Finding the Floor

We are winning the battle.  The 8 days since our move to Atenas have been filled with sortie after sortie on boxes, dirt,  and clutter.  In a climate with windows open most of the day, even the stuff we are regularly using gets coated with grime.  So, of course the things we had in storage all needed a good scrub.  Add to that the “conquering instinct” within me that wants to clean each nook, corner, and shelf before any of our stuff touches down, and you have an idea of our busy week.  The opposition’s one last stronghold is the office/school room.  Today I will launch an offensive to neutralize the area.  Every day, we take more ground, and liberate more of the floor in our house.  Freedom feels good.  Our nest is becoming cozy.

We’ve stormed some beaches in the ministry arena, too.  Matt has led (and driven) his first two teams on their beach outing, and gotten up to speed on the children’s therapy needs in the Home this week.  With three heaping carts between the two of us, we bought the groceries for the team arriving today, and packed out the car with farmer’s market produce.  We laughed about me practicing yoga in the car because the sack of pineapples filled up the passenger foot room.  I spent some quality time sorting the pantry in the team cabin, and got all sorts of inspiration for shopping lists organized by store aisle and price comparison expeditions.  Things are going well and we are making a difference here.

2013-12-28 La Paz Arenal 047 tilt crop 2 cwebWe still have bumps, though.  While we’ve been living in Costa Rica for over 10 months now, changing houses, cities, and assignments —all at the same time—is its own brand of culture shock.  This morning, when my glasses got bent out of shape, I did, too.  What was a 5 minute drive and a 5 minute fix in Omaha, is an unknown undertaking here in our new home.  We got a lead on a place to try and scouted it out, but they were closed.  Without a schedule posted on the door, or a phone number to call, we’ll try again next week.  Hopefully, my gaze can get straightened out before our visit home in August.

We’ve come a long way.  We are settling into a rhythm of where things go around the house, and how to pitch in around Hogar de Vida.  The smell of baking bread has christened our kitchen.   Seeing the curtains from our Nebraska house flutter in the Costa Rican breezes does something sweet in my heart.   Our footsteps are beating some paths to familiar ground, but our toes are still nudging around in many areas.  We treasure your friendship and prayers as we walk through this transition.  There is still more floor to find.





Best of Times, Worst of Times

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.”  I haven’t read Dickens’ Tale of Two Cities since I cast away the polyester uniform skirt of high school, but I woke up this morning thinking about its famous opening line.  Because, my dear friends, this season of language school qualifies for both monikers.

Zarcero Town Square GardensIt’s the best of times.  We are making lifelong friendships with incredible people who are following Jesus’ call to the nations.  There’s an adventure waiting every time we step outside of our gate.  What new expression will we learn?  What breakthrough are we going to have in our ability to communicate?  What is the Lord going to do today with the offering we are lifting up?  The language and culture are opening up before us.  Day by day, we grow and learn to love it more.  There are small victories, like hanging a picture up on the wall to add warmth to your living space, finding great recipes for the unusual fruits and vegetables at the farmer’s market, or having an intelligible chat with a Tico neighbor.  Then there’s the incredible love and support from people back in the states.  Phone calls and letters that are like physical embraces.  A monthly contribution statement testifying the sacrificial giving to this work that the Lord is doing through our family, like shouts of encouragement and blessing from across the miles.  This experience is humbling and amazing.

Step with CareIt’s the worst of times.  Language learning reduces doctors, teachers, and pastors alike into stuttering toddlers.  All those cute mistakes our kids made in English don’t feel as amusing when we utter them in Spanish for the 40th time as well-educated grown ups.  Tears spring up unlooked-for in classes from time to time.  And the term “culture shock” isn’t an exaggeration.  In their first week here, one family lost all their shoes set out 10 feet behind their wrought iron gate to someone’s ingenuity with a fish-hook and line.  One sweetheart in the preschool is still trying to hold back the tears each morning as she lets go of her parent’s hand.  We were regularly shorted change by taxi drivers until we thought to ask our teacher about the way things should work.  While we are making this our home, at times everything here can feel very foreign.  There are potholes to be avoided in our emotional adjustment that are just as real as those we step around on the sidewalk.  And sometimes, as hard as you try to walk carefully, you twist an ankle anyway and find yourself hobbling through the week.

Heliconia--Lobster Claw Flowers

As the hands and feet of a community of people investing into God’s heart for the nations, we need your prayers.  The increase of work involved with our 2nd trimester feels somewhat like a pressure cooker.  The opportunity to expand our fluency is exciting, but the hours of effort involved in pressing through the learning process can be heavy.   Several of us, our family included, are also still raising monthly support for this ministry that the Lord has called us to.  We would be honored if you would consider yourself invited to join with us in a financial way.  You can find our family’s giving information <here>.

It grieved my heart when our neighbors hacked their flowering bushes to the ground mid-bloom back in October.  But this girl from the prairie didn’t know then, that in a month, the plants would spring back up in better shape and bloom more abundantly.  As missionaries in language school, we are in a season of pruning.  We press on, looking forward to the flowers and fruit that The Vine has planned for our branches.

Where Feet May Fail

Spirit lead me
    where my trust is without borders.
Let me walk upon the waters,
    wherever you would call me.
Take me deeper
    than my feet could ever wander,
And my faith will be made stronger
    in the presence of my savior.  Hillsong United: Oceans (Where Feet May Fail)

The Ultimate Culture Shock

This last Christmas I spent a lot of time thinking about the differences between Jesus’ life in heaven, and what he stepped down into, to be made flesh and live among us.  Let’s see, from being able to dive into the rainbow of glory and the embrace of the Father, to walking by faith and not sight.  From being a focal point of heaven’s adoration, to growing up a poor commoner of an oppressed nation.  From the fellowship of mighty beings calling out the holiness of God, to being jostled in dusty streets by those doubting His goodness.

That, my friends, is culture shock.

Learning life here in Costa Rica, I feel some of it, too.  After four months of “no way,” I honestly got emotional the other day in the grocery store.  I let myself use my fun money to buy a favorite treat: Swiss cheese at $8 a pound (in Nebraska, you pay $4).  I cried the first time we test drove a car for sale because I missed my “Ferrari”—our nice used minivan purchased with 90,000 miles on it.  When my dear mentor was dealing with a sore hip and couldn’t reach her toenails to cut them, it broke my heart.  The offer to stop by every week for a little pedicure was on the tip of my tongue, but nail clippers don’t work over the phone.  These are small things, I know.  But life in a new culture is full of them.  They pile up around you, and sooner or later you have to work through them if you are going to move forward.

We know that Jesus dealt with changes much greater and more profound. He gave up his face time with the father and all that he had, to walk out God’s calling.  He even did it without sinning.  What does that mean to us?  To me, it means that he is worthy to ask us to live in a new way to bring the Father glory.  When something is hard for us, Jesus understands.  We don’t have to hide the struggle. He’s ready and waiting for us to invite him into the furnace, and he has the power to help us walk through the flames.  Swiss cheese or no Swiss cheese.

Light of Dawn

This High Priest of ours understands our weaknesses, for he faced all of the same testings we do, yet he did not sin.  So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God.  There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most.  Hebrews 4:15-16

In all their suffering he also suffered,
    and he personally rescued them.
In his love and mercy he redeemed them.
    He lifted them up and carried them
    through all the years.  Isaiah 63:9