Sunday, November 27, 2011

Irazu Volcano & Catholic Basilica

It was perfectly clear and sunny outside when we woke up. We thought we were good for traveling to the second highest point in Costa Rica, but we were wrong. We left our house at about 9am and started on our 2 hour drive up to the highest volcano in Costa Rica (11,260 feet!). Once we got there, car sick and stopped up ears, it was completely cloudy and blowing misty rain...and it was probably 40 degrees. Definitely not what I had pictured! We have been told that on a clear day you can see both oceans from the top of Irazu, but we were lucky to see our hands in front of our faces. Why can't I remember to quit traveling during rainy season???
The kids at the highest point...with Flat Stanley sent by friend West Loden

Creepy looks like Jack is on the moon. He's in the middle of the volcano crater with black rocky sand all around.

Josh and Mandi were wet and cold. I'm sure this isn't the Costa Rica they had pictured when they wanted to come visit us. But they were troopers!

Family pic on Irazu Volcano...freezing

Remember riding like this back in the day?

We went to the Roman Catholic Basilica in Cartago on the way home

Walking down the aisle on their knees in penance for sins

Sign on the outside back of the church..."No peeing here"

More walking on knees

Prayers at the front. First advent mass was that night so it was quite busy.

Machine for prayer candles...never seen this before. You deposit your coin and a prayer candle lights up for you.

Water that runs under the church. You can buy a bottle from the gift shop and fill it up with the sewage water. They don't think it's holy water, but since it runs under the church then it must have some sort of healing powers.

Underneath the church there are thousands of these little charms hanging on the walls. I guess you can buy one that represents your prayer and hang it on the wall behind the glass. These are obviously prayers for healing of someone's leg. If you can think of something to pray for, I promise the little charm was available. We saw everything.

You can read more about the Basilica in Cartago here.

Completely worn out after our big day. We all took huge naps when we got home!

Friday, November 25, 2011

A Great Thanksgiving Day

We had a great Thanksgiving Day!
We did have school in the morning (bummer), but our friends Josh and Mandi Warren decided to come visit us for Thanksgiving weekend. What a nice treat! They arrived here in the afternoon and we began our adventure in cooking. Here was our menu: rotisserie chickens from a guy down the street, stove top stuffing, fresh pineapple, mashed potatoes from a box, canned corn, greens beans wrapped in bacon, fresh bread from down the street, and a chocolate pie with vanilla ice cream. It took us about 4 hours to cook everything, but our oven finally got it all done! Yay! It was a nice and relaxing day full of tons of food just like it's supposed to be. We got to talk to our families that evening and went to bed at a decent time for once. Such a great day.

Our pretty table...even found some china in the closet

Molly and Erin sent me a Yankee Pumpkin Pie candle and the Thanksgiving centerpiece for the table. And Will brought me home a Poinsettia from Walmart.

Love it...feels like home

Our room-temperature rotisserie chickens bought from a guy on the street. No one is sick yet, so that's good.

Our spread of food. We even found a classic Christmas station on Pandora to play in the background! So great! Can you tell I was excited?

A full plate makes me so happy!

Thanksgiving dinner

The amazing chocolate pie with ice cream. What a happy girl!

Signs made for the dining room

New cute jammies from home
We've started watching Christmas movies today and listening to Christmas music constantly. It's definitely different getting in the Christmas spirit in 75 degree weather but we're trying. We are getting ready to come home in just 2 weeks. Can't wait! Happy Thanksgiving!!!!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Giving Thanks

I love how the Lord catches my attention. Here I was...minding my own business...feeling sorry for myself that I'm missing Thanksgiving back at home...missing food...pouting about it...writing a facebook status about it...when I read a friend's blog. Thank you Lord for using Stephanie to speak to me today about your goodness. To You alone I give all thanks. Here is what she wrote about being thankful. I love how it's simple and to the point:

I have decided to emphasize not what I am thankful for, but to whom I am giving the thanks. I can honestly say my heart overflows with thanks to the God who gives and the God who takes away. The God who enables me to be thankful in ALL things, in ALL circumstances. The God who alone can satisfy. The God who's love for His children is "so amazing, so divine [it] demands my soul, my life, my all."

Yes, God has richly blessed me, and I am ever grateful. But my thought for this holiday is the assurance that some Thanksgiving, I could be sitting on a park bench, with nothing and no one, and still be just as filled with thankfulness to the God of my salvation.

We do have much to give thanks for and a great God to give all thanks to! Happy Thanksgiving!

From Stephanie Braithwait:

Monday, November 21, 2011

New Pets & People

There are some interesting animals around here in Costa Rica. Nothing seems to look "normal" to me and I'm always thinking it has the possibility of biting me and giving me some jungle disease. Several months ago I posted a blog about our little frog named Agua that Emma loved and carried with her everywhere. Well, shortly after that was written, Agua just disappeared from his little cage. Don't know where he went...he was just gone! Emma was so sad.

Well, the next day we found this in our garden...

Pretty awesome right? Luckily we didn't touch it but just scooped it up and put it in the now-empty little cage. When I looked it up, it's called a "stinging caterpillar" and those cool little hairs all over it will sting you pretty badly. Awesome. I guess we'll just look at it then. Well, the next day, it was gone too. There is probably some animal that hunts down things in our little cage, so maybe we shouldn't put them on the front porch anymore.

The Gaults went to the beach the next weekend and brought us home 4 hermit crabs. The kids love them! Of course, Jack accidentally stepped on his and killed it the next day, but our other 3 are still with us. Their names are Hercules, Nutshell and Rocky. Emma took a picture here of Hercules. The kids forget to feed them most of the time so I can't believe they're still alive. Don't worry, they live on the floor in Jack's room and not on the scary front porch where animals disappear.

That sums up our pet journey for now.

On to new people...

We have people at our door daily selling things. And I mean all kinds of things and all kinds of people. Things like hot plates of food, eggs, knives, machetes, fruit, bread, perfume, and lots more. One guy showed up with a can of tuna and noodles and said he needed to come inside and cook them so he could eat. Yeah right. Then there was a mother and daughter selling these cute butterfly magnets for "quinientos"...I sat there a minute and struggled to remember what number that was. Luckily, the lady finally held up a 500 colon and I got the message. When she left her little daughter spoke in perfect English and said "thank you!". why didn't she help me out?!?! I'll never forget what "quinientos" means again though. Live and learn.

I had to include a picture from when Ivonne was babysitting our kids one day. Will and I went to lunch and came home to find all three of them playing Wii. Apparently the kids had talked her into playing MarioKart with them, and she laughed the whole time. So cute! We love Ivonne. She helps us out a lot in this Spanish journey!

And here is our new roommate for the next few weeks named Julianne. She is with us at language school but only studying for one trimester since she came here with a lot of Spanish already. She is a missionary from Virginia who is going to Bolivia in March. She was living with a Costa Rica or "tico" family for a while and then their house caught on fire from a bad computer wire. Since the living conditions became really difficult, we offered to let her move in with us for her remaining 6 weeks of school. We've loved having her here! Jack couldn't remember her name the first week she was here and always called her "the girl who burned her house down". Nice Jack. I'm sure that's how she likes to be known.
My kids wanted a dog...but we got them a Julianne instead!

We had a hair straightening party on Friday night so we were showing off our straight hair. Thanks to my friend Claudia for the 3 hour time commitment. Mine has gotten really long! Definitely time for a haircut when we come home.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Family Devotions

One Year of Dinner Table Devotions and Discussion Starters
by Nancy Guthrie

In my experience, the family devotionals I've run across are pretty hokey. They are either completely lame or too difficult for my kids to follow. When we moved here and have been struggling in the area of church, I realized that our kids are struggling just as much as we are. They are used to an excellent kids church program and haven't been getting spiritually fed much since August. I saw this book recommended in a pastors blog and thought I would check it out. It's been really good for our family! Of course, we don't do it as often as we should, but it has great thought-provoking content that suits kids of any ages. My kids are 7 and 4 and they follow it fine, and I think even older kids would find it compelling. It has rich Biblical Truth and not just "so why did Amy steal the seashell?" kind of questions. Check it out!

Friday, November 11, 2011

Normal Missionaries?

Our church from home had their missions conference last month. Their theme is "Engage" to get our church body "engaged" in missions through different activities throughout the weekend with local missions, and by setting up posters in the lobby with all the foreign missionaries they support.

It was so weird but cool to see our poster in the lobby of Grace Evan. I have seen those posters for years, and it definitely got me all emotional when our missions pastor sent us a picture of our family's poster in the lobby. It's humbling to be among those rock star missionaries that are set up in that lobby. I definitely do not feel worthy, but I am so thankful that people are remembering and praying for us back at home. It is so felt and needed!

Speaking of other missionaries...

I am going to say honestly that I had a certain idea of what missionaries would be like. Kind of weird, kind of frumpy, kind of socially awkward...

Kind of like this...

Or like this...

Or even this...

And I know you think the same thing! I realize that we all have to be a little weird to leave our homes and do this thing called missions, but I really had a certain stereotype in my head before coming here. It has definitely been a nice surprise to have some pretty normal people in our trimester group (if you would call Will "normal" haha). We have heard from many people that our group is not the typical group...everyone gets along, everyone helps each other, and everyone truly enjoys being together. We feel very blessed to be a part of this trimester group. I should have known the Lord would tear down my judging mind and heart and love these people that I've only known for a short time. I know we will share an experience together this year that will bond us for life in a way we'll never have again.

Thank you Lord for proving to me that my expectations are limited and sinful! I completely underestimated Him like I always do.

Here is my class:

Ana (our Costa Rican Grammar teacher dressed up for a dance that day), Karen (from Pennsylvania going to Domican Republic), me, Kate (from Pennsylvania dressed up for a dance also), Jennie (from Montana staying in Costa Rica), Claudia (from Canada going to Mexico City), Rhonda (from West Virginia going to Bolivia) and Roseanne (from Pennsylvania going back)

All of us with our Costa Rican Phonetics teacher, Eugenia

Will's class
JD (from West Virginia going to Bolivia), Paul (from Alabama going to Peru), Jason (from Iowa going to Honduras), Will, and (Yung Sun from South Korea)
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Monday, November 7, 2011

Little Brother

Meet the Breyer family! This is Nathan, Lindsey, Isaiah and Jeremy and they are our new little brothers at language school. They are from Geigertown, PA and are going to Colombia after their time at school to do a Christian camping ministry there. It's been fun to "meet" them on email and get to talk to them on the phone. Please pray for this family as they are getting ready to leave home for a future in missions in Latin America. We were there only 3 short months ago, and prayers were so needed during that stressful time. They will be here January 2nd and we're looking forward to officially meeting them then! To learn more about their journey, you can go to

Here is a picture of the house we found for them. Only a few minute walk to the school, grocery store, pharmacy, bank, meat market, bus stop, park and our house!

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Halloweenish Party

The first major American holiday that we've missed is Halloween. I was wondering how I would be about that. Now that we've been here 3 months the newness has definitely worn off and we're realizing this is normal life for us now. I love the fall in the South, so it's been hard not seeing trees changing colors, pumpkins everywhere (we don't have pumpkins here) and football games.
My class from school decided we would get the kids together for a Halloweenish-type party. Everyone had to bring some food, candy and a game to share with the kids. It ended up being really fun! And my kids felt like they had a Halloween.
Emma and Jack asked if they could dress up, so I told them to just find whatever around the house and go for it. This is what they came up with:
Emma was Rapunzel with her long yellow hair and a dress. Jack was a "pajama king" which he kept getting mixed up and saying he was a "drama queen"...we had to correct that quickly

All lined up for bobbing for apples

Jack was an apple bobbing champ

And Emma dove right in

Afterward they decorated their apples with caramel and junk food. I thought this picture of a friend pretty much summed up the mess! The kids loved it of course.

Then we did some face painting. Jack wanted to be a dinosaur.

And Emma wanted to decorate Marcy's face as a lion

They had a lot of fun! Check out Marcy's lion that Emma did! She does not get any of her creative skills from me. I think Gloriana was painting Emma's face as a black cat. That black was hard to wash off!
The grownup gals decided to hang out around the table with the food
While all the men went upstairs into the man-cave. I wasn't even allowed up there to take their picture!

The kids were begging to paint our faces, and Jennie was nice enough to join in with the kids. You're such a fun mom Jennie.

I had to post this. I bought the kids some glow stars for their ceilings in their room. Looks pretty normal on the front right?

Then check out this amazing English translation on the back of the package. So you mean to tell me that no one was around anywhere who spoke English to help them out? I think Google Translate would have done a better job than this. So funny to me!
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