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!!!!