Monday, April 30, 2012

A Whole Lot of Livin' Going On

So in between loving the orphans and widows in His name, in between the long journeys and the busy days full of Church activities, a whole lot or ordinary, every day family life goes on here. Cooking, cleaning, washing clothes and teaches school. Family movie night. Working. E-mailing family and friends. Afternoons at the river. Kicking the soccer ball around the plaza. And lately, a lot of fort building on the front porch.

I am committed to maintaining the atmosphere of family first here in the missions. My kids did not come all this way to be exhausted in service. They are as hungry for the love of Christ as anyone else I might meet here. And it is my primary duty to give that love generously. One way I attempt to do that is by being a "yes" momma, as often as I can saying yes to their requests for my attention: "Can you take us to the river?" " Can we paint today?" "Can we make cookies tonight?" Yes, my loves, I can. We can. Because in the midst of all this service, you are the most important people in my life. I will stop for you. I will rest a longer because you have curled up next to me. I will sing " The Ants Go Marching One by One" one more time. I will. Because you are precious to me and precious to your father and precious to the Lord. And you are loved.

I love to see how happy my kids are here. And I love to see how much they truly appreciate it when they get to Skype their cousins or see photos of friends. They are elated to be remembered.  And the so the joy that ensued when one sweet friend and her children waltzed their way to us via care packages that arrived this week was truly memorable.

Even after a few tries, I couldn't get squirmy excited boys to stay in place long enough for you to really see our message, which reads MUCHISSIMAS GRACIAS FAMILIA _______!

Balls, baked goods, peanut butter, Nutella. The good stuff. And for a mom's heart? Dark chocolate, sharpies and a table cloth from pretty girls who know how to make things lovely. I hope these smiles tell the story of our gratitude, because we were pretty over the moon. Kolbe turns 5 this Wednesday and he has picked the Marble Cake Mix for his cake. You made our hearts happy, dear friends. And we thank you. Grace in a box. What a lovely gift!

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Mission to Nicaragua: Photo Story

The video below is the full photo journal of our trip to Nicaragua. There are some shots here I want to stop and look at for a long time with you as I reflect more on the trip, but this slide show tells the whole story, the places, the faces, the joy. I am still waiting for the words to come. But for now, the pictures will help me say all that is in my heart.

Saturday, April 21, 2012


My husband dubbed our recent trip to Nicaragua to renew our visas "Mission Within a Mission". My oldest son found this quite humorous and re-dubbed it "Mission-ception". Because it has been five weeks since he has been here with us and I miss his quirky humor tremendously, I have stuck with that.
The trip was so blessed and I am still trying to process all that happened and wade through photos, mental images and journal entries in order to share some coherent thoughts. The problem is that it was also utterly exhausting and we are all still trying to recover and at the same time keep life going here with a mild sense of order (and I use the term loosely).
Today, as I say by the river with my prayer journal and looked at the quick day-by-day notes I made on the trip, it struck that it was interesting in its own right and might make a good introduction to where we went as I start to share more about the trip. So here it is, the Mission-ception run down.

Tuesday, April 10th:

  • Bus from Grano de Oro to Turrialba (2 hours)
  • Bus from Turrialba to San Jose  (3 hours)
  • Bus from San Jose to Ciudad Quesada (3 hours)
  • Bus from Ciudad Quesada to Aguazarcas (30 minutes)
  • Overnight visit with an amazing missionary family and group from St. Thomas More High School in Lafayette
Wednesday, April 11th

  • Bus from Aguazarcas to Cuidad Quesada (30 minutes)
  • Bus from Ciudad Quesada to La Fortuna (2 hours)
  • Two days at the cabins of an old friend in the shadows of Arenal volcano, enjoying one of our favorite spots in Costa Rica--swimming pools, thermal waters, picnincs, pizza, birthday celebration for Dina Estrella, our landlady who accompanied us on our trip
Friday, April 13th

  • Cab ride from La Fortuna to El Tanque (30 minutes)
  • Bus ride from El Tonque to Penas Blancas (6 hours)
  • Crossing the border on foot and clearing both immigration offices (1 hour)
  • Bus ride to Rivas, Nicaragua (1 hour)
  • Cab ride to port of San Jorge (30 minutes)
  • Lunch on the beach
  • Ferry ride to Ometepe Island (1 hour)
  • Taxi Ride to CICRIN (Christian Infants and Children's Center in Nicaragua)
  • Warm welcome by the staff and children of CICRIN
Saturday, April 14th

  • trip into the town of Moyogalpa to see a bit of the Island
  • chore time and play time with the CICRIN kids
  • Swimming in Lake Nicaragua
  • helping in the kitchen
  • movie night under the stars with a lap full of kids
Sunday, April 15th

  • 8 am Mass at Santa Ana Church in Moyogalpa
  • Birthday lunch at a hotel in town
  • Swimming at the Oja de Agua with the CICRIN kids
  • Relaxing evening swinging in the hammocks in the rancho and playing with the kiddos
Monday, April 16th

  • More hammocks, kitchen help, chores, and playing
  • A trip to town to buy a pinata
  • The most amazing birthday celebration ever at CICRIN
Tuesday, April 17th

  • Ferry ride from Ometepe to San Jorge (1 hour)
  • Cab ride to Rivas (30 minutes)
  • Breakfast in Rivas
  • Cab ride to border (30 minutes)
  • Border crossing with fellow bus passengers and lots of other various waiting (3 hours)
  • Bus from border to San Jose (6 hours)
  • Pizza Hut
  • Sleep over at the apartment of Dona Estrella's daughter
Wednesday, April 18th

  • First hot shower in a week
  • Bus ride from San Jose to Turrialba (3 hours)
  • Wandering around Turrialba trying to find Greg (we got inexplicably separated and our phones were wonked out from the trip)
  • SNOWBALLS with condensed milk in the park!!!!!
  • A quick grocery trip
  • Bus ride from Turrialba to Grano de Oro (2 hours)
  • Walk from bus stop to home dragging huge suit case, back packs, exhausted kids, and a sack of groceries in the rain
  • Sleep. In our own beds. 
I hope this will make the upcoming storm of photos and reflections make a little more sense. And explain why I need to recover a bit before hashing it all out. Be back soon to share more!