Snapshots and Shared Joys

Some snapshots of recent joys shared here at Hogar de Vida.

The older kids had a fiesta day complete with barrel-bull riding and championship  slip ‘n’ sliding.  The riding rules had to be amended because Elijah was so good at holding on that he  dismantled the “bull” when he was finally shaken loose.

The younger kids had a piñata party and really taught us how to swing a stick.

The Lifegate team is here and is painting, praying, and loving up a storm.  It is such a blessing to spend these days with them.  Note to self: catch up on laundry and cook up some freezer meals before picking them up at the airport in the future, because you won’t want to miss any of it.

Sometimes the team members got painted themselves.

Kris was able to spend two mornings in the central kitchen learning to cook like a Tica and, even better, spending quality time with Vanessa and Oralia.   Vanessa handles lunches and dinners for the 50 + children and staff at Hogar each day.  Oralia and her husband Sebastian direct the Hogar de Vida in Guatemala.  Her visit to Costa Rica is a special treat to celebrate Dena’s 50th birthday and learn new ideas for managing a home of energetic children.

Another trek to the waterfall.

The sweetest reward for studying Spanish:  I was able to have my first conversation in Spanish with Oralia, who has been silently dear to me since our first global journey back in 2006.

More time with Cherie, our friend and mentor in all things “Tico!”  Also, a fun dinner with two wonderful missionary families who live here.  They were kind enough to let us tour their homes and glean from their experience while our kids romped together.  What a blessing to have friends in many countries.  When they wished we were coming down sooner,  we jokingly asked them to head the committee for praying in our financial support early.

The Mango Crew.  These fearless children picked up three wheelbarrows of fallen, yucky, buggy mangoes, making the campus a nicer looking (and smelling) place to be.  I’m so proud of them.

Leaf cutter ants munching away an entire bush in one day.  We were amazed to hear the soft crinkling sound of their busy harvesting and see the 4″ wide highway they cleared through the grass to take the clippings back to their hill.

Time has been passing quickly by, and it’s hard to grasp that we fly back to the states in less than a week.  I begin to understand the roots that we’ve planted in this trip by the resistance my heart feels towards leaving.  I pray that they are well-tended and flourish in the next year so that blossoms are ready to burst forth when we return in a year.  We are ready to take the next step.

Things We’ve Learned Along the Way

It’s been much quieter around Hogar de Vida the last few days with the team safely back in the states.  They were a great, lively bunch and we miss them.  Ezekiel is still praying at bedtime for his friend Micah that he adopted as playmate-supreme.  Monday we sorted through the food left at the team cabins and divided up the laundry.  Tuesday Matt proved once again that he is the brave one in our family by taking the bus to San Jose himself, getting us a rental car for the upcoming week, and driving through San Jose (a task not for the faint of heart, I understand) to find the language school we will attend.   I took advantage of the sunny, windy weather for a power laundry day and prepared to enjoy our friend Cherie’s company for dinner and a game of 20 Questions–global worker edition.  Today Matt has been busy planning a family outing to Arenal to see a volcano that just went dormant in the last couple of years.  I baked up some treats for the houses and learned that my recipe for chocolate chip cookies does not actually fit as bars in the cookie sheet pan I have here.  Lots of drips and overflowing edges were enjoyed  by the cook.  Tonight we hope to join the English worship group at Iglesia Biblia.  I will leave you with a rather long list and pictures of some of the humorous things we have learned as we do life here in Costa Rica.  Thank you so much for coming along with us.

Things We’ve Learned Along the Way. . .

How to make lemonade from lemons (figuratively and literally).  The literal stuff is delicious.  The figurative stuff is much more fun than complaining.  Yes, lemons are green here.

How to get to and from the airport at midnight, 3 a.m., noon, and 4 p.m.  How to  avoid the parking police at the airport.

How to salvage the good out of a fallen mango.  How to let the mangoes go bad where they fall when your kids are tired of eating them.

Close your mouth and squint when walking through a cloud of fruit flies enjoying the fallen mangoes.

How to pick up a mango covered with bees and fruit flies and throw it downhill to clear the local atmosphere.

Just a few days worth.

When Matt makes a pre-dawn sortie with a wheelbarrow and hands covered by a plastic bag, that’s even better.

How to open and close a Costa Rican window (they have wide panes of glass like blinds).

Bugs in the house are just normal, but killing a mosquito is as satisfying as always.

Big bugs can make for excellent entertainment and education opportunities.  See previous post for visual.  Rolling up a towel and laying it across the opening under the door can curtail future entertainment opportunities indoors.

The beauty of a 70 foot waterfall, 15 minutes away.

That Jillian Michaels dvds can adequately prepare you to climb 300 steps up from the waterfall with a toddler riding on your back.

Morning hugs and salutations at devos with the Hogar family can be the best time of your whole day.

Chainsaws cut flesh and bone as well as trees.  True, but we’re just teasing.  We did get to pull a running chainsaw up a tree on a rope to cut down branches, though.

There is a cleaning solution here with the name of “Terror.”  I find this completely appropriate considering what you might find when you dig into nooks and crannies around here.

The best seats in church are right by the open door to catch the breezes.  This is a sister lesson to: Sweat is normal in church. Greeting time at Iglesia Biblia is only the halfway point of worship time.  You’ve got another 35 minutes coming right up.  Someone suggest this to Pastor Sean.

Even deceased poisonous snakes can inject you with venom, so handle carefully when a team finds one measuring 5 feet behind the waterfall and brings it out for closer inspection.  Avatar-style victory cries over dead viper are optional.

Eggs here are stored outside of the refrigerator, but once they get refrigerated, they have to stay there.  When a team mistakenly places 12 dozen eggs in the refrigerator, be thankful that they eventually ate them all.

There’s nothing quite like the sound of a Costa Rican thunderstorm rolling in.  The rumbles must echo in the valley because they go on and on beautifully.

We will go to unexpected lengths to get the best internet signal available, including sitting on a sidewalk in the tropical dark, using the computer screen as a flashlight.

One day of Matt’s labor on a house in 2007 can still be remembered five years later with appreciation and affectionate hearts.

It is pointless to buy a can of pineapple for $2 when you can buy an entire fresh one at the weekly farmer’s market for under a dollar.  Whoops.

Line-dried laundry fits more loosely than what comes out of your dryer.  Whether this is an invitation to enjoy more Tico cooking or a forewarning to buy your shirts a size smaller is yet to be determined.

Surprise! Happy Birthday, Eliana!

Contrary to our teasing, we did not need to make a late night run to the grocery store to get her presents.

It is entirely possible to have a fantastic 10th birthday here.  Sticky buns substituted for birthday cake, and a happy girl got to share twizzlers with the Hogar de Vida family at morning devotions.