Monday, December 31, 2007

New Years Eve

It's only 3 hours until the new year! The Pettengill's have decided to stay home, and bring the new year in with just our family. Madison and Mike decided to watch Shrek the Third, and I listened in, and worked on a video for tomorrow's blog. I know...I know...pretty exciting. Anyway - Happy New Year's Eve to all and to all a good night!

Sunday, December 30, 2007

A Time of Transition

The last year and a half has been a time full of transition. We sold our house and lived in an apartment for a year as we prepared for Costa Rica. Now, we are in Costa Rica for 10 months learning Spanish and preparing for Honduras. For almost 2 years now we have been in a state of flux, and living in a time of transition. This is difficult because it's hard to have a sense of permanence. Each "home" has been one of transition. We don't want to paint walls, or decorate it up because we know it's only temporary. That's difficult. We so want to begin what God has sent us out to do. We do know that to do that we have to do these things first. But - when the only things you own can be put into duffel bags, it's hard to feel rooted. We are so excited about what we are learning in Spanish, but know that we are going to be far from fluent when we leave, but we will definitely have a foundation to work with, and a lifetime to get better. So, pray for us during this transitional time. Not feeling rooted can get to be a little difficult at times.

Friday, December 28, 2007

Last Full day in Panama City

I apologize, I didn't do a Christmas entry - I will try to make up for that now:

Christmas, this year, we knew was going to be different. First time away from home, first time with a fake tree at home, first year without a Christmas Eve dinner, etc, etc. And no egg-nog latte's from Starbucks...sigh... Our trip to Panama came about from many different levels. First, we knew we had to leave country because our student visas hadn't been approved. We didn't want to be illegal! As my 40th birthday was on the 21st, it seemed ideal for us to leave during that time. So - Panama it was. Christmas day was quiet. We brought Madison's gifts with us (our only gifts to each other, Mike and I, was the trip to Panama). So, Madison opened her gifts, we enjoyed her enjoyment over all of them (thanks to her grandma/pa Pettengill, grandma/pa Brumm, and Aunt Jerry!!!!). Then we ordered KFC for lunch (what else you may ask?! It's the only place open on Christmas - even the hotel dining was closed), watched movies, did a family devotional, and ended our Christmas day.

Today is our last full day in Panama City. On this trip so far I've enjoyed turning 40 years old, celebrating Christmas in a hotel room, visiting the Panama Canal, seeing old Panama, and just RELAXING! We had our annual watch-all-three-extended-edition-Lord of the Rings-in-one-day event yesterday. We've done this every year. We order pizza (no exception - ordered pizza in Spanish and had it delivered to our room - see...we ARE learning something), drank soda, and sat on our king sized bed (ahh...what a blessing - after sleeping on a double for 4 months) and watched them on our lap-top computer. Hey - our screen on our lap top is bigger than our TV screen back in Costa Rica. All in all, a great day! Today we are going to head out to Traffic Islands - the islands that were created from the land pulled out when the canal was dug. Imagine - creating 3 islands from dirt from the canal. Wow! Then, tomorrow we pack and head back to the airport, and back to our current home in Costa Rica. Don't know our plans for New Years Eve - we hear staying at home is the best option - can get a little crazy in San Jose during the holiday - so we may just be staying at home, playing games, and being a family. We shall see.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

A Quick Tour of Old Panama City

Today we took a guided tour of two museums and the ruins of old Panama City. The original city was built in 1519 and destroyed in 1671. Many of the ruins and artifacts we saw were almost 500 years old.

Here is a 3 minute 30 second video of old Panama City. Yeah…we know…the accompanying music doesn’t fit at all, but, who could resist?

Monday, December 24, 2007

Panama Canal

Today we toured the Miraflores Locks of the Panama Canal. This is the first set of locks as you enter from the Pacific Ocean. It was very interesting. There was a museum and a documentary movie onsite to help visitors understand the history of the Canal.

Here is a three minute time lapsed video for you to watch. While this video is only three minutes in length in actualy uses 12 minutes of footage. It is of a cargo ship being raised up in one lock and traveling through the next lock, with only a few feet of space on either side:

Saturday, December 22, 2007


We have arrived in Panama for a little R&R, knowing our little tiny apartment was going to get even smaller if we spent the next week and a half there, so Mike sprang for a trip to Panama for my 40th birthday. We arrived safely, with ALL of our luggage intact, unlike this poor sorry sap (see pic below). I laughed so hard each time the handle came around the belt, wondering what I would do it that was all I found of my luggage. It was worthy of a picture. My 40th birthday came and went very quietly. Only managed to come out of it with a raging ear infection (please pray for that). Tomorrow we have almost no plans, just time to be with God (in our hotel room), and be with each other. Sounds like a GREAT day to me thank you very much! This is a view from the walk we took when we arrived. It is the Pacific entrance to the Panama Canal.

The "handle"

View of canal from the walkway

Friday, December 21, 2007

Battle of the Apes

Had an incredible day in Manuel Antonio. We started off our day at a local restaurant with our Casado meal – typical Costa Rican breakfast of gallo pinto (rice and beans), plantains, and eggs. We then took our rental car down to the beach area, parked our car, hired a local guide, and had a tour through the rain forest near the beach. This is a national park / nature preserve, which has been protected for over 35 years. Our guide managed to find some incredible things including squirrel and white-faced monkeys, sloths, Jesus Christ lizard (it walks on water), iguana, toads, poisonous grasshopper, cicada, many birds, including a rare owl, bats, rodents, and hundreds of hermit crabs. We then spent the remaining time at the beach. All total, we were there for 6 ½ hours. The most “exciting” event was my Battle with the apes. Huh? You may ask. Well…as we were relaxing on the beach, Denise, Mike, and Madison were all in the ocean swimming, I was quietly reading my book when I heard a, “Senora! Senora!” A gentleman behind me was trying to catch my attention as a monkey had snuck up right behind me and had grabbed the bag with our books in it. I turned around and he looked at me. First, it was a battle of the eyes - we stared at each other, each determined to make a stance. The next, after he got bored with that, was the battle of the bag! He had his hand on our book bag, and I grabbed the other side of the bag. I pulled toward me, and frowning, said, “HEY!” Then he pulled back, then I pulled toward me again, stating “Hey!” once again. I really think if monkeys could frown, he would be frowning. He was quite irritated that I wasn’t giving up my booty. After a few more attempts on his behalf, I rattled the bag fiercely (with an evil gleam in my eye), and he finally departed – defeated! However, his mischievous deeds were not completed – he looked for easier game with other people around the beach. Eventually he was irritated that none of his attempts came up with a catch, and left the scene.

Manuel Antonio

Naughty little monkey

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Manuel Antonio

We managed to make the cross-country drive to Manuel Antonio yesterday without incident. It's the first time Mike has driven in 4 months, and was a bit nervous. But - as they say - it's just like riding a bicycle. We arrived at our hotel, then walked down to the beach where we enjoyed our first sunset since we have been in Costa Rica. We will be here until Friday, where we will return to San Jose, and pack for Panama. Enjoy the sunset!

Monday, December 17, 2007


We are leaving this morning, and not returning until late evening tomorrow. Have some places we are showing my friend Denise. It's incredible, being able to see God's creation in Costa Rica! So - this week we are taking the opportunity to show her some of those places. We are off to Arenal, the active volcano. Last time we went it was so overcast high up on the volcano we were unable to see the lava flow. We are hoping for a better view this time. I'll try to get a post up when we return tomorrow night, as we are taking off again for 2 days to the coast. See you soon!

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Festival de la Luz

Yesterday we went to the Festival de la Luz (Festival of Lights) in downtown San Jose, Costa Rica. We were there for over six hours. It was a fun day. Over a million and a half people converged in downtown for the event.

Check out this three minute video to see a bit of the Festival:

Friday, December 14, 2007

Ballet El Cascanueces (The Nutcracker)

Tonight we are taking my friend Denise to see The Nutcracker at the National Theater down town. We have been to a symphony there, but have not seen a ballet. Many, many things are expensive in Costa Rica, but the theater is not one of them. The Nutcracker has been a Christmas tradition for the Pettengill family since Madison was about 4 years old. We were a little sad knowing that this was going to be the first Christmas away from home, and the first Christmas where new traditions were going to have to be made. But we were very excited when we found out they were doing the Nutcracker, and that wasn't a tradition we were going to miss (at least this year - who knows about next year). Tomorrow officially starts the holiday season for Costa Rica, and they start it off with a Festival of Lights parade. There are a million people expected to attend (according to the local paper). So people have started arriving in hordes, so it may be crazy tonight. Feliz fin de semana everyone (have a nice weekend).

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Stick a fork in me - I'm DONE!

That's it gang - Mike and I are done with this trimester! We have had such an incredible time - learned SO MUCH - and realize how much more we have to go! But, it's been an amazing time knowing that our job is to learn, and that will give us the ability to do God's work in Honduras. After much struggling, stressing, frustration, melt-downs (okay...only me - not Mike) - we managed to finish our first trimester - between Mike and myself we received 5 A's, and one B+. We are thrilled. We know that language school isn't about grades at all - it's about learning. We could still get C's or even lower - but as long as we are learning, that's our primary concern. Madison is almost done as well. She only has one more final to go! She has received all B's - done an excellent job! Her final test is tomorrow in Math. She has been really struggling with math this school year, so prayers would be greatly appreciated! So - all praises go to God in our endeavors!

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Still finals

Not much of an update, but wanted everyone to know where we were at with finals. I have my last final today - it's going to be brutal - a lot of info that's very confusing. Madison took her written Spanish exam, will take her oral exam today (hopefully) - they ran out of time and didn't get to her, so now she has to find some time during the next few days to take it. She also has her Science and History final today. We are all out by noon today - and I will be able to breath a little easier, having all of my tests behind me. Rumor is we will get our grades on Thursday. So, please pray for Madison as she is still neck deep in finals. Love to everyone!

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Finals update

Mike has completed all of his finals last week. He will still be busy learning new things, but nothing to be tested on, and probably no homework. I had 2 finals on Friday and lots of homework over the weekend. We are finishing up on a topic in our grammar class, and will be tested on it on Wednesday. Confusing information, so prayers would be greatly appreciated! And poor Madison - oral Spanish test on Monday, written Spanish test on Tuesday, Science and History finals on Wednesday, Grammar and Math finals on Thursday, and Bible final on Friday! Whew!!! She will be READY for vacation! So, prayers for the Pettengill family would be greatly appreciated this week as we wrap things up.

Friday, December 7, 2007

La Carpio

On Saturday we are all going to La Carpio for a Christmas party for underprivileged kids. La Carpio is neighborhood where the poorest of the poor live in a city landfill. Most of the people that live there are Nicaraguan refugees. Students from our school are organizing a Christmas party for 200 kids from La Carpio.

Mike has been attending a ministry to the kids at La Carpio on Thursdays. Take a look at this five minute video and learn a little about the kids of La Carpio and the ministry:

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Field Trip

Only men are allowed to work the saws because how dangerous they are

Only women are allowed to sort and string the beads because of their small, dextrous fingers
The warehouse women aren't allowed to talk, only listen to music because it's considered rude to not pay complete attention to someone speaking to you, and that would require them to look away from their work.
String together a placemat
a "puzzle" jewelry box

Some of the final products
Our language teacher wanted us to experience some Costa Rican culture, so she organized a field trip to a local wood working factory. They ship all over the world, and employee 250 people in the factory, and another 150 women they allow to work out of their homes. This is a new concept for the people of Costa Rica - women with young children rarely have an opportunity to work because there are no child care centers here, and the women are completely responsible for house and children. So, this is an incredible opportunity to involve women who would otherwise have been unable to work. It was quite impressive to see all that is involved in making these wood pieces. Enjoy!

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

So...what DID we learn?

We have been here for 3 1/2 months - not that long in the grand scheme of things - but here we are getting ready to end the trimester. We have come a long way - here is the nitty gritty for those who want the down and dirty. For more details, keep reading.

Vocabulary words learned: 685
Verbs learned: 310

Over 900+ words we were given to learn...

Keep in mind that these are words that we were given to learn. These don't include the hundreds and hundreds of other words we have learned along the way - after the 4th time your teacher says, "por ejemplo", you figure out she is saying "for example" - this is an example of vocabulary we weren't given to learn, we learned from immersion por supuesto (of course).

Now, for the details (stop reading if you are already bored, or could care less):

  • Conjugation of verbs in present tense - both regular and irregular verbs

  • Conjugation of verbs in two forms of past tense

  • We only have 12 more ways to conjugate verbs we have to learn....sigh....

  • We learned that EVERY word is either masculine or feminine, and each has an article that goes in front of it: la casa (as an example), or una casa, or unas casas, las casas (the house/es)

  • Then of course your adjective has to agree with the masculine or feminine tense as well. Do you live in a red house (rojo)? Then of course it's not rojo - it's raja - because it must match casa - yo vivo en una casa roja.

  • Boring you yet?

  • We learned about Estar and Ser - both "to be" verbs - and the 20+ different reasons you have to know to determine if you use either Ester or Ser

  • Then we learned about "perifrasis verbales" - different phrases to say different things

  • Then came direct objects - easy you may say - well, that's in English - Spanish is entirely a different thing!

  • Indirect objects, of course, came next.

  • Then substitutions of both the direct and indirect objects (Ellen went to the store....changes to "she went to it"...oh so easy you may say? Even third trimester students confuse when/how to use these)

  • How to phrase a question - different format than regular sentences

  • then comes reflexive verbs. It's used when something directly affects you - such as you look at yourself in the mirror. The sentence structure is different. A VERY different way of thinking about things.

  • Intransitives - You think you like the cookie, but in Spanish, the cookie is pleasing to you. In English, "You" is the subject of the sentence, but in these type of set-ups, the "cookie" is the subject of the sentence.

  • All of the above is JUST what we learned in our grammar class. We have two other classes

  • In our phonetics class - we spent the whole trimester trying to sound like a Spanish speaker, not a gringo - learning diphthongs, accents, syllables, intonation, etc. We have had some success with it :-)

  • In our conversation class we try to pull it all together! Each week we have a different topic we discuss. House, family, foods, animals, occupations, etc. We learn words and verbs about each topic, then discuss them in class.

Well my friends - that's it in a nutshell. I've only covered our main topics - we learned so much more, but if you are still reading, I don't want to bore you even further. I've included a picture of the flash cards I made, and vocabulary lists of words I didn't make flash cards for. Enjoy!

Monday, December 3, 2007

Winter in Costa Rica

Yes, I hear it's very, very cold in the States right now. We had to "suffer" through 3+ months of rain - all day, every day! However, now we reap the benefits of that - Winter in Costa Rica. I will let the pictures speak for themselves. These was taken outside today. I've also included a picture from our friends who enjoyed their first snow fall for the season as a good comparison - they live in Chicago (Jess...Aaron - hope you don't mind - all credit for the beautiful picture goes to them!)

Chicago - where Aaron and Jess live

Mike getting ready to go run in the sun!

Madison, on the way to school -shorts and shades!

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Sushi in Costa Rica

Yes, we found it - Sushi in Costa Rica! We had heard of a place that was supposed to be not too far from one of our local malls. We saw a movie, then grabbed a taxi to find it. Of course we didn't know the name of it, and asked our taxi driver if he knew of any Japanese restaurants in the area. Well...we started off, not really knowing where to go - the taxi driver managed to find a place for us. We stepped inside and immediately knew we were way under dressed! But...we were here for sushi, not for looking good. We sat down at the sushi bar and got to talking (in Spanish) to the sushi cook. Come to find out we were in the biggest sushi restaurant in San Jose! And it's no wonder - the sushi was incredible! We gorged ourselves on the first sushi we have had in over 3 months! It was an awesome moment! One you wouldn't understand if you aren't a sushi lover! So - another interesting moment of eating sushi, a Japanese food, prepared by a Tico, ordered in Spanish, and consumed with relish! Ahh!!!!

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Christmas Decorations

Costa Rica, as we have previously stated, is NOT an inexpensive place to live. Given that, it is very difficult to find ways to decorate for Christmas. As many of you may know, I go a little overboard when decorating my house for Christmas. As you also may know - we got rid of EVERY decoration we had before we left the States. This can be a lonely time of year, so one way we are trying to stay in the Christmas spirit is to add a little Christmas to our home. I'm playing songs on the computer, and Madison went to town to make some Christmas decorations including our Christmas "stockings". We actually couldn't find any Christmas stockings that didn't cost over $25.00 apiece, so we got creative. We found some felt Christmas hats that say "feliz navidad" on one side. We turned them over, and Madison decorated them with fabric paint. She also made the paper chains you can see in both pictures. We found the equivalent of a Big Lots, and found some dollar ornaments, and we decorated the tree. However, the weather has warmed up nicely, and instead of a very cold Winter we are accustomed to, we are dealing with weather in the high 70's, low 80's. Doesn't have much of the "feel" (from a weather perspective) Christmas season. Anyway - enjoy the pics of our Costa Rican decorations. Later I'll post pictures of how some of the local nationals decorate their houses for Christmas.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Old Friends, New Food

The "Churchill" drink of Puntarenas

Margaret and Jerry visited for the day. They arrived into Puntarenas off of their cruise boat, and we grabbed our own private taxi and toured the area seeing some great things (see the above crocodile). There is not much to see in Puntarenas, and the beaches are NOT very nice. So...that's why we got out of dodge. We also went to one of the highest points in the area and saw the entire bay - it was a site that only being there in person can do justice - no picture could take in the beauty! A great day of visiting and being with family! WooHoo!

We also had the opportunity to try a few new foods. The first was ceviche. Me GUSTA!! (I liked it very much!) Madison...not so "citrusy". Ceviche is a Peruvian Dish, a form of citrus marinated seafood salad that originated in the northern region of Peru. The marinade used in ceviche is citrus based, with lemons and limes being the most commonly used. This being said, all citrus will work. In addition to adding flavor, the citric acid causes the proteins in the seafood to become denatured, which pickles or "cooks" the fish without heat. The result tastes more like a cooked dish and less like raw fish preparations such as Japanese sashimi. The other neat thing we tried was the Churchill. The Churchill is a frozen non alcoholic cocktail that contains ice cream, condensed milk, red sugar syrup, powdered milk and with a long spoon and a straw. Yes, as rich as it sounds, but oh was it good :-) See above picture. Don't know the history - if it was named after Churchill or not, but odd that it has the same name if it wasn't. If anyone knows - let me know.

All in all - a long two days, but well worth the trip.

Sunday, November 25, 2007


Tomorrow (Monday) the family is going down to a coastal town called Puntarenas. Margaret and Jerry, Mike's parents, are on a 21-day cruise through the Panama canal. They have a one-day stop in Costa Rica, and we are going to meet up with them. We are going to leave as soon as Madison is out of school tomorrow, catch a 3+ hour public bus to the coast, get into our hotel, and meet them at the dock the next morning (Tuesday). They will be in port for most of the day, and we just have plans to hang out with them. It's going to be a lot of fun, and we will be back late Tuesday night. So, don't plan on seeing any blogs for the next couple of days until we return. Have a great early part of the week!

Saturday, November 24, 2007

School coming to a close

Well, it's been 3 months since we have been here, and with only 3 weeks to go until the end of this trimester, I wonder where the time has gone. The last week of school is primarily to wrap things up - typically all tests will be done, and most of our learning for the trimester will be completed - so learning new material will only be for two more weeks. We have definitely gotten into a routine of things. We know where to buy the best priced things. We know how to get where we are going whether it is walking, taking the bus, or going by taxi, paying our bills, going to the bank, etc. School has become a our daily routine of classroom lecture, homework, studying, test taking, and back for more each day. We have learned a lot, but only to realize how much more we need to learn! Things are going to end quickly as we still have much to do in these last three weeks. Thanks for going along for the ride this trimester, I look forward to seeing what next trimester has in store for us.

I have decided to take on the roll of music director for next trimester at school. These duties will include putting together worship teams, coordinating those teams to play in chapel twice a week, and possibly being the piano player for a worship team. I look forward to seeing how God will use me in this capacity. Please pray for this ministry and my involvement in it.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

accion de gracias (Thanksgiving) part 2

Today we celebrated Thanksgiving here in Costa Rica with six other families. There were 12 missionaries to five countries and three Costa Ricans. We had a very enjoyable time and greatly enjoyed the company of our new friends.

Take a look at the 2 minute and 20 second video to see what our Thanksgiving was like:

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

accion de gracias (Thanksgiving) part. 1

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving and it's a great time to reflect on what to be thankful for. The Pettengill family has so much to be thankful for it's hard to start. Our families are first and foremost. Their emotional support to us has been awesome - it keeps us going. Our friends, and our church are the other two important things we are so thankful for. The love we have received and are still receiving from friends are incredible! Friends that rush to send us stuff we are "missing" or "need" is awesome! Knowing that someone is praying for us everyday is such a huge blessing to us. Other friends we have met through our itineration process, and other churches that have picked us up as family without a second thought. God is good to bring so many incredible people into our lives. So for that, we thank God everyday.

So what is Thanksgiving in Costa Rica like? Well, as it's not a recognized holiday here, many, many people don't even know about it. The reason the school knows about it, and all of our teachers is because 90% of their students are from the USA. So, we still have school, I actually have a test tomorrow. Madison is in school, and I'm sure we will all have homework. However - we do get out an hour early, and Madison gets out 3 1/2 hours early! So, there are some good things.

So what about a turkey? Well, for a medium sized turkey that won't fit in most ovens because the ovens are so small, you can get it for about $40.00. We will be eating at our neighbors house - along with 5 other families. So - it's going to be a big "family" afterall. I'm making pumpkin pie (try that in a country that doesn't eat pie - so doesn't even know what a pie plate is), also try making it without evaporated milk (had to use condensed milk, and mix it with regular milk...hmmm...). The canned pumpkin, cranberry sauce, and stuffing mix came from my awesome mother-in-law - she sure came to the rescue. Someone will be bringing green-bean casserole - try that without cream of mushroom soup, or onion topping, or for that matter, canned green-beans - only fresh ones can be found around here. Someone else is also bringing sweet potatoes - but of course you can't find those here either - there is some other type of tuber that (kind of) tastes like sweet potatoes, but it's white, not orange - should prove interesting. And marshmallows for the top? can find colored ones ANYWHERE - but white ones are going to be hard to come by - so we shall see.

All in all, it will definitely be an "American" Thanksgiving, but also definitely have a Costa Rican flavor to it. Now all we need are fried plantains and mango salsa. Stay tuned for tomorrow - I'll have some pictures to share from the event.

Monday, November 19, 2007

What DO Missionaries Do For Fun?

This past weekend we attempted to answer this question. We went and stayed near Arenal, an active volcano in the north of Costa Rica. This was another great opportunity to relax and enjoy much of what the Rainforest has to offer. We explored howler monkeys, crocodiles, leaf cutter ants, turtles, birds and more. It was also a great time to relax and enjoy the pools and ponds around Arenal that are naturally heated by the volcano.

Watch this two minute video and see what else we did near Arenal:

Friday, November 16, 2007


We are off to Arenal for the weekend - coming back late Sunday evening. Arenal is a very active volcano in Costa Rica, and therefore a big tourist attraction. Can't come to Costa Rica and not see Arenal. So, there won't be any posts this weekend unless I can get one up when we get in Sunday evening. Feliz fin de semana! (Have a great weekend!)

By the way - got my first hair-cut on foreign land! They did a fine job - but oh is it short! Difficult to have a hair conversation with limited Spanish. You will have a chance to see the final results when I get pics of Arenal posted.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007


It is very interesting what one becomes accustomed to. The "norms" of any society are just those things. Many things you don't know how you would do without. Think about 10 years ago - people had beepers, now most people own a cell phone, or two, or three - what would you do without it? If you leave your house in the morning without it, do you turn your car around to go get it? What about 24-hour stores, gas stations, beautifully groomed front yards - do your hackles go up when the neighbor's grass is over 3 inches high? However, have you ever looked at it from a different perspective? What if you were a foreigner, coming to live in the U.S. - what would it look like to you? Probably weird. Here are some examples:

Convenience Store in Costa Rica
Convenience Store in U.S.

Guard Shack in Costa Rica
Guard Shack in the U.S.

Streets in Costa Rica
Streets in the U.S.

Rain Gutters in Costa Rica
Rain Gutters in the U.S.

Trash Cans in Costa Rica

Trash cans in the U.S.
Home Security in Costa Rica
Home Security in the U.S.

Park Maintenance in Costa Rica

Park Maintenance in the U.S.

Front yard in Costa Rica

Front Yard in U.S.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Mr. Bean Teaches Spanish

Today Mike’s favorite teacher, Grammar teacher Francisco, used an unorthodox teaching method. The class watched Mr. Bean, British comedian extraordinaire. Ok, how does that teach you Spanish you ask. The class watched a five minute Mr. Bean skit and then spent nearly two hours creating past tense Spanish sentences describing what Mr. Bean had done. Still don’t see the value? In that time Mike wrote three full pages of past tense Spanish sentences describing the antics of Mr. Bean.

Here is the five minute clip the class watched. I encourage you to watch it. It doesn’t matter if you like Mr. Bean’s humor. Watch this clip and think about how you might describe it in past tense. Some of Mr. Bean’s antics are hard enough to describe in English.

Monday, November 12, 2007

school project

Unfinished project Finished project

Madison was tasked with making a visual aid for science. They are studying volcanoes. Here it isn't as simple as running down to Michael's, or any other craft store and purchasing your needs. Chicken wire and paper machet aren't easy to come by. We could make the paper machet, but chicken wire?! There isn't a Home Depot down the street. So, we managed to find some clay, and used an upside-down flat bowl for the bottom portion of the volcano. Then, we crumpled up paper and put on top of the upside down bowl to give shape and stability to the upper portion of the volcano. Then - we decorated it with paint, rocks we scavenged from outside, leaves, and grass for the greenery. All in all, I think she did a very good job. Her presentation is on Thursday.

Sunday, November 11, 2007


Just a compilation of thoughts during my time here so far. A con, followed by a pro.

1. con. I haven't seen a sunset in 3 months. It's the rainy season here - I haven't seen the sky for that matter.
1. pro. I've seen the most incredible mountainside right outside my door - every morning!

2. con. I haven't read a book in English in 3 months
2. pro. I've come to understand more and more when I open the Bible in Spanish

3. con. I haven't had a "real" coffee in so long (read - Starbucks)
3. pro. I live in an area that produces some of the best coffee I've had - just not with all the "fancy" stuff to go along with it (read - non-boxed milk, toffee nut syrup, etc)

4. con. The only double-stuffed Oreos I eat are ones sent to me from friends
4. pro. I can eat fried plantains all day!

5. con. I haven't walked anywhere without stumbling on a pot-hold, or slipping on moss-covered sidewalks
5. pro. I've never walked so much in my life - it's a good refreshing thing in the morning and evening from school :-)

6. con. I haven't driven a car in 3 months
6. pro. I haven't driven a car in 3 months

7. con. I don't have a pet to call my own
7. pro. We have a dog we have "adopted" - at least in the mornings, we lavish her with love at the same street-corner every morning

8. con. I've only been to the movie theater once since I've been here
8. pro. We can rent movies for $2.00 before they are even released in the states

9. con. The Internet is so hit-or-miss, I take advantage of it when it's working
9. pro. I spend much less time on the computer

1o. con. Have to walk to church, listen to 3 1/2 hours of Spanish
10. pro. I get to worship with people of a different culture, but worshiping the same God.

Friday, November 9, 2007

Being a Nurse in Costa Rica

Coming to Costa Rica I had a plan. Learn Spanish. That was my focus - I knew that was why I was here. It is so awesome that God has shown me otherwise. So far I have treated 6 different "patients". God placed me in a country where medicine is good, but oh so different! Your home physician isn't a phone call away, you don't have an "advice line" to call for questions, and medications come in all shapes and sizes I've never seen in the states. Using prophylactic charcoal as a way of cleaning the toxins from your body; a topical compazine (for nausea) you rub on your wrists when traveling; sending patients home with medications they not only don't know what they are, but don't know how to use. It's all very strange. I say all that because so far I've been able to "diagnose" viral meningitis for my neighbor (all symptomatically - no, I didn't do a spinal tap..."diagnosed" a skin rash on a 2-year old; helped a baby with severe diarrhea; gave a young girl some medication for nausea; helped a young man with severe pain - I had a great first-aid kit with me; and gave another man an injection of medication he was given from the pharmacy. I guess he was expected to give it to himself. He purchased the unconstituted med (still in powder form), a vial of fluid to mix it with, and a syringe and was sent on his way. He called me...I gave him his shot - worked out for everyone. So, as I said, just when I thought I was here to learn Spanish, God showed me that ALL of my skills could be used. I've been playing on the worship team (another skill God has allowed me to learn), worked with children during out mission trip (another skill God equipped me with as the children's ministry director at our church), a nurse :-) I can't wait to see what else He has in store for me.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Trip home from San Carlos

On our way back from the San Carlos mission trip we had the opportunity to stop in this beautiful quaint town. In the center of town was a church - and outside of the church were some beautiful trees/shrubs trimmed into many different shapes. Here is a picture of what we saw.
This week we are have some guest speakers in from the states. They are refreshing us each day with lessons. The theme of the lessons is Cultivating Gospel Transformation of our Heart. It is rich and we are enjoying it immensely. I've had the opportunity to play three times this week on our worship team. This is really helping to improve my confidence for future work. I am really grateful for this opportunity.
Tomorrow night we are going to a symphony performance at the National Theater downtown. It's an incredibly beautiful theater designed after the theater in Paris. I believe the symphony will be performing Mozart. This will be Madison's first symphony performance she has seen.
Saturday is a day of REST. We have almost nothing planned - maybe a movie - maybe not. We shall see.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Language Improvement

One of the biggest things we are trying to improve on is not only knowing HOW to speak, but knowing WHAT we are saying. An example of why it's so important:

Monday, November 5, 2007

Mission Trip to San Carlos, Costa Rica

We just spent three days (November 2nd - 4th) in San Carlos, Costa Rica. While in this very poor community the Pettengills organized a children’s event for 50 kids and spent some special time at an orphanage. Watch this five minute video to see what went on:

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Back home

We have returned from the mission trip to San Carlos. We have a video we will post tomorrow - gives lots of details. Had an incredible trip - even if the van did break down twice. It poured rain (RIGHT after we finished all our outside stuff - hmm....go figure :-) ) Anyway - just wanted to let everyone know we were all home safe and sound. Next week is going to be a little different at language school. It is spiritual emphasis week. We have regular class, but we have chapel every day, and every evening. We will have a speaker here and will have the opportunity to listen to some sermons in English. This week the worship team I am on will be playing twice on Tuesday and once on Friday. Need LOTS of prayers for that as we have only had one opportunity to practice - and that was only for the Tuesday morning songs - we haven't even practiced the Tuesday evening songs or those for Friday. No matter how well or poor we do, our goal is to glorify God in all we do. Look for the video tomorrow :-)

Friday, November 2, 2007

Mission Trip

Our family will be gone all weekend - off to San Carlos orphanage for a mission trip. We have a group of 40 going there (about 4 hours away) and will be working on some construction projects, door-to-door evangelism, and working with children and youth. Madison, Mike and I will be working with the older youth - 10 years old and up. Games, snacks, and bible lesson. We will be returning Sunday - later afternoon / early evening. I'll post stories and pictures upon our return.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

So you think you can bake...hum?!

Mike enjoying the "lemon (lime) squares"

What is one to do with an oven that either over-cooks, or under-cooks, where no one in the country understands what azúcar confitero (confectioners sugar) is. So...I wander into the local grocery store and look randomly around the store. Failing to find a box or bag with the name of azúcar confitero on it, I finally asked someone. I managed to ask for what I was looking for, but was given the most quizzical look. Hmm..I thought...clearly either my Spanish stinks, or they don't have it - it wouldn't be surprising if they didn't - they only started getting peanut butter 3 years ago, and that's only for the gringos - the tico's (Costa Rican's) don't eat it. So, I explained (all in Spanish...thank you very much) that I needed sugar for a dessert, but not to put INTO the dessert, but to sprinkle on top (do you see the use of all those prepositions?!...sigh...). Anyway, it looks like the idea was successful, and I was shown to the area where it was, and I looked at the box, and didn't see azúcar confitero, but azúcar molido (no...that doesn't mean powdered or confectioner, but it means ground or crushed). Somehow that didn't fit the description in my mind, but I took it home, hoping for the best. The other item I needed at the store (not for my current recipe) was baking soda. I looked....and looked...going to several stores...and STILL didn't find any. Yes, I know you can use baking powder and add cream of tartar - but then I would have to find THAT! Anyway - finally managed to ask someone for it, but was (again) given that quizzical look (why am I getting accustomed to seeing must be me...) anyway - I found myself led to a pharmacy. A pharmacy, you may ask, why a pharmacy?! Yes, those who know, baking soda is used as sodium bicarbonate - an antacid - so why not sell it in the pharmacy?! Anyway - I went home with my two prizes, and attempted to make...lemon squares! Of course the other thing you should know is Costa Rica doesn't eat lemons. When I asked for a yellow lemon at the store, I got nothing but stares. Come to find out (after...yes...many more searches) that they only use limes - look up lemon and lime in a Spanish dictionary and you will see the word is one and the same. Anyway - so I was up to the challenge - and...yes - they came out GREAT!!!! Lime squares for one and all. We are learning fruits and vegetables in one of our classes. We had to bring in "typical" dishes from the U.S. and I used this recipe - had to write it in Spanish. Did a pretty good job, if I do say so myself. So, I'll be bringing them into class tomorrow for all to share.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Harvest Festival / Reformation Party

Madison in her bat costume The "Candy / Prize Center"

Pin the Tail on the Donkey
The "big" kids Piñata

Mike's blog ( is the same subject, but it was such a success, it's worth two different blog entries (besides, I can have more pictures :-)

In honor of a tradition by our home church, Soaring Oaks Presbyterian Church, we hosted a Reformation Party. This reflects the time that Martin Luther pounded the 95 thesis onto the church door and the beginning of the Protestant Reformation. Mike was able to share the story with all the adults and children there. Everyone seemed to be listening intently. We had a GREAT turn-out. We hosted it at a friends house as ours place is too tiny. We knew that there was a lot of interest, but had not idea about how many that would end up being. We had over 50 kids and adults attend. We had 8 games for the kids to enjoy to "earn" candy and prizes including Pin-the-Tail on the Donkey, and Dunking for Apples! This was a good opportunity to have a little taste of home for everyone, and it was much needed!