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Thursday, November 22, 2012

Thanksgiving-Soccer-Christmas!


Kids swinging at the Piñatas
         Happy Thanksgiving from Costa Rica! We've had a crazy, but incredibly enjoyable past 24 hours. Yesterday morning at this time I was just finishing up a written and oral grammar test. Suzy was at the doctor with Kaia for her check-up and a few shots. I spent the rest of the morning on my 'route,' talking with Costa Rican men around our community. I came home, ate lunch, and just over an hour later we were heading back to campus to prepare for the Roblealto Christmas party.

          Roblealto is the name of an orphanage home/community here in Costa Rica. Several families live on a piece of land together and other children who don't have families or homes live with them. Every year the students at our language school hold a Christmas celebration for all of the kids from Roblealto. There were about 200 people in all from Roblealto in attendance yesterday! In addition to buying each child a Christmas present, we organized a carnival (essentially) with games, face painting, dinner, Bible stories, music, and piñatas!

Suzy & Kaia with the food, waiting to deliver it to the kids
         Our family bought gifts for 2 different children-- a board game for one and a soccer jersey of a local team for the other. One thing I noticed as I looked through the Christmas lists of the children was that many of them wanted soccer balls, goalie gloves, soccer shoes, and jerseys of their favorite teams. Soccer is such a huge part of the culture here, it's really pretty incredible! I'm not sure if you can fully grasp just how intertwined soccer is with the culture until you live in a latin american country.

          I was recruited to paint faces. I sketched about 15 different full-face paint options as well as a few random things I could paint on cheeks or arms. Of course, I included the crests of the two most popular soccer teams. I had no idea just how popular those would be... though I should have anticipated it.

         Suzy helped to coordinate all of the food for the event. She and 3 other students baked and frosted 200 christmas tree shaped sugar cookies the day before the event and also prepared boxes of food to distribute to each child at the event. Each box included a subway style sandwich, a juice box, chips, and the homemade sugar cookie. And of course, as you can see above, Kaia helped, too!

        So, the day before Thanksgiving, we held a huge Christmas celebration, and I painted face after face with soccer logos. The cool thing was that after the Roblealto event, I went with a group of students and a couple of Colombians to a soccer game featuring one of the two most-liked soccer teams: La Liga de Alajuela. With tickets only costing $6 a person, it's a great cultural experience-- and it's just really fun, too! It was fun to talk with the boys while painting their faces about the fact that I was a fan of their team, too, and that I'd be going to watch the game in just a few hours.


Two of the Roblealto boys with La Liga's crest on their faces

          The event went great! The kids loved the games, ate great food and loved opening presents with items they had specifically hoped to receive. And after the event, I joined up with some friends and we took the bus to Alajuela. It was an incredible game and the crowds were alive with excitement! As we're leaving Costa Rica in just over 3 weeks, it will be my last soccer game here, and it was a great one to go out on! La Liga won 2 - 1, and that win put them into first place in the division. Needless to say, the Liga fans were rejoicing!

The group of 'gringos' from our school

         And today is Thaksgiving. We started the day with some banana chocolate-chip pancakes and coffee, watched a Garfield Thanksgiving Special, and have been having skype and facetime conversations with family members all morning. Our power just went out about 5 minutes ago, so unfortunately I doubt I'll get to post this before we leave for our Thanksgiving celebration. We're getting together with 4 other families from the language school and we're all doing our best to create the typical dishes using slightly different products with necessary modifications... but I'm sure all of the food will be wonderful! I any case, It'll be fun to gather with other brothers and sisters in Christ and give thanks for the many blessings Christ has bestowed upon us!

       So, as we celebrate this Thanksgiving, we are thankful for where God has us in this moment in time. We are thankful for the culture we are in, we are thankful for the culture we've come from, and we're thankful for all of the amazing people in our lives. We're thankful especially for our family and friends who are supporting us in our response to God's call in our lives and are making it possible for us to be where we are. Without all of you, we would not be speaking Spanish as well as we are in this moment, nor would we be about to embark upon a new life in Ecuador in three weeks from now.

    Therefore: Thank you! Thanks for caring about us, praying for us, and being involved in our lives. We are so thankful for all of you! May God bless you richly!

Happy Thanksgiving!

 Your friend,

 -jim


Sunday, November 11, 2012

Paul.


      This week I want to tell y'all about a good friend of ours. Paul Jones is a 36 year old from Ohio. Paul is single and is a pilot. He worked primarily regionally in the East Coast and a bit in the Midwest, but he has also made flights down to Texas and many other locations. He even fixed up a plane that he then flew solo in all the way up to Alaska. 

      When we arrived in the end of April, we had a very small group of incoming students. There were 10 of us total. Four of us were men, and the other 6 women. Jeremy McMillan and I are married and have children, and Tom and Paul were single. Tom was in his 60's and though Paul and he varied quite a bit in age, Paul kind of took Tom under his wing. As the two single men of our class, Paul helped Tom quite a bit in learning/understanding spanish, and they spent quite a bit of time together. I had a few good conversations with Paul last trimester, but as all new students, we spent a lot of time just adjusting to the culture, new language, and routine of daily life.

Our Grammar Class 1st Trimester: Top row is me, Paul, & Tom
      Tom left after one trimester, leaving Paul as the only single guy. Others left, too, leaving our '2nd trimester class' at a grand total of 8 people. Jeremy, the other married guy came in with a decent amount of spanish, so he was placed in a higher language class. So this trimester Paul and I are the only guys in grammar class together. Not to mention that three of the other women exclusively tutor... meaning there are 5 of us taking full-time classes. 

     At any rate, Paul and I have become very close. He's a dear friend, and a true joy to spend time with. He's also a guitarist and singer, so we've had multiple chances to play together and lead worship alongside one another. He's got a heart of gold, and we're excited for the ministry he's going to be doing in Guatemala. 

Paul and I at a Costa Rican soccer game
      Being that he's a pilot, his ministry has to do with flying. He's being sent by a ministry organization called Missionary Air Group (M.A.G.) and will basically be pioneering the ministry in Guatemala. I should mention that Paul worked stateside with a missions organization learning the nuts and bolts mechanics side of airplanes as well. So, not only can he fly the planes, but he's a mechanic and is completely capable of repairing and caring for planes of many varieties. 

       There aren't really any landing strips in Guatemala, and therefore there's not much going for this country in terms of smaller planes being able to transport people for ministry, emergencies, health care, delivery of much needed supplies, etc. So this is where Paul comes in. He will be traveling around  Guatemala, building relationships with villages, towns, and individuals to build trust and eventually build landing strips for airplanes. As he develops more and more locations for planes to land and take off, ministry throughout the country will be able to occur faster and when necessary. 

       So, please pray for Paul. He's going to be staying here for another trimester, meaning that he'll be here in Costa Rica through April, roughly. It has been such a blessing both for Suzy and I to have someone that we feel so comfortable with living just down the road. It's also been a huge blessing for me to have someone that I click with in such a strong way as a brother in Christ, but also just as a really strong friend. Whether we want to have brunch with someone, go for a hike, play games, go to a soccer game, or just talk for hours, Paul seems to always be there for me (and for us) and has really been a defining presence in our time here at language school.

     I should also mention that Paul is an incredible photographer! At the school's harvest (halloween) celebration, Paul took pictures all throughout the night, and took this amazing one of our family at the end of the night. 



To follow more closely what Paul is all about and what he's up to, his blog is: 

Wishing all of you a wonderful start to your week!

 -jim