Monday, July 23, 2012

Costa Rica 3

July 21, 2012

I experienced so much today that I don't know where to begin. My mind has been flipping back and forth between trying to understand and speak Spanish with the people of La Gata, and speaking English. By the end of the day, Jerry would ask me a question and I would try to answer him in Spanish! It completely blew my mind!

We woke early today, ate a breakfast of eggs and a banana, and packed the car to return to La Gata. They were having a town meeting today so families came from the far reaches of the town. Many walked from the home, a few came on motorcycle, even fewer cars. Most people here do not own cars, though we have seen several Land Rovers which really excites Jerry! Because of the meeting, Ruth's friend, Salvador, thought it would be good to have the clothing sale. We planned children's activities and crafts for the day. We were looking forward to seeing the kids from the day before.

Several kids came as soon as we arrived this morning. I was glad Jerry came with us so he could meet them too! Jeremy, 8, my little photographer, Danny, a gentleman, 13, Wilmer, and the other Wilmer, 14, his girlfriend, Casey, 9, Stephanie, Melvin, Leo, and many others! Some of these from yesterday, some just came today. We began, like yesterday, by playing a game of UNO. Jerry tried to understand their rules, but I think they were making them up as they went along!

After a while, we decided to play some games with the kids. We had made sponge balls by tying strips of sponge together and we used those to play toss in the bucket and some other relay games. We made yarn crosses by wrapping yarn around Popsicle sticks. The kids were increasing in numbers as we got close to the time for the meeting at two, and though we stopped to eat lunch, they wanted to play all day long! Some kids did not stop to eat lunch, get a drink, or rest! It was a nice, sunny day with very little rain after the morning.

After our games, the kids wanted to play hide and seek. I attempted to count to 50 in Spanish while they hid. They had fun since I was not fast enough to catch them before they could reach home base! They all pitched in to find Wilmer and Melvin who hid behind the school. Once we found them, I spotted the rodeo corral and convinced the kids to take me there to take pictures. We climbed up onto the platform where we found a huge beetle which they called a cornisuala ! The boys went down into the corral where they played El Torro (bull in the ring)!

The kids led us to the Rio Susio (Dirty River). A couple of iguana jumped in as we approached, but I missed that! The children climbed a tree to get a fruit for us to try and then found another that had brown liquid coming out. The first, guayaba, you eat like an apple and tastes similar to a pear. The second, miel de coco, you bite the skin off and suck on the nut with brown liquid. It tastes something like molasses but not as sweet. We played keep away soccer and Melvin and Wilmer were really good!

When we returned from the river, we added water to the sponge balls and played water games. Sarah got really wet!!! After a while, Casey and little Wilmer took over and started creating and organizing games. The kids were great at communicating with us and they taught us quite a bit of Spanish. We taught them a little English. We did another craft, salvation bracelets with colored beads. We said the colors in Spanish, they said them in English! One little girl, Stephanie, knew lots of English words!

By the end of the day, we were exhausted! We played with all of those kids from 9 am until about 6 pm! Poor Jeremy was falling asleep in Sarah's arms by the end of the day! The people fed us twice today. Anna, Salvador's wife, cooked pasta and chicken. We were served pork and rice and beans for supper. When we got home, Ruth's mother in law had another dinner prepared! More pork, rice and beans, cheese, tomato salad, and tortillas.

There was a couple from Canada waiting for us when we returned. They were previously here, but have served as missionaries several places, including Haiti. Ruth had a lot to discuss with them.

There were three older children/adults in La Gata today that have special needs. At least two of them have Down Syndrome. They interacted in most things we did and I was impressed by the support and love they have in their community! I really did fall in love with the children in La Gata. I hope I will return one day!

July 22, 2012

We slept late today. It is Sunday and we will be going to church this afternoon in another town. Sarah and I are hoping to use the morning to organize the library and finish some of our projects.

Last night while we were getting showers, the water stopped. Ruth has a pump that leads to a tank up on a platform and that gravity feeds to the house. Sarah had a full shower, I had a drip, and Jerry washed his feet off from a pan of water we were able to squeeze out of the sink. We let the pump run for 10 minutes and there still was no water so we went to bed and Jerry will look at it today. I do hope we will be able to get showers!

It is raining steadily as it has every morning we have been here! I look forward to seeing what the day brings!

July 22, 2012
9:00 pm

Jerry made breakfast for us today. We ate it in the library while we worked on sorting craft supplies. None of us had showers before breakfast since our well pump wasn't working, but Carlos came by to fix it in time for us to shower before we left for the day. Maryanna, a little girl from the neighborhood, came by to help in the library.

While we were in the library today, Jerry spotted a beautiful frog out on the sidewalk. It turned out to be a poisonous dart frog, so I am glad we didn't try to catch it. There is not much of a barrier between the inside and outside, so it wasn't long before he came in!

Ruth invited us to come to the house before lunch to pray with Joel and Carol, the couple from Canada, before they left for the day. After our prayer time, Jerry rode on the boat with Carlos to deliver Joel and Carol to their place for the day. We had lunch when Carlos and Jerry returned. Today, it was leftover pork, rice and beans, fresh pineapple, cheese, peyibaye, and a sweet bread with sugar inside. The cheese is a homemade white cheese made by local farmers. Every meal has been excellent!

We left Arbolitos around 2:00 today to go to Jerusalem for church. As we traveled through La Gata, we stopped by Salvador and Anna's home to follow up from the clothing sale. Ruth stepped inside to speak with Salvador and Jerry, Sarah, and I stayed out to play with the birds. Salvador asked why we didn't come in and we explained that Ruth had taught us that you do not go in until invited! They laughed and said we were always welcome! As usual, Anna made coffee and served a snack. Today it was circular crispy treats made of corn. Sarah and I discovered that they were good dipped in our coffee! Anna's coffee is always excellent and I was fascinated watching her make it today. She has a stand that holds a mesh bag or sock. The ground coffee goes in the sock and a metal pitcher is placed under the sock. Anna poured boing water into the sock while stirring and mashing the grounds. Everything here is like this. Everything requires effort, nothing is mindless. Maybe that is why the pace of life seems slower.

We enjoyed the visit with Salvador, Anna, and their daughter, Melina. She is 16, and hoping to correspond with Carter through Facebook. She is very interested in practicing her English. Melina was hoping to play UNO with us today, but we needed to leave for church. Ruth reminded her that Sarah would return Saturday. We helped to load the car with the clothes from the community center down the street. They were unloaded at Salvador's house where he will try to sell them. I will probably not be back in La Gata this trip. I will miss it!

We arrived at the small, outdoor church in Jerusalem in time to greet everyone before the service. Ruth had explained that we would be expected to share and lead a song, so we practiced in the car. I suggested "Father, I adore you" since it is simple and repetitive. Those that know me well would not believe that I sang out loud on the stage!
The service was unusual to us in many ways. There were as many animals at church as people! Many dogs lay in the aisles and under the pews. Chickens walked around the yard and perched in the trees! Of course the entire service was in Spanish. Most people walked to church and children's church was at a house down the street. Some people stood in the road and listened. The preacher is illiterate, so he had another man read the Scripture and then he preached on that verse.

Some things about the service were familiar. There was a lot of singing, reading of Scripture, prayer, and preaching. They took up an offering. The children stayed for the singing and then went to children's church. Everyone greeted each other.

When the service was just about over, the children were not back yet, so one of the men threw a rock at the metal siding on the house to let them know it was time to return! When the children came back, they presented their lesson.

I worked hard to try to understand the preaching. I was able to follow along in my Bible with the Scripture reading and I understood a little, but it was hard! Everyone was very gracious! We gave a woman and her son a ride home so that they wouldn't have to walk, and then we picked up her daughter and grandchildren to do the same. On our way out of town, we saw the preacher walking with his groceries. It was after dark and he had a long way to go so we offered him a ride as well. He let us take him as far as the intersection out of town.

It was 7:00 when we made it home for supper. Joel and Carol were there, and we enjoyed egg and rice tortas, rice and beans, peyibaye, and tortillas. We talked about family, ministry, the mission field, education and more. The fellowship was sweet and we remarked about coming from so far away and meeting people we would have never had a chance to meet otherwise.

Ruth gave us a ride home since we forgot our flashlight again! We made up beds and prepared a place for Joel and Carol since previous accommodations had not worked out for tonight. We are sleeping in a full house tonight!

July 23, 2012
8:15 am

There seemed to be a lot of rain and the thunder I love last night. I heard Joel and
Carol leave very early this morning. As I lay here trying to wake up this morning, my thoughts go quickly to the people we have met in La Gata. Will I see them again? I wonder, what can I do for them, what do they need?

I asked Ruth last night about the average salary of a person working in rural Costa Rica. For someone who works in agriculture, as most of them do, $400 a month is average. She and Carlos are living off of less. The cost of living may be somewhat lower, but food is more expensive and taxes are high. Gas costs $6.00 a gallon, but most people do not have cars. Much of the clothing for these people is second hand. Houses are hand built. Luxuries are few, but people are generally happy.

It will be shocking, and I am guessing a bit repulsive at first, to go back to our way of life. It definitely causes me to want to simplify and prioritize!

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