Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Beginning of the End

Yesterday marked only 130 days left for me in Costa Rica. Dude, that's a lot, right? I know. I'm not counting or anything...well, I kinda did, but only out of curiosity. One of the girls who is coming down to take my place in the house, Shannon, has a facebook count going. She's at like 58 days or something. She keeps putting the date on facebook. So I decided to count my days, too. I have 130 days left. I'm trying not to think about it. But it seems to be a topic of conversation as teams come down. Every one keeps asking me if I'm going to miss Costa Rica. If I'm ready to go home. What I'm going to do when I go home. Am I going to be sad to leave. Etc. Etc. Blah blah blah. So this blog is dedicated to answering those questions.

Things I've gotten used that don't typically even cross my mind unless blogging about them or people on teams comment on them:
~Washing dishes in cold water.
~Line dried underwear.
~Scratchy toilet paper that you throw into the trash basket next to the toilet.
~Sleeping in a twin bed in the fetal position because my feet hang over the edge.
~Walking up and down the hills of Anonos.
~Thinking, speaking, and some times dreaming in two languages and needing to go back and forth between them exceptionally quickly.
~Children who walk to attend activities, princess club, classes, the internet cafe, or even church, ALONE, or some times with multiple siblings, from as far away as the other side of the community.
~Having a plan and having it change. Last minute. If you're not flexible you'll break. 
~Planning games nights, hang-out times, worship nights, trips to downtown, and meetings via text an hour before the event...and having a ton of people show up.
~Effective, prompt, communication via text. 

Things that I still haven't gotten used to, but don't bother me quite as much now as they did when I first got here.
~Having people tell me they will come to an activity and then having them either 1. Not show up at all. 2. Show up 30 minutes late. 3. Show up with 15 extra relatives who were not originally planned for.
~People that call their live-in boyfriend or girlfriend their "husband" or "wife" even though they are not married.
~Ridiculously large spiders, cockroaches, scorpions, and snakes.  
~People coming to events only for the food, fill their plate and eat, fill their plate a second time and then cover with their napkin to take it home...they usually end up taking more home than they ate...and then they ask for the left overs for their family members. I totally get it. It makes sense. It was just a bit odd how they do it at the beginning.
~People staring at me because of my height. I can pretty much ignore it now.

Things that will always bother me no matter who long I live here:
~Giving infants as young as 3 days old coffee in their bottles. And then give them fish head soup at 15 days old. Don't even get me started on pediatric nutrition!!! Part of it is a lack of resources, part of it is lack of education, and part of it is cultural norms and values.
~Adult nutrition for that matter. They believe bananas are fattening, water makes you bloated, and coffee with a minimum of 4 tablespoons of sugar is perfectly acceptable for an entire meal.
~Children playing in the streets, in poor living conditions, and frequently without daily necessities. 

~Parents that allow their children to bold face lie or steal even when they're caught red handed.
~People coming to events only for the food or the activity because they claim they are part of the church even when they have never attended a service. Why are you lying about coming to church?!? AUGH!!!
~Drunk men trying to hit on my. Seriously? Haven't I shot you down enough in two years? Come on. 
~Seeing people who are capable walk by others in need.

Things I will miss about Costa Rica:
~Rodney and Cindy. And David. And Kevin. And Pipo. Okay, and the dudes. And Verania and the kids. Seidy. Adriana. My women's group. The kids in the Tajo. The kids in the Mangos. The kids in the Rotunda. 
~The Princess Club...although I am planning on starting one when I come home!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
~The egg man coming by at 6 in the morning. We just don't have those in the states!! (All y'all who have been down here on trips know EXACTLY what I'm talking about)
~Going out into the community and seeing people outside in the streets. Visiting people at all hours of the day. Always being welcome to visit. Always seeing a million kids in the street who call my name (even when I some times have never seen them before...how does that happen???!!!)
~The cute little geckos and frogs. The chirpy birds. The goat in the backyard that bleats while I'm hanging my wash up. 
~The smell of the rainy season. 
~COFFEE!!! No joke, man, I'm contemplating donating all my clothes to the store and bringing back 50 pounds of coffee instead. Seriously. No joke. How many suitcases can I bring back? When is the Grand Rapids team coming? How much of my stuff can I send back with them so I can load up on coffee? For real.
~Sun tan in December. And January. Oh, and did I mention February, too? Woot woot!!
~Having an open air church with the best view EVER!! 
~Having teams come!! Meeting new people. Having new adventures. Learning new trades and skills. Seeing them interact with a new culture. Seeing them fall in love with the people and the language, just like me!
~Being able to plan events spur of the moment and people are available...because they don't have cars and are mostly always around the community!
~Speaking in Spanish every day!!! I really do love it.

Things I will not miss about Costa Rica:
~Dogs barking in the street at all hours of the night.
~Trash in the streets. Trash in the gutters. Trash in the river. Trash on the side walks. Too much trash!! 
~Being asked at least 3 times a week if I can build someone a house, fix their roof, move them out of the community, buy them land, find them work, or do some kind of major renovation. I hate saying no. I feel so bad not being able to give a better home for these beautiful people. The compassion and reality centers of my brain are at war with each other constantly. They are in negotiations for what they can do for who as to what resources we have at the time. It makes my heart heavy and my brain hurt.
~Non-commitment...Like when people show up for practice and then not show up for the event. Or they tell you they will come and bring something specific that you need and then never show up or text that they won't be coming. Yes it happens at home, too, but it happens VERY FREQUENTLY here...Like on a daily basis. Ouch.

In conclusion, when the chips are down, yes, I am going to be exceptionally sad to leave Costa Rica. I cried for four hours when I bought my plane ticket home. It has been my home for two years. I have friendships here. So many stories. So many memories. I've seen babies born and kids learn to walk and talk. The community has grown and changed just as much as I have during my time here. On the flip side, I will be ready to go home, too. I miss my family, my friends, my church, and even my career. It will be a hard transition, but it will be at the right time. And yes, I do plan on visiting Costa Rica again. There is a huge chunk of my heart that has an indelible mark on it for this place. 


  1. Thanks for sharing this! I've experienced much of what you've described as a "short-termer" - certainly not to the extent/frequency! :) I have the deepest place in my heart for this country, people... Praying for you as your transition begins to unfold. Strength, wisdom, peace, joy in the process. ...an understanding like never before of the Father's love for you, plans for you and delight in you. Sorry we never met although I think through mutual friends and even complete strangers I have had a bit of a portal. :) Cuidate mucho amiga y muchas bendiciones a usted. -terri

  2. This was a great read, Julie! Thank you for sharing an insider's view of your community. I'm so thankful that you will be around for the first bit of Shannon's time at Harvest Hands because I know she'll learn much from your experience.

    I'll be praying for you as you prepare to transition back to stateside life. I imagine your family will be so very joyful to have you home!

  3. Love love love this Jules♥ I was giggling, rolling my eyes, tearing up, giggling, sighing, preaching a bit - you have certainly captured Anonos here. I love seeing the kids grow up - event he dudes, what little babies they were and what grown men they are becoming. I love love LOVE the roosters that squawk the.entire.sermon! Love the outdoor church- of course, a little impractical in the midwest but it is sooo special to be surrounded by the community. I always imagine God is sneaking into homes and hearts when people least expect it! Love you, love this community, love seeing God at work - swoooon. I will miss you being there - as will this community - but what a gift you gave this community. Two years of Pure Julie. Sigh... They are blessed!

  4. Though I was only there for a week, somehow I get what you're saying...heck, initially, I only wanted to come home to pack up my family and go right back. Angie understands, she's been there 3 times, lol.

    Blessings to you Julie! :)