Thursday, August 28, 2014

Journey of Godly Reminders ~ Part 3

The sunset is creeping on us fast.  Here in Costa Rica the days start very early.  Dusk is around 4:40am and it is dark at 6:00pm.  We had been hiking for several hours, pretty much a very steep incline the entire way.  We came upon a school where a woman shouted from the porch asking what we were doing and where we were going.

We stopped, rested our backs and our feet, and chatted with this lady.   And gladly used the facilities {an outhouse} she offered.  A 4X4 vehicle passed by and she looked at us like we were crazy...."Why didn't you ask him for a ride to get you further," she asked us.  Hindsight....we should have all gone running like crazy chickens asking for a ride!  
We loaded back up and hiked some more, daylight is ending and we are not going to make it to Roca Quemada tonight.  Our options of places to pitch a tent are scarce to say the least.  We are about thirty minutes from dark, you can see the thunderstorm rolling in from a distance, and our options on each side of the road are a wall of red clay or the deep valley of jungle {a drop off}.  Moving as fast as you can when hiking and hauling 30-40 pounds on your back, our goal was just keep moving.  We came across a small open spot where a couple horses were grazing.  An answered prayer, I am sure each of us were praying about.
We all waited outside a bamboo fence while Keith stepped inside the yard of a very humble home {a bamboo and grass hut structure} of a Cabeccar family.  This would be where we camped for the night.  A man walked out to the field and staked the horses.  It is 5:50pm and thunder rolling in.  I think we all pitched our tents in record timing.  
I have to throw some humor in here for you.  I am a girl who loves a soft bed but likes to camp as well and can rough it when need be.  I knew this would be a rough trip.  My question to David before I left was, "Will there be a river?  Anywhere?  Anything to get clean?"  He assured me that would not be a problem.  Ummmm, yeah that didn't happen.  Remember back when I said I would never truly be able to relate the entire experience to you because it would be void of the things you could see with your own two eyes, feel with your heart, taste, and let's not forget the SMELLS!  I am beyond disgusting.  I will just say, I wasn't the only one in the same condition..ha.  There are about 179 layers of sweat, grime, and mud.  My hope of a bath tonight vanished around 5:00pm when I knew we would never make it to the river tonight.  My cleaning up consisted of unhooking a small black hose, soaping up a washcloth and washing my face and arms, filling my water bottle, and running back to the tent.  The lightening in Costa Rica is wicked...WICKED.  I love storms here, the lightening is beautiful, and I love the rain.  But not when I am at the top of a mountain in an open field.  
This trip brought an whole new meaning to the verse in 1 Thessalonians 5:18 "Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you."  As the lightening flashed and the thunder was crashing, I prayed constantly for God's protection over each one of us.  And, at the same time was so thankful that this lightening was not striking where we were at, because it strikes so close to our house all the time that the windows rattle and your heart takes a few steps out of your body.  This trip was definitely a journey of lots of prayer with the Lord.  A reminder that we get busy in our daily routine and my prayers just become routine and not hours of uninterrupted communication with God.  
I finally fell asleep and managed to nap for a few hours.  My camping mates did not fair so well with the rain that poured continuously until the early hours of the morning.  Reid was floating in his tent and moved in with his parents in their two men tent with all of the gear.  Jessica was semi-floating in her tent.  And, I believe the others managed with only the bottom of the tent being wet and everything that was sitting on the bottom of the tent being wet.  Everyone was up and packing bright and early and we were heading down the mountain by 6am.

{all packed up and ready for day 2}

This part of the trip I think was definitely the hardest.  It was hours of down, down, down....sliding down, slipping, falling, and so much mud caked on your shoes that they were coming off and added several pounds of weight.  
The further we went the muddier it got.  About an half hour into our hike, we came to the most amazing view.  Pictures cannot capture the justice that God's majesty portrayed.  Breathtaking, and really silence, was an appropriate response as we all stopped and took in the peace that surrounded us.


We finally reached Roca Quemada, much later than we had anticipated.  At this point we met Yamileth, one of the women who is working with Dr. Judith in helping teach prenatal care and newborn care, and most importantly she is saving lives.  Her stories are an entire other post all alone.  

{Yamileth, Keith, & Emily}

We were supposed to meet Yamileth at the "store" ( a small shanty consisting of tuna, sugar, rice, and beans) the night before, but we did not make it.  She was sitting in the doorway waiting for us when we arrived at 9:30 Thursday morning.  She told us her plans to visit a pregnant woman in another village later that day and asked us to come with her.  We agreed to meet her in this village later in the day.  We headed to the river to filter water and restock and then continued our trek further into the jungle where we camped in the yard of another young woman who has also helping the women on the reservation.  

{This is the Chiripó river where we filtered water and treated the filtered water with 
bleach.  Let's just say I wanted to cover all bases.}

While we were down at the river there was a woman washing clothes in the river with her children.  I mention this because many people have died on the reservation doing this very thing.  One particular family we know adopted two children whose parents and other siblings all died one morning when they were down at the river and out of nowhere a huge wall of water came.  It was a sunny morning when this happened, but it had been raining higher up the mountain and the river started rising fast and went downstream, taking the lives of this family, except two children.  Drowning is the number one cause of death on the reservation.  Every time we went down to the river to do this or had to cross a river this was always in my mind.  Everything can look fine, and then in an instant life is gone.  You never know when life will be over.  It can be any second of any day.  I know this, there are things that remind us of this, but when you are literally standing in a place where you know people have died from something they didn't expect it seems even more surreal.  Another one of those Godly reminders, a reminder of why we are here, a reminder of what we are doing, and that the journey to these people is worth every bit of the hardship.   

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Journey of Godly Reminders ~ Part 2

This trip to the Chirripó Reservation included myself, Keith Avaritt, Lesa Avaritt, Rob Moore, Heather Moore, Jessica Moore, Reid Moore, and Emily Siemens.  Just sharing this journey with these wonderful people was a Godly reminder in itself of the sheer blessing of being able to call these people friends who are family.  We had some fun times with lots and lots of laughter and some tears.

We left the home of Isaias piled into the back of his little 4X4 truck and along the way picked up two more people, a woman named Gladys and her six year old daughter along with a couple of newly purchased chickens.  We all found it totally ironic that the chickens were being transported in the plastic sack bearing the name "Pipasa," the Costa Rican chicken processing company (same as Tyson for those of you in the states).  We all became a little bit closer in the back of this truck with 9 people, 8 packs, 8 backpacks, and two chickens.

Gladys is a woman that David and I had heard about.  She is a very petite woman with the most muscular arms I ever seen on any woman.  The unanimous story we keep hearing is that she is one of the strongest women on the reservation and carried 2 bags of concrete, each weighing 50kg (that is more than a 100lbs each).  She carried this the entire way from the point where we started hiking which is approximately 8-10 miles to the entry of Roca Quemada (the first community in this part of the reservation).  Talk about some phenomenal stamina and strength.  It is almost unbelievable, I mean to carry 200lbs of concrete, but if you only knew what kind of terrain she is climbing and the grade of the descent make this unfathomable.  

She and her little girl climbed into the back of the truck with us and sat quietly.  The sweet little girl with her had sad eyes; she looked tired and uncomfortable.  Lesa pulled out a little sucker and piece of bubble gum and you could see the whites of her teeth as she broke her lips for a beautiful smile, a little hesitant at first as she looked to her mom first.  This little girl had sores on her arms that looked so painful.  My first thought was that she had been beaten and burned on her arms.  They were whelped like a what you would see on a slave that had been beaten with a whip.  But, yet they also looked like something had bitten her in the middle and it had become grossly infected.

The time came for us all to pile out and start the hike in.  Our driver thought if he emptied all of us out of the truck that he might could make it further with our packs and help us out a bit further.  I was hopeful but not confident that it would happen.  The steep grade of the roads and the incredible amount of very wet mud made it impossible.  He made it about 300 feet when it was determined that would not be happening.  Deflated, but oh so thankful that he was able to take all of us and our packs this far.  

What an awesome view to be engulfed in when you are out on a stroll....well, not a stroll,
because I was sweating like some 500lb man.  I didn't know my body was capable of 
producing so much sweat.  Just keeping it real : ) 

This sweet man unloaded our packs, grabbed one of our backpacks and hiked with is for a couple hours and then turned around and hiked back to his truck.  This part of the trip is hiked on what they call a road, with steep grades that are not even legal in the states, and is red clay.  The first couple of hours were a hard climb...up, up, and up.  We passed several people and almost every one of them that stopped asked me "Where are you going...What are you doing...Who are you...Who are you going to see?"  They are all curious as to what in the world are crazy white people doing out here.  And us white people are SLOW compared to their almost run.  From where we were dropped off they can make that hike in 3.5-4 hours, our pace doubles that time.  

{Pictures never truly depict the grade of places here.  And this mud is 
wet, wet, wet...and my shoes weighed like 20lbs...I know they were!}

Gladys hiked with us for a couple hours before she went on ahead of us so that she would make it home before dark.  She told us during this time about her daughter's arms and that she had just gone into town (a 7-8 hour hike each way for her) for the second time to get medical care for her daughter. I can't recall the exact name, but there is an insect here in Costa Rica that causes severe lesions on the body and can only be treated with an injection of a certain medicine.  There is nothing you can take by mouth or any creams that you can apply that will make it go away.  And with children the lesions usually become worse and worse because they touch them.  This was the second time she had taken her for this exact thing and they would not give her the injection.  They keep telling her that isn't what she has and tells her to come back later and they will look at her again.  This is typical social medicine here.  They've given a her a cream but nothing is helping and her condition is worsening.  She had taken her this second time because she was having a hard time breathing through her nose.  The insides of her nose were swollen and red.  This mother left a doctor's office again with nothing to help her daughter.  Before she went on ahead of us we stopped and prayed that God, the greatest Physician of all, may heal her and give that precious child comfort and take away her pain.  

{Pictured Left to Right ~ Gladys, her daughter, Jessica, Lesa, Reid, Emily, 
me, Heather, and Rob}

When we see these situations that seem so helpless, and you feel like there is nothing you can do to really help them, there is.  We can advocate for them, we can show them love, make God's love present to them.  We hold the most powerful help to them.  We have God on our side.  We have Him any time of day or night.  We can call on Him at any time for anything.  And we can share Him with others.  You begin to feel so deflated when you see first hand the harsh realities of life for these people here and you wonder what in the world am I, one person going to be able to do to really help these people.  There is so much need that there is just really not a tangible place to begin.  There is only one place to start and that is showing and sharing God's love.  

Monday, August 11, 2014

Journey of Godly Reminders ~ Part 1

I have thought a lot the last week an half on how I could accurately describe and give you a true portrayal of our trip to the Cabécar Chiripó Reservation.  And I have concluded that it really is not completely possible.  You need all five senses to feel, see, touch, taste, and hear everything.  And as time passes, even I forget the tiny details.  I could write for days and days and probably never break the surface on everything that I could say about that trip, from the back-breaking trek to the heartbreaking realities of the lives of the Cabécar Indians.

I am so thankful that this trip was something that my husband wanted me to go on, and while he wanted also to go very badly, he asked me if I would like to go while he stayed with the kids for a few days.  He drove us as far as he could to the reservation and then turned around and made the long trip back home solo to take care of the kids.  He wanted us to have as much time as possible out there in the short amount of time that we had, because if he had not driven us the 3.5-4 hours then we would have had to spend 8 hours getting there on the bus system.

Yamileth, one of the Cabécar women, who works with Dr. Judith to help the woman on the reservation is married to a Tico, and her husband, Isaias had planned to drive us as far as he could in his 4x4 truck and then we would hike the rest of the way in.  When we arrived he invited us into the home he, his wife, and son share with his parents.  His mother had prepared us lunch before she left early that morning to go take care of her grandchildren.  This family by Costa Rican standards is poor, by American standards poverty stricken, and by Cabeccar standards very well off.  It is all in how you look at things and by what standards you hold.  This family invited us into their home and have opened their arms and hearts to us like family.  I had only met them once before, but this trip allowed me to build a foundation for a relationship that I am sure will only teach me things that I hope will make me a better person and better steward for the Lord.  

One may think that rice, beans, and chyote (a squash like vegetable) is not a grand meal, but the fact that this family prepared that for eight of us is huge.  I know that it is not a light gesture when people offer you a food or drink here, because they are literally offering you all that they have, the food that they are stretching for their own families.  I always feel immense guilt when eating their food, but also feel such honor as they wash their best plates to serve you and search all of the cabinets in the kitchen in fridge to serve their eight guests.  I have never seen hospitality like what I see here, because these people will offer you something, anything when they have hardly anything to give.  And they give with such pleasure.  The attitude that these people show always reminds me of what I think God means a cheerful giver to be.  While I cannot see the inside of their hearts,  I do see their outward demonstration of happily giving you everything they have and not a giver of their extra leftovers.  

I feel so privileged to be on the ground in this country and to be a witness to these things that are such simple gestures, but such huge reminders to me of the expectations that God has for me.  So, thirty minutes into arriving and the journey of Godly reminders starts.  And, so our journey begins, as Rob says, "I spent one week here one day."

Oh, and we can't forget the laughs we had as we arrived and David found himself stuck in mud and sawdust.  Funny how you will let the locals talk you into doing things that you know will not work.  They are relentless when they tell you something will work and you kindly decline and they are very persistent in insisting that it will be fine.  

And you find yourself in pickles like this.....
This picture does not even begin to depict the hilarity of the situation.  But 
us girls had to move our way up the hill and turn around because it was so 
comical.  Keith and Rob had not even started the trek and were splattered
with mud only minutes after arriving.  Side note: The girls made the final
push that made the difference.   : )

We will just say we were all in some really awkward sitting positions to fit
all 8 of us and our 8 packs and 8 small backpacks into the back of this...

The beginning of a very bumpy ride that we were so thankful we had, and that appreciation grew
immensely once we started our incline.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Cherry Limeade...Sonic?

Can we just say it is hot and I am craving some Cherry Limeade Sonic drinks!!  So, the other day when I was trying to think of a girly cupcake for a sweet nine year old at the Residencia de Vida here in Atenas, I was looking at my low stock of cupcake liners wondering what am I going to do with green is for a girl.
Some of you may have seen a picture on Facebook, but if you haven't then here is the final product.

I would love to share the recipe but I honestly can't.  I looked at about three different recipes online, worked with the ingredients I can find here, and then made up my own recipe.  I have some chicken scratch notes to see if I can duplicate this again.  So, if I make these again, I will try and make some better notes that can be shared.  

I thought they turned out super cute and were quite yummy too!  I think I need to make some homemade Cherry Limeade drinks this weekend.  The cupcakes didn't quite quench the craving I am having for that fizzy drink.

I dream of one day having a little pastry and dessert shop.  You know one of those dreams that are far more romantic on your head, the ones where you don't experience the labor intensive hours only to see you made $1.  I love to make pretty desserts and all because I have a dream, but until then I will serve anyone who is willing to eat my desserts from my home.  So, if you know me or live close to me I will make sure you gain a few pounds.  I can't keep all the desserts and bread that I make.  

Have a Sweet Tuesday!

Thursday, July 17, 2014

"Puentes de Vida" ~ Bridges of Life

A little over a week ago our entire family made a very long day of it and headed to the edge of the Cabeccar Reservation.  And I am so thankful for good little travelers who really don't complain about long hours in the car.  Daddy's only complaint is the too frequent bathroom stops...usually instigated by Mom.  I know, I am as bad as the kids.
It was an amazing day!  Several months ago we met a Costa Rican doctor who has dedicated his life since his medical career started to the Indigenous people of Costa Rica.  We got to meet his wife the other day as well.  She is an American and is also a doctor.  They went to Med School for the sole purpose of doing medical mission work.  They don't just do things here and there, these people live to help these people.  You would just have to meet them to fully comprehend their love for these people and see their desire to serve, completely and fully serve.  

They live about a mile outside of the reservation in a very small and very modest cabin.  He drives into the city to work in administration in one of the private hospitals where he has been able to make contacts and raise awareness for their work on the reservation.  The rest of their time is spent on the reservation serving these people and teaching them life skills that these people may not have ever had the opportunity to learn without their help.  They have raised funds to build foot bridges as drowning is the number one cause of death.  I could go on and on telling about the many different things they have in progress.  I don't know when they sleep!  
I have mentioned before the program that they started for the Cabeccar Women.  Judith (the American doctor) started a program 16 months ago.  The first 8 months she had several women enroll in a coarse she had developed to educate women on basic prenatal care, postnatal care, and newborn care.  She has taught these women basic things and this basic knowledge has saved lives.  These women went through the 8 month coarse and have been on the ground for 8 months now educating other women and helping other women.  She gave them something that will give for generations, and that is education.  
During election time in Costa Rica it is the law that government officials have to deliver ballots to the tribes.  One of these women who completed the coarse was seeing a women at the end of her pregnancy.  From the basic things she had learned she knew that a particular woman needed to leave the reservation and get to a hospital.  She did not know all of the physiology of what was going wrong, but she knew that something was wrong and if this woman did not get help, then she and her unborn baby would both die.  This young woman prayed that God would help her, help her find a way to get this woman the help that she needed.  These people are hours from the nearest hospital if they have transportation by a vehicle, and a vehicle can only get to the very edge.  Government officials arrived via helicopter to deliver the election ballots.  This woman acted quickly and used every resource.  I believe without a doubt that God answered her prayer with that helicopter.  I mean, what are the odds?  That is a God thing!  Only He sends a helicopter at the very moment it is needed.  She was able to arrange for this woman to be transported on this helicopter to the nearest hospital.  She used the knowledge that she was given, the resources God gave her at that moment, and she acted.  Her actions saved this woman and her unborn baby.  Had she not been able to be transported out by that helicopter she and her baby would have died.  She was having a placental abruption.  For those who don't know that medical lingo, that is when the placenta (what supplies nutrients and complete oxygenation to the baby) starts separating from the uterine wall.  She noticed the beginning signs of an abruption.  The doctors told her that she would have not survived if she had not gotten to the hospital when she did.  They did an emergency c-section.  When a placenta completely separates from the uterine wall you have minutes to do a c-section and get the baby out.  AKA....a nurse's nightmare!!!  Everyone on the unit moves at LIGHTENING speed!!!!  
{Left: Dr. Judith, Yamileth, & Gendry}
I am still trying to wrap my head around the fact that there isn't a nice labor and delivery room for these women with state of the art external fetal monitors, 4D ultrasound machines, epidurals, and an OR steps away from the delivery room.  These women don't have that.  They were born in a place, not of their own fault, where these aren't options.  Their reality is laboring on dirt floors without medicines, no idea what is happening to their body, no doctors, and at times delivering a baby completely alone.  They don't have everything that so many of us take for granted.  
I don't know to what extent or frequency that I will be able to help these women and this life-changing program that Dr. Judith has started, but she has extended the offer for me to help her with this program.  This is an answered prayer for me.  I was able to sit in on the last meeting with two of the women who completed the coarse.  I am in complete awe of their example to serve others and to love others like Jesus.  These women walk hours and hours to see just one woman or one newborn baby.  And then they do it the next day and the next.  They are changing lives, one life at a time.  If one life is saved, one life is changed, one life is able to see the love of God, truly know the love of God, and obey that awesome command that will free them, then the many hours in a car, hours hiking, the horrible Montazuma's revenge that strikes will be worth every second of my time and my family's time.  Because this is what it is all about...following Him, wherever the path may lead.  Please pray for this opportunity that has been set before us and that we will be able to plant seeds.  Keith, Lord-willing, will arrive with a group of 7 on July 28, and it is planned to travel to the reservation and go in further on July 30.  David wants me to be able to go on this trip.  I have only been to the edge of the reservation and not completely in, so this will be my first time.  As much as he wants to go, he is staying at home with the kids so that I can do this and spend some time with some of these women.  That is the most difficult thing about some of our work here, it means we each fly solo, because the kids can't always come, and this is one of those times.  So, please pray for all of us.

Saturday, June 28, 2014

It Takes A Village

Some of you have already volunteered your time and money for the Days For Girls Project that was led by Melanie Gaddy for the girls and women in Haiti.  But for those who have never heard of this, it is an awesome organization and I wish I had known about it before.  Because it is awesome.  It makes me want to have my sewing machine here.

{Click Here for more info about this organization}

There are women all over the world who endure their cycle every month without the needed hygiene products.  There are more women who don't have these things than women who do have these things.  As inconvenient as that time of the month can be to some, imagine living in conditions where you had no access to the things you needed, and if you did have access, having no money to pay for these things.  That is the reality all over the world.  

I have so much to blog about and share with everyone.  First off, the medical clinic that I have mentioned in some of my recently previous posts is becoming a reality.  The building materials were purchased last month while Keith Avaritt was here.  The main idea and focus of this clinic right now is for it to be a place that women can stay if they need medical care during their pregnancy.  We want this to be a place they can stop on their hike out to seek more medical care, or a place where a doctor can come in and treat them.  While thinking about a supply list for the clinic, one of the most basic things came to mind.  These people do not even have access to feminine hygiene products, much less postnatal pads.  Then Melanie Gaddy ran the Days for Girls Project for the women and girls in Haiti, and I believe this was God showing me a way to help these women now.  No need to wait for a clinic, these women need these items now.
{This is Magdalena, a native of the Cabeccan tribe, a women who is dedicated to educating and helping the girls and young women of her tribe.}

I NEED YOUR HELP!  This Indigenous reservation is home to thousands of women.  I am dreaming big, but how awesome if all of these women could eventually have these items!  The Days for Girls organization is helping make this possible.  This organization has figured everything out.  My initial goal is to have 50 regular kits and 25 postnatal kits brought with Keith Avaritt at the end of July.  We have exactly 3 1/2 weeks to do this!  The organization asks that we donate $10 a kit to cover the costs, so they can turn around and make more.  Please pray about this and see if you can help just one women or more.  With God all things are possible and I know that He will supply the need.  Huge things happen when everyone helps.  With a village of people working together, a huge task, is nothing.  Anyone who would like to make a donation for these kits can make a tax deductible donation here.  Scroll to the bottom of the page and you will see the donate button for the Days for Girls Project.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

All For A Craving

Well, after lots of Pinterest failures, and a few successes, I can add another success to the drawing board.  ENGLISH MUFFINS!  That was my go to breakfast in the states.  I love English Muffins toasted, spread with some peanut butter and then drizzled with honey.  Growing up I would mix the peanut butter with corn syrup, but you know with the "at least gonna try to eat healthier...with some things," I now use honey instead of that awful high fructose corn syrup.  I just reserve that awful stuff for that healthy pecan pie that is at least 800 calories a slice, and I am probably being generous with that calorie count.
A few months ago I had seen a recipe for English muffins, looked at it, and thought that is too much trouble for that.  Then the  other day I saw another one that said they were super easy.  I took a look, and they looked super easy.  And would fix my craving for some good English Muffins.  I can find them here at PriceSmart (aka Sam's in Costa Rica), and I have subjected myself to that cardboard before.  That is the usual for most things here.  If you want something good, you have to make it for yourself.

Go to your pantry and pull out these ingredients.

  • 3 2/3 C flour, plus a little more for kneading
  • 1 envelope of dry active yeast (or 1 1/4 tsp yeast, if you buy the huge bag like me)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1 C lukewarm water
  • 2/3 C plain yogurt (I used sour cream, but in Costa Rica the sour cream is very similar to yogurt)
  • Cornmeal for sprinkling
  • Oil of choose for skillet, I used coconut oil
You can do this by hand in a large bowl or if you have a mixer that just means less work for you.
Whisk together the flour, yeast, salt, and sugar in a bowl.  Then dump the yogurt in. 

Add your warm water.  Not too hot or you will kill the yeast.

Then let the mixer do the work, or start stirring with a big wooden spoon.

While the mixer is mixing sprinkle a large cookie sheet with the cornmeal.

I mixed on speed 2 until I knew the flour wouldn't fly out everywhere, then I sped it up to high, or on a Kitchen Aid I used speed 8.  I let the mixer run for about 7-8 minutes.

Then I generously floured my pastry mat before placing the dough on it.  Then I sprinkled probably an 1/8 C flour on top of the dough.  You then roll it out to be 3/4" thick and cut them in 3" diameters.  I used a kitchen cup.

Place them on the cookie sheet then sprinkle corn meal on the other side.

Cover and let rise for 1 hour.  If it isn't warm in the house, just place in the oven and turn the oven light on.

It is crazy how they start puffing up in the skillet.  I noticed they didn't rise a ton in the hour, but puffed very nicely when I started cooking them.

They were super yummy right off the skillet!

I converted David and the kids.  He does not like English Muffins.  But he managed to eat two, hot right off the skillet this afternoon.  Planning on making some breakfast sandwiches soon.  This recipe made 13 muffins.  With 6 of us, they won't last long enough for me to need to freeze them unless I double the recipe, which I probably will next time.  I would pre cut them, wrap individually in saran wrap, then place them in a  freezer bag.  Pull them out the night before and place them in the fridge.  Try these soon!  You won't regret it. 

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

2 Years and Counting...

Be warned.  I did not proofread.  No time for that.

Time flies.  In some ways it seems like just yesterday that we were going through the stress and trials of an international move with a family of 6.  And today, I sit here in shock that we are now legal residents of Costa Rica.  It is kind of surreal.  In my wildest dreams, ten years ago, I would have never imagined this would be my life.  Amazing how God works in our hearts and changes our lives, sometimes in a blink.  In some ways the past two years seems like just that, years, and then in other ways it was a blink, a blur.  But, it is official, we are residents and pray that the Lord will guide our steps and keep us here as long as he wants us here.

What is going on in our life?
  • I have a daughter who starts 4th grade in two weeks!!!  What???  She passed third grade with flying colors and tested way above grade level on her standardized testing.  Post Grad on some of them!!  Go Olivia!
  • Two little boys who have two more weeks of 1st grade and then will be BIG 2nd graders.  Whom also did amazing on their standardized tests and tested way above grade level.  Go Carson and Logan!
  • A little Princess who is starting Kindergarten, a year early.  She is bored and is ready to start school.  So, I have a very eager Kindergartener who is ready to start in two weeks.  Wish me luck!!  4 kids schooling.  I already have NO spare time!  Yikes.
  • David is juggling 2 services every week and 3 every other week, 2 different locations.  And was in much need of his two Sundays off while we were in the states.  He does this along with everything else he has going in the middle of the week.  He is an amazing man!  And all of it in Spanish!  And the best husband and father!!  Kind of love him!
    {hehe..I couldn't help it.  This was one of those 
    things I just happen to catch with the camera.
    He usually proof reads and checks my posts,
    but not this one.}
  • We have been so encouraged by the new group of Brothers and Sisters in the Atenas area that are meeting in our home on Sunday mornings.  They make me feel like home.  Mrs. Gloria is my second Mama and also doesn't miss a beat correcting my Spanish and making me repeat everything a million times until it meets her satisfaction : )  And she doesn't let David be my crutch when I don't understand.  They are family!
  • Spend every Saturday evening studying with the Atenas group for 3-4 hours.  Love that I get to go to these.  We have an amazing neighbor, Rita, who loves our kids to pieces, and is always here in a second to help out.  She and her two daughters come over every Saturday night to watch and play with the kids.  The kids love her and her family and love going to her house and them visiting us.  This was a huge blessing meeting her almost a year ago.  She looks out for us all the time!
  • Keith visited the reservation while he was here and looks like the clinic is going to happen.  Construction has not started yet.  My understanding is the lot is being cleared.  Things may be slow on this front for now, the rainy season has begun.  I don't think the supplies could be taken in there right now.  
  • Have spent the last week recovering from our whirlwind trip to the states.  The kids and I spent 6 weeks there and David came for 2 1/2 in the middle.  It is hard being there without him, but you have to make those plane tickets worth it!  I say whirlwind because we didn't stop until the last week we were there.  When you don't buy anything for over a year, except a few things here and there we have brought down, it makes for major stress trying to get every SINGLE person clothes and shoes...especially when kids grow out of clothes while we were there!!!  WHAT???  
  • Working on getting supplies for the five Indigenous women who are helping fellow women on the reservation.  So far we have a fetal doppler donated and also a TOCO/FHR monitor donated.  I am working on obtaining some other supplies and getting prices for the items that are needed now, clinic or no clinic.
  • Starting the process for Days for Girls for the women and girls of the Cabecar Reservation.  I am hoping to get this going and have the first of, I hope, many projects of this down here at the end of July when Keith and Lesa Avaritt visit and Rob and Heather Moore visit.  Time cruncher!!  It will be here before I know it.
  • Have got to get my continuing education credits done sometime  online, so I can keep my nursing license.  Planning to meet with the Doctors who have been working on the reservation for years and start volunteering doing medical things (I couldn't think of a better word!).  I miss medicine and nursing so BAD!!  I need this.  Looking forward to this meeting.
  • Trying to find the time to study Spanish, but lately there has not been any dedicated book study time, just using what I know and correcting what I can and learning from the real life experiences.
  • Meal times are Spanish practice for everyone at the table. 
  • Trying not to get stressed...I am a lot better than I used to be, but then some days I think about things too much.  Usually I am so busy I don't have time to think and that is a good thing..and bad.
  • Still waiting on Cool Whip to be imported.  My friend Dom says the local Coope grocery store will import anything.  I think I am going to test his theory soon.  I will keep you posted on that.
  • Trying to make my kids be bookworms.  Carson is a natural bookworm.  Liv is a bookworm with my old American girl books.  Logan, well, we are working on that.  Leia makes up her version of the story : )

  • I actually missed "casados" (typical tico cuisine) while I was in the states.  But, I was filled with Larry's and as much Mexican food as I could get.
  • We need a beach day.  I mean we live 40 minutes from the ocean and we haven't seen it since January, when my parents were here.
Our plate is full but our cup runneth over will all the blessings we have received from living here.
{Glasses are a bear}

Saturday, April 26, 2014

April Newsletter {by David}

Here is David's newsletter for April if you have not already seen it.  If you are not on his email list and would like to be added please send me an email.  Simply click on the green envelope icon with wings under the FIND ME, and it will pop up an email.
To enlarge this, simply zoom in or click on the image.

Friday, April 25, 2014

Reservation Update

Several weeks ago I shared about our visit to the Cabecan Indian Reservation and our hope to help them in a humanitarian way in the future.  From talking with Israel, a medic who works for the Costa Rican public health system, we initially thought that building them a small building to function as a clinic would be the best thing.  During this visit he gave us contact information of a husband and wife, who are both doctors, that have helped the Cabecan Indians for several years in many different ways.
A couple weeks ago we were able to meet the husband, Dr. Alexi.  It was a very informative meeting and he was able to explain a lot of things about the public health care system here in Costa Rica, the needs of the Indigenous people of Costa Rica, obstacles we could face, and current projects that he currently has going to help the people on the Cabecan Reservation and other highly impoverished areas of Costa Rica.  There were so many things we would have had no way of knowing if we had not been able to meet with this man.  It was also nice to be able to discuss these things in depth in English.  It was more difficult speaking with Israel, the Cabeccan, because we were both speaking our second language.  
Dr. Alexi explained to us that he has had several run-ins with the CAJA, the public health care system that operates here in Costa Rica.  During his many years of devoting his time and private funding, he had confrontations with the CAJA.  They informed him that they did not want him helping them.  He simply told them he was simply enabling the Cabecans with skills to help themselves medically and to be able to recognize when they need to leave the reservation and try and seek medical help.  He has also been teaching them basic skills like hygiene, basic prenatal education, and other similar things.  
Unfortunately, what Israel had hoped to accomplish by having a small building for a clinic will not be able to happen the way he was originally thinking because of the CAJA and him being an employee of the CAJA.  The CAJA will not send a doctor to work on the reservation.  Israel had hoped that the CAJA would allow him to work from the clinic, but Dr. Alexi said the CAJA will not allow that because he is only trained to give out immunizations.  So, a clinic built by an outsider could jeopardize his job with the CAJA and the few things that they do receive from the CAJA.  Dr. Alexi said the only way that we could possibly get cooperation from the CAJA is to meet with the director of that reservation and ask them if they would man the building if we constructed it.  The downside to that is we are essentially building a clinic for the Costa Rican government that may or may not be used.  Dr. Alexi says the Ministry of Health administration changes with every president and while maybe one administration might man it, the next one might remove anyone from there.  And the building would be the governmen's do with as they wish.  We do not want to get involved with the government, so we need some more time to figure out how our help can be the most beneficial and how we can do that without the CAJA getting involved. 
{what you see is the "town" that is a 3/4-1 day hike from the edge of the Reservation}

We are still brainstorming and looking at all the different options and things that we can do to help them wether it be constructing a new structure (without the involvement of the CAJA), possibly making modifications to existing structures, supplies, or many other things.  To see what would best meet their needs, we need to spend some more time talking with the people on the reservation.  
Keith is coming in May to give David a little break and allow him to meet us in the states to visit with our family.  While Keith is here, he is currently planning, Lord-willing, to visit the Cabecan Reservation and talk more with the people and Israel.  Distance and time are keeping us from being able to move forward at a more timely pace.  We have faith that the Lord will guide this work and will make it very evident what we are supposed to do in the right time.  Please keep praying for the work here and these people on the reservation and that they may see God in everything we say and do and lead them to the truth.
{Israel and David- first meeting}