Sunday, March 30, 2008

CR Day 4, March 11th

We began with group devo & Kristina shared with us out of Acts 2. Breakfast was pancakes, scrambled eggs, bread, fruit, beans & rice. We left for school after breakfast and the group I was in taught three 6th grade classes. The first class we taught was a group of kids that for one reason or another had to drop out of school and have started back. They are 15-17yo and in the 6th grade. Julia and I worked with the group of boys in the back of the classroom. In America I think boys are generally harder to work with and integrate into the group, but in Costa Rica it seemed to be the exact opposite. The girls were more skeptical of new people and new ideas. The boys were a joy to work with and much of the American culture has infiltrated Costa Rica through the media. The boy I am pictured with below calls himself "Daddy Yankee" which of course is a pop music star who sings reggaeton. It was interesting how many of these kids have given names that are definately American as you will see in some of the pictures below.

"Daddy Yankee" and I

Julia and I with our group of boys...Names to be posted later

When we went to our second class we had a much larger class and I think we all had one group to ourselves. This can be kind of intimidating since there is little verbal skill for language between us as a group. In this class the bell rung half way through and the kids got to go to snack time/recess of sorts. There was a little concession stand that sold all sorts of snacks and the kids brought them back with them and ate them in class. During this recess, the boy with the jacket on, Jeremy, talked my ear off in español. I understood very little of what he was saying, but he was such a sweet boy. He also introduced me to his brother during recess and I saw his brother later in the week. I hoped to see Jeremy again, but never did. I did understand in my conversation with him that he was really interested in learning English and hoped for a good job to have a family one day. Please help me pray for that for him.

My group in the second class. Names will be posted later...

The third class we went to Alex and I worked with this group. The girl sitting closest to me, would not participate in the group, but did not mind being in the picture. This group was exactly what I was talking about above. The girls were very hard to break.
Names later....

After we finished at the school, we went over to Mount Sanai and helped in their feeding center. Matt was a hand sanitizer for this activity and I was a socializer...imagine that! After the kids ate, the socializers and I hung out with them and ended up playing telephone with them too. We had a blast.


Our game of telephone...

Ashley and Ashley!
This is little girl's name a prime example of American culture infiltration. Spanish does not even have the 'sh' sound so they say it more like our 'ch.'

We went back to the team house, we had some more down time. Some napped, others walked and the rest of us played "what if" again. We had a great time doing that.

Afterwards we had a cooking class with Miriam. She taught us how to make empanadas- make the dough, press 'em, stuff 'em and seal 'em, and best part of all, fry 'em! We all did it and it was great!
The dough balls and Miriam in the background frying the empanadas.
Press, stuff, seal!
Press, stuff, seal!
After we made the empanadas, we did not eat them:(...but took them and gave them away to people in the park, which turned out to be an amazing ministry. After we had passed out all of them, a group of us went to pray for the crazy man who wanders the park talking to someone...Natalia asked him if we could pray for him and he said no. Then we stood there for about 15 more minutes as he told us lots of stuff none of us understood, even Natalia who speaks Spanish. Natalia asked him again and he let us, but when we started praying for him he stopped talking and got really quiet, then started laughing. While we were there with him, one of the locals came and told us that he used to be a famoso guitar player and that he broke up with his girlfriend who was a witch and she cast a spell on him and that is why he is like that today. I will have a picute to post once they make it here from Gainesville.

When we finished with that project, a few of us went over to a park bench and we singing, "Open the eyes of my heart Lord" o "Abre mis ojos o Cristo." We alternated singing in English and Spanish. A man from a family we had just given empanadas to started to weep. Jorge, the youth leader from Mount Sanai, happened to show up in the park while we were there, was able to minister to the man.

After that, we started singing and playing with the kids who were watching us. We had so much fun. We played "Gigante y Enano" and "Dice su novio" and also bullfrog which we used to play here, but they had a spanish rhyme that had a little different cadence to it than our did, and ring around the rosie.
Here is the group that was gathering...
Wendy and I...
When we were finished singing...Jorge and the family man are in the background by the tree sitting on a blanket.

The worst part of the entire trip was that Matt and I were in different groups for stuff so there are not many pictures of Matt, but hopefully when we get the pics from the g-ville crew there will be more of him in there!

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

March 10th, Day 3

We started the morning with a group devotion time. Breakfast for the morning was french toast, fruit, sausage, and bread.
We headed out early to teach at Los Pinos -"The Pines" to teach English. We all taught 1st grade for one period.

Afterwards Bob, Carolina, Christa, Emily, Julia, and I went to teach 6th grade. Emily and I had a great group of girls to work with.


We went to Mount Sanai for lunch and had empanadas and Tico salad. Afterwards we went down into the squatter area and invited the children to come out and sing, play games and do crafts with the "gringos."

Carolina and Jose Antonio (refer to first day post to find out more about Jose Antonio)

One of my favorite memories from the trip happened while Carolina, Emily and I were manning the craft area. One little boy noticed that all of the gringos were wearing crosses and he wondered why. I quickly called Caro over to explain to him that it was because we love Jesus. She told him in Spanish and told him that Jesus loved him too. By this time all of the kids had gathered around to hear the good news. Another little one piped up, "What about me?" and Caro told her that He loved her, too. Another one asked and Carolina was able to tell all of the children there that Jesus loves them all! All because we were wearing a cross?!?! How amazing is our God. And how observant is that little guy!


We headed back to Alajuelita and had a few minutes to chill. We played "what if" and had a lot of fun laughing together.

The dinner we had that night was bean and beef stew, cauliflower and broccoli, bread, rice, and pineapple upsidedown cake!

After dinner, Jorge brought a group of youth over and we had the most amazing time of worship and fellowship. It was amazing to get to know Yerlin, the girl who play bass guitar in the church band on Sunday mornings. Also got to talk with Roy and Jerri. We played telephone and some of the stuff ended up being so hilarious with the differences in language. One of the last things we did was play the table...see the video loaded at the end of this clip. Video quality is not that great, but the sound is the important part!

Becca, Kristina, Lauren, and Jorge

Natalia, Christa, and Josué...

Jason and Estephan

Carolina, Yerlin, me and Stephanie
video
Here is the video, enjoy!

I was so sad when the Ticos had to leave, I did not want the night to end!

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

March 9th, Day 2 Costa Rica

We had our group devotion before breakfast this morning. Matt and I shared a little bit of what had been happening in our spirtual life after attending a conference with our church the weekend prior to leaving for Costa Rica. The breakfast was wonderful- Pancakes, fesh pineapple, cantaloupe, tangerines, bread and huevos rancheros (that had homemade salsa!). After breakfast we headed to Juan Pablo to help with a childrens church service which had just been started by the youth group from the church in Aurora. In Costa Rica, you are in youth group until you are 30 or married which kind of blows me away, but at the same time I think is a great idea! On the way there we passed by the very large, above ground graveyard. When they run out of room for more people, they discard the ones who have been there the longest. Very interesting way of dealing with the dead. I think people here hold onto the physical bodies of loved ones too much anyways, so this was actually comforting to me to know that people could let go of the physical body of their loved one. If they are going to be with Christ anyway, what does the body they left behind have to offer?


Once we arrived in the barrio, we began to call the children out of the homes to come to the church service. We walked up and down different rows of houses calling out, "Vengan niños! Vengan!" which is "come, children, come." (Carolina, Jen, Joel if you are reading this and I misspelled that will you let me know?)


During the chirch service there were definately some bonds being made.

Kimberly, Krista, Carolina, Me and Wuainer after the service.

I think that Kimberly and Krista look like they could be sisters, and Wuainer looks like Noah's older brother!
Some children of Juan Pablo


When we made it back to the team house, we had lasagna, salad, bread, rice &beans, and some delicious chocolate chip cookies. After we devoured our lunch, we broke up into groups to do some lesson planning for classes for the week. I was on the 6th grade team and Matt was on the first grade team. The lessons that we came up with were very similar, and Matt and I both came up with the visual, which was virtually the same thing!
This was the view off of the balcony at the team house!


After we finished planning we headed to church at Mount Sinai. We worshipped with them and the preacher's wife translated the sermon for us. They had an interpretive dance group that even included 3 guys...The men seemed to have such freedom in the way that they expressed themselves in worship there. It was amazing to see the joy and genuine love of the Lord that the people of this church had.
Some of the beautiful girls who go to Mount Sinai

After Church, we headed to MegaSuper and Matt and I bought some Lizano, Costa Rican Cheetoh type things, and chocolate-dipped mint ice cream on a stick. It was delicious.

When we made it back to the team house dinner was ready. We ate chicken and yellow rice, black beans, salad, bread and cake that had an orange gelatin-like frosting. It was interesting to say the least. Matt really enjoyed it.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Pre-trip and Day 1, March 8th


The night we left our house it was snowing and the snow was piled so high on the sides of the road so we decided to take a picture hoping it wouldn't be there when we returned. We flew from Des Moines, Lynn took us to the airport thankfully and my gramma picked us up in St. Pete. The next evening, we met up with the CCH group at Wildwood and drove down to Miami to await our flight this morning.
We all made the flight, no one had to ride with the luggage either!

We arrived in Costa Rica safely (picture out the window of the plane above) and all of our bags came with us! We also had no problems through customs or immigration. I was really nervous to ride in the taxi to the ministry house, but much to my surprise our driver was awesome! When we arrived, we had sandwiches for lunch and some bean dip to go with it. Spencer, the main man at 6:8 briefed us on some of the culture, places, and things we should and should not do.
Then we walked to the park (pictured above)and bus station and took the bus down to Aurora where we were to teach English and have community activities for the kids. We went on a prayer walk and stopped to pray at the school, community center, and then walked on down into the valley where the houses seemed to be stacked on and against each other. Most of the people in this area do not own the land their "houses" sit on. The put up houses and in the rainy season, they get flooded out, or sometimes the government comes and bulldozes their houses to the ground. Went all the way down to the last house on the left where José Antonio lives. José is about 5yrs old and he has a brain and heart condition. When we arrived he was wearing a dish towel for a diaper and a shirt. His mother was holding him and we came down to pray for him. Natalia and Carolina both prayed for him in Spanish, which Spencer said doesn't happen very often because most teams do not have fluent Spanish speakers with them. We were so blessed to have them there with us.
When we arrived back at the mission house, we had a few minutes of down time, then met downstairs for dinner. Miriam the house cook was "pretty much amazing," (in Becca's words). We ate pork chops, onions, rice and beans, garlic bread, yucca, and grape-chocolate cupcakes. The meal was of course complete with Lizano, a special salsa made in Costa Rica!

After Dinner we had our group time with Spencer, worship with Jason the intern, and Duke gave us the message. He was speaking from 1Samuel using David's life as an example for us, and what we could learn from his triumphs and mistakes. We headed upstairs for the night, and us girls definately talked awhile...

There was also a beautiful sunset to finnish out the start of a beautiful week!

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

To God be the Glory!

Well we have made it back safe and sound from Costa Rica, our son survived- (or should I say Pam and Dave Survived our son?!?) he actually still loves us, and we had an amazing time in Costa Rica... For me, it was like Costa Rica is closer to Heaven than America has ever been.


We were totally blessed to have our entire trip provided for us through generous friends and family. Our entire team was such a blessing to be around and we all became "Ticos de corazon!" Some of the girls that went with us have already booked tickets to go back down there this summer. The Campus House is planning Spring Break in Costa Rica again next year. It was amazing and I hope to get our day by day journal up soon.

Ashley

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

One for the Road!

Well we are on the move again. After being back in Iowa for only a few days (we came back on Feb 29th) we leave again in the morning to go to Costa Rica on our mission trip. Matt and I are really excited because this is the first mission experience for both of us, and we get to experience this together. Please pray for us and the rest of the team as we go down and work with the children to teach them English and for the homeless we will be feeding also. Pray for wisdom and guidance for us as we hope to share Jesus with the people of Alajuelita.

It has been my goal to get the blog updated from our trip down to FL before we left for CR, so that is really the point of this entry, so I will attempt to update you on the 10days we spent in Florida.

Before we went to Florida, celebrated Valentine's Day eating lunch with Pam and Dave. We enjoyed a Pesto Chicken Sandwich ring which Matt cleverly thought of making into the shape of a heart!


We had a blizzard, my first one ever, the day before we headed out and Matt took a picture of all of the snow that had drifted up on the road from our house.



One of Noah's favorite past times is exploring things in the kitchen cabinets and this was one of his discoveries.

He has also discovered that he can wear our shoes! This is him in my snow boots.


My gramma picked us up at the airport in her new (to her) little car and we were off to her house to spend the night at her house. The next day we headed to Gainesville to visit with all of the friends we have up there and this time we had the pleasure of staying in the Searby Inn. It was such a nice setup for us because Noah was able to sleep in Evan's packnplay in the closet which was practically sound proof and very dark which made for nice long nights for Matt and I. He has never slept better away from home. We headed to Harvest that night and enjoyed Family Fellowship Dinner with all of our friends from Church in Gainesville. Then we headed over to meet little Isaac who was born to our friends Jimmy and Katie. It was so good to get to share in the joys, and trials, of parent hood with our friends.


We spent the next day hanging out with Jen and Evan.

Evan and Noah enjoying baby einstein together.

Matt and Noah stayed home after lunch to give Noah is nap and the rest of us made a trip to Publix to gather the rest of the items for the Pampered Chef Party Jen was hosting for me that night. It was so nice to get to go back to Publix again and they even had our favorite limited addition ice cream back in stock, Coffee Toffee! That evening the Boys all headed out to the mall to hang out and Jen and I had lots of fun at a Pampered Chef show.

Friday we went to the Cyto lab and visited with everyone there, except Marbella wasn't there:( That evening, we went to the Bat House with some of our friends.

The bats all took a very strange pattern out of the house so we couldn't really get very good pictures of them, but we all had lots of fun anyway! I did however, capture a hawk on camera which had just grabbed a bat in its talons. The hawks had come for a feast that night, and a feast is what they got!



Jess having a peek-a-boo session with Noah

Noah pretending a bat just bit him!

All of us after seeing the bats fly...
Then we all, minus Jess since she was fasting, headed over to Jen and Joel's and enjoyed Jerk Chicken Nachos and Joel's famous Jambalaya, but not before I broke a pizza stone, melted a spatula and singed nacho chips on the stove. If you want more to that story just ask sometime...

The next morning Jen and I headed to Mother Earth to find a neti-pot and our quest was successful, especially since we also found Girl Scout cookies on the way home. That afternoon we attempted to take every out to Satchel's but the wait was long and we didn't know if the kids would make it so we opted to get take out and go back to the Searby's to enjoy it with our friends.

Evan and Noah trying on the bowl...

Jimmy felt left out, so we let him do it too...

These are all of our boys with our boys...and Krystle who could be having a boy, and since her boy Josh was already out of town, we had her stand in for him.

All of the girls...
We had a great time catching up on life and afterwards play a hilarious game of What if. So once again I have some questions to post...but first you have to understand the context of two breast feeding mommies, one finished breast feeding mommy and one mommy-to-be that plans to breastfeed so that was definitely a big topic... so read if you dare...

I am going to have to post this a little later because I have run out of time!!!

Q:

We left Gainesville and headed back to my gramma's house so that we could make it to church in the morning. We had a lot of fun being there on celebration Sunday and were there for the potluck until about 1pm. Then we headed down to JoAnns to meet up with my mom and Amy. Amy headed off to work at TGH and the rest of us went back to my mom's. Brilei and Noah had the most fun playing together, Noah chasing Brilei, then Brilei chasing Noah.

They laughed and we all laughed too.

The following day we headed to St. Pete and met up with Jen and Evan. We headed down to Ft. Desoto State Park and had a great time on the beach. It wasn't too windy or hot so I was actually able to stay out on the beach for the hour that we were there. We also took a picnic lunch along and ate together. It was one of the best days I have ever had at the beach. If you want to see some pictures, head over to Jen's blog. I haven't had the chance to get any pictures from her, but when we get back maybe I can. That night, my mom and I headed down to downtown Tampa to feed the homeless.

Tuesday we headed over to hang out with Amy and Brilei. We took a stroll around the block, played baseball in the yard, ate Cuban Sandwiches at Silver Ring and talked about the future. We really enjoyed getting to spend that extra time with my sis. When we left Amy's we took Brilei with us and headed to see Mema and Papa. We chatted for a while, took the kids out to swing, and then a storm rolled in so we went ahead and headed over to Leigh Anne and David's to visit with them. Shay and Noah had a great time playing house and Noah especially enjoyed vacuuming with Shay's vacuum. It is so cool to see our kids playing together considering, that is what we used to do.

Gramma came to my moms the next day and we hung out with her. Barby came over after my mom got home and we ate a wonderful meal of jambalaya, this time prepared by Matt. It was good too, and even Brilei liked it! When Amy got off of work, she came to pick up Brilei and joyed jambalaya and everyone enjoyed the 9min Pampered Chef cake I made the previous day.

Thursday we headed off to the Strawberry Festival. My gramma came with us and we met Amy and Brilei there. We had a good time hanging out and Brilei and Amy even went down the giant slide 2 times. Matt, Brilei and Noah rode the Merry Go Round and that was more of an adventure. That evening, we ate dinner with my mom teriyaki chicken salad, said our goodbyes and headed to Beth's and saw her for a brief moment, then up to gramma's to spend the night before leaving in the morning.

We made it back to Minneapolis safe and sound. Marque picked us up in our car, took the light rail back home and we headed to the Mall of America to eat, let Noah run around, and change our phone plan since we aggregeously went over on our minutes. We made it back to Clarksville in time to make an appearance at the Youth Center fundraiser. Then we headed down to Cedar Falls to a convention we attended at our church.

We had an amazing time there and were prayed over for blessings at the youth center. It was so nice to be lifted up in prayer especially when it can be so draining to work with the youth in Clarksville. One of the people who prayed over us felt that there would be another young couple joining forces with us to help minister to the kids in Clarksville and we are excited over this prospect and cannot wait to have them join us, so please help pray for that couple to come and join with us so we can help build upon what has been started.

Last night we had the pleasure of Dan and Lynn joining us for dinner and we had a great time sharing with them what we felt God doing in our lives and they were great to offer suggestions for things we may want to try. It is such a blessing to have a another sister now;) Wish all us sisters, Amy, Lynn, and soon to be Nicole could get together more often. Girl talk time is really essential at certain points...

As I finish this, it is drawing near time for us to load up and head out to Dan and Lynn's for the night and closer to when we leave for Costa Rica. Please remember to keep us in your prayers.

Ashley