June 28, 2010
Greetings from Costa Rica
I have been in Costa Rica since March 22, and I must say, it has been a great experience! Michal was with me until April 26, when she returned home, and I stayed here, practicing my Spanish and working with the church. She came back to Costa Rica on Monday, June 14, along with Steven Guerrero, the preacher for the Sabanilla church who had been reporting to his sponsoring congregation and visiting his many friends in the States.
The church in Sabanilla has kept us busy, teaching English, visiting Christians and non-Christians and helping with various projects. Steven went to the US in May, and that left me here on my own - with his car!! So I was the driver for the congregation. I think only two other members of the congregation have a car and many people don't know how to drive. But the bus system here is really great and inexpensive, so it is easy to get around. When it is raining, though, you can get very wet waiting for buses. And since it rains nearly every day, having a car is a great blessing that needs to be shared.
Besides the usual activities with the church, we have been spending lots of time with the families in the congregation, especially Pedro and Flor Morales and their four kids. No one speaks much English except their oldest son, Isaac. But they are careful to speak very slowly so that we can understand. When we are at an impasse, Isaac steps in and helps straighten us all out.
Being the keeper of the car I had to make two trips to the airport. Shelley and Anna Hopkins arrived on the 11th from West Virginia to go to language school and help with the work of the church. Shelley is very good with her Spanish and is able to present lessons in Spanish. Then Michal and Steven arrived on the 14th. Michal arrived at 2:00 but Steven's flight didn't arrive until 9:00, so we had to spend six hours in Alajuela, since it is a two-hour round-trip drive. Fortunately, there was a mall, so Michal, Flor and I got lots of exercise while we waited.
After getting back to the apartment at about 11 pm, we had to repack Michal's things and get a quick nap before leaving at 5:30 in the morning to take a five-hour bus trip to Panama. My visa expired on the 19th of June and I had to leave the country for at least 72 hours. Panama was very hot with only ceiling fans. I did get the chance to talk with the owners of the Bed and Breakfast we stayed in about the church and our work, which they asked us about. We survived the trip well and did not have any of the possible problems that we had read about on the Internet. God was definitely taking care of us.
When we got back to Sabanilla, we worshiped with the church on Sunday. There was a group of dentists and dental assistants from Tennessee worshiping with us. They were here for a three-day free dental clinic. So on Monday through Wednesday, we arrived at the Arbol de Vida (the community center where the church worships) at eight in the morning to process the patients, and worked each day until 5:30 or 6. While Michal entered the patient information into the computer and answered questions, I translated for Tom who was taking blood pressures. I got pretty good at numbers.
Language learning is a strange experience. For instance, at the Thursday night Bible study, there are some Nicaraguan ladies who speak very fast. I can barely understand what they are talking about. Then there is Marvín. He is from the country, and he talks very slowly. I don´t understand anything he says. Of course, Flor just laughed at me when I told her about my troubles. I didn't tell her that I don't understand her most of the time either!
We have had some interesting experiences here. Rosibel, one of the ladies from the Sabanilla congregation, was taking the dental brigade appointments, which meant that she was taking hundreds of calls! An older gentleman who called to make an appointment told her that she sounded tired, and she admitted that she was. On Tuesday, when the gentleman had his appointment, he came with a loaf of sweet bread to give to Rosibel who just happened to have come by to give us an updated list. So she talked to him and he said that he would come to worship the next Sunday. God works in mysterious ways!
There is a guy in the apartment complex from the US but of Colombian descent. We have had lots of late-night conversations and I had invited him to worship with me several times. To my surprise, he finally accepted. It was interesting being with him at worship, though, because he didn't know how to turn the sound down on his cell phone and both his mom and brother called him. He kept having to repeat to them, "I'm at church with Barbara," because they didn't believe him!
Both Michal and I are struggling with colds at the moment. I think there was just too much activity and too many long days, and we got worn down. But it is not the time to rest, because now we have to get things ready for the children's Bble classes and English classes in Alajuela and the Evangelism camp in Sarchí. That involves getting a house set up for the arrival of 13 tired, travel-worn people who are expecting something to eat and a bed!
Thanks to all who have helped me financially to be able to make this trip. It has been such a blessing to get to know and work with the fine Christians here. You are in our prayers always as fellow-workers.
God bless us all as we strive to serve him