Saturday, May 23, 2009

Los Guido. . .aka What Tracey Has Been Up To For the Last Month

It has been a busy month as far as ministry sites go. Krysta and I have been going to Los Guido almost every day, though just about every day has been different! We are starting to get into a routine, but that will probably all change again soon. Such is life these days. Ha! Sorry I don't have any pictures. I hope to have some soon, but while there is much I could be taking pictures of, I haven't felt at liberty to do so yet. On one hand, I don't want to flash my camera around and have it stolen, and on the other hand, Krysta and I saw a van of gringos stop and take pictures of the slums where we were doing home visits, and decided we Do Not want to be that ridiculous. How would you like the world's 25 richest people taking a tour of your neighborhood b/c they felt sorry for you and knew that nobody would believe the ghastly conditions you lived in without photos to prove it? Same idea. I say that with 2 qualifications: the other day, I Did take a few pictures with Krysta's camera (subtly) that maybe she'll let me, uh, borrow. . .and I will take some of my own someday soon. I promise.

Anyway, we have been focusing our time in several ways: helping Gabby at the Guardería (daycare), doing home visits with a few of Food for the Hungry's sponsored kids (with whom we are actually in the process of opening a tutoring center), and doing a kid's club (Club de Niños) on Fridays. We also spend a good bit of time planning, and meeting with different people. We had an open door to go and observe a second grade classroom this past week; let's just say it was eye-opening. There was not a single book in the entire room! The walls were completely blank except for half of a chalkboard. Safe to say, I think the teacher, Raquel, is doing the best she can with what she's got. I would really like to see a school in a wealthy area of Costa Rica; I suspect it would be much different.

At the guardería, we help Gabby clean, feed kids, play with kids, do play dough with kids, etc. When we have a more consistent schedule, we will also work with some of the school-aged kids in reading and math.

The home visits have been really fun. Some of the homes we have been in are squatter shacks, in the bottom of a ravine called El Hueco (the Hole). One of the girls we are working with, Solangie, is in 2nd grade and cannot read. She probably needs glasses, but will likely not get them anytime soon. There's also a 12 year old girl, Karla, who we've met that has not been to school since 1st grade. We suspect there are some other major issues in her life aside from dropping out of school, but we don't really know. And, the not-being-able-to-read issue is a big one; like I said, books are hard to come by. There just isn't a lot of children's literature in Spanish, for one thing, and what I have seen in bookstores is highly priced. Even the library that I visited the other day only had old, poorly published, out-dated books for kids--and not a whole lot of them, either. I am SOOOO glad that we brought down the books we did on the container!!! Thank you to whatever school it was that was throwing away their bilingual curriculum!! It will go to good use here! (By the way, if anyone else has access to stuff like that, let me know! We can always use more!) Anyway, special ed. is also hard to access here, and I'm sensing that many of the kids we are working with, or will work with, have learning disabilities. Then again, it is hard to know at this point what is simply due to lack of academic stimulation, rough or difficult home and family situations, and impoverished neurons.

The Friday Club de Niños is something that Food for the Hungry has done in partnership with a church in Los Guido that we are helping to carry on. It is basically like a VBS or Sunday School-type program. Our focus is Psalm 139: 13-18 and God's amazing love and care in forming each one of us, how God knows us and cares about what happens to us, how God wants us to know him, how everyone else is loved by God the same way, and therefore how we should treat others, how God wants us to take care of our bodies and be healthy, etc. We have 2 groups: the first meets in the front room of the church (where they also have a comedor, or lunch program, for kids), and our second group meets across the street on a front porch. Perhaps it goes without saying that the first group is much easier to manage since they are in an enclosed space. :) You can pray for the focus of group #2 if you think of it.

Please pray for all of these little projects, as well as the tutoring center that is in the process of starting. We have lots of vision and ideas--we'll see how it all develops. We also have our first student team arriving from the States on Mon. and Tues. this coming week! They will be in the jungle for the first week, and then with us in the city the week of June 1st. We are all super excited, and a little nervous, to have them come. Pray that the Lord would have his way in each of our lives--the students, us staff, the communities where we work--and that we would continue to listen closely for God's voice. Also pray that God would protect our hearts as we face some very difficult situations in Los Guido. We are only beginning to uncover the stories, the muck, the tragedy, dependency, etc. We need loads of wisdom and discernment!! And I will get some pictures posted--they will help you "see" the things I see and do each day. :)

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Silly Sawyer Pictures

Sawyer is at a fun and crazy age (almost 3), with crazy hair and good photo ops. So, I thought I'd share some recent ones.
Being "rocks" after a bath.

From Cailah, Jeff B-Day, Crazy Sawyer

Putting Paci and Blankie in his giraffe rain boots. Not sure why, except that P and B are his best friends. When the paci fairy comes on his 3rd birthday, it could be rough. . .
From Cailah, Jeff B-Day, Crazy Sawyer

This is quite possibly my favorite--naked with the giraffe rain boots--one of the best ways to run around. :)
From Cailah, Jeff B-Day, Crazy Sawyer

What happens when you play hard all day:
From Cailah, Jeff B-Day, Crazy Sawyer

Happy 31st Birthday, Jeff!

Jeff turned 31 on the 14th!! We had a fun little party with our team after a staff meeting on Wednesday.

Singing 'Happy Birthday.'

From Cailah, Jeff B-Day, Crazy Sawyer

The Deep-Fryer--from everyone. Our health may never be the same, but now we can make In-n-Out fries in our very own kitchen! We love you, Jeff!
From Cailah, Jeff B-Day, Crazy Sawyer

Everyone needs a Jesus beach towel, right? :) Thanks Cailah.
From Cailah, Jeff B-Day, Crazy Sawyer

This was the Peanut Butter Pie/Birthday Cake. Notice the work of Sawyer--he did that while Jeff was opening gifts and no one was watching.
From Cailah, Jeff B-Day, Crazy Sawyer

Jeff, you are an amazing husband, father, and person in general. I love you and am so thankful for your life and that you share it with me! I pray that you know Jesus more deeply, and his love for you, this year! Love, Tracey

Chef Aiyla

From Cailah, Jeff B-Day, Crazy Sawyer

Aiyla has been branching out a lot in her eating and cooking habits with us in Costa Rica. She actually bares a good bit of teasing for it, but, I have to say, has been willing to try lots of new things. She even cooked chicken and rice pilaf for us one night! It was delicious, and very appreciated.