From Here to There

Something shifted yesterday.  It happened somewhere between putting my KitchenAid on the counter for the first time, and figuring out that the $6 painting scored from departing missionaries was going to look great in the dinette.  Maybe it was finding those two inches to scoot the sofa over, giving us a bit more space to pass behind the armchair to the hallway.  It could have been discovering that my Rubbermaid canisters and some spices will work on the shelf built for–but unable to accommodate–our microwave.  I know the cup of chai on the sofa and the strategy session with Matt helped.

Somewhere along the morning, the house we are moving into in Atenas became home.

Last Saturday, bright and early, after 9 months of language study and 2 complex final exams, our transition to Atenas began.  We followed the lion-share of our belongings down the highway, praying along the miles for dry skies.  And that the twin mattress on top wouldn’t succeed in its ambition to learn to fly.  I ran bucket brigade when the 6″ capped pipe protruding from the wall where the fridge goes (that we were told we could trim back) turned out to be a pressurized water line, rather than a drain line.  Our awesome neighbor hack-sawed a padlock to gain access to the house’s water shut off valve, and built us a wall-hugging cap with its own shut off.

2013-12-30 La Paz Arenal 043 cwebWhile incredibly grateful for the miracles–a dry transport, a re-roped mattress, a now-dry kitchen floor, a house full of things to help us do life–I was also exhausted on every level.  Our comfortable furniture (a rare find here) was uncomfortably large for the living room.  The piles of boxes and sudden appearance of appliances made the 1,050 square feet feel very small.  Every conceivable surface needed to be cleaned.  I knew that God would settle my heart over time.  I knew that we would find places for everything and joy in the house God had given our family.  But sometimes the space between the dreaming and the coming true is hard ground to travel.

Back in San Jose for the kids’ last week of school, I continued to pack, pray, and process.  Our language school house feels barren without all of our family’s comfortable things, and that has helped to point our focus toward the place the Lord is planting us.  Yesterday, under cover of the school day and a play date, Matt and I loaded up the car to critical mass and head to Atenas.  And the Lord moved.

The walls were in the same places, but the space in my heart expanded.   We still have a mountain of scrubbing and sorting to climb, but I’m starting to appreciate the view again.  Today the kids close their books on this school year.  This weekend we begin life in our new home.  And because of the Lord’s gentle, patient work within me, that feels like a great thing.




Catching Up…

Here are the happenings around the home…

Kris finished up her final day with the preschool kids today. Barb, the missionary that teaches the preschool returned from her time at home in the states and will be back at the school on Monday. Kris will now be spending some time pouring into another group of children at the home. There are a few children who are not infants but are not yet old enough to be in the preschool. At times that age group gets a little less attention because they aren’t in school and they aren’t one of the babies crying for attention. Kris is praying into how God would use her with those kids in our remaining time here at the home. She is also looking forward to doing more baking so she can share cookies and scones with the people here at the home.

I am continuing to split my time between physical therapy and working with the men around the home. The physical therapy with the children has focused on the infants that have delays so I work with them in the infant stimulation room next to the school. I have also been trying to help the staff around the home. Many of them have orthopedic problems, often related to the very physical jobs they do here. This has been a hit and miss thing as I have a moment here or there. I joked that I need to set up a table and just line up the staff so I can really get a chance to work on each of them as well. Hopefully the Lord will create opportunities for that in the rest of my time here.

Earlier this week Yorleni (one of the tias) asked me to come help Denia (another tia) with her back problems. Yorleni would like to go to school to be either a nurse or a therapist so she sat beside us the whole time I was working with Denia asking questions and trying to take notes on what I was doing. After a few minutes she ran to our cabin to get the English-Spanish dictionary because we were running into too many words we couldn’t understand. After about an hour and a half working with the two of them I asked Denia how she felt. Denia said she was better but I could tell in her voice it was really only a little better. I said she should blame Yorleni because I ended up doing more talking about therapy than I did actually working on her back problem!

On the days I work with the men our main project has been to put in a gray water septic system for a washing machine and sink in one of the homes. They used the backhoe to put in the water tank and we then dug a trench (by hand, with a shovel and pick) for the water to drain from the tank. After digging the trench it was filled with large rocks and gravel then covered back over with dirt. All that remains are a few connections with the pipes leading to the tank and maybe putting in some grass over the dirt. When I see the kids after working with the men I tell them I played with rocks and dirt all day! Aside from that project there is a lot of time spent mowing around the home. Hot, humid, weather with lots of sun and lots of rain makes the grass grow quickly.

This afternoon we were blessed by Debbie Bastian and her kids. Debbie and her husband Tom work as missionaries here in Atenas. Tom is an engineer and his group helps missionaries throughout Central America design, plan and build homes, offices, etc that they need for their work. We met them when we were here last year at Hogar de Vida. Tom is away in Mexico working on a project so Debbie offered to watch Eliana and Elijah for a while so Kris and I could go out and have some time for ourselves. She even loaned us their car so we could get around town. The kids played while Kris and I did some shopping. (I know everyone will be shocked to hear that I bought three soccer jerseys!) We stopped at a bakery for some fresh pastries and walked around a few of the small shops in Atenas. After shopping we went out for dinner at a small restaurant (they call it a soda).

If you have never been to Central America it is hard to describe the differences walking around the downtown here compared to America. I can say it seems haphazard because things seem so disorganized. It is like a mix of a larger town and a small town together. There are few chains, most of the stores are like small family places and if you are not from the area it can be hard to tell what exactly are stores and what are not. If you can determine that it really is a store you never exactly know what they will be selling until you go inside. We walked past a store and I asked Kris what they were selling. She replied that they had a selection of fabrics for sale along with toiletries. So if you were looking to buy supplies for a quilt while picking up some deodorant and hairspray that was your place! The name super mercado (supermarket) also has an entirely different meaning here. The actual large supermarket is maybe the size of a small town grocery store but overall it is probably smaller. Of course there are a lot of little places that call themselves a supermarket that might be 300 square feet at best.

This weekend we hope to rest, pray and go to worship. I want to spend some time reading and Kris wants to spend some time making cookies, scones and bread. Thank you all for being with us on this trip in your thoughts and prayers.