Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Where In the World Are You?

Now that we have been living here in our mission home in Grano de Oro for a while, I'm starting a little series to tell you more about where we live, about our home and life here, about the Church here and the work we are doing at this time and hope to do in the future.  I wanted to wait a while to get our bearings in this new place, and surely, there is much, much for us to learn, but I do feel like we are becoming more familiar day by day with our surroundings. So, are you up for a little geography lesson first?

Costa Rica is in Central America, a group of countries south of Mexico that form the small strip of land that connects North America and South America. In the map below, it is the curving strip of red just above the blue of South America.

In Central America, Costa Rica is located south of Nicaragua and north of Panama.  In the map below, it is light green.

Now for Grano de Oro. It gets a little harder here. See, Grano de Oro doesn't really show up on maps.  Just 20 years ago, it didn't exist. It was all one farm owned by one family which bordered the mountains where the indigenous Cabecar communities of Costa Rica lived in the Chirripo River region.  Over the last twenty years, as the older generation of the family died and the land was split and children married and bore children of their own, a town has sprung up.  Electricity, running water and roads have only been installed in the last 10 -15 years.  When those things were introduced, the town became the entrance and exit point for people traveling in to and out of the communities in the Chirripo reservation lands. There are about forty communities in the reservation, spread out wide and far. Some are as close as 2-3 hour walk or 40 minute drive, others require an hour long drive to where the road ends and then 12-15 hours of walking.  

On the map below, just under the letter "A" in "CENTRAL", you will see a town called Turrialba.  That is the nearest full size town to us. It is about an hour drive. There are supermarkets and lots of places to get good fruits and vegetables there as well as a good number of all purpose stores and pharmacies to stock our house with the little extras. Just southeast of Turrialba, you'll see a town labeled Moravia.  That was the original farm land our town was once a part of. We are a further east of there.

Geographically, we are surrounded by lush green mountains and clear flowing rivers that remind me of the Smoky Mountains to some extend. On an average day with high sun, it is about 75-80 degrees here. In the evening, the fog rolls in off the mountains and the nights and morning can be down right chilly, 50-60 degrees. 

Even with the cooler climate, we are still surrounded by tropical beauty, with hydrangeas and bougainvillea in full bloom at all times, banana, plantain, avocado, and a host of other tropical fruits growing in our own back yard, and lovely bromeliads adorning the branches of our trees.  

Right now, we are in the dry season, and it is quite easy to get around town on foot and to get to neighboring towns and villages by car. Once the rains return in June and July, things will get a little more complicated.

For now, we are just enjoying getting to know this place. I hope my heart never stops skipping when we curve our way through the mountains and I catch that wide open glimpse of the lush mountain side, or when I look up and realize that we are at the top of the range, with nothing between us and the sky, or when I walk our dusty roads and glance to my left to see the clear rippling waters of the river bubbling over its smooth rocks. I hope that no matter how familiar this place becomes, I always stop to look close at the flowers beneath my feet, the lightening bugs dotting the bushes in the evening and the clear expanse of millions of stars overhead at night.  

When God created this magnificent sphere of earth, He was already there, in the person of Jesus, commanding His disciples to bring the Good News to the ends of the earth, and in order to ensure that we would listen, He bestowed an extra helping of beauty of those ends.  I will forever be grateful for this great act of love.

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