Friday, March 26, 2010

Low Expectations

Hey all,

We are finally posting another blog! We have had a very busy week. We had exams in both classes this week and we have been studying a pretty difficult theme in Spanish grammar. Just when we thought we were starting to make some progress, we have to add in subjuntive. Subjuntive basically means when you are talking about emotions or things possible but not real you have to change all of your verbs. Yuck.... It is coming but pretty slowly. I feel like there is a huge ball of string in my head and I have to find the right string at the right moment and pull it out, which means it takes a while to say anything. The one positive is that our comprehension has really taken some huge leaps. We can actually sit through a sermon and understand most of it.

We did learn something pretty interesting about Costa Rican culture last week. We were trying to explain the saying, "don't sweat it." Eugenia, our teacher, told us that it doesn't exist in Spanish because they don't need it! It is us Americans that have to be reminded to relax. (Although, they do say, "tranquillo," which is pretty similar.)
Along the same lines, I read an article about a survey that rated countries according the people's personal happiness. The U.S. was number 15. The surprising thing was that Puerto Rico, Columbia, and Mexico were in the top 10. Crazy isn't it? The survey found that after basic necessities were met, money had very little to do with happiness. Denmark was number 1, because the people there have very low expectations of life. Maybe that is the key!

We leave tomorrow at 5:00 a.m. for Nicaragua. Everyone has Holy Week off and we are taking a group of 33 students to Granada. The Carter's and the Kleinhardt's from Brown's are already there. We can't wait! Also, Maria Pavon, the superintendent's daughter, received an international scholarship to Huntington University. We are so excited! She wants to be a missionary to Africa. She is an amazing young women.

Well, we are off to Nicaragua with very low expectations so I'm sure we'll have a great time!

Love to all,

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Quakes, Moles, & Sheep

Okay, everyone, it is almost unbearably hot here now. We topped 90 degrees and our fan stopped working. I'm almost ready to return to Michigan. Is it in the 70's there yet? We had a fun week last week. First, we had our biggest quake late last Friday night. Our house shook for about 5 seconds. It was a little unnerving. We had just gone to bed, but afterwards I couldn't fall asleep for more than an hour.

A couple of weeks ago April and I were asked to speak during one of our chapel times. So, we did our presentation on Thursday. It went really well as April did most of the sharing.

April finally went to the plastic surgeon this week. However she only got 5 moles removed. One of them was on her forehead which is why a plastic surgeon was recommended. Botox is next on her agenda, though I'm not sure why. I happen to like wrinkles. They go well with my receding and graying hair.

We (I) haven't said much over the last couple of months about our grades. This is because the race was over after the first test in which April scored a 98 on and I scored a 79. However, we received our mid-term grades and the gap was closer than expected: April- 94, Jeff-90. This is probably the last I will report on them as I am conceding the race. My campaign funds are all used up.

April here: I have been studying the Psalms lately. I learned something pretty funny when I was looking at Psalm 23. I thought that is was interesting that it says that the shepherd makes his sheep lie down to rest. He doesn't just give them a choice. He makes them lie down. So, I thought about that. Are sheep too stupid to know that they need to lie down? I looked on the internet and found a lot of info on sheep. A good shepherd often makes his sheep lie down mid-day to ruminate (chew their cud). Also, sheep will not lie down unless they are free from fear, insects, hunger, and fighting. Interesting isn't it? I think that we as humans won't rest until we are free from fear, irritations, hunger (spiritual and physical), and in-fighting. In every case, it is only the Good Shepherd that can bring that freedom.

I really feel like the Lord has made Jeff and I lie down to rest here in Costa Rica. It has been so different from life in Michigan. A time to rejuvenate and be challenged again to pursue Him. We are ready to get back home and ready to serve again. Ready to be surrounded by people we love and that love us. Ready to see God move in MI and Nicaragua. Ready to follow the Shepherd.

See you all soon,
Jeff and April

P.S. I found an article in USA Today from 2005. While the shepherds in Turkey were eating breakfast, one sheep walked off a cliff to his death for no apparent reason. 1500 followed him! 450 died and the rest only survived because of the big pile of sheep at the bottom to break the fall. And we are called sheep over and over again in the Bible, hmm.........

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Spiritual Emphasis Week

Well, it is Wednesday already! We have just completed Spiritual Emphasis Week at our school. It was a great week in so many ways- no homework, good speakers, and the temperature was pretty mild (75-85) all week. Our speakers, Jack & Mary Anne Voekel, shared many of their experiences from over 40 years serving as missionaries in Latin America, with the life of Moses serving as the starting point for each of the 8 services. Of particular note was Thursday evening's service where we "prayed through" the tabernacle. April and I learned much about ourselves and how much God wants to be with us.

It is hard to believe that we only have 2 weeks until Spring Break! We are ready!

Tomorrow is a busy day for us. First, we are speaking in chapel and then April is going in to have a potentially cancerous mole removed on her forehead. Since it's on her face, she has to have a plastic surgeon do the procedure. She is seriously considering having some more work done, but we are not sure our insurance would cover it!

Spring Break should be a blast as we are taking 28 other people with us to Nicaragua! Many students need to renew their visas, so they decided to take advantage of this trip. We are excited to have them all see such a special place. Sunday evening we will all be attending Juan Pavon's church! Plus, there are 2 families from Brown Corners who will be there to do some destruction and rebuilding of the front wall of the Ebenezer Church property, a much-needed project that will be of great benefit to the church and to anyone who has had to drive the microbus into the property!

That's all for today. Until next time....