June 22, 2011

Accomplished Adventures... the Tico kind...

Since my last post... (in no particular order)

  1. Go to a Tico church service √
  2. Officially begin classes √
  3. Take a trip to the "Feria" (Farmer's Market) √
  4. Experience San José in a torrential downpour √
  5. Consume meat from unknown animals √
  6. Work on 50+ pages of homework in less than a week √
  7. Take my first test(s) √
  8. Visit a volcano √
  9. Walk to and from class in a Costa Rican rain shower √
  10. Visit other Tico family members √

It’s been forever since my last post simply because I can never seem to get my thoughts out in blog form. Today happens to be another one of those days. I hope to be able to expound each of the adventures listed above in the coming days. In the meantime I’m going to leave you with that list of accomplished adventures, and know that God is speaking and moving in the sweetest of ways. The past 16 days have been absolutely wonderful and I look forward to all that my sweet Jesus is going to continue to do! Thank you all again for your continued prayers and encouragement… they are greatly appreciated!


June 10, 2011

Oh, the joys of the Costa Rican life... :)

The smell of the Costa Rican air is so sweet today... I'm writing from the living room with the doors and windows open. Maybe the sweet smell of the air will venture its way into this post. :)

Wednesday was full of walking a gazillion miles, holding on for dear life while riding the buses, a hospital visit, a trip to the National Museum and the Artisan market, and an absolutely wonderful night at Bible study! Yesterday was filled with a trip to the grocery store and an amazing conversation with a new "Tico" friend, while today has been filled with another trip into San José, walking forever and a day, and holding on for dear life while riding the buses.

Wednesday Ligia and I went to the hospital near downtown San José so that she could visit her sister, who has had a serious infection. Praise Jesus she is doing much better...she is staying with us for the next couple of days. We arrived at the hospital after taking 2 different buses, holding on for dear life while on them, and walking a good bit. Once inside we were told that we'd have to wait an hour before Ligia could see her sister. So off we went to sit outside and chat for the next hour. During that time Ligia and I talked some of the difference between Costa Rica and the United States. She also shared with me her testimony, which was quite precious. 12 o'clock quickly came and back inside we went. Ligia was able to finally see her sister. While she was off visiting I sat in the "lobby"...more like the outside area between the 2 buildings. For the entire 20 minutes or so I sat silent, and if you know me then you know that I normally am very much the opposite of silent! And not to mention I was the only gringo (American) there. After our hospital visit off we went to grab some lunch then on to visit the National Museum of Costa Rica. After walking around in circles, literally, we found the entrance and went through the museum. It was pretty and had some cute little things all throughout it. After the museum we went to the Artisan market, which was full of all kinds of sorts of things. From bracelets to dresses to stuffed animals to chairs to hammocks to kitchen tools...they had it all! Finally around 4 or so we made the trek back home... a forever long walk and a bus later we made it!

Now for the absolute most wonderful part of that day... around 6:45ish Ericka and I left for Bible study. In my mind I had pictured it to be in a church somewhere in the neighborhood, like a normal church service except smaller. This Wednesday night was movie night, so I also figured we'd be watching a "Jesus movie". I was wrong about both... it was way better than I ever could've imagined! It’s an in-home Bible study that was started by a handful of “Tico” college kids. They average about 10 or so every week. We started the night off with prayer, and let me just say… those precious people know how to pray!! It was absolutely beautiful to hear! After praying we then dug into the Word for a few minutes. Basically we went around the room and each shared what God had been teaching and showing them this week. It was so wonderful to see and hear them pour out their hearts about all that God has been doing. Once we made it around the room we prayed and then we all watched “Life As We Know It.” They were all super nice and played the movie in English for me and had Spanish subtitles for them. To not only see what God has done in and through these precious kids in starting a Bible study, but to just sit and talk with them and see their hearts is amazing! Not only did I have an amazing time digging deep in Jesus with these precious brothers and sister, but I also loved getting to help them with their English while they helped me with my Spanish…such wonderful people!! I also found out that night that one of the guy’s aunt, uncle, and cousin live in Trussville, AL and not too far from where I live…can you say, small world?!?! His cousin actually went to the same school as my brother last year…crazy amazing!!

On to yesterday… Yesterday was a much needed day just spent relaxing here at home. That is, after our trek to the grocery store. After breakfast Ligia and I walked to the grocery store. It’s forever away and almost like a mini WalMart. We got the needed groceries and thankfully we took a taxi back home… I can’t imagine us trying to trek back home with tons of groceries in hand…oh my! Not too long after getting home and putting away groceries I had an amazingly wonderful conversation with a guy from Wednesday night’s Bible study, Jason, (the one who’s family lives in Alabama). He is hoping to come to the US to finish his nursing degree at UAB. He and I had a wonderful convo regarding him coming to the US and how God was equipping him while He’s here, so that when he does come to the US he can be used as a missionary at UAB. He was telling me that he didn’t want to come to the US and his focus be turned from God to the things of this world. Please tell me…how many times do we think like this? If you’re like me then your answer would be never. He and I continued to talk regarding him coming and him not wanting his focus to be changed. I told him that when he does come to the US that he is more than welcome to go to church and Bible study on Wednesday’s with me… he was super excited about that! Our convo continued and we ending up talking about what he would like to do once he gets his nursing degree. He told me that he would love to work in the main hospital somewhere with both, children and adults. Not only that though, he said he wants to help with their physical needs, but more importantly he wants to make sure they are being helped and fed spiritually. He told me that he specifically would like to work with teenagers and college kids, making sure that they know that they way the world has portrayed sex and marriage to be is wrong, and teach them how it’s supposed to be Biblically. I really do wish you all could meet all of the precious people that are in this Bible study group…you would all LOVE them! I am so thankful that God allowed me the opportunity to talk with him….As we were finishing up our convo he told me that I was the first American that he had ever been able to talk with about God, church, Christianity, etc. It’s been so great getting to see God move just in the first 5 days I’ve been here… absolutely amazing!!

Today’s been another semi-lazy day here in Costa Rica. The day began with cleaning around the house. Around lunchtime Ligia and I left and headed off to a bank nearby. Something wasn’t working properly there, so we had to head into San José so she could go to the main bank downtown. After a crazy bus ride and walking for forever we made it. We spent a few minutes there and then headed off to McDonald’s for lunch… it was quite odd eating American food in Costa Rica, but nonetheless it was yummy! After lunch she we went to the big market downtown… we ended up leaving with some type of beef, chicken, and some type of chicken skull with some meat and the beak still in tact. I’m praying I don’t have to actually eat it…from the little bit I was able to understand after asking what it was, I think she’s going to use it for soup to give her sister. I’ll guess we’ll see… After our trip to the market we hopped on another bus and headed on back. Thankfully we made it back in 1 piece!! I’m telling you… any and every form of safety goes directly out the window here in CR!!

Thank you all so much for the continued prayers… they are all greatly appreciated!

In closing, I ask you to please pray with me for Jason and the plan that God has for him, whether it be to come to the US and finish school there or to stay here and finish. Please pray with me that God would give him clear direction and guidance regarding his desire to teach teenagers and college kids about the Biblical way sex and marriage would be fulfilled…that he would continue to cling to our sweet Jesus and not allow to world to sway him in its direction. I also ask you to please pray for me as I start class on Monday.


June 7, 2011

He is sovereign...

I embarked on a semi-unknown journey beginning at 5AM Monday morning. I knew I was catching a flight to San José, Costa Rica to attend the Instituto de Lengua Española and that I was going to be staying with a Costa Rican family, but I had no clue who my family was and I knew nothing about Costa Rica except that they spoke Spanish. I got ready and was out the hotel door along with my family at 6:15AM ready to catch the shuttle for the ATL airport. For those who don't know, this was my first time to ever fly alone and going through airport security scares the everything out of me and weighing my checked bags doesn't help any. The shuttle let us out at the Delta outdoor checked baggage area. My bags were weighed and each one weighed 51 lbs (the limit is 50) and the sweet man let them on through with no discussion! Praise Jesus! I could somewhat breathe at that point, but I still had security to go through. You should know that I had a carry-on suitcase full of books, so it was of course quite heavy, and I had a backpack that had my Nikon camera and its bag shoved in the backpack along with my purse squished down in it...Needless to say there was no more room in the Nike backpack inn! I just knew they were going to want to look through everything once I went through... I was very much so wrong. I made it through security with no problems and was on my way to my gate with no issues... a need for another Praise Jesus moment!! My flight departed at 9:52AM and we landed safe and sound at 11:55AM in San José, Costa Rica. Both of my bags made it here with no problem, and I made it through immigration and customs with no issues as well, both of which scare the daylights out of me along with normal airport security! Once I made it through customs I was off to find my family who was supposed to be there waiting on me with a sign that had my name on it. I walked through the doors to the outside area of the airport and my name was nowhere to be found. Seeing the confused and slightly panicked look on my face a sweet airport man by the name of Carlos asked me if he could help me with my bags, to which I said yes (at this point I was completely clueless as to what to do). He then asked where I was going and how I was getting there. I explained the entire situation (thankfully he spoke pretty good English). I knew I needed to take a taxi to get to where I needed to be, but I had no clue what the address was and with fifty million taxi drivers surrounding me at the airport I had no clue which to choose. Carlos called the admissions woman for the school I'm attending and gathered all the needed information to get me where I needed to be. He took such good care of me in the few minutes I was with him. He led me through the crowd, hanging tight to my luggage for me, and making sure I was right with him. He found the correct taxi that I was to take and explained everything to the taxi driver for me and put my suitcases in the car. I climbed in and off I went. Let me just say, going 110 km/h in a 60 km/h limit is quite scary to say the very least!! I’ve never held onto the handle of a backpack that tight before! It took us about 10 minutes to get from the airport to where I’m staying. When we arrived a precious woman, whom I thought was Grettel, the admissions woman for the language institute, greeted me. Here again, I was wrong. I walked up to the front of the gate expecting to be able to speak English and quickly found out it was not Grettel, but rather my “Tico mom,” Ligia. We bring my luggage inside and immediately she thanked me for coming and told me that her home was my home. I responded by saying thank you, and we hugged. As soon as we hugged the tears started flowing. I wish I could put into words what was felt in that moment. Ligia immediately let me know that Jesus was her absolute everything, her love, and her passion. I walked into a home filled with sweet Spanish worship music playing and such a sweet presence of our God. Once inside she and I ate lunch, which consisted of chicken and rice with mushrooms and vegetables… it was super yummy! (Side note/thought hearing her say the blessing is so precious and so heartfelt! How many times do we rush through the blessing?!) She and I had a sweet conversation regarding life and family over lunch. In just the few minutes together during lunch I quickly learned how much Spanish I do NOT know! Ligia is just precious! She knows just how to rephrase things so that I can better understand them. She is patient and willing to do whatever for me. She truly does have a servant’s heart, and is just beautiful inside and out! For those of you who don’t know, in preparing for Costa Rica I had prayed that God would place me in a home with little kids. I have a huge love for kids, especially foreign children! Well… Ligia has two daughters, Erika who’s 24 and Mauren who’s 28. Obviously neither are “kids”, but…….. our next door neighbors have a precious little boy!! I’m hoping to be able to go and play with him soon! Don’t you just love how our God works?! :) As I mentioned before, Ligia made sure to tell me that she had accepted Christ and that He was her everything. 13 years ago Ligia’s husband left her and her sweet daughters, but Ligia has continued strong in Jesus and has learned to cling even tighter to Him and do away with the “loves” of this world… so beautiful! Ligia accepted Christ 16 years ago, and Erika accepted Christ 17 years ago. Mauren has yet to accept Christ. Ligia and I talked about Mauren and her refusal to accept Christ earlier today. When Ligia’s husband left her and her daughters Erika and Ligia went towards Christ even more, where as, Mauren backed away. They both have continued praying for Mauren to accept Christ for several years, and she has refused. Ligia told me that when Mauren’s father left them she gained a lot of resentment towards her father and Christ, causing her to run away rather than run to God. I ask that you please join me in praying for Mallory, that she would experience the love of our God in a way unlike any other that causes her to long and yearn for the heart of our God. Please pray with me that I would be alert and conscious of the open doors before and that God would use me to share His love and His precious message with Mallory during the 2 months that I am here and that she would accept Christ soon.

Not only is my “Tico family” precious, my home for the next 2 months is quite precious as well. It has an adorable little kitchen with an eating area, a dining room/area, a cute little living room, and 3 bedrooms and 2 bathrooms. My little bedroom and bathroom and each are so adorable!

Last night was really quite precious to me. I was able to meet both, Erika and Mauren along with Mauren’s boyfriend, Alex. We spent several hours talking and laughing together. Erika and Alex both know English fairly well, which helps when I have no clue what is being said to me in Spanish! But more than that I am able to help Erika with her English as she helps me with my Spanish. Goodness, I just love how our God pieces things together just perfectly! My night ended around 8:30 when I headed to bed after an extremely long, but precious day.

Today has been quite wonderful as well! Ligia and I enjoyed breakfast together this morning along with a wonderful little conversation. Soon after breakfast I met a friend of Ligia’s, Joy, who is a missionary in the San Francisco area of Costa Rica along with her husband, Keith. They are from the UK and have been missionaries in Costa Rica for 22 years. Joy was such a delight to meet, not to mention it was an added plus that she spoke English! Once Joy left Ligia and I headed out to San José. We walked about a block and then hopped on a bus that took us into the center of the capital. Yes, I have been to Honduras and ridden in the backs of trucks going ninety-to-nothing up a mountain holding on for dear life, but riding in a Costa Rican bus…OH MY!! I have never been so close to another bus while in another bus, nor have I ever been so close to other human while riding in a bus. Not to mention our driver refused to slow down when turning a corner, and if a human was in the way, oh well, he better know how to run! Thankfully we made it there and back in one piece! She and I spent about 3 hours in downtown San José. We went with the intentions of me purchasing a phone so that I can talk with my family and other missionaries here in Costa Rica. After figuring out that they don’t accept American dollars at ICE (phone store) we were off to find a bank to exchange money. We exchanged money and went back to ICE and successfully purchased a phone, and I actually made it work! After leaving ICE Ligia took me anywhere and everywhere downtown. We walked the streets backwards and forwards. We ended up making our way to the market downtown and purchased fish for dinner. I have no clue what type it was, all I know is that it looked like a clear piece of steak. While out we also purchased some aquaqate and limes. After visiting every ounce of downtown San José we hopped on a bus and returned home. And yes, the ride was the exact same as before… SCARY! Needless to say, I held on tight! Once home, I was able to finally use the new phone and talk to my sweet mom, and later I was able to Skype with my entire family… loved every minute! Dinner soon followed… tonight’s menu consisted of the fish from the market, mashed potatoes, rice, black beans, and lemonade. I must say, it was all quite yummy! Dinner was followed by watching “Minute to Win it!” with Ligia and Erika, and looking at pictures. Bedtime is soon to come. Tomorrow looks to be a day full of traveling around again. I think we may go off to visit an important park and statue of Costa Rica and possibly a volcano! Who knows… we shall see!!

Thank you all so much for the continued prayers, they are truly greatly appreciated!! I look forward to blogging again soon and sharing all that God is going to continue to do!