Saturday, July 4, 2009

Rain Rain Rain update!

Hello from confused Costa Rica. The rainy season is amazing here. It's like the country doesn't know what it wants to be. The mornings are full of incredible sunshine without a cloud in the sky....birds chirping, bees buzzing, etc.
About the time you think, "surely this will be the day that it doesn't storm in the afternoon, it's just to beautiful", the clouds begin to roll in. By 1:30 or 2:00 in the afternoon, the sky is completely dark and the lightning and thunder begin to dominate the sky. Lightning that lights up the windows on both sides of the house and thunder that rattles the windows and sets off car alarms. If you think I'm exaggerating come for a visit and experience it yourself. :)
Since it has been so long, this is a rather lengthy update. Feel free to "skim".

It's been so busy since I last updated, and I'll try to catch up. We had a great time in Nicaragua over the school break catching up with friends and again catching a vision for Christ being glorified in Nicaragua. It's hard to explain the two extremes that I being how great the need is in Nica. It's immediately noticeable just crossing the border, leaving the green and lush landscape of Costa Rica for the dry and dead Nicaraguan scenery. Many Nicaraguans who were already hurting now feel hopeless and even more helpless with the political developments over the last couple of years. It's a little overwhelming to see so many parts of a culture broken. Fortunately this extreme is opposed by the growth of the church. Seeing so many vibrant ministries and people changed and being discipled by the truth of the Gospel gives hope that all is not lost for the people of Nicaragua!
I've talked before about the vocational/discipleship training that our organization is starting in Managua. We met the couple who are heading up the woodworking/metalworking school and felt a real connection with them, and it looks like we will be starting in this area of ministry when we arrive later this year. Some exciting things are happening, including land being donated for a new, bigger shop in a central location, and plans are in the works to move forward with funding and construction. The old shop has been very serviceable, but has become crowded and is in a location that limits it to one community. It feels like the time is right to move to a location where we can offer training to a wider group or people. We are READY to get to Nicaragua and get started with ministry!
A huge answer to prayer was finding a house. We had been praying for a safe and secure home that would be good for our boys, and we found just the place! The house is in a small development (maybe ten homes) that is very secure with 24 hour security. The landlords are very nice and God seemed to make it happen for us. It's a little cramped as the houses are pretty close. The neighbors say that you can hear everything that goes on in your neighbor's house as well as your neighbor's neighbor's house! Furthermore, for the cherry on top, the exterior color is hot pink. It's really my dream house, hot pink with no privacy. :) I guess it's a fair trade for feeling secure when I leave for work and Kate and the boys stay home. It's also very open outside with great neighbors, beautiful landscaping, room for the boys to run a little bit, and we're looking forward to settling in to a little more permanent place. We are very thankful for God's provision, and feel much peace about this house.

Please continue to pray for Nicaragua. Political tensions are so high, and a few days ago the mayor of Managua, the capitol city, was found dead from a gunshot wound, presumably suicide. So many things are happening down here in central america and only God knows which direction things will go. We are so thankful that we serve a God who is in complete control. Here's a link with some information about the turmoil.

Language School
That brings us back to life here in Costa Rica, which is basically study, study, study. This second trimester has contained a much bigger workload and we've been pretty much swamped with school. The boys are doing great and have made so many friendships here, it will be hard to leave. Cohen loves his class and teachers at school, and they just held and art show for the parents last week. Titus loves his teacher Sonia, and she says he spends his days showing off for his lone classmate Avery and constantly asking her to get out the "bombas", which means bubbles. He's saying a couple words now, and I think his Spanish vocabulary is bigger than his English one. "Hola", "ciao", "gracias", "bombas", and "oh my goodness" seem to be the extent of it. Kate and I are doing well, we are very happy we stayed for this extra trimester of Spanish. We'll be far from completely fluent when we leave, but we are finally becoming comfortable that we'll be able to communicate in a real and personal way in Spanish. That being said, it had been ten years since either of us had been in school and we are ready to move on to Nicaragua! :)
I am serving as one of the student body chaplains this trimester(the title is a bit misleading, considering the actual duties), and this week is Spiritual Emphasis Week on campus. This means no homework and no tests, and we've brought in a guest speaker who is sharing and teaching with us all week. We have two chapel services per day, and it's been a great week so far, taking a breather from homework and being spiritually refreshed!

Our schedule after language school is starting to fall in place. We graduate from school on August 15, and will be leaving directly for Nicaragua. We plan to spend a month there furnishing and settling into our house as well as developing relationships. In mid-September we will fly home and Kate and I will then fly to Florida for two weeks of orientation with Missionary Ventures. Once back California we will more permanently pack up the "stuff" we've left and prepare to return to Nicaragua for good in mid-October. We are looking forward to being back in California for a little while and seeing everyone!

We continue to thank God for His providence and faithfulness to us. He's taught us so much in this time at language school; how to depend on Him and others; How to selflessly serve as well as humble ourselves and be served. We've developed strong friendships here, through ups and downs as language learning is fertile ground for spiritual attacks through discouragement. We would love if you would partner with us in praying for a few needs.
1. Dave will be taking a car trip to Nicaragua later this month with a load of house stuff. Dave's brother Mike will be also be bringing a computer in by plane. Please pray for easy border crossings with minimal "fees" having to be paid.
2. Our family as we prepare for another time of transition. There so much to do in a short period of time. Unlike here in CR, the house we'll be renting comes completely unfurnished. That means not even a stove or refrigerator. Tracking these things down are incredibly time consuming compared to in the states.
3. We have been so blessed by God and all of you in providing for our physical needs. We pray this will continue as we make another move from one country to another.
4. For our hearts as well as the individual hearts God places in our path. Pray that we continue to have humble, thankful hearts that reflect His hurting people's lives can be eternally changed.

With thankfulness to God and much love to you all,
Dave for Kate, Cohen and Titus

PS. If you are reading this by email update, there are a few updated pictures here.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Regresamos a Costa Rica!

We made it back!
The trip to Nicaragua was a resounding success...we had a great time reconnecting with friends and narrowing down areas of ministry to start working in later this year. We also found a house to live in that is very secure with great neighbors. We're very excited how God worked some things out to remind us He cares and is intimately involved with our lives.  I'll write more on this trip later, including the 3.5 hour border crossing.

We've started our second trimester of Spanish school and wow, the workload this tri has at least doubled for both Kate and I. It's going to test my good student habits, to say the least. :)

I have to get the boys dressed for school, but I wanted to write a quick note to let you know we did make it back safe and sound. 

Thank you for the prayers,

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Vamos a Nicaragua!

Hi everyone! 
We are finished with our first trimester of Spanish!  Woohoo!
It's been tough, much harder than we thought it would be. It's not the intake that is such a slow process, but the output!  Nevertheless, God has been gracious to us and we are very pleased with our Spanish progress. 

We have a break from school this week as graduating students leave and new ones arrive, and we have to leave Costa Rica for a minimum of three days to renew our visas. This means a road trip up to Managua, Nicaragua to visit our team leaders, the Loftsgards!  It has been two years since I have been there, four years for Katie, and the boys have never been.  We are very excited to spend several days catching up with old friends and seeing again firsthand what God is doing!  I'm planning a current update after we return about Missionary Ventures Nicaragua and the areas of ministry there. 

Please pray for safety on the drive to and back from Nicaragua!  My research tells me the drive can be anywhere from 7 to 12 hours, depending on how long you are stuck at the border.  So if you want more specifics, pray for honest and ungreedy border officials, sleepy boys, and that our 15 year old, Korean engineered and manufactured fine specimen of an automobile will chug it's way up and down the mountains without a hitch. 

 God bless and we love you all!
 Dave for Kate, Cohen and Titus

Monday, April 6, 2009

Gracias a Dios!

Hey everybody, hola once again from the land of coffee and tourism!

Another month has came and went since our last post, and it's hard for us to believe that Easter is almost here.  Our family is finally healthy, and we praise God and thank you for praying with us! I think we've finally gotten through the initial time of illness, building up our immune systems against all the new "bugs" in this place.  

As I write this, Katie's parents should be enroute to Costa Rica, and we go to pick them up at the airport early in the morning.  Needless to say, we are extremely excited to see them!  This week is Semana Santa (holy week), and a huge catholic holiday in Latin America. Nearly the entire country shuts down on thursday and friday. We have the rest of the week off of school, and Kate's parents have been so kind to rent us a house near the beach and we are driving with them tomorrow to the coast to spend some much needed family time together.
After a months long search for some shoes for Cohen, we finally found some last week that seemed like they would last and were the right price. Clothes items can be expensive here and quality is seemingly an unknown quality(did that make sense? That's why I'm glad I'm learning Spanish instead of English!). Anyway, Cohen is extremely excited about showing his shoes to his grandparents. He woke up early the morning after receiving his new shoes, and by the time I got up at 5:30 am he was already traipsing around the house with his shoes on the wrong feet.  As I was helping him get them switched around he said, "Dad, I really want to take my new shoes to heaven. I'd sure like to show these shoes to Jesus!"
I can't remember what my reply was, being that it was 5:30 in the morning, but I think I assured him that Jesus would be delighted to see his shoes. You can't argue with 3 year old theology!

If anyone is wondering how are Spanish is coming, I'll update you in a minute on where my grammar class is. For now, I have a quick lesson. While Harina(flour), and Orina (urine) are pronounced much the same, they have very different meanings.  Earlier this trimester, Kate announced in her class that she had plastic canisters of Orina in her kitchen. By her teacher's reaction, this is as highly irregular in Costa Rica as it is in the States.  In interest of full disclosure, at around the same time I announced in my class that I cut my wrists every two weeks, instead of my fingernails.  Thanks to ourselves, we do get to laugh a bit in school.
Back to the update,  my grammar class just finished direct and indirect complement pronouns, reflexive verbs, and most recently special intransitive verbs. All of these require removing your brain from your head, flipping it around backwards, then replacing it.  After Semana Santa, we will be starting on Preterit verb conjugation.  While sometimes learning Spanish is difficult and can be as fun as watching nails rust, we have really turned a corner over the past few weeks. I'm excited for the next trimester, because I'm signing up for a little different academic program involving developing relationships with people around town and spending time every week going on a "route", speaking with them about various subjects. It will be a welcome change from the classroom setting and I hope to get better at hearing native speakers speaking Spanish.  God has been good to us in learning Spanish!

On a personal note, there have been some rough times as well as good, and one of these has been with Seth and Renee and baby Travis.  Having to grieve with them from far away has been very difficult, and we were very homesick for them and our church family at BCF on the day Travis was laid to rest.  We are incredibly grateful for a God who holds and sustains us.  In the midst of this and some other experiences here with people living with so many needs it feels hopeless,  a passage in John jumped out at me one morning. It's from the beginning of chapter nine, when Jesus and his disciples happened upon a man who was blind from birth. His followers wondered whose fault it was that he was born blind, his or his parents. Jesus replied that neither was at fault, but he was born blind so that God's works could be made manifest in him.  I love the comfort we can find in this, that Jesus with his compassion feels our pain when we go through seemingly unbearable things, and yet it is not for nothing, God does have a plan for it.  Even though it doesn't take the grieving and the pain away, it can make it bearable, and we know that someday all things will be made right. I long for the day when our eyes are opened, and all the things we can't understand, like a baby going home before we get a chance to hold or know him or children living in conditions we can't fathom, are finally fully understandable.  

If you are still with me in the rather long update, thanks for taking the time. :)  We love and miss everyone at home, and God has been so gracious to us with a strong network of support.

May God bless you richly, 
Dave for Kate, Cohen and Titus.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Enfermo.....once again.

Hola from Costa Rica!

This is an update from our sick ward that used to be our home.  The kids' classroom at the Spanish institute seem to be a bit of a petri dish, and in all seriousness it has become a bit discouraging.  This time it's some sort of viral stomach deal that produces lots of el vomito and la diarea. I'm not going to try to describe it, but it's not a lot of fun.
 In the midst of discouragement, I received some encouragement this morning out of Joshua chapter one. At the onset of heading into a strange land, the Lord spoke to Joshua, "Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go."  It is so good to know that God has ordained these steps for us and is walking with us.
Two weekends ago, before this latest round of disease, we were finally able to make it to the beach, and it was beautiful!  The student life department puts paseos(mini vacations) together for the students. They are much needed breaks from Spanish! Here's a few pics of the beautiful beaches here in Costa Rica.

Spanish is starting to sink into our brains, and it's been exciting to communicate in actual sentences with some neighbors on our street. We've developed a relationship with the guard of a few houses down, and have been mutually helping sharing food and him sharing natural herbal medicines for our multitude of sicknesses. He claims the doctors here have no idea what they're doing. :)  The position of a guard isn't quite what it is in the states.  Most neighborhood guards here are employed by either one homeowner or a group of homeowners, and it requires sitting around and keeping watch. It isn't a desirable position of employment, as it's one of the lowest paying jobs around. Most of the street guards are illegal aliens from Nicaragua, Panama, Guatemala, etc..  They come here to Costa Rica looking for any kind of work available, and send the money home to their families.  Here's a pic of Cohen and the guard Manuel working in the yard, and another of Manuel's casita de la guarda (guard shack) on the street:
Costa Rica definitely has extremes within it's population. Being the most developed country in Central America with a GDP of around $10,000 per capita (for comparison, the USA has a GDP of around $45,000  and Nicaragua is around $800) makes Costa Rica a desirable location for the poorest people in the surrounding countries to come for employment, and illegal immigration is a much talked about problem on the streets and in the news.  There is definitely some racism between some of the wealthier Costa Ricans and the poorer people from other nations that have moved here.  It has also produced some slum areas that are pretty destitute, as the influx of people from other countries have to have somewhere to live.
Our neighborhood is a middle class neighborhood consisting of Costa Ricans, but if you travel less than a mile you can find yourself in some of the poorest slums imagineable.  

Please pray for us that we would have discernment from the Holy Spirit as we continue to pray for and develop relationships with people we encounter in our neighborhood.  A 16 year old boy walked up last Friday looking for work. I didn't really have anything for him to do then, but I told him to come back the following morning and he could do some things in the yard. He insisted that he needed to work that day! I asked him what he needed the money for. He said he needed diapers, beans, rice, etc.  I felt moved to help him so I took him the the store and bought about $20 dollars of groceries and took him home, which was only about 3/4 of a mile away in a neighborhood that made you want to cry.  I shared with him that I didn't help him because I was good, but because Jesus is good!
To contrast that story, a few days ago I went out to someone banging on our gate.  It was a middle-aged man who looked in bad shape. He proceeded to tell me that since I was a gringo and a missionary blessed by God and had only two kids while he was poor and destitute and had three kids, I was required to give him money.  
I did not feel moved to give him money but I told him God loved him and I loved him and I would pray for him even though I had no money for him. He continued to drive home his point that I owed him money, using various words and hand gestures.  After ten minutes he moved on and I learned later from neighbors that he is an alcoholic and helping him with money isn't a good idea. 

Also please pray for the health of our family and for decisions we may have to make if the boys continue to get sick on a weekly basis. 
This update is getting long, but I also want to ask for prayer for Nicaragua and her politics as things are starting to heat up a bit, with some streets clashes between opposing political parties.
Please pray that God's hand would move and conflicts would be resolved. 

Love in Christ,
Dave for Kate, Cohen and Titus

Ps. As I was uploading pictures, the ground started rocking and rolling under my chair. It wasn't a strong quake, but it rolled for about twenty seconds. Another reminder that this entire earth is in His mighty hands. Amen?!

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Tough Decisions

Hello everyone....we are not dead, just lost in articulos indefinido and gerundios irregulares. Contrary to how it feels at times, we are learning Spanish!  We attended a church new to us last Sunday and had a great time of fellowship.  We had been spending Sundays at home listening to sermons online for a few weeks, after feeling overwhelmed by hearing messages at churches with no idea what was being said.  I'm happy to report that I actually had an idea what the pastor was saying!  

We've had to make a tough decision lately and have been seeking God's leading....mainly with staying another trimester at language school. The program we're in is not a fast-track survivol Spanish program. It is an immersion program designed to teach you to communicate in Spanish at an every day level.  It's been difficult, with our strong desire being to get to Nicaragua as soon as possible to begin helping out with ministry there, yet realizing that by the end of April we won't be able to communicate at the level we desire for ministry, and feeling that God is leading us to stay here in Costa Rica for another four months.  Of the 160 students at ILE, I don't know of any who are leaving after one trimester, and most are staying for a full year.  We've sought advice from others who have been through it and our team leaders in Nicaragua and we've received the same responce.....stay in school!  Please pray with us as we go through the process of signing up and making the financial commitment for another trimester that God continues to lead us in clear ways.  
Isaiah 55:8 came to my mind early this morning...."for My thoughts are not your thoughts, and neither are your ways my ways."  It's comforting to rest in that, knowing that He has a plan and rushing ahead of it is never profitable (this I know by experience).

Many of you heard about out team leaders in Nicaragua, Eric and Marilyn Loftsgard, and the tragedy over Christmas that ended with their guard being shot and killed by armed robbers. As an update, God moved and people responded with love. They were able to set up an account with the financial gifts to allow their guard's widow and six children to continue to draw his salary for a number of years. 
Hard financial times in the US means hard financial times all over the world, and we see that here in Costa Rica. Many people losing jobs, rising food prices, and tourism industry struggles have all contributed to hungry mouths and rising crime rates.  We do what we can to feed the hungry people that show up at our door and continue to realize the importance of communicating in their language.  We are still in traing mode as we focus on culture and Spanish language acquisition, but please pray for us as the more we learn of this language and culture the more we look for ways to minister here in Costa Rica.

Our family is doing great in spite of the sick bugs that float through school.  I'm currently home with Cohen and his fever/shakes. I think it's just our immune systems adjusting to a foreign place, but we've averaged about a sickness a week since we've been here.  Titus celebrated his first birthday on the tenth(we missed you Brooke, Ryan, Lindsay, Skylar, Addie and Maddie Kate) with friends and chocolate cake! Because of our internet speed, uploading pics to phanfare is easier than this blog, so you can view all our pictures here

We love you all and continue to pray for you.....we miss everyone back home in California!
Thanks for your continued prayers and support,
Dave for Kate, Cohen and Titus

Sunday, February 1, 2009

At MTI they helped prepare us for living with the “I love this place, I hate this place” paradox. I now know exactly what they were talking about and why we spent so much time on this topic!

I hate our bed, oh how I hate our bed. Not only do you wake up feeling like you have been hit by a truck, the footboard is about a foot and a half away from the wall and the bruises on my legs are proof of just how sharp the corners are.

I hate the garbage and the dog poop everywhere in the street.

I hate how gross water bubbles up in my kitchen sink when you run the washing machine.

I hate my dryer….It either doesn’t dry or melts the buttons off my clothes…..literally.

I hate the sausage at la feria…it’s really nasty.

I hate how dirty our feet are at the end of the day, after walking everywhere in flipflops.

I hate how expensive cheese and chocolate chips are….a couple of my favorite things.

I hate the feeling I get when Cohen asks when he can go to Grandma's, but love the feeling I get when I hear him sing a song in spanish, and how he kind of has a crush on his teacher Pamela.

I love the experience of taking the public bus system in a third world country, but I’m ok if I never have to take it again.

I hate how I feel carsick in the back seat of a taxi.

I love when Cohen finds touch me nots- the leaves close when you touch them.

I love when someone rattles off to me in Spanish before they realize I don’t understand, and I can’t wait to have a conversation with them.

I love when we pass guys on the street and they recognize my husband from playing basketball with them at the park.

I love how Titus doesn’t have a clue he’s living anywhere different from where he always has, and how excited he gets when I pick him up from school everyday.

I love how I don’t notice the garbage as much anymore.

I love how everyone talks to my kids and all the girls want to hold Tito.

I love my teacher Francisco’s sense of humor, and how he really cares about us.

I love seeing Dave and the boys hanging out in the hammock eating peanuts.

I love the orange-carrot juice from Fresas.

I love being in the center of God’s will…….


God bless and enjoy the paradox that is life!


Sunday, January 25, 2009

Flying time

Time is moving seems like just yesterday I was promising to post pics and here it is a week later. Last week was a little crazy, Titus was sick on tuesday and wednesday, and then he handed off the fever and aches to Cohen for thursday and friday. So Kate and I spent this week juggling who stayed home with the sick kid and who went to school with the healthy one and trying to keep up with missed assignments and homework. Praise God it was a quick flu bug that came and went. We have some friends in school who have been hit pretty hard with sickness and need prayer....for instance, one family with multiple sicknesses, kids breaking hands, mom spending time in the hospital, and dad currently in an out of the hospital with some sort of intestinal infection, possibly a parasite.
School is going great, becoming fluent still feels a looooong way off. I think the first couple of weeks are designed to show you how much you don't know.  It's amazing how important communication is to life. In a culture where you don't understand the language, it's one thing to be able to communicate your urgent need to find the bathroom. It's quite another to be able to communicate feelings, passions, and desires.....such as all that God has done for you and how much you love Him for it. You can share in small ways such as simply having a smile for the people you pass, the taxi driver, the bus driver. You can give a sympathetic smile and some food to the beggars at your door.  But I can't wait untill I can move from simple communication to being able to deeply relate. I know that can take months and even years, so pray for patience as we are trudging though language learning, eager to get there! 
       I think being unlingual can also can have it's positives. It highlights the bond we have in Christ as christians around the globe. Christian unity, true love from the Father, flows through languages, cultures, and traditions. It flows through the church we attended a couple weeks ago, where we couldn't understand much of the sermon but could feel the Spirit move in the praise and worship. It flows through the house church in China, the small but growing movement of the gospel through youth in Slovenia and across eastern europe, the christians in Dagestan aching for someone to come help them grow in Truth.  It flows through the church in Africa, through the church across the USA, making its way through so many denominations, divisions, and longstanding church tradition. It doesn't flow corporately, but individually from heart to heart. This is the passion we have for be a small part in helping the church there grow in Truth, so they can be a light to their neighbors and make much of God in every area of their life.
Ephesians 4:10-16

We've made some good friends here, and a few of them live a couple houses down from us. They will be staying in country after language school, ministering in a church plant in Jaco, so they shipped their car down. Yesterday we were finally able to get out of our ghetto neighborhood and see a bit of the city, as our family of four piled into their car with their family of four. We went across town to the childrens museum. It was great for the boys to get out and run around. The museum was built in an old prison, and it was actually pretty cool. It cost 3,000 colones($6) for our family to get in, and was well worth it for a couple of hours of adventure. I've decided to post pictures to phanfare and post the link here, since it saves me hours of uploading time. So just click here for some pics of the last few weeks. Just click "start slideshow" to begin. 

Thanks so much for all the love and prayers! We're sending them back your way as well.
In Him,
Dave for Kate, Cohen and Titus

Monday, January 19, 2009

A few days ago Cohen and I walked down to the Mini super to get some milk and eggs. As we walked to the register to pay, I heard a very gringo voice proclaiming, "NO, I don't want these! I want one of these!"
As I got to the register I saw the owner of the voice.....not just a gringo, but most definitely a turista. He was wearing a cut off tee shirt, Gilligan's Island hat, shorts(not culturally appropriate for men in Costa Rica) and just oozed tourist. I quickly saw that he had been given two 500 colone coins as change, but he wanted a 1000 colone bill. He pulled out a 1000 colone bill from his pocket and kept demanding she take the 500 colone coins back and give him a 1000 colone bill. She kept saying, "No tengo, No tengo." 
Finally he looked at me and said, "Geez, what is she saying, 'no tengo no tengo'?"
I said, "dude, she's saying she doesn't have it."

He said, "Oh." Then he grabbed his purchases and stomped out without so much as a "Muchas Gracias."
The lady behind the counter looked at me and shook her head, "No tengo."
I shook my head and said, "No tengo."
We both smiled and I couldn't help but feeling some kind of a victory. 
I might only have two weeks under my belt, I might still be a gringo and I'll probably always be a gringo, but at least on that day to the woman behind the counter, I wasn't that dreaded Gringo Turista! :)

I promise a big picture post is coming. Our internet speed discourages picture posts but I will get it done!

Dave for Kate, Cohen and Titus

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Okay, this one is for the Grandmas. Anyone else is welcome to watch but fair warning, it's nothing to exciting. Just a Sunday afternoon en la casa.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Hola! We have survived day 2 of Spanish class! I think Dave is in the 3% of people who will love language learning and thrive on it, me…well love is not the word I would use. While I have enjoyed classes so far I’m pretty sure I’ll be surviving not thriving. Our teachers for the most part will not speak English to us, so you just hope they are kind enough to help you out with hand gestures. Actually, the teachers here are amazing and they know what they are doing. They also take the jobs at our school as a ministry of their own as they could get better paying jobs elsewhere. They are there to minister to us as missionaries, and you can tell it in the way they teach, they have a heart for us to learn.

We visited a local church on Sunday and as always were blessed. Although the several hour service can get a little lengthy when you don’t understand a word of it, I was brought to tears when we sang a familiar praise song. Voices lifted in praise to God transcends language. Walls come down and you sing with one voice. It’s always an incredible experience to see people in other cultures praising God….our God is the God of the whole earth and all people!


One of the highlights for our family lately has been the hammock recently hung in the back yard. The boys LOVE it and much fun has already been had. We are learning to really enjoy the little things in life: hammocks, Sat. morning farmers market, walks to school and the occasional cheese sprinkled on our dinner (cheese is expensive). I’m also learning all sorts of new and interesting color combinations. Who knew salmon and teal went together?!?! The colors here are just an expression of the bright and fun-loving personalities of the people here in Costa Rica.

Well, homework is next on my list. Please pray that God uses us to make much of Him for the time he has us here, and for the gift of Spanish! :) God bless you all and thank you!

Kate for Dave, Cohen and Titus

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Pura Vida!

We have arrived!
It's our one week anniversary here in San Jose, Costa Rica. It's amazing how many emotional ups and downs you can have in one week. If I had to describe the experience overall in one word I think I would use the word "different". Not better or worse, just different. I guess it's human nature to be scared of the unfamiliar (I know, unfamiliar makes two words) but unfamiliar it is here. From the electrical outlets to the food packaging to the streets to the buses to the taxis to the razor wire, it's unfamiliar. 

Over the last week, as the unfamiliar becomes known, we've started to settle in. Our first few trips to the stores were more puzzling than anything else, wandering the aisles trying to figure out where everything was, feeling victorious whenever we could actually read something with our limited Spanish. We had quite a bit to buy to set up our house for living, and by the second trip we were able to find everything but baking soda. After using an unsuspecting expat as an eng/span dictionary, we found it. Bicarbonato de sodio! 

Food is interesting here. Gallo Pinto is the traditional meal, and they do not like anything spicy. Finding hot peppers for salsa is nearly impossible. If, while in a restaurant, you put lots of black pepper on your food, they will be horrified at how hot it must be! If you move here and love red meat, you will be disappointed. There's not a lot of quality beef to be had here! On the other hand, if you happen to be from California, and are a bit granola with your eating style, it's a great place to be. You can find lots of fruits and vegetables for great prices, and eating Mangoes and pineapples here is  pretty much like eating candy. Here's a pic of yesterday's haul from the feria (farmers market) down the road.
(Note the sweet wood paneling on our wall. I know your jealous.)
We purchased pineapples, watermelon, avocados, bananas, apples, oranges, carrots, green beans, cilantro, strawberries, and mini bananas for about 13 bucks.
To contrast that, a small chunk of wannabe cheddar cheese will run you 7 bucks. Try counting up how much cheese you use in a week and you'll see that it's a bummer of a thing to give up!

Classes start in the morning at 7:30 am, so we've got to leave the house around 7am to make the twenty minute walk and get Cohen and Titus into their preschool. Our "dsl" internet connection would lose most races to dial up in the states, so pictures take a bit to load. I'll leave you all with a picture of a makeshift Costarican bath.  Baths are extremely uncommon, as they are very peculiar about personal cleanliness here. Most Ticos are disgusted that US Americans would take a bath, feeling that it is not a very good way to get clean. I might expound on that later.  

Before I forget and if anyone is wondering, we did feel the earthquake last week. We were in a get-to-know-ya interview in the student counselors office at language school, and we started rockin' and rollin' for at least 7 or 8 seconds. It was a pretty good tremor, by far the strongest I've ever felt. It's pretty sad, as reports keep coming in and the death toll mounts (19 so far). We have some friends here who were coming home from the beach that day, and had planned on stopping by the volcano where the earthquake was centered, then decided they didn't have time. If they had, they would have been there when the earthquake hit. 

We're clinging to God and trusting in His plans for us, and we feel incredibly blessed to be here and safe. God is good, even though transition to this place feels like a huge challenge at times.  The people here are warm and friendly (even though personal security is majorly different than at home, more on that later), at least as far as I can tell, I'll confirm that in a few weeks when I can understand a bit of what they are saying.  

We love and miss everyone, 
Dave for Kate, Cohen and Titus. 
ps. I'll blog more later, I wanted to wait at least a week untill we were settled. There's quite a few interesting things that go on here, so expect more posts!