Tuesday, September 23, 2014

This and That

Well, life just seems to be clipping along.  Lots of little things.  A couple of big things too like

  • We bought our tickets to go to Michigan for the winter. A little surreal really! We haven't been back to Michigan in 2+ years.  We're just a mix of emotions about it.  On the one hand, we are thrilled to have Christmas with our families for the first time in 2 years, to experience the winter with the boys (I think Forrest is the only one who really remembers snow) and to be with people we dearly love and miss.  On the other hand, we are so sad to miss six month of life here!  We feel like we are just getting into a grove with Church and School, and we have friends and well, life keeps going while we aren't here.  Sigh. This living in two places is hard.

  •  Our weeks are full with all sorts of things.  Last night a young guy Noah has been meeting with came over for dinner and some time with Noah in the Word.  Thursday I haven Moms group, and I will probably be bringing two other moms and their kids with me.  Today Noah has chapels at school, Saturday night he's at Church, and well, yeah, the weeks are full.  And it's a good type of full!

  •  It's a good type of full, but we are still working on the balance for ministry and family.  It's a different pace working with church.  Camp has ebbs and flows, church flows from now until Jesus comes back.  So pray for us, for wisdom for when to say no and when to say yes.

  • Rainy season is at it's height.  We have mostly clear mornings and then the storms come in the afternoon.  Yesterday the boys were zipping in the midst of a cloud.  So strange!

Saturday, September 13, 2014

15 de Septiembre, 3 Days Early

It's that time of year again, where all the buildings are decked out in red, white and blue.  Yep, September is Independence month in Costa Rica and most of Central America as a matter of fact.  This year Forrest asked, "so Mom, when are we going to decorate our house anyway?"  Ok then.  I made sure to find a large flag to hang up in the garage.  Which was just about what he had in mind.

The school program was on Friday again this year.  The boys all got dressed up in the traje tipico and at the last second, one of them remembered that often boys will draw mustaches on with face paint.  And then another one remembered that we still had these goofy fuzzy stick on mustaches my mom brought on one of her trips.  Oh.my.word.  I was laughing all night over these kids! 

Forrest kept saying things like "These shoes look more like what a campeino would wear."  or, "It's ok that it's raining mom, campesinos are made to get wet and get coffee stains on their shirts!"  This kid!

Per usual, it was raining, so much of the program at school happened inside.  We were encouraged to be at school right on time, 5:30.  Which we were, but it took another 45 minutes to get the program started. Things like, oh yeah, all the kids need to go get their xylophones from the music room across campus in the rain before we can start.  Not sure I will ever fully understand with this warm culture stuff.  Oh, and then, since there was a gym full of kids with xylophones, guess what happened?  yeah.  The MC for the night had to keep telling they to stop playing them. Ha!

Forrest did a good job playing the 5 notes he remembered on his xylophone, and then just looking cute when he couldn't remember.  He also did a killer job yelling "VIVA COSTA RICA!"  and throwing his hat in the air.  School programs.  They are weird, no matter what part of the world you are in!

Anyway, we didn't lose him in the crowd this year, which was a step up from last year, and everyone came home tired and slept well into the morning light!

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Baptism and Church Picnic

Oh last weekend was so fun!!  On Sunday we had our annual baptism service and we added a picnic into the mix too!

Noah taught the class for those who wanted to be baptized, which included Forrest!!   After the baptisms, people came and prayed for Forrest and the others and gave them encouraging words or verses.  What a sweet time!

A little background on our actual church building.  Union first was started as an English speaking congregation.  It has since morphed into about 90% Tico with a handful of international people thrown in.  Our Sunday service is mostly in Spanish and then is translated into English.  Anyway, all that to say, we actually have a baptismal, which is not the norm here.

After the service we had a picnic.  There was some risk involved in this because after all, it's rainy season here!  But the rain held off and actually it turned out to be a lovely day!!  But we really wanted to celebrate the baptisms and just be a family together.  Noah and I worked to coordinate the picnic, put together the decorations and plan and run some of the games.

This idea of a potluck was a new one to most people here, so we worked hard to communicate that you need to bring enough for your family and to share.  And boy did they bring enough!

Since we're an international body, we thought it would be fun to have people bring food from their background.  My friend Sujin, who is from South Korea, brought sushi!! Another family brought bread from their native Columbia.  I brought a pasta casserole and a pie, because nothing says Midwest more than casserole and pie.  Maybe I should have brought a jello salad too!

We had cornhole out for people to play, tarp toss, and I found coffee bags for sack races. And of course there was a pick up soccer game!

It was such a great time of just being together as a family, sharing food, laughing at the kids and enjoying each other!

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Children's Day

So today is Children's Day here in Costa Rica.  You know, like Mothers' Day, Fathers' Day, Children's Day.

But, Forrest's school decided to celebrate last Friday by taking the 2nd graders to see the new Nija Turtles' movie.  Yeah, that's a PG-13 movie for 2nd graders.  No offense if your kids can handle that.  Our's can't and we are more than ok with!  So instead we planned an adventure day for the whole family, since Fridays are now Noah's day off.

We started the morning off with their presents.  And when I say presents, I mean scrapes of fabric that cost me nothing to sew into something else, like field bags for the big boys and a fabric marble maze for Quinn.

Then we were off.  The town of Sarchí is known for a couple of things.  It's furniture and the ox carts.  Ok, lemme splain ox carts.

Coffee is kind of a big deal here.  And the traditional way of getting coffee beans from the mountains to the coasts was by using ox carts, like these. 

All along the road from the mountains to the coast sprung up these repair shops...but I am getting ahead of myself.

The first thing we did was explore a Botanical Garden.  If there is one thing that Costa Rica has a lot of, it's gardens!  These were some of the best we've been to here.  And since it was a Friday morning during rainy season, we were the only ones in the whole place, which was lovely!

We did a lot of exploring and playing and just being together.

After we were done with the gardens, we found the only remaining ox cart factory in the country.  Again, since it was a Friday during low season, we were the only ones there. But Noah found one of the employees and he explained to us the history of the ox cart wheel (it used to be made out a single piece of wood!).  He also explained  how they make them now so they will last 50 years by banding them with a iron band, sorta like a whiskey barrel.

He also showed the boys how the waterwheel still powers all the tools in the work shop.  Such a cool stop!!!

All in all, we had a much better day then if Forrest had just gone to a movie that was way too old for him.  And we got to know just a bit more about this country that's starting to feel a bit more like home.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

September Newsletter

Can introduce you to some amazing woman?  Meet Ale, Loredona, April, Andrea, and Francella!  These are just some of the women who help keep me sane here in Costa Rica.  Our time together each week has become such a life line for me! 
About a year ago, in desperation, I asked a couple of the women at church with young kids if we could get together, just to have a cup of coffee, let the kids play and talk.  Nothing fancy or formal.  The response was an overwhelming, "YES!  We need that too!"  It's universal, moms need other moms! And there really isn't anything like this formally happening here in Costa Rica.  Believe me, I searched and searched!
Our church has an amazing amount of land for being in the city in the Central Valley.  We have a soccer field and a playground!  The kids can play safely, and the moms can talk.  And eat.  We do cafecito, which here is around 3 pm.  There is usually coffee, bread, and something sweet. 
My friend Ale explained it like this, "Un rato para estar juntas sin presión de donde están los chicos!!! Siempre es bueno conocer a otras mamás que están viviendo situaciones parecidas!!"
For those of you who don't speak Spanish, she says, "it's a time to be together without pressure of wondering where the kids are!  It's always good to know other moms that are living the same situations you are in." 

So very, very true!!
Would you pray for our times together on Thursdays?  Not only has it been a help to me, but it is becoming an outreach too.  For one of the women, this is her only touch point with the  church. Pray for us as we encourage and spur one another on towards loving our husbands, doing what's best for our families, and growing in the Lord.

Thanks for being part of what God is doing in Costa Rica!

Noah, Liz,
Forrest, Elliot and Quinn

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

This and That

Yep, we're resorting to bullet points.  Don't judge.

  • After two days of working on letters and sounds, Elliot became a reader!  Love this kid!

  • I have been working on tons of projects for church!  We have a picnic coming up in a few weeks, so we've been painting and building outdoor games, sewing buntings, and figuring out relay races.  
  • I am also neck deep in fabric to make new table clothes for church.
  • We're working on plans to give the kitchenette at church a make over.  Fun stuff!!

  • I started tutoring for my Spanish again.  It's been painful, but good.  This language learning, it's a life long process I tell ya!
  • A few weeks ago, we found a desk for a steal!  After way too long of using the kitchen table as a desk, I have one again!!

  • For Mother's Day (August 15, yep, it's different) the boys and Noah got me a hose and a nozzle!! So excited!

  • Our neighbors, can I just tell you how wonderful they are?  Not only do they go along with almost every hair brained scheme we come up with, they take our kid to school, and bring us food, they also have a sweet fire pit and understand the importance of living in community and taking time!!

  • We've started to think more about getting ready for our Home Ministry Assignment (furlough) that will start in December.  I've got really mixed emotions about that. On one hand, we're all very excited to see family and friends we haven't seen in over 2 years.  On the other hand, we are going to desperately miss our friends, church, and neighbors here!  Sigh.  This living with your heart in two places is hard. 

  • Speaking of being in MI, if you know of anyone who has a car/van/something that will hold a family of 5 that needs to be driven, we're looking for a vehicle for that 6 months. 

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

First Days

Last week was the start of school around here.  Sigh.  August 5th seems way, way, way too early to be starting school.  But, it's what it is.

We went to Back to School Night, and discovered that neither of the 2nd grade teachers were there that even.  Huh.  One was still on her way to Costa Rica, and the other had a family issue.  We also learned (4 days before school started) that the school day has been lengthened by 30 minutes.  Well, then.

Forrest was excited for  2nd grade, which was good. In fact, this is how he looked...

Those front teeth are growing in quit nicely.  Noah took him that first morning and met his teacher, Mrs. Rodrigez, who is super sweet and genuinely cares for her students.  When we did have a parent meeting the following week with both second grade teachers, she could already tell me some things about Forrest that she was noticing.  Sigh of relief! We have been praying for a restorative year for him, and us as far as school goes!!

The only blip was that the name on his desk was his middle name (cultural moment:  lots of people here go by their second name.  Most people have 4 names.  What a North American would think of as first and middle names, and then two last names, one from dad and one from mom.  So, if Forrest was really Tico, his name would be Forrest Dooley Kamper Runals, which we have seen on different papers.  And it often messes the computer systems up when we say we don't have a second last name)

A big change for us this year is Forrest is now in the mainstream Spanish class.  Last year he was in the Spanish as a Second Language class, which was wonderful! It was just him and 2 other kids.  This year, they felt like he was ready for the mainstream class, and that is just stunning to me.  He seems to be doing just fine and yesterday he came home with a Boleta Feliz (A Happy Ticket) for working so hard and participating so well!  Wonderful!

Oh!  The other wonderful part of this school year is our neighbors are sending their son to the same school!  Yeah, carpooling...it's a.mazing!  It's week two of school and I haven't had to drop off or pick up yet!  Noah works 10 minutes from school so he does most of the afternoon pick ups.  It is lovely!! Especially with Quinn still taking naps.  Thankful!

Elliot started Kindergarten at home this year.  He was a bit apprehensive about starting, but once he realized he got to have cool things in his backpack too, he was ready!  He wanted to have his first day of school photo on the Brincaline.  Benefits of Home school.

He sat right down and was excited to get some work done.  Again, thankful!  He is not a bookish kid.  He would much prefer to be building something, exploring something, creating something.  To sit and write letters has been a challenge in the past.  But that first morning there was only cooperation!  And by this week, he is reading!  Yep, he was ready!  The plan is for him to go to kindergarten in MI when we are back this winter.

Speaking of that...there is a public school two blocks from the house we will be staying in, and it just so happens that that is the building with the Spanish Immersion classes for Kindergarten and 2nd grade!!  I contacted the coordinator of the program earlier this summer and explained our situation and it looks the like the boys will be part of those classes for the second semester!  I just laughed, how like God to provide for our boys language skills while we are on Home Assignment as well!!  Amazing!