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 eachother....us 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?!