Sunday, June 29, 2008

Staff training happenings...a few days later.

Sorry for my delay in getting these pictures to you all! We are in the midst of our first group's outreach, and I have taken a day off in order to recuperate, and so now finally have the time (and the internet speed) to be able to show you our wonderful staff!

Here we are! Almost all of us...2 more came after staff training, 1 more comes Tuesday night, and the fourth we are waiting on due to some medical stuff going on in her life - we'll see if she'll be able to come yet.
One of the joys of coming back summer after summer is reuniting with friends that I only know through Costa Rica - here are my two girls - Missy, on the left, was here last summer, and Julia, on the right, has been with me the last two years. I love these girls and the friendship that I have with both of them.
We started off staff training every morning with worship and sessions. Here Dan and Stephen are leading us in worship.
For two of the sessions, Gloria led us through the SHAPE profile, which I would highly recommend! From going through the various parts of our person (i.e. personality, spritiual gifts, experiences, etc.) we learned so much about each other before we ever started working together.
Of course, we had to break loose once in a we invaded POPS ice cream and had our fill...
But then in the afternoons we were back at the girls are working on Kids Ministry supplies...
...Dan painted the parking lot (very Latino thing to do, paint concrete a bright colour!)...
...I touched up our entrance with a Spanish welcome...
...Missy and Alex worked on learning their drama so that they could teach it to the group....which involved some salsa dancing :)
And at the end of it all, we partied! Friday night we went bowling...followed by a day at the beach that I don't have any pictures of.
And now...we're really doing it...please keep praying for us!

I just wanted to also give recognition to Laura Carlson, who took most of the pictures I just posted - she has come down as part of staff this summer as our official capture the PVM moments and help us for future promotional stuff.

I love our staff! (Next to from this week's outreach!)

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Highs and Lows

With each group that comes through our doors, we tend to do "highs and lows" at least once during their time with us. This is a method of debrief that we use...allowing the youth to share with us their highs (the exciting times here in Costa Rica) and their lows (those moments where they wish they were back home, perhaps).

I give you my highs and lows for my own personal experience the last couple of weeks:

1. Washing my Ipod with my jeans. Whoops.
2. The crick in my neck from my mattress.
3. Missing people from home.
4. Learning the same lessons over and over again - why can't I grasp that I can TRUST God?

1. Drying out my Ipod and finding out it still works. Yay.
2. Acquiring a new mattress and having a happy sleep.
3. Re-acquainting myself with good friends that I only know and get to hang out with here in Costa Rica.
4. Finally recognizing some of the new lessons that God is teaching me.

I am of the mindset that every cloud has a silver lining. May I continue to see the glimmer that that provides in the midst of whatever lows I may encounter this summer...

We added 7 staff yesterday...and about 7 more arrive today!

(Happy Father's Day Dad!)

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

So I really DO like bananas...

Life in the banana fields is quite the interesting thing, I have discovered. I think I like it...for one thing, the bananas taste a whole lot better here than they ever will in Canada.

Anyways, I hope you enjoy the following pictures as they tell the story of our time in Coyol.

The church of Coyol welcomed us with open arms upon our arrival...
Here is the line of houses...all the same, all in a row, all land owned by Chiquita.
And so that you don't forget...these Chiquita tiles are in the backyard of every house.
We arrived on Saturday, to do a joint kids program with the church. The church had just received a shipment of the Operation Child Shoeboxes from Samaritan's Purse, from Canada! So we got to do some songs and a little skit, and then sat back and enjoyed the joy on each child's face as they picked up their specific box. (If anyone wants an idea of what is a good gift to send? Notebooks and pencils were the supplies are in high demand here!) Having youth work with kids in Costa Rica is one of my favourite things to watch. Language barriers seem not to apply for children....and they love the crafts. They spend hours on crafts!
And then, one of my favourite moments...our "insider" view of the banana fields. Here you see where we walked, along the concrete slab that runs under the cables in the field. The cables carry the bunches of bananas to the processing plant.
Here Alfredo, our tour guide, who used to work at this plantation, shows us how the workers climb up into the trees to cut down the banana bunch. Note the cable running by...and picture a bunch of bananas hanging from this cable.
Julia shows off how big these suckers get...
Blue bag it? So all the bunches of bananas are covered with a blue bag...placed to protect the bananas from water damage, from bugs, and from whatever else may cause the banana to not grow perfectly... Another favourite part of the week for me: English classes. Here the Oregon youth teach the students the parts of the body...and then proceeded to teach them the "hokey pokey".The school was simple and in need of much supplies (including a new coat of paint on the chalkboard), but unfortunately all the Director had requested was English classes. Most schools in Costa Rica have an English teacher, but this school is currently without. The students LOVED English classes......and were always happy to see us.

Back at the church we worked on a couple of projects: New signs for the church...

and benches for the church - aren't they pretty?

Our last day in Coyol we celebrated Hannah's birthday (one of the students from Oregon). Unfortunately she didn't know about the tradition where you get an egg cracked over your head on your birthday...(she's in the blue shirt)

Finally, here I am with Esther - together with her husband Nelson, they pastor the church that we worked with this week. I have utmost respect for the two of them. I was privileged to stay in their home for the few days we were together, and watched how they lived their lives with doors open to the community. Their home is a living room for the community - they welcome them in, pray for them, feed them, and simply hang out with them. They are living examples of what it means to "do" ministry. I am thankful for my time with them...and with those delicious bananas!

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

New Groups and Bananas.

Tonight we have a new group coming...and a day later, the next group arrives as well...and I'm not feeling entirely "ready" to already start a new group!

This morning DeLynn took Julia (another staff member, who just arrived last night) and I out to Coyol, a Chiquita banana plantation about 2 hours from our base, to visit with the Pastors and go over our schedule for this coming week. We also went so that I know how to get there when I have to drive our team on Saturday!

It was a fun morning...I have to say that I'm really looking forward to taking this group out there! I'm also excited because the leader of this team that is coming brought a team 4 years ago...the first time I was here for a full summer. She is bringing a whole new team...and I haven't seen her in 4 years! Secondly, I realized today that that same summer, with a different team, I visited Coyol and the banana plantation for a church service. So in many ways I feel like God is bringing me back to my first summer...and it is exciting.

Anyways, next week I should have some very fun pictures...and a new love of bananas.


Sunday, June 01, 2008

Bienvenidos a Nicaragua

Here we are...the power at the base is back on...and the internet is working again - prime opportunity for me to update you all with pictures and my short stories!
Upon arrival in Nicaragua, I realized how much I am accustomed to the climate of where we are living in Costa Rica. It was hot, hot, hot in Managua!
These were my two life savers upon arrival: fan, and rocking chair...both allowing for air flow!
Here we have the 10 Nicaraguans who came and stayed with us for the week - this is one of the few moments that they weren't joking around and teasing each other. In fact, they were discussing "what is normal" from a Nicaraguan perspective.
And here is the 10 from Virginia, discussing "what is normal for an American" - the resulting discussion between both groups was a highlight of the week for me.Here we find one of the many Sandonista references and propoganda...Daniel Ortega, the current president, his fist raised in a type of encouragement, I suppose, with the words "Rise up, the poor of the world!" along with a catch phrase at the bottom "More democracy, more power": Here we have one of the last evenings together. The group from Virginia had gifts for each of the youth - the guys received jerseys and shorts for soccer, the girls received shorts, little backpacks, and travel-sized shampoos, etc. While the girls look very serious in this picture, I can assure you they were really happy with their gifts. The youth pastor of the Nicaraguan group, Marcos, really impressed me. He has great vision for his youth and desires much of their own ministry. Marcos in university studied the arts, and so includes a lot of dance and drama with the youth. Here they are, performing a dance in front of the church (this is one of the first times they have allowed any type of dance in the church...Marcos is pushing for more of it as it is such a huge part of their culture, and can really speak to a lot of people!)
One of the evenings, we all split up and went to have dinner with one of the Nicaraguan youths. I went with Heidi to her house to meet her parents and her brother. We had a great dinner, and I chatted with her brother for a long time about Pura Vida Missions, about what we do, about life in Canada and how it is different from life in Nicaragua. It was a great time spent together.
Here I am again with Heidi, and her great-niece (I'm serious) - Heidi is somehow the aunt of Marcos (the youth pastor) - and yet, she is 4 years younger than him. (I didn't ask). Here we are with Issha (Marcos' adopted 7-month old daughter) - she is a beautiful baby girl, and I have to admit she grabbed my heart. It was also confirmed that I have the baby gift in Central America - we thought it was only with the babies that I live with in Canada...but Issha took to me, and even one day fell asleep while I was holding her. She cried with everyone else that took her... You can just call me the "baby whisperer"... :) was a great trip and I am so thankful that I had the chance to go to Nicaragua and meet such beautiful people. On to the next adventures...