Tuesday, December 30, 2008

This had better be good...

My mother in law Marian and I set off down a bumpy road jutted with ruts and rocks to find an interesting hidden away pottery studio near our home…we approached a chain across the road and I realized that it was quite possible that the guard and the studio inhabitants were not available, then quickly surmised that I would have to back up about 300 yds(I do anything to avoid putting a 12 pax Starex in reverse)…and as soon as I gathered my courage, backed up nearly 300 yds, the guard appeared. Marian said let’s go see if he will let us pass—I couldn’t believe she talked me into it, but we approached, asked for la ceramica, and he dropped the chain!

About 100 meters up the road I remembered that Brian told me it was up. Up is one way to describe where the studio is located, but along a single lane drive with hairpin turns is another. I also remembered a remark about some dogs…. The kind of dog reminiscent of Rex, the neighbors’ dog in North Carolina. He loved me, but he looked as though he would eat anything or anyone approaching!

It was worth it! Pefi’s studio had beautiful, whimsical pottery pieces of all patterns, shapes, and sizes! Too pricey for me, but Marian bought a cute pitcher! A must see if you visit the east side of the Central Valley!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

It's Christmas Eve...Pierna de Cerdo: A tradition for Costa Rican but a new Christmas Eve tradition for us!

Morning came a little earlier this AM as Cathi prepared her pierna de cerdo(leg of pig) for a Christmas Eve lunch!

Take one freshly slaughtered and herbed pierna, mix one bottle cerveza (beer) and one bottle Coca-Cola. Cook over low heat until tender while basting every 30 minutes to keep moist! Slice thinly and serve alongside all the traditional Duggan Christmas side dishes!

It was truly delicious and Oreo enjoyed one of the bones all afternoon! Guess I’ll have to come up with some new recipes for all the leftover meat!

Sunday, December 14, 2008

The Stockings were hung, on the wall with care....

Last night we finished hanging the interior Christmas lights, and in lieu of a chimney, we carefully hung our stockings on our dining room wall, and wrapped our banister with green garland reminiscent of my parent’s foil garland to replicate our home d├ęcor stateside. We are anticipating Matt’s return on Friday—after finals Tuesday through Thursday! Brian has a busy day ahead of him as our local congregation is performing “Papa Panov’s Christmas” and he has been in San Jose long enough to participate in the choir! Christmas open house invitations are being sent, and even though the winds are blustery and the temperature in the 60’s and 70’s, the holidays are here! I am about to join my Tico neighbors in putting together canastas de Navidad(Christmas baskets) for our security guards—should be an interesting time!

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Christmas bats and cats....when you care enough to give the very best?

My kids wanted me to share a few details about the bats and cats that have appeared in various locations in our home recently. Oreo is a very sweet dog who must realize that we saved her from a life of misery and has been expressing her gratitude in various ways! I wish I had a photo of the “special” gift she left in a prominent place in my home recently—a bat! Not the equipment needed for baseball, but a recently deceased furry winged bat—beady eyes and all! After some praise, the specimen quickly went into the trash before a photo op!

For several days Oreo has been on patrol and acting strangely. Brian went to retrieve something for our Christmas tree and found what Oreo knew had been prowling around…a small gray and white kitten with some sort of deformity….guess she was just earning her keep!

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Part of the Community

Even though the dreary rainy day at the end of rainy season prevented us from cutting our Christmas tree today, and Anna’s fever and hacking cough continued, I knew we were part of a community. And the very wonderful thing, part of the local La Union community where neighbors greet neighbors with “Buenas, como le va?" (Good afternoon, evening, how's it going?) careful to notice any difference in response. I guess my response wasn’t as cheery this afternoon, but my local grocer gave me suggestions on how to use local honey to make a natural cough syrup, and our friends at the local panaderia knew that teddy bear cookies would put a smile on Anna’s face and help her recuperation so that she could brighten the community as she took walks with her siblings and Oreo! They also offered tips on using cold water and alcohol on foreheads to bring down the fever and gave me fresh bread for dinner!

I left their store, with a smile on my face even though the rain continued to pour! Thanks for allowing us to be a light in this community—even on days that seem less than perfect!

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Pretty as a Princess

We invited a houseful to our Thanksgiving dinner and post-dinner dessert, so we took a few minutes to make sure the table and the house looked as nice as it could. Anna's curtains finally got put up with a little creative use of curtain rods and household decorations...she really knew what we didn't --the curtains look perfect, and she's on her way to becoming an interior designer! Thanks again to those who made it a princess dream room!

Monday, November 24, 2008

It's the most wonderful time of the year!

Even though it has rained all night for the last several days and a fine mist (pelo de gato) of drizzle continues, we made the most of yesterday afternoon by walking the dog near a local Christmas tree farm. Last year, the gringos from N.C. did not know that one reserved a Christmas tree well in advance of our Thanksgiving. This year upon seeing car after car with arboles de navidad (Christmas trees) on top of their car roofs, we were prompted to act before all of the best trees were gone and before the only ones remaining were out of our price range. This year we have a much taller tree waiting with our name on it for a smaller price than last year—it is so wonderful to know the culture, rudimentary, though not advanced Spanish and the locals. Please join us in praying for our neighbors who will be invited to our annual Christmas Day open house---that they will come from behind their fortressed walls and razor wire,  experience the love of Christ in simple hospitality and that Christ will begin to remove the walls in their hearts this Christmas season! Happy Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

An Interesting 24 Hours!

Our Tuesday morning ladies’ Bible study got together to thank and honor Kim, who every Tuesday hosts the study in her home. Unfortunately, outdoor weddings and garden parties both depend on beautiful weather—which didn’t arrive yesterday. It rained all night and all day, but we were all smiles and decked out in our finest with hiking boots/sandals or tennis shoes and decorated bonnets! The rain couldn’t spoil our fun as we sang, laughed, shared and cried. We are so fortunate to have one another as we are Christian women from different countries and cultures, residing as expatriates in Costa Rica.

The GPS drained my battery so my car wouldn’t start after the fiesta, but some kind friends helped jumpstart it and then the same GPS didn’t comprehend that many Costa Rica roads are one-way(and not the way I was headed) so it took quite some time to get home—needless to say, I crossed bridges with our van that I may not have jogged over! Wish I had a photo of those!

Around midnight we were awakened by an earthquake (6.1) as our bed moved to and fro! All is well, but I think I’ll take ordinary for the next couple of days!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Cheerful hearts

Keri loves her new curtains and is looking forward to Saturday when they will block out the sunlight and she can sleep blissfully late. Thank you to those whose shop carried the gorgeous fabric( Front Door Fabrics), those who purchased fabric for Keri and Anna, the hands who carefully stitched both sets of curtains, and the transport of fabric from Costa Rica to the US and back again.

The time in Charlotte flew by, and although I spent a long time relishing the new Trader Joe's(we left the day it opened August 2007) and hadn't bees...the thought of shopping for those items we need, but don't like to transport was left for tomorrow. Thursday we had brunch with the Anderson family(thanks guys!) and every item on our "things we can't find or afford in Costa Rica" list was in a box at their home--lovingly provided by cheerful hearts(you also know who you are) prompted by God. Upon arriving at the airport Saturday AM, Brian handed me an envelope that simply said "Duggan luggage"....and the cash inside paid for our three duffles of things--ladies' items for our area conference, Christmas decorations and those necessities from Trader Joe's and the box of groceries AND a snack box on the plane(we ran to our connection, with little thought to lunch on the way)....we are humbled by the cheerful hearts of those who so blessed us during our time in Charlotte, those who pray when prompted, and those who welcome us with open arms when we arrive on US soil. We love you! Our hearts are cheerful and ready and available to bless those brought across our path-in Costa Rica, Latin America, and parts beyond!

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Pura Vida

Nestled safely in Costa Rica sipping a cup of coffee to chase the chill in the air away! The fall decorations have warmed up our dining room and kitchen and it seems a little holiday like! In fact, after church we shopped for groceries as our cupboards were bare and found(a first) COOL WHIP! I used great restraint and only bought one container for Thanksgiving Day. One never knows when an item will ever appear on the shelf or in the freezer again!


All of our personal belongings made it safely and I will thank whoever paid for our luggage transport here—you know who you are! I even had a few dollars left to buy the kids a snack box on the plane! We had to run from one plane to another and hadn’t had breakfast or lunch!


The curtains haven’t been hung yet, but as soon as they are I’ll post a picture! It really does feel like this is our home now—Spanish, gates, guards, and all.



Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Feeling loved...

Being around friends and family and local bodies of believers has been so encouraging. The outpouring of love has been so incredible! Yesterday I had the privilege of volunteering at the Crisis Pregnancy Center and enjoyed a lunch of salad and soup and wonderful conversation in the homey atmosphere of the dining room of CPC with the staff of the center and my dear mother in law!


Today we plan to relax in an idyllic setting—fireside at a cabin on a lake—the forecast is for rain, but being totally unplugged on Election Day seems very appealing. Our dear friends from language school in Costa Rica are surprising Anna tomorrow, we’ll post pics later this week!


The lines are long, and we were able to vote absentee….but we hope you have voted or will enjoy getting to know someone in the lines at the polls today!


Saturday, October 25, 2008

La Feria

La Feria


Saturday is the farmers’ market known in Spanish as, “la feria” .  On the ½ mile walk there, one sees unusual sights(Brian has the camera in Peru or I’d post a pic here)….a soda(small restaurant often run by a housewife out of her driveway/front of house), a bakery with piping hot baguettes(and other fresh baked but not warm rolls, breads, cookies), a veggie stand, a fruit store, a mini-super(think AM/PM or 7-Eleven but not overpriced), a diaper store(yes, for adults and infants), and a couple carts selling fresh fruit drinks(orange, kolita (bubble gum with fruit floating in it), mixed fruit, tamarindo, and limeade. On the edge of the small, local market here in Tres Rios, trailers selling meats or seafood sit a few meters(remember the metric system—they use it here!) before long rows of fresh veggies and fruits. Often vendors sell only green veggies or strawberries or you name it. Quite an experience…if ya’ll come visit, we’ll take you!


Friday, October 24, 2008

Pursuing a No-Regrets Life

Much of what we read has little to do with our lives and offers an escape from reality. Our family recently received the book One Month To Live: Thirty Days to a No-Regrets Life.  The book’s thesis is that in daily life we put off many things due to lack of time, energy, resources, or mere excuses. All of us have the same quantity of time to spend each twenty-four hours. What can we do to make it count for the kingdom, most specifically in the lives of our families and others?


Case in point, applying to graduate school while raising four children was a choice motivated first by a passion for the lives of women and children (instilled by God and three different nurse-midwives whose paths crossed mine in my 20’s and 30’s); secondly, to cultivate my intellect; and thirdly, by a desire to use that passion to assist women in my own family and women and children in need.


I daresay that making the choice to leave a comfortable, idyllic American lifestyle was another turning point for our family and in doing so, we began living out what the book above calls a no-regrets life. Believe me, we have not arrived but are on a journey and hope that a small portion of such living will be learned by our children and their children as they develop, not in middle age.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Zumba, anyone?

Although I have been to a few gyms in Latin America, and have even enjoyed exercise classes at a few, this morning made me realize exactly why I enjoy running so much—

· It is a solo sport, except during races etc, and even then you are competing against one’s own personal best

· It takes place OUTDOORS, a breeze or light sprinkle may even be felt

· Cadence is involved, but not to a Latin beat

But when Keri wanted to go with me to Zumba, it made it somehow more palatable…

Zumba is intense- and when done in a hot, non-air conditioned Costa Rican gym(think the smallest exercise venue in any Charlotte area YMCA) you are sure to burn enough calories to earn a taxi ride home from the middle of town-especially when your 17 year old insists! We’re gonna try a different class at another gym this week!

Monday, October 6, 2008

Matthew speaks

Matthew was asked to be the student representative for the groundbreaking of the new 128K square foot science building at Wheaton College.

Saturday, October 4, 2008


Happy 25th Reunion Class of '83

Although I am sad that I am not physically present in Wheaton this weekend, I want to wish my husband and all of my friends well on their 25th reunion. I am grateful for the role the faculty and institution played in our spiritual growth, our commitment to Christ, in our marriage and in the lives of our beautiful children. Classmates are scattered all over the globe and are walking testimonies to Christ.  We will pray for you and your families as Christ continues to write His story! We have a PO box here in Costa Rica that is just as lonely as your CPO box was when you checked it several times daily while at Wheaton!  Emails are wonderful, but notes of encouragement are nice too! Please keep in touch!

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Oreo takes the cake!

Happy Birthday, Oreo!

Although no one but Oreo’s mother knows the exact date and time of Oreo’s birth, we were told a date of October 1, 2008 was close. Our little 1.2 kilo malnourished, near-death puppy has grown into a sweet, personable dog. Keri baked her a few “pupcakes” to celebrate, frosting them with one of her favorites, peanut butter!

On that same note, we had a little trouble baking both chocolate and vanilla cupcakes and wonder if the sugar or one of the two leavening agents, baking powder or baking soda were to blame…not to worry, we’re going to use pretend that they were meant to be mini “molten lava” cakes with ice cream and strawberries later. If you have any suggestions, let us know—we’ve never had a problem before!

Friday, September 26, 2008

A year already...

As we sit to write this prayer letter, we remember God's provision, protection and grace as we have served as missionaries in Costa Rica for one year. It has been a year of new experiences, cultural adaptation, new friendships, goodbyes, frustrations, joys and sorrows, and through it all God has been faithful. All of us have grown increasingly dependent on God and one another, and know that God is continuing to mold and shape us into the useful vessels He needs to accomplish His purposes here on earth. Our home is a sanctuary not only for our family, but for guests and language students new to Costa Rica.

We have learned more than some Spanish during this first year. Navigating city streets without names or numbers, weathering tropical downpours, avoiding huge potholes and other drivers have given new meaning to defensive driving and the necessity for insurance and patience.

Our outward appearance still reflects our North American upbringing but our hearts, minds, and tongues have been touched by the Tico culture in which we live. Living here still takes longer, but we enjoy simple pleasures that often go unnoticed in a fast-paced, hurried lifestyle. A shared cup of coffee, time with a neighbor, chatting with a storekeeper, impromptu invitations, and being in the moment are more commonplace. High food prices, the lack of American convenience foods and a limited budget have spurred creative approaches to mealtime— often inspired by Rachael Ray or a Dream Dinners cookbook, but with a few substitutions!