Saturday, July 31, 2010

A Rockstar of the Christan World? I Suck at this!

Today is Saturday, el sabado, the sabbath.  

I love Saturdays. 

On Saturdays I can rest, I can sleep in, I can just be.  Its a gift, literally a gift God gave us to relax, to enjoy ourselves, to focus on Him.

So this morning, while it was still dark in my room (thanks to TheVWM who bought us some kick ass thick curtains from IKEA), I was laying in bed reflecting on this entire summer, the work team season.  I was thinking about all the groups we had helping us, all the work we did, all the faces, the laughter, the joy, all the good, but it was not always good.

We experienced hardships, set backs, failures, and then something hit me, hard,

I suck at this!

Missionaries, like the Pope, are supposed to be perfect.  They are, as you well know, the Rock Stars of the Christian world.  Missionaries are folks that take advantage of every moment to pray.  Missionaries never doubt, I mean, really, if you TRULY have faith can you ever doubt?  Missionaries are humble to a fault, giving all the credit to God.  Missionaries never get tired, they never get pissed, they never want to hide in a closet until the work team leaves for the states.  


Missionaries are well, PERFECT, and I'm not.

So here is my confession, nothing too gritty, just hear me out.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

The Face of Illegal Immigration

For the past 3 years we have been dealing with immigration law.  I never thought I would say this, but our immigration status has become an inextricable part of our everyday lives.  For the most part, compliance with the law has been more of an annoyance than the cause of trepidation, but now, well,

the times they are a changin'
                                                                                                          Bob Dylan  
  
As citizens of the United States, when we arrive in Costa Rica, we are entitled to stay up to 90 days on a tourist visa, but when those 90 days are up, we need to leave the country.  If we are outside of Costa Rica for at least 72 hours, we get a brand new tourist visa when we reenter the country,  starting the process over again.   Its quite simple; we live here for 3 months, leave for 3 days and repeat.

To be honest, the law has been more of a blessing than a curse.  These visa renewal trips have given us the opportunity to take some needed time off, to refocus on the work we are doing, to spend some great time together as a family, and to visit Nicaragua and Panama (because it is much cheaper to travel there than to go home).  The only downsides are the cost and, well,

Is there ever really a good time to up and leave for 3 days?

Anyway, we came back from our last trip to the states in January which started our 90 day clock.  That means, by April we needed to have left Costa Rica, all of us.  However, in March, TheVWM 's sister decided to give birth to her second child, and in order to meet her newest niece and visit/help her sister, TheVWM booked a trip home in May.  That trip left us with no real time, or money, to get the family out of the country, so, my visa expired, and


I became an illegal immigrant.  
  

Friday, July 23, 2010

I am Retiring the "R-word"

Yesterday I received a comment from reader in response to the post "I am RETARDED!" .  Basically, I was called out on a word I used, "RETARDED".

To be perfectly honest, my immediate response was defensiveness.  I mean, really, I have used that word for probably 30 years, but never, that I can remember, in reference to someone with any type of disability.  It has become such a part of my everyday vernacular, that at this point, I don't have a clue I am even saying it.  

Its just a word, and I was using it in reference to myself!

However, during a conversation with TheVWM, who also has a propensity to use the "R-word", I changed my mind.   We were talking about the word, its usage, its meaning, and how it may make others feel.  Then she made a statement that really drove the point home for me:

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

I am RETARDED!

I have now live here in Costa Rica for 3 years.  3 years of learning the culture, the geography, and of course the language.  3 months of language school and 2 years 9 months, give or take a couple of months being back in the States, of language learning on the street.  I am a fluent Spanish speaker, kind of.

So we were in Panama, and some homeless guy, with 2 teeth (no joke, 2 teeth), runs up to us and starts giving us a tour.  He showed us where the Spanish started raping the wealth of Panama and shipping it back across the ocean to the old world, where the French put their prisoners in a dungeon that had windows below the level of high tide (for those of you that can't picture it, they drowned when the tide came in), where Noriega had his Officer's Club, and where the United States invaded his land and killed his family in 1989.

A very interesting guy, including the little bit of body funk he had jumping off and the small blood stains that speckled his right shoulder.  He wasn't  a bad guy, in fact I liked him, all 4 foot nothing of him.  However, he did something, said something that really got to me.  He said,

"You speak spanish ok, but your wife is more fluent than you."

Friday, July 16, 2010

Our Bellies Were Hugging! Ewwww!

We just got back yesterday from Panama City, Panama.  This trip was planned at the last moment in order to fulfill my immigration requirements (see The Face of Illegal Immigration), but it was also something I was excited about.  Panama City is steeped with history: the canal, colonial settlements, revolutions and invasions, but more than that, it is an area of the world we had yet to visit.

For a variety of reasons, we needed to take this trip when we did. It was not the ideal time for me, but much like having babies:

Is there ever really a good time?

The trip itself was by bus.  No big deal right, we take the bus all the time down here, but its not really the same thing.  The bus ride from San Jose, Costa Rica to Panama City, Panama lasts anywhere from 12-18 hours.  12-18 hours of motion not of travel.  There is no layover, no stops (except at the border hence the descrepency in travel time), no nothing just driving.

Do you know how far you can travel in 12-18 hours by plane?

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

I'm Not a Role Model

I have been having an online conversation for the last couple of days with a group of atheist and people leaving the church. It began well, but quickly degenerated into a steady barrage of attacks and name calling.  I am not saying I was entirely outside of the fray, but I tried to maintain an air of respect throughout.

Finally, one person shared with me that almost all of the participants in the conversation had connections, in the past, with organized religions, and specifically Judeo-Christian religions and had decided to "throw Jesus under the bus."  This person also expressed the need to have a place to feel comfortable and to continue their journey away from the church.

Throughout the conversation I kept thinking:

 "What is so threatening about God."

Truth is, I am not sure that was the appropriate question.

Monday, July 5, 2010

A Cedar of Lebanon and My Nose

The danger in touching lives, helping others, being relevant is sharing too much information.  

"How much to share?", even "What to share is?" are questions I ask myself daily.  Most often I think I get it right, but after spending a week with a work team, even the work team we just finished hosting from Lakeside Church, our very own church, I sometimes question myself.

It starts with several days of honest communication.  Ok, ok, so maybe its a little less communication, which implies a conversation, and more of a soliloquy on my part, but in my defense, I don't get the chance to speak English much.  Well, I guess thats not entirely true either.  I speak English all the time, but sometimes its fun to tell my stories to new people, or at least people who are polite enough to listen.  

No matter, by the end of the week I will usually hear the following statement:

Thank you so much for being so....open.

If it weren't for the pregnant pause I might believe them, but I know what that means.  That means:

That made me a little uncomfortable.  Thanks for ruining my image of you.

So at the risk of sharing too much, and making you a little uncomfortable....

I am in the bathroom today, electric clippers in hand.  You see, God has blessed me with so much.  I am 8 inches taller than average giving me an earning power of $1800 more per year according to studiesI have a beautiful and extremely intelligent wife, I have 3 of the greatest kids to ever have walked the planet, but to keep me humble God has given me a curse.  That curse is androgenic alopecia.  

Androgenic alopecia, or AA, is no laughing matter.  It is an incurable condition that has plagued mankind since the dawn of man.  Men and women from all walks of life have been stricken with AA and have spent countless dollars trying to find a cure.  Thus, I am in the bathroom with the clippers trying to make the best of my situation.  Trying to mask the effects of AA that has ravaged my body for the past 13 years.  Trying to keep others from noticing my condition, better known as male pattern baldness.







Friday, July 2, 2010

I accept all responsibility

Do you remember that politician, Richard Blumenthal, that "exaggerated" his military service in Vietnam to try and bolster his Connecticut Senate race?

So anyway, I just recently came across his apology to the American People and I learned so much about the art of the apology.

1. Talk about how great you are.
2. Talk about how great the people you hurt by your lies are.
3. Relate how great you are to what you are apologizing for.
4. Downplay the event.
5. Express your regret and except all responsibility.
6. Be indignant towards your accusers.
7. Repeat how great you are and that your proud of yourself.
8. Thank everyone.
9. Open the floor for questions.

That being said, TVWM I have something to say.

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