When I was a teenager and even into college I had this rosie idea of what missions would look like. You know, the sorta hybrid Indiana Jones meets Florence Nightingale life where our days would be full of adventure, helping, seeing amazing things happen for the Kingdom of Heaven. Since we’ve been in Costa Rica, I think that has happened, ummm, once?
Most days this life feels a lot more mundane. Like all the frustrating parts of life are exaggerated. Nothing is straight forward or simple here. Take making ice for an example. In the States, my refrigerator made ice for me. Now, I have to fill the water filter, wait for it to filter. After an hour or so, I fill the ice trays and get them in the freezer, if there is enough room. Or paying for your car insurance. You can’t write checks here. Instead, you go to the bank, wait in line for an hour, give the bank teller the account number where you want to deposit money to pay for the car insurance, or any other fee. And then you pray that the system is working and the money can be transferred. Sometimes it is, and sometimes not.
Now, I will freely admit, some of these frustrations come from being a northern living here. For people from colder climates, we show respect and value for people by respecting their time. We don’t want to take up more time that is necessary, they have other things to do and the theory goes, that’s because it’s going to get cold and if they don’t get enough food and wood stored, enough warm clothes made and enough animals situated, they will die that winter, all because you talked to them too long at the bank. Warm culture folks show respect and value by taking time with someone. No conversation here starts right out with business. There is the “How is your family? How is the weather near you? What happened in such and such situation?” And then comes the business. There is plenty of time to plant crops, to harvests them, and since it’s so warm, clothing is minimal….well, you get the point.
We need you all to pray for the big things, the times when Noah is leading Bible Studies, when we have camps going on, you know, the exciting things in missions. But we very much need you to pray for our everyday, for things like
- Patience as we wait in lines for groceries, paying bills, getting visas renewed, going to the doctor
- Endurance to deal with the very long drawn out process of doing things here, like getting the official paperwork saying we can live here.
- For flexibility, as daily plans change, roads are closed, and things like electricity and water may or may not be working.
- For the daily stress of adapting to a new culture where we don’t know the nuances of a particular phrase and are always asking ourselves “are we being to American?”
- For the loneliness that comes from being in a foreign land.