Thursday, July 31, 2008

The almost end to the summer...

So we are saying good-bye to our last team tomorrow. Is it really that time already?

Let me share with you, in picture form, the stories from this last week.

To begin with, Nate tried to kill Chad...but Chad was okay with it...

The Canadian staff came together, dressed like Costa Ricans...to prove that we love all cultures.

Missy and I considered changing professions as Costa Rican dancing ladies...but then changed our minds.

Dan and Stephen tried to join Nate's gang...but we converted them.

And then, getting past all of that, we headed into Barva to do outreach with the team. A large part of my outreach experience - and highlight - was working at a centre for youth with disabilities. This centre is an extension of the church's ministries. Here I am with my new friend Cindy, who is one of the reason's that the centre started. Her mom, Ligia, is the one that felt led to provide a place for people like her daughter to go and spend time together with people who just want to love them. I was privileged to join a few youth from the team and spend the mornings at this centre, singing songs, sharing Bible stories, making crafts, and playing with bubbles and sidewalk chalk.
Here is my new boyfriend...he was insistent on blowing kisses my way.
Here we are...singing and dancing. These adults LOVED to dance, and insisted that we do one of the songs over and over again.
Here we have the craft from the first day, which was a big hit!
This seemed like a good idea at the time...probably a better idea for an inside game than an outside one. But it was fun to chase balloons anyways.
Joe had a fun time...and started a lot of bubble wars.
Here's craft from day 2, featuring David and Goliath, another big hit. I thought the whole thing was kinda "Veggie Tales" style for those of you who know and love Veggie Tales. I think this is how the whole phenomenon got started...socks filled with rice.

Well that's all I have for now...when I get more pics from my fellow team members, I will add more for your enjoyment. Also, in a few days, I should have some great pics of fun staff times to come...and perhaps some teary good-byes. We shall see... :)

Friday, July 25, 2008

What we do in our free time....

Well, the video that I've been trying to download the last few days just isn't coming through...so we'll have to wait until I can use the internet in Canada and see if it's any faster...

In the meantime, I want to share with you the joys of living with 25 others...and the fun that results. Last weekend we had our first annual PVM staff talent show - I was amazed at the talent that lurked beneath the surface of our group of staff.
Patrick and Ethan opened us with an Abbott and Costello routine...and then concluded with a "most likely" list of all of us staff members. I was given "most likely to bear the brunt of all Canadian jokes"...which is true.
Nat and Lauren did an impersonation of many of the staff...here Lauren impersonates DeLynn, which had us all laughing. Well, all except DeLynn. :)Carmelinda brought out new knock-knock jokes for us...Alex impressed us all and recited Pi to 80 decimal points...and we assume it was right.And of course, the boys had to treat us with their own number...in which they dressed ridiculously and sang with their most beautiful voices for us. My vote was for them and their humility.

There were a number of other great acts...including DeLynn's classic story of the "Crooked Mouth Family". I have appreciated working with this staff this summer...and will miss them terribly when we all part ways in just over a week!

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Canadians in Costa Rica!

I have to say that this last week was one of my favourite's in the last four years, because for the first time, we had a group from Canada! (And from Chilliwack, nonetheless...) We had a blast...and I think I laughed more this week than most, which was also a blessing. Here is a pic of the team, dressed in their Sunday finest:
Of course, a great week isn't complete without some random jumping with children...
These girls break my heart...and probably could get anything they want from me (let's be honest here, who could say no to those faces?).
Apparently, they won over the boys' hearts as well...
A highlight...and tiring part of the week as well...was spending all day, every day, with a few of the kids from the neighbourhood. As soon as we arrived each day, they would show up, ready to play...and would be with us until we left at 7 each night (this week was vacation from school, so the kids were free to roam as they pleased...)
One of my favourite parts of outreach is when we go hang out in the local park and perform dramas and share with the people in the park. Here Rachel shares her story, while Jeremy translates...
This group worked hard and accomplished more than I thought they would be able to! With only 10 of them (and the three of us leaders) we painted, painted, and painted more...notice the joy on Mike's face at that fact:
Jeremy loved the excuse to be on the roof...
And of course, the kids jumped in and "helped" us paint.
One of the other blessings of having this group here, was the CBC connection: Steve Klassen, who graduated last year, and Eric Tiessen who is returning for his third year this fall, were part of the team - and made it a lot of fun and very comfortable! And of course, Eric was helping me recruit future students...
I am trying to upload a great video for you all from our time of kids' ministry, and hope that the internet will be happy with me soon...again the joys of living in Costa Rica is the inconsistency of things like internet or phone...

After spending such a great week with the Chilliwack team (and the other four teams that we had here as well!), us staff needed a good fun night together...and so we went in full force to go see the new Batman, and of course had to be masked for the event.
Some took it more seriously than others...
And here we are again on the brink of another team...our last! Tonight is the highly anticipated staff talent show...followed with two more days of leadership training and then we welcome another 80 or so youth on Wednesday, for the last time this summer!

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Yo tengo tanto para agradecer...

One of the songs that we do whenever we have kids club here says, "Yo tengo tanto, tanto, tanto, tanto, tanto...para agradecer", which means "I have so so so so so so very much to be thankful for." Today, as I was driving around in the van, picking up paint and dodging pedestrians and busses in the narrow roads here in Costa Rica, I was suddenly overwhelmed with how much I have to be thankful for. I am currently enjoying my fourth summer here, meeting tons of youth, beautiful people, and loving the culture. I have SO much to be thankful for. I just wanted to let you all know that....

Sunday, July 06, 2008

Week 1...done!

Sorry that it's taken so long to get pictures up on here from last week's group, folks! I've had some computer issues...and the internet doesn't always work so great...the joys of living and working in Costa Rica :)
Anyways, here we go. As I type, we have welcomed another 90 youth on our base. I can hardly believe how time flies here...days are full! I hope you enjoy these pictures, even though they are late!

Here we demonstrate what it looks like to fill a truck with the luggage of 80 youth...it's a rather fun task, a little bit like playing Tetris.
This is one of my favourite views...a chapel full of youth and leaders, coming together to worship...
Here are Gloria and Mark Chacon Epp. Mark is Canadian, and Gloria is Costa Rican, she is filling an interm Pastor role at the church "Gloria de Rey" where we brought the team last week - I really really enjoyed working with Gloria, partially because she is a fluent English speaker (!!), but also for her heart, and her organizational skills! She made it easy to work alongside the church.
Here we see what it looks like for a team to dismantle a ceiling (this was a weird moment for me, as the ceiling that they were dismantling was the very one I witnessed being put in place 5 years ago by the Willingdon team!!).
I love scaffolding in Costa Rica. We get away with things you would never see in Canada...notice the chair on the top rung.
This church is currently about 25 members, so when we added a team of 40, the place was full! Here the team performed a drama for the church on Sunday morning.
A highlight of the week for me was the "impromptu" moments. Rain washed away many of our plans, but in place, we took time to worship and to meet with the team. God did a lot of amazing things in the lives of these youth.
Here is another of the projects that we were doing - a mural for the elementary school. I have to admit that it was a fun project, but also a little difficult to complete when every 20 minutes the bell was ringing for recess...and we were swarmed with Costa Rica children.
Another fun project was ministry with the women in the community - the girls worked on making jewellry and then gave it out as free gifts in the park. The older ladies LOVED making jewellry.And of course, it wouldn't be a good Tico week without some soccer! We played a tournament: Gringos vs. Ticos - of course, the Ticos won.
And then we said good-bye to our team of 41 and enjoyed a day to ourselves! We first headed up to Volcan Irazu...a place that I had tried to visit about 4 years ago and never got to see...but on Saturday, I got to see it! Here is a hilarious picture of us, trying to look at the camera in the sun...the result? I look giddy.
After the volcano, we headed into Cartago, the old capital city of Costa Rica, mostly to see the Basilica - it is a very famous church here in Costa Rica. The legend has it that "La Negrita" a little doll was found 400 years ago in the forest where this church and city are now built. A little girl was gathering firewood, and found the doll on a rock. She brought it home and the next day went back into the forest. She found it again in the same spot...excited to have thought she found two of the same doll. When she got home, she discovered that the doll was no longer there, so she locked the one that she had just found in a box. The next morning when she checked it, it was gone. Again, she found it on the rock. She brought it to her priest, and eventually a church was built on that site upon the decision that La Negrita was a sign from the Virgin Mary. Today, this church is honestly a shrine for La Negrita - people from all over the world make pilgrimages to this church, and every year in August, they walk, some on their knees, to the church to ask La Negrita for healing. Below you can see one of the beautiful stained glass windows in the cathedral displaying the story of La Negrita.
Below the cathedral we found a room of "offerings". There are display cases full of little ornaments like these, all of different body parts or representations of situtations. The idea is that prayer is offered on behalf of La Negrita, and when healing comes, people bring these objects to demonstrate that their prayers have been answered. The whole thing felt incredibly odd...and very unlike the Christian faith that we believe. It is a very skewed outlook...and really doesn't have anything to do with Christ and what He did for us!
After all that, we have had a few interesting days - full of leadership training and preparing for the teams that are now with us. It has been both refreshing and a blessing to be with such great staff, and to be learning together. I have learnt so much in such a short time....
And tomorrow, we do it all again! We leave for a church nearby the church from last week's outreach. I am pleased to be leading this team from Central Community church in Chilliwack BC!! This is our first Canadian team during the summer program ever, and I am excited to have a couple guys from CBC on the team as well...I am really looking forward to doing ministry with them here in Costa Rica...and to have my worlds collide a little bit!!