Friday, September 23, 2011

Immigration and tickets

Wow! What a couple days – I have to tell you a God story while getting our student visas for Costa Rica.

Yesterday at 8:25 in the morning the administrator of the school sought me out and told me that after 6 weeks of waiting for an appointment to get our student visas – we finally had one – in 30 minutes! I quickly packed my stuff, collected all three kids from school (everyone needed to go in person) and we jumped into the schools car and left. I need to mention that Renee has a tutor off campus at 8:30 in the morning and we needed her to come along. We raced over to the house where she was and I jumped out and went to the front door. By now Renee had seen me get out of the car and was running through the 100 possibilities of what was wrong – kids in the hospital, accidents, deaths maybe worse……. Anyway after she got in the car we were off.

Needless to say we had 15 minutes to get to the office and a 30 minute drive. The driver, a very nice guy, drove hard and fast, swerved a lot and managed to make nearly everyone car sick by the time we arrived 15 minutes late. After slowly but thankfully getting out of the car we proceeded to the office. I am so glad the guide came with us, there was not any chance we would have located this office without him. Anyway, after arriving we waited 10 minutes and were shown in. We had our pictures taken and were told to wait outside for another 45 minutes. We did, but the waiting room had air conditioning and it was really, really cold. Nearly all of the 70 or so people in the room were freezing and it was hard not to be. We were dressed for Costa Rica, not Alaska. The time passed reasonably fast and our names were called again. We went to receive our visa cards and Adrianne’s card had a typo. In Spanish Adrianne is Adrianna. Adrianne (Adrian) is a male name and they had her as male versus female on her card. We pointed it out and they said they would fix it right away. 2 hours and 15 minutes later we finally had our names called and left. We were all very tired, I was especially tired of “how much longer Dad” and we returned home. The return ride was much better as I spoke to the driver and let him know that we were no longer in a hurry and that the motion sickness was better now. He obliged and drove much better on the return trip.

But wait…. The story is not over.

You see, the student visas are supposed to be good for one year. We applied for our visas in February so we knew we had lots of time since we were planning on leaving on January 4, 2012. However….. 3 days ago the price per ticket on Jan 4 went up by $120 per person. We have been following ticket prices for weeks now and knew the best route and price. Ticket prices for December were much higher than January so we had decided to wait until the 4th when they were cheaper. Discovering that the prices for January went up, we decided to “just check” on prices in December and discovered that the prices had dropped on December 28. We bought the tickets. HOORAY!!!!! The rest of the story. The next day (yesterday) was our adventure at the immigration office. Remember I said our visas were supposed to be good for one year…. But when we were handed them I noticed they expired early. I asked the lady and she informed me that that was correct, the visas for the entire family expire on December 31, 2011. PRAISE THE LORD!!!!! If he had not caused the ticket price to change on Jan 4 we would have been 4 days without a visa and had lots and lots of expensive problems, but today we are free and clear. So even when things do not seem to be going your way, maybe God is on the move and you just do see the reason behind it yet.

Oh and by the way, I did check to see if the ticket prices for Jan 4 had gone down to the original level, they went down, but not all the way. God is good.


Monday, September 19, 2011

Our kids and their Sunday school teachers

The costa rican people in general tend to be shorter than we North Americans, and they frequently comment on the height of Adrianne and myself. Here is Adrianne and her teacher, Natalia.
Joshua is constantly receiving hugs from his teacher, Karen. He "eats it up".

Photos #2

The flags of El Salvador, Nicaragua and Mexico.
Eric and Adrianne carried the United States flag.

The little boys have beards and mustaches drawn on their faces with eye liner.

photos of independence day

Here are the photos I promised. Sorry for the delay blogger was not accepting them yesterday.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Independence day celebration at our church

Today we had a celebration breakfast and service at our church. People from El Salvador, Nicaragua, Mexico and of course the United States attend our church as well so the pastor included everyone's home country in his service.

I will post pictures soon.

Friday, September 16, 2011

photos of independence day

Notice the "groom" pushing the bride? :)

The spectators of the parade followed it the entire length of the parade. We, students stayed in one location and enjoyed snow cones after the parade moved on past.

Dia de independencia

September 15 is the day Costa Ricans celebrate their independence. Beginning a couple months prior a torch is sent out from Guatemala. Teenagers from different school districts run with the torch for about 1 mile before they hand it off. It arrives in Cartago (the first capital city of Costa Rica) at 6:00pm on September 14. EVERYONE is expected to stand, no matter where they are and sing the national anthem at 6:00pm. After the national anthem is sung the schools host small parades with lanterns. Each child carry's a lantern and marches around the block.

The morning of the 15th, beginning at 5:00 AM - (yes A.M.!) the people light fireworks. We did wake up to them yesterday. At 8:30 am the different districts hold parades similar to our Independence day in the United States.

Enjoy the photos!
One last dance for the community.

Monday, September 12, 2011

An "unusual" way to love us.

So, last weekend we attended our church, that we have been attending for about 6 weeks. 6 weeks ago we were the only "gringo" family in the church but we felt very at home immediately. Since that time we have invited several other new students to join us. Last week there were equal amounts of Ticos (Costa Ricans) and Gringos (us white folk) in the church, which the pastor loved. He made a point to tell his congregation that they could NOT practice their English with us. He, essentially ordered them to speak to us only in Spanish. We do not mind this in the least bit, as our purpose in being here is to study the language. The only issue is we have is when we think we understand something and we don't!

Back to last week Sunday- at the end of the sermon the pastor looked directly at us and informed us that we would need to participate in the sermon next week. We understood that he wanted us (all the white folk) to play a game with the children, because they were planning on celebrating children's day, which is BIG here. No problem, we figured we could handle that.

Fast forward to this past Friday- As we were talking about which game to play with the kids, we decided that we should confirm our idea with the pastor. That would be the polite thing to do in the states. We sent him an email and attempted to call without success. Saturday night at 6:30, 15 minutes before we expected guests we received the following email:

Hi Eric! Yes in fact tomorrow all of you'll have to participate in the church. For instance: one of you will be the coordinator of the program: greeting the congregation at the beginning, do the praying and give to the musical group the part. Then you'll have a paper where it explains or gives the following steps: someone of you again will read a bible, then another one or two will take the offering, maybe the teenagers ADRIAN AND SABRINA or the little boys. On the other hand, Eric you can choose somebody to preach and a translator will help you while the person is speaking. One of the pastors who are missionaries. Do you have communication with them, right? So if you do you can tell to the person you chose about the preaching.That all the task. If there's any doubt please call me at home.

If you followed that email, you realize that we were sorely mistaken in what we thought we had to do! I was waiting for the sentence at the end of the email that said, "Just kidding!" It was not there! :) We immediately called the pastor and asked if he would be willing to preach and we would take care of the rest. "We" meaning the gringo families. I thought for sure none of the other students would show up after we called them - they are all first trimester students and are in the "overwhelmed" state right now - however they stepped up to the plate and did extremely well. The church even combined the children's celebration with a remembrance for the families of 9/11.

This morning I related this story to my tutor, who has been working with "gringos" for 30 years and understands our mindset. He then said, "You realize that the pastor asked you to lead the service because he loves you?!"

In my gringo mind, I did not realize that. Asking someone to lead a service the night before in the states increases stress, not a great way to portray love to me, however, looking at it from our pastors perspective, it is a way to honor us missionary students. He was willing to give up control to allow us to participate, even if it was awkward at times and our pronunciation was bad.

Hmmm....... Perhaps I need to rethink my perspective on showing love to others. I wonder if I should pass my homework on to another student to demonstrate my love and trust for them! Just kidding!!! :)
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