Monday, December 3, 2012

Seasons? Don't Remember Those

So last I left you was at the beginning of our National Convention.  It went well and everybody was happy to have it in the new Hogar Escuela building.  It was a lot of committee making and long talks by Bishop Monterroso.  He is a great speaker, but there is so much that I can understand in spanish before my brain is fried from translating.  But overall it was a successful day!

Gulf of Papagayo... ridiculous 
After a week of working in the office and having meetings and preparing for groups to come in January and February, it was time for me to vacay.  Well, my parents were missing their favorite child so much (sorry not sorry Kyle) that they had to come and visit me.  I hope it was for that reason and not just a chance to visit Costa Rica.  But anyways, they did not bring me Chick-fil-a.  We spent two nights in San José before heading out to the pacific to the Gulf of Papagayo.  Absolutely awesome! It was very nice to spend time with my parents and am very thankful to be able to have them here for Thanksgiving. But the weather made this Thanksgiving feel different.  Still getting used to it being pretty much the same weather year round.  We did not have any Thanksgiving food (which is my favorite meal of the year), we were able to take in the tradition of watching Turkey Day football.  And it was nice to see my Jets beat the Patriots (That is how I choose to remember it).  Anyways, after our time there we headed down to my second home in CR, Tamarindo.  My dad preached and celebrated at St. Paul's by the Sea.  Afterwards, we took Pedro and his family out to lunch and had great conversation.  The next day we headed back to SJO and relaxed until my parents had to leave the next morning.  I was sad to see them go, but will hopefully see them in January.

Out with the rents for some outdoor fun... careful dad!

So a few hours after they left, we had two people fly in from Montgomery, Alabama for an exploration trip.  Jeff and Holly, from the Church of the Ascension, are two great people.  They are very kind and very flexible.  The Bishop and myself showed them around SJO on Wednesday to visit both Hogar Escuelas and La Ascención (one of the Diocese missions).  Thursday we drove out to Limón on the caribbean coast to show them more churches and another school.  Two very long days called for a relaxing day in SJO on Friday and to be able to see CR outside of the Church.  Well, we did visit one more church in the morning (Todos Los Santos), but then we went to the National Museum and hit up the markets.  The day was a success and capped of with a fiesta at the Diocesan House for seminarian students throughout Central America who had been here for the week as part of their educational process.  Overall I think that Holly and Jeff had a great time seeing what it is the Episcopal Church of Costa Rica is about and who we are.  We are excited to see them again during the summer for a mission trip.
A little karaoke with some seminarians

Now I am back to work in the office continuing to get all the logistics ready for our mission groups coming in Jan. and Feb.  Mucho trabajo!

Pura Vida


Friday, November 9, 2012

Oh Hello There! Long Time No See!

I am back on! Forgive my leave of absence.  Let me just get straight to it and catch everyone up on what I have been up to this past month.

I really enjoyed my time in Tamarindo (I am now back in San José for good).  While in Tamarindo I was able to get to know some of the locals and to develop friendships that I hope to keep up with.  The people in Tamarindo are very kind and very inclusive.  My days were spent meeting with folks back in NC (via skype) and assisting Padre Pedro with St. Paul's by the Sea (more on St. Paul's later).  As a way to immerse myself in the culture I hit the beach most afternoons to play volleyball.  It was great on many different levels.  I was able to meet new people and practice my spanish (which is progressing).  It also allowed me to enjoy God's wonderful creation with some of the greatest scenery I have ever laid eyes on.  And most importantly it allowed me to be active and competitive which i was sorely missing!  

Now back to St. Paul's by the Sea.  I can't say enough how great it is to put a lot of effort into something and then see it bear fruit.  We have had services where we have had 18 and 20 people. Since it is in the low season in October in which everybody is NOT in Tamarindo, it was great to have those numbers at the services.  We were also able to hold Sunday School in which we had a good amount of kids attend.  St. Paul's still has a long ways to go and is still in the early stages of its development, but the progress thus far is incredible to see.  Padre Pedro also started a program called Kid's Cafe (There is one at St. Paul's Winston Salem, the sponsoring church) in which students from the local school come to the church every other Saturday and volunteers from St. Paul's BTS help them with a variety of things: grammar in spanish, learning english, mathematics, guitar, even just being there to talk.  Then there is always foodstuff and drinks.  I know that Padre Pedro and the parish of St. Paul's BTS will do great things in the community and I am looking forward to going back to visit.

To the now... Everybody at the Diocesan Office has been crazy busy this week.  We are all getting geared up for our annual national convention which starts later today and goes until Sunday.  I can say that I have never been a part of an episcopal convention let alone any convention at all, so I am excited to be able to take in the experience.  We will be holding it at the newly constructed Hogar Escuela in Heredia and everyone is looking forward to it.  My job for this convention is to learn and experience, which I am more than happy to do.

Other news...It was very interesting to experience a presidential election abroad.  Part of me was upset that I couldn't be at home in front of the TV with a map of the US coloring in states red or blue, but part of me was thrilled that I did not have to watch the gazillion campaign ads on the television prior to election night.  Also my thoughts and prayers go out to those who are still being affected by Sandy.  I was able to talk to my friends and family who are in the Tri-State area and to make sure that they are doing well, even though some are still without power!  To finish up with great news, for me at least, is that my parents will be coming to visit in 10 days and I am really excited to have them come down!  I just wish that they could bring me some Chick-fil-a!

Pura Vida


Thursday, October 4, 2012

I'm on Tico Time

It has been way too long since I last posted and I am very sorry for that.  I do have an excuse though.  I'm on Tico Time.  After having been in this country for almost two months now I am becoming very assimilated to the culture and one of the specs of culture that I have been forced to adopt is the concept of time that Costa Ricans (Ticos) are accustomed to.  Tico time consists of a go-with-the-flow get stuff done, eventually (quite the opposite back in the States).  It actually is quite nice, albeit frustrating at some points, but I learn to deal and adapt.

Enough excuses.  So as I am writing this blog post I am sitting at the kitchen table at the Diocesan Office back in San José.  That is right, I am no longer at the beach but back in the capital.  My life of luxury at the beach, as it seems, has come to an end.  So, getting along with what I have been up to these past few weeks.  On the weekend of September 22nd we opened St. Paul's by the Sea.  After a few years of planing and searching with the tremendous help and support of St. Paul's Winston Salem, Bishop Monterroso's priority of expanding the church (not just in numbers but in geographical location) had been made into reality.  St. Paul's by the Sea in Tamarindo is the first Episcopal mission in Costa Rica to reach the Pacific coast.  That Saturday night we celebrated the opening of the mission with a reception in which we had delicious BBQ and tasty baked goods provided by local businesses and friends.  We had a great turn out, about 70 people or so. Needless to say I was very pleased.  The next morning we had our first service in the new mission and it was fantastic! We had plenty of clergy there from both here in CR and from St. Paul's WS (thank you Rev. David Hodges and Rev. Mike Bradshaw) to help celebrate.  As it turned out we had 53 people attend our first service, although we had a large crowd from San José come to help celebrate this opening and also a group from St. Paul's WS who helped get everything ready the week before.  But I will take 53 any day! Side note: Last weeks service had 14, which is a very respectable number and we are looking forward to higher numbers in the months to come.  It was really amazing to see something that I, even though had been working on it for a month, poured myself into come out with success.

That monday I returned to San José with Liza and El Obispo for meetings we had planned for the next week.  Skipping ahead to yesterday... so it had finally come time for Liza to head back home to Virgina.  After spending the last 16 months putting so much effort into this position of service she should feel very satisfied with the work she has done for the Episcopal Church in Costa Rica.  She has been a tremendous asset to everyone here and we are very grateful for all that she has accomplished.  I know I have some big shoes to fill (I have been told this on several occasions).  So now it is yours truly at the reigns of the Companion Diocese Officer position and I am excited, yet very nervous for what lies ahead.

But wait there is more.  So as it may have seemed like I was done living a life of luxury at the beach, actually turned out to be a silly thought.  The beach just can't get enough of me I guess.  I am returning to my second home in Tamarindo on Monday and will be spending the rest of October there helping Padre Pedro with the new mission as it is in its baby steps.  This time I will be located smack in the middle of town and walking distance from everything...I mean EVERYTHING.  I do not know how I am able to be doing this but the big fella upstairs is looking kindly upon me.  Cannot wait to see what comes next.  Also I promise to make more of an effort to blog more often (I have been harangued by my family too many times to count to put up more posts)

Pura Vida


Monday, September 10, 2012

¡Un Mes!

It has been one month from today since I boarded the plane to Costa Rica to begin my year long mission and adventure.  I can surely say that it feels like I just got here.  It has been a couple of weeks since my last blog post so bear with me as I try to catch you up with what has happened.

First,  two weeks ago I decided to take some spanish classes at the Costa Rica Spanish Institute (COSI) because I sorely needed to brush up on my spanish skills.  Every morning I was in a one on one session for four hours drilling grammar and vocabulary into my brain.  By the time I walked out of class for the day my brain had turned into mush and it was only 12pm!  But I can see the dividends being paid off.  I am slowly but surely becoming more comfortable with it and starting to think in spanish more often now.  The afternoons were spent going through and writing e-mails, except one afternoon I decided to take a field trip with another American student to downtown San José.  We went to the National Museum which was very interesting and intriguing.  It is located in the old military fortress (Costa Rica has not had a military since 1948!).  Afterwards we went to the central market which is all about selling souvenirs to tourists.  Since I am the most gringo looking person I know, I was asked to come into every vender to check out all of the goods that would have been offered to me at a "special price."  Needless to say, I did not come out with anything (at least this time).

As mentioned in a previous blog, a few weeks ago I was fortunate enough to go to Tamarindo to help Father Pedro Méndez with the opening of St. Paul's by the Sea.  Well the big fella upstairs really likes me because I am now back in Tamarindo for the rest of the month until we open St. Paul's.  We are having a welcoming cocktail reception on the 22nd and our opening service will be on the 23rd.

This will be the location of St. Paul's By the Sea

So, last Wednesday I woke up at 5:30am (I am not a morning person) to catch the bus to Tamarindo.  During the 6 1/2 bus ride I was able to get some shut eye, but there is not much space on those buses so I was pretty cramped.  Well, after one stint of napping I woke up and checked my emails.  I saw that I had about 10 emails with the subject "Are You OK?" (something to that sort).  As it turned out (which a lot of you have heard by now) we had a 7.6 earthquake just off the pacific coast.  Well I guess it was the fact that I was on a rumbling bus or that I can sleep just about anywhere or through just about anything, but I did not feel a thing.  Actually I had no idea there was even an earthquake until I checked my emails.  But fortunately, Costa Rican engineers built the infrastructure with earthquakes in mind so there was not a lot of damage around the country.  I was able to contact my parents and the diocesan office in San José to let them know that I was alright.  As far as I know there was no damage to any of the Diocesan churches or buildings!  Thank you all for checking in and for the prayers.

I was picked up by Pedro and moved in with his family. Pedro, Norma (his wife), and their two little kids (Maria José and Daniel) are extremely nice and very welcoming.  They have made me feel right at home and I am very appreciative of them.  Pedro and I have been going around town meeting with business owners and locals to let them know about our new church and to welcome them to our opening reception and to join us for worship.  It is a new experience for me and one that I am still becoming comfortable with, but one that I know will be very rewarding.  There is still much to be done before the opening so these next couple of weeks will be busy.

Pedro, Norma, Maria José, and Daniel

Saturday was a nice day of relaxation in which I went with Pedro and his family to Playa Conchal.  HOLY COW is that a nice beach!  Just think of a pristine tropical beach with clear blue water and white sand and you have Playa Conchal. Actually, just look at the picture below.  We got to spend a great day playing in the water and checking out the howler monkeys that were hanging out in the trees right by the beach.  It was tropical paradise (except for the nice sunburn that I received on my shoulders)!  Yesterday was El Dia de Niños so Pedro and Norma took Maria José and Daniel to Liberia (the capitol of Guanacaste region) to celebrate.  So what did I do? The most American thing I could think some FOOTBALL.  I was able to catch my Jets beat up on the Bills, so I was in a good mood for the rest of the day.  Last night I went into town (Pedro lives about a 10 min drive from Tamarindo) to do more American things, a.k.a. watch more football and eat a delicious cheeseburger.  It was nice to hang out and chat with some locals.

Told you that this is tropical paradise.
At Playa Conchal

Everyday I am grateful for the opportunity that I have to come to Costa Rica and to do great things.  It is such a blessing and I know that I will hit many bumps in the road, but I look forward to taking them on head first! As for now, I am continuing my work and to enjoy being in such a beautiful place.

Pura Vida


Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Work at the Beach

So if you do not know already, I am from the coastal town of Wilmington, North Carolina, where from my house it was a 10 minute drive to the beach.  Well, this weekend I got to work in Tamarindo where it was a 5 minute walk from my hostel door to the beach. Man was I bummed out when I discovered that I would be working so close to the Pacific. Psych!!!

View from hiking in Borra Honda

So last Friday, along with Liza (whom I will officially be taking over for in October), we set off on the 5 hour drive from San José to the small town in the Guanacaste region.  But since we are in Costa Rica, it should be enjoyed to the fullest extent!  So that's why we stopped in Borra Honda National Park to do some hiking and to venture about 130 feet down into a mountain to explore some caves. It was absolutely amazing to experience the nature that this country has to offer!

Playa Tamarindo at sunset

 Now to work.  We were not heading to Tamarindo just to lie on the beach and soak in the sun (although we were fortunate enough to enjoy some beach time).  Our work down there was to help set up St. Paul's by the Sea Episcopal Church.  The church will be tailored to the large ex-pat community that lives in the area by providing English-speaking services along with other service projects.  We met with Rev. Pedro Mendez who will be Rector of St. Paul's by the Sea to figure out the next steps to getting the church up and running.  I even had my first real-estate meeting (and it was in Spanish!!!).  It was a great experience to meet with some locals and to talk to them about what we are trying to do and to get to know the community a little better.  I am learning many new things already and I can't wait to continue to learn and to see what God's work can do for communities all around CR.

Also for you North Carolinians and BBQ lovers, if you ever make it down to Tamarindo go to Longboard BBQ -- They have some awesome pulled pork tacos! No joke. Actually, just go there for the tacos and you will be glad you went.


Saturday, August 11, 2012

Home Sweet Home

I have finally made it to San Josè! After a quick flight from Wilmington to Charlotte and a longer flight with a baby who decided it would be a good idea to scream bloody murder the entire time, I was picked up at the airport by Bishop Monterroso and Liza Conrad (whom I will be working with over the next couple of months).  We were able to grab some lunch in which I had some of the best arroz con pollo ever (thanks Liza).  Then it was off to see my new digs for the next year.  The rest of the day was spent unpacking and relaxing.

Today I got the tour of San Josè.  It is a very interesting city and the traffic here is much less controlled (to say the least).  It is smaller than I expected, so hopefully finding my way around will not take as long!

I want to thank all of the people who have supported me in this ministry.  It makes it a lot easier to leave your life for a year when you have people who support and care about you, so thank you because it really has meant a lot!


Tuesday, July 31, 2012

10 Days Left!

Well, almost 10 days left.  I depart for my year long mission service in the next week and a half and I am truly excited and ready for this opportunity that I have been given.  

Earlier this month I, along with my fellow YASCers, were able to spend two weeks in Toronto learning and developing our cross-cultural skills.  I was able to meet people from the ELCA (Evangelical Lutheran Church in America) and from the UCC (United Church of Canada).  Their stories and experiences helped me be able to better prepare for the upcoming year.  I am very thankful for the people that I was able to get to know and to spend those two weeks with.  Over the next year I plan on keeping up with my fellow missionaries as they go on to their own placements and experience what God has to offer.

The journey awaits!  

Just want to give a shout out to Andrew Joyce as he travels to his placement in the Philippines today! Be safe and enjoy it!


Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Me in Costa Rica?...Finally

I remember throughout high school and college continually bugging my parents about going to Costa Rica.  Well now, as a recent graduate, I get a chance to live in Costa Rica for the duration of a year.  I will be serving as the Companion Diocese Officer between the Dioceses of North Carolina and Costa Rica.  A year gone is a challenge that I feel I am able to take on and learn about myself.  It will give me valuable experience for the future not only for my interested line of work (International Development), but also as a person.  I have the wonderful opportunity of working with Bishop Hector Monterroso in Costa Rica to help continue and grow he companion relationship with North Carolina.  Being from North Carolina, I found this placement too good to pass up when I heard about it during my discernment weekend as part of the Young Adult Service Corp.  I can honestly say I am nervous, yet excited to see what happens in the coming year.