Thursday, September 9, 2010

Mes de Patria

Patriotic month.

On the 15th of this month is Independence Day here, as it is in most of Latin America. The blue, white and red flags and decorations are showing up everywhere. Houses have decorations. The classrooms and hallways have accordion streamers and balls, flags and the shield of Costa Rica decoration. The street vendors have replaced or added to their wares of fruit, drinks, and cellphone accessories with flags of all sizes and the traditional candle-lit paper house lanterns.

All this week, La Palabra de Vida (and every other school around the country) is having almost daily civics assemblies with dancing, recitations, national hymns, and skits. Lizzy's class is participating in the assembly next Monday with a traditional dance. We decided to buy the full outfit, for the assembly, but also to take with us as a souvenir of our time in Costa Rica. Though not traditionally in the colors of the Costa Rica flag, this skirt is essential in the traditional dance. Lizzy was so proud of her new dress that she performed her dance for me (Christy)without music in the front yard. She takes her participation in the dance very seriously and has put much practice into it.

From Lizzy dancing

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Getting Ready to Go

Hi…Christy here. I’m hijacking the blog and writing a post since it has been quite a while since Josh has posted. Josh is busy these days working on applying to grad schools, while at the same time still teaching, grading, and prepping for classes at La Palabra de Vida.

I, on the other hand, have been arms deep in planning for the transition that we are going to go through in just 3 short months…selling our stuff (since we are not shipping stuff home), packing bags to send home with people who have visited us or the school, figuring out what we need to do for Sammy and Lizzy for schooling in January, and making travel plans, while homeschooling (preschool) Sammy and taking care of my increasingly mobile funny-girl Kate (whose current favorite word to say is “tickle, tickle, tickle”).

My preparations for the move have made me realize some of the things that I will miss, some that I won’t, some of the things I am looking forward to, and some of the things that I am not…so here they are:

I will miss looking out of the window up into the Escazu mountains while I am washing dishes…but I am looking forward to having a dishwasher again.

I will miss the fact that my children are becoming bilingual…but I will not miss the times when I feel like my Spanish makes me sound like a toddler.

I will miss the open windows and doors with outside air flowing through the house…but I don’t think I will miss the little critters that come with having more open houses.

I will miss the beautiful weather here, I’m not looking forward to leaving during the best weather here…and arriving just in time for a cold Chicago winter.

I will NOT miss the geckos in the house. Although people like them for eating bugs, I do not like finding random baby geckos, cleaning up gecko droppings, or hoping that I get a chance to find them before Kate does.

I will miss having a clothes line…I know, this one might seem nuts to some of you. I might be glad to get rid of it if I had to line dry everything…but we have a dryer, so I only have to line-dry when I want to do it or have time for it. Hanging cloth diapers out to dry is one of my favorite household chores.

I will miss the fact that every time family comes to visit, we get to see a cool new part of Costa Rica….but I am so very excited that, for a while after we get back, we will to be able to see family almost every day.

I will miss the friends that we have made here.

I will NOT miss the sugar ants. They don’t bug us too much, but when you see a stream of them coming into the house, you kind of wonder what the kids left somewhere that they are going after.

I’m sure that Josh could add many things to both sides of this list….but he is going to have to add his own post to do it. We’re excited and nervous to be moving on to the next stage in our lives….curious to see where God is taking us.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Back from the U.S. and gearing up for the new teaching year

The end of 2009 proved to be a bit more busy for me than I first had imagined it would be. Baby Katherine Grace Meyer was born at the end of September, wrapping up the final trimester at La Palabra and finally our trip back to the U.S. We had a great time visiting friends and family - as well as having the opportunity to take part in the exchange program which included 13 students from La Palabra de Vida being in the Chicago area for 3 weeks.

I have created a slideshow below which contains pictures of the ministry in general, with many specific shots from 2009 and January 2010. Thank you all so much for your continued prayers and support throughout 2009 - Christy and I are really excited about what 2010 will bring!

Saturday, August 1, 2009

I finally got to use this thing!

So when we first moved to Costa Rica, I bought what any guy would have - a machete! never know when you might need one, right? And, five dollars is a small price to pay for a knife (sword?) the size of my leg. But, for the first time in our 1.5 years down here I got to use it for real! Yesterday we had a thunderstorm of grand proportions - including hail and everything. It blew over several banana trees near our house - so I went to town trying to get them off the electric fence. I also cleared out some banana leaves in our back yard so we can start to line dry some clothes more effectively. Nothing makes you feel more HUGE then machete-ing huge leaves like they are butter - lets be honest though - palms and banana trees don't put up much of a fight.

Monday, July 6, 2009

10 + 1 = 8

So I was sitting with my daughter at the dinner table this afternoon and next to us was one penny and one dime. She asked me something like 'What do you see daddy?' and I promptly (and proudly) answered '11'. She said no. I smiled a sly smile and said 'Okay, 9...' She said no again. I was left with nothing to say except 'you are too smart for me, what is it?' She quickly responded with '8'. Christy looked at me and smiled, wondering if I would understand. I looked at the dates and saw no eights or clever combinations - certainly not that my four year old would be able to do the math on. I just was puzzled and annoyed. Until she explained, with the help of Christy, that when the two coins were put together, side by side, they made the shape of an 8. She is absolutely right and there was nothing I could do but smile. How many times do (dare I say 'we' as adults?) just totally miss something right in front of us because we assume we already know the answer. Worse than thinking that we already know the answer, how many of us think that EVERYONE else must be wrong. I fall into that category quite often. Thank goodness I have my daughter to help ground me in my own bias and thoughts of superiority.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Shame, let down, sadness....

These are things I feel after waiting so long to update the blog. But, in the words of of my favorite Jane Austin book/movie 'Do not worry Lizzy, this too shall pass, and probably more quickly then it ought...' Its from Pride and Prejudice - I highly recommend you at least watch the six hour A&E special version if not even read the book too.

We recently sent out a prayer letter to everyone – if you did not receive it please do let me know. I’m also posting one on the blog here and will be sending one out via email today….

So much has happened since the last time I blogged! Roughly two months ago I had the opportunity to go for an over night retreat with my 7th, 8th and 9th graders. During that retreat there were several team building events – if you have ever been to a low ropes course, you have probably done something similar to what we did that weekend. However, they also had a military style obstacle course where you had to swim through mud water, walk up muddy slopes, climb rope ladders, run through tires, crawl underneath barbed wire (okay – it was just rope – but I was imagining that it was barbed wire), and other such activities. I’ve never had the opportunity to do that and it was quite a bit of fun.

To be honest, I often don’t feel *that* much older than my kids, especially the 8th and 10th graders, but one picture in particular really sealed the deal for me realizing the cold hard truth. I AM that much older then my students. If you look at the picture here, you can see that I both tower over my students (hard to do given that I am only 5’8’’) and I am also generally much more ‘thick’ then they are. In general, I’m just old. Christy has felt a bit old lately because Elizabeth has started telling her ‘Mom, your hands are rough because you are OLD!’ I’m not sure where she learned this (I certainly did not tell her to say this – even I have limits) but I guess all you can do is laugh because the kids don’t know any different

Roughly a month ago I had the chance to attend a camp with the 10th and 11th graders which was fun as well. We went to an area called Savegre which was absolutely beautiful. This camp was situated in a mountain valley right along the Savegre river so in every direction around us were mountain peaks. Also surprising to many, it was VERY cold in the evening time. I was wearing long sleves, to t-shirts, a long sleeve t-shirt, a fleece jacket and a rain jacket over it, but was still shivering during our evening meetings. There was a high ropes course there; however, it had rained so much recently that we were only able to use a smaller section of course including a ‘leap of faith’, a ‘rapture’ – where you get pulled up in the air by your team mates, and something called a hammock where you basically jump off a 40 foot balcony and swing like a monkey for a couple minutes. During this weekend, we had the president of the board of directors come and speak to the children and on the side we also did a brief study on the Biblical character Daniel.

One thing that was interesting was the ‘serenades’ at night. I guess this is more or less Costa Rican tradition. The first night everyone ‘goes to bed’ at 10pm (realize, no one is ACTUALLY going to sleep) and the girls prepare for their serenade. It starts at 11:30pm. For this year, the girls had black lights strung up everywhere and had hold up posers in bright colors that had the words to the songs that they were singing. The girls holding up the posters wore black so you could hardly see them and four girls in the front playing instruments wore white. Overall, pretty cute. The next night we ‘went to bed’ at 10:30pm – but then the guys had to get ready to serenade the girls. The must have pulled the pedals off of about 500 roses because they put rose pedals all over the floor. They also had formed some PVC in the shape of a heart, put alcohol in it, and set it on fire. When I saw this getting set up, I asked Matt ‘…this is going to melt the PVC – what are they doing….?’ (I was also thinking, why are you allowing this). Sure enough, about 10 minutes into the serenade, poisonous black smoke was billowing from this now melted blob on the ground. Matt and I were able to put it out while the boys continued ‘signing’ – if that’s what you could call it – to the girls. Overall, an experience to see, and a neat look into the culture.

More recently, Christy and I were able to spend two weeks in Miami and help Latin America Mission out with an orientation for folks interested in becoming missionaries. It was a hard time in La Palabra de Vida because Matt taught all of my classes (thanks Matt!), but a great time for us because we got to basically just act as a taxi service for the folks in orientation, answer questions, and just basically just be friends to them for 10 days. The orientation included presentations on the history of LAM, the nuts and bolts of Latin America Mission, advice on support raising and also a whole bunch of team building activities. This last thing was something new to the orientation from when Christy and I went through it in 2007, and something I think is a huge improvement to the program. It was truly a blessing for Christy and I also to be able to hear the story of every one of the candidates and why they felt called to missions work.

We just entered into the ‘spring’ break of La Palabra de Vida which means that I have the ability to rest for the next couple weeks. Before I started teaching, I thought this was a crazy amount of vacation, but now that I know how much is involved with both prepping and execution of the school work, and also emotionally with the lives of the students, I am really looking forward to the couple week break. My folks are coming into town which means the kids will have endless book reading times and outside bicycle riding times – which will be great.

I hope everyone is doing well, and I’ll try to use this break as a catapult to blogging a bit more in the future...

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Things I've realized in the last couple weeks

1. Waking up at 5:00 a.m. every morning has not been as bad as I thought it would be.
2. I like to be planned out at least 3 weeks in all my classes

3. Total lack of an understanding of 'forming lines' or 'waiting your turn' still makes me annoyed

4. I also do not like having meetings that always run 6 minutes late when I only have 15 minutes inbetween to get somehere.

5. Even though #4 bugs me, I still hold my students for 30 seconds sometimes when they only have 3 minutes to get from one class to another.

6. Number 2 is not possible

7. I'm a little sad that football is over.

8. I am very happy that I just realized that we have 3 locals channels on our cable that are broadcast out of Denver.

9. We might have to travel out of country in the next 30 days if our Visa does not come through.

10. Although waking up at 5:00 am is not bad, it is still not very much fun.

11. Teaching students, much like leading teams, is difficult.

12. Sometimes the most simple assignments yield a wealth of information and context on students, their backgrounds and the struggles they are dealing with.

13. Riding a bike on the road is not nearly as terrifying if it is 5:40 in the morning

14. I miss

15. I'm hoping sometime to climb Mt. Pico Blanco

16. As much trouble as I have with my classes sometimes, it is still easier than teaching Lizzy and Sammy like Christy does

17. If I don't bring water to class in the morning, but the third class my mouth gets dry and I start spitting (accidently) on the folks in the first row

18. I take too long when I grade assignments

19. We still have big time 'I miss the states' moments - and probably will for the next two years

20. The second 60% I lost on Bank of America stock was much easier than the first 60% (math joke - get it?)

I've included a picture of me teaching that Matt Befus took unexpectedly. You can see how animated I get! The room I'm using too just got upgraded and we have a project unit and stereo,DVD,etc in there. Its pretty sweet. This is my 7th grade 'B' class. This year they split the 7th grade class in 2 because there was so many students, it would have been difficult to have them in one class.