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Sunday, May 13, 2012

What is life like in Costa Rica?

      I figure some of you my be wondering what we are actually doing day to day in Costa Rica right now. Let me tell you a bit about a typical day.
Suzy in our apartment

       The day starts at about 6:30am. Suzy gets up to feed Kaia and I begin to prepare for the day. We have breakfast, do morning devotions, shower, and get ready for the day. I walk to the Instituto de Langua Espanola for my first class, starting at 7:30. That first class is grammar.
       Grammar is taught by Ana, a very upbeat Costa Rican woman who used to be a flight attendant and studied English in Michigan for a year before becoming a teacher. Grammar lasts for 2 hours. This is the only class where we can occasionally ask a question or converse in English-- all others are taught exclusively in spanish. Although, I'd say 75 - 85% of the grammar class is spoken entirely in Spanish. The title should be self-explanatory, but if not, we're currently focusing on conjugating verbs and learning how to properly build sentences.
        After Grammar is a break. On Mondays, Wednesdays, and Friday I will often head home for a half hour and touch base with Suzy. Then it's back to class. On Tuesdays and Thursdays they have chapel on campus including a time of worship through song and sharing. There are two chaplains that share speaking as well as students who may share a testimony or brief message. It's a nice time to connect with the other students and to get re-focused and centered.

A picture taken on campus
       The second class of the day is entitled: language. This class is taught by a woman named Marta. She starts every class by having us read a few verses from the Bible in spanish. On Friday the verse we read was Philippians 4:6-7 -- "Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus." She always seems to choose verses that are very appropriate to what we're all going through! This class is basically designed to help beef up our vocabulary, practice speaking, and connect dots with grammar and phonetics.

        Which brings me to my next class: phonetics. Gaby teaches phonetics and this class is the one that comes easiest for me. We had a two week intensive phonetics course through our training with International Teams and it really set me up for success when it comes to accent. We speak a lot of spanish in phonetics and most of the time is spent repeating things over and over to get the sounds correct. It won't help us to know spanish much if we say everything with an American accent!

A view from the school
        We finish by about 12:30pm. On Mondays I meet with a tutor, Oscar, to go a bit more in depth and supplement what I'm learning in classes with additional material. I head home for lunch after classes are done, eat lunch with Suzy, and relieve her of Kaia. Suzy then meets with a tutor from about 1 - 3pm while I watch Kaia and get started with homework. I have homework from all three classes on a daily basis which usually takes a couple of hours. After completing my homework I'll continue to study to try and cement the new words and concepts in my mind.

       When Suzy gets back from tutoring we spend some time reading the Bible together and spend some awake time together with Kaia. Then it's time to prepare dinner, straighten up the apartment, and wind down for tomorrow. I'll let Suzy tell you more about what it's like eating/cooking here in a future blog post...

      So, things are going well, but we're not sitting around twiddling our thumbs! There's a lot to learn and soak in. We attended a local Costa Rican church today, which was a great experience, and grabbed lunch with a couple of other missionary families to celebrate Mother's Day! We're incredibly blessed to be around so many other strong believer's on a daily basis who also have a heart for the world and will be serving the Lord in many different countries!

 Until next week,

 -jim

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