Saturday, January 27, 2007

Family Pictures

When my dad died last June, I put together a slide show of his life. This past Christmas Eve would have been mom and dad's 64th anniversary. It was a difficult holiday experience for all of us, especially my mom. As such, I decided to add to the show I'd done of dad's life and add pictures from my parents' marriage--remembering all the wonderful years. (I've posted the show at the link above.) My aunt Melba, who is featured in many of the pictures, is currently battling cancer. I'd like to ask all my friends to pray for Melba, my Uncle Billy and all of their family.
The picture above is of my parents when they were dating. It's one of my favorite shots. The 2nd picture is from our trip to Mexico in 2000. We spent a day in San Diego on the way back home. The hotel was remodeling, so they had all their new toilets lined up in the parking lot. I thought it was a great opportunity for a family photo. That trip was very instrumental in our call to Peru. Nonetheless, when we took this photo, we couldn't have dreamt that we'd be in Costa Rica now with two more Shraders in the bunch. God's plan is good and there's no better place to be than held tightly in His grace.

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Life in San Jose, Costa Rica

We're enjoying life in Central America and language school with so many committed missionaries. I recently wrote a friend about our life here and thought I'd share part of that letter with everyone:

Costa Rica is excellent. We're in San Jose, which is in the middle of the country about 5000' above sea level. So, the weather is like a beautiful spring day, every day. The temps are probably in the low 70's during the day. I'm not sure, since they do temps here in centigrade. At night it is cool, often requiring a jacket. Since our house has not heat or air conditioning, I often feel like we're camping. Of course, we're camping in a really nice camper. Our apartment is very large and very beautiful. Our kitchen window is huge and looks right at the language school. So, we can see everyone who comes and goes. As for life in San Jose, we're just getting into it. This week, Lena and I, respectively, took cabs to get groceries or the kids at school. As such, we had to actually talk in Spanish to strangers. It was exciting. The Costa Rican people (called Ticos) are very kind, so they're helpful when I butcher their language.

One of the missionaries went to the beach this weekend. I thought it was too cold to swim. He explained that the beach is 4000' below us. There, the temps are in the 90's and the water is in the 80's. There's also a volcano region. It is higher in the mountains, so it's cooler. Both the volcano region and the beaches offer the jungle. There's a third region, which I think is usually part of the volcano region in most people's trips, it is the coffee region. Really good coffee is grown at higher altitudes. For example, most Starbucks coffee is grown at 5000' or higher, mostly in Costa Rica. I haven't had a bad cup of coffee since I got here.

The cost of living is about the same as at home. We visited the Mall, today. It was our first visit to a non-food store. A nice pair of Columbia hiking shoes were about $52.00. We bought shorts for Hannah at a store like Kohls. The shorts were about $11 a piece. Taxis are fairly cheap. We can get one for about $3.00 to go to the Mall or to a warehouse club.

My understanding of Spanish has grown. My joke is that my vocabulary has doubled in one week. At this rate, I'll be fluent in a month. I'm in the same class as Lena, which is a stretch for me. She's studied much more than I (in school) and has a vocabulary that is 4x mine. I'm guessing that in three months, I'll be able to begin conversations without having to say, "Please forgive me, I only speak a little Spanish." I've made friends with our next door neighbor. He's a divorced father who recently started attending an evangelical church. He hasn't had any discipleship, so I'm looking forward to deepening our friendship.

Friday, January 05, 2007

Kids & Spanish

Abi has been walking around going, “Si, blah, blah, blah.” Tonight, at dinner, Willy said, “Como esta?” I don’t think he knew what it meant, but he knew it was Spanish. He calls Spanish English. The apartment we rent comes with cable TV—which is also our internet connection. I was going through the cable channels looking for English stations. We hit a Cartoon channel (in Spanish) and Willy said, “Dad, that’s in English and we should watch it so that we can learn English.” When I paused on CNN; Hannah, Colton, and Willy all argued for the Spanish cartoons, instead. We haven’t heard any news since we left home. Eventually, the kids will let me watch a little CNN. Ironically, they are not yet eager to watch the Spanish version of Animal Planet.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

First Day in Costa Rica

We arrived in Costa Rica for language study yesterday (1-3-07). We got two hours of sleep over a two day period, which is a common experience for people moving to a new country. Here's the run-down on our first day in Costa Rica.

Today we had our Spanish interview and placement test. My interview went great. My placement test was more difficult. The professor told me not to guess. That just about put a stop to anything except the part where I filled out my name. He told Lena that she had Latin in her blood, so she'd do great. (He seemed to ignore my Irish blood.) After the test, a friend (Efrain) took us grocery shopping at PriceMart (a latin version of Sam's Club). They're not owned by Sam's, but there are rumors that Sam's is trying to buy them out. It wasn't as large and it didn't have clothing. It had food, a small electronics area, a pharmacy and a food area (just like at Sam's club) where they sell pizza, TCBY Yogurt and Cappuccino. It was a good experience and it's nice to know that we can still shop at something somewhat familiar. Getting there was a trip. We walked about three blocks, then caught a taxi. It was a little Hyundai...a very little Hyundai. Abi and Willy stayed behind to play with Efrain's kids. That left Efrain, me, Lena, Hannah & Colton. Efrain sat in the front with the driver and the rest of us filled the back seat. It was cozy.

This afternoon, the kids wanted to watch TV. Willy yelled at Hannah to press the speaking button on the remote so that the people on TV would speak English. After Sponge Bob came on, he didn't care. It was interesting because he laughed throughout the cartoon. I'm now wondering how much he understood in English. Hannah's favorite Disney shows came on, all with Spanish dubbing. I usually hate those shows. I told her she's now allowed to watch as much Disney Channel as she wants--in Spanish. I told her that following the show and listening to them speak would be a boon to her Spanish acquisition. She started to bulk at the notion, then started to get excited to learn Spanish. I suspect that the worse that could happen is that she'd become fluent, though shallow.

Tonight we ate our first real meal here. We got the roasted chicken at PriceMart. It was nice. Our apartment is large and attractive. We come into a very large great-room that contains an eat in kitchen, a formal dinning room and a living room. There is a covered patio that is part of a small private courtyard. It's the prettiest part of the house. Most of the rooms have windows looking out into the courtyard. That's very common in latin culture. I'll send some pictures when I get the chance. For now, I'm mega-pooped.

Thanks to everyone who helped us through prayer, financial support and during the move. We are grateful beyond words ... especially if they're Spanish words.