Sunday, February 18, 2007

Es Verde! (part 2)

Shortly after my "Es Verde!" article, Lena and I attended a Spanish chapel service. One of the songs was lovely and we had the following conversation:

Bill: That was a lovely song, but I had a hard time figuring out what it was about.

Lena: It was lovely. I think I got the translation.

Bill: Really? What were we singing?

Lena: "Without you, Lord, I would be like a boiled Parrot lying dead on the street."

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Es Verde!

After one month in Costa Rica, I'm trying hard to win the award for using the smallest vocabulary with the greatest gusto. Everyday, I find that I've been saying something completely wrong. Originally, the cab drivers just smiled and nodded when I made incomrehendable sounds that I thought were words. Now, the cab drivers are starting to correct me. Often, two words sound so similar, it's hard to keep them straight. For example, the word for green (verde) is really close to the word for true (verdad). When you want to say, "That's right!" in Spanish, one way is to say "Es verdad!"... unless you're me. I've made the mistake of saying "Es verde!" on a few occasions. As such, I'm turning it into a trademark. The secret is to say it with a big smile, a lot of gusto and holding one thumb up. If you're in complete agreement, then let everyone know it by saying, "It's green!"

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Cuisine in Costa Rica

We love life in our temporary home in Costa Rica. We're fulfilling God's calling with some of the most dedicated people we've ever met. Consequently, we feel honored and blessed every day. That is not to say that we haven't had to adjust. There are some things you can't get down here, like our favorite breakfast cereals (e.g., Frosted Mini-Wheats). Another cereal we can't find is All-Bran Bran Buds (they're little balls of bran mixed with psilliam). I call them "tootee buds." I bought some basic bran cereal down here, so it's not like I’m all bound up. In fact, some of the products down here work in my favor. For example, we have all increased our consumption of beans by 100 fold over what we ate at home. Yesterday, Lena and I had fried eggs over beans and rice for breakfast. I would not be surprised to find frijoles (beans) flavored ice cream down here. (See the note below for the funny story behind this picture.)

Another high fiber food is oatmeal, which has the whole grain in the mix. It's like eating the shell left behind by a cicada--mixed with brown sugar and raisins. They don't sell brown sugar for baking, but they do sell it as a drink. The Ticos drink brown sugar melted in water or milk as a hot drink. So, I buy the drink mix and put it in our oatmeal. They put sugar with caramel in their baking. They love caramel down here and put the flavor in everything. It works for me.

They have really good potato chips down here. I love potato chips that have burnt edges and that's just they way they make them here. In the states, I rarely eat potato chips (preferring peanuts and pretzels). But, chips are popular here, so it’s my form of cultural adaptation. We left some chips out over night and were able to catch this small family of bears sampling them.

Funny story about the beans and rice picture, above: In deciding to write about beans and rice (which is called Gallo Pinto), I thought a picture would help everyone have a better idea of what we are eating. So, I did a search on Google images. The picture, above, came up. When I looked at it, I got a funny feeling, noticing that whoever took the picture had the same table cloth, dishes and cups as we do. (Note the blue table cloth in the potato chip picture.) I clicked on the picture to see it's source and burst out laughing. It is from the blog of my friends Dave & Kelly Godzwa. They're missionaries to Mexico and lived in our apartment last year. Here's a link to Dave's blog, which contains a description of the Costa Rican sausage and traditional coffee brewing method that completed their Tico breakfast.

Tarea is Spanish for Homework

Our school day is both short and long. We’re up by 6:00 AM. Hannah and Colton catch the bus at 7:00 AM. Lena drops Willy and Abi off at the daycare (called the Kinder) at 7:30. We start school at 7:45 AM. We begin with a short chapel service of worship, Bible Study or prayer. Then we’re in class until 12:15. It is roughly an hour of Spanish grammar, an hour of Spanish diction and two hours of guided conversation. Then we have as much as 8 hours of homework due the next day! Obviously, we don’t have that much homework every night and the amount of time that homework takes is dependent on the student. Lena knows a lot more Spanish than I do, so she finishes her homework before I do, in about 5-6 hours. There are a couple days per week when I’m doing homework until 12:00 or 1:00 AM, then I do more from 7:00-7:40 the next morning. It won’t be like this for the whole time we’re here. It’s tough now because we have so much to learn. The good news it that it is for the Lord! So, it’s like a form of devotions. Every Spanish word we learn is a gift to the Lord and a tool for speaking prophetic words to the lost. God has sent us out like surgeons to heal the wounded in the Spanish speaking world and in Costa Rica we are sharpening our scalpels. Nobody wants to be operated on with a butter knife. I say this with tears in my eyes: I thank the Lord for giving us the call and this opportunity to sharpen the tools. Every hour spent in class and on homework is our gift of love to the Lord and His gift of love to us.
You can see more pictures of us in School at

Contact us in Costa Rica

Calling from the states is easy & cheap. We have two phone numbers—one for Cincinnati and one for Cleveland/Akron. So, from those cities it’s a local call. The numbers are:

Cincy: 513-407-5412

Cleveland/Akron: 330-294-0955

The best time is whenever the web is up. It goes down a lot in our apartment. The good news is that if you leave a voice mail, we'll get it. We're in the central time zone, an hour behind Ohio. We're out of school in the late afternoon. We're home on most evenings.
Mail in Costa Rica is reliable. Our mailing address is:
Bill & Lena Shrader
Apartado 614-2010
San Jose, Costa Rica