Tuesday, November 15, 2011


Trasformation is a buzz word that we use a lot in Students International. We say that we are about seeing people's lives transformed into the likeness of Christ. We want to see this in the lives of the people in the communities we serve, among the outreach participants that come to work with us, and we even say that we need and want this for ourselves. We want to be transformed by Jesus and be like him. We want to be and live like Jesus. We want to love the way he loves and act the way he acts.

But how, exactly?

Yesterday, José brought a song for the worship time at our staff meeting. I can't get the images out of my head.

Déjame hoy besar las heridas de tus manos y tus pies,
las heridas que pecando provoqué.
Déjame reclinar mi mejilla en tus espaldas y llorar
por haberlas lacerado en mi maldad.

No merecía tanto amor.

Let me today kiss the wounds on your hands and feet,
the wounds that my sin provoked.
Let me lay my cheek against your back and cry
for having caused the lacerations (in my badness)

I didn't deserve that much love.

I know the crucifixion story, and the Easter story. I've seen the Passion (in oh-so-many forms). It's not like Jesus' woundedness hasn't struck me before in a personal way. But how many times have I had the courage to ask the Lord's permission to kiss the wounds that I caused? Or rub my face in the cuts on his back? That's. . . gross. And weird. And, it would require me to really examine myself and really face my sin, my weakness, my brokenness. Maybe even ask God to tell me the truth about myself. So vulnerable and so, so intimate. And really, very scary, potentially painful.

But, I'm learning more and more that that's where transformation happens. In moments of intimacy with Jesus. Knowing Jesus. Because it isn't just that we wallow in our horridness, or know about God's love. If I really get that close to Jesus, and truly, honestly, grieve my part in those wounds, grieve my inadequacies and my failures, I experience, experience, Jesus' love and grace that I don't deserve. He never turns away a broken heart. And knowing him that way changes me. It transforms me. And I start to become more like him. More able to give grace and love to others who don't deserve it because I have been humbled and healed and have experienced it myself as someone who doesn't deserve it.

Like I said, I can't stop thinking about those images. God, give me the courage to come close to you and let you transform me. I want to know you more. I want to know you more that way, that closely.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Sunday School

Yesterday we woke up and there was no water in the house. So, Jeff went with Olivia to buy a 5-gallon jug of water at the store. However, the car wouldn't start. Anyway, to make a long story short, by the time Jeff got the car started and got back from the store, it was a little late to try and get ready for church. So we decided to have our own Sunday School.

Here's a cute picture of Jeff reading "You Are Special" to the kids. This is such a great book!

From Sept.-Nov.2011

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

Psalm 103

Psalm 103:1-5

1 Let all that I am praise the Lord;
with my whole heart, I will praise his holy name.
2 Let all that I am praise the Lord;
may I never forget the good things he does for me.
3 He forgives all my sins
and heals all my diseases.
4 He redeems me from death
and crowns me with love and tender mercies.
5 He fills my life with good things.
My youth is renewed like the eagle’s!

I have been thinking and meditating a lot on these verses lately. Some thoughts swirling around in my head:
*God is praise-worthy, regardless of anything else
*God is good to me, has been good to me, and will continue to be good to me--and that will be true even if God asks us to live in a shack (though I really hope not to be tested in this!) We can all fill in our own 'thing'. . .
*The things God does for me are things that I can always count on--forgiveness, redemption, healing, mercy, etc. They are also things that ONLY God can really do for me. God is my ONLY source for those things that really matter.
*God fills my life with good things; the more that I think about it, the more I think that this primarily means filling my life with more of God. The rest of the good things I desire, or that God desires to give me are secondary to closeness with God.

So, to update you all on our housing situation, we are basically at the following place. We would love a yard. We feel a deep conviction to live within a certain strategic geographical area due to ministry needs (accessibility to staff, teams, banks, stores, buses, etc.). We have considered buying land and building the "ideal" home/office, because nothing we've seen or heard about so far would work. However, this area is quite a bit more expensive and much more 'constructed' than other outlying areas. We need to consider office space for SI. Renting a separate building/space would mean a huge increase in budget for SI. We actually like having the office in or close to our home. We also need to see about qualifying for a loan should the 'perfect' thing become available. Most immediately, we would like to renew the rent contract for our current house--to buy time, or to stay in indefinitely. Minus the yard issue, we believe it is the perfect place for us and SI-CR. God truly handpicked this house for us, without a doubt. Our landlady would like to renew the contract, however is considering how much to increase the rent to account for the rising inflation rates here. So, we are holding our breath, waiting. We are praying that the increase will be affordable, both for us and SI-CR. If not, we have no idea what our next step will be. Please pray with us. And if we end up living in a shack, :), I hope I'll still be able to trust and praise the Lord. Hold me to that, please!

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

If only. . .

I started a new Bible Study recently with some women living in the area. It's an English Bible Study, and there are probably multiple reasons why I decided to join it, one being that I was invited and another being that my soul has been longing for something--food, fellowship, roots, something. Anyway, I'm typically hesitant to join groups like these, but it's an eclectic group, and will be interesting; if it simply forces me to take time to reflect and seek God with others, I think it'll be worth it.

Last week, the major theme had to do with our "if only's." You know, the things we think will fulfill us and make us happy, solve our problems. I, personally, have a multitude I could rattle off. But my big one right now is this: if only we had a house with a YARD. Now, I don't think it's bad to hope for things, wish we had things, wish that things were different in our relationships or circumstances, etc. Sometimes God uses those things to work his plans out in our lives. Maybe he even prompts those feelings in us. I recently heard this referred to as "holy discontent." But, ultimately GOD is the only one that can truly fulfill me. God is the only one that can really make me 'happy.' If I am counting on a yard to make me happy, make me content to live in CR indefinitely, or to solve my kids' needs to run off their energy, then I have made this idea of a yard my idol. And idols are dead and powerless. And this is something I need to look at very closely, because the way I see it a yard WOULD solve a lot of issues and would be great for lots of reasons. I could make the Lord a list of all the reasons he should provide us with one (wait, I have done that!) I keep wrestling with God about this. First of all, he provided our current house at just the right moment, and it has been ideal for ministry, guests, housing the SI office, even for our family (really, I have no room to complain!). So, he COULD provide something just as good with a yard, too. Granted, that might mean miraculously creating a new plot of land somewhere (but it could happen). We feel like God has asked us to live in Desamparados, near the bus line, near the language school and host families, near ministry sites, with easy access to teams, staff, etc. This seriously limits the options since, by my estimation, 98% of the land with those specifications is built on already and the rest would require us to win the lottery that we don't play. Sigh. AND, I really do want to be content if God's answer is to stay put. I really do! But that means letting go, sacrificing, trusting, grieving. . . not to mention continuing to find yard alternatives.

I know that within missionary/ministry circles the issue of where to live can be a big deal. How do you balance ministry, family, and longevity? Before kids, it would have been easy to say we could live anywhere. I would have seen it as an adventure to live in a grass hut somewhere, or even in a slum. It might have even felt heroic (sickening, right?). But now, the mother bear instinct has taken over. And a little bit of the desire to have my cake and eat it too. It doesn't help to be wanting a yard and then go to green, open Minnesota where my kids were able to experience the freedom of running around and riding bikes and scooters. On Sunday, after they woke up in their Costa Rican beds, Olivia and Sawyer were both eager to ride their scooters (which I said they could ride around the house), but then quickly gave it up because there wasn't enough room. Trying to remain positive, I told them it was a good opportunity to perfect sharp turns and such. . . they are slowly warming up to the idea.

Have I made it clear that this yard issue is my biggest current "if only" idol?! I'm sure I sound spoiled and ungrateful, but I'm just sharing where I'm at in this. Nobody has to tell me it could be a lot worse! I'm just convicted, don't want it to be an idol, trying to sort it out, wanting to truly hand it over to God and trust his plans (and heart!) for my family. But. it's. so. hard. Please pray for us (and me!) in this. And if you receive any insight you'd like to pass along, feel free.

Meanwhile, we'll keep wrestling, and I think I'll keep going to Bible Study.

Monday, September 26, 2011


Saturday was a LONG day of travel (3 kids, 3 flights) but everything went as smoothly as it could have, and here we are in San José once again. We had a great 2 weeks in Minnesota, visiting with friends and family, sharing at Rose City Evangelical Free Church, and working out details for the semester program that starts here in January. Since we hadn't been back to the States in almost 2 years, we felt a little strange this time. The roads were so smooth, the traffic scarce, the toilet paper flushable, the Minnesota accent stronger than ever, the carpet soft and the air cold.

Thank you to everyone who hosted us for a meal, met us for coffee, came to the open house, or otherwise made an effort to visit with us. Jeff's mom and my sister even flew in to see us; is that love, or what?! Thanks especially to my parents for allowing us to create chaos in their home for 2 weeks!

Some highlights from our trip:

Rose City Church: One of our supporting churches, Rose City always welcomes us and loves to hear what God is doing in CR. We showed a short video and shared a bit from 1st John (what we've studied this year with teams) and gave an update on ministry sites and the goings-on here. The service was followed by a true Minnesotan potluck, complete with hotdishes and bars. It was good to get back to my roots :)

Grandpa Tic Tac's house: Grandpa has lots of cool cars, kittens, and green space to ride, play with, and explore. We loved the beautiful weather and the kids even got to go fishing for the first time!

Playing outside!! We don't have a yard so Olivia and Sawyer spent a lot of time running and playing in Grandma and Grandpa's yard and driveway. They got scooters and spent about 3 solid days on them!

Riding bikes! Both Olivia and Sawyer mastered bike riding on this trip--also thanks to some outdoor space! Now to find a way to keep practicing. . .

Bonfire and movie in the backyard: Yep, even though it was chilly, we enjoyed the opportunity to roast hot dogs and marshmallows and watched "Rio" on the big screen. It was especially fun since Auntie Kara and Grandma Dixon flew in that day.

Dinners, coffees, gatherings, oh my! We loved getting together with various friends from various parts of our lives. It was fun to catch up a little with you all--though the time was far too short, and the visits are too few. . .

Phipps Inn: Jeff and I escaped for a night, leaving all 3 kids with the grandparents (including a still-nursing Lynnea), to the Stillwater/Hudson area and stayed at the Phipps Inn, an adorable Victorian B&B in Hudson. We would recommend it to anyone! We love the history and small-townness of that part of MN/WI. Beautiful brick buildings and old Victorian neighborhoods; it was fun just wandering around, looking at antiques, exploring the little shops and restaurants--a much needed break.

Children's Museum of MN: One day we went to the Children's Museum with some good friends from CA who were also in the area. The kids all loved it, and so did the grown-ups, I think. We then had a birthday party for Lynnea and a "sleep over".

Shopping: I had to include it. I actually could have shopped more, and enjoyed it more, if we'd had more time. But, it was satisfying to shop and think about how much money we were saving by buying things in the US instead of in Costa Rica. :) High on my list were canned pumpkin, ortega chilies, dried fruits, and cheese. It's the simple things, right?

All in all, it was a great trip. It was great to see those of you we were able to see and wish it could be more often! Thank you to all of you for being faithful long-distance friends and family!

(PS Pictures coming soon. It's taking awhile to get them all into iPhoto)

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Sé que eres Dios

I can't sleep, and I've had this song that we sang in church on Sunday stuck in my head. I don't know if it's in English or not, but thought I'd share the chorus with you.

Aunque se levante y ruja el mar
Volaré sobre la tempestad
Padre, eres Dios sobre el mar
Quieto estaré
Sé que eres Dios

(Even though the sea rises up and roars
I will soar over the storm
Father, you are God over the sea
Quiet I will be
I know that you are God)

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

"Lives are Changing"

We are blessed with a great staff that we are privileged to work alongside. Our job is to help place our staff in positions where they are able to succeed and to live out their calling. They then do the work of investing in people's lives, with the hopes of seeing transformation take place. So when I read and hear stories like this one it makes all the long hours and hard work more than worth it. Check it out for yourself: http://costaricaonamission.blogspot.com/

Monday, July 11, 2011


Maybe it's because I'm a teacher, but I value creativity in kids. I believe kids should be allowed to be creative. (Well, okay. I say that, and I do believe it, but I do have to give myself a pep-talk if big messes will be involved. . . ). Anyhoo. I love it when Olivia and Sawyer use their creativity, and I give myself little mommy-gold-stars when they do, especially if they initiated it on their own. . . and especially if there won't be a huge mess to clean up afterwards.

Playing train. They were into this for a looonnnngg time.

From 5 and 7

Then there is Lynnea. Her creativity centers around getting herself anywhere that is UP, and also around getting anything small and dangerous INTO her mouth. I'm hoping to channel that somehow. But for now, at least she's cute. . . and creative--in a determined sort of way.
From 5 and 7

5 and 7

Sawyer recently turned 5 and Olivia 7, and I think the arrival of these two birthdays for me has been the most shocking! 5 and 7 just seem so old. Saying them makes me feel old. How did this happen right before my eyes? Maybe having the third baby just sort of accentuates how much time has passed since they were her size. So much happens and then I look back and can't sort out the details in the blur; I'm trying to cherish each moment of their development. . . Anyway, I am so thankful for my kiddos, and so delighted with who they are (most of the time!). They are such precious gifts from God. This year, what with the busyness and scheduling of teams, we told Olivia and Sawyer we were going to do small family things for their birthdays. So for Sawyer's special day, we went to see Cars 2, and Olivia's birthday fell on a team beach trip that we were scheduled to go on, so she got to go to the beach and then have pizza with part of the group afterwards.

Sawyer's All Chocolate Heart-Cars Cake

From 5 and 7

Olivia's Strawberry/Vanilla/Chocolate Cake
From 5 and 7

Saturday, June 11, 2011

English Class

I know it was probably a crazy idea, but I agreed to it anyway. And, I am REALLY glad I did, because I'm enjoying it very much! A few weeks ago we started an English class for the ladies of the micro-finance site, that is led by Cindy and Maria. The ladies heard Maria speaking in English awhile back and started insisting that she teach them! With their businesses, English would be a helpful skill, especially for those who plan to sell things to tourists. Maria and Cindy were already swamped with their 3 little groups and all those details, so they asked me if I'd be interested in helping them out. I thought about it, prayed about it, and said yes. We agreed to do 10 classes on Friday mornings. The ladies pay a nominal fee for the class to cover supplies, and we do it in the office. It's a 2 hour class, with cafecito (coffee time) included. Maria, Cindy and the teams help with the class and help watch Lynnea. I give out homework and we have quizzes. It's the real deal! Some of the ladies have never studied English before, so we are starting at the beginning. The first day we got through 1/4 of the lesson plan. But we'll get there. Like I said, it has been really fun for me to teach again, and to teach motivated learners, too! With a 'role' that is so undefined and random sometimes, and a life schedule that is just as much so, it's been nice to have a small thing to plan for, count on, and do well with! We'll see how these 10 weeks go, but if the ladies want to keep going, I just might want to, too.

From English Class

From English Class

From English Class

Thursday, June 09, 2011

Around Here

Now that we've been in CR for almost 3 years (Wait! Did I just say 3 years?? How can that be already?!) sometimes I wonder what to write about on this blog. It isn't that things aren't happening. Actually, a lot is happening; there are constant challenges and victories going on with our kids, ministry sites, the communities, our staff, etc. But we've run out of all the incidental things that are easy to write about but used to be novelties--things like riding the buses, buying our groceries, etc. Those are LIFE now. Now we are into the harder things, the deeper levels of culture and culture shock, the harder-to-explain and more-complex issues of ministry, life and spiritual warfare. Sometimes the things I want to write about aren't maybe blog-appropriate. Or, I'm so used to them that I forget they might be interesting to someone else.

So, let me try and fill you in on at least a few things, in no particular order.

In May, we had a staff retreat at the beach. It was wonderful. Our speakers were Nate and Maggie Slabach, from SI-DR. They shared with us about avoiding burn-out in ministry. I'll write another post with more details, but a couple of highlights were the life of Joshua (70 years of effective leadership and virtually no mistakes!) and John 15, the passage about the vine and the branches. Only if we REMAIN connected to the vine will we produce fruit. Cut off, we wither. So simple, yet so easy to forget in the day-to-day. Yep, I definitely want to write more about that later.

We have hosted several groups so far this year, and are actually in the middle of our 'summer' teams season. We're thankful for great groups so far, and pray that they leave changed, with well-watered seeds that will continue growing. We also have 6 amazing interns this summer. They are quite the eclectic little group, but came with hearts to serve and have really jumped in whole-heartedly to their work! I don't think it's far off to say they've been thrown in the fire, but they've really risen to the occasion and had super attitudes in spite of be overwhelmed by culture, language, ministry, etc. We're so thankful for their support during this season!

Our car: our car had been running great, but recently developed a clicking sound and today dumped a lot of anti-freeze on the ceramic-tiled garage floor . . . it's going to the mechanic tomorrow. We're bracing for the worst (replacing/rebuilding the engine) and hoping for the best. Unfortunately, it seems like these things ALWAYS (and, really, I'm not exaggerating) happen at the worst times. We have been trying to raise money for an SI vehicle, but since that hasn't panned out yet, we use our Galloper for transporting students, interns, supplies, etc., not to mention how much we rely on it for daily life. If we don't have a car for awhile it will be a pain in the neck at best. Please pray for some kind of a miracle. . .

This week we hosted Dave Hansen, our SI president, plus Lowell Troyer, director in the DR, and 2 board members, Rod Frese and Tom Babaggian for a few days at our home. It was a good time with lots of laughter; they were able to see what is going on at the sites, and share with and encourage us and our staff. We are so thankful for those guys and all the work they do so that we can be here. It is amazing to have an extended family through SI.

Olivia and Sawyer recently got their 1st trimester grades. Both of them are doing very well in school, thankfully! Olivia's reading in both Spanish and English is really taking off, and that is fun for this teacher to watch!! Sawyer has had a few, ahem, behavior issues (bothering other kids, impulsivity) that led to us meeting with his teacher and the school psych, and now seems to have shaped up-- again, thankfully! While talking with another teacher there about her son w/ similar issues, we joked about how ironic it was to be the moms of those kids! :) Since he is a child with high activity levels, they suggested he be involved in active things after school (agreed). So, in addition to soccer, he recently started tae kwon do. We'll see how it goes. Olivia also added tae kwon do to her extra-curricular activities. She decided basketball wasn't for her, even after sticking it out for the 2 months Mom and Dad insisted on. But tae kwon do seems to be right up her alley, and she was excited that she got to break a board on the first day. Please pray for us as parents to really SEE our kids and KNOW them so that we can parent them as God requires. Pray that their hearts would be soft towards the Lord, and that we would be effective in teaching them about their Father's heart towards them and his desires for them.

Lynnea continues to be a sweet little peanut. She's 8 1/2 months, not quite 17 pounds, and about 28 inches long. She crawls like a sprinter, puts EVERYTHING in her mouth, pulls herself up on anything she can, and is starting to scare us by climbing the steps. She is a sweet-spirited baby, but we have to watch her vigilantly!

Jeff is finishing up his MA program in Intercultural Studies at Fuller Seminary as I write. His final classwork needs to be emailed off tomorrow by midnight!! This will be a HUGE load off his shoulders (and mine, too!). It will enable him to teach in our semester program that starts next January with Fresno Pacific. I don't think either one of us remembers what it was like before he started this program 10 years ago. . . may he finish well!

We are on the hunt for more/new staff members to add to our CR team. We'd like to bolster each site with at least one more staff member, and there are a couple of site ideas we're open to launch if we have the right people to pioneer them. Our staff typically make 2 year commitments and so that means that some of our staff will be deciding whether to go or stay SOON. Plus, we need some administrative and leadership help. So, we're praying for just the right people in all of these roles. There are several North Americans, and even a few Latinos interested, so we'll see. Pray that we'll (and they'll) have wisdom as to whether God is calling them here or not. Also, the process can be lengthy for North Americans to raise support, do language school, etc., so pray for stamina on our part as we wait for God's timing!

Our house/SI office. Any of you who have visited know we love our beautiful house. It has been the perfect home for the SI office, hosting people, etc. However, we're starting to think about whether or not we should stay in it. Our lease will be up in December, and we're assuming that we'd have the option to renew the contract. But rent could rise, or the owner could decide she really wants to sell. Also, the one thing our house lacks is a yard. This is actually not uncommon. Most of the houses in the city have little to no yard. I find it a bit ironic that we are in one of the most beautiful countries in the world yet have to search a bit to enjoy that natural beauty. Anyway, we would REALLY love to have a yard for the kids to play in, and for us to enjoy as well. BUT, there aren't many options around. As leaders/directors, we need to be centrally located, close to main roads, easily accessible, etc., which means we need to stay close to where we are. We've been 'keeping our eyes open' for any houses that might have yards AND still serve SI's needs, too. Not really any leads. There are actually 2 in our neighborhood with potential, but as far as we know, neither are for rent or sale. We've seen a couple of lots, but don't really know if we want to pursue a building project/look for a loan. (Though we do have some good ideas!) Obviously buying a house/lot would have implications for how long we plan to stay in CR, too. Basically, we are coming to a crossroads and want to be prepared to make a good decision. Please pray for us in this!! We are content to be where God wants us. If that means staying in our current home, great. If there is something else out there, we need the Lord to show us. And, if this house isn't even an option come December, well, then we'll really need another plan!

Spiritual Warfare. Since this stuff happens in a realm we can't usually see with our eyes, and there's a lot of mystery surrounding it all anyway, it's hard to know how to write about it. We know there is an enemy out to devour us (1Pet.5:8), but we also know that we serve the GOD who is soooo much bigger and who has already WON this great war we are in, though we are still playing out the details. There have been things going on from time to time that indicate spiritual attacks--and now seems to be one of those times for many of our staff, and the communities we work in. We realize that we have placed ourselves as targets by taking a stand and attempting to push back darkness and bring hope to the communities and students we serve, so it doesn't really surprise us. Please pray for deep spiritual insight into what is going on and how we should be praying/counter-attacking. Pray for protection over our staff, sites, families, students, etc.

And, now I realize how long this is!! Kudos if you made it this far--it's much appreciated, and a bit admired. :) More later!

Monday, May 02, 2011


Church is a topic that comes up often, so I thought I'd write about it. We are not church-planting missionaries, but instead seek an established church to be involved in. In Costa Rica we have that luxury. So you would think, with all the options, that it would be easy to find a spiritual community of believers with whom to share life. But, it hasn't. And it's been one of the hardest things about trying to plant new roots here. A shared sentiment among our staff is that we miss knowing people and being known. I think it's caused all of us to re-examine the meaning of 'church' as well. But I'm not taking that path in this post.

At first, with limited Spanish, it was obvious that making relationships would be tough, but even still it is hard at times to really connect with people in Spanish. I still wonder if I'm REALLY communicating what I mean to say, and if I'm REALLY understanding the other person. Costa Rica is outwardly a very friendly and hospitable place. But when push comes to shove, it's been really hard to get close to people. People work late, we work crazy schedules, everyone has their family and extended families (which is a good thing, except for us who don't have our families here), and the social circles have been drawn for years--hard to break in. Plus, a lot of outsiders come here for vacations, visits, language school, and then LEAVE. Why would people want to invest in us if they think we're leaving? I think we've finally convinced a few that we're staying. . . but we heavily feel the burden of making the first (and subsequent) moves to get to know others. And, frankly, it can be exhausting; it has made us wonder if it's worth the effort. Then there are the actual churches themselves. Will there be Sunday School (or something) for our kids so that we can listen to a sermon? How long are services? What are expectations for involvement (many churches here are legalistic about coming to every event/prayer meeting scheduled), membership (some are very tied to their denominational roots, and we are not), etc.? Are there anything akin to home groups that we could be involved in? (So far, not really.) And, we don't want people to expect us (as 'gringos' and 'missionaries') to be willing to run everything, either. If 'sabbath' is about rest, sometimes it's more restful, and less stressful, to just stay home.

We have been attending a church for about 2 years that we call "our church." It's a smallish Baptist church a few blocks from our house. It's full of great, very capable people--one reason we liked it; there was no pastor when we first started there, but all the programs were functioning well and they didn't need our help (!). They have a praise band that leads us in a mix of hymns and contemporary worship songs, there is a Sunday School for kids and adults, and prayer meetings during the week. It is very traditional in some things (order of service, "Baptist" governing traditions), progressive in others (women are allowed to preach, they recently started a holistic minsitry, care of the Earth is preached from the pulpit on occasion). There are things we really like and appreciate about the church, and things it lacks that we miss. No such thing as a perfect church, right?

So, while it's been a struggle, we decided to stick it out, hopeful that it'll be worth it in the long run. We know that we need to be connected to the larger body of Christ, that church isn't all about meeting our needs, and that we need to somehow form relationships outside of SI. (We LOVE our staff, and have community there, but we also know the danger exists of becoming ingrown and that outside perspective will help keep us healthy.) I keep thinking, "if they would just start small groups. . ." and someone asked me why we don't start one. The thought has crossed my mind, but leading one more thing seems too big to take on right now. And, maybe small groups don't work here, I don't know. Maybe someday we'll try it and find out. For now, though, we're still hoping for friendships and to find the community we desire through the current available means. Jeff went on the men's retreat, I on the women's retreat. . . we have actually been invited over to a couple of homes for meals, and had a few people to ours. . . I've been trying to get a few phone numbers. . . Lynnea is a natural ice-breaker. . . maybe, just maybe, we are starting to break in. So, please pray for us (and our staff who also struggle with this) that we would have the energy and time to persevere in relationships, and that God would provide the authentic communities we all crave and need.

Sunday, May 01, 2011

Spring Newsletter

No excuses here, but it has been too long since our last post. Here's a start, though I realize most of you have probably seen this already: our spring newsletter. Just click on the title of this post!

Wednesday, February 09, 2011

Lynnea's Latest Tricks

Lynnea is now 4 1/2 months, and we are afraid to blink because she is changing so quickly! She rolls from her back to her tummy, but gets frustrated b/c it's hard to get back over. She just learned to grab her feet and put them in her mouth, along with everything else! We are thankful that Lynnea continues to be a fairly mellow little girl and loves to be with people. She's also pretty communicative and lets us know how she feels about things! At her last checkup she weighed about 14.5 pounds and was 26.5 inches--long and lean!

From First Day Tio Conejo PreK 2011

From First Day Tio Conejo PreK 2011

From First Day of First Grade 2011

Sawyer Starts Preschool at Tio Conejo

Sawyer's big day arrived and he seemed to really like Tio Conejo! Yay! Here's some pictures of his first day. Yes, he was excited. :)

From First Day Tio Conejo PreK 2011

From First Day Tio Conejo PreK 2011

From First Day Tio Conejo PreK 2011

From First Day Tio Conejo PreK 2011

Tuesday, February 08, 2011

Olivia Starts 1st Grade

Olivia started 1st grade today at St. Michael School! She was excited and a little bit nervous. I know she's going to do great! Here are a few cute pictures of her in her uniform. Olivia, we pray God's best for you this year, that you will mature and grow in Him, that you will learn as much as you can, make good friends and become more like Jesus!

From First Day of First Grade 2011

From First Day of First Grade 2011

From First Day of First Grade 2011

From First Day of First Grade 2011

Saturday, February 05, 2011

Update on School for Sawyer

Just a quick update for those who have been praying for Sawyer and his schooling this year. (By the way, is it just me, or would I probably not blog about this if I didn't live in another country? Hmm.) Anyway, after much prayer and agonizing (the agonizing was mostly my part!), we decided to enroll him at Tio Conejo, where Olivia was last year for kindergarten. He'll be in a preschool class of 24 kids. I took him to meet his teacher yesterday, and was really impressed. Her name is Milena, and she seems like just what Sawyer needs--someone with patience and experience who can keep his active little mind and body busy! She has a great classroom with lots of space, and TC has an amazing field and playground area. Sawyer's really excited, and I have high hopes that it will be a good year for him. She asked him if he behaves himself well, and he answered very seriously, "A veces" (sometimes)!! She laughed and said that at least he's honest! :)

As a side note, this year, both Olivia and Sawyer will come home after school, instead of going to daycare as they did last year in the afternoons. I've struggled with my role here in Costa Rica and have worn many hats, but one thing that I keep sensing is my kids' need to be at home more and have normalcy--or some form of normalcy! And, since there don't seem to be any good childcare options for Lynnea 'til she's at least a year old, it seems to make sense to be the one home more for all of them. We'll see how the year shapes up. I know I'll still be really busy hosting teams and staff, and I haven't decided exactly what my involvement in sites will be, but I'm trying to be intentional about my time. So much of life here has been learned through trial and error, and this is one more area! Your prayers are appreciated in these things. Often we report on all the exciting SI ministry that's happening, and all that God is doing in the communities we work in, but there's also this reality that we have to create sustainable life patterns in the midst of 'ministry.' And, while we believe whole-heartedly that our family is our first ministry, it is really hard to put that into practice sometimes. So, hopefully the adjusted school schedule will help. Anyway, we feel good about Tio Conejo for Sawyer, so we'll see how it goes! The adventure continues :)

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

I wonder...

A few thoughts, questions and musings I have found myself thinking recently.

I wonder what it is like to be 16, live with my boyfriend, his family, and my 7 month old baby...
I wonder what it is like to be 12 and to haul corrugated metal on my back to recycle it so my family can eat...
I wonder what it is like to be a 4 year-old blonde boy and have total strangers rub my head...
I wonder who inflicted the cuts on a teenage girl's wrist and neck...
I wonder why a young boy had his eyebrow split open...
I wonder why he made up an unbelievable story cover it up...
I wonder what it it like to not know where my next meal will come from or if there will be a next meal...
I wonder what it is like to be without hope...
I wonder what people really think of the gringos...
I wonder how to best show Christ's love...
I wonder how to give hope...

One thing I don't wonder is why we are here and why we work where we do.


Monday, January 03, 2011

School for Sawyer???

In a bit over a month our kids start a new school year. Olivia will be in 1st grade at St. Michael School (continuation of where she went to Kindergarten), and we are undecided about where to send Sawyer. He's been at a great little preschool/daycare run out of our church here and loved it until the last couple of months of the school year. We're not sure what happened, but it made us reconsider our plans for this upcoming season. We are wondering if we should switch him over to Tio Conejo (where O was) for preschool this year. We're not sure if it had to do with a new baby sister, the return of a so-so student teacher, being bored, needing more time/space to run and be active, needing more structure and challenge, simply wanting to be home more, or what--but mornings became TOUGH there at the end. There are so many things we've loved about his little school; it's small, the director is GREAT, they are flexible, have daycare hours, they have computer class, it's close to us, etc. But, we don't know who the teacher will be next year, and because it's small, it's hard to keep people long term. If he goes to Tio Conejo, he'd be in a bigger class (read: more friends his age to motivate him), in a structured, yet hands-on environment with highly experienced teachers, have a huge play area outside, plus the opportunity to play soccer or do tae kwon do (ACTIVE things). (We don't have a yard, remember?) Plus, since we plan to send him there for kindergarten anyway (not a lot of other options), this would give him an extra year to prepare; I know I shared with many of you Olivia's struggles with learning cursive in kinder. . . so what is making us hesitate? Two main things. One: loyalty to the director at his current school. We love her and trust her; Sawyer knows her, and we go to church with her. And, number two: what if Sawyer gets stressed out at Tio Conejo with more expectations put on him? Then again, would it be better to let him struggle academically a bit this year so that next year is easier? Either way, I don't want him to hate school.

We need to make a decision fairly quickly. I keep waiting for writing in the sky or something, but I think we're just going to have to choose, and hope we make the right choice. Sometimes it's hard being a teacher/parent; I can't help but critique schools in general . . . however, I am thankful that we have the option to even put our kids in private school here. I guess this is just one of the situations that makes me miss home. If we were in the states, I'd know what I was looking for in a good school, and chances are there'd be a good public school option in the mix. Just another one of those situations where we're forced to hand our kids over to the Lord and trust that since he brought us here, he's going to provide for them, even in academics.

If you ask why I don't just HOMESCHOOL . . . well, that's another post, or a good long conversation to have over some rich Costa Rican coffee. Let's just say I'm at a point where I'll 'never say never,' but it's not my first choice. We appreciate your prayers and/or insights and/or suggestions in this matter. I'l keep you posted.