Friday, July 30, 2010

Home



We have finished our summer journey.
We are back home.
and it feels so good to be back home.

Our friends and neighbors, did a great job of helping us ease back into the states. We felt so blessed to have friends who would pick us up at midnight, let us do 8 or 9 loads of laundry, provide cake and icecream, and disrupt their routine. And was overwhelmed to come home to find our home clean, the fridge stocked with fresh summer fruit, dinner, and desert, and a wonderful sign welcoming us home.

We were so humbled. Thank you for our warm welcome.





We are mostly unpacked now. We have our treasures from the oceanside, our letters that friends and family sent us, we even have some sand and dirt in the bottom of our suitcases.

Now we are settling back into summer.

I have been asked if I was able to communicate in Spanish, and honostly I am not able to. I understand alot more than I can say. While we were there in Costa Rica we were at the point where we were able to start to form sentences. They are very simple sentences. I am hoping to be able to really practice my Spanish at work, and do some on the job training.

We are also asked if we had a good time. That one is tough one to answer.
We did have a good time. We met alot of new friends. Ones that we hope to be ministering side by side one day. We saw so many beautiful new things and places. We were so blessed to go to many different parts of the country of Costa Rica. Almost every weekend we went somewhere new. The things that we were able to do overwhelms us. My girls will never know how blessed they were to participate in the activities they were exposed to.

My family was amazing. The girls loved Costa Rica. They adapted so quickly. The loved the challenges of a new way of living. The were able to quickly communicate with those around them, and even got high marks for their phoenitics. They are ready to win the lost for the Lord, ready to go to any new country. They both feel they are ready to be missionaries, and are excited to find out where God will lead us (so am I for that matter).

They also realize that we were not on the mission field when we were there. They understood that the activites like horseback riding, or zip lining, would not be the normal way of life. They are still ready to go back.

They made sacrifices while there. They gave one of the things that were most important to them, "silly bands". This was no easy thing, let me assure you. But in the end, they called it their silly band sacrifice, to "reach" the children around the world. They have even prayed for the children that receive the bands, that they will come to know the Lord, as our missionary friends give them the silly bands.



The girls didn't complain about their bug bites, or having to walk a ways to get to the grocery store, etc. And God kept them safe. Emma did end up with a staph infection from a spider bite, but we were able to take care of it before we left. I praise God for His hand of protection on my babies.

David also did great. That man will go to great lengths to make sure his family is comfortable and safe. He keeps us well feed, and pays a great price to give his wife the things that make her happy.


(those were the most expensive cheezits I have ever eaten. But they were good.)


But I am going to be honost. It was hard too.
I found my self struggling with a call that was placed on my life over 20 years ago. The frustration and exhaustion of everyday living became a huge burden to me. Which then made me question if I had the charactor needed to do such an amazing call. I felt very raw and exposed.

The enemy wages such a strong war, and uses such powerful tools. I was not ready for that battle. I don't know why I was caught off guard. I wish I would have been stronger, not complained as much, not wavered. I have so much to learn. I need to really learn to live the Word, to hide it my heart. I need to believe His word. I need to learn how to "enjoy" and not just "endure".

I have so much to learn.

I can't remember if I have used this before, but this statement if from David Livingstone who was a Scottish missionary, doctor, and explorer who helped open the heart of Africa to missions.

"Lord, send me anywhere, only go with me.
Lay any burden on me,
only sustain me.
Sever any ties but the tie that binds me to Thy service
and to They heart."

I want this to be my prayer. I fall so often, I need God's forgiveness and strength. I am so glad I serve a God who is there to walk beside me, and forgives me, who strengthens me.

Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it, but one thig I do: forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to witn the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. Philippians 3:12-14

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Operation Vacation



Friday, we got all packed up and tried to head out of town.
But living in Central America, you don't always get what you bargained, or even paid for.
We had rented a 7 passenger 4 wheel drive, and ended up with a 5 passenger. We needed a bigger car, because we had invited some friends along for the weekend.

So, we were left with the option of taking the car, or taking nothing. So we all piled in and put our luggage on top of the car again. The girls rode in the cargo part of the car. We are not going to win any awards, for the safest parents in town, but, that is how it goes. The girls loved it. They named themselves the "talking luggage".


We had the apartment we called home packed up, the car and talking luggage secure, and needed to make one phone call before heading out. Well the phone call was to the property manager of the house we were going to rent to give her an approximate time of arrival. She informed us that someone was in the house, and our reservations were going to be for the next day.

So we were in a little bit of a panic. But we were able to find a place to stay, and the owner of the home refunded that night's stay.

God takes care of us in so many ways.

We were finally on the road, about 3 hours later, but on the roads of Central America none the less. Once you get out of the city of San Jose, things are much easier. You have to watch out for potholes the size of bathtubs, and the occasional monkey, but then you are good to go. Our drive was uneventful.



We arrived in Manuel Antonio for the first part of our week of vacation. The house we stayed out was wonderful. We were able to sit on the rocking chairs of our balcony and watch the slow moving sloths, the howler monkeys, the capuchin monkeys and the tizi monkeys. We even hand fed the tizi monkeys. It was such a treat to stay there.



On Sunday we went to the national park of Manuel Antonio. What an amazing place. We know understand why people LOVE Costa Rica. On our hike through the park we saw, monkeys, sloths, a boa constrictor, agoutis, iguanas, bats, and a poisonous tree. The water was beautiful. It was a great start to a much needed vacation.

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We brought our new friends Lorin and Rebecca Harris with us. They got married in December, and had honeymooned in Manuel Antonio. They were alot of fun to be around. We had alot of good food, and enjoyed playing cards, and watching the wildlife with them.




On Monday we took a catamaran tour. So we were able to watch the dolphin play along side the boat, did a little snorkeling, and had some fresh pineapple smoothies. After lunch, we lifted up the sail, and cruised back. What a relaxing afternoon. Emma said, and I quote, "we are living the dream".


Tuesday, we drove the Pan American highway to our final destination, Playa Conchal. This is a gem of a place. We have this beautiful white sand beside aqua blue water. We feel so pampered. We rented a condo in a reserve here. We were able to get a great price, because this is the off season in Costa Rica. The reserve has a pool, steps away from the ocean. The staff here will take a lounge chair for you and place it ride beside the ocean, underneath the shade of the tree. So you can go for a swim in the ocean, and then cool off in the refreshing pool.



After some stressful weeks of trying to learn a language, and adapt to a new culture, this vacation has been . . .replenishing.

We feel so spoiled.

God has blessed us with an amazing time.

Our only regret, is that our friends and family can not be here with us.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

CINCEL






Did David and Amy actually go to school down there? all their pictures are of vacation. Well, here are the certificates to prove that we are now fluent in spanglish. we can ask how much this costs, when does it start, where are you from? this is to add to our expansive knowledge when we got here of where is the bathroom and what is your name. We did go to school for six weeks four hours a day. but there was certainly little to take pictures of and little exciting enough to blog about. but it was a humbling experience for sure. it was really hard learning another language. however, it was a good taste of humble pie. the whole experience was challenging but fruitful. dealing with most the elements you would need to handle if living here for an extended period all smashed in six weeks as well as dealing with the culture shock and new inconveniences was certainly stressful by the time six weeks was up. It was a great experience and Cincel was good for us. Though we may not be fluent in spanish, we did actually learn some spanish, we did met some great new missionary families that became good friends and gave us good advice, gave our children a positive experience living in another culture and country and the chance participate in ministry. It also gave us a much better idea of how to prepare should the Lord call us back here again. We are glad to have moved on though to be honest. We got all we could handle for now. We are enjoying some amazing experiences and absolutely gorgeous parts of Costa Rica our last few days here. Amy will blog those later. I just wanted to sign off our time here by saying thank you Cincel for lessons learned, friendships made and our hearts and sprits changed. Soon it will be back to work, and moving forward in whatever God calls us to do. For now a friendly farewell to Cincel. Hasta Luego.

David

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

A Meaningful Experience

When we allow God the privilege of shaping our lives, we discover new depths of purpose and meaning. What a joyful thought to realize you are a chosen vessel for God-perfectly suited for His use.

Joni Eareckson Tada.







On Sunday, we were able to go to a church about 1 1/2 hours away from San Jose to a town called Turrialba. To date, it was the most beautiful drive I have been on. The view was spectacular. My favorite part was the coffee fields springled with tall Rainbow Eucalyptus trees. These trees are beautiful. I am going to do my best to take a picture, to share with you. The trunks are smooth, and when the bark peels off it gives the trunk a striped rainbow appearance.

When we came out of the mountains, we watched the Volcanoe Turrialba, sprew a steady stream of steam and ash.

We were prepared to give a short testimony or greeting. The other students attending the summer intensive group also came along, as well as one of the missionaries training here. During the first service the other students gave their testimony, and one classmate sang a song she had learned in Spanish, How Great Thou Art.

Before the service started, I ran into Don (the director of the Language school)outside, and told him how very nervous I was. He told me, I didn't have to go, if I felt I couldn't.
The majority of me wanted to say, "THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU, I'll meet you in the van at noon".

But I couldn't. I knew my girls were watching me. And how could I tell them to be brave, sacrifice their summer, live a fearless life, and not do a simple task.

So, I said thank you, but I will try.

The first service went really well. The missionary gave his first Spanish sermon, and the others gave their testimony, and it was good.

After the first service, Maggi became very emotional.
I wasn't really unsure of what was happening.

Maggi said, "I really feel like I want to do something important. Can I say something with you. I want to help you mommy".

As I sit here now, tears are streaming down my face.

Because I was watching my sweet Maggi listen to the Lord.
He was gentling asking her to follow Him, and placed something on her heart, and she said yes. I don't think she could put into words what she was feeling. She was just answering His call.

So she decided she was going to go up there on stage, and speak to audience of 250 people in Spanish.

So we asked Emma if she wanted to go, and she said "No Way". So we didn't force the issue. We just asked if she would go up with us.

So our part of the service came.

I gave my greeting.
and then handed the microphone over to Maggi.

Maggi said, "Hello my name is Maggi, Jesus loves you".



She was giving the microphone over to her dad, and Emma grabbed it from her.
And said, "Hello my name is Emma, The Lord is my shepard I shall not want."
(in perfect Spanish).



UNREHEARSED AND BEAUTIFUL.

Dave went on to preach his heart out in 3 minutes.

And it was over.

But it was a sweet beginning.

Maggi learned to step out in faith, and amazed us all.
Emma just leaves us speachless.

I can't that say that people were saved, or healed, or that they even understood what we said. But none of that matters.

Our family is being prepared.
And stretched.
And answering a call, one small step and word at a time.








Thank you Lord, for using vessels that are broken. . .

Sunday, July 11, 2010

A week in Review

And what a week it has been.

Last weekend, for the fourth of July, we went on a joint trip to Tambor. We went with the Walker family, missionaries to Mexico, they have 3 sweet boys. And Janiel, she is a missionary to Paraguay with an awesome testimony of God's grace. She is one of the only people I personaly know who became a Christian because someone gave her a "track". And the Harris family (Lorin and Rebecca), a newly wed couple heading to El Savador to work with Kings Castle.



After class (yes, we really are in school), we packed our 12 passenger van (the 13 of us), tied our luggage to the top in the van (in the pouring rain) and headed out of town. The drive there was very adventorous. We drove the infamous roads of Central America, where the pavement suddenly stops and you are on a gravel road, and then after a few kilometers you are back on pavement again. It had rained so much, that many of the bridges had rushing water running over them. It was CRAZY. Being in a van loaded with people, I have no photos to prove how the roads and bridges were, but trust me, it was a little crazy. Thank you Darren for some awesome driving.

We reached a ferry boat, drove the car on, and headed to the Nicoya Peninsula. It was about an hour long ferry ride. By the time we reached the other side, the roads were quite dark. We made it to our rental in good time, and got all settled in. The house was a little. . . "rustic". It is probably just fine for Central American standards, but I like to rent a HOUSE. So I had a little adjusting to do. The first hour we were there, we had to chase a mouse out of one of the rooms. The house ended up being perfect for us, because we all had a room, (ok Janel had a couch, but it was in a room. . .)and a table big enough for all of us to play games, a kitchen, and an AMAZING view. And it came with its own sounds (we could hear the iguanas walking on the roof).




The next morning, after a wonderful breakfast, cooked on, what Dave calls a camping stove, we explored a little. We were right on the ocean. The heavy rains had caused a lot of debris to be washed up on shore, so the shore was really litered with logs, sticks, and "trash". The girls quickly called it stick beach. We felt like we needed to find a safer, cleaner beach, and settled on a place called Montezuma. The ocean was cleaner, but the waves were huge, and had lots of rocks. So the kids played on a little stream, and had a blast. They ended up making a damn over the stream, and people starting using it as a bridge. The ocean is beautiful here, because the jungle comes right up to the shore. It is an incrediable view.





Later that day we celebrated the fourth of July with a meal of tacos (with some of Daves famous salsa, and Darren's guacamole). We finished it off with Dave's apple pie (Darren's birthday is actally on the fourth, so that was our gift to him). We played silly games with the kids (like doggie doggie who has your bone, monkey in the middle, etc) and we all had fun.



The next day we were able to swim right outside our house. The girls really enjoyed learning how to boggie board. We enjoyed our time so much.




Later we packed up, and headed back to San Jose. Darren wanted to go eat at the Outback for his birthday, so after heavy traffic, we were finally able to get there. The Outback here is a little different than the states. Steaks are about 30 dollars, and the salad to go with it is 10 dollars. So we all had burgers. . .and shared a bloomin onion.

The girls had a good week at school, and wrapped it up on Friday with "Olympic" style games. They are having a great time making new friends and learning songs. They made sock puppets, and are working on several things for their last day of school. They were very sad about a new friend that had to return to the states after contracting Lime Disease. She will have to go home for the treatment. If you could remember to pray for Tess, her family would appreciate it.



Judy comes home every day, completely exhausted, but happy. She is really being challenged with her assignment. One day she had to fill in for the PE teacher. She is an amazing blessing to us, and the families here with children attending Sojourn. The kids at Sojourn are also getting sad that she only has one more week to go.

This week we felt an earthquake. It measured 5.0 richter scale, with the epicenter about 45 to 60 minutes from here. Dave and I felt it in conversation class. I am going to have to say it was a sick feeling, having my kids 15 minutes away. But I think that tremors are felt alot around here.

Dave and I had some exams this week, and so far are making straight A's. Learning a new language is so humbling. It really is. I thought I would walk away from here, able to do so much more, but am only now starting to form sentences and questions. I am really good at my adjectives. I can say things like,
My husband is tall
My husband is smart
My husband is handsome. . .

Kinda sad huh?

Anyway. . .

Saturday was fun for all. Dave and Judy were able to go on an off shore fishing trip. They went Darren, Lorin and Rebecca. They left at 4:30 in the morning and spent all day on the water. They all had an incrediable time, and were able to catch some fish a sailfish and some bonita. No one got sick or sunburn. So it was a perfect trip.






The girls and I slept in, the second time since being here, and then went with the Walkers and Janel to the Childrens Museum here in San Jose. It was alot of fun. We were there for 4 hours, and didn't see it all. The signs were all in Spanish, so I had to make stuff up for the girls. Please don't tell them. They think that their mom is so smart. The meseum had some really interesting parts, but the girls favorite was the bannana processing plant (where they wash, weigh, and package the bannanas) and a "mock" earthquake (they are on a platform that actally shakes).









That finally brings us to today. I am going to have to save it for a post of its own. We went to a church to give our testimonies in Spanish. I have it on tape and can't wait to share, but will have to wait. . .

We are having an amazing time.
God continues to keep us safe, and healthy, and well fed.

The missionaries we have around us are such a blessing to us. They are constantly encouraging us, giving us tips (on how to itenerate, stretch a budget, raise well adjusted kids. . . etc) and challenging us to become closer in our relationship with the Lord. I want to be able to give you a link to their blogs and sites on line, so you can see the awesome people God is using around the world.

P. S. I started the blog yesterday, but was unable to finish. . .so I will get tell about Sunday sometime soon.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

God is in the details

Sometimes things happen that are so random, that you know that they have been orchestrated by God.

Things that remind you that we have a Father who cares about the every detail in your life.

While being her in Cost Rica, God gave me a few details.

Where he was saying to me, "I care about the things that matter to you".

Here are a few examples.

I love hydrangeas. They are my favorite plant. I love their blooms in the early summer. Dave has killed many hydrangeas on my behalf. When we moved to Clover, our new house had a hydrangea bush beside it. Last year, was the first time ever, that I was able to cut the flowers from outside, and use the flowers for an arrangement. This year, my bush was loaded with flowers just getting ready to bloom. I was really sad (really sad) about having to leave that bush. I even had a little bad attitude about it. . . My kind neighbor, knowing how important it was to me, promised to keep a close eye on it. Well, wouldn't you know it, when we arrived here, what was waiting beside my back door. A beautiful blue hydrangea.

God is so good.

After being here a few weeks, the girls are growing tired of the games we brought. So I have been on the look out for a deck of old maid cards. Well, they don't exsist here. Or if they do, I haven't been able to find them. One day last week, someone had a box of things that another family had left here before going to their country. You guess it, there was a pack of old maid cards.

God loves me.

Another example. This weekend, we had an opportunity to rent a house with some amazing new friends for the fourth of July. While at this house (3 hours from life as we have come to know it), my flip flop broke. I was really bummed. I had those flops longer than I have had one of my children. Well, two of the ladies had gone to try to find a market to buy something, and they brought me back a new pair of flip flops, that were red, white, and blue. It was on the fourth of July. In the middle of no where, and I really mean no where. not like Clover in the middle of no where.

Don't tell me God doesn't care.

And lastly, we brought the girls Wed. night Bible study material with us on the trip, so that Maggi could stay current with her stars class. I chose the Latin America badge for her to work on. ONLY GOD would have been able to write that lesson for the Cartwright girls years before, published it in a national program, and drop it in our laps at the perfect time. Our lesson was brought to life. The lesson talked about Latin America ChildCare, which provides food, clothing, education, and medical care for thousands of children throughout the continent. That office is steps away from our apartment. Maggi and Emma got to minister at one of the schools. The lesson went on to talk about how in Argentina, the church is growing so fast, and successfuly that they are sending missionaries to other parts of the world as well. Our neighbors are from Argentina going to be missionaries to Ethiopia.

Who else but MY GOD, can do that?

I can't tell you I have learned alot of Spanish on this trip. I mean I have, but not as much as I wanted to (I wanted to be able to admit a patient in the hospital and totally take care of her . . . )

But I have learned so much more.

For starters, I know that my Heavenly Father pours out His blessings when we least expect it, in the small sublte ways only a parent could do.

That He is more than enough.
That when He calls you to do something. He takes care of the details.


"No eye has seen, no ear has heard and no mind has imagined what God has prepared for those who love Him"
I Corinthians 2:9




I am not his only child. Take around and look at the details in your life. I wonder how many I have missed being so busy. . .

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Pray For Maggi


Maggi is starting to suffer from a head cold or allergies. I would like help covering her in prayer. We are so limited here, and don't want her to get any worse. Please remember her in your prayers the next few days.

As soon as you began to pray, an answer was given. Daniel 9:23

Hot water, a matter of life or death.



OK here some Costa Rican Bathroon trivia. . .

number one:
You can not, I repeat NOT, flush the toilet paper down the toilet.
It must be discarded in a wastebasket.

Simple Enough, Right?
Well with a house of four girls, it can be challenging.
But we have managed.

Number two:
The city can cut your water off whenever and for ever how long they want.
During the off times, they have a grace period between 2 and 6 am.
I have gotten us all to shower, wash our clothes, and wash the dishes between these hours.

Number three:
They do not, Again I repeat have hot water tanks for their showers. Ok this is a slight exaggeration of the truth, but not in our apartment. The water for the shower is heated by what is called a "widow maker"
And tonight I almost became its next victim.

Let me start from the beginning. When we were able to get water after we moved here, it was very cold. The widow maker heats the water before is it is being poured out on us. But we found a way to get it as hot as we could. . .if we kept flushing the toile when we were in the shower, it lowered the water pressure, thus making the water that came out really hot. Well after a few days of this, the widow maker started sparking and sputtering flames. We had a repair man come out and he assessed the situation. He said the flames were not problem.

Right no problem. Well all had been ok untill I was in there tonight. The water had been on for a few minutes as I was trying to get the warmest as I could possible get it. I turned my body to get wet and the thing went immediately cold. I mean come on. I called Dave to fix it he did, as soon as he shut the door it was cold again. He comes in again, this time he tries to adjust the thing, and sparks are streaming down.

Folks, I could have died. (not really. . .but humor me.)
I sure those pearly gates would have given me special recognition for dying a fiery wet death on the quest to the mission field!

I am tring to decide if should try another shower the next 2 weeks we are here?

I hope you are not taking yourself to seriously today.
Sometimes you have to laugh, or the tears will start to show.

Amy

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Knowing God gives strenghth for the fight


Grasp the fact that God is for you-let this certainity make its impact on you in relation to what you are up against this very moment, and you will find in thus knowing God as your sovereign protector, irrevocably committed to you in the covenant of grace, both freedom from fear and new strength for the fight.

J. I. Packer