Thursday, May 14, 2009


I'm leaving my house here in an hour to go home to the states. My mamatica is out on an errand so I'm alone with my suitcases. She left a CD of Jesus Adrian Romero playing that I woke up to every morning when I FIRST stayed with her, with Justine on our trip in 2007. It's all very surreal.

It's like I said to a student of mine after my last-ever class here a few days ago. He said how lucky I am to get to travel around and experience a different culture, and have friends in a different place - basically be part of two worlds. I said yes of course, thanks to God a million times for this experience. I wouldn't trade it for anything. But since I'm leaving I also reminded him of the negative side. My heart is in all different places and no matter where I am I'll always be missing people who are far away. I have a real family in the united states, but I also have people here who are (and even refer to themselves as) my mothers, aunties, brothers, sisters, and friends.

Please pray for me and for Yanira, my mama tica, through this transition.

The next time I post it will be from the U.S. of A. or as I now prefer to call them the EEUU (Estados Unidos)

Here's a picture we took after my last youth group on Saturday night:

Thursday, May 7, 2009

The Thunder Rolls

Hey everyone,

The rainy season officially started over the weekend and it has poured every day since, like clockwork. Loud thunder, lightning, and torrents of rain coming down noisily on the tin roofs. During my classes at the project I can barely hear my students even though it's a one-on-one teaching environment. We're still saying "¿Cómo?" "¿Qué dijo?" (Huh? What did you say?) Also, umbrellas are suddenly "like gold", as Candace puts it. The best birthday present you could give someone with a May birthday is an umbrella!

Also, Costa Rican supserstitions about water, getting wet, and things with temperature and feet are especially serious these days. Today Yanira told me that the waters of the first rains of the season are worse for your health than "normal" rainwater. She had a sniffle and said "Look! And I got my feet wet two days ago! These first rainstorms are dangerous for one's health."

The weekend before last we went to a restaurant up on a nearby mountain. The road was in disrepair and I started to feel carsick from sitting in the back, going up switchbacks, and over so many bumps. I had a headache and didn't want to eat too much. Yanira scolded me saying it was my fault for having walked in the house without sandals the day before! If only it were that easy to avoid carsickness.

I can't remember if I've mentioned it before, but Costa Ricans have "allergies" to all kinds of things - clouds, wind, cold, onions, rain, etc. Anything that might make you sniffle. Our pastor has allergies to open windows and ceiling fans when we play cards. Today, Yanira prayed before breakfast as she always does and while praying for her sister she got teary. After the prayer she said "Look! Praying gave me allergies!"

The rain also gives me another positive thought about going home. It's springtime in Wisconsin, whereas the summer here just ended. I will go from summertime to summertime and will have successfully dodged winter except for the months of rain at the start of my stay in CR and the month I spent in Wisconsin at Christmas.

It's also kind of neat to think that I'm going through a similar life change along with everyone who will graduate high school or college this year. I know one year here is nothing like four years at a school, but it's neat that we're all marking off our final days, trying to make the most of our time, wrapping up final projects, and saying farewells. In my case it's trying to do one last act of service for people who have most impacted me while I've been here, and also get one last picture with them. I made raspberry bars for Nathalia and David, Aaron and Candace. I made a cheesecake for Steve and Georgiana and I'll be babysitting their kids tonight so they can go out on a date. This is really helping me focus on others and make the most of my time instead of dwelling on how sad I am to leave. I still need to do things/bake food for Flori and family, Jonathan and Amy, and Yanira and Fernando. I'm thinking white chocolate popcorn, potted plant, and a nice note for each group. What do you think?

To help my transition, Yanira is having a party here at the house next Tuesday. I'm sure there will be dancing, food, and lots of laughing. You're all invited, for any that want to make the trip :)

Talk to you soon, see some of you very soon!

Monday, May 4, 2009

Slowing down

First of all I want to give a shoutout to my uncle Jeff, who's birthday is today. Happy birthday Jeff!

Now to continue with my post... My life is somewhat slowing down now that I'm the only intern at the project. It's not that I don't have things to keep me busy, but I'm used to going from one thing to the next all day, every day. This has its benefits and drawbacks. I am getting enough sleep and having time to read and relax when I'm not teaching. However I've also had a lot of time to dwell on leaving, and that makes me sad.

Pastor Jorge already asked me to say a few words in church this Sunday, which will be my last Sunday here. I'm pretty nervous about forgetting my Spanish in front of everyone but even more nervous that I'll just start crying and it won't matter what language I remember. It kind of hit me in church yesterday, while I was thinking about how great the worship band sounds, that I won't be here in two weeks to enjoy it anymore. That soon I'm going to say final words of encouragement to my students, take take one last picture with everyone, and say goodbye for a long time.

I know God will go with me though, and I know wherever I go He will be my joy and fulfillment in life. I can just look back at how hard I cried on Sept. 19, the night before my flight to Costa Rica to begin this whole adventure. I was crying and scared to begin what came be the best months of my life so far. God has certainly taken care of me and will not cease to do so, ever.

A few pictures:

Me and my Spanish teacher, Nuria:

Me and the Griffith family: Amy, Caia, and Jonathan:

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Water update...

So after updating last I called Nathalia and David to come and help me. David is very handy and has lots of tools. After having a good laugh at me for "destroying the house" David used a vicegrips to grip what was left of the valve top to open it. Once he opened it though, water started coming out the top of the valve! Definitely something that wasn't happening before. Looks like we now have TWO water leaks on our property. The valve is situated in a coffee-can-sized-hole in our driveway, and the hole quickly filled with murky water, making it impossible to see the ruined valve at the bottom. David was eventually able to situate it so that the valve is open for us to have water in the house but not too much water is coming out in the driveway. My job now is to fill all of our pots and pans with water, take a shower, and wash dishes quickly before attempting to close the valve and then heading off to church. I'm just thankful this wasn't the 12-foot geyser-type water leak that someone else on our street had a few weeks back.

Kind of funny but not really...

My mama tica is gone for the weekend. We also have a water leak somewhere beneath our house. Because of this, we have to turn off the outside water valve whenever we're not using water. I just went outside to open it and as soon as I started trying to turn it the valve handle BROKE OFF!

Ok Julie, you can handle this. You're a mechanical engineer. Just find a pliers or some vicegrips and you can open the valve using the little bit of handle left on there. No problem, right?

I have just finished scouring the house for tools and I can report that about half of the tools we have are philips screwdrivers and the other half are machetes! I'm going to call Steve Thomas to see what he can lend me and I'll let you all know soon how this water crisis pans out.

There's something new and interesting every day, you know?