Saturday, April 28, 2012

about to leap.

"You leave tomorrow?! How do you feel? Are you excited? What's going through your head?"

              This picture pretty much sums up how I'm feeling. We're about to jump. We've been preparing all this while... but now the hatch is open and as we look down at this view, we realize it's time to get our parachutes on and take the leap.

               So... I feel excitement. I feel my heart beat a bit faster. You can believe there are some butterflies. But look at that view. Look at what's ahead. This is what we've been made for. It's going to be an incredible ride.

       We're glad you're a part of this with us.


Thursday, April 26, 2012

Language School here we come!

Kaia will be 12 weeks old tomorrow and since she was born she has spent 60+ hours riding in the car, has been in 11 different U.S. states, has traveled 3,230+ miles by car, has visited 9 different churches, and has taken a bath in 10 different bath tubs and 2 sinks! Many of you have heard us say this, but it’s worth saying again: God just really knew what we needed during this phase of our life. Kaia has been such a sweet, flexible, and wonderful baby throughout all of this craziness and we are so grateful that we were able to introduce her to so many of you!

The most recent photo of Kaia taken while writing this blog post.

It is surreal to look back on the last nine months and realize the journey that our new little family of three has been on. From packing up our apartment in Ithaca, ending our jobs, hitting the road to raise support, going through training at International Teams, welcoming Kaia into the world, and then traveling around again to introduce her to family and friends…it has honestly gone by SO fast and it seems incredible that we are about to embark on the next leg of the adventure.

We leave for Costa Rica this Sunday. Our sole focus during our time there is to study, learn, and practice Spanish. We will have four days of orientation at the Spanish Language Institute, (starts on May 3rd), during which we will take placement tests, meet with the school staff, and sit through a few seminars to learn how to integrate into the Tico (Costa Rican) culture well. After that, regular classes will start.

The school is open Monday-Friday and offers classes in the morning and tutoring sessions in the afternoon. Our plan is for Jim to attend the morning classes while I watch Kaia and then for me to meet with a tutor in the afternoons while Jim stays home. We’re going to start there and see how our language acquisition progresses…if any adjustments need to be made we’re willing to look into different options. We are so grateful that we will be able to offset our schedules and won’t need to find childcare for Kaia - Praise God!!

Lastly, we wanted to share a few pics of what our living situation will be in Costa Rica! The Spanish Language Institute has been around since the 1940s and they have really fine-tuned their programs since then. One of the programs they offer is called the Big Brother Program. Current students (big brothers) are assigned to incoming students and are in charge of securing housing for the new students, picking them up at the airport, and stocking the apartments with a few staple food items. Really, the goal is for the Big Brother to help ease the transition for the new students. Our Big Brother is a couple from Alabama that are in the process of preparing to serve in Ecuador as well with an organization called Global Partners. They have done a wonderful job of anticipating our needs and caring for us even before our arrival! We praise and thank God for them and are really looking forward to meeting them in person once we arrive.

They found a great apartment for us that’s only 100 feet from the entrance to the school and it is also next door to the apartment they’ll be living in, too! I’m sure we’ll post more photos once we arrive and make it into our own “home”, but we thought it would be fun to share a couple now to help you visualize what this next step in life is going to be like for us.

This is the dining room/living room.

And this is the kitchen...can't wait to post some photos of tasty treats being made here!!

The last info I’ll provide in this post is our updated mailing address. You can also find it on our website, but for those of you that have asked, it is below. Please only send letters to this address, NO PACKAGES will be accepted.

            Jim and Suzy Olsen
            Instituto de Lengua Espanola
            Apartado 100-2350
            San Jose, Costa Rica
            America Central

Thank you for your continued prayers and support - next time you hear from us we will be in Costa Rica!!

Sunday, April 8, 2012

An Interview with Kaia

A few weeks ago we caught wind that a certain little lady might be interested in letting us interview her for our blog. We were pretty excited about having such a popular guest grace us with her presence, so we immediately began trying to nail down a date to talk with her before we planned to leave for our big cross country road trip. However, our efforts proved to be difficult. We attempted to contact her several times, but we were told she was not available to discuss dates because she was doing this....

When we finally got ahold of her during her awake hours she seemed hesitant, but agreed on doing the  interview.

In fact, we were told by her peers that she danced an irish jig in preparation because she was so excited!

She got all dolled up for the interview, but when the day of the interview came she had a little bit of a breakdown.

She was not in the right mood to have company.

When we tried to ask her a question, she wouldn't even look at us!

We then sat her down and had a good conversation. She was very attentive...

...and apologized for her antics. We took a good hard look at what may have caused her outburst; she was very humble during the process.

Kaia: "I was nervous because I wasn't sure what you were going to ask me!"
Us: "Well, we wanted to interview you about the upcoming road trip that you are going to be going on with us."

Kaia: "Well, I just don't know if I can do it....I am a little nervous!"
Us: "Don't be, we will be there with you." 

Kaia: "Are you sure?"
Us: "YES!"

So, she took a few days to ponder over whether she felt up to it.

She even took a day or two to sleep on it.

In the end she agreed to do the interview! So, again, she got all dolled up. She took a bath...

tried on a few outfits...

took some deep breaths...

did some exercises...

ate her arm (?)...

and practiced posing for the camera...

By the time she was ready to do the interview she was relaxed, but serious. She wanted to be sure to do a good job for all of you. Unfortunately, by then it was already time for us to hit the road and we didn't have a chance to do the interview before we left. However, her confidence while on the road has continued to grow and she is still excited about answering a few questions! 

We've included the raw footage here:

Because we realize that not all of you may be able to understand Kaia's baby talk, we've broken down the interview below. We hope you enjoy!

Suzy: "Kaia are you ready for the interview?" 

Kaia: "Ahhh.....yes."

Suzy: "Kaia, can you share with us a little bit about how it's been to be on the road?"

Kaia: "It's fun! I like to meet new people."

Kaia: "But I also feel tired, too."

Kaia: "I don't always like to be out and about...especially when I'm hungry."

Kaia: "But overall, it's been pretty good."

Suzy: "Before we left for your first 15 hours road trip you hadn't really spent that much time in your car seat. How has it been spending so much time in there?"
She took a minute to think about that....

Kaia: "Well, I think it's a little like this..."

Kaia: "Sometimes I am happy and like it, but other times I can get a little annoyed by being in the car for so long."

Kaia: "I like it best when Jeffrey, my puppy, joins me. He makes the car rides super fun!"

Kaia: "He also likes to take naps with me."

Suzy: "Well, that's good to hear. We are glad that you have someone to join you during the rides in the car. Tell us though, Kaia, how has it been to meet all these new people? Do you feel overwhelmed by it sometimes?"
Kaia: "Well, I do like meeting new people. It's fun to be held by them... talk with them..."

"...and also to point out new things to one another."

Suzy: "So, with meeting all these new people, how do you keep yourself centered?"
Kaia: "I like to practice baby yoga."

Suzy: "Well, I think we only have time for one more question."
Kaia: "What? It's already almost over?"

Suzy: "Yep! You've done a great job, but we will need to start wrapping this up."
Kaia: "Ok, well this sure has been fun. What's your last question?"

Suzy: "Well, we were wondering...what has been your favorite part about visiting all these new people and places?"
Kaia: "I get to dress up in fun outfits..."

"and after we spend time meeting with people I get to lounge around and relax!"

Suzy: "It will be some time before you get to see some of the people you have met again. Do you think you'll miss all of the people you have met?"
Kaia: "YES."

Suzy: "What would you say your coping mechanism is when you start to think about how much you'll miss them?"
 Kaia: "I do this."

Well, thanks again Kaia for taking the time to share your thoughts with us and all of our friends who are reading this blog. Maybe we'll do this again sometime! Do you have any closing comments or last thoughts you'd like to share?

Kaia: "Can I tell everyone about my mobile?"
Suzy: "Yes you can. I'm sure everyone will enjoy hearing about it!"