Saturday, May 31, 2008

A Brief Driving Tour Of La Ceiba, Honduras

On June 25th we will pack all our bags and hop on a flight to La Ceiba, Honduras. La Ceiba is the 200,000 person town where we will serve as missionaries.

Recently Mike took some footage of just a few of the things that will be important to us when we arrive.

Here is a 3 minute video to help you get a flavor of what La Ceiba looks like:

Thursday, May 29, 2008

A Quick Tour Of Madison’s New School In La Ceiba, Honduras

When we move to Honduras (June 25th) Madison will be attending La Ceiba Bilingual School (CBS). This is a private school with about 900 students. Most of the students are Hondurans. At CBS the students speak Spanish for half the day and English for the other half.

Madison is already registered for school and is scheduled to take the placement exam on Monday, June 30th. The school is located in the Sauces neighborhood…this is the same neighborhood where hope to find a home. For us, this is the best schooling option in La Ceiba. We are very pleased that we were able to register Madison for CBS.

Here is a 4 minute walking tour of Madison’s new school:

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Saprissa and Costa Rican Soccer

In the time we have spent in San Jose, Costa Rica we have been sucked into the cultural passion that surrounds soccer in Costa Rica. We have visited Saprissa Stadium five times and watched the amazing spectacle that is Latin soccer. Mike has always been a sports fan and Madison played soccer for five years, but, the allure of sports has always evaded me…until now.

Our family has enjoyed visiting the 22,000 person stadium and watching world class and inexpensive soccer games. Saprissa, the team we have enjoyed cheering for, has been fun to watch. They are now playing in the Costa Rican Championship with their arch rivals, Alajuelense. We look forward to watching the two professional teams that play in La Ceiba, Honduras.

We put together this 3:45 second video to show you some of the fun we have seen.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Memorial Day

It is a day of sales, days off from work, and parades. That's what it's become. What a shame!

What it is: Memorial Day is a United States Federal holiday observed on the last Monday of May. Formerly known as Decoration Day, it commemorates U.S. men and women who perished while in military service to their country. First enacted to honor Union soldiers of the American Civil War, it was expanded after World War I to include casualties of any war or military action.

A tradition is for a time of rememberance at 3:00 p.m. Eastern Time. Please take that time to pray for those who have died to make and keep this country great. Fly your flag. Honor those who have died. Never forget.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

It's the Final Countdown (insert music here....)

Three years ago we started out on the adventure of a lifetime. It started like this…my husband had just come home from a short mission trip and he took me out to dinner. He started the conversation with, “What do you think about doing this mission stuff full-time?” To which I promptly said, “What took you so long?!” That was the beginning of a 3-year adventure to come to where we are. It started with an application, then selling our house, our motorcycles, our cars, to an evaluation, to another training, to another evaluation, to a month in New York, to 8 months of support raising, quitting two management jobs, to 10 months of language school, to where we are now. One month until we leave. One month from today! It’s been a long haul, but one filled with God every step of the way! We thank everyone for sticking with us, to praying for us, to supporting us with finances, care packages, e-mails of encouragement and support. Thanks to everyone!

Saturday, May 24, 2008

The Rain Has Returned

with a vengence!!! The rainy season has officially come back to Costa Rica. We are filled with days and days and days of rain. There are times where the rain is so loud, we can't hear when we watch the TV! It's difficult to grasp what rain here means. Coming from California, if it were to ever rain like it does here, things would shut down! I've included some pictures, and some footage of a video we took when we first got here. Enjoy!

Pre-rain shot from our apartment

Can't even see the mountains the clouds and rain are so thick!

Friday, May 23, 2008

My "picture wall"

In our house in Elk Grove, we had a picture wall. It was a wall that celebrated our family and friends. Old pictures of our parents, family photos, friends, etc. Here we don't have that. It's been sad living in a house with so little on the walls. We actually brought some framed photos that we have taken over the years, and it does help make the house a little homey. Other things we brought to make us feel like this is our home - the quilt for our bed, the quilt for Madison's bed, glow-in-the-dark stars for Madisons ceiling (have had these on her ceiling since she was born), etc. So, since we don't have our wall of photos, I created one when we received Christmas cards last year. I cut out the photos and placed them on cupboards that face into our "living room". So this year, if you send us a Christmas card, we would LOVE if you included a recent family photo. It really helps to bring a little taste of home to us - the faces of those we love. When we move into our new home in Honduras, I'll endeavor to re-create our picture wall and include other pictures that I've stored on the computer of dear friends and family. But for now - this will do :-)

Wednesday, May 21, 2008


A Ceiba tree

Team Honduras is growing! Currently we have our awesome team mates Sean and Lindsey McCann (along with Lucy, and the new baby-on-the-way McCann); we also have 3 interns, Jamie, Josh, and Andy. These future interns are new High School graduates who feel God sending them to the mission field before they enter college. They will be attending a 2-month Spanish intensive program in Costa Rica (same school we are currently attending), then will join us in Honduras. They already come with some Spanish under their belts. We are also speaking with another person, who is a pediatric nurse, and is interested in working in the mission field for a year, then returning to her practice with some incredible experience under her belt. There is also another couple that has some feelers out toward Honduras. So, please be in prayer for our growing team :-) We are incredibly excited that there is so much enthusiasm about Honduras - it's clear that God has some plans for all of us!

FYI: (The ceiba is one of the fastest growing trees in existence, gaining as much as 13 feet a year to a maximum height of just under 200 feet tall! Because of its swift growth, the ceiba is an effective pioneer species and a great introduction for the reforestation of cleared land. Though the wood is not durable enough for construction, it is often used for canoes and coffins - La Ceiba, our future home, was named after this incredible tree.)

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Money Recovered

Just an update to let you know that my bank has refunded the total $1284 that was charged against my account when my purse was stolen. Yeah! Still trying to replace other things like Drivers License, Diver Certification card, IPOD, etc. But - all money has been replaced (minus the cash that was in my wallet). YEAH!!

Monday, May 19, 2008

Gallo Pinto

I have had a number of people ask about the local cuisine in Costa Rica. Gallo pinto is one of those things that is on every "tipical" meal, and is considered a national dish. Most Tico's eat it everyday. It's served at every restaurant, and can be found mostly with breakfast, but it is served as a side dish to any meal. Here is the recipe. I've made it a number of times and really enjoy it.:

1 lb (450 gr.) Black beans. Fresh are best but most likely you’ll find them dried.
8-10 sprigs cilantro (coriander leaf) fresh or frozen.
1 small or medium onion
½ small red or yellow sweet pepper (optional)
3 cups (700 ml) chicken broth or water
2 cups (350 ml) white rice
½ teaspoon (2.5 ml) salt
1 Tablespoon (15 ml) vegetable oil
1-3 Tablespoon oil to fry the Gallo Pinto

If beans are dried, cover with water and soak overnight, if they are fresh, just rise them off. Drain the beans and add fresh water to an inch (2.5-cm) above the top of the beans, salt, and bring to a boil. Cover the pan and reduce heat to very low simmer until beans are soft (~3 hours).

Chop cilantro, onion, and sweet pepper very fine.

Add 1 Tablespoon oil to a large pan and sauté the dry rice for 2 minutes over medium high flame then add half of the chopped onion, sweet pepper and cilantro and sauté another 2 minutes. Add water or chicken broth, bring to a boil, cover and reduce heat to simmer until rice is tender (20-35 minutes). This is also the recipe for Tico rice used in other favorites like tamales.

Once the rice and beans are cooked you can refrigerate or freeze them. Keep a significant amount of the “black water” with the beans (½-1 cup 120-240 ml). This is what gives the rice its color and some of its flavor. Sauté the rice, beans reserved chopped onion, sweet pepper and cilantro together in vegetable oil for a few minutes. Sprinkle with a little fresh chopped cilantro just before serving.

Once the rice and beans are cooked you can also refrigerate or freeze them. Make up small batches of Gallo Pinto when you want it by simply sautéing them together.

In Guanacaste they sometimes use small very hot red peppers instead of or in addition to the sweet. Some people add a tablespoon or so of salsa Lizano or Chilera to the beans while they're cooking.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Just when I think I won't ever be smart enough

You know - the more I learn Spanish, the more I realize how much more I need to learn. There are days when Spanish just flows out of my mouth, and other days where I just plane feel stupid. However, it's nice to be reminded that there are those who are worse off than me:

Friday, May 16, 2008


I know you will all be happy to hear that Narnia can be found in Costa Rica in English!!! I know how you have all waited with baited breath to see if that was the case. We will probably go see it tomorrow. Okay - enough of that. Movies here are shown one of two ways. Dubbed, with no subtitles, or in English with Spanish subtitles. Most "action", "horror", and "drama" movies are in English; most children's animated movies are dubbed into Spanish; and those that are in the middle - think National Treasure, etc. show in both venues. However, that is not always the rule. The Bridge to Teribithia I think falls into the National Treasure category, however, it was only in Spanish. So...the debate around the Pettengill household was whether Narnia would be in Spanish or English. Don't get me wrong, I enjoy watching things in Spanish, but as my Spanish skills are about the level of a 6 year old, there are many nuances, etc. that I miss. So - I must admit - I was thrilled that Narnia will be shown in English. Granted, it shows 9 times a day, and only 3 of them are shown in English, but I'm thrilled. Honestly, I should be happy ANY movie is in English! We are in a Spanish speaking country afterall. I never had any expectation that any movie would be shown in English, I was just pleasantly surprised that they are!

Another interesting movie topic - how the titles are translated. For example:

27-Desses translates to: 27 Bodas (27 Weddings)
The Bucket List translates to: Antes de Partir (Before we Leave)
Speed Racer translates to: Meteoro (Meteor)
Dead Silence translates to: El Titere (The Puppet)

Anyway - as others come up I'll be sure to post. Interesting why some are changed, and others aren't, and always interesting to see how the translation has been made. Iron Man, for example, is Iron Man...hmm...

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Disaster Relief

Many of you know that I am a certified disaster relief worker with Mission to the World. I was involved in the disaster relief efforts in Sri Lanka after the tsunami. You may be wondering why you haven't heard that I am on my way to China right now. There are a couple of factors going on here. The first, I was placed on "hiatus" from disaster relief until the conclusion of my language acquisition (one more month). Secondly, and more importantly, is how Mission to the World operates with disasters around the world. The primary factor is that we must be "invited" from a missionary on the field to come to the disaster. The reason for this is because unlike most other relief organizations, we are as interested in the physical health of people in distress, and the spiritual health as well. So, when we go into a country in distress, it is important for us to have in-country missionaries to care for those once we have left. We NEVER want to leave a spiritual orphan out there. So, for now, we are not going to be involved in the disaster in China physically, but we will be with them in prayer.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Interesting Food

The palm tree from which the Pejibaye grow

Madison getting ready to enjoy her pejibaye

We have found this "fruit" called Pejibaye. Wikipedias information about this fruit: Bactris gasipaes is a species of palm native to the tropical forests of the South and Central America. It is a palm which can typically grow to 20 m or taller (see picture above). The fruit is a drupe with an edible pulp surrounding the single seed, 4-6 cm long and 3-5 cm broad. The rind (epicarp) of this wild palm can be red, yellow, or orange when the fruit is ripe depending on the variety of the palm.

Madison and I really enjoy eating this. You usually find it in the grocery store in a vat of warm water where it has been simmering all day. We take it home, peel it, add a little salt and pepper and enjoy! An interesting fruit, but one we really enjoy!

Monday, May 12, 2008


Tutoring starts this week, and one thing I've decided to do is improve my reading skills. Often times I understand the literal translation of something written, but not the significance. Make sense? So, to help this, I've purchased a Spanish primer, and two books by Roald Dahl (think Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, and James and the Giant Peach). I can read and then discuss them with my tutor making sure I understand the significance. I really look forward to this type of learning. Also, we will review the things I've learned over the last 8 months and fix the mess in my head :-).

Madison started back to school today, with all new teachers. Her teacher left to do other ministry work, and she will be having temporary teachers until the end of school. She has 5 1/2 weeks left. The week after she finishes school we will be headed to Honduras. So - the short timers calendar has begun!

Friday, May 9, 2008

Bummer way to end the vacation

Well...we made it back safely to San Jose, managed to get everyone to their rooms, and headed out to dinner. By the time we left it was clear that my purse managed to find its way into a robbers hand in the short time we were at dinner, and in the SHORT time it took us to get back to our apartment to call Golden 1, we already had a phone message from Visa fraud asking us to call them. All in all over $1284.00 had been charged to my account! So, between the $300.00 stolen from my wallet earlier in the week, and over $1284.00 charged to my account, it was a VERY expensive week! Along with my money, my new IPOD that my sister-in-law brought to me was in my purse, my medication, two pairs of sunglasses, and my ID. It was only by God's grace that I had JUST taken out all of our passports, or those would have been gone too. Makes me very sad/angry/upset. Not the way I wanted to end our vacation.

Mike's family leaves tomorrow. We want to take them to the local shopping area to look for last minute souveniers. It has been so much fun to have them here in Costa Rica!

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Family Vacation, Part V

We have spent the past two days in the ocean. We have taken five SCUBA dives in the past two days. Last night was especially fun. We took Mike’s parents out on the boat for a night dive. They stayed on board while we spent 50 minutes explore the night sea with flashlights. It was fun to share this experience with them.

The night dive was incredible. Sea life is very different at night. When we got up all Maddy could say was, “That was cool, that was cool, that was cool.”

I have had plenty of opportunity to practice medicine on this trip. I have made eight or so trips to the pharmacy and practiced my medical Spanish. I gave injections, administered oral medication, addressed a minor concussion, helped with a couple of colds and much more. It has been great practice to work all this out in Spanish.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Family Vacation, Part IV

Yesterday was another fun day of SCUBA organized by Mike’s brother-in-law…who was too sick to come. The boat Captain let Maddy pilot the boat the entire day…what fun. We played with a sea turtle and Mike got within five feet of a shark again. He says he is going in for the touch next time.

Today we spent the entire day in Nicaragua. This was Mike’s final country to visit in Central America. He has now visited all seven. The seven of us visited a couple of nice towns, shopped and had a couple of meals. Lake Nicaragua and all the active volcanoes were something to see.

While we were on a boat in Lake Nicaragua a white faced monkey jumped aboard looking for some handouts. We gave her some flowers, which she promptly ate. Madison petted her and fed her. Pretty cool.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Family Vacation, Part III

Mike’s mom, dad, sister, and brother-in-law are continuing their visit with us here in Costa Rica. We are now in the city of Panama (not the country of Panama) on the north west coast of Costa Rica.

Mike’s sister treated us to a morning of SCUBA diving today. We took two dives in the beautiful and warm Pacific waters. We got within 5 feet of a shark and saw some great sea life.

Unfortunately, while we are enjoying the company of our family reality does still strike. While out at dinner last night (Saturday) somebody broke into our room and stole all our cash. We have learned that you never carry lots of cash, but, on vacation we needed to have money incase there were no ATMs. The thief got away with over $300. This will greatly limit our recreation for the rest of the week. In Addition, I (Erin) am feeling quiet violated by our first crime in Costa Rica.

God is good and He will take care of us.

Friday, May 2, 2008

Family Vacation, Part II

Mike mom, dad, sister, and brother-in-law are continuing their visit with us here in Costa Rica.  We have been up in the north at Volcano Arenal for several days.  It is amazingly beautiful.  We have relaxed, enjoyed each other and eaten some great food.

Here is a shot of the volcano:

We have spent some time having lots of fun.  Unfortunately, our zest for adventure hasn't been slowed by age.  Mike, who is 39, was trying to keep up with the kids.  And, well, let's just say he didn't.  Take a look at this bump on his head.  It was much worse then it looks.  I think it came complete with a mild concussion.  He is much better today.

Tomorrow we pack up and head further north to the beach.  We'll keep you informed...assuming we have internet.