1/2 of Our First Trimester Completed!

From Brian: Mary and I just received our 1/2 trimester evaluations (kind of like "parent-teacher conferences" without the parent) and we are both doing well in all of our classes. Gracias a Dios! Learning a language is definately a struggle. We got back from our wonderful paseo this past weekend only to begin direct and inderect objects in Gramatica class this morning. I told my teacher that I was just trying to figure out what we learned last week and now we're on to one of the most difficult concepts in spanish! C'est la vie... oh wait, that's french! Es la Vida! Vida loca maybe! I actually found a great tool online with excercises to help with spanish on Colby College's website! Right there in Maine! I used it this afternoon to try and get a better grip on what we're learning this week. Thank you Colby! It really helped. In fonetica we are on to learning consenant sounds and how to form them with our mouths correctly. We had to make P sounds without moving a thin strip of paper held directly in front of our mouths. In english we puff air with our P's. In spanish they do not...quite a challenge! In lenguaje (conversation) we are studying verduras y frutas... tomorrow we actually are making a fruit salad with some of what we have learned! A nice tasting diversion.

Please pray that classes this week don't get the best of us. It is so much information for our minds to contain. I suppose it will keep us on our toes!

Volcan Arenal

We visited an active volcano, Volcan Arenal on a school-led field trip this weekend. It was absolutely a fantastic experience! The four hour bus ride was half the fun! The trip was through the mountains of Costa Rica and I can hardly describe the beauty we saw. God certainly has infinite creativity. We saw so much....fields of bananas, coffee and pineapple plantations, massive ravines, beautiful mountains covered with flowers, sleepy costa rican villages, bustling villages, roadside open-air restaurants and the most interesting people! The hotel the school booked for us was of the most beautiful and unique properties I have seen. Incredibly tropical and right at the base of an active volcano! Active, like we actually experienced a small eruption Saturday while we were swimming... it groaned and then belched a huge plume of reddish-black smoke into the sky! Saturday night we were bussed around the back of the volcano to try and see flowing lava in the dark. The backside of Arenal is constantly (for the last 40 years) spewing lava all down the slopes of the volcano. It was cloudy and we could see nothing. We waited for about 1/2 hour and then the clouds moved out for just a few minutes and we had an incredible display of bright red lava literally flowing ALL over the volcano!!

What an amazing site! Mary joined another student, Angie Penner for a horseback ride up the volcano and she got to see a volcanic lake and lots of cool scenery. What a blesssing that the school arranged experiences like this in the midst of our intense studying! We desperately needed a break and what a break we had! Below are some other pictures from our trip. Our friends also took some video of our time at a restaurant on the way home called, Las Iguanas. They built the restaurant around an area known for iguanas...they are all over the place... in the trees, on the sidewalks and pretty much everywhere you looked! You can watch the video of our kids actually feeding these cool creatures at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u4QCJXRieSM

Aaron, Jordan and Abbie at our hotel room. This was the view out our front entrance and windows.

Abbie on a jungle road...such beautiful landscape there!

Maria con su Cabello!Yes, this is a real crocodile and yes, it is just a few feet from me. Jordan actually stuck a long stick in one of their mouths and it attacked the stick! Brody screamed and started crying... he had enough of visiting the crocodiles!

Eve Está Caminando

Eve is officially walking!!!

Wow! Eve can even walk with a ball in her mouth!

How big is Eve???? Soooooo big!!!!!

Super Bowl 2008

We had a crowd over tonight for a Super Bowl party! We had such a nice time and got to get closer to many of our fellow missionary friends from school! We got to watch Fernando y Fernando the Fox Sports Vivo team announce the entire game in spanish. I even got to see Tom Brady speak in spanish! (dubbed in of course) Sorry Patriots. :(
Here are some pictures:

Heather, in the striped shirt to the right is from, of all places, Maine! We lived just minutes from each other and had to go thousands of miles away in order to meet! Brock, to her left, is from Chicago and is heading to Ecuador. He and his wife Nancy have an incredibly similar story to ours.

Floyd and Pam Elmore. Floyd is the Academic Dean of Esepa Seminary here in Costa Rica.

I didn't see Debra leave the food table very often? Tiene Hambre, Debra?

Matt and Angie Penner... Church Planters from Wichita, Kansas. Angie is an incredible mucisian/worship leader! We enjoy her music so much in chapel!

Abbie and her classmate, Olivia, from Louisiana. Olivia's family are moving to Ecuador as missionaries.

We had incredible quantities of kids at the party... I thought we were going to have to call Service Master afterwards! :)

Debra and Weis. Weis is from Southern California and is translating the bible into a rare indian language out in a very small village of Costa Rica. He is a graduate of ILE.

Mary with Eve and Rhonda Wilkinson from Washington State. Rhonda has a heart to serve orphans and children in need. Here she is tending to the needs of Julia, Ken & Jen Vanminnen's daughter.

Bird of Paradise at School

One Month Done... 11 To Go!

We've made it through our first month and are pleased to report that we are feeling well, settled here in our home and in a solid routine each day. We are all enjoying our classes, learning so much and meeting lots of new brothers & sisters in Christ!

Language learning is definately a challenge. Mary and I both had grammar exams this week...we're currently working on learning 170 verbs and their conjugations in the present tense. I really am amazed at how much we've learned in only 3 1/2 weeks of classes. The pace the school keeps us at is very steady. After my big grammar exam yesterday I was thinking, "I am so glad that is over and we can move on"... and then I remembered that you never get to move on in learning a language! We have to "keep using" what we just learned every day! By the time Friday nights come along we are very ready for a break from studying! This week I wondered if my brain could handle any more information without exploding!

Last weekend Mary, Debra, Jordan & Abbie went to a volcano on a school passeo (field trip) and a coffee plantation (Doka Cafe...they actually sell much of their coffee to Starbucks!) I stayed back with Brody and Aaron and spent the day with some friends. The kids were thrilled with the chance to walk up to the edge of the mouth of a volcano and also to learn so much about coffee... they had muchos cafe and were flitting around by the time they got home! Jordan had brought samples of coffee berries, unroasted beans and roasted beans and shared the entire process with me!

We are planning a trip to the rain forest for April. We have a break in between trimesters and Mary's Dad and his girlfriend are visiting for a week. A missionary family here has a beautiful vacation home on acres of rain forest that they allow other missionary families to use for jsut $10 per adult per night. It is a large home and is very close to waterfalls, a volcano, monkeys, hiking trails and many other neat places to visit. They just emailed us and let us know that it was available for us! It will be a wonderful break from school, spanish and our long weekdays!

Each Tuesday and Thursday we have chapel (Capillo) at school. All the students get together and we have a wonderful worship service. The students all participate with their musical talents and a sermon/message. Each week we get to hear from a different family. We have many pastors here, so there are great opportunities to learn from them and God's word and also to hear other's calling and challenges in ministry. Big bonus: It's in english! Thursday's message was from John 15 and our necessity to "remain" in Christ daily in order to bear fruit. We were also challenged to be sure that we are sowing and reaping fruit that remains! (being sure we don't harvest fruit and then walk away from it!) One of the most specail things about attending a school like this is the relationships we are building with other missionaries and learning from each other...what a blessing!
Mary and Debra took off early this morning to go to an "organic" Ferria... an open market for fruits and vegetables...she'll buy all our produce from the week their from local farmers. We get the best pineapples, magoes, lettuce, zanahorias (carrots), avocadoes, etc... We are then going to take a bus into San Jose to the central market (a long closed off street with vendors of all types and crafts). San Jose is a very large city with alot of culture, architecture and interesting things to see!
I also hate to report that we are on our 33rd day of exactly the same weather...sunny and high 70's and cool at night. I am beginning to think that weather prediction or meteorology is unecessary here!
Abbie, Jordan, Aaron and Brody are in the back yard right now after having constructed "zip-lines" from the trees with string and wires (found in our back shed). They are giving their spider man action figures and dolls rides down the zip lines and having a ball!
We miss you all and will continue to keep everyone posted! I'll post some pictures from the week below:

Coffee Plantation

Volcan Poas

Organic Feria

Mary's weekly trip to the Feria... Anybody hungry? Tienen Hambre?
This is a strange fruit we have grown to absolutely love...it is lovingly referred to by locals as "snot fruit" in spanish of course. They are delicious once you get over the feel of it in your mouth! You eat the seeds right along with the snot.

These are unusual "Japanese Lantern-Like" little tomatoes. I have no idea what they are called. Probably something like, Lanterña de tomate. :) They are sweet.

Mary's Grammar Class

Some School Pix

Mary and Brody after School
For several days I was getting to school with what looked like mustard on my sleeve???? There is a wall of these flowers next door that I have to walk by. I soon discovered that the pollen from them was getting on my shirt!!

Aaron's class playing a fun game with a ball at recess...it's so nice to be able to see our kids through the day on campus!

Danielle, Rhonda and Debra (mi cunada,sister-in-law)

Debra and su amiga, Rebecca