Sunday, August 30, 2009

Bounty for the Weekend

Saturday morning we had our first trip to the local “farmer’s market” for fresh fruits and vegetables. Although we didn’t take our camera to the market, we did get some photos of some of the stuff we bought. Someone recommended that we clean them first with a 15-minute soak in a weak bleach solution followed by a 5-minute soak in plain water. Here is a picture of the fruit drying after the final soak.

The strangest thing we got was a small red prickly fruit with a grape-like center and a large seed in the middle. The outside looks like one of those fuzzy stress balls. We had seen these in Honduras so they were not a total surprise, but they are unique, nonetheless!

We had several other surprises… the carrots were about as large as normal size cucumbers;
the “oranges” had generally green skins but were normal on the inside.

One more thing we are still getting used to is how many items are packaged in bags… salad dressing, mustard and mayo (we found ketchup in a plastic bottle, although it is sweeter than in the US), laundry detergent, milk, and a host of other things. We even saw plastic containers you could buy to put the bags in... a form of recycling!

Please understand we are only noting the differences, not saying anything about better or worse. We find it fascinating to see how different cultures use the resources they have and consider this part of our education.

We have one more day of orientation on Monday, August 31, and then classes start on Tuesday… woo-hoo!

Monday, August 24, 2009

Home, Sweet Home (San Jose, Costa Rica)

We are now one step up from homeless… we live on a street with no name. That is typical for this area, maybe even for Central America in general. Our official address, the street address I gave the cable company for installation, is “150 meters sur oeste del parque Los Sauces, edificio 309, apartamento 4” (150 meters southwest of Los Sauces Park, building 309, apartment 4). Please don’t send anything to that address: the box is very small and we probably won’t get it!

Speaking of housing, we did not expect the fortified housing we have seen. EVERY house has iron fences around their small front yards, and either iron gates to enclose their cars or mechanized solid walls that open for the cars. Our four-plex has a block wall, pointed iron bars, an iron gate, and razor wire over it all; I think our apartment is safe when we leave for the day!

Our Big Brother and Sister (Brian and Amanda) met us at the airport with Fernando and a van for our two trunks, two suitcases, and two backpacks: everything we own except for what we left in storage in Las Vegas. We got to our apartment with no problem. Brian and Amanda gave us a good walking tour of the area and we saw where the Spanish Language Institute (Instituto de Lengua EspaƱola) is (about a 10-minute walk). We stopped at a local place for lunch and realized it will take some time to get used to the money system here: lunch for 4 was 21,925 colones!

As it turns out, our apartment is on the bus route that circles our part of San Jose, which is not even on most tourist maps! Depending on the bus driver, the closest stop to our gate is about 10 feet or 200 yards! The closest major store is a Hiper Mas, similar to a super Wal-Mart, about 15-20 minutes by bus. It is so much like a Wal-Mart the employee badges have Wal-Mart printed on the top of the backside! One thing we found odd was that there were 1 or 2 vendor reps on every aisle helping customers choose the correct (their) brand! We’re not sure if that was because of the weekend, or if they will be there during the week as well.

The couple next door to us in our four-plex is attending the language school, also. They will be working in-country when they finish the course.

Saturday afternoon we found a nice church, spoke to some people that were making preparations, and decided to try it out Sunday morning. Although it was all in Spanish, we found we could follow most of the praise songs and the guest speaker used PowerPoint slides, so we could follow that, also. They emphasize small groups and we have a list to choose from.

Something we did not anticipate was how much we would have to buy once we moved into a furnished apartment: silverware, pots’n’pans, cleaning supplies, etc. The hard part is buying things we know we won’t be able to keep when we leave.

NONETHELESS, we are excited to be here, we are eager to start classes, and we look forward to what God has in store for us!

Saturday, August 22, 2009

WE'RE HERE (HERE is San Jose, Costa Rica)

A big thanks to our Big Brother and Big Sister, Brian and Amanda Blalock. They met us at the airport with Fernando and a van to take us (and our stuff!) to the apartment they found for us. No pictures, yet, but we didn't expect to see everything looking like a compound. All the buildings, houses, apartments, have stone walls, or pipe fences, that go the the streets, and are topped with spiked fences and concertina wire!

We hope to have internet installed in our apartment sometime next week, and finish getting things setup. The priorities after we arrived yesterday were to get pillows for the bed and a coffee maker that worked.

Hope to have a more complete update, with pictures, in a few days.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Some of God's Men in TPI...

We continue to be amazed by the group of men God assembled called Training Pastors International. We are visiting with Greg & Cheryl Moore, founders of TPI, for a few days before leaving for Costa Rica Friday morning. Pictured with us are Jose Betancourt, Arodys Garcia, Gustavo Valladares, Mark & Cindy Gentry and Greg & Cheryl. Jose and Arodys were in the first class TPI taught in Cuba in 2003, graduating in December 2006! Jose felt led to reach other nations and is now leading the TPI efforts in Lima, Peru where he has started four classes and planted two churches! I was privileged to listen to his testimony going from a soldier in Cuba’s army to becoming a soldier for Jesus Christ!

Gustavo is the national director for TPI, overseeing training in Central and South America from his hometown in Honduras.

We feel so blessed that God has provided so well for us and opened our ears and hearts to the call to work with these men. We are eagerly waiting to get to our small apartment in San Jose, Costa Rica where we can finally unpack after two months on the road!