Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Looking on the Bright Side.....

It has been a rough twenty(when I looked on the calendar I couldn’t believe it had only been 20)days but despite some pretty discouraging circumstances, we’ve chosen to look on the bright side, and keep on with our family and ministry responsibilities….here’s a brief summary, not for the faint of heart!

Day 1-Slow leak in tire-no big deal, add air and hope for the best.

Day 2- Hot water heater not acting right, breaker flips whenever in use, must have that looked at

Day 3-Tire checked for screw or other problem—given clean bill of health, still looks low….

Day 4- Hot water heater melted with charred insides—not functional after repairman takes parts out to replace-not a problem, have a showerhead hot water heater in a drafty shower in a non-used maid’s quarters…cost to replace $650

Day 5- Flat tire, found by guard in furniture store parking lot while purchasing mattresses for our newest missionaries arriving Dec. 11thguard points out where tire repair place is, 20 minutes later, tire is fixed-$3.

Day 6-Tropical storm brewing….TONS of rain….inside warm and dry…praying that the now hurricane Ida doesn’t hit New Orleans(we heart New Orleans!)

Day 7- Brian and Ben are almost home…trying to cheer up by making homemade ice cream—expensive large bag of cream into bowl, completely spoiled…roasted broccoli and cauliflower with almonds will have to do tonight…

Day 8-Finished painting Brian’s office (shh, it’s a surprise, Anna and Mommy deserve lunch out—Gate wide open, some animal or vegetation blown by the wind, CLOSES GATE on R side of car, nicks right upper rear window---and GLASS crumbles into a million pieces….no one is hurt, we clean up the mess and eat hummus and crackers for lunch—all that is in the pantry

Day 9-Ben and Brian return home….yes, a little consolation and 20 hours before Brian heads to RG meetings…missionary loans us a car for the weekend, groceries in house, bills paid, happy kids…

Day 10-Borrowed car gets returned. Rain continues off and on—

Day 11- Make effort to take taxi to gymnastics—Anna practices for 30 minutes, then tears up and says she feels like she’s getting sick—after walking several blocks, a taxi eventually picks us up—Anna falls asleep immediately and we get her home and into bed

Day 12-Anna is really sick—high fever, headache, achy body—no other symptoms…but I’m not, and can tell that this is either a tough virus or eeeewww….the flu(whatever type, doesn’t matter—just has to run it’s course)

Day 13- Rain continues and in addition to Anna’s continued fever, there is a flood in the kitchen…Ilsias and I use the rotorooter plumbing tool and try and get the clog—doesn’t completely work, and the additional rain continues to back the sewage into the kitchen—100% sulfuric acid and buckets of hot water eventually work

Day 14- Anna’s still sick, I’m exhausted from no sleep and every 4 hour Tylenol offerings…but fellow missionaries bring provisions and now I get 6 -8 hours sleep

Day 15-Car taken to get measured for possible replacement window, on arrival to driveway, torrents of red transmission fluid spews all over driveway and street in front of house…car to be towed, and transmission not gone, just pieces needed to stop leak?

Day 16- Clinic day in Carpio-- Earthquake—5.0, 33 miles as the crow flies from our home—minimal cracks in wall, no reports of loss of life or property—just strange and unnerving after the last week in our home…

Day 17-Last weird symptoms of Anna’s influenza like illness(CDC term, when not tested for swine flu or seasonal flu etc)causes itchy rash…thank goodness Denise Lewis sent me plenty of Children’s Benadryl—not sold in this country

Day 18-Anna is fever-free, still no workable car…Reachglobal missionaries lend us a different car so we can get to church and Ben can serve on the audio-visual team(and I have a BUTTERBALL Thanksgiving turkey—hopefully enough for 14-16 hungry people)!

Day 19- New hot water heater purchased and installed and we have ….HOT WATER, just in time for missionary guests arriving this week and no need for a tow truck…Mechanic in driveway fixing transmission under my portico—with his kids watching and learning! Window on order, not as pretty as the old one, but the car won’t get wet!

Day 20- Even in these difficult circumstances, and our limited budget(especially this month), I take newborn diapers and diaper cream, and various other necessary items to a family of 3 -expecting number 4 this week, living in a corrugated tin home with an outdoor potty(no plumbing) 200 yards up the hill from our home…and in the midst of it all, I know I can be THANKFUL for you, our supporters, our friends and family, and we are resolved to stay and use the gifts and talents God has given our family in serving in Latin America! What a praise—in the midst of hardship, I don’t want to return home(truly not of myself, I’ll tell ya!)

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Contrasting Communities

Television has an interesting way of portraying life in other countries. My husband and I are frequently asked about living and retiring in Costa Rica because cable television shows indicate that living abroad in San Jose, Costa Rica is paradise. In fact, it was ranked number one in the Happy Planet Index (2009), and was reported to have a life expectancy second only to Canada, and the highest life satisfaction of all countries. Much of my ministry life in San Jose, however, is spent among the urban poor, in two barrios, Rio Azul and La Carpio, two areas that contrast sharply to the picture painted by world journalists. The average monthly income in this community of 40,000 inhabitants is less than $225 USD, while inflation hovers around 10.9% or more. In these areas, corrugated tin and scrap-metal shanties crowd the pothole-laden streets, and both areas receive tonnage of San Jose garbage daily. Odors mix in the air and one realizes that the needs are great, despite attempts of local government and non-profit organizations in addressing health, nutrition, public safety and societal issues. Last Friday, as I practiced the art of midwifery in a community clinic, I was overwhelmed as a young woman took off a handcrafted beaded necklace and placed it in my hands, covering my hands with her work-worn ones. Giving me this item cost her much. Later, during my long commute, I secretly wept and prayed for the indigent women and children in Costa Rica, and my small role in helping to alleviate their suffering. Despite the public image that La Carpio receives as a crime-ridden squatters’ community, there is heart buried deep in community calloused by social injustice, and the love of Christ can bring forth joy, healing and hope from urban poverty.

Ninety minutes across town, I was invited to a Iadies’ neighborhood Bible study where we spent several hours in a low-income neighborhood studying the Bible and singing praises with women who walk closely with Him despite poverty, diabetes, blindness, and age. Experiencing such joy reminds me that remaining in Christ as in the analogy of the vine and branches, will produce fruit despite the tempests of life. Missionaries in earlier decades( 70’s and 80’s) planted the seeds in this community and firm, unshakable roots have dug deep. My prayer is that wherever my family and I roam, that seeds will be planted, and even though we may not see full branches and beautiful fruit during our time here, that God, the cultivator and Master gardener will reap a plentiful harvest in years to come throughout Latin America and the world.