I can't believe I'm actually on my way to Costa Rica.
I”m currently sitting in between a kind woman, who doesn't seem to speak much English, and my darling sister, who's looking out the window at the clouds. They're very different from up here, the clouds, you know. Kind of like looking into water and being able to see the bottom, only much more clear. The clouds look like floating lands, complete with mountain ranges and islands. It's fantastic to see God's creation from this point of view.
This past week has been quite a journey for me, filled with many goodbyes to some of the people dearest to me. Strangely, though, I didn't cry very much...I guess I'm saving that for later. It doesn't seem like I'm actually gone yet.
We should be landing within the next half hour, where our close family friend, Beth Peters, should be waiting for us. My sister, Hillary, and I will be visiting her at the mission's base called PuraVida, where she serves as the Nehemiah Project Coordinator. Which means that it is her responsibility to keep up relations with all the churches and ministries that PuraVida works with, along with partnering those churches and ministries with the short-term teams that come down to Costa Rica. Beth came down in November, and will be staying till next November, so I'm planning on visiting her more while I'm at school.
Getting through the airports and such went fairly smoothly, although I was forced to buy a return ticket (it seems U.S. Citizens can't leave the country without one...keep that in mind if you plan on traveling for more than 90 days, kids. Save yourself some money and buy a return ticket online.).
The pilot just announced that the current weather in Costa Rica is 84 degrees. Sweeeeet. Nice change of pace compared to the Arctic-like weather back in PA.
So, since I've had ridiculous amounts of time to think today, here's a list of 10 things I”ll miss while I'm gone:
- Family and friends. Seriously, it's going to be hard.
- My mom's food. Nothing compares to homemade mashed potatoes gasping for air in thick gravy. It's mostly rice and beans in good ole' Costa Rica.
- Harry Potter. Even though I've read them all at least 3 times, being forced to leave them all behind was almost heart-breaking. AND I'll miss the last movie. Poop.
- Snow. As many problems as it causes, I really do like it.
- Thrift Shopping. I'm really not sure if they have any Goodwill's here, but honestly, I pretty much only shop at thrift stores. I try not to pay a lot of money for clothes if I don't have to.
- Shining Light. That's the Christian Performing Arts Prison Ministry I'm a part of. It's like an extension of my family.
- My kids at work. Even though I want to kill them sometimes, I love them more than I knew. I miss them already.
- My church. Small as it may be, everyone there has helped me learn to love God the way I do now.
- Driving. Seeing as I don't have a Costa Rican driver's license, I won't be doing much of that...legally, anyway.
- Being able to flush toilet paper. That's right folks, fun fact about Costa Rica: because the sewage pipes are too small, all toilet paper goes into the trash can, located conveniently beside the toilet.
That being said, I know that the sacrifice of missing all those things will be completely worth what I'll gain through my experiences at school. When else in my life would I have this opportunity? I'm 19, have the time, and God has come through with the finances (more on that later) so why not? Nothing's holding me back, except my fear of the unknown.
….......................................................LATER THAT SAME DAY..............................................................
Well, kiddos, we did it. We're here at the PuraVida mission's base in Heredia, Costa Rica. I've just finished showering (nothing feels better than being clean after being cramped in a plane all day long) and I will be heading to bed shortly after writing this.
What did I do with the rest of my day? Well, dear audience, allow me to fill you in.
After sitting uncomfortably on the plan for about an hour more, we finally arrived in the Costa Rica airport, where my sister and myself ventured through immigrations, baggage claim (all of ours was there! Seriously, praise God. The last time I went to Costa Rica, they LITERALLY drove over my luggage on the way home. It sucked.), and last but not least, customs. After that, we made our way to the exit where we found the lovely Beth Peters waiting for us!
After shoving my huge freaking luggage bags into Beth's borrowed car, she announced that we would be going to ________, a slum in the area, to help with Kid's Club, a local church outreach to the kids living there. So, straight from the plane and into the slums we went. Talk about immersion in a culture.
The slums were quite literally slums. Houses made of tin pieces haphazardly thrown together. But the people and the kids all seemed genuinely happy. Strange, sometimes, how not having much makes you more fulfilled.
The Kid's Club pretty much consisted of fun Christian Spanish kids songs, with some dancing, a bible story, and games. At the end, all the kids and moms there were handed a drink and a bowl full of rice and beans. The kids were so openly loving. The instant we walked in children who've never met me were holding my hand and sitting on my lap. It really made me miss my kids from work. P.S. Jenn, if you're reading this, tell them I love them! (And you, too!)
From there, we visited many of Beth's local friends, including the host mom she stayed with while in language school. All the people here are very hospitable.
I was fed at least 3 times today. I LOVE THIS PLACE.
After many extended visits with new friends, we finally head back to the mission's base for supper, to meet the rest of the staff at PuraVida and to kind of get settled in. I can't really, seeing as I'll be leaving here on Saturday when I'll be heading to school!
So kids, that's what's happening with me so far. And it's only been a day. This is going to be a truly life changing year, and all I have to say is bring it on.
To everyone back home, I love you all! Keep it real while I'm gone. Emma, don't get stressed with wedding plans. Wait till I come back so I can help! Mom, be strong. I'll be home before you know it. Becca, you will do and AMAZING job as a small group leader all by yourself. More shout-outs next time. Stay fresh, everyone. And as three of my bestesteset friends like to say,
Peace and blessings,
P.S. If you have any free time, you should totally check out the band, Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros, especially the song, "Home" which is without a doubt, the best song ever. EVER. So stop what you're doing and listen to it...seriously.
P.P.S. Here are a few pictures from my trip so far...sorry there's not too many. I was too absorbed in the expierence. :)