Last night I was asking Will if he watched Miss Utah respond to her Miss USA pageant question. We never watch the Miss USA pageant, but today I was able to watch what was surely the most entertaining part in a short video prompted by the handy dandy Yahoo news feed. I find that since we are out of the country, we get a lot of our “news” and “entertainment” that way. We are on a hyperspeed Twitter sound bite diet. A thirty-second clip covering the Oklahoma tornadoes. An article where someone quotes what Sarah Palin said somewhere. We watch one episode of a TV series we used to watch from time to time, or start to download a movie and the Internet is so spotty we watch ten minutes before we lose patience.
In a way it is freeing. We don’t keep up with pop culture or politics or what is really happening on the ground in the States, nor here in Costa Rica. It doesn’t concern us that much. Once again, the aphorism “Ignorance is bliss” rings true. We knew this would happen. We would be the family with those weird kids who did not have any pop cultural reference.
However, one thing that interests me is how many people (including myself to some degree) live this way all the time. They read a few words on a Yahoo! link or a Twitter account or a Facebook status and think they understand a situation or are informed. What is this doing to our culture, to have an ice-cream-sample-spoon sized amount of information, served up by the attractive media person behind the counter or from supposed friends whom we trust?
I am reading a book about Dietrich Bonhoeffer and it is amazing how educated his family was. They read literature, studied the past, associated with informed people, and asked pertinent questions. It is convicting to think how little informed I am about so many things and how little suffices to satisfy my curiosity.
I fear that I can be this way spiritually too. A little Bible reading and prayer, a small bite of worship, a taste of hearing from God and I feel satiated even though there is so much more to be had. He’s got the whole huge tub of ice cream in front of Him! I eat tasty stomach food with enjoyment all day long. I think God is asking me to serve up a bigger plate of food for thought, food for contemplation, and food for meditation. Once again, more of His grace is required.
An example of some of the sillier types of conversations we have on the Facebook page for the Spanish Language Institute students is below. The Spanish Language Institute Student Facebook page is private, and we use it to share prayer requests, questions regarding life in Costa Rica, as well as other needs. Occasionally the conversation degenerates into conversations like below which are just silly, but mutually encouraging in their “funness”. There is a fruit called Cas in Costa Rica that I really like, and I was sad today to find out that it is unique to Costa Rica. When we leave this beautiful country, I am going to lose the ability to have my favorite drink. However, I was happy to discover that they make Cas ice cream and sell it in many different ice cream shops and small restaurants called “sodas”. My teacher in grammar class explained that you can get cas ice cream, which was not something of which I was aware. I was in downtown buying some things, and when I saw “Pops”, a local ice cream shop, I could not resist the temptation to try this new flavor. The Facebook dialogue explains my actions from yesterday afternoon. Unfortunately, it is a little difficult to find information on Cas on the internet, so I cannot share much information regarding this wonderful fruit. In fact I found information primarily on people’s blogs. Check out information here and here. I think that this is because the fruit is rather rare outside of Costa Rica, although here you can get it practically everywhere. I am enjoying my bebidas de cas, and I hope to enjoy more helado de cas in the future.
For my friends in grammar class, I was not able to wait one more day before trying the cas ice cream.
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.