Monday, December 27, 2010

Pics from the Christmas weekend

Christmas without snow

School ended on Thursday, the 23rd. The 24th we woke up and I think we both knew we had to make the decision right then if this weekend was going to be good or hard... in retrospect, I think we fought hard for the good.

Christmas Eve is the day of big celebration here. Everyone cooks all day, wraps presents and then around 8 family gathers together and FEAST. We skipped the wrapping presents part (since our gift to ourselves is going to the Pacific coast for the week, 28th-the first. But we did bake for the first part of the day. I made choc chip and coconut cookies. Made about..4-5 dozen. Made baggies of cookies for our apartment mates (single guys, one from Maryland and one from England). And then packed a jar for the family we spent Christmas Eve with... The Miller clan skyped with us early evening. Bittersweet to see everyone... made Matt want to grab the next stand by home... we kept it together though...

Around 7:30 we taxi'd over to our new friends Carlos and Tatiyana's family's home. Should have known that 8 meant 9 but... it was all good :) I put some pics up... cousins, aunts, uncles, and the mama and master cook of it all- Grace. Very sweet. We had a pig roast (with some cloves and cinnamon marinade that honestly is making me salivate right now...salad, yuca, rice, beans, and a merengue apricot pie that..again...salivating). This to say, my cookies were not touched much, but its the thought that counts. :) We were quite comfortable to tuck ourselves in the corner to make room for everyone around the tree during gift opening time (which happened around 11) but were very surprised to find that we had gifts under the tree as well! Cotton socks..yes, the best. It was very thoughtful. We got back to our apartment around 1 am. Carlos and T were still there but... Matt and I started pumping ourselves with Tico coffee around 11:30 to stay awake and it wasn't kicking in fast enough so we called a cab... when we got in the door, the coffee had kicked in so we caught some more infamous "House" episodes in Spanish until we fell asleep.

Christmas morning was hard. We woke up around 8:45 in time to set up our 9 am skype to visit with my parents and sister. It was my turn to end our video and want to catch the next flight home..again, we kept it together. We cleaned the apartment up a little bit, made a fresh batch of coffee and french toast and settled on the balcony to read the Christmas story together in the fresh air. We prayed and thanked God for everything, especially His gift of Jesus. We stayed out and read for a little bit. But around noon I knew we had to do something..for our sanity... so we decided to do some city exploring. We figured robbers would all be hung over or sleeping in so our guard was down a little bit. Really.

We were in "luck..." the central park area of San Jose was SWARMING with people. It was like Mall of America on Black Friday. Everyone was out shopping, and eating ice cream on park benches. I found a hair shop and got some long needed leave in moisturizer. Matt and I got sundaes from Mc Donalds... and then walked the few miles back to the spot. We got back early evening and I fixed a step child Christmas dinner, but dinner nonetheless (since I do not have an oven, just a toaster oven and a stove top). Then I introduced Matt to the classic Black Christmas movie "Preachers wife".. we downloaded it from I Tunes. He was pretty disturbed that Denzel was an angel but still trying to get with sigh...

Sunday morning we had house church, a little worship service even thanks to you tube and i tunes. Made a big rice and chicken lunch and while Matt caught Futbol americana on cable the rest of the afternoon, I actually picked up the canvas I bought from an art fair not too long ago. Started felt good. I plan to work on it a little more each day. Around 7:30 we left for Castros in Barrio Mexico. Caught a cab, ate dinner and stayed late into the night for some dancing. It was a lot of fun actually. Matt busted out his salsa, bachata, merengue moves. I let my BC club days come out a little bit and Matt and I put on a reggaetone show...had to show'em how we do it in the sigh. we left smiling...

And today...we pack and clean in prep for our week trip to Montezuma, off the Pacific. We are taking a detour this evening with Matt's Spanish teacher and family to some carnival and new year festivities in the city. Matt is very vocal about his excitement to jump in the bull fighting ring... Ill let you know how that goes :)

God is faithful... As good of a Christmas away from family and snow as it could be I think.

Monday, December 20, 2010

God and Similies

In the quiet you are loud

Firm and familiar like my husband’s chest

or the Costa Rican sun from our Tico deck

You leave proof of your presence

Like imprints of blankets from naps

Or incense smoke from wicks once lit

Your voice is clear

Like pristine glass or a mountain stream

like the call of an eagle across the tops of trees

Your pull is strong

Like the hard crisp beat of a jembe drum

Or the waters current when the tide is up

You're like You're as You're like

Friday, December 10, 2010

December 10th

It has been a month as of yesterday. There are moments where it seems time has flown and we are thankful for the adventure in it all and then there are moments, like this past Wednesday night where we simply miss home and our friends. We have most definitely been provided and taken care of, God has made sure of apartment, school, money, traveling in and out of country, food, my conversation has grown leaps and our marriage is strong... but we have yet to establish friends. We are living proof that there is little replacement for good friendships. Someone to call when you're bored or breath with while you watch a movie. We have kept one another sane this far, but I must admit, I could use a girlfriend and I am only so great of a futbol watching companion for Matt... we are praying that the Lord would raise up friendships.

Around the time I was really feeling it last Wednesday we get a knock on the door. Suantzy, our landlord (slash blessing), asked if we would come meet the new renter downstairs starting in January. We walked onto the balcony and 3 faces were smiling at us. Dustin, the new renter from California, a Christian who is working for an arts school with kids in the community about 20-30 minutes away and 2 young ladies who work with him. All were bilingual and we invited them in and we chatted for a bit. God's timing remains perfect. They asked if we would be interested in volunteering at the school, one of the young ladies was leaving for the states soon and they were in need of more hands with the kids. Of course we said we would be open too.

Additionally, I met a young woman at the school who is newly married and moved here to San Jose for her husband's job. She is taking classes and will be here for 2 years at least. She has invited us to come to a football restaurant with her husband and some of their work friends this Sunday..yes, a football restaurant on Sunday. And, they happen to be Christians as well. Funny how that happens. Apparently it is a sports bar/restaurant that has like a hundred screens and they play every American football game in the states at once. So, for those who know my husband, the request was pretty much the gates of heaven opening for him. Really. Again, Gods timing is perfect.

We got up the guts to stop by the building "Unidos por Cristo" today- we found it walking a different route to school. The sign said that they exist to unite Catholics and Evangelicals for the glory of God. We thought that sounded worth learning more about. We checked out their website a couple days prior and saw they had bible studies, worship services and youth activities. We went in today (buzzed through the main gate and security, once again sweating my way through explaining our purpose) and met Darwin. He is a staff there, married to a woman from Ohio, who happens to be in language school as well in San Jose. Come to find out UPC is a branch of Charles Stanley church and ministry from the states. They are planting a bilingual church in an upscale area of town called Escazu, about 15 minutes away. Again, God's timing is perfect. I think we may check out a worship service they are having tomorrow. Ill keep you posted.

After stopping by UPC.. we had an all afternoon cellphone adventure. I almost lost it in the last store. Think about how stressful it is to figure out phone plans and prices in English. Now, try being in a store with 5, 20 year old employees only speaking Spanish, and a security guard with a machine gun by the door to make the situation lighter. We gave up after they wouldn't accept Matt's passport copy as sufficient identification because part of his face was cut off. It was worse that Matt was so calm and I'm over there sweating through my shirt trying to say "How many minutes for x price" in a different way for the 10th time. Its humbling to be such a good communicator, and then, such a bad one at all the same time. I am sure this was one of Timothy's "perfecting" moments, but I definitely wasn't counting it as joy. I'm starting to sweat now just thinking about it.

In about an hour we are going to a Lebanese restaurant with Suantzy and some young people from her church (I know, it sounds oxy). Looking forward to using Spanish. I'm wearing an"airy" shirt in anticipation of some intense sweating :)

PS. Mom..if you happen to read this entry- I made potato soap from scratch the other day. I thought you would appreciate that.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

CR to Honolulu and back again

I suppose these posts are like a puzzle in that I leave out large pieces of happenings and loop you in most often only on the fruit of them. That said, we just returned from Hawaii.

Matt and I started seriously considering visiting my Grampa after my mom encouraged us too in light of the rapid progress of his dimensia/alzheimers. I have not seen him since 93'. He is a retired Marine (Sgt Major) and lives off Waikiki beach in Honolulu. My sister and Brother n law were going to be there over the Thanksgiving Holiday, and then to top off the decision, a future job opportunity surfaced and there was a location option to interview in Hawaii during the opportune window of time. So... 13 hours of travel, with lay overs in Guatemala and Los Angeles, we are back home in San Jose. Every plan ride became more and more Spanish filled in the seats. With a solid weeks worth of fresh Hawaiian memories- family, cook out, snorkeling, restaurants, redbox, the beach, Polynesian sites, lots of photos... we all stayed together in my Grampa's apartment. For those of you with any military family, you know how careful we had to be to keep that place spotless every day.

Our taxi driver who took us to the airport Thanksgiving day for our departing flight to Hawaii was named Emmanuel. He is 26, a believer, going through some family drama and shared he has not been to church for months with his work schedule/s. We arranged to have him pick us up when we got back in, and lo and behold he kept his word and he was there with a smile and ready hands for our bags when we arrived this morning. Needless to say, but after 3 back to back flights, not bartering with a random taxi driver and explaining directions to our Barrio in Spanish was A BLESSING. He is planning to come to church with us and Suantzy this Sunday. For those of you willing, please pray that he does.

An unexpected pause Hawaii was from our new life here, Football in English was a fleeting luxury for Matt :) I have 2 pages worth of indirect and direct pro noun sentence structure homework to do, that was very intentionally neglected over the last week. But we are well, and were back to our rice and chicken dinner this evening :)

If you have a few moments, we have some prayer requests:
- Getting back into the swing of school
- Where should we be serving the community? There is a Christian Community Center around the corner from us (we ran into it walking a different route home from school) called, "Unidos por Cristo" or United by Christ. We are hoping there may be opportunities to get involved through this. We found there website and plan to email the woman this week. There is also the Sports camp not far from here and there is an orphanage we could serve through the school.
- A church home close to the house