Friday, July 27, 2012

Costa Rica

July 24, 2012

We have just spent the last hour getting to know Sarah's Mom, Connie. All of that talk is front in my mind so I hope I can recall the day! Ruth was gone all day in order to get Connie and Kerry, Sarah's sister, from the airport, so we have been mostly on our own!

This morning, I got up early to get my shower in anticipation of Carlos coming to work with Jerry on the ceiling. Carlos did come around 8, and he and Jerry climbed around like monkeys on top of the walls hanging the ceiling. I could tell that Jerry was frustrated this morning because of the slowness of the job. They were using a dull knife, a corded drill, and no ladder. They were able to get half of the ceiling hung though, and Jerry got a lot of the painting finished.

Once, when Jerry went out to the porch to grab some pieces of ceiling, he spotted a snake. He called Carlos out to identify it and, of course, Jerry had to pick it up! Fortunately, they determined that the snake was not poisonous, but Sarah was not thrilled about the whole experience!

Sarah and I spent most of the morning preparing for the class we will teach for the women of Arbolitos tomorrow. We will be teaching them to paint picture frames and to make knotted bracelets. We will have activities for the children as well. Both Sarah and I have experience in teaching art classes, but not in Spanish! We also spent time cleaning up the room to make it ready. Marianna spent a lot of time with us again today.

We ate lunch early today because Carlos was hungry. We had rice and beans, tortillas, plantains, cheese, and jello. We also had really yummy corn tortillas. We talked with Carlos quite a bit since Ruth was not there. He was telling us about the tigers (jaguars) in the jungle. When we asked him if he had seen tigers in the jungle, he said, "yes" but he was not afraid because he had his gun and machete with him! We will be going to the jungle tomorrow, I hope we do not see any tigers!!!

After lunch, we came back to the house and headed out again to deliver invitations to the women on o street. We followed Ruth's directions and were able to hand out each invitation. As we were coming down a steep, muddy driveway at the last house, I slipped and fell right on my bottom! What a muddy mess! It was raining when we returned and I decided to just stand out in the rain to wash off my clothes. It turned into a very refreshing shower! Sarah joined me and we just got completely soaking wet! It was great!

After drying off, we spent a little time finishing up the preparations for our class. Just as we finished, it was almost time for dinner, so,we took a walk down the road to find the puperia (store). Jerry picked up a few sodas, but he was disappointed that they had no chocolate candy! We walked to the school(right across from Ruth's house) in order to check our Internet connection. It turned out to be like an Internet cafe, with several local people and us sitting on the concrete porch with our computers! I was so excited to get some great professional news!

Supper tonight consisted of pork, rice and beans, tomato, cheese, bread, and jello. It was just Jerry, Sarah, Ruth's mother in law, and I. We ate quickly and then returned to finish our online work. We walked back in the dark and got to the house just before the rain. Shortly after being back, Ruth arrived with Kerry and Connie. It has been a full day, but also a fulfilling one!

July 25, 2012
7:00 am

Happy Birthday Alden! We are hoping to be able to call our boy today, since he is turning 10, but there is no telling whether or not we will be able to find a signal with Ruth's cell phone. I feel sure there will not be Internet since we had a huge storm last night. The lightening and thunder were big and it rained hard all night. The power went out sometime in the middle of the night, but it is back on this morning.

I am surprised to hear everyone up this morning since we stayed up to chat so long last night. We are all looking forward to going to the farm with Ruth and Carlos. It will be the first time in the boat and on the river for all of us except Jerry.

It sounds like Sarah is making breakfast. Time to get the day started!

July 25, 2012

It was a hard day today. It was also a good day. I miss my kids and my home more than ever. I miss being clean! I think I am going to go to Mike and Debbie's when I get home and soak in their pool in the chlorine for a whole day! The only time I have felt like this before was when we went backpacking for four days and didn't bathe the whole time. I took three showers today: one this morning to start the day, one when we got back from the jungle, and one at the end of the day. I feel relatively clean after a shower, but with everything I do here, I either get hot and sweaty or really dirty! Today was the first day it really bothered me. Now that I have my complaining out of the way, I'll write about what made it a really good day!

Sarah made eggs and coffee for breakfast today. We were expected at Ruth's house by 8:00 to get on the boat to go to their farm. Ruth and Carlos bought land across the Sarapique River for a farm and Pastor Retreat Center. There is a real need for pastors and their families to have a place to go where they can rest and learn. We had to go down steep wooden stairs to the river, where we climbed into their covered boat. I was surprised at how long and narrow the boat was. It reminded me of a really long canoe with a motor and a roof. Ruth's dog, Sargento, went with us. He doesn't seem to care much for the boat ride, but he loves being at the farm!

Carlos goes to farm on a regular basis. He goes across the river and then walks about 20 minutes through the jungle to get there. We went all the way by river; down the Sarapique and then up the Toro River. The rivers are amazing. We didn't see gators or anything in the water, but it was enough to know that they were there! The trees and vegetation are beautiful. We saw banana and plantain trees, sugar cane, and so much more. The property line is where the Toro River and Rio Negro (Black River) meet. Jerry says it reminds him of pouring milk into coffee because the light and dark waters meet and swirl together.

When we arrived at the farm, we climbed up a steep, muddy bank. There is an old house there with wooden rocking chairs, made by Carlos, on the porch. An old cabinet, also on the porch is full of tiny honey bees. We walked around looking at Carlos' cows, the hill Ruth dreams of building on, trees with macaw nests hanging from them, a cacao tree (chocolate bean), and many coconut trees. We also saw where Carlos cuts trees to make planks and posts.

Carlos took us on a short hike through the jungle. I couldn't believe we were actually in the rainforest! One of the first things I noticed was how dark it was. Carlos warned us to look carefully before touching anything! The trees are enormous! I particularly loved the trees with their roots growing out of the ground. We saw tiny little orange frogs and many plants that are house plants at home! The ground was muddy and wet (go figure!) and it was steep in most places. I took another slide down a hill on my rear which seems to be a daily occurrence recently! When we came out of the jungle, we were wet and tired and it was only a fifteen minute walk!

When we returned to the little farm house, Carlos knocked a coconut down for each of us. He used his machete to cut it open and we drank the coconut milk. It was sweet and clear. It is a little messy to drink from a coconut, but we just came out of jungle so who cares! Carlos made a spoon from the top of his coconut and used it to cut the coconut meat from the middle for us to eat. I couldn't finish all of mine, it was too filling!

After our tropical treat, we got back on the boat, (which I managed to do without falling again!) and went back to Arbolitos. It was a great adventure! It seemed like enough for the day, we were all so tired, but it was only lunchtime and we still had a class to teach later in the day! For lunch, we had spaghetti, green beans, rice and beans, peyibaye, pineapple, plantains, tortillas, and cheese.

After lunch, I went to the edge of the yard, near the school, to check my email. Since I had been wearing boots all morning on our adventure and my feet were hot, I thought the wet grass might feel good on my bear feet. I was reading an email from Renee when I noticed the fire ants on my feet, but I really wanted to respond to her! After several minutes of shifting from one foot to the other, my feet were on fire! I ran back to the outdoor sink to wash my feet but it didn't help! I stepped into a mud puddle and scrubbed mud on my feet until the burning subsided! When I finally washed the mud off, I had red whelps all over my feet!

We had a few moments after lunch before people arrived for our class, so we decided to download my pictures onto Sarah's laptop. We enjoyed glancing through the photos from the last seven days and sharing stories with Sarah's mom and sister. I was pouring paint when Sarah handed the SD card back and I accidentally dropped it into the paint. I thought I would cry! There are over over 2200 pictures so far on that card! I quickly washed it off and it turned out to be fine! Thank goodness they were at least on Sarah's computer!

We taught a painting class at the library this afternoon for the women of Arbolitos. Sarah and I (through the translation of Ruth) taught the ladies basic color mixing and painting skills. We had them paint picture frames with acrylic paint. It is really hard to teach people who don't speak the same language! I really wanted to be able to communicate with them. We had 14 women, and about 7 children came to do activities with Connie and Kerry. The women did a great job on their frames and they seemed to have fun. One lady told Ruth that she could tell that I was a teacher because I was bossy. I told her that that it wasn't because I was a teacher, it was because I was a woman! She got a kick out of that!

Jerry and Carlos finished hanging half of the ceiling in the guesthouse today. Jerry also got a good start on the wiring in the house Ruth is using for the used clothing store. He is hoping to finish that tomorrow. We are all impressed and appreciative of Jerry's hard work, so we decided to reward him with Tootsie Rolls!

We were all dragging on the way to dinner tonight! As usual though, the food was excellent! I will have a hard time adjusting to cooking again! Tonight we ate a dish called "Colorful Rooster" which is rice and beans mixed together. We also had an egg and cheese mixture and breadfruit, which tastes like sweet French fries. There was cheese, pineapple, leftover spaghetti, and tortillas. I certainly never leave hungry!

We used Ruth's cell phone tonight to call Alden for his birthday. We had to stand upstairs in the corner of Ruth's house. We used the speaker phone so we wouldn't have to move the phone and risk losing the signal! It was great to hear his voice! He said he sort of missed us! I'm really glad they are having fun on their trip! So far, we have gotten emails from Carter, Trevor, and Renee, and we got to speak to Alden. I suppose that will sustain me for the next couple of days!

It has not rained since this morning. We haven't lost power (except for Jerry tripping the breaker while he was installing a light fixture!) or Internet today! I wonder if it will storm tonight! Only two more nights for us in Arbolitos!

July 26, 2012

I slept really well last night until something started biting my feet. At first, I thought it was the whelps from the fire ants itching me again, but when I got up and looked, I realized that I had new bug bites all over my feet! It was driving me crazy! I have been here for 8 days without any real problem and suddenly, it is like the word got out that I am sweet to munch on! I tried the bite remedy that Kim gave me, and that provided some temporary relief. I sprayed bug spray on my feet and legs, but they kept biting! I thought I was going to climb the walls! Finally, in desperation, I begged God to take them away. I asked Him to protect me from new bites and stop the itching. Miraculously, He did it! The itching stopped and I slept once again! Unfortunately, it came back now that I am awake!

It is a beautiful morning! The sky is blue. Maybe it is a good day to wash clothes so they will dry!

July 26, 2012

I am so tired! We just returned from a church service in Las Marias, a town about an hour away (10 miles). I rode in the back of Ruth's SUV so that we could all go. The roads are dirt and rock with massive potholes, so it was quite a bumpy ride. We stopped in La Gata on the way to deliver the gift we painted for Salvador and Ana. While we were there, Ana served us some Nance fruit. She had soaked it in sugar water, so it was sweet and yummy.

We also had time to play UNO with Milena and Michael, and David. It was fun, but playing with Salvador and Ana's children makes me really miss mine. I have really enjoyed visiting with them though! I love sitting in their kitchen and having everyone gather around to talk -it reminds me of my home! If I ever moved to Costa Rica, I would want to live in La Gata! I even have a house picked out that I would want live in! Don't worry though, I don't think it is for sale!

When we arrived in Las Marias, I was surprised in the difference between this village and the others we have visited. Las Marias is a town full of "free" houses. They are small houses that the government provides. They are on tiny lots, packed in close together. There is one huge, sprawling, stucco mansion right before you get into town. It is the only house I have seen like it here and it seems grossly out of place!

I decided to write about our experience at church last night while we were there:

We are sitting in an open air church in Las Marias, Costa Rica. It is in various stages of being built. The front wall of the sanctuary is the back wall of Pastor Franklin's house, where he lives with his family. His house is basically enclosed with a piece of plastic. There is a wall to my right and a partially built wall on the left. The ceiling is tin and the windows and doors are simply openings. You can see between the planks that make up the walls. It is dark now, but earlier when it was just reaching dusk, a bat was flying around. Right now, I am wishing he was here because he would be eating the bugs that are eating me!

I am so hot and sweaty! We are sitting on crudely made wooden benches and the floor is packed mud. It is not comfortable here. It occurs to me that these people did not come here to be comfortable, they came to worship God! What devotion they demonstrate! This Pastor is preaching to the people. I can't understand what he is saying, but I can tell that he is passionate about what he is saying and the people are intent and involved in what he is saying! These people are not distracted by the building materials stacked up against the wall or the heat or even the bugs, they are focused on the Word of the Lord!

Besides us, there are 12 people here along with some children. They take turns leading the music and reading Scripture. The Pastor's son, Wesley, who is four took up the offering. Afterward, a woman came up to pray and give thanks to God and Pastor Franklin and Wesley knelt before the alter together. Pastor Franklin seems to be a very humble man!

Both of our church experiences have been life changing. As I told Ruth, understanding the words the Pastor is speaking is not the only way to hear God speaking in church!

Flashing back to the rest of the day, we spent a lot of time in the morning getting Sarah ready for her class in La Gata on Saturday. I worked on writing/drawing directions for pop tab bracelets for Ruth to teach to the Rama women. Connie recorded the reading of English books for the Rama. Kerry organized some other supplies in the library. Connie had packed a hard drive in her suitcase for Ruth but unfortunately, it is missing.

Jerry spent the whole morning working on the electricity in the used clothing store. Ruth will go from having no electricity to having outlets and lights! It is obviously a much needed ministry in Arbolitos and it will provide her with a small income as well.

We all walked over to Ruth's for lunch around noon. We had our usual meal of beans and rice, tortillas, chicken and potatoes, and today we had papaya. By the end of lunch, my feet were itching so badly and Sarah's were bothering her too! I think I was having an allergic reaction to the fire ant bites from the day before.

We walked back to the house, and heated water to fill a plastic tub. Sarah and I soaked our feet and ankles to try to draw out the itch and soothe the discomfort. Kerry joined us just to try to clean her feet! The warm water felt so good even though we were hot and sweaty! After a bit, my feet began to swell and tingle. After a cold shower, some Ibuprofin, and a little rest, I felt like I might survive!

I walked to the pulperia to buy Jerry a Coke while he took a shower and put on his new shirt that I bought him at the used clothing sale in La Gata. A large Coca Cola is 500 colones here. That works out to about one dollar. On my way, I saw Mariana and her mom, Mirya, picking manzanas de agua (water apples). She gave me three and I brought them back to the house to try. Connie sliced them and we all tasted them. I did not like them at all!

After church, we ate the dinner that Concepcion had packed us. We ended up waiting until we got back to house to eat. I had tuna salad on a tortilla. We were so tired we just went to bed!

We are definitely winding down here. Jerry and Carlos are planning to finish the ceiling today. (this post is a combination of last night and this morning, July 27, 2012, 7:30am). As I am lying in my bed writing this, a board appears over the top of wall. Carlos has hauled it down to serve as scaffolding. Jerry also wants to finish the electricity. I expect to use my day to pack and clean the house to prepare for the next group from Franklin Baptist. Sarah will be staying for another week, but Jerry and I are heading to San Jose for a couple of days alone before we go home. Connie and Kerry will head home tomorrow. We will need to be on the boat by 6:30 tomorrow morning!

It rained hard sometime during the night, but it is not raining now. It is hot and humid, but very cloudy.

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