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Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Poco a Poco

*It's crazy to think that we've been in Costa Rica for well over a month now. Sorry for the lack of updates; we're learning how to juggle our many hats.*

Whenever I speak to a Costa Rican and tell them I'm learning Spanish, they always respond "poco a  poco" (little by little). This is so true not only for my experience learning Spanish but also for our adjustment to Costa Rica. It's been an extremely smooth transition, but there are many little and big ways we're making adjustments. Little by little we're feeling more at home and less confused by the difference (many of them positive) in living.

It is very evident that we have people praying for us, because we know the peace we have in the midst of the craziness can only come from the Lord. Language school is going extremely well. I'm learning Spanish! I'm so thankful for my classmates who are encouraging as we all wade through directions in Spanish. All of my classes are solely in Spanish, so we're constantly asking each other to verify we understood our instructions. Spanish for us is a team effort.

Jonathan is so happy to finally be in full-time ministry. He's meeting with a couple of guys one-on-one and is leading the boy's Bible Study. He's loving building relationships with the students and answering their eager questions. Last Friday we had a pancake night at our house with 31 students. It was a blast to be able to host them. They've gone 3 years without youth directors, so they were really excited to have a fun event other than their usual Saturday meeting.

It's really weird for me to have to be hands off to much of our ministry so that I can focus on Spanish. I'm thankful that so much ministry happens in our home, but it is weird not having time to invest in students lives because of language school. I have to remind myself that this is a time for concentrated Spanish study that I won't have a year from now when I'm fully engaged in ministry. It's also weird that for the first time in our married lives, Jonathan and I have two different responsibilities. I love working with him, so it's weird that we have to actually sit down and share what's going on in each of our worlds.

There are many things that we're loving about Costa Rica:

  • We love that I payed our phone bill at the grocery store while checking out
  • We love all the fresh fruits and vegetables at very good prices. We just bought 3 Kilos of tomatoes for $2 (It's ok to be jealous about this)
  • We love that we finally have our own home and can host students
  • We love the warm weather, breeze, and mountain view
  • We love the kindness of all the Ticos we've met
  • We love that we're just 50 meters north of a park
There are also a few challenges that we're starting to adjust to:
  • We have to go to 5 different stores to get our "essentials" that would only require one stop at Kroger
  • Walking everywhere since we sold our car. Patrick is developing Costa Rican legs!
  • It gets dark here around 5:30 and it's safest to do everything before dark, which doesn't leave you much time
  • Making most things from scratch. It's nice knowing exactly what goes into your food, but it takes much more time
  • Being busy. With Jonathan and my different schedule and many things taking longer to do here, we have extremely full days
It is such a blessing to finally be in Costa Rica and for it to feel more and more like home. We're so thankful for everyone who prays for us and for those who enable us to be here. Oh yeah, we have one more piece of exciting news...

We're having a baby girl!

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Our Exciting Week

That flew by so fast. 
  • On Tuesday Maggie started her first day at SLI (Spanish Language Institute). 
  • We're having someone watch Patrick 4 days a week for some of the morning hours while Maggie is in school and I am working. Her first day was also on Tuesday, and we love her! Her name is Gina, and she and Patrick get along really well. She has helped out SLI students for 11 years now, and is used to our "strange" customs :)
  • On Tuesday we met with the continuing adult leaders of the youth group and talked about things that will stay the same as we take over leadership of the youth group, and things that will change. It was great to spend time with others passionate about seeing the youth group grow deeper spiritually. We have two adult leaders, Melissa and Andres, and then Grace, who just graduated high school is staying on as an intern. Andres grew up going to youth group. He was the interim director, and will continue to help in many facets, including a lot of the administration. Melissa is another ReachGlobal friend who spends about a third of her official time meeting with youth group girls and leading the girls bible study. Grace is helping everywhere from student leadership to worship team to meeting with younger girls, as well as helping in other AMCA ministries. 
  • Wednesday was great as I got to have coffee with a SLI student who has been in student ministry for 10 years and hear some things he's learned about youth ministry: biggest takeaway, youth ministry involves parents and students. They're not autonomous. Without parental involvement in the student's life, youth ministry is not very effective. They have a son Patrick's age, so we went to their apartment and ate pizza and Patrick got to play in English.
  • Thursday I watch Patrick in the mornings--Gina does not come. So we went with one of the highschool guys who hasn't started school yet to the hardware store to pick up some PVC pipe for games. Cheap and versatile, PVC is my favorite material with which to build games. We spent the whole morning sawing and taping the pipes with Zack. Thursday evenings we're off and we are starting date nights! We had our first date in about 3 or 4 months. Note: not a good idea to wait that long!
  • Friday I met with the leader of the middleschool guy's bible study. He teaches Bible at a Spanish seminary here, and they only live 5 doors down from us. Convenient! 
  • I then met with the principal of Sojourn Academy, a bilingual school that meets on the SLI campus, where a lot of MKs go. Maggie and I got permission to join the students for lunches and different extracurricular activities. The principal and vice principal are excited to work with us, as many of the students there go to youth group. I sat in on lunch with some Sojourn students after the meeting. 
  •  Afterwards, I caught a bus to a ride to the student worship team meeting. We discussed the expectations of the worship team, and I got to share some very important things I've learned over 10 years of leading worship. From sincere humility to analyzing a song to see if it will work well to sing as a group. Afterwards, one of the students led us in a half hour of prayer and song.
  • Last night was the big US vs Costa Rica World Cup qualifier. When Costa Rica played in the US they lost, and it was a little unfair--they played in Denver in April, and after the US scored it snowed a bunch, but the game was never cancelled. Seeing as it never snows in Costa Rica, it was even more difficult for the Ticos to play in--and both teams were having a hard time. Last night, Costa Rica saw vindication winning 3-1. There was cheering on the streets for 2-3 hours after the game was over. I am not a US soccer fan myself, and unashamedly rooted for Costa Rica. Maggie shushed me once when I yelled after Costa Rica scored... something about a sleeping toddler?...
  • This morning we went to the market! We are finally figuring out that we need to stock up on fruits and veggies on Saturday mornings. Supermarket produce here is usually old and beat up and expensive. We're learning to eat more like Latin Americans do--more rice, plantains, and other veggies they have here but not in Ohio or Georgia. 
  • Tonight we have student leaders meeting, worship practice, and the big youth group meeting. Earlier this afternoon we'll have a Skype conference call with the speaker who is coming down for campout in October. I'll start speaking at youth groups after our October campout so as to focus on the many other areas that involve the transfer of leadership responsibilities!
Maggie is enjoying studying at ILE, and the homework keeps her pretty busy for several hours after she returns home (Her classes are over just after noon). It is an intense time for her as all of the classes take place in Spanish, and it takes all of her attention to not miss anything important! She is thankful that she gets to talk with Gina when she gets home right away. She is forced to speak more Spanish, and Gina is a very patient language helper.

Patrick is adapting so well. He loves hanging out with students and eating tropical fruit. Although, he was very grateful to have some familiar strawberries this morning. He loves the fresh bread from the plethora of bakeries. He does miss Maggie's folks a lot though, with whom we were living for the last year. He likes talking to both sets of grandparents on Skype, a special treat that we are blessed to have.