Obama gives the presidential stamp of approval to Saprissa!
We are currently on vacation. My brother is in the country, and Allison’s father, brother, and his family are with us as well. We have travelled to the beach in Tamarindo to celebrate our time together. Everyone actually flew into Liberia which is around 5 hours from San Jose, Costa Rica. The distance is not far, but the road is narrow and curvy. It takes longer than it seems it should take. We made the trip without any problem, and we were surprised at a local truck stop to see howler monkeys and scarlet macaws in the trees. We stopped at a church in Cañas to admire the mosaic tile work on the church done by the artist Otto Apuy. Apparently Otto Apuy was a young man who could not stop himself from doing art with bright colors and shapes wherever there was space available. Some thought he was rebellious, others just noted he had a lot of artistic energy. A local Peace Corp worker introduced him to the greater world of art, and his talent took off. He went to Spain where his work was featured, and now I believe he lives in Costa Rica and continues to do his work. I cannot find a lot about him on the internet, but I loved the look of the church he has beautified. While we were taking pictures of the church, we were suprised to watch a 3 foot iguana walk by. We were in the middle of town, and this big lizard looked completely at home. Pura vida, Costa Rica!
I am always glad to read a new post from the Diospi Suyana website, and I am often surprised by what is going on there. I suppose I imagined that they bought their bread from Wonder Bread Company or some place similar. I think I am going to surprised relatively often at the resourcefulness of the hospital and the people who work their. I pray that I find myself to be more resourceful and inventive than I currently consider myself to be.
Yesterday we watched the group of students that are one trimester ahead of us graduate from the Spanish Language Institute. It was a sweet moment to watch them finish what has been a good and sometimes hard year. It was also sad to see them leave, realizing that we may not (and likely will not) see them again this side of heaven. Language school is a little bit like summer camp. You make friends quickly, and they are very important in your life because you really need their friendship. And then they leave, and you realize a big chapter of your life is coming to a close. And you move on to the rest of your life without these friends, yet you are not the same as you were before because of them. These types of friendships happen both inside of Christ and outside of Christ. There is a common grace that God has given to all people that allows us to make friends. Yet the friendships that that are bonded through our faith leave us with an assurance of future reunion that is not found outside of Christ. For that I am thankful. And, I am thankful to God that I will see all these people again and we will be able to talk about everything that has happened since the time we were with each other, and that we will rejoice in the presence of God as we praise Him for what he has done. And part of our praise will be for the friendships he gave us along the way as we followed him.
Did you know that missionaries get lonely? Of course it is not a surprise, but it is more true than you may realize. One of the greatest gifts any person in the mission field can receive is the presence of their family or their friends with them. I remember when David (Allison’s father) came during Thanksgiving. It was a short visit, but all of us lived off the memories of the visit for several weeks. He brought a suitcase filled with gifts as well as things we miss from the United States. It was like Christmas in November. Will’s mother (Ruth) came for a week during Christmas. It was possibly our best week of the year. We cooked a traditional American Christmas dinner and showed her the sights around San Jose. The kids still talk about both of their grandparent’s visits. We were so thankful to have them with us.
If you ever feel like visiting a friend or a family member in the mission field, I recommend that you do it. They may be busy, but they will be glad to share their day with you as you see what their normal life is like. You can understand their world better, and they will be more thankful than they will probably be able to express. This is something I did not understand before I left the United States. I underestimated the value that my friendship and my actual presence would have for my missionary friends. We supported many, but we always waited for them to come home to see them. I wish I had known, because I actually wanted to visit them, but I didn’t pursue the idea because it seemed impractical. I realize that many people do not have the money to visit different countries, but your presence is felt when your missionary friends receive cards, Skype phone calls, comments on their blogs, or emails. Even a “like” via Facebook lets your friends know they are remembered. I wish I had known the difference it made in the past, but I am learning how to be better in the future. So to all my friends who are missionaries, I am going to try and do better. To those who are supporting others, please know that every little action makes a difference. And to my friends and family back home, we miss you and we will try and be better about reaching back home to let you know we remember you as well.
If there is one sport item our family is unified around, it is the Saprissa soccer team. David became a big fan (this may be an understatement) when we saw Saprissa win a game at the national stadium in the fall. That game in el Estadio Nacional was fun, but the grandstands were not close to full, and it felt more like an exhibition. Since that time he has desperately wished to attend another game in the actual Estadio Ricardo Saprissa where we would be surrounded by the most fervent fans of Saprissa. Yesterday we finally made it happen. It was a delayed birthday gift for David for which he has anxiously been waiting. Saprissa won 4 – 0 against Pérez Zeledón who was one spot above them in the standings. It was a good and important victory for “our” team.
Soccer is a great sport, and Costa Rica makes it very accessible to the public. Tickets are not expensive by American standards, and there are even lower prices for women and children. To sit in pretty good seats at the stadium cost us a total of $20 for all six of us. There is a section of the stadium called Sol Sur where all the rowdy Saprissistas sit. They jump and sing the entire game without stopping. Periodically the rest of the stadium will join in song as they cheer on the team with los fanaticos. With every goal the stadium shakes as the crowd comes to its feet in joyous songs and cheers. We had a great time, and the kids loved the excitement of the singing, clapping, dancing, and the action of the game itself.
The Diospi Suyana website has a post up regarding a distant experience of one of the nurses at the hospital. From what I have heard, Curahuasi is not a dangerous town, but there are always exceptional experiences. I am thankful for the faith that she shares in our God who is with us always.
Anna-Charlotta from Finland is Head of Nursing at Diospi Suyana Hospital. In yesterday’s devotional time she shared with us about her life. It was in August last year when she was on her way home. Dusk had just set in. As Anna was on her way to Curahuasi, walking through a dark and narrow pass that runs parallel to the “Panamericana” highway, she suddenly saw herself attacked by a young man. The stranger grabbed her by her clothes and threatened her at knifepoint. As a devout Christian, Anna-Charlotta Rönqvist strongly believes in the special power to be found in the name of Jesus Christ. With great presence of mind she shouted at him “Leave me alone! In the name of Jesus Christ: get on your way!” The attacker backed off immediately and disappeared. “As Christians there is no need for us to be afraid. God is with us. I’ve experienced that!” Anna-Charlotta talked with great conviction about putting faith into practice. Who knows – perhaps the perpetrator was actually sitting in the crowd listening to her yesterday. At Disopi Suyana everything is possible.
My friend Jim Hoag posted this article to my Facebook timeline. I hope to hike the Inca trail many times in the future, since we will be so close to it. I promise anyone who comes to visit us that we will do our best to get you to Macchu Picchu either by hiking or by train. I was there in 1998, and it really is incredible. Read about one man’s experience in this article. Hiking the Inca Trail – Intelligent Travel. On another note, as the world gains more and more people, there is interest in how we can live sustainably. The Big Squeeze: Can Cities Save the Earth? is an article that demonstrates how much land would be needed if all the population lived in one city, and then it demonstrates how much land is needed based on different population densities. It is interesting and also has some interesting pictures of high density housing. I am bothered by the authors concern about how many babies people should have, but outside of that there are many interesting facts. The article comes from Robert Krulwich who does Radio Lab on NPR. How about this article from the NY Times about Tsunami’s in Japan. Tsunami Warnings Written in Stone There is wisdom that comes from paying attention to the past. Of course as a Christian, much of the past I study the most is regarding the history of our faith and the Jewish people. The greatest wisdom in the world comes from knowledge of God.
0545 – Alarm goes off, Mom and Dad get up (usually Mom first as Dad struggles)
0615 – Making lunches for school, giving breakfast to everyone (Mom and Dad eat standing up in the kitchen as the kids enjoy breakfast at the table)
0645 – Start the push to be fully dressed, teeth brushed, shoes on, lunches in backpacks by 0700. If it is not done by 0700 then no electronics for the day. (Consequences seem to work better than rewards in regards to this effort.)
0700 – Meet in the living room for a small family devotional. Usually Annie is doing some gymnastics, Sarah is trying to read a kid’s book, David is tackling people, Peter is doing something unusual. By 0705 we have brought some focus. Continue reading