Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Coming to a Close


Here we are the first of December and the first full school year is coming to a close for Ella and Judah. This has been a year full of firsts for all of us and a lot translating on my part (Erin) of homework assignments. There really is no better way to learn than to crash and burn I've discovered. Countless times I've arrived at an event to find out I obviously didn't quite understand what my kids were to be dressed in. So frustrating for me, Jeremy can attest. As a mom trying to figure it all out, I've laughed, I've cried. I keep telling myself, it doesn't matter, it doesn't matter : )
Jeremy and I sometimes think about when we arrived in Costa Rica and how we felt so sad when we'd go to the park or McDonalds and saw the look on our kids faces. They were in the dark as to what was going on around them because of the language. Now, it literally takes maybe one minute and they've made new friends, it doesn't matter where we are! It makes my heart so happy that they've adapted. I don't know how many times I've heard someone say to Ella, "Wow, you speak better than your mom!" I roll my eyes and smile politely : / Ella doesn't cease to remind me of that either, how sweet she is. But seriously, they are doing amazing in their Spanish and Ella has just loved school. She effortlessly joins in with her friends and always has stories to tell us. Judah always tells us about his friends Eduardo, Camila, and Oelia (sp?). And then there's that kid, Samuel, the biter. Seems like every schools got one. I always ask Judah what he does afterward, "Oh, nothing." Bless his little heart. Funny story, his teacher told me one day there was a boy in his class that was biting (mordiendo). Sad thing is that I heard that there was a kid in his class that was dying (muriendo)! I said, "Oh, no, how awful!" Then I realized when she showed me the bite mark on Judah, things weren't so bad.

So to wrap up their years, I'll be baking some cookies for the 4 teachers my kids have. People here LOVE gringo cookies. It's a foreign concept to them I think. Baking, cookies, and things that we make in the states on a regular basis are not the norm here. Most people use their ovens just to store things in. So I don't think I can go wrong there. I'm happy for vacation time, un-rushed days with my kids, baking (and taste-testing) together, Christmas songs, and hot cocoa. Now if this rain would just stop and let us take a nice walk to the park, that would be nice. Hope you're all having fun preparing for the holidays. Be blessed!!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Is it that time again???


These last 3 months, I don't really know where they went!! I can't believe it is time yet again to leave the country for our visas. The guy at the bank the other day reminded me while checking my passport to pay a bill, that I had 10 days left before having to leave. I found it funny and odd since I was just there to pay a bill. Oh well, guess he was just looking out for me. We've weighed our options and we'll be going to Panama like last time. We'll be waking up around 4:30 Fri. morning to catch our bus around 6:00. The bus ride is around 7 hours? Last time it was a blur of people getting on and off, trying to entertain my kids (or force them to sleep ;), and also trying to not give them too much to drink since their is one stop 1/2 way through the trip. Yes, no bathrooms on the bus. Besides all of this, it is nice to not think about driving and to just enjoy the view. I'm always trying to remind myself (as if I forget) where we live and the beauty that surrounds us. This bus ride gives me PLENTY of time to take that all in.
Having been to this place just 3 months ago, it's fresh in my mind the things I'll be doing differently this time around. One being we've borrowed hiking packs to haul our things around instead of our normal traveling luggage. This proved difficult crossing the bridge at the border. I really wish I had a photo, but imagine if you will: Massive, old railroad bridge, full of holes. It's now used for cargo trucks and other vehicles to cross so they've covered up the rails with slats of wood to make driving across it possible. With two little kids in tote, backpacks, rolling luggage (didn't roll so well on bridge), and pillows, we slowly made our way across. Thanks to our friend Cailah who helped us, I would've been much more stressed out had she not been there. Now we know, luggage on our back will make for smoother and safer travels. We just keep saying, it's another adventure, it's another adventure. More stories to tell. We've rented a one-bedroom studio in Bocas del Toro, so we'll see how it measures up. We'll let you know. If it was just Jeremy and I, we're fine staying and relaxing at the house. With the kids, we'll be looking for a place to let them run in the sand to enjoy the time. Hopefully everyone gets a little of what they want : ) Does life slow down? Will it forever be speeding up? I sure hope not. Please pray for us that our travels are safe, our kids are healthy and happy, and that we can extract all things good from our 3 days there.
Till we return, hope you're enjoying fall and the beauty and abundance it brings.
"Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus." 1 Thess. 5:16-18

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Elvis Update:


Update: Elvis came to class this morning and stood outside, too embarrassed to say anything. He just waited thinking I couldn't see him. I told him I was really glad that he came back and I needed to talk to him. When all of the guys came in I asked them what we should do... As a group. They agreed that our first consequence wasn't really fair so we'd let him back in but only if we made a contract that we could all follow. I re-explained the benefits of living in community and being "on a team." and then we listed some specific things that would hurt our team in the shop then we came up with consequences. I think we took a huge step forward as a group! They are really understanding why we need to be together! thank you all for your prayers! I was so glad that I slept all through the night without being worried about the whole situation. And although Elvis never said anything I could tell that he was very repentant and wanted to make things right.



So after that we skipped the lesson on the router and talked about "us" and then I taught them the standard measuring system (inches/feet) which led to fractions... It was a really great day.They are all at least 14 yrs old and haven't learned how to add or subtract fractions but after today I think they might get it! Oh and Elvis broke three rules today and had to do 30 sit-ups =)

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Discipline

I guess it's all part of the deal. When working in a place that doesn't have much structure, where the teachers in public school just don't show up, where kids get most everything that they want if they whine, I'm gonna have to be the one to put some sort of structure in place. I mean who's going to teach these kids about the real world? Who's gonna help them to understand the value of punctuality, or respecting the property of others? Who's going to give them second chances? To say sorry and help them understand the tough love? I mean, there's no love coming from your boss when he fires you, right? Well today I had to discipline one of my students who hasn't really ever done anything wrong. Here's the situation:
I now have three classes in the shop, A, B, and C. A is open to everyone so it's just basic following the rules. B is a set group so I am trying to teach them about the effects that one persons misbehaving can have on the entire group. For example; Rule #1 is to arrive on time. I give them five minutes after class starts to arrive. At five minutes I lock the gate. Well this last week a kid came 45 minutes late and wanted to come in. I asked the class if they wanted to let him in and they said yes. I then explained to them that his punishment was to be shut out and if they wanted to let him in we all had to "pay" something. We decided that everyone would do 20 push-ups and he would do 30. It turned out to be a good experience and now we are beginning to work and think as a group. For the first time I had someone say they didn't want to pay for someone else's mistakes... That's huge in a culture that doesn't say anything against anyone else to their face! Anyways it gave me an idea. I decided to make the same kind of "deal" in group C as well!
Group C is full of my older kids who mostly have decided to drop out of high school. Their friends and mothers call them lazy and good for nothing.... They might not be too far off of the lazy part. They do something until it's hard and then go back to sleep. Anyways, in my class C we have a problem. They always throw the tools on the ground. I think you can understand why that's bad so I wont go into it. So just yesterday I confronted them, told them that we needed to come up with a consequence for leaving the tools on the floor that we would all pay, including me. I explained to them the concept of being a team and how we look out for each other. I told them to pick up after each other because they're invested in the team. I told them that they needed to learn what it is to help each other out in order to help themselves and how we can't do everything on our own in life. It went well and they seemed to respond well. I told them about the other class' push-ups and they said that was a good idea. Then I said, " well what happens if someone wont do it?" they responded by saying that they couldn't be a part of the team... Seemed reasonable to me. After all, they're all friends, they can pressure each other into doing the right things. Right?
Well today as I was walking around I found 2 clamps on the floor... at first it was funny. I was kinda laughing and telling them I needed to see them do the push-ups etc. None of them moved!! I reminded them of the consequence for not doing the punishment and they all started to move... You need to understand that To be kicked off the team is to be kicked out of the shop until January ... Well Daniel did his but the other two couldn't do more than 2!! It was crazy! Ella can do more than that!! They whined and cried fro about ten minutes until the end of the class... So I said," you have two minutes and if you don't do it... See ya in January!" At this point I was still thinking they'd do it... Well Bryan decided he would.. It took him another ten minutes to do it but one-by-one he got them done... Then there was Elvis... He whined and cried, said he couldn't do them, said he'd do sit-ups, but he never moved... I reminded him that it wasn't my rule... They made the rule together and now we couldn't break it... It's a contract! The end of class came and went and Elvis just sat there... The guys started poking at him verbally and I told him I'd count to 5 and if he just started we'd wait for him to finish (it's the softy in me i guess) So I counted... really slow.... Then at three I said he'd have to leave when I got to five if he hadn't started... Well I got to five and told him to leave until January.... Oh crud!! This is one of my kids that probably needed this the most. He isn't a bad kid! He's probably the poorest in every way you could think of! And I just kicked him out! I still feel really bad about the entire situation. I never thought we'd have to kick someone out!
I guess this blog is a prayer request for Elvis and me. For Elvis (or Mono as we call him) That he wouldn't be bitter and he'd get rid of the stubbornness that he showed today. For me that I can let it all go and actually sleep tonight. I don't know how I could have avoided it. Would it be acceptable to let him break the rules knowing that now they'd never take my rules serious and they'd never learn about the team concept? I don't know. I keep thinking it over in my head and I can't make it go any other way...
The only saving grace will be the other guys.... I told them about how the other class chose to pay the price with their friend in order to let him back in... True, in class B it was just a day, this is the entire trimester, but I told them if they each did another 20 and he did 40 he could come back.... I just hope that overnight he'll change his stubborn heart and come back repentant... What an opportunity for me to tell about how Christ took our place and how we are to be to each other!!
Thanks for reading! Sorry, I just needed to vent and ask people to pray. Please comment if you read this and pray. I just feel so sad for Elvis and want Jesus to touch him through what I'm doing. Have a good evening =)

Thursday, September 30, 2010

This Thing Called Parenting


HE never told us it'd be easy. HE never told us we'd get enough sleep or never cry. HE also never told us we'd do it alone. PHEW! Such a good reassurance that when raising children, it's by the grace of the almighty God. Every day is an adventure in our house. Sometimes it's a roller coaster of emotions with the kids, sometimes it's care free and kicked back. We are in the midst of raising a 5 yr. old and a 3 yr. I love my kids. They make me laugh till my belly hurts and I'm on the floor. They say the craziest things, sing the best songs, and dance to any tune they hear. I love to climb into their beds at night and re-tuck them in and give them one last kiss. I love their innocence and faith when they ask questions about God and how He lives in our hearts (or to Judah, our belly buttons). I'm so blessed that they are ours and that God has entrusted them to us. That aside, it's not all the fun that zaps most of my energy, but the training and consistency that does. Our 3 year old Judah is ALL boy. He loves soccer anytime he can get his hands on it, superheroes and bad guys, jumping in the mud, launching cars off of anything, and just being rough (which most of the time includes Ella). He's the most tender hearted boy whose teachers always would tell us how compassionate and caring he was for others. He loves hugs and kisses and just loving on people. Saying all of this, you'd wonder why this same boy, at times, makes me want to pull my hair out! I choose to say that I have been blessed with the opportunities to fall back, time and time again, into the gracious arms of Christ. I know that God gave this precious little boy to me, and for a mom, I'm what he's got! I also have priceless things to teach him and love to give. I know it's in the moment of a tantrum when my head could begin to spin and I don't think so clearly, that God reminds me of his amazing love for us, for Judah. How privileged we are to have children, and raise them in the ways of the Lord. How powerful is our prayer when we've run into a wall and don't know what else to do. That is where I keep finding myself. Everything I need is in me to raise these children. At times I feel lacking, but it's because I've forgotten where my source comes from, and to tap in. We've been living lives of amazing transition here and can't expect our children to always "go with the flow". With not as many resources around, friends and family to help out, we've got to get creative. They've done remarkably well considering. It's on days when crankiness begins at 6am and doesn't end till 8pm that I'm learning it's not about me, it never will be, and the sun will go down and come up again : ) Ahhhh, lean on Him.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Life after teams...

Wow! How did it get to be september? I'll give you a rundown of what has happened in the last few months.Since July and the robbery, we had classes as usual in the shop. Thanks to some great supporters of SI and our team personally we had enough money to buy new tools. Because of our hiccup with the robbery, and the time we had without tools, we also expanded a little bit into playing soccer which is a blast!! The kids love to do whatever they can with the students and me which is a great sign for me. I now know that they're not in it just for the projects or to learn woodworking, they're in it to make friends=) (check out the new slideshow on the right side of the blog to see all of the pictures from this summer in the shop)In July We had the Janzen/Frederick clan down for two weeks to visit... Wow!! While it was a great time, 11 people in a 3 bedroom house is pretty tight! We made the best of our time here and, while I still had to work during the week, we were able to share some of the sights here in Costa Rica. They went zip lining, white water rafting, to the beach, and to La Paz waterfall gardens. It was really a blessing to have our family here after being away for so long.
August was full of milestones for al of us here with SI Costa Rica. On August 2nd we officially welcomed our first "Tico Staff," Luis Diego and Cindy. Diego has been a draftsman for several years but has left his job to serve the communities that we work in. He is currently on the community board and is opening a sports site in several different places that we work.
Later in August we added our first Nicaraguan staff member Maria. She and Cindy will be working together in micro finance with some of the ladies in our communities. (sorry no picture of Maria yet=()
August 8th completed our first full summer with teams from the states. Oh man! It's busy with so many people around. Over all it was a great success. (To all of you who are reading this, the kids talk about you all of the time. They say to tell you all that they want you to come back next year!! They continually read the names on the wall, and look at the armpit picture[Nathan Pace] And talk about you all) We'll incorporate some new things next year like a hike into the coffee fields to look for wild fruit as well as some new types of classes=) August 8th was also the day we left for Panama to renew our visas... Some would call this a vacation... But it's not! Think stress times two and that's what these short trips are... We made the best of it and saw a little bit more of the world while sweating profusely and getting eaten by fleas or bed bugs =/ This picture is when Erin lost her flip-flop in the water and then had to fish it out form the back porch.
On August 20th we completed two years of living here in Costa Rica! Hard to believe it's been that long. Needles to say, we're NOT fluent in spanish yet but we are getting acclimated to life here... It's not nearly as scary as it once was to live or just to be in certain places. We are finally getting into a groove and figuring out what we need to do to make life work here. One "life" thing to pray about is for a better living situation. Erin, being at home a lot with the kids, is realizing that without any space for the kids to play they really have a hard time. Plus our master bath is leaking through the celling and has created a huge mold spot in the garage, the celling of our back patio collapsed from the huge leak in the roof, the water goes out daily which is hard to work with because we can't do laundry or dishes when it's out. Also when the water is out we have to pump the water from the tank to the house which is very expensive!... So, while we don't want to move again, we are currently asking God to drop the perfect situation in our lap! A decent sized house with a yard to either rent or buy SUPER SUPER cheap=) How's that for a request!?
Well September has brought us more life... We shut the shop for 3 weeks for improvements. We'll start with classes again on tuesday. Ella danced in the independence day parade on the 15th and is about to lose her first tooth. Judah is continuing to learn more spanish and is super funny with all of his language questions. We had my mother-in-law here for 2 weeks, which was wonderful, especially for the kids, and now... life continues!
Again thank you all for your support! Thanks for reading! I'll leave you with this... God has called us to be happy! To be joyful! Not stressed. I have found that it's my own pressures... My own lists that rob me of my joy... Live each day without being worried about the next. Jesus said it in Matt 6 and I think he means it. Don't worry about tomorrow!! Do you remember that Jesus said,"I only do whet I see the father doing."? Well I don't think we have to be any different. I think that if; 1 we saw what he was doing and 2 we did ONLY that we would have a lot more joy and a lot less stress! He says, "come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest."
May Jesus, himself, give you the spirit of wisdom and revelation so you may KNOW HIM BETTER!

Thursday, July 8, 2010

The robbery and the war

Well I wish it had just been a great move of God that caused me to write today. Erin and I have been trying to find time to tell you all about the great things that we've been doing in the last few months, such as the classes at the shop, my parents and Fredericks that are currently here now, having interns, etc. Unfortunately what has driven me to the computer is to ask you all to pray! Last night the shop was robbed. It could have been a lot worse but I believe that God was watching out for us. They cut one lock on the front roll-up gate and then broke the metal that held the other. When they got inside the gate there's another gate that swings like a door. they cut out a bar and squeezed in. They took all of my clamps and the new ones that had been donated to the shop, they took all of the hand saws and hammers, my orbital sander, the shops jitter bug sander, and two hand planes that were just donated a few months ago. The good part was that they didn't take any of the machinery or the scroll saw that was left on the table over night. They must have been in a hurry because they didn't even take my ipod that was on the wall! I don't know a lot about the spirituality of events like this but I am convinced that whether the enemy was responsible or not he will try to use it to scare us or attack us in some other way.
When I drove up this morning the kids were all waiting outside. As soon as they saw that my window was down they were saying, "sorry Jeremy, bad news." After we got inside and found out what was taken I had to tell the kids that we couldn't have class today. Obviously they were bummed but a few of them asked to learn english instead. I didn't know how the day would go so I told them we'd see but they should come back after lunch. (2 points here, I was glad they were there and concerned and I was really glad that they just wanted to be with us, not just make things:) ) Most of them left after a while but there were four or five who hung around. Jeff and I were busy figuring out what to do and making a list of what was taken and while I was walking by the door one of the kids got my attention. I went over to the door and he said, "so now what? are you going back to the united states tomorrow?" The thought hadn't even crossed my mind! I found it very interesting though that it would cross theirs. I told them no and said that we'd just have to figure out what to do next. I assured them that we'd be here doing something for a long time. I got to thinking about that one statement though. How many times has that happened? A missionary comes and because of something that infringes on their own property they leave. I never expected God to protect all of my stuff. I don't even know if I expect him to protect my life. If loosing my stuff or my life will show these kids that they're valued and loved that's ok. Take it. God uses all things for the good of those who love him. I am convinced of that. And if he wants to protect my stuff and life, all the better. For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.
So because of all of this, I believe that we are at war. We are at war with the enemy in his territory for the lives of these kids. We are at war with the enemy over the community of Los Guido. I know that the enemy is trying to use this already to cause fear and insecurity in me and the students. Will you stand with me in prayer to take back what the enemy has stollen? Will you right now pray for Los Guido? For our shop and the kids that come? The enemy struck first but I believe that through prayer we can push him back and claim more of the community for Christ. Pray with me for all of these things and for the future of the shop and our family. We want to see Jesus proclaimed to these people who live in fear everyday of having their stuff or their lives taken.
I will write more soon. I promise! I have a bunch of pictures to show too.
May the Lord give you a spirit of wisdom and understanding so that you would know him better.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

The newest developments.



Well it's finally open! After many months of theorizing and speculating, looking and listening, cleaning and preparing, we finally opened the wood-shop in Los Guido!! Many of you saw the pictures of the shop that we rented on February first, and the amazing transformation that was started with the JMU (James Madison University) and Jupiter Christian groups in March. Since they left I have been frantically working to build sturdy shop tables, stools, and lots of other things to prepare the shop. Normally it wouldn't have taken me a month and a half to build, but I had to build everything out of pallet wood.

We have a company that throws them away and has agreed to call us whenever they have enough for us to take. It's been quite the experience trying to utilize this scrap wood and turn it into something usable. This is also the wood that we use for all of our class projects! I have really enjoyed the process of experimenting knowing that I will be able to teach these boys to use "trash" to make something beautiful and possibly make money with it.
On May 17th our first group of the summer arrived and while they were in orientation on the 18th, we officially opened for our first day! I had approximately 25 people come and ask about the classes the previous 3 days and so I had no idea how many kids to prepare for. I only have tools and space for 12 kids per class session and right now we have two classes per day. In the very first class we had four boys which was absolutely perfect. The class in the afternoon had four more. The next day it expanded to 14 over all and by thursday I had to turn kids away. I believe that after two weeks we have had 38 kids come and finnish at least one project! Our first project was a very simple shelf that required the boys to use hand saws, screwdrivers, hammers and a lot of sand paper. They also got a crash course in staining. Over all it was a big hit! Check out some of the pictures below.


These boys all returned to do project #2 which was a very small step stool. For this one they had to cut some curves and learn to use the coping saw. The younger boys just want to get on with the projects so they don't look all that great, but the older boys really excel and make some really nice projects! It's amazing already to see the boys opening up to me. I have already been able to share with a few of them the reason that we're here doing what we're doing. I shared with some of them, just this last Thursday, about how God has been faithful to me and loves us all so much. I know that in the future we will be able to get so much more in depth and really be able to share the love of Christ in different ways. Please pray that God will continue opening doors for me to speak into their lives. Pray also that God would bring those that really need to be there in and the rest would fall away. With only 12 spots in the class we really need God to be choosing who is there. It is always so hard to turn them away, especially when I can see the disappointment on their faces. Pray also for wisdom about how and when to expand. There are so many kids and so many more adults that would like to come and learn that I could literally have full classes 24 hours a day 7 days a week. This could get really draining on me and the family. Pray for me that God would show me exactly what my responsibility is and how to guard my time with my family.
Thank you to everyone who has come to help and all of you that support us financially. This is really an extension of your gifts! I pray that God would bless you all as you live your life and give so that we can see Him work through us here. Finances are a big thing for us but we know that God is bigger. If you'd like to give towards our need here or towards the shop you can contact Students International through the "contact us" button at www Stint.com. As a family we are still about %15 short of our goal and we are also needing to find people who'd like to support the shop in the future. Right now the shop is funded through August, but has a monthly expense of $700 for rent, utilities and supplies. Again thank you for your support of what God is doing!

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Quick trip to Nicaragua

Can't believe it's really been over a month since our last post! For some reason to me, time seems to go ever so quickly here and doesn't give me fair warning of it happening. We've had a busy month of things like pajama parties, staff meetings, getting things ready for the wood shop to open, staff retreats, school field trips, and the normal every day happenings around here. When do things slow down?? And do they ever?!? My guess is not. The beautiful month of May brings Mother's Day, our anniversary, Erin's birthday, and 3 more birthdays of teammates! Whew!
We have also hit that lovely 3 month mark of having to leave the country again. Tomorrow we head to Nicaragua with the family and our friend Cailah. We're due for visa renewal once again. On one hand we look forward to these adventures, not too much is ever foreseen, but on the other hand, can we just get done with it already!! The logistics of these trips are time consuming and money consuming and sometimes come at inopportune times. At least now we'll make it through summer and teams before we have to leave again. Hopefully this will be one of the last times and that we'll have a more permanent status in the country soon.
Please pray for safe and fun travels for us. Crossing the border and coming back can be a timely process and at times stressful. Pray that we have smooth sailing through customs. Our son Judah as well has been battling some sort of a cold. Yesterday complained of a sore throat, today he broke out with a fever and has a swollen right eye. As I write, he is with Jeremy at the doctor (yes, at 10:20pm someone's open!) and being diagnosed. The doctor said he has a throat infection and is having some trouble breathing apparently because of that. They're checking him as well with a breathing device to help him. We'll see soon what needs to be done. Either way, we're headed out of town for 3 days tomorrow : ( We we're recalling the last time Judah was sick was 6 months ago when we were headed to Panama for a visa renewal as well. Please pray for our little guy that he recovers quickly and sleeps a lot in the car while we travel. God bless these little ones for putting up with the things we have to do sometimes. Our kids are amazing travelers and are always excited for an adventure. Let's hope that is the case early tomorrow morning! Blessings and thanks for praying!

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Plans

Judah fell asleep playing one day
Grandpa and Judah reading Curious George
Ella and her friend Ethan. When asked who he'd marry when he grows up, his response was Ella. No pressure Ella. ; )
Judah about to dive into the presents

The superhero party was a success!

So as you might know, we moved into this house we're currently in last December. Before that, we were literally two doors up renting a house for more and with a landlord who could care less about helping us out with things. We like this place and I must say sorry for we haven't posted pictures of this house yet. I keep saying when I get a room clean I'll take a photo and eventually have a picture of each room of the house. I keep forgetting and only have a few photos so far! So the other day, Jeremy received a call from our new landlords (who are great by the way) asking us if we were interested in buying the home. The wife's father, who lives in the US, is needing desperately to sell this property because of money situations he's having. They knew we were possibly interested in eventually buying property if we can, in order to be responsible with our money, so they were offering it to us first. Otherwise they will be taking an ad out. Who really knows what's going to happen, and do we continue on with some projects around here that need to get done, or do we not? We want to be good tenants, but I also don't like sitting around waiting for someone to tell me what's going on.
On the flip side of things, our home in CA recently became rented again, yay! That's always a relief for us. We're not really the stressing kind, but it feels good not to worry about that. We've been thinking a lot also about that house and what an awesome blessing it would be to have it rented. We don't like being "tied" down to a mortgage payment, but selling the house in this market is impossible. I think I struggle a bit with thinking that we're over planning things. We really have no idea what the next 5 years will look like, so trying to plan for that seems ridiculous at times. We also want to be wise with the resources God has given us. When do we put down our agenda and just lay our lives in His hands? So many times I have it worked out. Is that really what He wants? At times the things He wants us to do look ridiculous, but that is right where He'd have us. Please pray with us that He would make it clear what we are to do. Do we look into buying a house here and pay a mortgage instead of rent? Do we try to sell the house in the states? He has a plan, I am thankful. James 4 has struck me anew lately. In v. 13-15 "'Now listen, you who say, "Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.' Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. Instead, you ought to say, 'If it is the Lord's will, we will live and do this or that.'" It's so comforting to me in a life of faith. God never said we'd be bored, that's for sure! Just when we think we got something figured out, the phone rings. Ha! I think God laughs a lot! Here are also a few photos, just because : )

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

January, the car saga, and the first team.

So I realize that it's been a little while since we updated our blog, we're gonna get better I promise!! We have plans to write once a week or once every other week at bare minimum. I think we've begun to settle into a rhythm with life here. The visit to the hospital is done, the kids are in school, I have a shop (i.e. a permanent place to work) and we're finally semi- done with the car saga.
Well first thing's first. I received an email this morning saying that I was acquitted of all charges relating to the accident in Limón. Apparently, now we have to wait for a second judge to review the case and make his verdict as well. The lawyer says that it all looks promising and that I shouldn't worry. If nothing else I have made friends with the lawyer. He seems to be a solid christian man who is very involved in outreach to the poor and in his church. At first I questioned his motives and wondered if he was sincere, but after spending two days together I believe that this relationship may be one of the fruits to come from this ordeal. On the way to our last court date he was encouraging me with Luke 18... It says," 6And the Lord said, "Listen to what the unjust judge says. 7And will not God bring about justice for his chosen ones, who cry out to him day and night? Will he keep putting them off? 8I tell you, he will see that they get justice, and quickly. However, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?"" While we were driving I told him that I was worried about the corruption of the courts. He told me to listen to this verse on my ipod to make sure I understood what it said. It was so encouraging to have a brother beside me who could point me to scripture while I was stuck in my worry and disbelief.
Well the other bit of news is that we have our first team of the year here this week. I have ten students at the shop with me, double our normal capacity. Other than wondering what we're gonna do the rest of the week, it is going wonderful! The first day we painted about a third of the shop, started on a sound wall, and cleaned the bathrooms with some type of acid. Since then, we've almost finished painting, put up most of the wall, cleaned, received more wood, and finished all of the upgrade in the electrical for the back half of the shop. It looks wonderful! I am so pleased with the team and all of the work. It really is such a blessing to have people from all over the states who want to come work with me in things that they may never do again. Hopefully in the future we can put them in areas that complement their calling, but for now it's great how it is;)
Thank you all so much for reading, praying and your financial support! We wouldn't be here without you!

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Beginnings





Well today was a day of firsts for Judah and I. Today was Judah's first day of school! We have been a little worried about how he'd handle it, but lets just get right to it... HE DID GREAT!! We had been talking about how he needed to be a big boy and not cry, he knew that he wouldn't know anyone he knew that people only spoke in spanish, but we didn't know how it would go. He woke up and was excited as I've ever seen him. He was excited to get dressed in his school shirt (kids wear uniforms here... I kinda like it;) He was excited to ride the bus (car's in the shop) He was excited to walk from the bus stop to the school... And then he was gone! Just walked right inside! The parents can't come past the gate so when we got there he just waked in, grabbed the teachers hand and was gone! Never even said goodbye. And what was the only thing he had to tell me when I came home at 6:00?... That he fell of the swing. Ha.
Today was also my first day of cleaning in the new shop! WooHoo!! Here is a picture of how it looks now.
This past monday Jeff and I went to look at it again and had decided on a price that we would pay. We didn't even have to "work him down." He lowered the price almost $200 dollars for us and gave us february free to clean and do repairs. So this morning I borrowed a pressure washer from our new landlords and went to work... More pics...

So I washed and scrubbed and finally had to buy some sort of acid and a big pry bar to chip the stuff off of the floor. Disgusting!!! There had been a mechanic in this shop for the last six or seven years. They had used the back corner and the back bathroom as storage for greasy parts and the used oil bin... It would have never happened in the states... The oil (and whatever else) was like concrete and took a lot of muscle to get it off. There was also paper, rags, paint, and the occasional nut all locked together in the blackness. After about 5 hours of work this is what it looks like.

Now all we have to do is: clean some more, put up a sound barrier for the apartments behind, build a security gate, build a locker for our tools, move the tools in, build a sliding wall, build tables, chairs and cabinets, invite kids and we're on our way. (it's really not that much)
So for all of you who pray, pray that God would dwell in this building, that kids would come, and that God would open the doors for me to build some great, lasting relationships. Also pray that our house would rent... It's really getting old having to worry about it.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Holidays are over... now what?

So we are through the holidays and have begun a new year... This year, like the past few, will be a year of new beginnings. My job this month (more or less) is to find a suitable facility to house our wood-shop. I will be heading out to explore Los Guido, and the surrounding areas, while seeking to maintain relationships and look for other opportunities that God may have for me (and SI.) Ideally, we would like to build a shop to house this ministry site and leave room for future expansion, however I think it is wise to "try it out" and see if it is really where God would have us be. For me this is the start of what I have been waiting for. It's a chance to really build relationships that could lead to discipleship. Until now I have been somewhat of a "floater". I have worked in Los Guido and Las Fuentes but have also spent a lot of time in the house doing the practical, "needed" things like building bookshelves and tables. Now I will be in one spot (for the most part) with, hopefully, a regular group of youth who want to at least pass their time doing something constructive. I am also excited to have a more focused prayer life. Now I am working within everyone else's sphere of influence. I definitely have things to pray for, but I continually add to the list and really forget the significance of what I was praying for because I've lost the personal contact.
In addition to my new beginnings, Ella and Judah are going to begin school in February! Ella is going to a school called Santa Maria, which yes, is Catholic. The religion is limited to once a week and Ella will be spending "alone time" coloring or reading (hopefully soon) by herself in a different classroom. Apparently it's not uncommon for children to sit out during these times so maybe she wont be alone. Judah will be in a preschool called Osita Panda (little panda bear) for a few days a week. We would really like for Erin to have some alone time with Judah even if only 2 days a week. At Osita Panda Judah will be learning basic preschool stuff as well as Taekwondo. They are both looking forward to meeting new friends and learning. Erin and I are looking forward to taking advantage of this awesome opportunity to teach our kids spanish without having to teach them spanish ourselves;) While preschool can be good for kids, we feel like often times it is more to enable parents to do what they want. I don't want anyone else raising my kids for me, and I think that I can sufficiently prepare my kids for school while spending focused time with them. We are not sending our kids to school to be in "ministry." So while we are very excited for our kids to make friends and learn spanish, know that it will be hard for Erin and I to give up this chunk of time. We have always said we are here, following the Lord, for the benefit of our children, and we always pray that God will lead us in the best way to do that. Although we would never consider this option in the states, this is what we feel we need to do now. So if you think of us, please pray. We want to experience all that God has for us while continuing to accept His protection.
So in short, we are excited!! I feel for the first time as if I'll be doing what I came to do. There are a lot of unknowns and a lot of problems hidden within them. I don't expect this year to go super smooth but I do expect to see the Lord in new ways through the situations that come up. Please be praying with me for a fruitful year, grace for the new beginning of the wood-shop, and grace, unity, and peace for our family. I hope to be overjoyed at the opportunity to share of Gods goodness and faithfulness, here on this blog, throughout this year. May Jesus Bless You All.
And just to have some pictures... Here are some pictures of how we "rang in the new year." The people you don't know are our beloved neighbors and their family.