Thursday, December 27, 2012

A Special Souvenir

Happy Holidays everyone! I hope everyone had a marvelous Christmas. We sure enjoyed celebrating Christmas with my family here in North Carolina (we even got to see my brother and his girlfriend, who drove down from D.C.), and we will have Christmas 2.0 with Joe's family on New Year's Eve.

But before I share some photos of our festivities from the last two weeks, I have to tell one more crazy insect story with you.

I mean, you think that now that we are d.o.n.e. living in Costa Rica we would be d.o.n.e. with insect infestations or terrifying tarantulas or anything of the sort.

Not so.

On Wednesday, I got a day-late Christmas present when I opened up a box I had packed in September when we came to NC...

The contents of the box were: linens, frames, an old cloth purse, and one certain African wooden decorative bowl that my dad had brought back for us from Botswana in August.

As I was unpacking the box, (to put the contents into a duffel bag that will be taken back to Portland on Monday - yes, it was another fun day of packing! My new favorite pastime!), I noticed several holes in the decorative wooden bowl. Very precise oval shaped holes that were not previously there. It seemed that the bowl was being turned into a colander. It was mighty suspicious. A worm? A termite? Nothing else in the box looked affected.

Then, when I got to the bottom of the box, there was a giant pile of sawdust. Now the evidence of a termite was pretty clear and I was immediately grossed out. I mean, can't I get a break from gross insects in my life? I am in North Carolina now, in the dead of winter, and the temperature is going down to the 20s every night. I thought I was FREE!!!

Fast forward to last night when I went out to the garage, where my mom had put the punctured bowl, to show my dad what had become of his souvenir.  I picked up the bowl, and right in my face were two little brown termites poking their sick little heads out of the holes! Of course, when I dropped the bowl, they hunkered back down, so I couldn't do a full inspection. But I swear I saw two brown thingys in the holes!!

Regardless, I was FULLY grossed out this time. My dad came to the rescue with a can of WD40 or something (we had no Raid) and sprayed the crap out of the bowl.


Hopefully this will be the last insect drama for quite awhile...

A Special Souvenir

The scene in the garage.
Look closely for oval-shaped holes.
A once pretty bowl.
Termite killing.
The leftovers: sawdust, and the bowl tightly wrapped in a bag.
Christmas Fun

Kate and reindeer at tree farm.

A beautiful tree farm in Appalachia.

"Cleaning a stump"
The fam.
Decorating with Grandmama.
Making a gingerbread house.
Getting some inspiration at a little gingerbread house display downtown.
Christmas morning JOY.
This is how the tree decorating ended looking: a cluster of ornaments right where Kate could reach. We never changed it.

The finished house.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

One More Day

We have one more day here in Costa Rica, before our big, rather unexpected, move back “home”. (More on where “home” will be below.)

It has been a whirlwind 14 months of living here, and although we didn’t plan to leave so soon, (read a little about why we made this decision here and here, if you haven’t read the Ministry Updates already) it’s amazing what lessons were crammed into this last year or so that our family will take with us. We have learned more about
and most recently, self-control,
than we ever could have if we had decided not to come. Even though we leave disappointed in many ways, and even disheartened, we also are deeply aware of God’s greater plan and vision for our life. As our pastor Richard Dahlstrom always says, “God is writing a story in your life that you could never write on your own.” That statement has never rang truer in our lives than now. (Side note: Check out Richard’s amazing blog here; more often than not his words resonate so deeply with me that I am moved to tears. Not to be melodramatic or anything… He’s just had a very profound impact on our lives.)

So we are moving forward, trusting in His story, much like we did when we first decided to move to Costa Rica. And truthfully, we are pretty excited for this next phase of our life!

Here’s what this next phase will look like, or at least what the next few months entail:

We will first be traveling to North Carolina, where my dear parents reside in the little town of Waynesville (that’s in the Appalachian mountains, in Western North Carolina, for those of you unfamiliar with the geography of the east coast).

We will celebrate Christmas there and then travel down to Savannah, GA for a few days.

The backyard of the Marsh House in Savannah.
From Savannah, we have a quick trip out to the Northwest, where we’ll be seeing friends and family in the Portland, Seattle, and even Eugene area (my grandmother is turning 90 in January, so we’ll be celebrating with her!).

Then it’s back to NC for a few more weeks (the original plan was for us to fly back to San Jose, CR from there on January 15th – yep we already have tickets – but with the exception of Joe going back to pick up a few things, that won’t be happening for Kate or me).

And after another restful month at my mom’s house, we will all fly back to the Portland area in mid-February, where we will crash at Joe’s parents’ house while looking for a place to rent in good ol’ Washougal, WA (or somewhere close by). 

So “home” will not be Seattle for now, and it may not even be the NW for long – we’re going there because we have family and friends and familiarity – and that’s where our insurance will cover the birth of baby boy. After that, who knows? The future is wide open.

Right now, we are focused on our very last day here. One more day to:
·      Weigh our bags one more time (I mean, we seriously have weighed each of our eight bags 18 times. “42 lbs… we can fit in 12 more pairs of underwear and these four books.”)
·      Donate a few more toys, books, or bags of food to the Project or to friends.
·      Eat whatever is left in the fridge. Lunch may be a mix of carrots, milk, wheat germ, yogurt, apples, cheese, grapefruit juice, protein powder… maybe I’ll just mix all that together in a blender.
·      Say our goodbyes one last time. Of course, this is the serious part. The hard part. But we will be mostly saying “see you later” instead of goodbye…

And then we’ll be up at 3:30 a.m. on Tuesday, on our way. So here's to one last day.

December Ministry Update

Hello Friends and Family –
In our previous Ministry Updates, we have shared with you the challenges we’ve faced in the past several months in our work at the Abraham Project. In October when we wrote last, we mentioned that we thought doors were starting to crack open but we were “taking things one step at a time; being flexible and holding our original plans loosely”.  Unfortunately, over the past month, it has become very clear that the doors are not opening for us here like we had anticipated or hoped.  Since August, we’ve been trying to discern our role here, and we’ve continued to have several meetings and conversations about fundraising for the Project. To articulate a very complicated situation in a straightforward way, we simply are not a good fit for the Abraham Project.  This reality, along with the fact that Jennie is pregnant, has lead us to make the very difficult decision to move back home much sooner than expected.  We already had tickets for December 11th to go back to the States for the holiday season, so we will be leaving Costa Rica in about 10 days.  Jennie and Kate won’t be returning; I will come back in January to tie up everything.
We will still finish up some projects that we started, including a re-design of the current AP website, a strategic plan, and a new marketing brochure for the children’s homes.
It is difficult to understand and describe all that has happened in this past year, and it is especially challenging to have to share this news with you.  We know many of you have invested in our family and in our ministry and we don’t want to let you down. However, we know that God is sovereign and has a purpose in all of this, even though this has turned out much differently than expected. Yes, we are disappointed, but there are also immeasurable rewards and lessons that have come out of this experience that will impact the rest of our lives. We want you to know that despite the challenges, we have been incredibly blessed by our time in Costa Rica. We could not have done it without you.  We trust that as we continue to reflect on this time God will make his plan clear and continue to guide and direct us.
We are more than happy to share more of our story in person with any of you. Jennie will be maintaining the blog ( so you can check there for updates on how the ‘moving home’ process is going, along with more information about our next steps.
Thank you so much, as always, for your friendship, love, and support. And thank you for your grace and understanding in this difficult decision for our family. If you have been a financial supporter, we will be sending you a follow-up email soon.
Joe, Jennie, and Kate