Friday, February 26, 2010

Day Off!

It has just been a great day today! It's Friday and we did not have classes today due to a teacher in-service day. It has been a much needed break for me as my brain has not been functioning at a very high level lately (to some of you, that would appear normal for me). We had a grammar test yesterday, which means I am now even farther behind April. She is doing quite well with her language acquisition. I, on the other hand, am just trying to make it through most days, so a day off is just what I needed. There is just so much to learn. I am really looking forward to next week as it is Spiritual Emphasis Week, a week where we have special services every morning and evening. This means we have no homework or tests. Hopefully, this also means that what we have been learning will sink in a little more.

We are getting excited about some things being planned right now! We have a Spring Break trip planned to Nicaragua where our family will meet some folks from Brown Corners to get a project started somewhere near Masaya. I have also been planning a trip from Costa Rica to Nicaragua. 28 students from the Institute will go to Nicaragua during the same week. It's been challenging, but Nicaragua is such a cool country that it will be worth all the work. It will be encouraging to see how our work there changes with our improving ability to communicate. As for this year, we will continue supporting the local church through project work, but we are looking forward to expanding and deepening our work in several other areas. Our main trip this summer will add a new dimension to our work, too, as we will be running day camps for the children surrounding Santa Rita. If there is interest, we will take a different group of people to continue the project that will be started in March. It is exciting to see what God is doing for Nicaragua through our church!

Tonight, we are doing pre-marital counseling with a young couple from our church. It is the second time we've met. One really interesting thing I want to share with you is Juan Pablo's background. He is not from a Christian family. He started his journey to Christ as a 12 year old because someone came on a short-term missions trip. Juan Pablo came to play baseball and was introduced to the Lord. He is now 27 and still following Jesus. It is fun to see the result of short-term missions 15 years later. You just never know the impact you are making.

Well, I am really hot right now- it has been almost unbearably hot and humid for the past few days. Makes me yearn for Michigan....not really. 2 months to go, unless there is still snow on the ground April 28th, then we will be changing our flights.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Fun Times

Every once in a while, something happens in class to make us all laugh. In fact, this happens weekly. But this week was more special than the previous ones. It was Thursday, and on Thursdays we present Bible studies in Spanish. I had chosen Psalm 51 largely because it contains several desires of David which could easily be changed into the sentence structure we are practicing right now. Verse 6 states that God desires truth in our innermost parts. I just happened to translate this into "God desires truth in our intimate parts" which in Spanish specifically means your "special private place." For some reason my Bible study, for all intents and purposes, ended right there- though for David this still might have applied. It was a memorable Thursday.

A couple of weeks ago, April signed up to attend a women's retreat for all the ladies at ILE. Over 30 women attended this Friday-Saturday event. They were supposed to leave on Friday at noon, but the bus had some problems and they had to wait for another bus to arrive. So, April returned home for a few minutes before leaving again. But now she was wearing a name tag with the words "The Love Connection" on it. Nothing like 30-plus mostly married women heading to a hotel to make a "love connection." She returned Saturday night thankful for the time away from the hustle and bustle we find ourselves in daily.

One of my baseball buddies, Juan Pablo, recently asked April and I to give him and his fiance marriage counseling. Thankfully, JP and Natalie both speak English. God continues to give us opportunities to be involved in people's lives. If it goes poorly, perhaps Dave Luther could use a vacation to Costa Rica.

The kids are all doing great. Camden gets dragged around at play practice 2 or 3 times a week (he's playing the part of a dead guy), basketball is going great, and he had his first 4-hit ball game with the team we play for every Sunday. Mason is having fun making and throwing paper "stars", writing new "Stick-Man Ninja" comics, and playing soccer. Karis is still enjoying gymnastics (she can do a cartwheel, something her mother still hasn't mastered). Ellie is in an "accelerated talking phase" where she must get in around 50,000 words every day. Unfortunately for us, Maria just returned to Nicaragua. Now April and I get the brunt of Ellie's constant questioning. I love answering questions like, "Will you still be strong if you're skinny?" "Why do you have to wear rings if you're married?" "Why do boys have hair all over their bodies?" For the past month we've been referring these questions to Maria so she could practice her English.

We miss our family and friends, just not enough to come home just yet. After all, it was a breezy 85 today. Until next time...

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Hola! It's been a crazy month for the Dice's in Costa Rica. We had a birthday, a visit from 16 family members, Maria came back for another month, and we have had a ton more school work this tri.
It is a whole new ball game. We now have learned all 14 of the verb tenses, we just don't know how to use them all yet. I am considering taking the 3 hour grammar exam at the end of the tri for college credit. Jeff is considering death by lethal injection. Really no difference, except Jeff's solution is painless and quicker. I have started studying for it already.

The 15th was Karis's birthday. She had a blast. 7 kids came over for brownies and games. (See the pic above.)

On January 24th, the whole Palmer clan arrived for a family vacation. That is Aunt Beth and Uncle Lee and their kids and grand-kids as well as Aunt Jody. For those of you at Brown's that includes Treena and Duane Hall and Todd and Lori Palmer. It was pretty awesome because many of the kids had never flown or been to another country besides Canada. They spent the first day with us exploring around San Jose and then headed for the beach. They enjoyed exploring and snorkeling. The fun was mixed with jelly-fish stings and sunburns!

Aunt Beth was gazing at the moon, tripped, fell, and broke her nose! She was walking with Guillermo, the guide and bus-driver. He says he tried to save her, but she was sure that hand on her back was pushing not pulling! Actually, he felt terrible and Aunt Beth loved to tease him about it. Ellie told Aunt Beth that she had very colorful eyes. I guess that was true since they were black and blue!

After school on Friday, we took the public bus and met the family in Monte Verde. It was a five hour trip. The bus was packed and people stood in the aisles the entire way! Our hotel, the Monte Verde Inn, was at the edge of the jungle. We got to see monkeys, coatis (a type of raccoon), sloths, tarantulas, a porcupine, wolf-spiders, a huge ant mound, and lots of other bugs! It was pretty awesome. We went on a suspension bridge walk high up in the rain forest. It was something right out of Tarzan complete with hanging vines. As David said, "On your wonderful works I will meditate." God is amazing.

Next we took a boat ride to the Volcan Arenal. The drive to the lake was amazing. I am convinced that we just need to move all our family and friends down here. We'll just have to wait for the housing market to come back up! Los Lagos, our hotel, had pools warmed by the volcano!

This was our only trip outside of San Jose and we really enjoyed doing it with the family. We are so blessed to have them. There were a few tears (mostly mine!), but Treena let me borrow her noise-maker (a machine that makes noise so you can sleep), and the next day I was fine and Jeff didn't need to push me off a suspension bridge! It was an amazing experience none-the-less.

I have been really enjoying the experience down here. It has been so different from normal life. I didn't realize the weight I carried around at home. The weight of concern for others in our church and family. A friend told us that God's shoulders are big enough to handle the weight of the world. We can't carry it ourselves. I am convinced I need to pray more and worry less, but I guess that probably isn't news to anyone!

Well, I'm going to leave you all in God's hands. Mine just aren't big enough.
Love to all,