Saturday, November 17, 2012

Costa Rica Continued.....

We got up very bright and very early Monday morning to travel to Los Chiles which is within a stones throw from the Nicaraguan border.  If my memory serves me correctly as the crow flies it was only around 200 miles from Tabarcia to Los Chiles, but remember travel in Costa is measured in time not miles.

I can't explain to you how arduous travel is in Costa.  The main roads are pretty good (I'm a country girl and quite used to bad roads) but the roads to remote areas are something else.  There are hills that are straight up and straight down, hairpin turns nothing like nothing I have ever seen here and the drop offs are well....once I made the mistake of looking straight down out of my window and really wished I had not done that.
The Costa Ricans are used to the roads and they drive like they are in the Mississippi delta where it is flat and straight and you can see for miles ahead.  There were many times when drivers passed on double yellow lines, up a hill, in heavy traffic and everyone in the van collectively held their breath.
Lots of people drive scooters, which are a great way to get around locally.  And these scooter drivers are very brave they pass and drive right through the middle of you and the on-coming traffic.
On the way to Los Chiles we ate here.  The food was great and the view...well it was indescribable. 

We were advised that the trip would take about 7 hours, which included bathroom breaks and stops to eat.  But, there were detours because of construction and we wound up traveling for 11 hours.  But I guess it was God's intervention, because it really didn't feel like that long to me.  Now any other time, (and David will validate this) about 2-3 hours in a car for me is about all I can stand and about all you can stand of me.  Because by that time frame, I'm squirming and ill as a snake. But I truly enjoyed this journey.  Getting to see the real Costa Rica was very inspiring and interesting.  It would be like coming to Mississippi and riding the back roads of Carroll County and the delta.  You get to see how people really live.  We saw coffee plantations, pineapple plantations, hill sides covered with that greenhouse cloth stuff under which they were growing fern and other plants.
Oh yeah, all those plants that we buy at Wal Mart and Lowe's--corn plants, bougainvilleas, impatiens and on and on, grow wild on the roadside. 

Coffee plantation that you can tour

We arrived in Los Chiles and were very excited by our accommodations.  David and I had our own room, with a wonderful shower.  We hadn't slept in a full size bed ever...but it was quite cozy. :-) I'm smiling about this because we are both fluffy.

#4 Grandchild Avery who is quite the worrier was having a conniption fit because she thought "her Nonna was sleeping on the floor, and her Nonna can't sleep on the floor," would not be satisfied until I took this picture and sent it to her.
So after 11 hours of travel, we then walked around in the community, told people about the clinic we were having the next day and invited them to church.
I just love this picture of we were walking through the outskirts of Los Chiles, handing out tracts and inviting people to come to church and the clinic....and I just love that little dog. 
After our visiting in the community, we had church.  Again we sang, praised, prayed and had a sermon...two sermons in fact because there were two preachers there...again I was worn out.
We returned to our rooms, had a light meal, devotion and fell into bed.  (Oh I was so happy I could take my two showers a day--a small prayer answered)  We were to be up early Tuesday morning because we were heading into a remote village for our first clinic....and you will find out how God broke me.
I will leave you with this last picture...and thought.  We are all pieces, sometimes broken pieces, and God can put them all together to make something beautiful and useful...just like this alley way between our rooms.
To be continued...........

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Costa Rica Continued...

Sunday morning we got up early and went to church (don't forget that because Costa is mountainous and each and every trip anywhere
Roadside view in Costa Rica

is lengthy/twisty/hairpin turns/up and down is not measured in miles but you will see later) and let me tell you when they have church...they have church. 
We sang for an hour, we prayed for an hour, we had hands lain on us, we were prayed for, we were commissioned and then we had preaching for an hour.  It was a very sweet experience---these people were so grateful that we were here and I was very grateful to serve them. 
The people of Costa are beautiful people outside and inside.  They are a very humble people.  I grew to love and appreciate them and be humbled by them much more than I could have imagined.
After church they fed us--we got our first taste of real Costa Rica food.  (We were all pretty hungry by then) Their food staple is beans and rice and rice and beans, which after a while you either love or hate.  I eventually realized that if I was going to be able to not offend everyone in the van or at night in the bunk house I was going to have to forgo the beans...which I did. 
The fresh tomatoes and avocados were divine and we had them with fresh cilantro each time too.  We had fresh pineapple straight from the field and it was great but stronger than what I was used to. They eat mostly chicken with some pork and very little beef.  Everything we ate was delicious. 
After this very long day I was quite tired and well quite frankly ill.  Not sick ill, but just weary ill.  We still had lots of things to do after we arrived back to the compound.  We had thousands yes thousands of vitamins to package and label.  We also had thousands yes thousands of Tylenol, Motrin and TUMs to package and label. I poured the vitamins/Tylenol/Motrin/TUMs in separate bowls and everyone sat at tables and counted and packaged them...before long we had a really good "factory line" going.
Finally we repacked all our gear and then loaded it into the truck. Then we had devotion.  We had devotion every morning and every night.  I was really really glad to get a shower and get in that bunk bed.  Except for the rolling gas in my belly...I slept like a rock.
My prayer for myself for the people of Costa Rica was that God would break me...break me for them, use me up..physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually.  This was very very soon to come.
To be continued.....

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Costa Rica Continued.....

We left on a Saturday.  I took off from work three days before.  That wasn't enough.  Those days were a frenzy of packing, printing labels, putting the labels on the baggies, counting pills, putting the pills in the baggies and of course packing our personal stuff.
I wanted to have Friday to rest before we left on Saturday.  Didn't happen.
We flew out from Jackson MS to Dallas Fort Worth on a puddle jumper and from DFW to San Jose on a 757.
It had been yeeeaaarrrs since I had flown.  But I wasn't scared.  I had my Aaron with me and of course my friends and of course my Lord. 
I loved looking out the window at the clouds below and I especially loved seeing the Mississippi Delta looked like a magic green patchwork quilt. Oh and the mighty Mississippi River....
We landed in San Jose at night in the rain, so we were not able to get a good look at the amazing country until the next morning.  This was a good thing...Costa Rica is very mountainous and flying in is interesting.
It rains every day in Costa Rica. 
That night the missionaries met us at the airport, picked us up in a van and took us for an hour drive on twisty curvy mountainous roads to Tabarcia and from Tabarcia into the country side where the missionaries live.
Our pastor had been to this compound 8 times before and he had never ever ridden up or down the steep part of their driveway.  It is a 45 degree grade and that's putting it lightly.
But it was raining, cool (July is their Winter) and pitch black.  We were tired, weary and I was well---quite frankly a little ill.
Needless to say hill or no hill none of us were walking. So we shamed the preacher and we all rode down the driveway.  Straight down.  We didn't know what we had done until the next morning when it was time to travel and climb that grade out...straight up.
Franklin had to get in his four-wheel drive truck and pull the van up the driveway.  Oh and they do this every day 2 or three times a day.  That is how steep the drive way is.  The van that we rode in could pull the hill, but the red van named "Grace" did not have the power.
That night we fell into bed.  The girls upstairs in bunks.  The guys downstairs in bunks.
This cross is in the tile floor of the downstairs at the compound.
To be continued....

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Costa Rica Continued..

I went about planning with the team...medications.....thousands of pills and pairs of gloves....dressing materials.....sterile water....tape...pill for the kids....glasses.....Bibles....the list just goes on and on.  And as I'm writing this and looking back, I really don't see how we did it.  But then again as I write this I realize that we didn't do it...God did.
We made dozens of lists, we made labels for the medications in English and Spanish (thank you google translator) that we stuck on thousands of plastic sandwich bags, because the medicine came in 500 and 1000 count bottles, so we had to divide those medicines in groups of 10 days or a month's supply, we met and made plans, we met with a nurse who plans and implements a medical mission trip every year...she was absolutely invaluable help as none of us had ever done anything like this before.
We had a pack night, where we packed all our supplies in 15 suitcases, which of course could not weigh more than 50 pounds each.  So that meant that we could not put all the medications in one suitcase, which meant that we had to repack our gear before clinic..but more on that later.
We had to take our own towels and bath cloths as well as our clothes and personal care stuff-enough to last 8 days.  All this was placed in one suitcase that had to weigh no more than 50 pounds.
David was still dragging his feet even though we had gotten our passports and I was not sure he was going to go.  I finally told him that if he didn't go it was a deal breaker with me.  And I remember he asked me what did that mean.  And I responded, just exactly what I said, a deal breaker. 
I went on to explain to him that I had stood beside him through everything, on which I won't elaborate, and this was one thing I was asking of him.
He didn't want to give up his PTO that he used for hunting and fishing. He just didn't want to go.
My response was that it was not about him, it was about The Kingdom, and if he couldn't go for The Kingdom, then could he please go for me?
Somewhere between my pleas and God's intervention, David got on board and his help before and during the trip was just invaluable. And as you can see in the picture above, David became my Aaron.
To be continued.....