Thursday, August 23, 2012

That's why we love camping...

This past weekend we loaded into two vehicles and drove toward the mountains with the Baldwin family. My best friend from college, Luke, married Hannah, and they have two sons: Jed (2) and Barrett (15 days younger than Kaia). Luke and I drove in his truck while Suzy rode in the car with Hannah and the three little ones.

We arrived in the Snoqualmie - Mt. Baker National Forest after a beautiful drive filled with lively conversation. We found a great little spot that was a bit more isolated than the others. There was a river just down the way from us, and a big 'ol waterfall a short drive up the road which we explored one afternoon. 

I love camping. If there's one thing I regret from time to time, it's that we don't get out and go camping more often every year. There's something so therapeutic and restful about getting away from city life, busyness, electronics, and modern conveniences. 

There are so many things I love about camping: Sleeping outside and breathing in the crisp, natural outdoor air. Trees all around me. The lack of man-made sound. The lack of an agenda or obligations. Making fires. Sitting around them and staring at the flames. S'mores. Having deep, meaningful conversations while sitting around fires. Hiking. Exploring the beauty of God's creation. Feeling the flow of water on my body. Being dirty, and not minding. Taking in the amazing details of our surroundings. Being still.

Suzy and Hannah holding Kaia & Barrett
I think it's a natural thing when we step into the simplicity of God's creation that it's easier to view and understand life in simpler terms. I think of theology in the same sort of way. Because really, nature isn't so simple. There are so many tiny, complex intricate things that comprise it when you look closely. And theology, too, certainly has a lot of detailed, complex intricacies. But the beauty of it, in my opinion, is that theology always kind of circles back on itself and brings us to the simple, central message of the Gospel: we are broken, we need a savior, and Christ died to save us and be that savior. Nature has the same effect on me: I'm calmed in the beauty and simplicity, and then begin to notice all of the amazing, impossible-to-understand details; which eventually brings me back to the joy of the simplicity of my surroundings. And what a great environment to ponder and talk of deep, spiritual things, right?

So... we enjoyed ourselves. And it was Kaia's first camping trip, too. She was a champ. We all had an amazing time. 

If you haven't been camping in a while-- or ever-- I strongly encourage you to prioritize it. God has created a pretty amazing world. I think we forget that sometimes while enjoying the world man has created.

And that is why we love camping.

Suzy with Kaia, Jim, Luke with Barrett, and Hannah with Jed

Our campsite
Kaia enjoying the great outdoors!

Kaia finds Uncle Luke to be very intriguing...

Sunday, August 12, 2012

this week...

     In 12 hours from now we'll be leaving our apartment here in Costa Rica for the next 19 days. We'll be boarding a plane to take us to Seattle, Washington. It's hard to believe this time has already arrived. It's even harder to believe that this will be our last visit to the States (potentially) for the next 2 years.

      We just finished our last week of classes for the trimester. There are a lot of different emotions and thoughts that have been running through my head. For example: This time is going by so quickly. I can't believe we've already been here this long. What will next trimester end up looking like? Will I be equipped in spanish well enough after just one more trimester?

     It's also a big shift as many singles, couples, and families have graduated and won't be around next trimester. We've also got 29 new families coming to begin at the language school starting in September. The campus will look quite a bit different.

      I asked one of the graduates after the ceremony on Friday how he felt about being done here and moving on to Peru. He said that it wasn't all that strange. It would be hard for him to say goodbye to some of the Costa Ricans he had befriended, attended church with, discipled, and shared life with. It was unlikely he would ever see them again. But he commented that as missionaries, we're always traveling. We may run into one another again. We may not. Either way, it simply felt to him like, 'it was time for all of us to get to work.' There's some sadness, some excitement, some apprehension-- but this is what we've all been called to, and now it's time to move on to the next step in the journey.

      I liked that.

     In terms of news about us, we've been amazed at how much Kaia has been developing over these past couple of weeks!  Last Monday we introduced her to food other than breast milk for the first time! She has now experienced Costa Rican bananas and avocados. She seems to prefer bananas.

     She also finally conquered the 'roll over from stomach to back' trick a little over a week ago. It seems most babies do that before having the ability to sit upright on their own... but she's doing things in the order she prefers! We're just excited to see her connecting the dots and developing new skills and more personality day by day!

   To wrap things up, we're really looking forward to some R & R. We've brought spanish workbooks, notes, and a little homework with us, but we're excited to take a breather, be with family, and be renewed before launching into another trimester of spanish. God is good!

     Thank you for your thoughts and prayers for us-- we treasure each and every one of you and are so grateful for your support of us!

   May God bless your week!


Saturday, August 4, 2012

Recap and what's to come.


       I thought it might be good to just throw a quick recap out there for all of you who might be following us in the blog world.

     Suzy, Kaia, and I arrived in Costa Rica on Sunday, April 29th. That was 14 weeks ago. Crazy! Kaia has actually spent the majority of her life living in Costa Rica at this point! 

     While we've been here we have been learning spanish, building relationships, and plugging in to a few other things without overwhelming ourselves. As it turns out, learning a new language is kind of hard and takes a lot of time. (go figure...)

     We've been attending a local, spanish-speaking Costa Rican church. We've been leading worship on a weekly basis at chapel on campus. I've been teaching a Korean man how to play the djembe (while speaking spanish). Suzy has been attending a Bible study with Costa Rican & Nicaraguan maids-- all in spanish. We've been buying and cooking local food, studying, tutoring, reading, praying, running, caring for Kaia, and have tried to get out and see a bit of Costa Rica as opportunities have presented themselves. We even did a pretty aggressive hike a couple weeks back!

         So, what's next? 

     The trimester ends this coming Friday. I took my comprehensive grammar test on Friday and have an oral presentation on Monday. So, things are winding down. We have officially decided to stay here in Costa Rica for another Trimester to continue studying spanish at the language institute. However, there is a break before classes resume again on September 4th.

     Therefore, we're heading back to the States for 2 1/2 weeks. My parents have been living in Washington State for the past several years, and we haven't been there for almost 2 years now. Additionally, neither of my younger siblings have been able to meet their one and only niece yet! So, we'll be staying with my parents in Everett, WA and Rachel and Tommy will get to spend some time getting to know their niece before we abscond with her to Ecuador for years to come. We're looking forward to one last stop in the States to be with family, relax a bit, and decompress after 14 weeks of learning spanish.

     We fly out on Monday and will return to Costa Rica on August 31st. We'll continue to study spanish and will hopefully reach the level of 'Advanced Low' by mid-December. We haven't bought our plane tickets yet, but plan to fly straight from here to Ecuador the third week in December. 

     And that's our timeline from now until arrival in Ecuador-- a couple weeks in Seattle, a few more months in Costa Rica, and then on to Ecuador, just in time for Christmas!

     Pray for us as we finish up this trimester and as we travel to and from the States. Blessings to you on this lovely Saturday! And feel free to shoot us an e-mail with any questions, updates, or prayer requests that you'd like to send our way! Contact us at