Wednesday, May 26, 2010

My favorite classroom isn't on the university's campus...

I am liking my classes very much, and doing well thus far (9/10 on my first quiz!), but the best things I’ve learned have not taken place inside the classroom. I’ve compiled a bit of a list, I hope you find it as …umm….educational as I have! :)

1. When riding a zip line through the jungle, going fast may be fun, but knowing how (and, perhaps more importantly, when) to use the brakes is also a good thing (unless you prefer to get extremely close to trees). Luckily, there was an able-bodied guide on the platform where I learned this little lesson. Also, that zip line was so much fun! I sang His praise will flying over His creation – how cool is that?!?!?! That was over this past weekend, and I was also able to see monkeys in their natural habitat and ride a horse! So fun!

2. Don’t wear body spray in an area known for its jungles. Hahaha. You might think I would have been more insightful than that…but I have about 10 bug bites to prove otherwise. Thanks mom for the Benadryl stick! It works wonders!

3. If you are trying to leave the impression that Americans are less of a consumerist culture than foreign nations assume, your best bet is to avoid a conversion about Black Friday. However, this remains one of my very favorite conversations I have had with my host parents. Both their eyes got HUGE: “The stores open how early?” It was so fun! They laugh with me a lot over various things, not limited to the way I ask a million questions while we watch our evening soap opera together. I have really bonded with them and they are so great!

4. Wearing a skirt to mass is not only not necessary, it is not advisable. Turns out, kneeling while in a skirt is a bit of a trick (I was the only one not wearing jeans or dress pants)! In other news, my first ever mass was last night (yep, on a Tuesday) and I went with my host mom. She was so patient with my complete lack of awareness, and I am excited to go to worship with her more often and learn more about this part of their culture.

Hope that was insightful! Thank you again for your prayers (I really cannot say that enough, but I am going to continue to try. Please continue to pray for focus in school as there is SO much here that is distracting. Also, please pray that our group will be able to be of service and show His kind of love (there are several of us on the trip that are in to spreading it around! Praise Him for community!) when we go to bring aid to an indigenous people group in two weeks. I will update again soon!

¡Hasta luego!

Costa Rica Chica
About the pictures: The umbrella is the essential Costa Rican accessory! That is one cool tree, so I thought I'd get a hug from it! And I don't have time to flip that one on my limited internet time (so sorry! Tilt your head a little...a little more...just right!), but I swam in that waterfall! It was so cool!

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

¡Soy (casi) Tica!

“I am (almost!) Costa Rican!” Well, that might be a bit of a stretch, but I am significantly closer than I was 4 days ago! I cannot even hope to describe how amazing it has been: SO much has happened in such a short period of time!

I will start with the beginning (and proceed to get a song from the Sound of Music flowing through your minds!): when I arrived, my host mom and her granddaughter (who is an English major here!) came to get me at the airport. It was fairly late in the evening, so we didn’t really visit much, but I think the granddaughter had a phenomenal grasp of my nervousness (as a foreign language student herself) and so she spoke very slowly and clearly to me. I was able to talk about my family in “Los Estados” (who I miss VERY much) with my family here. Though it is unlikely that I will see their granddaughter again, she was SUCH a blessing that first evening! I went to bed less apprehensive because both of my host parents are amazing! In fact, when I told my host dad that I was nervous about the first day of school here, he said “You have nothing to be nervous about. You are smart and you understand a lot now.” Thanks to God for those words of affirmation – in Spanish!

School that first day was nothing too stressful, although today marked the true beginning of classes. It was difficult, but I know that I will improve so quickly because of it! Immersion is already showing its benefits; I am much more confident in my Spanish (not that I mess up less, just that I am less timid!). I am not allowed to speak any English, except on the phone with my parents (which has only happened for one brief time, unfortunately). To all whom I promised a “Skype date” – as my internet access is extremely limited (blog posts will be “copy-and-paste” and posted from the home of a friend who has internet access or from school between classes), I am not sure when it will work out but thank you very much for your patience! I miss you all very much! Also, I visited the post office yesterday and I am now fully prepared (and extremely excited!) to write to you!

I am already in love with this country (don’t worry dad – I am not engaged to a citizen!) and it has been less than a week! The weather is amazing; hot but sunny! Every afternoon from one to three I am blessed by the sound of a cooling rain which comes like a breath of fresh air to bring relief from the heat. They say this is normal; it will likely happen every day! I love it! My host home is extremely secure: I am currently equipped with a key ring that holds together like 5 different keys!

God is so present here (as always, I know)! I am not usually a “nature girl,” but anyone who sees this environment cannot help but see the truth in Psalm 19:1-4. Even now as I write, that glorious downpour is flowing like His mercy from the heavens, rushing down to meet with a thirsty land. What a “God thing”!

The other students on the trip are great; those that live in my neighborhood and I already have plans to go to lunch tomorrow in town and browse around all of the shops. Speaking of food—WOW! My host mom is an AMAZING cook; I have eaten so many yummy things already! She refuses to accept the possibility that one dish would be enough; I think my breakfast yesterday had 3 courses! To all those who may have been worried that I would return emaciated: no way!

As far as the things that I would love for you to lay at the feet of my First Love, first and foremost PRAISE HIM! So much of these first few days have been clear testaments of His love for me and it is a truly beautiful thing. I have a comfort that I know would not be afforded without Him. I am truly having a GREAT time! Also, please pray that I don’t become unnecessarily stressed by school, but that I am able to remain academically focused as I am taking a full semester of credit while I am here.

Thanks so much for your prayers and sweet comments! I leave you with the motto of my home for the next two months:

¡Pura Vida!

~Costa Rica Chica

Thursday, May 13, 2010

El principio

Excited. Scared. Nervous. Thrilled. Blessed. Apprehensive. The previous words do a fairly good job of expressing my current range of feeling. I will be, in less than 3 days, boarding a plane that will start me off on what I am sure will prove to be a GREAT adventure!

My packing experience has, thus far, gone rather smoothly. Everything (well, nearly everything) I need is scattered about the living room floor, and it seems that it will be well within the limits set by the airline. I am not sure how I managed to pack and have extra room; as a "what if...(fill in extremely unlikely circumstance here)...?" packer, this is a huge accomplishment!

Also, I received an unexpected blessing for which I am extremely grateful: I was put into contact with the young lady who had my host family on the trip last summer! She has told me about them and about their home and routines. She truly loved them and her excitement for me was evident. Praise God for that reassurance!

I am currently praying about an immunization I have to receive tomorrow as it is likely that it will leave me feeling less-than-my-best for a bit. Also, as before, please pray that my ability to communicate in Spanish would be surprisingly greater than I expected. This is the aspect that has me the most nervous, but also the most excited for chances to improve and challenge myself! He is so faithful, though, and I know that He will give me the words to say (in the language I need to say them!). His love is greater than my uncertainty about these coming months; I know He's "got it"!

Thanks so much for your love, prayers, and support! I will miss you all greatly but I am so excited to be sharing my adventures with you through this blog! My next post will be from...COSTA RICA! :)

~Costa Rica Chica

Tuesday, May 4, 2010


Hi friends!

Welcome to my blog! Ha! That seems strange... I suppose I will get used to it soon! :)

I am so very excited to be leaving for Costa Rica in only twelve short days, and I would love to share my adventures with you. I don't know what this summer holds, but I know that the One who does has great plans for me and I feel so blessed that included in those is this trip!

I am currently feeling, admittedly, a bit nervous, but also so very excited! We had our last meeting as a group before our departure last Sunday. Receiving the piece of paper that described my host family was so exciting: I will be living in the "nicer" neighborhood with a couple whose two adult children no longer live in the house. My host mom is a homemaker...hopefully this parallel will make me miss home a little bit less! Most excitingly, I found out that I will be living in the same neighborhood as a new friend from the group, Cathy. Cathy and I are both in Campus Christian Fellowship, and we are excited to "church shop" in Costa Rica (as well as actual shopping, I am sure! :) ) The fact that she will be close to my house is so reassuring and exciting!

I will likely post again prior to my departure. Your prayers are envied--specifically, please pray that I will continue to be filled with His peace that gives me the confidence to walk boldly through doors He has opened.

¡Te abraza mucho!
~Costa Rica Chica