Saturday, June 13, 2009

A Mule Gets More Rest

“You guys are valiant. Your hard work was inspirational because we know that you are not accustomed to working like this.”

I believe that G-d calls us to be faithful with the little things, and today our little thing seemed big. Today we carried an additional 100 bags of sand up a hill and across a field to the building site. For us weak gringos, this was a daunting task.

Hogar Is Where the Heart Is

For months, we had been making plans to build a house for Pastor Franklin, his wife Yolanda, and their baby. When one of Ana’s (Moshenek) friends heard that we were coming to attempt to do this, he decided to donate an entire crew of his workers to build as much of the house as he could in a day and a half. He even paid for the materials. The only responsibility that he gave us was to prepare meals, and bring the sand.

It was extremely hard work, in very hot conditions, but the L-rd gave Ben and I the strength to complete the task that he set before us, and then he chose to bless our work by using it as a ministry to the Ticos, who are used to lazy gringos.

At this point, we still need to build the second floor, roof, and interior of the house. The team that Cuyo sent has been a tremendous help, but there is always more to be done, and more materials to buy. Please ask for the L-rd’s blessing in this task, so that we can move forward and complete the pastor’s house quickly, as he is currently living in the tiny church building.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

He Likes to Cuddle

I learned something new about Ben Talmadge today. Apparently, he likes to cuddle. I realized this as I was asking him to move to his side of the bed in the middle of the night. It was not exactly a safe night to cuddle with me either, because all night long I had wonderful dreams in which I was becoming a werewolf, and all of my friends were vampires, so I had to fight them all.

Luckily Ben was not injured in said, cuddling while dreaming of violence, incident. Most of the day, was spend traveling to Media Vuelta on the Sarapiqui river. Food is very cheap and very good in Costa Rica, which is a blessing because we ate out twice today, which may be a person record.

I Take My Coffee With Two Flies Please

Upon Arriving in Media Vuelta, Ben got his first introduction into Palmas de Mamre missions and Ana Moshenek. Ana is a little lady who has done missions work in Costa Rica for almost 20 years. She felt a calling when she was in her fifties to leave her successful real estate practice and to a plot of land in the middle of a country that she did not know and did not speak the language. Since then, she has been serving the community through missionary training schools, medical services, and church planting.

When we pulled up in the public boat to the dock of Media Vuelta, we were greeted by an energetic Ana Moshenek, who was simultaneously glad to see us and irritated that we were many hours late. Immediately upon our arrival, Ben and I were directed to her boat, where 30 sacks filled with sand were waiting to be carried up hill and across a small field to the site where we were about to build a new house.

We carried the 50 pound bags, dumped them, and then travelled to a nearby beach where we refilled the bags and repeated the process. All in all, it took about 1:30 hours, and Ben and I each carried about 1500 lbs.

This is not at all an unusual situation in foreign missions, as I am sure will become obvious to any of you who have not had similar experiences. Many missionaries struggle because of the rigors of the work, and it takes a special person to be able to find a balance between getting things done, and caring for your own mind, body, and spirit.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Siesta Anyone?

I slept so much last night. In fact, as I lay in the floor, people were stepping over me and going about their business. When I finally woke up, I went to my sister’s room which is further out of the way and slept some more.

This is what happens to me after traveling for two days without sleep. I go into hibernation mode. Luckily, my first full day in Costa Rica was marked by more than just sleep. My sister, Anna Grace, has been here in the city of San Jose for two weeks now. After a magnificent breakfast prepared by her host mom, Grace, we set out on an adventure to find “botas Ulis” which we gringos refer to as rubber work boots.

I believe that all big cities are fundamentally the same, and that one of those fundamental characteristics is that the people of the city will give you directions to any place that you ask them about whether they know the location or not. This was the struggle as we ran about San Jose asking anyone and everyone where we could buy these boots. Finally, we found a bargain hardware store that carried what we needed, and we were able to take a long, hot bus ride back home in the city of Tibas, which is a part of San Jose.

After another fantastic meal prepared by grace, I began my third round of sleep , which lasted about three hours.

My father is connected with Campus Crusade, which is a ministry to college students, and through his connections, Anna, Ben, and I were able to spend the night with some campus crusade guys and girls, as well as teach an English class, which was a new experience for me.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

40 Hours of Daylight

*** The next several posts will be shorter and without pictures because I am much busier in Costa Rica and have less time to write and take pictures ***

I did not sleep last night. Not a single wink.

Our plane finally arrived at 1:00 AM (3 AM Alabama time). The lady sitting next to me had just finished doing some mountaineering in the Chugach Mountains. She was about 5’2” weighed probably 125 lbs, and had blonde hair and extremely tan skin. The most unusually thing about her was her hands. They were very short and stumpy and covered in scrapes and scars, some of which were more than an inch long. She looked like she could crush my hand in hers if she wanted to. She was reading a book that I think was written in Portuguese or Italian. I could read most of the book, but some of the words were foreign to me.

We landed in Salt Lake City, where we changed planes onto a much smaller aircraft and then flew on to Denver. It seems to me that the further you go east and south on this continent, the prettier the girls become. It was funny for me to see a dozen girls in Atlanta that looked just like the one girl who stood out in Anchorage.

In the Atlanta airport, my dad and I met up with Ben Talmadge. After swapping out luggage, I was left with one backpack containing all of my stuff for two weeks in Costa Rica. After saying our goodbyes, I parted with my dad for the first time in a week, and was about to set out for Costa Rica, but not before the waiter at a restaurant had a chance to spill ketchup all over me. He was extremely apologetic, and I was not particularly bothered by the incident, but the manager still decided to pay for my meal and the waiter brought me some ice cream for dessert.

The flight to Costa Rica was peaceful after that. It was wonderful to see nighttime for the first time in over a week. I sat next to Bryan, who is a senior at Gettysburg College. He is on his way to Costa Rica to live with a family for three months to make up for four semesters of foreign language classes that he needs to graduate. He does not speak any Spanish, and his host family does not speak English.

We caught a taxi to Grace’s house in Tibo. The driver charged us either 18,000 colones (~$36 US) or $25 if we paid in US dollars. Grace lives in a nice big house, with two trees in front of the yard. She is very motherly, and already I feel at home. I am glad that Anna Grace has someone to stay with who will make her feel at home.