Saturday, January 23, 2010

Dead Man Walking

Camden tried out for the school play and was fortunate to be cast as half the school seemed to read for parts. He got the part of the jilted boyfriend who gets murdered. I think he has a few lines then gets knocked off and is supposedly carried around for the rest of the play. Though we haven't read the script yet, we are thinking "Bernie" in "Weekend at Bernie's."

April and I are both pretty excited about meeting with our tutors last week. April meets with our Grammar teacher from last trimester, Maritza, 4 days a week for an hour each day. I meet with a private instructor named Marcos 3 times a week for an hour and 15 minutes each session. It really helps to have the extra speaking practice.

We have been blessed this trimester with two good teachers, Eugenia (Language) and Laura (Grammar). Our Language class is really fun and helpful. It is much more structured than last time. We have to do something different for each day of class- things like prepare and present an article from a Spanish newspaper, prepare and present a Bible study, choose a theme and ask 3 people about it- then present your findings to the class, etc. Grammar is grammar. It has been great so far. We've been so busy that we can't find time to watch much tv, which we have come to find out we don't miss that much.

On Friday, we went to visit Cecilia, a lady who runs a soup kitchen for kids in her really poor neighborhood. God uses her to do some really great things and meeting her was/is an inspiration to us to find the joy of the Lord no matter what. We went there to possibly figure out how we could do some volunteering, but instead God used our visit to teach us.

Mason got his hair cut on Thursday. We took photos of Zac Efron to the stylist. It turned out really cool! He is doing really well in school and at playing soccer. Mason misses his buddy, Skylar, who went to live in Peru. Now his best buds are Jonathan & Lucas, though Mason thinks Lucas fell out of his crib and hit his head. Mason thinks he is a bit on the crazy side! Karis is back to doing gymnastics only now she dresses the part! She celebrated a birthday last week and the only thing she wanted was for Camden's buddies to come over and play a game where they try to capture her. Ellie continues to be a source of joy- she makes the craziest comments and faces. She loves the comic, Jim Gaffigan, so pretty much every time we are walking on the sidewalk she will run ahead and say, "See you slowpokes at the Cinnabun!" or "Run for your lives!"

We are now prepping for 16 members of April's extended family to arrive. They arrive on Sunday around 1. So, I need to help around the house a little!

We miss all of you! Until next time....

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Back to Work!!

Wow, it is hard to believe it's been 4 weeks since I last wrote a blog! We had such a wonderful time visiting with folks in Michigan and Pennsylvania that the time flew by very quickly. We got back to Costa Rica on Thursday the 7th, and I took off for Honduras on Saturday the 9th (at 4:30 AM). I was invited to attend the General Conference of the United Brethren Church. This was the first time it was being held outside the States. General Conferences of the past were very large gatherings. The old system had individual conferences meeting annually. Michigan had a conference along with several other regions in the States, and each of our countries would have an annual conference too (we have conferences in Honduras, Nicaragua-including Guatemala and Costa Rica, Sierra Leone, Hong Kong-including Macau, Canada, Jamaica, Mexico, and the Philippines). Then, every 4 years we would all come together for a larger conference, elect a bishop, and generally have lots of fun together. Now, we have nationalized all the conferences. This means each place now has a National Conference which meets annually or biannually. We have one National Conference that meets every two years in the States (we no longer have a "Michigan Conference"). Other national conferences, like Nicaragua, meet annually. For General Conference, each of the national conferences sends two delegates. Guests were able to attend as well. Guatemala was added as its own conference at this meeting, bringing the total number of national conferences to 10. This means we had 20 delegates at GC. Plus, 6 or 7 guests were present.

It was really a blessing to sit around the table with such great men and women. I had a blast reuniting with Karis Wong, the leader of Living Water Church in Macau, and practicing some long-forgotten Cantonese. The other delegate from Hong Kong was Ajax Wu, who always had a smile on his face. It is always fun listening to Jamaicans speak, so I had fun talking with Bishop Winston Smith and Isaac Nugent. Bishop Billy Simbo and Theresa Muso from Sierra Leone were fun to get to know as well. Bishop Brian Magnus and Paul Plato from Canada, Superintendent Juan Pavon and Pastor Henri Osorio of Nicaragua, and Bishop Phil Whipple and Jeff Bleijerveld of the U.S., Pastor Francisco Najera and Pastor Rolando Venezuela of Guatemala, Pastor Erik Ramirez of Costa Rica, Bishop Dennis Casco of Mexico, Pastor Olim Richard of Haiti, Superintendent Juanita Chavez of Honduras, Pastor Jason and Donna Hollopeter, and Steve Dennie were all there, too. We heard lots of reports and had many discussions of partnering in various ministries. You can check out more about the conference at

I got a chance to explore the large United Brethren campus in La Ceiba. We have a school that teaches over 2,000 students and has a famous marching band boasting over 200 participants. 47 of them played for us one night and they were incredible. I wish I had a video camera with me! The UB Church in Honduras is doing well!

I have lots more to write about from this conference, but instead of cramming it all in this post, I will try to sprinkle other info into other posts. I got back on Thursday night and returned to class Friday morning. Thankfully, I didn't miss too much work! More will come later!!

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Back in Action

Hello again!
It's hard to believe the holiday's are over and we are back in CR. It was so great to be back in Michigan. It actually felt like Christmas with the cold and the snow. Since there are people staying in our house, we invaded Mom and Dad's. So Mom had six extra people and 2 dogs, bringing the grand total to 8 people and 5 dogs. Not to mention the days we had the Hall and Palmer cousins over! After our dog ate a 3 pound bag of peanut M&M's and vomited all over the house and then the next day chewed up one of those neck pillows with a million styrofoam beads, Mom didn't seem quite as sad to see us go this time! We also spend a week in Pennsylvania with the Dice's. It was a great year for me because I won 2 games of Bid, a card game we play every visit. That brings the grand total of my winnings to 3 in the thirteen years we've been married!

It was a reminder again of how blessed we truly are. We have a wonderful church, wonderful family, wonderful is so easy to loose sight of that. Before we left, Adela, our maid, told me at lunch that she didn't know how she was going to feed her family while we were gone. She didn't realize that we pay her from August through April. When I told her that she was still going to be paid, she began crying, thanking God and thanking us. The standard wage for a maid is about $50 a week. Can you imagine? $50 a week... It was so humbling. She lives in La Carpio, the old dump, with 20,000-50,000 other Nicaraguans. I am sitting here typing on a computer in a home with indoor toilets, a washer and drier. She has none of those things. I gave Adela brownie mix for Christmas, she loves those Garradelli brownies, but she has to cook them here because she doesn't even have an oven! Yet, she loves the Lord and thanks Him for everything. I hope that we can be as much of a blessing in her life as she has been in ours. Dad wanted us to find a good cause for his Christmas present, so he got 4 backpacks for her family. We can't wait to give them to her.

The Lord has been working in my heart since we started traveling to Nicaragua. I am addicted to things, things I want, things I think I need. I am trying to learn to enjoy the things that God has blessed me with without being attached to them. I am not always successful. The author Erwin McManus said that often we let the blessings of God become an anchor holding us back from following Him. We hold on to the things He has given us instead of holding on to Him who gave them. I still have a ways to go to learn this lesson. So often I feel like I am playing a game of Wack-a-Mole. Just when I think that I got one area of my spiritual life taken care of, another problem pops up. It's hard to believe that God loves us anyway, isn't it?

Jeff left this morning for General Conference in Honduras. There will be delegates from every UB National Conference: the US, Hong Kong, Nicaragua, Honduras, Sierra Leone, and Canada. The delegates from the Phillipines were denied visas to travel through the US. It will be fascinating to hear what God is doing through U.B. churches throughout the world. He will miss three days of class which means I am going to start out ahead!

Love to you all,
April (& Jeff)