Monday, April 27, 2009

El Buen Samaritano/Samaritan's Purse

So, we went to Las Fuentes on Saturday. Las Fuentes is a little community where Cailah will be working with the church. The little church there seems vibrant and holistic, the pastor is humble and being used incredibly by the Lord--everything from new roads to miraculous healings--but that's another story.

Saturday, we were invited to join them for a kids party as they passed out 100+ shoe boxes from Samaritan's Purse--you know, the ones you've perhaps filled and sent at Christmas time for children in less fortunate countries. . .Let me make a couple of initial observations: 1. It is way past Christmas, but that didn't seem to matter (they passed some out then, too, as I understand; these were leftovers, or something). 2. The variety of what is put in those boxes is amazing--I encourage you to fill them well, if at all. 3. The "Boys 10-14 Years" category is the least popular to buy for, so I recommend that you please choose that group and let everyone else buy all the cute preschool girl stuff--because it was the only group for which there were more children than boxes. However, I will say that they worked it out and everybody shared.

That said, they had clowns that gave a message about our worth b/c God made us, a puppet show about being kind, a couple of go-up-in-front-of-the-crowd games (which Olivia participated in!), and hot dogs.

From Las Fuentes

Then they did the box giveaway, by gender and age. Girls 2-4 were called first. I have a daughter who is 4. Can you see where this is going? I had no idea how to navigate this. I had told Olivia that the boxes were going to be for the kids at the church and that I didn't know if she'd get one b/c there might not be enough. Pastor Gilbert had said when he invited us that they'd have a box for Olivia and Sawyer as well, which we politely said wasn't necessary. But, really, how do you explain to a 4 and a 2 year old that everyone else gets a box, but not them? Was I supposed to say that these kids were "poor" and that's why they got a box? Was I going to tell mine that they were NOT poor, that they already had lots of toys, that their grandparents had just come from the states and so they already had LOTS more things than they needed? I could have, and some of you might think I SHOULD have. And we will. We have in other contexts. Olivia understands that some people have less things than she does, that some people don't eat food every day. But this is what stopped me from insisting that my children not get shoe boxes on Saturday: Olivia and (especially) Sawyer have no idea that they are different than the kids in Las Fuentes, other than being blond, and that they speak English better than Spanish. WHY WOULD I RUIN THAT??? Why would I draw one more line in the sand separating my kids from these kids? Why highlight for the Las Fuentes Kids more differences than necessary? In the end I figured it was better to not make a big deal and to just let my kids be part of the group. In an ideal world, that's how it would be. In an ideal world there wouldn't be a reason for the Las Fuentes Kids to receive shoe boxes from the US. I figured their innocence will be lost soon enough.

So, if you happen to be someone who sends those shoe boxes, thank you, and if you are offended, I'm sorry; I'm sure situations like Saturday don't happen often. And if our presence in the community makes a difference at all (thinking long-term), then I hope you'll see those 2 shoe boxes as a worthy sacrifice. If it makes you feel better, we shared most of Sawyer's box, because boxes for the 5-9 Boys group were a little scarce, too. I welcome all comments on what others would have done in this situation, by the way!! :)
From Las Fuentes
Aiyla, watching girls open their boxes

All in all, it was a fun, albeit somewhat awkward (for me), morning. We love the things that God is doing in that Las Fuentes and are excited to be a part of it. Please pray for Cailah when you think of it, as she begins a ministry site alongside Pastor Gilbert, Pastora Araceli and their daughter, Madeline. Some of the possibilities include English classes, visiting the sick and elderly, computer classes, and children and youth programs.
From Las Fuentes

Cailah with Pastor Gilbert and daughter, Madeline

One Thing

We are often asked what is different about living in Costa Rica or what has been difficult to adjust to. We are learning to adjust our expectations of what we will be able to accomplish in a given day. Life and life's tasks simply take longer. So instead of having a lengthy list of things to do in a day I am thinking, "What one thing do I need to get done today?" Beyond that, what things do I hope to get to today? For example blog and respond to emails have been on my "hope to" list for the last several days and now when I am done blogging I hope to answer and send email.

A good example of things taking longer is paying bills. When we lived in California I would pour myself a cup of coffee, walk to the computer and pay our bills on-line. All in all it would take 10 - 15 minutes (including making the coffee!). Now here is my current bill paying process:

1. Go to the ATM machine to get cash.
2. Wait at least a day and then go and get cash again at the ATM machine (Do to daily withdrawal limits I need to go twice).
3. Go into the bank to pay rent (we deposit it into our landlord's account). However, first the teller needs to change the Colones I withdrew from the ATM into Dollars. I could withdraw Dollars from the ATM, but due to our residency requirements we need to show we are changing a certain amount of money from Dollars to Colones each month. If we were to draw the money out in Dollars it wouldn't count and we wouldn't meet our required amount. So in a matter of minutes I change Dollars to Colones at the ATM machine and then from Colones to Dollars at the bank window.
4. While at the bank pay water and electricity.
5. Go to the grocery store where there is a bill pay center to pay cable, internet, and phone.

Total time 1 - 4 hours depending on the length of lines at the bank and bill pay center (not counting the two trips to the ATM machine).


A couple of weeks ago while Tracey's parents were here visiting we took a few days and went to Volcan Arenal. It is an amazing volcano with an almost perfect cone shape. We were reminded yet again that we are privileged to live in an incredibly beautiful country! We had a great time exploring a new place and spending time together. There are numerous hot springs in the area, beautiful waterfalls, the largest lake in Costa Rica, and we visited a butterfly garden where we enjoyed seeing various butterflies, sloths, birds, and cayman crocodiles.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Sprng Newsletter

We just emailed out our Spring 2009 newsletter. The hard copies to those of you who prefer them or for whom we don't have email addresses will go out in the next couple of days. Here is the link to download it in case you did not receive it.

You can also access our newsletters on the right side of our blog.

If you did not receive an email with the newsletter and would like to in the future please let us know what your email address is and we will gladly send one to you.

Asociación Estudiantes Internacionales de Costa Rica

Part of beginning here in Costa Rica is to form a Costa Rican non-profit entity. This meant we needed to form an association of at least 10 members with a board of directors. We also needed to submit our by-laws for approval. After working with our lawyer on the wording of our by-laws for the last several months we were ready to sign and submit the paperwork at the end of March. So we gathered in our lawyer's office to sign and then celebrated with a nice staff dinner. Now we are just waiting for the paperwork to be approved. This should only take 1-3 months, but it is also possible it may take longer. Please pray that the approval comes through quickly.

If you would like to see the exciting pictures of us signing the paperwork you can click here:

Signing Assoc Paperwork

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Men's Trip

The last week of March I had the opportunity to help lead an outreach of men to the jungle town of Shiroles in the Talamanca region of Costa Rica (the southeast corner). We had a great group of guys on the trips from various walks of life. For a run down of the trips activities you can check out Jeremy's blog (Our friend and teamate).

I always enjoy the men's trips as they are a combination of men's retreat and mission trip. After several months of working hard to build relationships here in San José and beginning ministry the trip was a chance for me to catch my breath. I enjoyed spending time with men who are seeking Jesus and striving to be more like him. Some men who have become good friends over the last few years were on the trip and it is always special to spend time with them. I returned home tired yet refreshed and encouraged to continue to watch God do his thing in my life, our family's life, and in the midst of SI Costa Rica.