Monday, May 27, 2013

Nothing but the Blood of Jesus

Yesterday, May 26, 2013, was a day full of rejoicing in Los Altos de Naranjo, Costa Rica.  Five people  obeyed the Gospel and were baptized.  We, and so many others, have been praying for these people to accept the truth, and to see the Lord working is amazing.
Above:  This is Marta.  She started meeting with us the second week we moved to Costa Rica on the front of Myra's porch, and has been with us ever since.  She always welcomes us with open arms and wants to study His word.  She is a quiet person with a precious, humble spirit.  She is the mother to four beautiful children.  From oldest to youngest: Lorena, Michelle, Margarita, and Julito.

Above:  Many have heard us talk about Myra.  Praise the Lord, is all I can think to say.  Her life has been hard, the past full of heartache.  But, a start that is white as snow. What a day for her!
Above:  This is Marta's oldest daughter, Lorena.  David would see her at Marta's house when visiting but she never left the house except to go to school.  Her mother said she never liked leaving the house and would not come to church.  She was always there for the studies at the house, and would involve herself.  She attended church for the first time 7 weeks ago, and has come ever since.  Her beautiful smile has never been prettier than in these photos above.
Above:  This is Alejandro, Lorena's boyfriend.  He started coming with her to church after she came the first time, and he has been there ever since.  He is quiet, but his expression when he came out of the water was worth more than any words could ever say.
Above:  This is Michelle, Marta's second oldest daughter.  She is almost 13.  She is very quiet, and a girl of few words.  Through the months she has really come alive and is so vibrant.  {And she is quite attached to Miss Leia Liu}.  I wanted people to be there when this happened, and I think these pictures captured the emotions pretty well.

Throughout the baptisms my mind was humming the chorus, "What can wash away my sins, nothing but the blood of Jesus," and then we concluded with, "Oh Happy Day, When Jesus washed my SINS AWAY."

Love the toucan that Deybin spotted right before we started.  Almost like he was there to watch.

The journey has just started for these people.  Their life is new and white.  Please continue to lift them up in prayer as they begin their journey as a Christian.  It was truly a memorable day, and a day that makes my heart so happy that my children were able to witness.  I love that they know that Jesus says to "Preach unto all the world."  

I wish everyone could have been there to witness such beauty.  I hope you enjoyed these photos even half as much as I enjoyed capturing the the moment of complete innocence, the moment that everything is gone, washed completely away.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Our First Fiesta Attendance

Before we moved to our current house we lived out of town and were pretty isolated so we never knew what was going on in the community until it was already happening and almost over.  Well, that is not the case since we moved into town.  We are literally 2 blocks from the town square and park, so we always know when there is a "Fiesta" going on.  A few weeks ago, they had a really cool event.  My kids loved it.  It was an all out real "Tico" experience.  And it couldn't have been a better themed event for my kids, because they LOVE horses.

We even completed our "Tico Fiesta" with some local comida {food}.  Sidenote: we would have normally not purchased food from street vendors but David thought it was pretty safe since it was cook by our neighbors.  And, it was solo good.  Our neighbor says he does this for lots of local events.  He marinades pork and then chargrills pork kabobs.  He sold over 500 kabobs that night.  And, then, he brought us a huge plate on Mother's Day too.  Yummy!  I think you can tell from the photos that everyone was enjoying their carnivorous dinner.
The clown came over to us and started pulling out balloons, making animals, and handing them to the kids.  I told David that we would have to pay for them and he said, "No, he is just giving them to them."  Ha!  There is nothing free in this country and I was right.  We had to pay for those balloons, and kind of hard to take them all out of your kids' hands and give them back.  We did manage to tell him, "No, only two, they can share."
The above photo does not even begin to show, what seemed like 100s, of 80s and 90s cars all decked out {what I would call ghetto}.  I think every Nissan Sentra, old Honda Civics, and little Toyota and Nissan trucks have all been imported to Costa Rica once they hit the 300,000+ mile on the odometer and then the Ticos here sunk all their money in them to make them look cool.  Hilarious.  It was an 80s and 90s throwback for sure!
The authentic dancers were so cool.  This was the only little girl that was dancing with them and she was amazing, never missed a step.  And they can twirl faster than your eyes can follow.
There were more than 2 dozen ropers.  That was pretty cool.  They walked throughout the entire parade roping.
When the horses started coming, it seemed like there was no end.  As far as we could see there was just a mass of horses.  Imagine almost 1,000 horses all sandwiched together and some steamy temps mixed with thousands of bodies, much of who were inebriated.  That is cause for some nose scrunching.  You know they say "Don't Drink and Drive."  Well, they should enforce the same with horse riding.  

The man pictured in the middle just made me laugh.  There comes a time in life when someone takes your keeps away for your safety and the safety of others.  Well, I think the time is very near or should have already passed for this dear old man.  I just knew he was going to fall off the horse and get trampled.  He kept falling over and looked as though he were falling asleep several times.  

I am pretty sure every entrepreneur in the central valley was in Atenas that night trying to sell anything.  There were cowboy hats, light sticks, food, whistles, balloons, and the list could go on and on.  

We finally left after we had been watching horses for almost 3 hours, and when we left there was still horses lined up waiting to walk through the parade.  We had a great time at our first "Fiesta."

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Trabajando en La Iglesia

I had every intention of posting this last night, but I was too tired to stay up and wait for the pictures to upload.  So, here it is today.

The physical part of the church has been slow going.  As usual, there is just not enough time in the day to get everything done.  David finished up most of the texturing in the worship area of the church last week and then the last ceiling part this afternoon.  Up until this point there has not be a lot that I could help with.  But, let me just say that, my work has begun.  Oh, and the paintbrushes here in Costa Rica stink.  You know the saying, "You get what you pay for," well, I don't think that really applies here.  Because, we never get what we pay for here.  We pay double, at least, and it is not the quality of even the cheapest in the U.S.

 {Sorry about the quality of the photos.  They are from my iPod.}

Several people from church and the kiddos came and helped get everything cleaned up this afternoon.  The yard cleaned, the jungle whacked, the commercial size jumbo gutters cleaned out {rainy season began this past weekend}, colonies of "muy grande" ants murdered slowly and drowned {they had nests in the toilet and pipe of the bathroom sink}, windows shining, and the floor squeaky clean.  The clean floor lasted mere minutes until kids with muddy feet went running through, and I am sure the resident geckos will leave presents for our next return; they are so nice like that.

 Julito and Margarita

 Kids stopping for a snack break.  Daniel - right.

 Julio {Marta's husband} taking a break from yard work, left
Jessica {Jorje's wife} taking a break from cleaning, right

 These kids are always smiling.  They are Marta's two youngest, 
Margarita and Julito

 Marta, Julio's wife

I am the official paint cutter.  I get the neck cramping job.  And David is the mighty roller.  One coat on the walls in the worship area this afternoon.  We painted till we couldn't see anymore.  The lighting in there at night is very poor.  Only the walls are done.  If it is like anything else, the second coat will happen in a couple weeks, then the ceilings a few weeks later, and then eventually the other areas will get done.  Just not enough time in a day, week, and before you know it a month has nearly passed.

{It was a no makeup and ponytail kind of day.}

David and always someone following.  Jareth - right.

Once we get everything painted then we will be ready to put tile down.  The concrete on part of the building is finished and on the other part unfinished.  The outside needs painting as well, but that will have to wait until at least November when the rainy season stops.  There are a few electrical things that need to be worked on, but other than flooring and lots and lots and lots of painting, renovation from home to church building will be complete.  Our motto is we just do what we can when we can.  And it works.  Our main goal was to get that wall knocked down as fast as we could to have more meeting area, and once that was done we have just been doing it as we can.

 Leia and Valeria

 Jareth after a mishap with the ground. {Jorje and Jessica's youngest}.

Jorje Jr with the weed eater.  He can imitate the sound of a weed eater 
like a pro.  It sounded just like it was running and whacking.

Everyone is always so great to pitch in and help us clean up at the church.  They just volunteer.  It was a great afternoon.  The kids played so hard that when we got home Logan got his shower, stuffed his tummy, and plopped himself on the couch and then said, "I'm so tired I can't move.  I can't go to bed because I can't move."  Everyone is in bed and I think they were out when the bedroom door shut behind us.  Oh, the quietness of the house, but the hum of the dishwasher {have I ever mention how much I LOVE dishwashers and am so THANKFUL to have one?}.

And when I say we murdered some bugs, I wasn't kidding.  Millions of them.  This is why Keith sleeps in a tent at the church building when he is here.  If you don't have a phobia of bugs then you might after visiting Costa Rica.  Everything is larger and there are always more of them.

 This is a huge nest of large red ants.  Keith said the last time he was here there were 
millions of these with eggs colonized under his tent.

 This is the bathroom sink.  They have a nest in the overfill drain and the drain pipe.  
A couple weeks ago I noticed when flushing the toilet that tons of them kept coming
out from the rim when the water would start running.  Nice.  Yep, that is where
they were nesting.
Valeria and Leia watching the ants coming up the drain.

Just a few images of some bugs to make you sleep a little better tonight.  : ).

Friday, May 10, 2013

And the Wait Begins

We moved here last June not knowing how long we would stay.  We really had no idea what our future plans were and where we would be almost a year later.  Well, here we are almost one year later and we are applying for residency in Costa Rica.  The Lord has paved an amazing path here in Costa Rica. One thing happens and then another that leads us to believe this is where we are supposed to be at this time in our lives.  While our house in the states has not sold, we are praying that the Lord will take the lead there too.

While we were back for a visit in the states we did lots of paper chasing to prepare for the residency application process.  It is pretty much the same process as an international adoption.  That means lots of original documents, notaries, state Apostilled documents, and a million emails to our lawyer.

We had every page in all of our passports copied, every document in hand, new passport photos taken {this detail was very humorous to me}, and a 3.5 hour wait {with 4 children} last Tuesday.  Our lawyer managed to visit some people the day before to assist in bypassing some of the lines.  We arranged to meet her at the main headquarters of the Costa Rican police department at 8am.  Apparently people start lining up at 5am to get in the door for the 9:00 appointment slots.  She managed to get us inside the gate and start at the back of the line inside.  When we arrived there were at least 200 people in line outside the gate and more lining up every few minutes {I never saw the line get smaller}.  
So, the top left photo is the beginning of the line that was outside the gates.  We got inside the gate and then had to wait in 3 more lines, for a total of 3.5 hours.  We did not think it would take that long and this Mommy was not prepared with snacks and drinks.  Funny part ~ The lawyer told us we would need passport photos to give to the people at the police station for our fingerprinting.  She said we would be able to do this at a place next door to the police station.  Mind you, I am expecting like a copy place or something like Walgreens has where you have photo taken and wait a few moments for the big printer to print photos.  Literally right outside the police station gate is a man on the street with a small 3x5 white backdrop, a very old digital camera, and a little printer inside of a lunchbox, and a pair of scissors.  This, my friends is where we had our passport photos taken.  Who needs an office space when you can stand right at the line where everyone needs passport photos?  Very smart entrepreneur if you ask me.  No rent expense.

We moved from one line, to another line, played musical chairs on a sidewalk, moved to three chairs inside a building, and final destination the man with the ink and white gloves.  Their fingerprinting process is quite a bit different than the biometric fingerprinting experience that we have had with USCIS.  Here in Costa Rica it is no fancy computer taking your fingerprints.  Nope, it is old fashioned black ink that was as sticky as pancake syrup {and, they had no soap for you afterwards}.

{Boys will be boys...Liv was actually the first one up.}

I am thinking we had a very highly paid babysitter this day.  Our lawyer had to watch our kids when we finally got to the building for the actual fingerprinting.  Thank goodness they were SOOOOO good the entire 3.5 hours and were not revolting from absolute boredom.  They managed to find a good tree to climb and an iphone {courtesy of our lawyer}.

So, this is the inside of the main police station headquarters for Costa Rica.  Not what we were expecting.  Things down here are a bit behind in the times, but then there are some really nice places too here and there.  We kind of expected more state of the art facilities.  I will let you decide for yourself on how to categorize this one.  Pictured above in the measuring wall to determine your height in centimeters.

There were 3 different rooms with desks and clerks who input your data.  All the rooms were pretty much the same.  Like so many places, there was no air conditioning here and absolutely no airflow.  While I was with my clerk a street vendor came in selling potato chips.  I still find it odd that he was a man off the street selling food inside the headquarters and I and my lawyer had to give our full names, passport numbers, date of birth, and telephone numbers, to use the public restroom inside the compound.

Notice the chair taped to the desk : )  
I guess people were walking off with them.

Now we have completed all of the initial steps for the residency application process and have an appointment with the US consulate next Tuesday to finish up everything so that our lawyer can submit our case to the Costa Rica immigrations.  Once she submits our file, then the wait officially begins for our residency to be granted.  She informed us the the wait time right now is looking like 1 year.  The Costa Rican government has granted amnesty to immigrants right now that makes it easier for them to become legal, and the system is really blogged down with with applications.  The good news is, once our file is submitted on Tuesday then we do not have to leave the country every 90 days anymore {YES!!!!!}.  The drawback for not receiving the residency sooner is that we cannot obtain the national health insurance until the residency has been officially granted.
And, then, maybe some day we will be "Ticos."

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Sweet N Sour

This month marks three years since I first held our Princess Leia in my arms.  Has it already been three years since God gave you to us?  Time flies when you are having fun, that is for sure.

{You, indeed, are one of my sweet four miracles.}

She is a smile in every crowd and has the effect to bring laughter wherever she is.  She loves people.  Her sweetness is outpouring to anyone.  She will stop and tell the beggar on the street hello and waves at everyone she sees.  The most somber person with a frown will pull their lips upward when she looks at them.  While she is the sweetest thing ever, she has her little sour moments too {thankfully the sweet is more than the sour...and balances out to a perfect little three year old}.

Her personality is so big and so inviting.  I pray she will use that personality to tell the world about Jesus.  A smile and a little talk about Jesus could make someone's life change from sour to all sweet.

Monday, May 6, 2013

Giggle Box

His giggle will bring anyone around him contagious joy and laughter.  It is a sound that starts deep and just rolls off his belly.  I laugh just thinking about it.  You can touch him and it causes an immediate Pillsbury dough boy response (does anyone else remember those commercials?).

He is so compassionate.  He almost always thinks of others first.  Sometimes he thinks of others a little too much, as he is my Police here, too (lol!).  

The wheels are always ticking away.  They say the average 5 year old asks 400 questions a day, but he is well above the average.  I do believe he is running in at 999 questions a day.  My prayer is he keeps asking the questions and believing every answer God gives us.

God chose you just for us!!