Thursday, January 31, 2008

The Sidewalks of Costa Rica

Yes, this is an odd topic…we know. But, sometimes it is the little things you notice the most. We never thought about sidewalks until we got here. Trust us on this one and take 4 minute and 30 second out of your life to watch this video and you will see that there is a major cultural difference between the sidewalks in your home and the sidewalks in Costa Rica.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Ox Eyes

Me with Alex - our friendly neighborhood herbal man

Have an ailment? Here is the "cure"

Remedio (remedy) for lack of breast milk

The "ox eyes" and remedy book

This week we are studying about medical terminology. This also includes homeopathic medicine. Our language instructor gave us an assignment to interview two people about home remedies, if they believe in them, and if they use them. I thought the best way to accomplish this assignment was to go downtown to the Central Mercado (Central Market). This is a HUGE in-door market place. It is an awesome place! I could spend hours and hours there, and for those of you who know me really well know that I HATE to shop - and to say that I would spend hours there is saying something! So...two friends of mine from school and myself, went around to a few of the local remedy stores. We asked them our questions, found out about all sorts of home remedies, and even bought a few from each vendor. The one I found MOST interesting was the cure for hemorrhoids. Apparently, if you put these "ojos de buey" (ox eyes) in your back pocket every day, you won't get hemorrhoids. No, they really aren't ox eyes, they are "sea beans" (sea-beans come from trees and vines that grow along tropical shores and rain forests all over the world. The seeds or fruits fall from their parent plant into waterways, such as the Amazon River, then drift through inlets to reach the ocean. They travel with ocean currents until they wash up on a beach somewhere, perhaps thousands of miles from their origin. Sea-beans are quite hard and buoyant, which helps them survive their long-distance voyage.). I can also tell you to cure "fungus" on your body - you soak romero (rosemary), madero negro (don't ask - don't know), and hombre grande (some sort of wood) in water, then you rub it on the area with fungus...hmmm...I'll post more pictures of the market on Saturday - Madison really wants to go "shopping" and spend lots of time I guess I'll get my hours of fun :-)

Monday, January 28, 2008

Back Porch BBQ

Where there's a will there's a way. You've heard that more times than I have I'm sure. Well...the weather here is so beautiful, it has that BBQ feel written all over it! But what is a missionary to do when you don't have one? Can't buy one because you can't take it with you, and your choices are few?! Well...I happened to be in one of our local grocery stores, when my eyes caught this "table top BBQ" for $5.00! Think hibachi grill, but really cheap, with coals that made it even more interesting. The coals that were affordable were "natural coals" - now remember back when after your camp fire was burned up - all the embers in the bottom of the campfire - think those all nicely packaged into a bag and sold for $1.50. Sounds like a BBQ to me! So - we managed to (after an hour and a half) grill up some fish for dinner! It was really good! Don't know that this will be a frequent event, but good to know that it's available if we want/need it :-) It's just a shame that this country doesn't have ANY good red meat ! :-(

Saturday, January 26, 2008

We climbed a mountain today

Here is a 3 minute 30 second video of our hike up the mountain:

Our starting elevation (4th line down)

Our elevation at the top of the mountain! (4th line down)

The cross at the top of Cerro San Miguel (St. Michael hill). La Cruz de Alajuelita overlooks Alajuelita valley.

Today our family and 9 other people from our school, and our friends Antonio and Lapiz all climbed up this huge, very trying, very tiring, huge mountain. The cross on the top of this mountain can be seen from all over the valley of San Jose -it's that high up - 6,722 feet to be exact! The ascent took us about 2 hours, and once at the top we took this "victory" picture, and walked a short way to a grassy area for a much needed, well deserved lunch! We stayed at the top of the hill for about an hour, enjoying the accomplishment, each others company, and the sheer beauty of God's creation! Check out the video above for more pictures. All in all we ascended 2,856 feet during our trip. Most everyone took a tumble at one time or another. Some of the paths we climbed up were over 45 degree angle tiny, rocky paths! No paved roads around here. We were all trying to figure out how they got the material for the cross. There are three crosses in all, more elaborate the higher you go. Incredible trip! One we have wanted to make since we have been here. We are hoping for at least one more chance to climb up, sometime before we leave Costa Rica.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

How does that translate?

So, we all know that some things just DON'T translate (see lettuce blog below) - here is another for everyone to enjoy.

Eeny, meeny, miny, moe, which can be written a number of ways, is a children's counting rhyme, used to select "it" for games and similar purposes. The rhyme has been around in various forms since the 1850s or earlier, and is common today in many countries. Since many similar counting rhymes existed earlier, it is difficult to ascertain its exact origin. (from Wikepedia)


Eeny, meeny, miny, moe
Catch a baby by the toe
If it squeals let it go,
Eeny, meeny, miny, moe.

British version:

Eeny, meeny, miney, mo,
Put the baby on the po,
When he's done
Wipe his bum
Shove the paper up the lum

American version:

Eeny, meeny, miny, moe
Catch a tiger by the toe
If he hollers let him go,
Eeny, meeny, miny, moe. is Costa Rica's version (maybe all of Latin America?! - anyone who knows feel free to let me know!)

De Tín Marín
de dos pingüé
Cúcara Mácara
Títere fue

Not much translates - first line - only word that really translates is "of"
The second line, "of two rich" - huh?!
Third line - nothing
Fourth line - "puppet was"

Basically, our teacher says it really is a nonsensical rhyme to pick "it" and nothing more. Hope you enjoyed your lesson :-)

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Honduras school search

So imagine, if you will, you live in a foreign country, and are trying to decide where your child will go to school in a DIFFERENT foreign country, and the only resource you really have is the Internet. Now suppose, that the country you are looking into is one of the poorest countries in Latin America, and no one has a web site. Sigh...

So the search has begun. We are only 5 months away from being in Honduras, and we need to start looking into and applying for a school for Madison to attend, and you guessed it - of the 6 bilingual schools, only ONE has a web site. And, of course, the one that has the web site is so expensive, it is more expensive then it would be if we sent her to a private school in the states. Go figure. So - I've been able to contact a few people who used to live in Honduras and had children go to school there to try and narrow things down. It's been daunting! This is a difficult prospect. Mike is going to try and get a trip to Honduras in April after our trimester ends to secure housing. I'm hoping to have a decision about Madison's schooling by then so he can also go and register her for classes. Please pray for that to happen!

Monday, January 21, 2008

You are as fresh as lettuce

lettuce = me?!

I have been called many things, but this one is a new one! This morning my teacher told me, "¡Su es una lechuga!" (you are a lettuce). HUH?! I said! Apparently when you have newly washed hair, you look as "fresh as a head of lettuce" - and they just shorten it to you are a lettuce. Still trying to roll that one around in my mind - but it's a compliment, and I'll take it for what it is :-)

Tomorrow I guess I'll be a lechuga again! :-)

Friday, January 18, 2008

Class mix-up

Two weeks into each semester the teachers (primarily) and the students have input with the academic advisor as to the classes the students are currently in. It is then that the teachers decide if students need to be moved to different classes based on their current level of understanding, or their teaching style/needs. We were informed today that our class and another class will be re-organized. Four members of my current class will be moved in with three members of another class to form a new class. The pace of this "new" class will be quickened from the current speed. Sigh...I was just getting used to the pace, coming to expect what was coming next, and enjoying how well I was comprehending the new material. However, I really don't think the teacher would move me unless she really feels like I will succeed in this new class. So, I was going to take a picture of my class and class mates, but as that will be changing on Monday, I only took a picture my language teacher because she will be the same teacher, it is my grammar class that is changing. So, here is Yadira, a VERY sweet, awesome teacher!

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Tests again (already!)'s been a week-and-a-half into the new trimester, and the tests have begun already! Madison has 3 this week, I have one tomorrow on past-tense, and Mike has a grammar test on Friday! keeps us on our toes - that's for sure! I keep thinking - do they REALLY need to test us - can't they just teach us, and we will keep up?! But - of course they know best - they know human nature - and the motive (or lack there of) if a test is present or not. So...pray for good absorption of all our material!

Walking update (see previous post) - well...only one week into it, but I've been faithful to my walking. If nothing else, it feels good to get out of the confines of our house, and see the neighborhood! Madison starts track tomorrow - practice from 3:00pm to 5:00! She is very excited to do this!

Sunday, January 13, 2008


Okay gang - I have a HUGE request. I need some accountability partners! I've been in Costa Rica for 4 months, and haven't done any exercise other than walking to and from school twice a day (there and back for me, and there and back again to get Madison after school). In my little mind, that equates to 2 miles a day. Why should I possibly need more? The answer is because I'm only walking a half mile each direction. Not really enough time for my heart rate to get up and to be sustained. So, although I thoroughly enjoy that time, I've realized I really need to do some EFFECTIVE exercise. If any of you know me well enough, you will also know that I DETEST running. Between a broken ankle (surgery, two pins) and a ripped tendon (cast for 6 weeks) on the same ankle, and spending 3 years in the Army of MANDATORY running, I've pretty much put running off of my agenda for...say...the rest of my life! The gyms here are not very convenient and I have to pay for it is. Madison has signed up for track and field, and is VERY excited about being able to walk with me. So far we've only gone twice, 2 miles each time (Sunday is our day off), but we both enjoyed it thoroughly! So - if you would just check up on me once in awhile and see how I am doing, I would greatly appreciate it!

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Our Stinkin’ Neighborhood

So, usually our neighborhood trash gets picked up on Wednesdays. And, in typical Latin American fashion sometimes it is at 6am, sometimes it is at 6pm, sometimes it is on Thursday, but, it always gets picked up. Not this week. Our trash went out on Wednesday. Here it is Saturday morning and it is still sitting out there. With this comes a few extra problems.

1) Three and a half days is more then enough time for stray dogs and homeless scavengers to dig through your trash and make a mess. So, not only is there lots of trash on the street, but, it is strewn everywhere.

2) We have now entered the dry season. No rain, lots of sun and little wind. The temperatures this week have been in the 80s every day. Plenty of heat to bake exposed trash.

The result is a funky smell that filters through the neighborhood and peaks about midday. Nothing we can’t handle. It just enables us to use all of our senses when walking to school or to the market.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Big Kids Back to School

Mike and I started school yesterday. We have a very different schedule - Mike starts an hour later than I do. So - I walk Madison to school, and start my first class. I then have a 2 hour break in the middle of my day, and our school goes an hour later. This change is to accommodate all the new students. There are now more students at this school then there has been for decades. A great problem to have! So, we are adjusting. Mike has the same classmates as he did last trimester - my grammar class was disbanned and redistributed to other classes - this is also to try and accommodate the changing classes. So, the folks in my class are doing a little catch up to where I finished off. Not bad for me - this just means an opportunity to review.

The other thing we are doing is preparing a house for our new team mates who are coming next month. Please pray that things will continue to go smoothly. We have been praying for the "perfect" place - and what do we get?! A BRAND new place came up for rent a half block from our house - 3 bedrooms, will have all BRAND new furniture and appliances! It's an incredible find around here because of the huge influx of students, we were fearful of even FINDING a place! Thank you God for a direct and IMMEDIATE answer to prayer! Isn't God cool?!

Monday, January 7, 2008

Back to School

Madison was all packed for school and ready to go last night. She's off to school after a nice long break. Last trimester she had an elective - she choose Science Club. This trimester, however, the 6th graders don't get to choose an elective as they have been assigned to typing. I've tried to tell her how important learning to type is, and that she may actually enjoy the class, but she is disappointed that she wasn't able to select art. But, I think she enjoys the social time, and routine of things. So, please pray for her return to school.

Mike has two additional skits for orientation he will be acting in, one today, and one tomorrow. Tomorrow I will be trying to recruit for music groups - so pray for that too. Then the day after - school starts!

Sunday, January 6, 2008

New Glasses

Two days ago I finally did something I have been meaning to do since we have been here - and that's been to get Madison's eyes checked. She has been "complaining" of her vision being worse then when it was last checked (just over a year ago). So, boosting up my courage to be speaking in Spanish for the next 30 minutes, we went in. Get this - the eye exam was only $6.00! Can you believe it?! Anyway - they did a very thorough exam, and Madison was a trooper, telling the optometrist all her letters in Spanish! Good job Madison! So, we ordered her glasses (cool purple glasses, with shading lenses) and they called us the next day to tell us they were in! Another - can you believe it moment!!! ONE day for new glasses? So - we went to pick them up today, and here she is, acting like such the teen, hanging out on her bed, listening to her IPOD with her cool new glasses (anteojos -literally - before eyes) on.

Now, to call around and make dental exams for all of us - we are OVER DUE!! Pray for me :-)

Friday, January 4, 2008

Orientation, Welcoming and House Hunting

Orientation for new students at school has started, and Mike and I are helping out everyday with it. Yesterday we were "tour guides" around campus, showing folks where to find what. Today we are in two skits to help explain some of the rules of the school. At the same time we are welcoming our "little sister", Zoe - she is a new student and we were responsible for finding her a place to live, and showing her around town. We have had a great time doing that. Also, we are privileged to have the ability to look for a house for our future team mates, the McCann's! We can officially say they are coming next month!!! We are so excited to finally have our future team mates join us in Costa Rica and we want to find them a "perfect" house - although the pickings are slim, we are praying for the best location!

Madison starts school on Monday, and she is hesitant to get started (read - not ready to be done with vacation!). Our schooling starts back up next Wednesday. So, please pray for us during this busy time of orientation, welcoming, house hunting and school starting!

A few firsts:

1. Made gallo pinto (ooohhhhh good!!!)
2. homemade flour tortillas!

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

A Year in Review

Here we are, on the brink of a New Year, and it's good to reflect on where we have been. A new look for a new year.

Much of my blogging has been reflective of where we have been and where we are going. So - I'm going to just be thankful for what I have. Mat 6:34 "Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble." We are thankful for all of our friends, family, church, love, support, prayers, our home, school, health, food, books, relaxation, and more. Thank you to everyone who has committed yourselves to praying for us, for sending e-mails, care packages, videos (you know who you are), and kind words. They have helped maintain us during this time, and I am very thankful. This video will take you on a trip with us as we look back over what we have done during 2007.