"…we went through fire and water, but you brought us to a place of abundance"
One day I will sit and write about my journey to get to Costa Rica, how it started over a year ago, and how it has brought me to the point I am at now. The short version is...that the Lord has brought me to a place of abundance. For me, it was Costa Rica. The Lord brought me here. The Lord has kept me safe here, has loved me and carried me through this entire experience. He has shown me what the John 10:10 life is about. Thank you, Lord, for all of it. The people, the friendships, the food, the experiences, the time of rest and relaxation, of trials and endurance, of growth and change. Never let me forget, Lord, all that you have done for me here.
Thursday, December 10, 2009
"…we went through fire and water, but you brought us to a place of abundance"
Posted by Tonya at 11:43 PM
Wow. It's 1:20 am. I have to wake up at 3:30 to wait to be picked up to go to the airport. My flight leaves at 7:40 am from San Jose, on to Houston, then on to GSP.
I can't believe this is the end. This has been without a doubt the MOST INCREDIBLE experience of my life. It feels like it has been too short, that it isn't right that it is over. I have been emotional for the last 2 weeks, and the past several days have been tough, not only with the stress of exams and packing, but also with the sadness that comes with telling all of my new friends goodbye.
I have made so many new friends with the other students in the program. I can't believe how lucky our group was. We ALL got along SO WELL. I loved every single person in our group. Each person was incredible and unique and such a pleasure to be with. It's crazy how well we all got along.
I also am so blessed to have made so many tico friends. Without them, who knows how much worse my spanish would be? I am overwhelmed by the kindness and compassion the people of Costa Rica have shown me. I will never forget the image of when my tico friends dropped me off just now...we were all piled in the car, me in the backseat after SC had left, and when they let me out, they all opened their doors and came out to me to hug me. We all embraced for so long, and cried, of course. These people really are my friends, people I care about and love, and pray to God that I will see again.
My family...wow. What patience and kindness. To open your home up to a total stranger and let her have free reign over everything. Could you do that? My host sister has become like a real sister to me. Saying goodbye to her will be so difficult tomorrow morning. She asked me to wake her up, even though it will be 4 am, to say goodbye.
I am feeling and have been feeling for the last week or so the craziest mix of emotions, and the closer I get to getting on that plane tomorrow, the more intense they become. 6 hours ago I was eager to get home, and after saying goodbye, I just want to stay.
MIF invited me, MSG, and MV to his house to eat dinner with his family. His host mother who is just precious cooked dinner for us - chips and beans, delicious ensalada, and arroz con camarones. She was so kind to us and I always love seeing her and hugging her. After I got home, my abuelita stopped by to give me a present. She gave me coffee! More! After I already have 5 bags to bring. AHH! I am so touched that she thought of me and did that for me.
Costa Rica has touched me in a way that nothing or no one ever has. Perhaps it will take me several years to realize and see the changes which have taken place inside me. I just know that I am not the girl I was when I arrived. I have been touched by the people here, by the beauty of this tiny country, by the city of San Ramon. This experience has passed so quickly that I feel like it is just a dream, like it all passed in only a few short days, as if it has only been a couple of weeks since I left South Carolina to come here.
I am nervous about the transition from Costa Rica to home. My life here has been incredible, and it is very hard to say goodbye to it. I know that I must, though, and that if the Lord sees fit, he will bring me back to this paradise I have found.
Siempre en mi corazon, Costa Rica.
Wednesday, December 9, 2009
I am officially FINISHED! I have completed all 5,000 projects, tests, papers, and presentations successfully here in Costa Rica. I already know 4 of my grades - all A's so far. Keep your fingers crossed that we are 6/6!
I have just been an emotional basketcase the last couple of days. Actually since Friday. Actually since 2 weeks ago. I have cried a lot already, and know that more tears are probably on the way. I have had to say goodbye to so many people - KL (the only one in the group who has already gone), my neighbor tico friend who I will miss very much, my professors at school, the people at the hospital I worked at, and tomorrow, to my other tico friends, Claudia, some of the other group members, and my host family. Pray that I will handle this well and not be a blubbery mess!
I can't believe that I have been able to meet all of the people I have and make all of these great relationships. Who would have thunk it? The Lord has blessed me IMMEASURABLY MORE than I could have EVER EVER EVER EVER imagined in so many ways on this trip.
I'm not done blogging here yet. I have some more posts I want to do. I probably won't get back to it until I get home. I leave Friday morning - out of my house at 4 am and out of Costa Rica at 7 am.
What a ride it has been. PURA VIDA!
Posted by Tonya at 7:42 PM
Monday, December 7, 2009
Posted by Tonya at 10:28 PM
Sunday, December 6, 2009
Check out this post, a coastal christmas, on pink cupcake's blog:
These pictures are so lovely!
Friday, December 4, 2009
My lack of posting probably explains my current circumstances. As the end of the semester and my time in Costa Rica approaches, available time seems to be disappearing to do all the things I want and need to do. Actually it seems that ever since I got back from fall break in Panama the work has just piled on, because I have not been able to post as often. Anyway, I wanted to catch up a bit on Wednesday-Friday of this week as best I can.
Wednesday was a busy work day. I had class at 8, and we spent about an hour with the final bit of material for the class, and spent another chunk of time just talking about our Thanksgiving breaks, Obama's declaration to send more troops overseas, the age of grandparents here, and our future plans. Carlos, tico of age 54, told us that he has 2 grandkids, the oldest being 8. EIGHT years old! Isn't that crazy? My real daddy is 54, and he DEFINITELY has no grandchildren, and will not have any for 4-5 years bare minimum. After class I stayed at school till lunch time to work on my project for the next day. I then went home to have lunch and spent the whole afternoon at school working on my project and essay due for Spanish the next day and studying for my exam for my literature final the next day as well. I stayed at school until 6 until our society and environment class had to go to Claudia's apartment for our presentations of these questionnaires we have been working on. We had delicious burritos there and banana splits for dessert. The food was great. Then we each presented our data and went our separate ways. I went home to continue working, and KL came with me to hang out for a while. We chilled for a bit then she went home, and I stayed up to continue working and studying. I finally made it to bed after 12:30 but was unable to go to sleep, thinking about having to say goodbye to everyone and having to leave Costa Rica.
Thursday I had my literature final at 8 am. It wasn't too bad, but I just wish I had had more time to study and prepare for it. Afterwards I went to the USAC office to finish my project and essay due at 1. I went home for lunch around 12, then returned to school to class. We each presented our projects (mine was on Semana Santa in CR) about tica traditions and then spent some time talking about our experiences in CR - likes, dislikes, regrets, etc. I am definitely going to miss my 'tia teacher'! Afterwards I went home to change and get ready for my dance exam! Ivan took us to Puntarenas last night to a place on the beach for our final exam. We danced the night away with the other students from Puntarenas. I salsa-ed, meringued, bachata-ed for hours! It was one of the greatest nights of the whole trip for me. I danced with a very talented tico who just spun me around EVERYWHERE. It was amazing. I sweated a lot though. Puntarenas is hot and SO humid and we all were just dripping sweat. Todavia it was a blast! We left just before 1 to head back to San Ramon and got back around 2. I went to bed after peeling my dress off and putting on some dry pajamas!
Friday I slept in without an alarm until 9:30 and it was lovely! I think you sleep and wake up better when you don't have an alarm. Anyway I showered and spent the morning relaxing and doing some stuff online. I had lunch with my hermanos, and then I went to KL's house to hang out. She, her brother and I spent the afternoon together around town. We had to go renew his license first. Then we went looking for some random things she needed for Honduras. She leaves tomorrow morning at 5 am to go to San Jose to then go on to Honduras where she will work with doctors there for 2 weeks before heading to Peru to spend Christmas there with a friend. It was fun to spend time with her! I stayed there until dark time and then went home to change. MIF and I then walked to meet everyone for pizza at a spot nearby, and we carried the pizza back to KL's house to eat it. It was delicious! Almost everyone in the group was there except for DB, AK, DL, TC and JW. We then went to the movie store and rented Four Christmases. I saw it last Christmas with my friend Bailey and laughed the whole time. We all watched it together and then just spent time hanging out and talking. Some people left around 11, but some of us stayed until just after 12. Saying goodbye for good to KL was hard. We both cried and it was difficult to walk away.
Coming in to this trip I was afraid that I would not make close friends with anyone or have anyone to share my faith with. How silly of me to underestimate the Lord! Everyone in the group has been incredible and awesome, but KL has just been the one person I can always talk to about my struggles, joys, disappointments, mess-ups, and spiritual things. I am so thankful that the Lord brought her into my life, and I feel like I have been changed because of her. She challenges me to think harder, look deeper, and just enjoy everything going on around me. I have never laughed so much in my life as I have on this trip, and I think I owe a lot of that to her!
I dread saying goodbye to my family and tico and gringo friends. I love it here, and my Costa Rican life has just become so normal for me that it is hard to think about what my other life will be like sometimes. I am just a basketcase of emotions right now and don't know how to handle this at all.
Posted by Tonya at 10:49 PM
Tuesday, December 1, 2009
We went to Cafe de Altura, coffee enterprise that provides coffee to distributors all over the world, based here in San Ramon! We got a tour of the whole place. No coffee though! After that we stopped at a panaderia and Claudia bought us pan y donuts, and we bought coffee. Then we went to Los Angeles to souvenir shop for a bit. Afterwards I returned home to my chante for lunch with the familia. We then all piled in the car together to take my sister to school to get her test scores on her final exams. She did VERY well! She is muy inteligente! Then we drove up into the mountains because my mom wanted to take me to see if I could see the Pacific Ocean and over the city. Unfortunately it was too crowded so we went home. I went to the U to do some homework. I stayed there for a while, then headed back home to continue doing work and such. I went to KL's to watch a movie. Her brother and I went to the mercado to comprar palomitas, and then when we returned we started the movie. Desafortunadamenta, era en espanol, pero they talked way too fast, and the remote was lost so we weren't able to put on subtitles. We settled for some weird movie on TNT instead, but I fell asleep. I then went home and did some work, and went to bed rather late.
Woke up and got ready. KA and I walked around town to take pictures of the city. We went by the fire station because her dad is a firefighter and she wanted to ask for a patch to take home to him. They invited us in the station and gave her a shirt and told her to come back Thursday to get a patch! They were SO kind! And they gave contact info to give to her padre. I was overwhelmed with how kind and welcoming they were to us.
We then went back to my house, she checked her e-mail, and I did some work. I then went to school to print some stuff and came back to my house to eat lunch. I went back to school for class. It was kind of stressful for me today. Then I walked to my professor's house for class at 4. Today we had to make final presentations on a topic of our choice. I chose dances of Latin America. She and I made empanadas of some sort (she taught me how and let me do it!) and it was so fun! We ate them after the presentations, along with some Peruvian sweet thing (she is from Peru originally) and coffee. Her house was so cute and quaint. It is clean and well decorated. And she is just precious. Afterwards I went home and Skyped with friends for a while and got some work done.
Lot of work and studying ahead these next few days. Pray! Sorry this post is kind of sloppy and rambly, and Spanglishy. I'm exhausted and hopefully can add some better details later. I will give Nicaragua updates soon, probably this weekend when I have some more time.
Posted by Tonya at 9:43 PM