Sunday, January 30, 2011

Looking for Love

Name: Julie (but you can call me Jules!!)
Age: 27
Height: 5'13''
Body shape: I'm in shape. I'm not sure what shape that would be, but it's a shape
Do you smoke? Only when I'm on fire.
Educational level: smarty pants
Current career: full-time missions

Do you have any pets? Just a couple of Costa Rican monkeys.
Do you have any children? Only if you count the 35 kids that tend to flock me and yell my name every 5 seconds in the community.
Do you want children? YES!!!!!! I think you just wasted a question.

What is your idea of a romantic date? I like long walks on the beach, drinking coffee in a quiet cafe, and dancing in the moonlight where everybody is feeling warm and bright.

What is the first thing people notice about you? My height. Yes I am tall. Do I play basketball? Well, you're short, does that mean you play mini golf?

How do your friends describe you? Rodney told me I must think it's Christmas morning every morning because I always wake up so stinkin' happy. Sometimes being a morning person drives Tiny insane. She tells me I shouldn't be allowed to be that happy until at least 9 am. Cindy just laughs. Elidey thinks I'm a bit crazy, but she tends to join in on the humor. Most people describe me as sassy and jubilant. The ticos just yell, "Gringa loca! Hey, honey! Hello, my princess!!"

Do you believe in love at first sight? I definitely believe in that first sparkle. I think real love matures and develops over time, but there should definitely be sparkle.

If you could live any where in the world, where would you live? Funny you should ask that. Feel free to catch up on that answer at

What do you like to do in your spare time? Sleep. Just kidding. I love playing piano, reading books, drawing, and hanging out with the gang. Usually during the day you can find me playing with said 35 children who all seem to only know one word, "Julie". In the evenings I love being involved in the small groups that happen around the community. On my hammock days I like visiting with friends, drinking large cups of coffee, blogging, and taking ridiculous pictures of friends.

What are you looking for in a man? The most important quality in any man is that he is fully in love with the Lord. I am looking for a man of integrity who is in a committed relationship with Christ. Perks include that he loves living life, has a great sense of humor (he would have to in order to get along with mine :), takes risks, is adventurous, and sees the good in people. Tall, dark, and handsome is also a plus. Helps if not intimidated by being shown daddy's shotgun collection (for reals, he's old school.) Must be willing to move tupperware.

God is doing AMAZING stuff in Costa Rica!!!

The greatest gift!
This is reposted with permission from Natalia Santana on Friday, January 28, 2011 at 1:06am. It is an amazing testimony of what God is doing in Costa Rica.
(I know is long but i really want you to read this) (Yo se que esta larguisimo pero porfa leanlo) :)

So… let’s see where to start…
Like 4 or almost 5 months ago, I was told I had Cervical Cancer that was in my uterus, since that day a journey began, I couldn’t stop thinking about it, all day and night, thinking what was gonna happen now, if I was gonna be able to get out of this one, or even thinking if I was gonna die, oh well, time went by, and pretty much every month I had to take exams painful ones and always getting the same news… ‘Yes you have cancer’.
Mad at God, but not at the same time, not because, who am I to be mad at him?, thankful too, because the cancer was in its first stage, supposedly I just had to get 3 surgeries and then if everything work out good, I was gonna get better, still, I was thinking 3 surgeries, man that’s painful… and what if I don’t get better after this, what if it doesn’t work, and what am I gonna do with school and church and all the things I have to do all the time.
Once again I was asking, God what is your plan? What do you want from me? I'm not a bad person, I mean I’m not the greatest that’s for sure but I’m not bad…
So just when I was mentally prepare to have my first surgery and I was gonna get in December guess what… the doctor disappear all of the sudden and went to have long vacations in the states. He came back 3 weeks ago (finally), and a soon as he came back, I had surgery, and the same day I had surgery they took a peace of my uterus and send it to the lab, just to see how good or bad the cancer was doing, that same day he didn’t say anything good, he saw it and he told me,that it didn’t look good. Anyways…
Today it has been 3 awful weeks after surgery, not been able to move, or do anything, not even to go to church, or hanging out with my friends, nothing, just at home by my self thinking how bad things were…
A few days ago I got a phone call… It was the doctor… I remember thinking, oh great now what…
So he ask me how I was doing, and how I was feeling! (Awful of course) - Good, good Doctor everything is great- (yeah right)… he ask me if I could talk for 5 minutes, I remember I started shaking, so scared, and nervous… waiting…
Well he said… we got the new results… we could NOT find anything… what? I said...
What do you mean you couldn’t find anything, yes we couldn’t, and let me tell you… this is so weird, (silent from both of us). And then he ask me: do you believe in God? Yes of course I said, I believe in God and I believe he was the one who made something here…
Well he said… maybe your faith helped you…
But of course I said.
Doctor: Don’t get too excited, because this is not usual, so we need to make more tests.
Me: Right, let’s do it.
So I got more test done a few days ago.
I got the newest results today.
I have NOTHING!! There’s nothing wrong with me! I'm complete fine. Again they couldn’t find anything… (And remember how many times I got tested before).
If you are reading this is because I wanted to shared the miracle that God has done in my life, sometimes I heard this ‘testimonies from people getting healed’ and I remember thinking yeah, yeah God is good, he makes miracles, but, I guess that happens only to holy people or something. But let me remind you, it happened to me, and at first none of this made sense to me... having cancer, feeling sick, not sharing this with anyone because I didn’t want anyone to think that I was sick.
I was so confuse, and thinking now what, felt sad, lonely and mad.
Yesterday I heard someone talking about how God told Abraham to kill his own son, his only son, when God promise him in Genesis 12:2-3

“I will make you into a great nation,  
   and I will bless you;
I will make your name great,
   and you will be a blessing.
 I will bless those who bless you,
   and whoever curses you I will curse;
and all peoples on earth
  will be blessed through you.”

And then after telling him that we was going to have all that, he send him to sacrifice his own son. And he let him go all the way through, preparing the altar, and having a knife to kill him, but then right before he was gonna kill his own son (by obedience), God send an angel to stop him and to tell him, not to do it and that he had prove how much Abraham trusted God.

Sometimes we don’t understand why we go all the way through hard things in life, but there’s is a reason for it. And allow us to believe in him, no matter what.
I believe I am a stronger person now, and that everything happens for a reason.
Just keep walking by faith…

So thank you all who have been part of this process with me (even if you didn’t knew what was really happening), and praying for me at some point, this is just another way for God to prove us how great he is, and that he can actually make miracles. He did it with me!

And if you didn’t even had a clue that this was happening with me again, I wanted you to read this because at sometime, somewhere, I have learned from you, and what I learned from you, helped me in so many ways to get through this one, and to be strong, believe it or not.

I love you guys, and you are a big part of my life.

P.S. Si no ud esta leyendo esto y no es gringo o su primer idioma no es el ingles, perdón haha decidí hacerlo en ingles porq se que todos uds hablan ingles y no todos hablan español! :)


Friday, January 28, 2011

What do I do now?

One of the ways God has been stretching me while I've been in Costa Rica is working with the kids here in the community. But, you say, didn't you work in pediatrics in the states? Yes...on a one-on-one my own language. Here it is typically for Christina and I to have 8 to 25 children in the house at one time, all yelling in Spanish....but mostly yelling "Julie! Julie! Julie!" When we first started our kids program, we wrote out very specific, very simple rules that hung on the wall and we would go over them each day:

1. No hitting, yelling, or running in the house
2. Nice words only
3. No drawing on the tables
4. Doors should stay open except for the bathroom door
5. No climbing on the outside fence
6. I am not your mother, pick up your own messes

Christina and I thought we had done really well with these rules. We even had a system of enforcement. Since all the kids know about soccer, we decided that if you broke the rules once, you got a yellow card (just like in soccer), which was your warning, and if you broke the rules a second time, you got a red card and had to leave the Casa Nueva for the day and couldn't come back until the next day. When the kids would misbehave, we would tell them what color card they got and if they got a red card, I would walk the child to the door, tell them why they had to leave, explain that we loved having them there, but they had to follow the rules. This worked well for the first week. Week two, enter Yuron.

(This is Yuron showing Veronia's baby, Genesis, how to make bracelets.
He asked me if I would make some for him.
I asked why. He told me he wanted me to make a bunch of them
so he could sell them for money.
I told him I would SHOW him how to make them, but he had to make them if he wanted
to sell them. He told me that wasn't as much fun.)

My favorite 6-year-old hand-full. Yuron's favorite thing to do is climb. I swear he is part monkey. For a week straight he ended up getting a red card for climbing the fence around the house and would be escorted to the door. Usually he ended up pouting on the other side of the fence. But the next day he would be back, happy as ever to be there. And without fail, despite reitterating the rule that there is NO climbing on the walls, he would receive both the yellow and red cards for disobeying. Then one day I decided the rules just were not working for Yuron. He wasn't understanding, as most kids his age don't, the word NO. So I changed my tactics. I pulled him aside right away and told him everything he COULD do in the front yard. He could dance. He could run. He could skip, hop, roll over, walk backwards, act like a puppy, run in circles, color with chalk, etc. etc. And finally something clicked. He managed to go the whole day without a colored card. The next day, after a full class, he came up to me and asked what color card he got. He hadn't gotten any!! I was soooo proud of him! And you know what? It's been 5 weeks and still no cards.

I think God did this for us, too. So many times we focus on the Thou Shalt Nots that we forget the You Mays. I have been thinking a lot about that lately....the things God tells us No to and the things that God tells us Yes to. How we should conduct ourselves and how we as children of God should behave. We have freedom to dance! To laugh! To run! To play! We have the freedom to worship and sing, to be ourselves, to live creative lives. We have the ability to discover who God has designed us to be and thrive in it!

I think Paul writes a great list of things we can do as Christ-lovers in 1 Thessalonians 5:
Christian Conduct
 12But we request of you, brethren, that you appreciate those who diligently labor among you,
and have charge over you in the Lord and give you instruction,
13and that you esteem them very highly in love because of their work.
Live in peace with one another.
14We urge you, brethren, admonish the unruly,
encourage the fainthearted,
help the weak,
be patient with everyone. 
15See that no one repays another with evil for evil,
but always seek after that which is good for one another and for all people. 
16Rejoice always; 17pray without ceasing; 
18in everything give thanks; for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus.
 19Do not quench the Spirit;
20do not despise prophetic utterances.
21But examine everything carefully; hold fast to that which is good;
22abstain from every form of evil.
23Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you entirely; and may your spirit and soul and body be preserved complete, without blame at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.
 24Faithful is He who calls you, and He also will bring it to pass.
25Brethren, pray for us.
26Greet all the brethren with a holy kiss. 
27I adjure you by the Lord to have this letter read to all the brethren.
28The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

House update

The guys constructed the walls of the yellow house in the backyard of the Casa Nueva.

The guys dug holes for the foundation.

We painted the walls yellow. They were taken to the house later.

Brett supervises to make sure Craig does it right.

Building yellow houses has always been a balancing act for Steve :)

The women left to work at a women's rehab center in Alejuelita and by the time we got back the guys already had the walls and the roof up!!!

The house is quickly
coming along.

First Quote of the Day

"Coffee should not be crunchy."
~Brian commenting on
the coffee flavored flakes
in the breakfast cereal.

Heavy Metal

This blog is taken, with permission :), thanks Brett, from the New Life blog. Enjoy!!!

Well, this post is from Brett today, not Brian. No reason other than Pastor Brian smells bad after a long day washing everyone's clothes....seriously.....and so I jokingly said, "I'll write it" and he said "Okay" and went off to the showers. So here we go.

We woke up in the morning to wonderful sounds of the man yelling, "Huevos, Huevos, Pinas y Pipas", and the wonderful smells of breakfast which happened to be orange whole wheat pancakes and an array of fresh mangoes and pineapple and coffee like you would not imagine which is drank morning, noon and night. After breakfast and a short discussion about the gospel, Pastor Brian tells us that it is laundry day and graciously volunteers to do the laundry for everyone. We all brought him our dirty smelly clothes and I even found some socks that I put outside to dry after they got wet the day before and they were so stiff that I could hold them sideways and they did not droop down. YUCK. So I handed them to Brian :)

As Brian, our mommy for the day, washed our clothes (have I mentioned that?), we got ready for the work of the day which involved children's ministry for some and and for others, putting the inside and outside walls on the house as well as the roofing. We were like ants coming in and out of Yogi Bear's picinic basket as we carried carefully formed yellow sections of wall and loading them on a truck and then unloading them on the work site while Carlos El Guapo Santana led the way. We got them fastened to the floor amidst the differing and almost arguing cries of 4 different men--imagine that ladies--telling each other what to do, "Yes the top is flush.....No! Bring it up a hair......Back some......Aye Aye Aye loco gringos......"

Then came the aforementioned "heavy metal" which is not slang for the type of music Mama Brian was listening to as he carefully added laundry detergent to our clothes. It started with Steve who is one of the workers here, who is a gringo himself and affectionately known to the locals as either "Shaggy" or "estiff". Steve saw me, Brett, standing around not doing much and he told me we were going to get the roofing. I knew it was sheet metal but I did not know we were going to tie 4 sheets of it together and carry it down the crazy, uneven, sometimes wet, half tiled, steps to get to the work site. He also so kindly told me that every time he works with the roofing he usually cuts himself and that he had seen someone nearly cut their hand off with it. So we carefully rolled up about 4 sheets (8'x3') at a time which weighed over a hundred pounds and went down the stairs. We had taken about 3 trips with the same type of bundle, when out of nowhere, there stood Mama Brian who had come out of the laundry room to help carry sheet metal. Could he? Should he? Would he? HE DID!!!!!!

So with sheet metal added to the roof....wait wait wait, there were no injuries from the sheet metal.....until I was done and sat on top of a pile of old ceramic roofing and one of them broke and took a small chunk out of the skin on my right calf. Its fine though.

The work for the day was done around 5 and as we do every day, we take off our shoes and a few of us sit in Harry's favorite leather Costa Rican rocking chairs until it is our turn in the shower.

So as the day winds down, some of us decide to go to a Bible study in a yellow house which had been built for someone in the community by Harvest Hands. The Bible study was led by Luis, who has been helping with the construction all week and considers himself to have been called by God to be an evangelist, which he is. We sat for 2 hours reading scripture and encouraging a few of the local people who were with us. Lisa translated EVERYTHING for 2 hours into English as Luis shared the gospel and other words from God to all of us in Spanish. It was amazing how God orchestrated others in the group to share Scripture as well as just sit and listen to the stories of God working in their lives.

One small highlight of the Bible study is when I sat down next to a little girl on the couch and she pointed at my shirt seemingly trying to see what the design was on it, so I showed her and made probably what looked to her like some crazy gringo motion with my arms as if to say, "I don't know what it is either." and then she laughed and pointed again, and it was A SPIDER on my shirt and I jumped up and wiped it off and then it ended up on the little girl and she wiped it off on to the floor and we didn't see it again. I hate spiders.....ask my wife at church.

Well, I hope that was not too much about me, but I really saw how God can use such a diverse group of people who all love him to get the work of sharing the gospel accomplished AND how he can use so many different people to build a house.

Even though there are times here when we smell the aromas of food being cooked all around the local city and there are times when we cross over a bridge and smell the horrific smells of a trash and sewer filled river flowing through that same town, we can know that the body of Christ which is made up of gringos from Ohio and ticos from Los Anonos is a fragrant aroma to God as we are following him and walking in love, together

Until tomorrow's blog....hasta luego

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Cindy Schmidt's Quote Wall

"We're gonna get passed by a man riding a donkey." ~Cindy Schmidt on riding in the truck up hill in Alejuelita

"You couldn't pay me to go to Mexico right now. You couldn't even pay me to fly over Mexico right now. If I won a free trip to Mexico, I would turn it down!" ~Cindy Schmidt

~Cindy Schmidt: "I like pretty much miniature anything."
~My response: "We'll that's pretty much my life. Thanks for bringing it up."

"My husband has probably google-earth'ed it. He takes divine pleausre in tracking me down." ~Cindy Schmidt on being able to see our house from the road.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

A picture is worth a thousand words

Today was a great day for pictures. And you know what they say, they're worth a thousand words.
So here are ten thousand words...

Monday, January 24, 2011

Building a house

Preparing to build a house!! Getting the supplies ready.

Getting all the tools needed.

Dona Carmen's old house...

She is 99-years-old. Eleven more months until the big 100!!

Yes, there was a toilet IN the kitchen. I guess it saved time.

After the demo of the old house. Preparing the foundation.

Building walls for the house in the back yard of the Casa Nueva
The guys mixed and carried up buckets of cement to pour the foundation. 

By the end of day two, a lot has been completed.

Quote of the day

"I just like to complain. It gives you something to remember me by."
~Cindy Schmidt while climbing up and down
the stairs in the Tahoe.
PS The stairs are REALLY uneven and unnatural.
They are difficult for even tall people
like me to get up and down.

My new friend, Cindy,
basking in the glorious light of Costa Rica
drinking cold pipa (coconut water).

Quotable Quotes

New Life Church from Columbus, Ohio is HERE!!! We have some really exciting work projects going on including building a house for a 99-year-young woman in the Tahoe and a kid's summer camp. (Yes, it may be winter in the states, but it's vacation time here). I have had the joy of meeting some amazing people, and it's still early in their trip. I will keep you posted and updated about the work projects.

As I said before, every team has it's own flavor and character. This team is DEFINITELY quotable! Here is just a sampling of their quotability!!

"I was just sitting there on that brick wall and an orchid fell on my head and I thought to myself, this is paradise!!" ~Cindy Schmidt
"But what does it mean?!?" ~Brian responding to the orchid falling on Cindy's head in response to a conversation about the double rainbow guy (You know who I'm talking about...)

"If you didn't have a Caboodle you were a nobody." ~Me on the early 90's.

"We have to blog about that: the Jehova's Witnesses came to check up on us today." ~Cindy Schmidt on the Jehova's Witnesses coming to the door during our planning meeting

"Lee a mi. Read to me. Hey, look at that! I read it in Spanish! I'll be fluent before we leave!" ~Cindy Schmidt reading the front of the Children's Bible

"You didn't tell me we were walking to Guatemala." ~Cindy Schmidt on our trip to the Mangoes.

"Hmmm...we're in Costa Rica watching American football through a British feed...So odd." ~Brett

"Julie, you missed it! I just said a quotable quote. But I'm NOT repeating it. You missed it." ~Cindy Schmidt
"I'm going to quote you saying that!" ~Me in response to missing Cindy's quote

....More quotable quotes to come as they come up!!

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Team Season Begins!!

As part of the Harvest Hands ministry, short-term missions teams come down from the United States to do various work projects. Teams partake in a variety of work projects including building houses, doing construction tasks, painting walls or murals, playing soccer in the plache (a soccer field down at the bottom of the hill by the river), playing with the kids, taking prayer walks, praying with people, teaching various trades and skills, etc. Each team is made up of unique people with their own gifts and talents and before they come we try to facilitate ways they can use those gifts to the fullest. I have been here almost four months now, and this is the first of the teams. I had the joy of working with my own home church from Grand Rapids. Here are the highlights:

Top row left to right: Jason, Zach F., Terri, Zach S.
Bottom row left to right: Julie, Matt, Abby, Jim, Larry

This is how Matt likes to pastor...Teach a skill and then stand back and make sure it's done right.
It's called "supervising".

The best way to make sure children are safe on the playground is to reinforce the swing set.
This swing set is now earthquake proof.

Abby learned that people are way more free with their kids here.
"They'll just give 'em to anyone!" she said.
These two kids are the youngest of 7. I think the mom just needed a break!!

Jim definitely took some leaps of faith this trip.

Zach learned the hard way what "caca" REALLY means.

It didn't make anyone feel any safer to know that this sign translated means,
"For you security, we are filming you."

I have discovered why everyone is so short...they start drinking coffee VERY young!!!
Elidey was our rose in the desert!!!

We did take time to learn to surf. Our instructors were phenomenal teachers and very patient with us gringos.
We invited them to a worship night on the beach later that night.

Zach and Abby held their own on the boards. They got really good by the end!!

For a time of ministry, we gave out hot dogs in the central plaza.
It was great except when Terri and Abby went missing.
We later found out they were wandering the streets yelling:
"Donde estan ninos? Ninos! Hoto dogos, no pesos!"
Which means, "Where are the children? Children! Hoto dogos, no pesos!"
(PS. Hoto dogos are not a real word and pesos are the currency of Mexico...)

Again, only in latin america can strange adults from another country come up to the children and pass out food and not have the parents be super suspicious. Would this work in the States?!?!?
We had some left over hot dogs so Christina reminded us all that this really is a dog eat dog world.

"I just found a hermit crab with it's hermit still in it!!" ~Abby

Of course Tito and Zach HAD to reinact the karate kid.

Jason lead worship on the beach.
It was a great time of enjoying God's presence surrounded by the ocean, sand, and really good people.

We worked with Jay, who owns a wonderful hotel that over looks the ocean. He had a sweet dog named Lobo, who kept us all company. Check out his website at: If you ever head to Costa Rica, check out this place. You won't be sorry!!

Of course all trips have to come to an end. Each team with it's own flavor. According to Rodney, the Grand Rapids guys also won for having the largest suitcases ever as guys. The girls even had smaller suitcases than them. Zach Straayer's response to this was, "Don't hate me 'cause I gotta bring beautiful with me. It takes up a lot of space."