The Fun Stuff

It’s no secret that we are all working hard right now.  The kids are busy with school.  Eliana is enjoying the challenge of 6th grade, but isn’t crazy about the official feel of tests and report cards.  Elijah was promoted to 4th because he had already mastered the material scheduled for the 3rd grade (his age appropriate class).  He loves it, and never missed a beat academically.  Matt just spent the evening working on a science project with him, and I spent the day untangling dollars and colones in our Quicken records.  Before the bell rings for class in the morning, we have a date with the Spanish indicative past tense verb conjugations–the three regular varieties and the 7 categories of irregulars.  Every week we learn more about how to navigate the culture, the language, and the city of San Jose.  All of this is building our family’s ability to do life here well and serve at the Home of Life come June.

But in the midst of the effort, we have been having some fun, too.  Our sloped driveway has proven to be a huge blessing for the E’s to romp in and chase balls around.  Sometimes we even borrow the neighbor’s beagle.  Matt recently got some new rope to rehang a hammock-swing that was left here by a previous family.  The kids delight in being pendulums.  I am thankful for the ample space to dry clothes and my game of racing-the-weather—I play hard to win that one, but it’s nice to have a dryer on my defensive line.  We have taken some walks around the neighborhood to enjoy the little front gardens and the feel of the tight-packed houses.  I’ve laughed my way through three Junie B. Jones books in Spanish and am going to try La Telaraña de Carlota (Charlotte’s Web) next.  Our Dominion cards are back into circulation and we even got in a round of Settlers of Catan this weekend at a language student family game night.  Balancing the work with some play is necessary to avoid burn out.  There is never a shortage of things needing our attention, but we can tackle them better with some joy tucked in between the layers.

A while back we were able to visit La Paz Waterfall Gardens, the Costa Rican equivalent of the Henry Doorly Zoo.  While the animals on display were significantly fewer, the rain forest exhibit was out of this world.  We thought after hearing about many of the challenges involved in living abroad, you might like to see some of the fun things, too.

Close Encounters–A Bump and A Blessing

We arrived safely back to our cabina home Saturday evening from our time at the Arenal Observatory Lodge.  Of the places I have seen, this has to be on the list as a paradise.  I hope to post more details and picture from that experience soon.  Right now my heart is processing two contrasting experiences here, and how they symbolize the faces of our journey in a nutshell.

First, the bump.  Thursday morning I was getting ready in the bathroom and planning out how to share some of my testimony with the Hogar de Vida family at morning devotions.  I was leaning in close to the steamy mirror, applying a bit of make-up when I heard the sound of tiny claws.

Half of the many appendages of a large scorpion began flailing from behind the side of the mirror at eye level.  Calling out frenzied prayers and trembling like a leaf, I leapt for a large drinking cup–my weapon of choice for dealing with undesirable characters in the house.  The strategy is simple:  imprison the intruder under the cup, slip a piece of stiff paper underneath it to box it inside, and carry the offending insect outdoors.  It sounds very compassionate, but the real goal is keeping a safe distance away from things that go “sting.”  This time I only had access to about half of the unsavory character.  I pinned him to the wall, but for the sake of photography, didn’t want to squish/saw him completely in half.  Matt removed the mirror from the wall for me, but I didn’t let him intercept the conflict.  This was my battle and I knew I needed to face it.  With the help of a tube of girl-stuff, I got the scorpion lifted over the sink and onto the floor, safely under the cup.  Shaken but victorious, I began to pray over that cup and the adrenaline coursing through me.  I don’t think it was a coincidence that I had to face one of my biggest  fears about living in Costa Rica minutes before trying to share my heart with the people here.  When I checked under the cup, my new friend had checked out.  Either I had squished him more than he could handle, or I prayed him to death.  We didn’t mourn much, but we did take a few pictures for posterity’s sake.

The blessing took place on the front porch of our shared cabin at the Arenal Observatory Lodge.  We had a terrific view of the Arenal Lake, the fragrance of gorgeous landscaping, and the chorus of many varieties of magnificent birds.  Humming birds came in close to feed on flowers right in front of us, and one must have gotten confused.  As we enjoyed our quiet time, a small thunk by the window drew our immediate attention.  A sweet little jewel of a bird lay twitching on the concrete.  After about 30 seconds wondering whether I would frighten it to death, I scooped it up into my hands to keep it warm.  Tiny feet grasped my skin and held tight as the dear little thing sat up and blinked the grog out of her noggin.  I was able to hold the blessing of a lifetime for about 5 minutes, admiring the green fire painted on each tiny feather, until with a whir of wings she was gone.


Being in Costa Rica for this 5-week trip and working towards a full-time ministry here in the future has plenty of hummingbird moments.  Eliana feeling comfortable enough to go upfront and dance with a friend during worship today.  Kind comments and encouragement from friends and family here on our blog.  Seeing a tia and some of her house children slip-n-sliding in the rain yesterday with a long piece of black landscaping plastic and some dish soap.  These are the things that make for good blog posts.  I try to share them so that they will uplift others as the Lord is uplifting me.

But to be honest, this journey also has its share of scorpion moments.  The language barrier keeping me from being able to understand a hurting tia’s prayer request.  Homesickness for our family, friends, church, and culture.  The weight of having to sell our beloved house without any good idea of what we will be able to rent for our family’s future nest.  I never realized before how attached I was to air conditioning and sleeping in the quiet of a room with closed windows.  Matt’s heart is full steam ahead in this calling.  I often have a fair supply of “can do,” but find myself running short on “want to” at times.  I won’t camp out here, but I want to confess that I’m not perfect and this walk can be difficult.  It’s why we need people to link arms with us in prayer covering and support.  His power is being made perfect in my weakness.  Perhaps He is holding me tenderly like a dazed hummingbird, enjoying the closeness yet waiting for the moment when my wings are able to take flight.