Saturday, November 28, 2009
Saturday, November 21, 2009
Friday, November 13, 2009
Friday, November 6, 2009
Thursday, October 29, 2009
Sunday, October 25, 2009
Tuesday, October 20, 2009
- From Luke 7 we began with a discussion/presentation about joy. Josiah contrasted the joy factor in Simon, the host, and the uninvited woman. The catch phrase of the lesson was: "forgiven little, love little- forgiven much, love much"
- From Philippians 3 we looked at Paul and how he needed to repent of his religiosity. This led to a discussion on how we need to better understand how deep our sin is and how incredible God's holiness is.
- The whole gospel is equal parts forgiveness and righteousness. Jesus death on the cross gives us forgiveness once and for all, and He imparts his righteousness to us through our faith in Him- we cannot earn it. When we couple our forgiveness and our unearned righteousness with a bigger understanding of our sin and God's holiness we should be overflowing with joy and motivated to be obedient!!
- And, we received an assignment today that challenges us to refrain from doing a laundry list of things for the next 3 days. Among the items we can't do are gossipping, criticizing others, complaining, boasting, deceiving, stretching the truth, interrupting others, making excuses, and defending yourself. Sounds like fun, eh?
Mason has been working hard at learning "Fist of the Dragon" martial arts. He has 3 sessions each week and thus far there have only been two students! I watched the lesson today and was pretty impressed. Devin and Mason worked hard for 90 minutes, kicking the heavy bag, learning how to properly fall, doing flips, slightly punching each other, stretching body parts I'd rather not stretch, and having a blast doing everything. I really think April should sign up for the class. Then she wouldn't have any fear in walking after dark!
Monday, October 19, 2009
- Phonetics: Jeff 98, April 97
- Language: Jeff 98, April 96
- Grammar: April 99, Jeff 97.5 (April seems to think this is more important as we have this class for 2 hours. I would like to point out that the only reason I don't have a 100 is because I screwed up on part of an oral quiz 3 weeks ago.)
This weekend, April, Camden, & Mason went on a very long hike up a very steep mountain. That was Saturday, today is Monday and April is still complaining about how much her "nalgas" hurt (that's "buttcheeks" for those of you who don't understand Spanish). They hiked for about 4 hours with an hour of bus riding to and from the mountain. Upon returning, April stated that she wanted pizza and 5 hours of tv. I fell in love all over again. The boys had no trouble going up and down the mountain. They loved it! Mason took tons of pictures!
I am now officially part of a modified softball team. Saturday mornings we hold practices for a kids team we are trying to put together, but the dads of the kids would also practice. So, we decided to form our own team. We had our first game Sunday morning (before church) and got thrashed. It is a little different than traditional softball as the pitcher throws as hard as he can underhand without raising his hand above his head. So, you can't throw the ball as hard as in fast-pitch, but it is still pretty fun. I left the house at 7:15, road my landlord's bike to the park a few miles away, played most of the game, left the park at 8:55, got back to our house at 8:59 (it's all downhill on the way back), showered and got to church by 9:15.
Speaking of teams, Camden's basketball team had its first game on Friday. Final score: 83-28. It was a good effort. It was pretty funny to see Camden and some of his junior high buddies going up against much taller high school boys. We actually are putting together some junior high games that I will help coach so the younger kids can play against teams that aren't so big!
Wednesday, October 14, 2009
The next morning we experienced our first baptism service in Nicaragua. Maria said it was a only a 30 minute service, which sounded pretty good to us. What we didn't realize, was that it was 45 minute drive. The service was held on the shores of Lake Nicaragua, the largest lake in Central America (think Lake Michigan). The other important fact Maria left out was that everyone gets in the water and forms a circle around those being baptized. We didn't bring extra clothes, so we just watched. After watching the service, I really think we should try this at Kleinhardt's pond next summer! The ladies spent the early part of the afternoon seeing Granada's seven beautiful cathedrals. It really is a beautiful city. We are really trying to set up one of the girls with Dan Best, but after viewing his Facebook page, she is having second thoughts! He needs to step it up a little. Then we ventured off to Diramba to see the home for troubled teenaged girls. We learned a little about the ministry there and got to spend some time with one of the girls- she is 16, was "abused" by a half-brother, got pregnant, tried to commit suicide, but then a miracle happened! She is now saved by grace and is doing as well as can be expected. April had a fun time with her 6 month old son!
To wrap up the weekend, we spent an afternoon at the ocean with Juan, Candida, and Maria Pavon. The kids had a blast. The ocean is very warm there with lots of crabs and other creepy crawlies to discover. This was the first time at the ocean for Ellie, and probably the first time that Karis can remember. After another 8 hour bus ride, we were glad to be back in San Jose, especially because it is about 10 degrees cooler and probably 25 percent less humid.
So, we returned to classes today and got some test scores back. April sorely missed Maria, because in her absence I have drawn even or overtaken the lead in all our classes. Now that Maria has returned I will have to step it up a notch to maintain all that I have accomplished! Actually, we are both doing really well. My lowest test score was a 90 I received on a grammar test, and April's lowest was a 90 she received on a language test. Every other score has been over 95. However, those great scores have not carried over into our ability to speak! We've been told that at some point things will just "click." We hope it happens soon! Pics from the weekend are coming soon!
Monday, October 5, 2009
Saturday, October 3, 2009
Our landlady, Ivonne, recently told me I could use her really sweet mountain bike if I could fix it. I fixed it and went for a ride this morning. This bike has disc brakes, shocks, and just about anything you could ask for on a bike. I went to the bank, and as I was leaving, I decided to ride off the curb and onto the street. Bad decision. The front shocks compressed and sent me over the handlebars. I did manage to perform a hand-stand for a few seconds before regaining a standing position with the bike wrapped around me. I have since tightened up the front suspension and can now focus on all the cars that could potentially hit me. No, April will not be riding a bike, so you don't need to add that to your prayer list!
Monday, September 28, 2009
It took some time, but I have finally pulled ahead of April in one of our classes, Phonetics, thanks to a stellar performance on our last exam. Of course, she is leading in Grammar and we are about even in Lenguaje, but I must relish this potentially short-lived supremacy! Praise God she can't trill her "r's" yet!
The papers here are saying we are headed for water shortfalls beginning in January. Most areas are between 20% and 40% under the normal rainfall for June through September. This means April will not be able to take her normal 20 minute shower and I've decided to only take sponge baths to help out. I am beginning the search for a nurse to bath me. Really, though, the whole country suffers when it doesn't rain because so much of the infrastructure here is related to the agriculture industry. However, it has been raining for the past 5 hours, so maybe we could catch up a bit!
Prayer points: Our kids are having a bit of an adjustment to actually going to school. They need prayer in the area of forgetfulness. As in they forget their books, forget their homework, forget they need supplies for cooking class, forget they need to bring.... We would also appreciate prayer for our meeting with our 4 Costa Rican UB pastors. We are taking all of them out to dinner on Friday! And finally, that April would actually apply some of the knowledge we gained in our PeaceMaker Seminar (see below).
Jeff almost cried when I kicked his tail in grammar so I decided to back off a little. I don't want to destroy him this early in the trimester. Saturday we had an eclipse of some kind. It was cloudy, so it was hard to see exactly but it made a large ring around the sun. It looked like a rainbow in a circle. It was pretty cool.
Yesterday it was pretty hot. Ellie said, "It's always hot on Sundays, that's why they call it SUNday." Makes sense, doesn't it?
Today, I get to give my first piano lesson to a 14 yr.old. boy from La Carpio (the Nicaraguan slum). They call him Lapiz, which means pencil in English. He is a gifted musician but hasn't had any formal training. I am looking forward to it. Steve, the missionery in La Carpio, hopes that music could be Lapiz's ticket to a better future. It is exciting to see what God will do.
I told you Jeff and I attended the peacemaker seminar on conflict resolution. We learned some really good stuff. The lesson we both appreciated most was the one on confession. We learned how to apologize in meaningful ways like: 1. I'm sorry if you're hurt. 2. I'm sorry if I did something wrong. 3. I know I said something wrong, but what about what you did wrong? 4. I'm sorry you are so sensitive. Jeff and I are already experts in this area but it was good to be reminded. If you want to take advantage of this wisdom just make sure you use key words like if ,but, and maybe in your confession and you too can be on your way to a successful marriage.
Well, off to my piano lesson in Spanish! Adios
Thursday, September 24, 2009
On a related note, on the way to school this morning Ellie complained about having a little pain in her legs. April asked what it was from. Ellie responded, "I think my bones are tangled." At least I don't have that problem.
Tuesday, September 22, 2009
Other news... Jeff and I are still neck in neck. We have three tests this week, so here is my chance to pull ahead. Maria needs to go back to Nicaragua. They denied her visa extension. She should be able to come back in October. Also, her grandfather passed away. It was a rough day.
Pray for her, please.
Speaking of praying, we could really use rain down here. If we don´t get some serious rain soon, we are looking at electrical shortages (most of the power is hydrolectric), water shortages, and price increases for food. They think it is already too late for Nicaragua and Guatamala. They probably won´t be able to plant at all. They are predicting famine for parts of both countries. So, for all of you working with Feed My Starving Children at home, you couldn´t have picked a better time. It is going to be desperately needed this year.
Well, we have to go to learn to get along... see ya... love ya.
Tuesday, September 15, 2009
At a place like language school, you would expect to meet some interesting people. I mentioned in a previous post that Camden's basketball coach, Trish Wegman, is the daughter of Bill Wegman, a 10-year veteran of Major League Baseball. Well, another pretty, single, young lady named Kim goes to church in Houston with Troy Aikman (former QB of the Cowboys), Ross Perot, and George W and Laura Bush! So, with all these stories about famous connections floating around, we had to share some of our own. April said that her dad shot the biggest buck in Clare County, and that she played piano for Dan Quayle, and the owners of Jay's Sporting Goods go to our church! That shut them all up right away.
Camden had his first basketball practice last night. I'm not bragging or anything, but he is in 6th grade and made the high school varsity team. I don't think he'll start, but he made the team. (Of course, there are only 10 kids trying out for the team!) On the way home from practice, he told me it was the hardest 2 hours of his life. I watched the last 20 minutes of practice. It was pretty intense as Coach Wegman made the team run suicides if one player was lazy during their scrimmage. Camden did win a game of "lightning" and looked pretty good out there.
Well, since this is "Independence Day" in Costa Rica, we need to get ready to go to a parade. Oh, we did get some test scores back from our Phonetics class. April pulled into an overall tie with Jeff as both did very well on their test. Our next opportunities to shine are Thursday (Conversation Class) and Friday (Grammar). May the force be with me!
Friday, September 11, 2009
Comings and Goings:
Camden is pretty excited about his sports. He is signed up to play basketball for Sojourn Academy. There are just 6 high school boys on the team, so they opened it up for junior high boys as well. Cam is one of 5 junior high boys on the team. It will be pretty funny to see him play amongst the giants. His coach is a sweet, single, 6' tall young lady named Trish who happens to be the daughter of Bill Wegman, a 10 year veteran of the Major Leagues (Dan/Matt, airfare is only $300 to visit). Speaking of baseball, Cam and I get to play for 3 hours every Saturday morning with a group of kids and adults. It was a blast last week! We are looking forward to tomorrow.
Mason has made some pretty cool friends. One of them, Skyler, is staying over tonight. They both love Yuh-gi-oh and Pokemon and any other topic that covers swords, fighting, fantasy, or Ebay.
Karis and Ellie are also having friends over tonight. They frequently spend time with the neighbor girls, Mary Esther and Scarlet, who happen to have a mom named Audrey. This confused Ellie because she had thought her Aunt Audrey was a different woman. We confirmed that fact with her.
Thanks to all of you for your thoughts and prayers and for reading and commenting on our blog. For those of you in Michigan/Pennsylvania, this helps us feel connected to you even though you are far away.
Wednesday, September 9, 2009
Tuesday, September 8, 2009
Monday, September 7, 2009
Saturday morning, Camden and I headed to a run-down baseball field (think Sandlot) because we were told people show up to practice. People did, in fact, show up to play baseball! We had a group of about 8 adults and 14 kids practice and play for about 2 hours. Then, some more adults came, so we had another hour of batting practice. It really was a lot of fun. One of the local "coaches" is trying to form a league for kids. Camden is pretty excited. Then, Saturday night we played dominoes with our neighbors, Charlie and Audrey Leckie. They have four kids, too, so we enjoy getting together to let the kids play. We also learned that Audrey was actually a Spanish major in college, a fact she has been reluctant to disclose up until now.
Sunday morning we went to one of our 4 United Brethren churches in Costa Rica. We had met Pastor Eric and his wife, Iris, the week before but had no idea what kind of church they pastored. We thought it would be typical of our other UB churches in Latin America. Well, it wasn't. The facility was beautiful and large (it probably could hold 200 people or more), they had a worship team that could actually sing really well, they had a projector/computer with powerpoint of the songs, and the music was not too loud! The service lasted almost 2 hours, but it was fun to be there. We sang songs we recognized like Open the Eyes of My Heart, Ancient of Days, and The Power of Your Love, plus other songs we didn't recognize but enjoyed anyways. We also took communion. They kept us for lunch and we had a meatball soup that was really good (this was a surprise because "soup" and "good" usually don't appear in the same sentence from our Latino experience!). We got home at around 2:30 and began preparing for an evening on the town with a relative of April's named Bill, someone we had not had the privilege of meeting or spending time with previously. No amount of preparation could have prepared us for the events of this first encounter! Let's just say that we had a nice dinner, met some interesting people, had stimulating and sometimes eye-opening conversation, and made it home safely 3 hours later. It was fun! Bill is definitely a person with much life-experience and many colorful stories. He's broken every finger and knuckle on both hands at least 5 times each from various encounters over the years. We are anxiously awaiting our next invitation to dinner.
Until next time...
Saturday, September 5, 2009
Jeff and I are studying verbs this weekend. We have a test on Wednesday of over 100 regular and irregular verbs. For those of you who didn't take a foreign language, let me explain a little. In English we conjugate our verbs like this:
See how the verb only changes for the third person (he says)? Well in Spanish it goes like this:
(Hablar: to speak)
Vosotros hablais (Vosotros means you plural if you are in a formal situation.)
You see how the ending changes for each pronoun? That is how you conjugate regular verbs ending in AR. (Hablar: to speak, Bailar: to dance,etc.) Now, add to that verbs that end in ER or IR (Comprender: to comprehender, Servir: to serve). They have different endings. Those are only the regular verbs. Then just like in English, you learn one rule and 10 exceptions. There are a ton of verbs that don't follow that pattern. For our test on Wednesday, we have to know over 100 hundres verbs, what they mean, and how to conjugate them! Luckily, I have Maria to help me!
Speaking of Maria.... We told you that Juan Pavon's daughter, Maria, was coming to stay with us from Nicaragua. She has been here almost a week. She is so wonderful. Ellie and Karis smother her and she actually seems to enjoy it, or she's a really good actress! We went to the fruit market the other day and Maria asked some questions for me in Spanish. Ellie looked at her in surprise and said, "Wow, Maria, you're really good at Spanish!" It was pretty funny.
We rented The Sound of Music the other night for Maria. She had never seen it and I always sing "How Do You Solve a Problem Like Maria?" We had a girl's night. It was so much fun. I loved watching all three girls, Maria, Karis, and Ellie, see it for the first time. Maria has such a wonderful innocence about her. I don't know how to describe it exactly, but you probably know what I mean. For most of our American teenagers, nothing is new, nothing is exciting. We know what is going to happen in almost every movie. There is so little that can surprise us. You know how it is to watch your children really enjoy something for the first time? That's how is was to watch a movie with Maria.
The kids are enjoying school. Everyone loves their teachers. Camden is playing soccer. Karis and Camden are doing gymnastics. Mason has a good friend already. So life is good.
Love to you all and keep praying, especially on Wednesday!
Thursday, September 3, 2009
Tuesday, September 1, 2009
Sunday, August 30, 2009
Thanks you for being a great Mom. Thank you for helping me to grow into a good brother and thank you for everything you have done for me. I hope you will have a good time in Costa Rica. Love, Mason
Camden's card said:
Thanks for being a great Mom and whatever Mason said. Camden
After all, we already had Mother's Day in the States, Camden said. I didn't really need two, especially since my birthday was the day before!
Anyway, this Sunday we went to the same church in the morning. We had lunch and then Superintendent, Juan Pavon from Nicaragua, picked us up to go to a local U.B. Church for a meeting. It wasn't really a meeting. We had dinner (crunchy tacos, an enchilada, and some fried chicken with fries) with four pastors and then had an evening service. Another two hours. 25 of us packed into the pastor's living room. Good news- the sound system was turned off. Bad news- "we" still sang songs, at least that's what we think we did. This church is buying a plot of land in order to build. They were a very nice congregation. On a side note, you all (Bonnie Rae) should be very proud of me. I found Ghirardelli
Brownie's at the Sam's Club (PriceMart). I had just made them and I actually took them to share with the pastors. No, sharing is still not fun, but I guess I am growing up.
Jeff has already been asked to speak next Saturday, maybe next Sunday, and do a seminar for the pastors! He already has an excuse for falling behind on his Spanish homework. Pastor Eric and his wife, Iris are wonderful. Iris speaks English and she had four brownie's (it was her birthday!), so you know we hit it off! We are looking forward to getting to know them.
The really great part of the evening was that Pastor Juan's daughter, Maria, came home with us. Maria is hoping to go to Huntington University next fall. She already does pretty well with speaking English (she translated for us on the last trip to Nicaragua), but she wants more practice and she also needs help studying for the SAT. Karis and Ellie, of course, took an instant liking to her. Ellie is glad that she will get out of school earlier than the other kids so she can play with Maria all by herself. Poor Maria... Well, she wanted to practice her English!
We hope things went well today at Brown's. We thought of you and how nice our music is and how it is in English. We are praying for you and love you all. Our free time is about to evaporate!
Friday, August 28, 2009
First, if you arrive on time for a dinner with friends it implies that you are starving. So, you should arrive at least 15 minutes late.
Second, all Costa Ricans, or Ticos, were told by their mothers that sickness comes from germs mainly on the floor. They never go barefoot in the house and concentrate much of their cleaning on the floors.
Third, it is illegal in Costa Rica to spank your child. The speaker said that even yelling was illegal but I don't know if he was joking about that. Also, if you had dinner with Ticos and your child misbehaved everyone would wait silently for you to discipline your child and if you didn't, they would scold him for you. It is not so much a problem that children misbehave, but it is considered very bad parenting for you not to reprimand them immediately. I wonder how this would go over in the States. The next time a kid mouths off to a mom, I think everyone should stop talking until she does something about it. And if she doesn't, then you say something. If you try it, let me know how it goes!
After the session on cultural differences, a local pastor gave us short history of Costa Rica. Costa Rica developed much differently that the other Latin American countries because it had a very small Indian population. Since there were few Indians for slave labor, and so a small chance of getting rich, few Spanish came here. No one wanted to be the governor of Costa Rica because even he had to farm the land himself to feed his family. So, instead of developing a small wealthy class and a very large slave population, Costa Rica became a land similar to the American frontier with small private farms. When Costa Rica became independent in the 1820's, the first elected president was a school teacher who bought a printing press from Pennsylvania and began printing books. Costa Rica has only had one military general elected president. Most have been teachers, doctors, etc.
Costa Rica for centuries had been a refuge for Jews fleeing persectution. Because it had few Europeans and few Catholic churches, Jews came here from Europe to live in peace. The first coat of arms and the first Costa Rican flag each contained a star of David. The Pastor thinks that Costa Rica's care for Jews is one of the reasons for its success as a nation.
Costa Rica has a large middle class. It's literacy rate is over 90%. (Nicaragua's is in the 40's). It has a decent health care system and good infrastructure.
Is that enough info? You know how I love facts!
Pastor Juan Pavon and his daughter, Maria, should be arriving from Nicaragua tomorrow. Maria is going to stay a few months with us to practice her English. We can't wait to see them both.
- Camden has been in heaven playing soccer everyday.
- Mason has found a buddy who likes swords and Pokemon so life is good.
- Karis and Ellie are playing at the neighbor's house this afternoon so life is definitely good for me!
- Jeff turned his ankle walking this morning right after I asked him if he should wear his brace. I am trying to be sympathetic!
Thanks everyone for all your prayers. We are thinking of you all at Brown's and excited about the 40 days of purpose. God bless you.
Thursday, August 27, 2009
- 7:30-8:20 is hour 1
- 8:25-9:15 is hour 2
- 9:15-9:35 is everyone's break time
- 9:35-10:15 is either break time for everyone or chapel on Tuesday and Thursday
- 10:20-11:10 is hour 3
- 11:15-12:05 is hour 4
- 12:10-1:00 is hour 5
We each get 1 hour to study, with one of us getting hour 5 off to pick up Ellie from her class. The other kids finish up at 2:30. Then, we get lots of homework and other studying to do!
I have gotten up early in the morning for 6 mornings in a row to exercise. This is a personal record. I've been walking 3-5 miles each morning. It's been fun to see the city and to get familiar with my surroundings.
- Ellie is wondering why her teacher doesn't just learn English.
- Camden says his calves are about to explode.
- Mason learned that Pokemon is a world-wide currency.
- Karis is just plain cute.
- We will be taking side wagers on who will do better at learning Spanish- Jeff or April. April thinks she should be the early odds-on favorite. We'll see.
Until next time...