Thursday, November 28, 2013

During this Thanksgiving season  we all have so much to be thankful for. I  want to praise God for His love, favor, protection and provision over each of our lives. Thanksgiving is a time to reflect on what God is doing in each of us and to take action by using our many gifts and talents for His glory. 
Thanksgiving blessings to you and your family.  \O/

Cori's Update - Giving Thanks

It's only been a week, but already so much to say. We celebrated Thanksgiving a day early, since Cailene and Cornelio both have to teach today. We celebrated with a friend, Lidith, who spent 11 years living in New Jersey and loves Thanksgiving. Total, there 8 of us: me, Logan, Cornelio, Cailene, Bonnie, Lidith, Pablo-a friend of Cornelio's from his running team, and Lidith's daughter, Kimberly, who came late after work but came to celebrate just the same. A couple of trips to stores like Price Smart (aka Costco) in San Jose allowed us to get a turkey and other non-Tico things like black olives, but alas, canned green beans and yams were not to be found, so we did without. Our meal was complete w/both pumpkin and apple pie, tho' the pumpkin may have been more akin to squash, since giant orange pumpkins don't exist here. All in all, it was a wonderful meal and a great time to consider all of God's blessings and provisions in our lives.

Speaking of blessings, have I mentioned how thankful I am for Logan? For a guy who never wanted to leave Stehekin, coming to Costa Rica for 6 months, where the climate, food, language, etc are completely different, is a really big deal. There aren't many men who would step so far out of their comfort zones simply because it's a dream their wives' have always had to live in another country and learn another language. He's pretty amazing. Secondly, the mere fact that we have the resources to do this is phenomenal. It's pretty hard to quit your jobs and leave your life behind for 6 months while you live off your savings account. But God is good, and we have absolutely everything we need, from the material things life requires to the money needed to pay our rent and power/water/etc bills. It's pretty freakin' awesome to choose to trust in God for those needs, and to see him fulfill dreams and take care of His children so capably.

I took a step out of my comfort zone a little bit last week and played guitar for worship at church. I've only been playing guitar for a year, and am almost entirely self taught, so there is a lot of learning yet to be done. Plus, I don't really like being 'on stage' in front of people. But I love playing w/a group, so when Cailene and Cornelio asked if I wanted to join them (Cailene on piano and Cornelio singing), I said, "Why not?" I definitely can't sing in Spanish and play at the same time yet, but it was really great to see how much people enjoyed the worship and how they were able to really praise and connect w/God. It's pretty powerful to create music that helps people experience and meet with God, and I'm secretly (or not so secretly?) hoping to have many more opportunities to play and worship.

Logan's almost finished w/a bookshelf for the school, and it looks amazing. The plan is to decorate it by having the students (there are 60+) each put a painted hand-print and sign their names on it. It will ultimately be both a functional shelf, but also a colorful reminder of all the kids whose lives have been changed by the school and it's founders.

A major blessing this week: Bonnie's ladies' group had 14 people! She shared the history behind Thanksgiving, and we each shared 3 things we are thankful for. The difficulty is getting people to be 'real' and go deeper than just being thankful for 'their family, friends, and living here.' But all these women really 'got it' and shared some personal and deep blessings in their lives. One of the biggest problems I see in 'the church' as a whole is a lack of real, intimate, personal relationships. Everyone is happy and smiley and being a Christian means your life is great...which it is, but that charming facade isn't reality. Being a Christian is about being real and doing life WITH those around us. And I really believe we can't 'do life' on the level that God wants unless we are willing to be vulnerable with each other. Why is it so hard to even share deep blessings in our lives? It should be easy to share the wonderful provisions of God and we should be shouting those things from the mountain tops!

There are always so many things to pray for, but this week especially we'd appreciate prayers for a few things: Cailene's cold that she caught in Honduras in July has resurfaced AGAIN, and while she's taking medication that is supposed to finally fix the problem, we believe God has the ultimate power to heal her body, so pray that her lungs would finally be clear and her cough/stuffy nose would disappear for good. We are hoping to have permits and plans back from the government very soon for a mother-in-law apartment over the garage for Bonnie. The plan is for Bonnie to provide the materials, and Logan will build the apartment while we're here, but we can't get started until we get those darn permits. Pray that everything goes through smoothly and that the project can get underway sooner rather than later. Lastly, I'm really hoping to spend some time volunteering at an orphanage while we are here, but am having a hard time finding something within a reasonable distance. Pray that God would provide the perfect opportunity for us to volunteer and share His wonderful word with those who have little else in life.

Blessings until next time! :-)

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Cori's Update

Time for an update from Costa Rica. This is Cori, by the way. Logan and I arrived here on Monday, Nov 4th, starting a six-month adventure of life in Palmichal and Tabarcia. We left our jobs in the states, and are renting a small house here while we 'do life' alongside Cornelio and Cailene. While we don't have a particular agenda of things to accomplish, we trust God to use us to bless others here, as well as to stretch and grow our relationship with each other. Additionally, I'm hoping to blog here fairly frequently in order to share our experience and grow a greater circle of prayer and support for Cailene and Cornelio.

Logan and I only brought 3 bags with us...our life for 6 months. Needless to say, there was a lot of setup to be done, and several purchases to be made. There isn't exactly a surplus of gently used furniture in Costa Rica, so buying a refrigerator, a bed, and a small gas stove/oven put a decent dent in our budget right off the bat. Fortunately, Cailene procured a table and 4 chairs for us, as well as a set of bunk beds for our extra room (something to look forward to if you're coming to visit us!). Also, Bonnie had several dishes and kitchen utensils in storage here, so we are putting those to good use. Since our house had literally NOTHING in it when moved in, we purchased some wood and Logan built a perfect set of shelves for our kitchen, which has made things much more organized. Of course, wood, which we take for granted in the states, is much more expensive and hard to come by here as the trees, which are plentiful, grow really tall really quickly, but never develop much width.

We've jumped right into life here, attending church, sitting in on some of Cailene's classes, and joining the local volleyball games on Thursday evenings (and sometimes Mondays). There are two locations where Cornelio and Cailene teach: one in Tabarcia, with two classrooms, and a second location with a single classroom in Palmichal. Lessons are taught either as private/individual sessions or group sessions, depending on the student's/family's preference. Students range from 5 years old to adult, and cover the entire gamut of proficiency in English. The curriculum taught uses lots of games rather than rote memorization, which allows students to engage and play as they learn. While a little shy to see new faces, the kids we've met use their English to introduce themselves and 'meet us' properly. :-)

There are a few projects underway (or soon to be underway) for the school. Logan is building a set, or maybe two, of bookshelves for the school. Cailene has several books and games that she currently keeps in a corner or totes back and forth, so it will be nice to have storage space on site for those resources. Also, we are trying to think of ways to 'dress up' what are currently 'unexciting' white walls. All ideas welcome...we'd like to add color/educational visual materials to make the rooms more fun and inviting. Lastly, Cailene and I are hoping to organize all the different printed worksheets and games in binders based on age and proficiency level. It's a lot easier to simply grab the 'Age 5-8 English  Introduction' notebook for a class than to sift through a huge notebook for the few sheets that you need. When we're finished, hopefully they'll be able to spend significantly less time making copies and sorting papers!

Other activities we're enjoying: Cailene, Bonnie, and I are swimming at a pool in San Bosco, which is about 25 minutes away, three days a week. It's been AMAZING to get back in the pool, and is so much more fun to go with friends. Thanks to the intense sun, I'm developing a pretty nice tan (yay!), complete with swimsuit lines (not yay...). Bonnie leads a women's group that meets on Tuesday afternoons, which is a fun opportunity to get to know some great local ladies, as well as practice our Spanish. Cornelio is running a lot, and he and I are hoping to enter a 10K race in Puriscal in December. He's likely to be fairly competitive...I'll finish...let's leave it at that. :-)

Logan isn't hugely impressed with rice and beans, papaya, or plantains (all staples here...and all DELICIOUS!), and unflushable toilet paper reminds us how much we take for granted in the USA, but minor discomforts as such aside, we are having a great time. The area is beautiful, the weather is fabulous, and though it rained daily the first week or so we were here, the closer we get to December, the less it rains. Christmas decorations are everywhere: lights, trees (fake, of course), wreaths on doors, etc, but we are making preparations for Thanksgiving next week, which we will celebrate in traditional American style, along with Lydia (who lived in the states for 11 years) and her family. And pumpkin pie is on the menu. :-)

Did I mention the bugs? They're everywhere. The giant cockroaches and spiders disgust me, and the giant scorpion cruising across my floor was seriously not ok on any level. VERY glad Logan was there to kill it. Ick. Anyway, hoping to post some pictures before too long either here or on facebook, but in the meantime share ideas for school decorations and please be praying that Logan and I will serve the purpose God has for us here, as well as for the continued health and safety of all of us living here. Adios!