Wednesday, February 23, 2011

The end?

1.5 days left in this beautiful country.  I have lots of mixed feelings about leaving. 
I mostly don't want to go home.  Is that bad?
I've started making a mental list of the pros and cons of going home:

  • Leaving my amazing friends.  And I'm not using the word "amazing" lightly here.  The work God is doing in the lives of each of these special people is phenomenal. I've made some great friendships here that I hope will continue, even after we've all scattered to the ends of the earth.
  • I need more time to practice my Spanish (and keep learning).
  • No more Sunshine.
  • No more Mangos.
  • Or tasty Costa Rican food.
  • I won't get coffee every morning, or discuss the news with Abuelita while I eat my breakfast.
  • I'm leaving behind a sweet sweet Tica family, and the most protective 3 year old boyfriend I've ever had.  He saves me from all sorts of danger around here. :-)
  • I probably won't find money on the ground every day anymore.
  • No more Chapel services at the Institute.
  • No more Colonos de Catan en espanol.
  • No more going to the beach on the weekends.
  • My grocery store doesn't sell Galletas de Mantequilla.  :-(
  • I have to go home to all sorts of drama that I really don't want to face again.  If only all of my problems would have fixed themselves while I was away!
 There are more, but I'll spare you. I'm just hitting the high points here.

  • I get to see everyone I miss back home. 
  • I'll have a cellphone again.
  • I can eat blueberry pancakes every day if I want to.
  • I'll be making money instead of spending it.
  • Spring planting will be fast approaching, and I'm itchin' to get in the field again.  
  • I'll have a piano. In my house. That I can play without the entire school campus having to listen in. 
  • I'll be able to DRIVE.
  • I can eat at Buffalo Wild Wings, and McDonald's has a dollar menu.
  • I can make cookies and pie and cinnamon rolls whenever I feel like it.  (and even when I don't feel like it, since that's my job, LOL) 
  • I can eat my normal six tiny meals a day instead of having to eat three giant meals a day.
  • Bible Study
  • Thursday night Basketball stats! 
As you can see, I'm pretty evenly split.  And why do most of my points have to do with food??  haha

However, I know I'm supposed to head home now, even if I'm not really ready to go. 
I'm trusting God to give me the strength and wisdom to know what to do about my home situation, and grace to love even those who refuse to love me back.  It's hard, and the last place on earth I want to be at the moment.
But I am confident that God has more than enough grace to get me through it. 

I'm struggling to prioritize, to focus on the One Thing most important and not be distracted by all of these lesser things that threaten to steal my peace and my joy.  My problems, no matter how big they seem, should never succeed in stealing away my joy.  Having said that, I'm taking a deep breath, praying my heart out, and packing up my things to head home.  I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength!

Please pray for my host family - that they will know the love of Jesus for real, and be set free by the FULL truth of the Gospel.  I just found out that my host "mom" has cancer, and is headed for her 4th surgery in the coming weeks, followed by a long hard year of chemo and radiation afterward.  These little boys need their Mama, and I believe she's been doing a lot of spiritual seeking. My heart breaks for this family, and I want them to have God's best. 

The Dead Cockroach Count in my room is up to six,
and the Colones on the Ground Count is up to 205. 
...just fyi. ;-)

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Little Boys, Volcanoes, and Predestination

Carlos Andres: 
  •   ….saying “Jessi, vea! Jessi, vea!”  (“vea” means “look”)  a hundred thousand times a day. lol    He’s a trip.  …with a lot of mad skillz that are just begging for an audience.  Like when he flips over the armchair in the living room. 20 times in a row. “Jessi, vea!  Jessi, vea!”  
  • ·         Andres and I play hide-and-scare together.  (which I’m okay with as long as I’m the one doing the scaring) His terrified giggles are h.y.s.t.e.r.i.c.a.l. 
  • ·         Sometimes he just sits next to me while I’m on Facebook and points to random pictures of people.  “Jessi!  Quien es esto?”  …and then he always wants to know why I’m not in the picture with my friend.  Haha
  • ·         Andres came into my room this morning and randomly asked if I have a toothbrush.  I heard him last night asking his Mom about it because he didn’t want to brush his teeth and thought if I didn’t then maybe he wouldn’t have to either, I guess.   The topic has apparently been weighing heavily on his mind.  I told him I DO in fact have a toothbrush, but he didn’t believe me until I showed it to him.   So he went and got his, and we compared them. lol  Gotta love little kids.   First time I've ever done show-and-tell with a toothbrush, I have to say. 

Trip to Arenal: 
  •        Buses are the most inhumane way to travel.  Torture is a pretty good word for bus rides longer than 2 ½ hours.   The ride to La Fortuna was almost double that.  Ugh.
  • According to the map, the volcano is just past Burger King....but the map lies.  There was definitely a lot of artistic license going on there, because we walked WAY past Burger King (like two miles, in the rain), and the Volcano was lots further.   Who are these people who hire artists to draw maps?  The point is ACCURACY, not prettiness.  Hello.  lol
  • ·         In La Fortuna, a man was playing “Smoke on the Water” in the park.  …..with an ocarina.  There really is a first time for everything.
  • ·         Javier – (the second one I met on this trip!)  The first one sat next to me on the plane and wanted me to have his phone number in case I needed anything while I was here.  The second one wanted money to buy a beer.  Or he wanted me to buy us BOTH beers.  (We’re a little unsure on the translation there.)  Either way, I said no.
    But he’s a professional fighter, and looked like it.  Wow.  Lots of scars. 
  • ·         Apparently playing cards in the park attracts a lot of attention in Latin America – whip out the playing cards, and you’ll have all kinds of friends.  Javier wondered if we gamble, and I told him we never play for money. 
  • ·         SisterMaryKathryn travels light: 
    For our overnight trip, she brought:  purse, swimsuit, and….steak knife?
    You need a husband with a backpack.
  • ·         I found 50 colonnes on the ground since my last post – what are we up to now?  175?  That’s about 34 cents if my math is right – enough to pay for one trip to the bathroom at the CocaCola bus station….and have a little left over.  haha
  • Me:  Don’t even pretend like you didn’t miss me all weekend!  You know you felt sad and lonely.
      There was definitely some kind of feeling….. 

The trip to the Arenal was a bit of a let-down because it decided to rain the whole time we were there, and the volcano wasn’t really even visible because of all the clouds covering it.   Very sad.
However, Sam, Jordan, SisterMaryKathryn and I managed to entertain ourselves and it was okay.   Good thing the hotel room only cost me $10 or I might have been a little more upset.
Note to self: next time, check the weather report before riding 4 hours in a bus to Arenal.  ….this may or may not work since the weather here pretty much just does whatever it wants. Haha.
Oh well.  I’ll save the volcano for my next trip to Costa Rica.    And then I’ll rent a car (or fly) instead of riding the bus! 

We’re down to the last 2 weeks of school, and I’m sad.  I need more time!!  I just paid my rent for my last 13 days, and it saddens me.    It’s interesting to see the mixed reactions in my friends – some are ready to move on to bigger and better things, but the real question is  not "Are you ready for school to be over," but “HOW WILL WE EVER LIVE WITHOUT EACH OTHER?!?!?”  :::::::tears::::::: 

I’ve been thinking deep thoughts about predestination this week.   Romans 9-11 is blowing my mind.
The phrase that’s grabbing me today and keeps floating around in my brain amidst Spanish verbs and pronouns is this:
“What if God…?”  (Rom. 9:22)   This one line screams at me because sometimes I fall into thinking that God is contained in the Bible:
This is God. 
This is how I know who God is. 
True, but this is not ALL of God.   God is not tame-able.  There are always “What ifs” with God because God is always BIGGER than my perception of Him.  

It’s like the speaker quoted in chapel the other day from C.S. Lewis regarding Aslan:

"Ooh!" said Susan, "I'd thought he was a man. Is he--quite safe? I shall feel rather nervous about meeting a lion."
"That you will, dearie, and no mistake," said Mrs. Beaver, "if there's anyone who can appear before Aslan without their knees knocking, they're either braver than most or else silly."
"Then he isn't safe?" said Lucy.
"Safe?" said Mr. Beaver. "Don't you hear what Mrs. Beaver tells you? Who said anything about safe? 'Course he isn't safe. But he's good. He's the King, I tell you."

There is always an element of danger when it comes to the character of God:  His character is a complex composite of divine hatred and divine love.    When I try to wrap my mind around that, my head hurts.  
God is unfathomable and unpredictable and that’s what makes Him dangerous.  He isn’t safe, but He IS good. 
“Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! 
How unsearchable are His judgments and how inscrutable His ways!
For who has known the mind of the Lord,
or who has been His counselor?
Or who has given a gift to Him that he might be repaid?
For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things.
To Him be glory forever. Amen.

(Romans 9:33-36)
As for predestination, I’m still thinking.    

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Kitties, Conversations, and Costa Rican Goodness.

I love latin church services. …and they've got a SAXAPHONE on the worship team.  Come on!  :-)
I've happily been understanding MOST of the sermons at church the last two weeks.... just don't ask me to explain it to you in Spanish.  I'm so glad the pastor speaks fairly slow and uses words I know.  I write down all the words I don't know to look up later.  Gotta expand that vocabulary, you know. 

Jacó Beach is like being in Florida – everyone speaks English, and I saw a guy wearing an Indiana sweatshirt.  What?! lol  No me gusta Jaco.  WAY too many people.
Fun trip though, and gorgeous scenery out the bus window.  :-)

When we got to our hostel in Jacó, I checked us in and came out of the office to find everyone talking to a very shirtless, very friendly dude.  We discussed this later in our room:
Jenny: “So, Emily and I thinking about taking a surfing lesson tomorrow.”
“From Shirtless?”
Nate: “His name is Alan.”
“If he wants to be called by his real name, he needs to not be running around shirtless at all hours of the day and night! How does he expect anyone to remember his name?”
Cindy: “Come on Nate, don’t even pretend you weren’t distracted by his pectorals.” 
::::awkward silence::::
Me: “I didn’t look, personally…. I just saw he was shirtless and averted my gaze so I wouldn’t be lustful.” lol
Nate: “I just think you should call him by his name.  He’s a person, you know. He has a NAME.”
…and then we realized he was sitting directly outside our room for the entire conversation.  Oops. roflol!

  • My first stay in a Hostel.  Not bad!
  • I killed cockroach #3 in my room on Monday.  
  • …and I’ve found 40 more colonnes on the ground since my last blog update.  Haha!
  • Maria: "I left my personality at home." 
    Me: "I noticed, but I didn't want to say anything." (she meant to say she left her flashcards for describing personalities lol)
  • The neighbor’s cat likes to dance on our tin roof at night – I never thought one cat could make so much noise hopping around! Last night I heard him meowing by my bathroom skylight.  Crazy kitty. 
  • Sister Mary Kathryn: "You're like a Boy Scout, ...only prettier!"   
  • Playing the Spanish version of Settler's.  Yeah, you know you're jealous. ;-) 
  • In conversation class:
    Rita: "Como esta?"
    Nate: "Casado."  (which means "married," not to be confused with "CANsado," which means exhausted.)
    Me: "Since YESTERDAY??"
    Rita: "Felicidades!" 
    Monday, I met three new people: 
    Angel, the man who cleans Parque Chino/Okayama/Japonese.  He very graciously allowed me to sit at the picnic table where he was eating lunch and talk his leg off trying to practice my Spanish.  I think he may have been slightly frightened at first, but he warmed up after a while. Lol

    Carmen, a tiny elderly lady who spends most of the day walking up and down the street she lives on.  She has a dog named Blackie, and a son who lives down the street.  Sweet lady with beautiful eyes.  She repeats herself a lot, but that’s okay, ‘cause I don’t always catch what people say the first time. 

    Roland, originally from CR, lives in California, home visiting his wife’s family.  I was walking by his house, and somehow ended up in a conversation with him after my normal “Buenas Tardes” greeting.  He asked if I go to the Institute, and what I plan to do with Spanish, so I shared with him a bit, and after I left, I realized I forgot to ask him if he knows Jesus.  Maybe next time. 
    I've had some really good talks with my host family over the past three weeks, in spite of my horrific Spanish...   It's funny how conversations like this have come up so naturally, and it's not weird or strange or awkward - it just happens.  ...and afterwards I realize that I just shared the Gospel.  Crazy.  :-)
    We were just watching TV on Monday (some Mexican Dr.Phil-type show) and talking about the world's problems, when Taty told me that she and her mother had been talking about how different I am from other University students who have stayed with them - I don't come home drunk, I'm not chasing men, and from the conversations we've had dating and marriage, they know I'm not a casual dater or whathaveyou.

    She said I'm very different from what she knows of Americans, and wondered why.  I just told her that it's really important to me to be obedient to God's Word, and that just threw open the doors to a great conversation about the Law and Grace, and Sin and the sacrifice of Jesus.  She asked questions, and I did my best to answer with my limited conversational resources. 
    Towards the end of our talk, she asked me what my objective is in learning Spanish, if I'm planning to be a missionary or what.  I told her I would love to be a missionary in Latin America, but only if God sends me, and she said (in Spanish) "You're going to make a good missionary, and you need to come help all of Costa Rica."  :-) 
    I know that my pathetic vocabulary and wrong verb tenses butchered most of what I was trying to say to her, but I believe God uses my gigantic weaknesses for His glory.  Please pray for Tatianna if you think about her.  She has a lot of weight on her shoulders, and she's doing the best she can to raise her boys right.

    ...and that's the long way of saying it's been a good week. :-)

    Tuesday, February 1, 2011

    The end of week 2: Randomness + the Faithfulness of God.


    • Killed two cockroaches in my room so far.  2 in two weeks isn’t bad, I don’t think. 
    •   Ate the first watermelon I’ve EVER liked.  …and I’ve had it three times since then.  If you know me at all, you know this is a big deal.  
    •   I lost my water bottle cap last Tuesday morning.  I took the lid off, set it down in my room, and promptly forgot where I put it.  I’m still looking for it.  What on earth?  My room isn’t THAT big!!
    • I tried to put soap on my toothbrush instead of toothpaste twice the same day.  I really don’t know what’s wrong with me…?
    • My money-finding tradition continues – I’ve found 85 Colonnes since I’ve been here!  (about 17 cents)  I’m gonna get rich, I’m tellin’ ya!
    • Cam:“The plug doesn’t fit in the outlet and it like sparks and stuff.”
      Nate:  “That doesn’t sound good – have you killed anybody?”
      Cam:  “Yes. FIVE people.  Anyways… I’m trying to figure out how to….”
      Nate:  “Wait – FIVE people?  You should probably call someone about that.”
    • Andres:  “Jessi, tu necesitas coma mas porque tu es FLACA!”   That’s a three-year old telling me he thought I needed more than two pieces of pizza.  His grandma was horrified. Being called “flaca” isn’t exactly a compliment.  It’s like unhealthily skinny.   “Andres!  No!  She looks nice!”  He shook his head and said he didn’t think so. lol  I apparently need to eat more pizza to impress this kiddo.
    • On that note:   I love my host family’s cooking – I ate 4 (count ‘em) FOUR starches for supper one night:  Rice, Mashed Potatoes, Pasta, and Chips.  Someone tell Mom I’m definitely going to put on weight while I’m here.   ;-)
    • Adrienne:  “Don’t judge.”
    • Zaqueo:  “You people know NOTHING about Canada!”
        “You’re right.  All we know is that you have Niagara Falls.  Oh, and… wait- no, that’s it.” 
      We love you Zach, we really do. ;-)  
      I am still loving Costa Rica, loving my new friends, and loving Spanish – this wonderful, frustrating, tantalizingly-close-to-me language.  I wish I had more than 4 weeks left!!  Wow.  Every week I just discover how much MORE I have to learn.  Today in Grammar class, I was just like “Oops.  Yeah, I’ve been saying that wrong the whole time.  Oh, and that too!”  …my poor pathetic grammar…. Agh! 

    Went hiking on Saturday – check out my pictures on FB…. A.M.A.Z.I.N.G!!  I kept stopping to just sit and stare at the view.  I am constantly amazed by the amazing creativeness of my God. 
    Every time I come out of the class and see those mountains, I can’t help but stop and stare.  I wonder if you ever get used to the view here? 
    That hike reminded me of when we were driving through the Andes mountains in Ecuador on our way back to El Recreo from Cuenca, all of us just singing and praising God because the WHOLE EARTH is filled with His GLORY!  Wow. 

    My verse for this week:  “He who has called you is faithful;  He will surely do it.”  - 1 Thess. 5:24.
    I’ve been thinking a lot about where God has brought me from, and wondering where He’s taking me…. 

    Everyone here is always asking the question “So, what are you going to do when you finish this course?”  Some of my friends are headed for El Salvador, some for Mexico, some for Nicaragua, some for Chile, some are staying here in CR, and I’m going…. Home.    
    But you know what, that’s okay.  I’m following Jesus one step at a time, and as far as I know the next two steps are “Finish this language course” and “Go home.” 

    Last week in chapel, Rob shared his and Sherry’s testimony and it just left me in tears.   I wish you could all have been there.  Wow.  I may share some of what he had to say with ya’ll sometime, but this post is already long enough, I think.  Suffice it to say that God’s timing is not our timing, and God may choose to take the next 25 years to grow my character before He decides to plant me on the mission field, or ______ (fill in the blank).  I’ve been encouraged to have faith that the One who has called me is FAITHFUL, and He’s going to fulfill His purpose in me.  For SURE.   I can rest in that promise.