The team of high school students from Shalom was amazing! First of all, something like 80% of their class is in the school chorale, so they were always singing. They could break into 4 part harmony at a moment’s notice and it gave me chills to hear them. They sang a thank you song after meals and also performed in church on Sunday.
On Sunday afternoon we went to an old folks home with the evangelism group from the church. It was a beautiful place run by Catholic nuns that began as a place for abandoned people, whether children, handicapped, or elderly. Some of the original abandoned children sheltered in the home are now 80 years old and still living there! It was amazing watching the high school students bond with the elderly despite the language barrier. The students sang a few hymns and many of the people cried. Then, one 90-something year old woman recited a poem for us and sang a song about the national flower of Costa Rica. Later, when some music came on the radio, another woman jumped up and grabbed one of the high school guys and started dancing! She wasn’t more than 4 feet tall but so adorable and having a ball! I met a woman who told me her brother lives in Madison, Wisconsin. I said “Mine does too!” Talk about a small world! I could tell that by the end of the day, everyone felt so blessed by the time together – the elderly and students alike.
On the worksite, the Mennonites were really hard workers. I called them “reverse locusts” because they swarmed over the site, accomplishing everything in record time and never tiring.
On Tuesday we took them to the beach. The only downer was that it’s hard to drive past projects and poverty before getting on our catamaran and cruising to an island. It was a wonderful day though. It was overcast and windy, so I didn’t get too sunburned. I had tons of fun throwing the football with the guys on the team, getting swept around by the waves, walking along the beach with Candace and seeing sand crabs and hermit crabs! I even got pulled into the boys’ game of “S the Q” and got dunked a few times. I even did some dunking in return.
It was very sad to see them go. They were all so much fun, so easy to get along with, and every one of them had a real servant’s heart. I’m interested to see where God places them from here, as they spread out to be salt in the earth. I made sure to talk to them about being confident in their decisions as they head off to college no matter what people say about them. I experienced firsthand that it really bothers people if someone is a Christian, if someone turns down drinking or partying, or even if someone votes republican! Haha). You’ve just gotta be confident in what you believe.
My mom told me that she really enjoys my little cultural anecdotes so I’ll write about a few more here:
I woke up the other day, completely exhausted and a little cranky. I opened the refrigerator only to find my jar of peanut butter looking back at me from the top shelf. Peanut butter doesn’t go in the refrigerator. My mama tica must have put it there. I then had a little laugh as I glanced at the eggs on the counter and last night’s meat still in the pot sitting out. They sure do things differently here, and I don’t think they know about Salmonella. I just remember that I am living among their culture, and I will do as the ticos do. Some things that I do as the ticos do are: wear jeans everywhere (even to church), never wear t-shirts or sweat pants, make my bed every day (my mom will probably faint when she reads that!), never walk barefoot in the house (“it causes illness”), even if you have plans, never go anywhere in the rain (“it causes illness”), agree with them when they say it’s cold and I don’t think so, take a siesta right after lunch even though I worry about acid reflux, and greet everyone with a kiss on the cheek.
My partially deaf math student, Josue, has turned out to be very sweet and appreciative of my help. I have the hardest time communicating with him, but we’ve managed through writing, or through me repeating myself very slowly and loudly. I think it is especially hard for him because of my accent and because I probably don’t move my lips the way most Spanish-speakers do when they speak. Thank goodness he’s very smart and has never once gotten discouraged! Here’s a picture of us that Brian took on Friday:
I have come to accept and appreciate getting whistled at by construction workers, though the attention still makes me uncomfortable. At first I was really offended and annoyed, but then I realized that to them, it would be rude to let even a decent-looking girl walk by and not whistle at her. When women from here go to the states they probably feel there’s something wrong, like they’re ugly or something because no boys are taking notice. One day I got whistled/beeped at 4 times before I’d made it 2 blocks from home. I had been feeling unsure about the outfit I was wearing when I left home, but I soon felt much better thanks to this particular aspect of the culture.
One last thought:
In my last post, I talked about how I’m a child when it comes to my communication. At church that the pastor talked about how Jesus told us we all have to become like children to enter the kingdom of God. It really struck me once again how God has a purpose for everything under the sun. Sure, I’m frustrated that I can’t communicate the way I want to but God is using it to humble me and make me like a child for His purposes.