Thursday, June 26, 2014

Costa Rica Update 1 – 6/26/14

            I’m writing this from the front seat of a van on a freeway about two hours outside of San Jose, Costa Rica. For many reading this, the exciting portion in that previous sentence may be “San Jose, Costa Rica”. For me, the most exciting word is “freeway”. Any time previously, my travel experiences in Costa Rica consisted mostly of slowly moving uphill, trapped behind a black-smoke belching box truck, mentally counting down my average life expectancy with every breath I took. This freeway is wonderful – smooth roads, adequate speeds, and room to get around the box trucks. In the immortal words of someone I can’t remember who occasionally speaks immortal words – “We’re totally sitting in butter.”
The New Costa Rican Freeway

            Praise the Lord we’re here! Thank you so much for your prayers over the months leading up to the trip, and especially over these last few days. Crazy things have happened leading up to our departure – good and bad. Team members getting hurt. People blessing us with huge amounts of soccer balls and unexpected financial donations. Itinerary plans blowing up. A Frontier employee who decided to overlook the oversize nature of one of our bags. God is so good!

            Airplane stories are typically pretty boring. However (he writes, confident that his airplane story will be the one exception to the rule), our flight was God’s first test of “Do you really want to be down here?”

            An 11:59pm flight will shake up your world, even if everything goes perfectly. When things get wonky, though, then they really get wonky. We were greatly anticipating getting on the plane, listening to where the emergency doors were located from which we would calmly exit the plane in the off chance it crashed into a mountain, then promptly falling asleep. That was our plan. It was a good plan…

            Then, onto the plane came the Siren. I call him the Siren, because the first time he opened his tiny mouth, the ear-piercing sound that came out of his sugar-encrusted lips had me looking for shelter in a basement – a feature Airbus neglected to include on our particular airplane. Seriously, this kid has a future with the Aurora Department of Public Safety sitting on top of a pole looking for cloud rotation.
Photo shot from my aisle seat

            Mike, Zac, and Joyce sat toward the front of the plane – out of the immediate blast zone, but certainly not out of earshot (word is that Nepalese yak herdsmen sleeping on the lower roots of the Himalayas, at the first auditory assault, quickly grabbed their spears and formed a defensive wedge against an impending Yeti attack). Karen, Nancy, Madeline, and I sat toward the rear. The Siren, quite unfortunately, sat (then jumped, bounced, rolled, flailed, and tangoed) with his mom in the seat directly in front of me.

            When he screamed into his mom’s human buffer (i.e., her shoulder), it was just this side of lethal. However, when his head popped over the seat (outsmarting nature’s sound wall), I became like that guy in the old Maxell advertisement – what little hair I have on my head blowing back into my seat, my martini glass (if I had a martini glass, which I didn’t since Frontier Airlines’ new a la carte fare structure charges you for everything except the air you breathe [and I hear as part of their go-green initiative they’re working on a fuel-saving plan to cut the available cabin oxygen by half {first-class passengers will be given the option of using the drop-down mask for a nominal premium]) flying off my end table.

            An hour into my audible nightmare, I finally got out my phone, slipped on my ear buds, and cranked the music to full. The first song that came on was Jeremy Camp singing “We Cry Out”. Seriously. Who said God doesn’t have a sense of humor? However, by the time I was halfway through the third song (the second song – Carlos Santana jamming to a cover of Riders on the Storm – having finally sent me to my happy place), I realized that the Siren had stopped sounding. It was amazing. I pulled out my buds, and immediately my ears started dancing a happy dance – right there on the side of my head – just dancing (I’m so thankful that the cabin lights were out – that could have been embarrassing).

For those of you dozing over my story:
Madeline and Pastor Jose's daughter, Sharon
            Blissfully, I put my ear buds back in, turned the volume down, and prepared for a wonderful four hours of sleep. Unfortunately, the travel gods were not smiling upon our plane. No more than two minutes later, Siren Two: the Revenge of the Siren (this time it’s personal) picked up the cloak that had floated from the shoulders of Siren One as he was being ushered into the Sandman’s glorious presence on a chariot of fire, and followed in his mentor’s footsteps.

            Siren Two was a lesser prophet – he had the volume, but lacked the ear-pierceosity. One small blessing. Thankfully, also, Siren Two was not in the row in front of me. Not quite so thankfully, Siren Two was in the row behind me. Yes, that’s right – I (and by extension, my family and Karen) was the warm bologna sandwiched between two slices of auditory misery. Occasionally, Siren Two would be passed to a second parent across the aisle, which actually made it worse (see sound wall comment above).

            Eventually, Siren Two ran out of power and remained silenced until the last fifteen minutes of our flight, when he decided to bless us with a parting gift. It is at the feet of this utter lack of sleep last night and what I believe to be a resulting case of temporary PTSD that I lay the blame for this extremely long “blog about nothing.”

Quick Bites:

The Tico/American Dream Team
1.     We were met at the airport by the INCRESE team. Amazing group of folk! We’ve been traveling with them since, and had a wonderful hillside breakfast with them of Gallo Pinto, huevos, and Costa Rican coffee (FYI, heaven’s barista is Costa Rican – it’s in the Bible Code or something). I can’t wait to spend the next two weeks with them.

2.     Even the Ticos (Costa Ricans) think guanabana juice is disgusting – tasty, but disgusting.

Shot from our breakfast stop out to the Pacific
33. Flexibility is always the first word in missions – rather than Mike and me doing the pastor training over two days (Monday/Tuesday) – we’re leading it in an all-day session this Saturday. So, please be praying for that.

4. Costa Rica is the most beautiful country in the world. There are worse places to suffer for Christ.


Thanks all for your prayers. We’re heading to the hotel for a cold shower and a long nap. Then we’ll get together for dinner at the church tonight with the local team. I’ll shoot you more tomorrow.

2 comments:

Sally Hopkins said...

So happy you arrived safely, although a bit deaf! Love the photos and look forward to many more.

Vicki said...

Love that you are sharing this with us!!