27 August, 2007

New Fruit - Manzana de Agua

One of the many things I love about Latin America is all of the fruits that are available that you can't find (or easily find) in the US.

Last night after church we went to the house of a family that lives near us in our bario, San Francisco de dos rios. They are wonderful people and extremely helpful as we learn to become Ticos.

While we were visiting their home, they introduced us to a fruit none of us had tried before, Manzana de agua. In English it would be "water apple". Wow. Delicious. It is roughly the shape of a small pear with a one large seed inside. My wife described the taste as like eating a sweet smelling flower. Our kids loved them too.

We will be hunting for these when we go to the feria (local farmers market) next weekend!!

22 August, 2007

Better Than Bars

If you have ever vistited a Latin American country (or downtown Kansas City), than you are very familiar with the bars and gates on every door and window of every house.

Our house is no exception. We have a front gate, a gate at the front door, and several locks on the wooden front door. I feel like I have moved into Fort Knox.

Last night while we slept, there was a loud clanging on one of the many locked gates around our house. Keeley woke me up because it sounded like someone was trying to get in.

OK. Adrenaline is pumping. Now I need a weapon....OK found a metal flashlight. Then it dawned on me that I don't even know what to yell at an intruder in a language they will understand. Some choice Clint Eastwood or Arnold Swartzenager lines should do, everyone knows those. So around our dark house I crept.

After a thorough checking of all the gates and doors, I was satisfied that our home was still secure and no breach had taken place.

Now I need to go back to sleep. Right. While I waited for the adreneline to be absorbed back into my body, I prayed with Keeley and pondered what had just happened. Here are some thoughts.

Here we are in a new place where there is so much to learn about and adjust to. Satan would love to have us be consumed by fear and worried about our safety at every turn. It would be easy to be so preoccupied with fear that we are unable to minister the way God would have us to. As we prayed, we asked God to give us a spirit of power, and of love, and a sound mind.

Because after all, God is exceedingly better protection for my family and I than some steel bars on our doors and windows. The same God that stopped the mouths of lions from eating Daniel is the same God that brought us here to Costa Rica. The same God that protected Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego from the firey furnace is the same God that brought the sun up on our new home today. God wants to build our faith, and last night He used to rattling bars to draw us closer to himself.

By the way, after talking to the neighbors behind us today we found out that there are some cats that fight each other at night and they scamper up the gates causing them to rattle. They also run on the roofs making a racket too. God is good, all of the time.

Jones'n For Some Internet

Yes, I'll admit it. When I have to go for more than a day or two without checking my e-mail, I start to get symtoms. Hands get shaky, my mind wanders, I even start to crave SPAM.

Just kidding about the SPAM, that stuff is nasty. Anyway, when we arrived in Costa Rica early last Sunday morning (about 2am), I began an involuntary Internet fast that lasted until Monday evening at 6pm. Can you believe that?? Over 24 hours without e-mail!!

I am feeling better now though. A couple who lives behind us has internet and a wireless router, so we are using their wireless internet (with permission...).

Seriously though. The Internet is a great tool, but I am a little disgusted with myself for missing it so greatly. I need to use it when it is there, but change my grip on it from a white-knuckle to a gentle handshake.

I'll write more later, I need to catch up on my web-surfing. :-)

30 Seconds of Encouragement - 8/18/07

There we were, rushing through one of the largest, busiest airports in the United States.  Atlanta International.  Passing through a corridor on our way to use an elevator (since the large off-road double stroller we brought will not fit on an escalator), I heard someone call out my name.  Not that the name Ryan is all that uncommon, but in general you don’t hear names of any kind being yelled out in the middle of a busy airport.


I looked to see who it was that was trying to get my attention (or the attention of someone else with my name), and my eyes fell upon a familiar face.  It was Jim Edwards from the Kansas City Baptist Temple.  Some of you already know why Jim was in the Atlanta airport at that moment and why it was so cool to see him, but for those of you that do not, let me explain.


Jim Edwards and 24 other people from our church, the Kansas City Baptist Temple, were on a weeklong trip to San Jose, Costa Rica to help with some construction work at the church of KCBT missionary Greg Kedrovsky.  Our original plan had been to travel with this team for our move to Costa Rica, but the blessing of using Delta Skymiles to purchase all of our tickets required us to travel a week later on the day of their return.  Twelve members of this team had graciously volunteered to help us in our move to Costa Rica by each carrying a suitcase full of our stuff.  This was an huge blessing and allowed us to bring a total of 22 suitcases (12 with them, plus 10 of our own) to our new home in Costa Rica.  Not only did this save us a lot of money, it also provided the manpower to move that many pieces of luggage from one place to another. 


Jim and another member of the team were hurrying to catch their flight from Atlanta back to Kansas City, while we were hurrying to catch our flight from Atlanta to San Jose, Costa Rica.


So in that enormous airport filled with thousands of people, God saw fit to encourage us by crossing our path with some members of the very team that had been such a blessing to us.  We only had time to say hi and smile, but it was a bright spot in our trip at just the right time. 


Coincidence you say?  No, not coincidence, God’s providence.  God is so good to us, and He is always right on time with the way He meets our needs, big or small. 


We made it!!

2:00 am and smelling like we had carried more carry-on luggage than technically allowed through two airports and airplanes, we pulled up to the house that will be our home for the next two years in San Jose, Costa Rica.  Whew.


Our girls were exhausted.  We were exhausted.  But we made it without any trouble and no worse for wear.


The man that picked us up from the airport, Ronnie, is a nice guy and very helpful.  He has a big van and does a lot of driving for students at the school we are going to attend.  He already had the key to our house and helped us get the luggage inside.


After locking the outside gate, the inside gate, and the three locks on the front door, we settled into our beds and got some much needed sleep.


The next day we started going through the suitcases and trying to put things where they belong.  The house is every bit as good as the pictures, we are very pleased and grateful for it.


Thanks again for all of our prayers.  God blessed us with a great trip.  From the extremely friendly Delta ticketing agent that helped us check all of our heavy bags, to the Costa Rican customs that didn’t take even give a second look at the strange household items we were bringing in as tourists, God went before us and prepared the way.


Just like the Nation of Israel in Joshua chapter 3, as soon as we obeyed and stepped into the river of God’s plan, He has parted the waters and allowed us to go across on dry ground.  Praise God.

02 August, 2007

Only 16 Days Left!

Time's fun when your having flies.
It is hard for me to believe that in only 16 more days we will be moving to Costa Rica.  It has gone from seeming like it was ages away, to now being right at our feet.
God has been so faithful (as He always is) to open doors for us and provide for our every need.  We have our house rented, our van sold, and have gotten rid of most of the stuff we are not going to keep.  I am trying to start a new practice in my life beginning with this move: not keeping junk.
We are excited to get into our rented house in Costa Rica and get settled.  We will have a couple of weeks to rest before starting school, so we are grateful for that.  18 Suitcases.  That is what we need to fit our families' possessions into.  Really makes you evaluate what you need.
It is a surreal feeling to be at the church these days.  Another missionary told me about the "disconnect" that begins to occur several weeks before you depart.  It is something that is difficult to even describe with words, but very clear to those experiencing it.  It is not like people stop being friendly or talking to you or anything like that, it is just a sense that a separation has begun already.  They are going about their lives here in Kansas City, and they are letting us go to begin our new adventure in Costa Rica.  Not a negative thing, but definitely a thing.  Maybe I will talk more about this concept in my book about being a missionary.  :-)
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