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Monthly Archives: November 2008

Our first Thanksgiving in Costa Rica

Well, today was a nice day.  It was hard getting up for school this morning though.  It was like my body just knew that it was Thanksgiving and I should have been allowed to sleep in, but 5:30am came around and we had to get up for school.  We all had school today, but they did shorten our day a bit and we got out at 12 instead of 1:00.  So it was straight home to make some food to take to the AMCA house for our Thanksgiving celebration.  About 80 people from school gathered there to celebrate together since none of us could be with our families back in the states.  The room was decorated and filled with tables so we could all eat together.  We ordered roasted chickens from a place called Pollo Rey or Chicken King.  And we had all brought food that we made at home so it was kind of like a cover dish dinner at church.  It was wonderful.  I think that the entire time that we have been in Costa Rica I have not eaten until I was full.  However, today, I am stuffed.  After we ate, we all sat around and fellowshipped and then pulled out the cards and played games.  Some of the guys left to watch football, but most of the ladies stayed around and played games.  It was a wonderful time.

We are so thankful for all that the Lord has done for us.  We are still truly amazed that He is willing to use us to reach His people in Costa Rica and we are thankful for that.  We are thankful for our family and friends back in the United States.  It was different not being there with them to celebrate and thank our Heavenly Father for the grace that He has shown us and for all of His blessings.

Here are some pictures…

 
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Posted by on November 27, 2008 in Uncategorized

 

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Last night we had an earthquake…

and guess what!  We slept through the whole thing.  First thing this morning at school someone said to me, “Did you feel the earthquake last night?”  And I thought he was kidding.  We woke up when the door slammed shut, but we thought the wind had blown it shut, so we went right back to sleep.  We went went through orientation they taught us what to do if an earthquake were to happen and I had kind of hoped to feel an earthquake since then.  And last night it happened and I slept through it.  I am so bummed.  Apparently the epicenter was on the Panama/Costa Rica boarder and it was a 6.3 earthquake.  Friends accounted left and right at school today that they felt the quake for about 10 seconds.  But not at the Folk house.  We slept through the whole thing except for the end when I guess it slammed our bedroom door closed.  We missed all the excitement.  However, after classes started and we began to discuss complemento indirecto and complemento directo all was forgotten.  And by our lunch break no one was discussing it anymore, just memorizing more vocabulary.  According to the news reports there was not significant damage.  Gracias a Dios.  Just another day in Costa Rica.

 
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Posted by on November 19, 2008 in Uncategorized

 

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Adventures in Panama Part 2

Okay, so we just got the money to pay for the water taxi to the island and the water taxi comes and we are on our way.  We have to cram all in this water taxi, which is essentially a speed boat with lots of rows of seats.  Apparently this is how supplies also get to the island, so they have us hold large bags of supplies that are also being brought over.  And we go for about 40 minutes on this boat until we get to Bocas.  We unload off of the boat and we wait on the young lady to pay back.

As we walk off of the boat dock I hear “Courtenay!  Courtenay!”  And I am thinking who is here that knows me and I turn around to see Grettel from school running to me from the restaurant across the street from the boat dock.  She could not believe that we had made the trip.  It was her first time here and her first time crossing the bridge.  We had known the day before that she and her husband too had to quickly leave Costa Rica, but she had told me that they were not going to go to Bocas, but here she was.  She is Costa Rican, so she obviously speaks perfect Spanish.  She is like, “I will take you to the ATM and we know of a great hotel that is run by Christians and I know that they have room for tonight, but after that everything is full because it is Panama’s Independence weekend celebration.”

So we pay the young lady back and Grettel and Gary help us find a place to stay.  When we arrived at the hotel Chichon she was able to convince the guy at the front desk to make one of their small rooms, that is available for the entire time we would need it, work for us by putting an extra mattress on the floor.  And when I say small I mean small.  It was in the area that the hotel had converted from an attic to more rooms.  But it was clean and air conditioned.  We were so thankful.  We found a restaurant that was cheap and we ate dinner and went to bed.  We woke up the next morning and had breakfast at the same restaurant and went to the beach.

That night as we were settling down in our room we start to hear drums and trumpets coming from the streets and the park across from the hotel.  Well, we remembered that it was their independence day and we thought it might last a little while and then start up the next day.  Nope.  It went from when we went to bed until late in the next afternoon.  At one point it stopped for about 5 minutes so I opened my eyes and thought it had finally stopped for the night, and it was daylight.  So we went back to the same restaurant for breakfast and ate and watched the parades.  We walked all over the island and watched the parades that went on the entire day.  I beleive that I have heard enough drums to last for quite some time.

The day before and the day of the celebrations the island was not allowed to sell alcohol, so the people were nice and calm.  After the parades ended, the alcohol was allowed to be sold again.  We could understand why they have this law when we saw the change in the people.  Grown men were loudly arguing with the police and starting to get rough.  We decided that we would spend the rest of our time in our room.  It was not a good sight for our kids to see.

Then the next morning it was time to get up, get on the next water taxi out, back over “the bridge” and on the bus back to San Jose!!!

It was a stressful trip, but the Lord was good and He watched out for us the entire trip.  He showed His hand in provisions and grace.  The beach was probably one of the prettiest I have seen and the kids did enjoy all of the parades.  We are thankful to have it all behind us and the documents that we needed to proceed with our student visas arrived earlier this week.  So hopefully for the next year we will not have to leave the country like that.

Here are some pictures…

 
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Posted by on November 15, 2008 in Uncategorized

 

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Adventures in Panama Part 1

Okay, so here’s the deal.  In Costa Rica you can stay in the country legally for 90 days at a time with your passport getting stamped as you enter and leave the country.  So unless you have another type of visa you have to leave the country for 72 hours, every 90 days.  Our plan was to apply for our student visas which would be good for one year and allow us to not have to leave the country every 90 days.  This requires a great deal of paper work.  We thought we had everything and when we went to begin the process we realized that we did not have the childrens’ birth certificates authenticated by the South Carolina Secretary of State and the Costa Rican consulate in Georgia.  So the plan was to file for a 30 day extension with immigration here in Costa Rica and pray that those documents got to us in that 30 days.

So we went to get the extension and we could not get it, so we had to leave the country very quickly.  The closest place to us is Panama, so we thought that would be the easiest/quickest place to go.  Many people from school had just gone a few weeks ago, so we knew kind of where to go, but we also knew about “the bridge!”

The border between Costa Rica and Panama in this area is a river.  So to cross the border you have to cross the river.  The only way across it is this bridge at the frontera village of Sixaola.  When we asked the employee of the school, Grettel, about this nightmare bridge she said, “Don’t worry about it, people do it all the time.”  This is the place you need to go.”  So we thought, okay we can do this.  So we got on the bus to Panama on Saturday morning at 8:00.  We were on our way.

The bus took a route through a beautiful rainforest and then headed toward Limon.  I thought “This is nice, and beautiful…this may not be so bad afterall.”  We stopped outside of Limon for lunch and then back on the bus to Panama.  When we finally arrived at the border we gathered our backpacks and the children and got off the bus to get our passports stamped (that was the whole reason for this trip).  In the meantime, the bus crossed the bridge and was going to be waiting on the other side for us.  Being that we had the kids, we ended up being the last ones off of the bus to start the process.  So we wait in line and finally get the stamps and then on to the bridge.

This bridge for an adult would not be much of a big deal, but for our children it was flat out dangerous.  This bridge is an 100+ year old rail road bridge.  So the way you cross it is to balance across these planks that are laid across the slats of the bridge.  They are not nailed down and they are not in every spot that you need to step, making it dangerous because of holes being where you need to step.  Not to mention the gaps that are between the railroad slats are big enough for any of our children to fall through if they miss step.  And some of the wire barrier to keep people from falling off of the sides is missing.

So we take our time and set off across the bridge.  The children are wonderful and they keep nice and quiet so that we can all concentrate on our steps.  We are doing it!!!  We look up and see a transfer truck beginning to cross the bridge, coming towards us.  There is no space between the side of the transfer truck and the side of the bridge and we are half way across with no where to go.  We see this grate that is sticking off of the side of the bridge and so we head for that.  It turns out to be a rusted 4 X 4 grate with nothing to keep you from falling about 50 feet into the river and 2 Tico children and our family of five huddled on it as this truck passed.  We make it the rest of the way across the bridge and head to get our passports stamped now that we are in Panama.

The American college students that were on our bus informed us that we had to go in this little office and pay $5 a person to enter, so we go in there.  When we come out, there is only one of the students from our bus still in line, so I think, “I need to make sure that I get him to tell the bus to wait for us.”  But there are so many people in front of us.  These British students were in line with us, and we started talking to them.  They were going to the same place that we were.  When I looked up, the American from our bus was gone.  But all we could do was wait our turn and try to hurry to the bus.  The bus was going to wait for an hour on this side of the bridge before it left, so we would be fine.  So we continue to chat with our new British mates.

We get finished and have our stamps, the children were champs the whole time and we set off for the bus.  Only…..where is the bus…..it was supposed to wait one hour……what was that town called again it was supposed to take us……Chimichanga……no Changinola……yeah that’s it…….how are we going to get there…..here are some police……oh look there are the British students…….”Yes, we would love to ride in your van taxi with you to the water taxi.”  Praise the Lord.  Thank you Lord.

On the van the British world travelers, as we found out, started asking about us.  What we were doing…why we were on this trip…why we moved to Costa Rica…how we knew we should do something like that…!!!  It was amazing.  We got to witness to this group of 6 people from across the planet in the taxi that is zipping us across Panama.  It was amazing.

So we get to the place where the water taxi dock is and there are the American college students from the bus, that had left us.  They are like “Oh my goodness!  We cannot believe they did not realize you weren’t on the bus!”  As they talk about what is going on we are signing up to get on the next boat.  The guy behind the counter says, “That will be $35.”  U.S. dollars?  We only have Costa Rican colones.  Great.  This is the last water taxi out to Bocas del Toro and we do not have time to get in a taxi, go to Changinola and get money and come back.  What are we going to do now Lord?  When one sweet American student says that she has $35 dollars we can use.  And I tell her that we will pay her back as soon as we get on the island…..

I will continue the rest of the adventure in a couple of days…….

We are getting ready to leave to go work with the team from our church in Cot on Irazu.  I do not have time for pictures either, but I will add them later too.

 
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Posted by on November 8, 2008 in Uncategorized

 

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We are in Panama

Hi. I know that I was going to try to catch my blog up, but yet again, something has come up. We found out last Thursday that we were going to have to go to Panama this weekend to keep our visas up to date. We were going to try for an extension on our visas, but that did not happen, so we had to quickly leave the country. We are still in Panama. We have been celebrating with them their independence. They celebrate with lots of drums. I will post more later, but they started here at about 12am today and continued until about 3pm today. Lots of drums. But the kids loved seeing the continual parade around the village that we are in. We have even had the opportunity to witness to the people that God is placing in our paths. We will be traveling back in the morning. Please pray for our safe travel, especially as we cross over the border on an old railroad bridge with slats of wood that we have to balance us and our kids on. I will post pictures for sure when we get home. God is good and sovereign and we rest in that.

 
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Posted by on November 3, 2008 in Uncategorized

 

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