Monday, September 28, 2009

A Night on the Town (or at least at the mall)

Three out of the four of us were in need of haircuts this afternoon (read on), so we decided to head to the mall after picking the kids up at school. There is a good place there that has cars that Sawyer can sit in while his hair is cut. Hard to believe that he actually sits still long enough for his hair to be cut, but he does pretty good. Olivia sat as still as a statue with a huge smile on her face the whole time. I did okay as well :).

Following the hair cuts we picked up dinner at the food court, followed by ice cream. It was a fun night as a family after a busy week and weekend.

Part of the busyness is due to the fact that Aiyla, our great intern who is living with us, discovered she had (hopefully had in the past tense) lice. Amazingly enough it seems like the rest of us have avoided getting them, except for Tracey, who also had a few nits. So thorough cleaning, research on lice-riddance, lots of laundry, regular head checks (and yes, the haircuts) have been a normal part of our last few days, and will probably continue to be normal for a while. Please pray that we and our house will be lice-free quickly!

Thursday, September 10, 2009

The Brave, The Bold, The Pioneers: aka Our First Summer Teams

We actually said good-bye to the last of our summer teams about a month ago, but it has taken me that long to get to this. . . . Our students (shall we say, 'life-long learners') ranged from 11 to somewhere-in-the-60's this year, and represented many different states, including Nebraska, California (several teams), Indiana, Virginia, and Texas. Plus we had individuals representing Maryland and Pennsylvania, and a vision team here to check things out that brought people from California, Florida, Texas and Indiana, as well.

Overall it was a full and wonderful 'first' summer in the city. We SI staff were tired at the end, but I think we all agree that it was worth it! The teams all came with adventurous spirits, for which we were grateful! They were flexible as we worked through the logistical challenges of transportation, lodging, etc. They learned to 'hang-out' and 'be' when there wasn't a lot to 'do' at times. They engaged with children and adults, and learned and practiced new Spanish vocabulary. Some helped at a daycare, and painting a mural, with a Friday Kid's Club, and at a tutoring center. Others helped a neighborhood build a street, re-modeled a bathroom, built a retaining wall, taught English, and visited and baked for shut-ins. Some even went to the jungle and supported some missionary friends on the coast.

In the evenings, the teams participated in various activities. We had cultural activities like cooking, local speakers that shared about Costa Rica, we hosted a 'poverty dinner' and discussed some of the complexities of poverty around the world, had game nights, and prayer times.

Whew! It's really quite a list. A lot of love was spread. As one of our partnering pastors said to me yesterday, "All the neighbors, and the auto-shop across the street, want to know why these people would come and visit the elderly ladies, and why they would come without receiving anything in return, to build a wall for our church, or why they would come and help our kids with homework, or teach English. They don't understand that it's because of God's love. Seeds are being planted by what you guys are doing." So, if any of you participants are reading this, know that your presence here has made an impact! We'd like to thank you for making it a positive impact! You truly were a blessing, and we hope you'll come back again sometime! Thank you for being a part of the beginning of SI Costa Rica!

For our quiet times this year, we focused on Ephesians. Themes centered on unity among believers, God's secret plan to include everyone in his family, being alive in Christ, living with a new nature that is controlled by the Holy Spirit, etc. For me, the theme of UNITY stuck out the most. Not only have we witnessed a lot of division among believers in the communities where we work, but we, as SI, risk a lot by doing what we're doing. What I mean is that we are outsiders trying to unite with Costa Ricans in ministry, then we are adding 'students,' (who are virtually strangers) to the mix. And those students represent different denominations, economic backgrounds, races, political ideals, family backgrounds, ages, experiences, and careers or career interests. We risk a lot in the way of unity! But the wonderful thing is that we are all part of Christ's body. We are. It is mysterious, and we tend not to live the truth of it well, or appreciate the 'other' parts. But the declaration is there and Christ is working to bring all of us together, and to bring all things under his authority (Eph. 1:9-10,3:10-11). So, I don't know if anyone else realizes what a big deal it is, but I love that we can ALL (Ticos, SI staff, other ministries, outreach participants) come together in an outreach and represent the Kingdom of God to a world that is fractured and falling apart. It's what Jesus said would prove to the world we were his disciples (John 13:34-35). Maybe that's why God does big things when his children come together, even though we might be awkward or imperfect. God can make up for those things; he just wants us to love each other the way he loves us.

In a few weeks a vision group is coming to explore semester program opportunities. And in November a team from Wasco, CA is coming--actually my college roommate, Jenn and husband Steve, are leading it! Please pray for these upcoming groups, and what God might have in store. Also, pray for all of the participants that have come so far, that God would continue to work in and through each of their lives, as well as for our ongoing development ministries, our ministry partners, and the people we are in contact with each day. Thank you! --Tracey

"When I think of the wisdom and scope of God's plan, I fall to my knees and pray to the Father, the Creator of everything in heaven and on earth." Ephesians 3:14-15

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

New Glasses!

Drumroll please! Announcing Miss Olivia and her new anteojos, glasses. She is super excited about them, thankfully! This pair is mostly to get used to wearing the glasses she will most likely need later on. We think she looks pretty cute! :)

From glasses, face painting