Hey Everyone! I'm sorry I haven't updated in a while. Things have been busy and they're about to get even crazier.
Yesterday a team of 40 came from Pennsylvania. They are Shalom Christian Academy, a Mennonite high school in Pennsylvania, and this is their senior year mission trip. I went along with Candace and Jonathan to get them at the airport. (Not sure if I've mentioned Jonathan yet, but he and his wife Amy are missionaries here. They used to be missionaries in India, and he has a shaved head and a HUGE and intimidating beard. When I met him, He said Hi, I'm Jonathan and I said wow, your beard is intimidating... oh, and I'm Julie!). We took the group downtown to a market in San Jose and I got a little Christmas shopping done. Last night I rested up to prepare for the crazy days ahead.
Today the team started work at the project at 8, so Brian and I had to be here at 7:30 to get everything ready. I had to bring everything with me for construction work on the project, for my math classes afterward, and for the worship service at church tonight. The team proved to be great from the start. They paid attention on the tour, asked great questions, and volunteered for different jobs around the site. I worked with six girls on what will eventually be a hardwood floor. We had to carry the wood from the area where it was cut to the building where it will be installed. We then had to apply the termite poison (incidentally, it is illegal in the U.S.) and a coat of varnish. We finished with sanding the varnished pieces. There were abundant floor boards to do, so we developed our system and got to it! It was great getting to know them and kind of neat to be someone they looked up to. The Costa Rican workers have also told me that my Spanish has improved a lot since the last time I was translating for a team. At the end of the day the Ticos could only exclaim at how hardworking and enthusiastic everyone was. All I can say is that those floor boards are going to be the best ever.
Tomorrow will be a really busy day as well. After working at the project I have math classes and then the team and about 40 youth from the church here are going roller skating! It's going to be great. This weekend we're going to the Irazu Volcano on Saturday morning, eating lunch at the mall, and then we have youth group at night. Sunday morning is church and in the afternoon we're going to do evangelism with members of the church throughout the neighborhood here and in one of the city parks.
I've been thinking for a while about writing an entry called "It's not all sunshine and sandy beaches." Living in Costa Rica, despite the amazing people, culture, and food, does have its downsides. There has been a definite lack of sunshine. Up until this week, it rained on all but 4 days since I arrived and it's pretty cold at night. We're just starting to come out of the rainy season, and the weather won't be really nice until December. I haven't actually worn shorts at all, except for working out, and I usually bring both a zip-up hoodie and a windbreaker jacket wherever I go. Surprising? Before all of you norteamericanos start calling me a wuss, remember that there is no insulation here against whatever is happening outside. Think of it like camping. When I'm teaching math until 9pm in a building with open rafters and it's 50 degrees and raining, it's COLD!
The other major downside has been struggling with the language. It's hard to go from being the articulate and intelligent person I am in the U.S. to having the social skills of a child. Wait, most of the children here are even better than me... All of the grammar knowledge and vocabulary that I know on paper are useless without the quick thinking that it takes to have a live conversation with someone. "What the heck did they just say so fast?.. What do I want to say... how do I say that? What's the word for 'varnish' in Spanish anyways? Maybe I'll just call it 'paint', I know that word..." And before you know it they're repeating themselves because of the vague look on your face. We'll just say it's very humbling but as they say here "poco a poco", "little by little."
On another note, I had a nightmare about Socialism last night... I'm sure you can guess why. Never watch CNN right before bed! No matter where you are in the world, you can never escape American politics.
All right, it's time for church, but I'll try to update again soon! I miss everyone!