La Rambla, Pocitos

Sunday, January 29, 2012

after a month...the rubber begins to meet the road

Making a cross-cultural move always has some degree of excitement to it. There was a time in our lives that we thought excitement would carry us through the stress of a cross-cultural move. Fortunately, before we moved to Costa Rica, we realized that, as much as we love adventure, adventure is not enough to provide endurance under stress.

Stress is finally catching up with us, just a bit. The unexpected "adventure" that we rejoice to find ourselves in (i.e. adding another member to our family this year) is so exciting! But the reality is that even excitement (i.e., adventure) brings stress; in this case, it's the "mommy feels yucky all the time" kind of stress, which brings the "daddy has to do a lot more" kind of stress and the "why don't mommy and daddy have time for _____ anymore" kind of stress.

And so we enter a phase of the adventure that requires a lot of stress management; how can we constantly, consciously bring our stress levels down so that they do not stay elevated? A friend wisely reminded us that living stressed actually works again our language learning by in effect killing the brain cells that we need in order to learn a new language. Not to mention that living stressed brings out the worst in us, making it oh-so-very-easy to respond in harshness to those we love most. The long-term effects of allowing stress to dominate our lives are scary indeed.

Once again my favorite book brings a Word of hope that I can grab onto: "Let the goal of this day be to bring every thought captive to Me. Whenever your mind wanders, lasso those thoughts and bring them into My Presence." Yes, we know that eating right, getting enough sleep (!?!), and exercising (no worries there with all the walking) are great ways to manage stress, and we're doing our best at them. But there is no better antidote for stress than sitting in the Presence of the Prince of Peace. Pray for us to keep going there - and more than just in the morning for a few concentrated moments. Pray for us to live there. "In Your Presence all my fears are washed away..."

The Spirit has been encouraging me with these words today: "I will not ask you to do anything that I will not give you the strength to do." Today I survived a church service with no nursery with a very cranky but incredibly active one year old; it was not fun. But as I sat in an empty room (which I was very thankful for) with him as he screamed, the Spirit said, "If I ask you to do this, I will help you do it. I will even help you do it with a heart that is at rest in me and not full of frustration." This is what I long for - to do everything with a heart that rests in Him instead of pumping the heat of frustration through my veins.  

I/we do not have all the answers. We will have many choices over the next several months; we will need wisdom for how to navigate these waters of childbirth during language school. Knowing that we have friends and family who love us, support us, and believe in us is HUGE - thank you for expressing your support for us.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

2 weeks in...

We arrived in San Jose, Costa Rica just over two weeks ago. In that time we've unpacked 28 bags (well, almost all of them - some we're saving for Uruguay), gone through orientation, celebrated two of our children's birthdays, and had three regular days of language classes.

Our house is wonderful. Bathtubs are a rarity in most places outside the USA, and ours is huge! It fits all three kids very well, so that is a great nighttime ritual. All of our major appliances are USA-style, which makes for early user-friendliness:) The rooms and furniture are comfortable, and now we are all set up with internet (which you cannot purchase without also getting cable, so at this moment Jimbo is preparing to watch the Tim Tebow, er, Broncos game tonight). In many ways our house here is more comfortable than our previous housing in Florida.

Our schedule is mostly settled. We leave the house (walking) five days a week at 7 a.m. to get the kids into their classes before ours starts at 7:30 a.m. Our classes are all finished by noon (then we wait for one kiddo until 1 p.m.). Lots of things happen in the afternoons - too many to list:)
We have established Fridays as "family date days." After school we'll try to do something fun as a family - this gives us something to look forward to during the week.  We go to bed earlier than we EVER have before - usually we're all asleep by 8:30.

Our kids are doing beautifully. They have weathered this transition incredibly well - thank you so much for talking to the Father about this for us! Our little one is still not sleeping well at night. We are taking turns getting up with him. We trust that this will not continue for the entire year and are thankful for when the change begins.

Our classes are going well. We (J and I) are in the same classes for four hours five days a week...right now this is a good thing:) We feel confident in class right now.

Right now we are learning that victory is not so much about doing things right (we've made a few mistakes since we've been here) as it is about our response during and after our failure. Consider the following quote from one of my favorite books:

"People usually associate victory with success: not falling or stumbling, not making mistakes. But those who are successful in their own strength tend to go their own way, forgetting about Me. It is through problems and failure, weakness and neediness that you learn to rely on Me."

We have already seen great victory here in San Jose as the stress of doing new things (and I really never can find a pen!) brings out the unlovely in us. What an amazing opportunity to be purified! We all know we're not perfect, but how do we ever move forward? Try going through stress in an environment of grace - His Presence.

We have so much to be thankful for: a (clean!) house, a job, amazing food (cooked for us),  healthy kids, a thriving marriage, supportive families, friends who love us, a high quality language school, and the health and strength to live the Pura Vida (as they say here in Costa Rica) with gusto.

We look forward to sharing with you (and hearing from you) as we progress through the year.
Happy (belated) New Year!