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31 October 2010

on weakness

One of the greatest blessings and treasures of our journey over the last few years has been to walk next to others on the same path.  We had the tremendous privilege of meeting Johnny and Annette Johnson a couple of years back, at our very first MTW event.  Praying with Johnny and Annette and several other couples one evening as we embarked on this journey to the ends of the earth will forever be one of my most precious memories.The Johnsons are now serving the Lord in the Czech Republic, struggling to learn language and culture, and even though a thousand miles and multiple time zones away, our hearts continue on the same beat.  I so appreciated, and identified with, their words on weakness this past week...

As of today, weakness is about all I’ve got to offer.  I once had (or at least I thought I had) some skill, some facility in teaching and training people, some place of power in God’s service that he might be able to use.  That’s all gone.  I am standing at the threshold of a new understanding: my weaknesses and struggles are not something to be managed and to get beyond as soon as possible, they are the essence of God’s strategic plan – first in Jesus, now in me.  If God can use a bumbling weakling and struggler like me to help break down the gates of hell, it will be to the eternal frustration and defeat of our enemy and to the eternal praise and glory of our God. 

Amen.  To Him be the glory.

this weekend

After a stop for cash, and then another stop for cash when the first stop yielded nothing (Friday was payday in San Jose), we reached the bus stop Saturday morning at 6:25 am. 

3/7 of our family was headed to the hills, joining other folks from ILE on a hike to the locally famous Tres Cruces.  Tres Cruces is a series of crosses high on the hills surrounding San Jose.  Hikers climb, and descend, even into the cloud cover, and are rewarded with a stop at a waterfalls, amazing views of San Jose, and the satisfaction of knowing you did it.  And, pizza on the way home.

4/7 of our family was headed to a church yard sale across town, requiring bus transfers we have never before made.  With our Amazing Race-worthy adventurer, Kathy, we trekked across central San Jose, found the right bus, and got off at the right place, too.  After the yard sale, we hitched a ride (gasp!  just kidding!  with people we know!) to the gigante Multiplaza Escazu.  We oohed at seemingly overpriced American import groceries at AutoMercado, and enjoyed a tasty lunch at Quiznos.  (mmm... just like the States!).  And then we headed home.  Except that in our hurry to catch the coming bus, we somehow found ourselves traveling the wrong direction.  ooops.  We confirmed that with the nice lady sitting behind us, exited at the next stop, crossed under the highway, came up on the other side, and turned ourselves around.  Once back in San Jose, we negotiated through the packed Saturday crowds, a Mardi Gras style parade, and vendors of every purse, cheap toy and pirated movie under the sun, and after only standing in one line for the wrong bus, we were on the final leg home. 

Have I mentioned that, in general, I have a fear of buses?  You never know where they might turn.  Subway trains are so much more predictable...

Halloween is not really celebrated in Costa Rica. 
Except for the lack of candy, I haven't missed it a bit.  If you have extra KitKats, Almond Joys or candy corn, I'll be glad to take them off of your hands...

Reformation Day is recognized in the Costa Rican church. 
Gracias Martin Lutero!

Listening to the World Series, Los Giants contra Los Rangers, in Spanish is a hoot.  The Latino announcers are as excited about a home run as a goal scored in soccer!

An unexpected Skype appearance by a friend is a welcome distraction on a Sunday afternoon.

And homework on Sunday night always takes longer than expected, no matter how old you are.

Blessings in the week ahead!

29 October 2010

When I am old...

I think often of Celia Davies.  She could squeeze a conversation to its rind, leap it east to west, or change its axis wholly.  Her wits were as supple as her fingers were rigid.  I don't know her story, for she was an adept evader of questions, but her life would be a giddy crossword, working down from some clues and across from others. 

... I want to have had a life that makes a "giddy crossword."

28 October 2010

on friendship

“A faithful friend is a strong defense;
And he that hath found him hath found a treasure.”

— Louisa May Alcott

(art credit: You are My Very Best Friend by dazeychic on Etsy)

24 October 2010

Bucket List

My mom sent me this.
Guess I have a few things left to accomplish...
Or, maybe not...  :-)

(X) Shot a gun (OK, a BB gun- that counts, right?)

(X) Gone on a blind date (and married the guy, besides!)

(X) Skipped school (NOT often!! Less than a handful of times, a LONG time ago!)

(X) Been to Canada (British Colombia, and a drive through lower Ontario)

(X) Been to Alaska (BEAUTIFUL!!) (that's me and my kids in Alaska in May 2008)

( ) Been to Cuba

(X) Been to Europe (England, Scotland, France)

(X) Been to Las Vegas (I’d be fine if I never went again…)

(X) Been to Mexico (I spent one college summer in Morelia, Michoacan, and traveling around central Mexico, to Cancun for our honeymoon, and I've been to the border many times)

(X) Been to Florida (we lived in Orlando for 7 months)

(X) Been on a plane

(X) Been to the Grand Canyon (been IN the Grand Canyon, rafting the Colorado)

( ) Been to the Keys

(X) Been on a Cruise Ship (to Alaska.)

( ) Served on a Jury (I've been summoned twice, but both times, we had just moved)

(X) Been lost (more times than I could possibly count!!)

(X) Been on the opposite side of the country (which county?)

(X) Gone to New York City

(X) Swam in the Ocean (Atlantic and Pacific)

(X) Cried yourself to sleep

(X) Played Cops and Robbers –

(X) Played Cowboys and Indians

(X) Played In a Band (Eisenhower Middle School band, flute. Short-lived!)

(X) Sang Karaoke (not well!)

(X) Paid for a meal with coins only

(X) Made prank phone calls (& received them, too)

( ) Laughed until some beverage came out of your nose (I love to laugh, but thankfully, my nose just doesn’t do that!)

(X) Caught a snowflake on your tongue

(X) Danced in the rain

(X) Written a letter to Santa Claus

(X) Been kissed under the mistletoe

(X) Watched the sunrise with someone

(X) Blown bubbles

(X) Gone ice skating

(X) Gone Snow skiing

(X) Camped out under the stars

(X) Seen something so beautiful that it took your breath away;

(X) Are/have been married

(X) Have children

(X) Have/had a pet

( ) Been skinny dipping outdoors

(X) Been Street Motorcycling

( ) Been Off road Motorcycling

( ) Ever drive cars at a real Race track

(X) Been fishing

(X) Been boating (my MIL, son, SIL, and grandson on my in-laws' boat this past summer)

(X) Been water skiing (that should more accurately read “tried to water ski”…)

(X) Been hiking

(X) Been Dancing (why is Dancing capitalized? I’ve been dancing. Maybe I haven’t been Dancing…)

(X) Been camping in a trailer/RV

( ) Flown in a small 4-seater airplane

( ) Flown in a glider

(X) Been in an active Air Force jet fighter (well, up on a ladder, looking into one, at an airshow…)

(X) Been flying in a helicopter (over Kauai, into the Grand Canyon)

( ) Been flying in a hot air balloon (only up in a tethered balloon)

( ) Been BUNGEE-jumping (no WAY!)

(X) Gone to a drive-in movie (sigh… I miss the drive-in…)

( ) Done something that should have killed you

(X) Done something that you will regret for the rest of your life

( ) Been to Africa (Man!  I'd LOVE to go to Africa!!)

(X) Ever ride an elephant (at the zoo…)

(X) Ever eaten just cookies for dinner

(X) Ever been on T.V.

( ) Ever steal any traffic signs (but I did borrow a parking meter once. We returned it to Campus Police a little while later.)

(X) Ever been in a car accident

(X) Had a nickname

(X) Ever been in the local paper

(X) Ever been to Asia (China) (Shanghai charm shop, February 2008)

( ) Ever been to Australia

( ) Ever been to Ireland

(X) Ever been in a parade

Favorite drink: fresh brewed ice tea with lemon

Tattoos: no

Do you drive a 4-door vehicle: right now, I'm only RIDING in 4-door vehicles- taxis!

Favorite number: 8

Favorite holiday: Thanksgiving

Favorite dessert: Ice Cream or Chocolate Mousse

Where do you see yourself in 10 years: Continuing to serve on the US/Mexico border, with children and grands to visit. I’m excited!


Grab the book nearest to you, turn to page 18, find line 4. Write down what it says:
“…to do gladly whatever we are given to do, and to leave all else with God.”
Keep a Quiet Heart by Elisabeth Elliot

Stretch your left arm out as far as you can. What do you touch first?
A water bottle

What is the last thing you watched on TV?
Game 6 of the National League playoffs, Phillies v. Giants.

WITHOUT LOOKING, guess what time it is:

Now look at the clock, what is the actual time?

With the exception of the computer, what can you hear?
My husband talking on the phone, cars splashing though puddles, birds.

When did you last step outside? What were you doing?
About 3 hours ago.
I was taking down laundry before it got wet from the rain.

Before you came to this website, what did you look at?
I listened to a sermon by PCA church planting coordinator Ted Powers at Harvest Community Church back in September,
looked at today’s Target ad (wishful thinking, pretending like it’s the Sunday paper),
and checked the latest recipes at Pioneer Woman Cooks.

What are you wearing?
Black Capri sweatpants, long sleeve turquoise Life is Good t-shirt, and flip-flops.

Did you dream last night?
Not that I remember…

When did you last laugh?
A little while ago this afternoon, as my daughter was helping me to ungray my hair…
Thankfully, I am still brunette!

What is on the walls of the room you are in?
There is a poster of a baby hand in an adult hand with Isaiah 41:10 in Spanish. It came with the house.

Seen anything weird lately?
Like the baby gecko my daughter just found on the dining room chair?
Of course, that’s not really “weird,” just different.

What is the last film you saw?
La Leyenda de Los Guardianes
It was completely in Spanish. And I am sure that I missed a few jokes, but in general, understood it, which was a small victory!

If you became a multi-millionaire overnight, what would you buy first?
Dinner at Outback Steakhouse.
Just to eat an American dinner and not think about how much it costs.
And then, tickets to the States for Christmas.

Tell me something about you that I don't know:
I beat my daughter at TapTapRevenge 3 on Friday night. Once.

Do you like to dance?
Only when my husband is lead. We are pretty much limited to wedding receptions these days.

Imagine your first child is a girl, what do you call her? What if it's a boy?
Already answered that one, in real life (and three more besides)… No regrets.

Thanks PalmTree Pundit!

21 October 2010

Undisturbed and undisturbable calm

I have been privileged to be at some big places in this world.  I have hiked in the Rocky Mountains, amidst the peaks that reach 16,000 feet high and meld seamlessly into the clouds above.  I have been in the middle of the Great Plains, in the middle of waving cornfields stretch far beyond what the eye can see.  I have even stood on the Great Wall of China, that superstructure that crosses nearly 1500 miles of Asia.

I spent the past weekend on an island off the Caribbean coast.  And I remembered, there is perhaps no place where I feel quite as small as at the edge of the ocean.  Nearly the entire time we were at the beach it was overcast, if not downright stormy.  Certainly I feel even more small when the horizon is increasingly dark and ominous. 

The October 20 reading from Streams in the Desert included this by Arthur Tappan Pierson-
"The peace of God is an eternal calm like the cushion of the sea.  It lies so deeply within the human heart that no external difficulty or disturbance can reach it.  And anyone who enters the presence of God becomes a partaker of that undisturbed and undisturbable calm."

Why does it sometimes seem so rare, even when I know the peace of God?
I know that is where I want to be- "a partaker of that undisturbed and undisturbable calm."

Far, far away, the roars of strife fall silent,
And loving thoughts rise ever peacefully,
And no storm, however fierce and violent,
Disturbs the soul that dwells, O Lord, in Thee.
Harriet Beecher Stowe

(photo credit:  Tortuguero, Costa Rica)

19 October 2010


We took an amazing weekend trip to Tortuguero, CR.  Tortuguero is on the Caribbean coast of Costa Rica, and can only be reached by plane or boat.  We left San Jose at 6am on Saturday morning, and arrived on the island by lunchtime.  It almost became the trip known as "the one in which two girls forget their duffel bag," ("I thought she had it."  "I thought SHE had it...") but thankfully we noticed that in time for a full recovery. 

Along the way we stopped for breakfast at a place with a butterfly garden, and also made a stop at a banana processing plant at a Del Monte plantation.  It was really interesting to watch the huge stalks of bananas trimmed down to the bunch we buy at the grocery store, though in the bright green color before they are ripe.

Once on the boat to Tortuguero, we began to see the huge variety of birds and animals that live in the region.  At times it seemed like we could not have been any closer.  When the seemingly uninterested Cayman turned on a dime and slapped our boat with his tail, a few in my family thought that perhaps we were a bit TOO close!  I was thinking that myself when the iguana puffed at us!
I think most of my family would agree that the best part of the trip was to see the newly hatched sea turtles make their way down the beach and cast off into the ocean.  We were not able to see any of the adult females, though we saw their tracks on the beach, leading from the shore up to their pit nests.  Seeing the babies more than made up for missing their mamas.  What a wonder, to watch them make their way straight toward the ocean with such determination and then get swept away by the outgoing tide. 

It was great to get away.  It was great to take a zillion photos!
To see more, visit my Tortuguero Album on Picasa.

in the morning

But as for me, I shall sing of Thy strength;
Yes, I shall joyfully sing of Thy lovingkindness in the morning,
For Thou hast been my stronghold,
And a refuge in the day of my distress,
O my strength, I will sing praises to Thee;
For God is my stronghold, the God who shows me lovingkindness.
Psalm 59:16-17

(photo: sunrise at Tortuguero, Costa Rica, on the Carribbean coast)

15 October 2010

Friday night -ing

admiring this picture of the bird in my backyard yesterday.  It took a few tries to catch him on film.

watching the Yankees v. the Rangers via ESPN3

listening to the play by play en Espanol  (los Yankees (say: los Jayn-keys) v. los Rangers)

eating a cheese quesadilla (yay for when my husband gets hungry and I benefit)

going on a cool trip tomorrow

traveling to the Caribbean coast, to Tortugero National Park

reading So Brave, Young, and Handsome by Leif Enger (downloaded on Kindle for PC/I-touch and ready to go)

hearing  rain fall outside

studying  los partes del cuerpo, los reflexivos, perefrasis, complementos directos y indirectos (body parts, reflexive verbs, periphrases (does that even translate to English?), and direct & indirect objects)

hoping  for more sun than rain this weekend

eagerly awaiting  taking pictures with the good camera this weekend

spending  time with family and new friends

missing  fall (and much more, of course)

hoping to talk to a few family & friends soon
happening today was  El Dia de las Culturas at my kids' school.  Today we represent Germany, Australia, and India (can you guess who is who?)

praising God for His mercies to us.  From this morning, Psalm 59:16-17:
But as for me, I shall sing of Your strength;
Yes, I shall joyfully sing of Your lovingkindness in the morning,
For You have been my stronghold
And a refuge in the day of my distress.
O my strength, I will sing praises to You;
For God is my stronghold, the God who shows me lovingkindness.

waking up early,

going to bed now.

13 October 2010

on 20

My groom and I married 20 years ago.
20 years.
That looks like such a long time when I see those numbers. It doesn’t really seem like it was that long ago… 

A while back, more than a couple of years ago, I was asked to share about being married at a wedding shower for a young lady from my church. Another rather newly married friend wrote on her blog and, without even knowing it, exhorted me to “break it down.” She wanted to hear more than the well-intentioned and age-old lines of “don’t let the sun go down on your wrath,” “appreciate and share in the hobbies your husband enjoys,” “speak well of him to others,” and “be forgiving.” She wanted to hear if others at times struggled with real life in the midst of that covenant vow of marriage.

I agree. Somehow, it is a comfort and an encouragement to know that others are silly, and have problems, and even crisis’s, and that my marriage is not the only one that isn’t always easy. So here’s what I wrote for that day…

Here’s the thing: my husband and I both married sinners.

The truth is, for me, maybe for some of you, being married is hard. It is a continual process of putting myself aside. In the Gospels, Matthew, Mark, and Luke all tell us about Jesus’ response to the Pharisee that asked, “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” Jesus answered, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind, which is the greatest commandment; and the second is like it, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”

Well, it doesn’t get much more neighborly than being married.
I desire to love the Lord with all my heart, and with all my soul, and with all my mind.
And I desire to love my neighbor, even my husband, as myself.

I have my husband’s permission to share a few things about each other. I made sure I asked him because I don’t want to break the rule of speaking well of my husband to others…

When we were first married, I would sometimes realize at the end of the day that the carpet needed to be vacuumed, and I’d do it. In my mind, it only takes a minute, and it’s done, and it’s clean. In his mind, its 10 o’clock, and it can wait. Makes him crazy. I really don’t do that anymore, but he still remembers it. Clearly!

My husband, to this day, but not as much as he used to perhaps, cleans his ear with an unbent paperclip. I hate that!! We all know that you shouldn’t put anything smaller than your elbow in your ear. And worse, I find these paperclips in strange and unexpected places, sometimes even whirling in the vacuum at 10 o’clock at night. Not good. My sin. My quirks. Our argument.

I have to tell you, I’m hard pressed to think of my husband’s hobby. He fixes computers. I have no interest in that, though I’m constantly grateful that he is able to do it.  For a short time, he made beer. It really smelled like a brewery in my kitchen, heck- our whole house. The bottles were all over the kitchen and made it look like we were a couple of lushes; but I will confess, the beer was good to drink. I probably don’t share his hobbies as well as I could; well, except for sharing a brew with him.

A real story. No one can hurt me more than my husband. He has at times, looked me in the eye and told me things that I never wanted to hear. Sometimes they have been things about me, spoken to me in love. Sometimes they have been true things, but spoken in anger. Sometimes they have been words of confession, causing me to really examine what love is, and to dig very deep and offer forgiveness. Because we are both sinners. And we both have put our trust in the Lord Jesus Christ. We both know forgiveness, and we both have experienced how big God’s grace is. So, he has to forgive me. And I have to forgive him. There’s the “be forgiving.”

Confession: I have, at times, not frequently, but certainly, sometimes, let the sun go down on my anger. I don’t recommend it. It’s not fun. It’s terrible to wake up in the middle of the night and feel so much pride that you scoot over to the edge of the bed so you don’t touch that sinner on the other side. It’s no easier, maybe harder, to make up the next day. If you don’t do it when you wake up, and let’s face it- not many of us are generally that repentant, you have to live with it the entire day. It’s much nicer to get the forgiving over with early, before you go to bed, and move on.

I remember so very clearly how much I was in love with my husband before he was my husband. We were separated during the four months prior to our wedding- he was at Officer Candidates School for the Navy, to become a submarine officer, in Newport, Rhode Island, and I was working in Albuquerque, New Mexico. We couldn’t talk for long on the phone. No email back then. We’d write each other letters and wax poetic about how much we missed each other and what life would be like when we were married and together. We didn’t know about late night vacuuming and paper clip ear cleaners. I missed him like crazy. I hated going to church and seeing all those families together.

And then, later down the road, we had five kids in five years, and he was gone, really gone, underwater gone, for months at a time. We were always tired. We were trying really hard, but perhaps, we didn’t always love each other as well as we could have or as well as we should have. We completely forgot our anniversary one year- we only remembered when my mom called to wish us a good day.

And now, after nearly 18 years of marriage, we are walking in step, and truly, more than ever before, have become equally yoked. We share goals and dreams and we pray together nearly every night. We wake up early together, and we hardly say a word, and we go to our separate corners for devotional time. He makes me a latte almost every morning. And with all that neat stuff, we still have quirky things that make us crazy about the other. He hates my stacks of papers and books and stuff. I hate his stinky basketball clothes, especially those wadded up socks. But that’s small stuff. We’ve worked through a lot of sin together. And we are both utterly determined to be the ones in our family that are different, to be the ones who love the Lord our God with all our heart and soul and mind and strength. The ones who love our neighbor, each other, as ourselves.

We laugh hard together, my husband and I. These days, we can even laugh about the quirks. We have a secret code, my husband and I, but it’s a hand squeeze, so you’ll never be able to tell that we’re doing it. My kids roll their eyes at us sometimes when we jokingly call each other Lovey Bear and SmoochiePoo. Their groans encourage us all the more. We have been known to Skype each other when we are working on our laptops in the same room. One day when he was working from home, sitting on his chair in the living room, I Skyped him to ask when he’d be home. “Ten minutes,” he answered. We laughed even though the kids rolled their eyes. We look forward to wedding receptions because we get to dance with each other. We’ve been doing it long enough where I usually let him lead now. Here’s some advice that seems to ridiculously obvious to young people in love- enjoy each other. Have fun. Make time for one another. Some day, down the road, you won’t be “in love” anymore. And you might need to remember that way back, you were. And it was fun. And it can be again.

What’s our primary call as women? God created us, first Eve and then women, to be helpmates. From Genesis, the Word tells us, “then the Lord God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make him a helper suitable for him.” That’s our role as married women, to be helpmates to our husband. To do the things that the Proverbs 31 woman is praised for, to be trusted and kind; to be careful and not afraid, to be strong and generous and wise; to work with her hands; to be blessed by her children and respected by others; to fear the Lord; to be a woman of exceptional worth. We need to be mindful of how we’re spending our time, and where we are creating idols where we don’t even mean to.

Finally, that blog post reminded me of the charge that we older women have from Titus, “to teach what is good, that (we) might encourage the young women to love their husbands…” We need to not be afraid to tell stories, reverently, not as malicious gossips, as Paul just a couple verses earlier warns us against. I exhort you, young ladies, seek out those women that you know to love the Lord, and ask them their stories, and you older women- tell them! All of us need to find Godly women for counsel, and find Godly women to pray with. And we need to search the Scriptures. There is nothing new under the sun. Women have had challenges in marriage since God created Eve for Adam. The women of the Bible have experienced everything we have and more. God has given us everything we need in Scripture, and is faithful to show it to us at the right time.

So, remember to not let the sun go down on your anger; to try and appreciate your husband’s hobbies; to speak well of your husband; to be forgiving even when your inclination is not to want to do that. But also, be helpmates, and be in the Word, and be real. Break it down! Tell stories. And above all, love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. And love your neighbor, even your husband, as yourself.

(photo:  we took this picture, via self-timer, about 5 years ago, on a trip we took to raft the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon.  It was early in the morning, and I'm not so pretty, but we love this picture, nonetheless.)

10 October 2010

"What coheres and endures"

"While we can't choose our families in that most basic sense, we choose what to make of our families every day.  When fathers are rarely home because they are pursuing big bonuses and promotions, when families eat meals in front of the television instead of the table, when parents overbook their children in countless activities and sports, then they are making choices that pull their families apart.  "If we do not serve what coheres and endures," writes Wendell Berry, "we serve what disintegrates and destroys."  Most people never wake up and decide to disintegrate their families, but we make a series of decisions over the years- most of them seemingly small and harmless and often well-intentioned- that gradually erode the bonds we have been charged as parents to maintain."
Tony Woodlief, Somewhere More Holy: Stories from a Bewildered Father, Stumbling Husband, Reluctant Handyman and Prodigal Son

Somewhere More Holy is one of those books that I keep thinking about, more than a week after I finished it.  I keep going back to those highlighted passages.  Want to read a parenting book?  Choose this one.

Somewhere More Holy can be a hard book to read.  Woodlief tells some hard stories- about his family, about his life.  But it was also a hard book because I frequently saw myself, and the illustrations from lessons that I am still learning with my family. And I am reminded that it goes all too fast.  I am running out of time.

This book is about living, in a family, in a home, in His presence.  It reminded me of how much I do wrong with my kids.  It prompts me to keep confessing and to keep forgiving.  It shows me what grace looks like, lived out, yet another time.

And it made me laugh.  Out loud. Spit your drink out- that funny!
In between the tears, that is.

That sentence, on serving "what coheres and endures"...
I'm still thinking on that one.
I think, perhaps, we all should.

09 October 2010

Smell like a ...

Those folks at Sesame Street are hilarious!
Remember that Old Spice commercial that came out a while back  ("look at me, look at your man...")?
Well, according to Grover, anything is possible when you look like a monster, and know the word on...

(look at the two back to back!  It will crack you up!)

A stranger with thee

You shall not oppress a sojourner. You know the heart of a sojourner, for you were sojourners in the land of Egypt.
Exodus 23:9

Hear my prayer, O LORD, and give ear unto my cry; hold not thy peace at my tears: for I am a stranger with thee, and a sojourner, as all my fathers were.
Psalm 39:12

This week, we came home one day to find that neither our telephone or internet were working.  When we picked up the phone, we heard a recording that told us that our service was temporarily disconnected, and we should contact the service for more information.  We figured that out after listening to the message half a dozen times.  How do you contact the telephone company when you have no telephone service?

After thinking about it for a few moments, we realized that we had been receiving phone service for over a month, but had never paid the bill.  Not only had we never paid the bill, we never received a bill!  Not for the telephone; not for the internet.  That isn't really surprising- we have no home mailbox!  We received our electric bill folded into a credit card sized packet and stuffed into the crack of our front gate. 

We looked at our contract for the internet, and at the bill our landlord gave us to get the phone started.  We couldn't figure out which set of numbers were the account numbers.  We couldn't even discern a phone number to call.  And honestly, even if we had, we're not sure we would have the language to ask why we didn't have service.

We are those people.  We are those people that you are frustrated to be behind at the grocery store, who stare at their money and the cashier has to pick out the correct change to help them.  We are those people who after talking to them on the phone, even if by an accidental wrong number, you hang up and say, "... and they didn't understand hardly a word of English!"  We are those people who get their phone cut off because they didn't pay the bill!

Fortunately, we have a Tica friend who we went to, who helped us to call the phone company, who told us to go to the bank to pay the bill, even if we didn't actually have a physical copy.  And as it turned out, it actually wasn't our part of the bill that was a problem- there was an outstanding balance from before we moved in that needed to be paid.  And, it wasn't our delinquency that caused the internet problems; it was just out of service for a bit and came back on later in the day. 

But being in this situation does remind me that we're not just learning Spanish; we are also learning lessons of humility day in and day out.  And being in this situation does remind me that it's not just the refugees in your community that are the sojourners, strangers in a strange land.  We are, too.  It reminds me that I should never make an assumption that because someone doesn't speak the language well, they are uneducated.  They might, for example..., have bachelor and master's degrees, and yet have barely a clue about how to take care of ordinary business in a new place.  And it reminds me that as Christians, we are all sojourners, like the Israelites, like David, until we are eternally home.

(art credit: Zen Pilgrim on a Journey, offered by plasticpumpkin on Etsy.)

08 October 2010


Earthquake tonight! 
At first, we thought it was a truck going by, but then we realized,
That's not a truck!
(that's what I thought at the beginning of  the last time I was in a significant earthquake, too...)

This one lasted long enough for me to start thinking that maybe I should unlock the front door and think about how to get out.
And then it was over. 

The USGS says that it was 5.9, and was centered 26 miles NNW of San Jose, so we figure that's about 30 miles from us. 

Close enough, I'd say.

Tim and the twins were walking friends home when it happened.  They didn't feel it at all.  When told she missed an earthquake, L replied, "I was doing the Jerk.  I was already shakin'!"

So, that's what's shakin' here...

02 October 2010


A list of p's:

Pelicula:  We saw The Legend of the Guardian today, completely in Spanish.  And understood it, mostly, which is worth a holler.  The animation in this film is terrific, the details visible right down to the last feather.  Keeping track of the owls is a little tricky.  The story is the best kind of animated tale, of noble animal heroes triumphing over  the forces of evil, of courage and valor and honor.  For my friends with young un's, warning!  This is a dark and sometimes scary movie.  But for those ready to handle intense battle scenes, you'll find it very worthwhile. 

Pops:  Me encanta Helado Pops!  This week, nieves frutas.  Delicious mixed fruit ice.  mmmmmm.

Pan:  (say: p-ahn) (translation:  bread)  Our Saturday morning routine consists of shopping for the bulk of the week's produce at la feria (farmer's market), and then a stop at la panaderia (bakery).  There are two bakeries, Pan Por Kilo and Musmanni, a block away from one another.  We don't have a favorite, meaning we like both, a lot.  Today we bought empanadas, which are croissant turnovers filled with potatoes, beef, and chicken (or pineapple, as the case may be...) to eat at lunch, a load of crusty bread to have with dinner, and a ring of apple cinnamon rolls for Sunday breakfast.  Could man live by bread alone?  Maybe...?

Pizza:  My husband is the pizza king.  El Rey de Pizza!  Look at those pies from last week- ham and (very fresh!) pineapple, and hamburger and tomato.  He's doing it again on Sunday evening.  It's no small feat to make pizza here, as cheese is premium.  The mega bag of mozzarella from PriceSmart (say: Sam's Club) is worth it.

Preview: We're hosting a visitor this month. Sneak preview here. More to follow... (He never fails to make me smile!)

Pests: Twice this week, I found one of these guys at the bottom of the washing machine tub, AFTER going through a full wash cycle... They must live for cold water adventure!
(and wait 'til I get around to posting the video of the ants in the nearby park...)

Life in the tropics...