Sunday, August 30, 2009

Domingo Doings

Well, another Sunday has come and gone. We have had two very different church experiences here in Costa Rica. Last Sunday, we went to a church just 3 blocks from our house. It was a nice service. They sang A Mighty Fortress is Our God and Blessed Assurance, both in Spanish, of course. The kids went to classes while the adults had a sermon. We definitely need to learn Spanish! An hour sermon that you don't understand is a long sermon! They were celebrating Mother's Day, so the kids had a program after class. Karis and Ellie got to sing and the boys made me cards. Mason's card said:

Dear Mom,
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

Rotten Kids

Today in orientation we talked about cultural differences. There definitely are some. Here are few that might interest you.

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

Dice's fail grammar test

We had our grammar tests today, which along with our oral interviews, will determine which classes we will be taking. We will have 4 classes this trimester: pronunciation, grammar for 2 hours, and language practice. Our daily schedule will look something like this:
  • 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...

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Getting settled in Costa Rica

Hello, everyone!! We are in Costa Rica, having arrived on Friday, August 21st. April celebrated her birthday 3 times, so now that we are finally past that we can focus on getting settled. We've been to Wal-Mart (Hipermas) and Sam's Club (PriceSmart) to shop for various items. Right now we are watching "Night at the Museum 2" with our neighbors, the Leckie's, who also happen to have a family of 6. Costa Rica is very different from Nicaragua in many ways, with the cost of living being the most prominent. The cost of stocking our fridge was a little more than we anticipated. The prices for most food items would be close to or slightly more than what you would find at Glen's. Other items are much more expensive. Hipermas has games for the Wii, but they cost anywhere from $65-$75. The weather has been fabulous. I get up at 5 or so every morning to read and pray, then go for a walk. It has been beautiful and 70 just about every morning. Days get a little hot and muggy, but the evenings are cool. San Jose is at elevation, so that contributes to the cooler temps. We visited our school today and were impressed. Our kids will be in classes of between 12 and 20 students. We met their teachers and are quite confident that they will be well taken care of. Our orientation is tomorrow. Well, I will write much more in the days and weeks to come. Thank you for all your prayers!