I can catch up on a little lost sleep....or maybe not. :D

Feliz día de la independencia, Costa Rica...our home for the next year!!

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Shopping Costa Rica style!

We have been in CR all of 3 days and we have had quite the shopping experiences.

First, on Thursday, we were allowed one member of the family to go to Walmart to buy groceries for the family. We had one hour and one ride. Next time we will have to take a taxi or ride the bus and carry our groceries back home the same way.

So, Scott was elected to be the shopper as he has been doing that for the last several months. We made up a list and he tried to find it all in that short hour. 

Needless to say, he came home with quite a few items missing from the list.

Second, on Friday, we took a bus ride with our entire new group and went downtown to shop at Universal. They are more of a specialty store with the entire upstairs laid out with toys, games and books. Downstairs was mostly school supplies, electronics and make-up counters. They were pricey, but a very nice, clean store. There was nothing out of place, even in the toy section. 

Matthew would have been thrilled with the selection of Legos, but what we would have paid $12-$15 in the US, was more like $42 there. Oh, are we glad that we brought a footlocker full of legos!!

We went to lunch downtown and had chicken lasagna which was tremendous. (I may not lose any weight here if I keep eating like I am right now!) ;D

Third, we were given an opportunity to go school supply shopping at El Rey. They were much cheaper than Universal and we moms looked like we were playing bumper cars with our buggies as we dodged in and out of aisles trying to find what we needed in as short a time as possible, so as not to keep Missionary Josh (who so graciously volunteered to take us) away from his family too long (and the Mexico vs. Costa futbol game that evening). ;D

Fourth, on Saturday morning, bright and early, the men again took off for another shopping trip. This time they went to the open market, La Feria, to purchase all our fresh fruits and veggies. Scott bought us carrots, tomatoes, lettuce, potatoes, yucca, cucumbers, green beans, avocados, plantains, baby bananas, oranges, mangos, black beans and garlic all for around $30. Scott said it was about 60lbs. of food. WOW! That will definitely be a weekly trip. 

When he returned, Missionary Josh decided to take our entire family to Price Smart, our local Costco affiliate, to get our membership there, as well as a cake for Matthew’s birthday. We were able to completely stock up on all the bulk items we needed for such a large family and bring them back in his van instead of trying to take two taxis (which we would need to accommodate our large family and all our groceries back home.)

We were able to spend a little time with Josh, his wife April and their three kids and enjoy a delicious pizza lunch and celebrate Matthew’s birthday with cake and icing that made all our teeth blue! :D

Lastly, yesterday afternoon, I walked with a group of CINCEL newbies and some of the veterans to Pequeno Mundo and Auto Marcado to see what they had to offer. They are both within walking distance so no bus or taxi is needed, although a good rolling cart is great to have for carrying home the heavy loads. They are both great stores that are not too expensive and we will find ourselves there more so than Walmart, although I still can’t believe there is a Walmart here. 

I actually found a cart for very cheap, bought it and carried my few purchases home. There really wasn’t enough to be too heavy, but we started out our walk with a drizzle and ended in a downpour. 

Needless to say, my waterproof rain jacket is only water-resistant and apparently not too resistant to downpours of that type! So I got a little wet...soaked to be exact. I sorta looked like a drowned rat/hunchback of Notre dame as my backpack purse was on my back under the jacket. Did I also fail to mention that my jacket is bright orange? I’m sure I was quite a sight walking the streets of San Jose! 

I feel quite “shopped” out at this point and ready to rest at home for a few days. Hopefully all the bulk buying will keep us well-fed for a little while so we can take a shopping break. 

Who would have thought anybody would ever need a break from shopping? ;D

...although, we still need to visit a local butcher that we have heard about who is cheap and clean and the local artisan shops for inexpensive gifts. 

Now...if we just had extra spending money!! ;D

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Willing to Wait

Today has finally arrived! The day we thought would never come.

We are on our way to Costa Rica right this minute. In fact, as I type this, we are sitting at our Gate in Miami waiting to board our flight to CR.

I have had a story on my heart that I have wanted to share with you for several days. The initial thought came on Friday morning and in the final packing, I actually discovered more details about the story I am sharing below.

So, here I am, sharing this with you. Mainly, because someone out there needs to hear this. I don't know who, but you know who you are and God wants you to hear from Him today. This doesn't mean that I am prophetic by any stretch of the imagination, just that I feel so urgent about sharing this that I feel that only God would put this urgency in my spirit. Maybe....I needed to hear this.

Okay, so enough with that.

The story surrounding Abraham and Ishmael has always left a very deep impression on me. I don't know if it is because of the troubles in the Middle East today due to Abraham's decision, or because he took another woman into his bedroom, or because he tried to make a promise of God happen in his time.

Let me say that one again, he tried to make a promise of God happen in HIS time, not God's.

God had promised Abraham a son. He had promised that he would be the father of nations, and his descendants would be more numerous than the stars in the sky and the sands of the sea.

Yet, God made him wait. Oh, that dreaded word we all hate...WAIT!!

In fact, he waited 25 years for the promise to be fulfilled.

But, in the meantime, Abraham felt that God was taking too long and he was tired of waiting.

So, he did what we all tend to do at times, he tried to help God out. How many of us have tried to help God out? Because obviously He is not working fast enough for us! (sarcasm)

Let me just write out what I am trying to say here: WE ARE NOT RESPONSIBLE TO HELP GOD FULFILL A PROMISE THAT HE HAS GIVEN TO US!! Yes, we need to be proactive and not sit with our arms crossed waiting on God to bring everything to our doorstep. But as we do what we know to do, HE will do what HE needs to do and all the details will fall into place.

I Thess. 5:24 says, "Faithful is He who has called you and He will do it." He will do what He has said he will do. It means that we should let Him work out the details in His timing and WAIT on Him to fulfill His promises in our life.

Now you may be wondering what triggered all this.

Well...God reminded me of an incident that occurred in 2004. I have not thought about this for many years, but it came back to me all of a sudden on Friday morning as I was preparing for my final test to become certified in ministry.

In 2004, we had a man named Gerald Davis come to our house from Terminix. We conversed with a little small talk and then he said something to me...

He talked about how he had never met Scott, but he felt strangely connected to him, knew he was a hard worker and he saw us in children's ministry, not our own! ;D

And then he said the strangest thing. He said that God was going to bring in financial blessings from all directions. He specifically stated he saw it coming from the north, south, east and west.

After he left, I wrote down what he said, and over the years I have come across the notes several times. I have often wondered what was meant by those words, but one thing I knew very clearly in my spirit...

If the Word was from God, at some point it would come to pass. 
If it was not from God, then it wouldn't happen. 
It is as simple as that.

So, I have waited and waited some more. And every time I have run across those notes, I have wondered if and when those words would ever take place.

One thing I didn't do (at least this time) was get ahead of God. He sent me a Word and I waited (again, a once-in-a-blue-moon event) for it to come to pass.

And on Friday morning it hit me like a lead balloon or a brick wall, whichever you choose.

It was a Word from God and it did come to pass!!

Of all the different thoughts and ideas I have had over the last 8 years about what those words could possibly mean or be about, I would have never thought they meant what ultimately has come to pass.

Had I tried to "make" that Word come to pass, I would have screwed it up and possibly even missed God completely.

Instead, we are sitting here with 100% of our support, cash and monthly, waiting to board the plane for  our flight to Costa Rica for language studies.

And those funds...

Those monthly commitments...

Those cash love offerings...

...they ALL came from the North, South, East & West!

God is faithful and His Word never fails!

Are we going to try and "make" His promises happen in our time?

Or are we willing to wait on His timing for His promises to be revealed?

His Timing is Perfect & Today is our Proof Positive!!