A year ago today, in our last few hours in Costa Rica, I wrote this post:
How was your summer?
Oh, how to answer that question…? In many ways this summer has been like others:
- We’ve shopped, cooked, and cleaned
- We’ve done laundry
- We’ve paid bills
- We’ve played with the dog
- We’ve read, relaxed, and rested
- We’ve taken day trips and road trips
- We’ve been to the beach and the mountains
- We’ve had good days and bad days, boring days and exciting days
- We’ve laughed together and gotten on each other’s last nerve
- We have lived out our particular personalities – needs and wants, insecurities and strengths – as well as our particular pattern of family dynamics.
The difference? We’ve done all these things while living in a foreign country, facing the challenges of an unfamiliar language and culture.
Tsh Oxenreider writes: “[Travel] strengthens our family bond. Together, we smell smells and see sights collectively that no one else will at that exact moment… When we travel, no matter how near or far, we share moments that shape our family culture. Each exploration, to the next town over or the next flight out of the country, is one more chisel notch in our family’s sculpture.”
Almost three years ago our family participated in an MVPC mission trip to the Dominican Republic. That trip changed us, and we believe it set the precedent for this trip. We saw God at work in the world, in our family, in our lives.
We came to Costa Rica for two months of Dave’s pastoral sabbatical. It has been amazing, long and short, hot and wet, frustrating, lonely, beautiful, intense, interesting, educational, challenging, restful… And we almost can’t believe this adventure is coming to an end. We fly home this evening.
Culture shock hit us harder than we expected, but we’ve been here long enough to adjust, to learn, to grow, to become comfortable. Embarking on this “God Treasure Hunt” we knew we’d find God in the beauty of His creation, and we have. We knew we would go places and meet people and see God at work – in people caring for creation, in ministries caring for God’s children. We expected to see God at work “in the world” but forgot to expect that God would also desire to work in us. Travel has given us an opportunity as a family to limit distractions and share experiences and conversations about important matters: how we live and how we want to live as people faithful to God and making a difference in the world in His name.
Pura Vida (“pure life”) is CR’s unofficial motto. It’s similar to Aloha – “welcome,” and “until we meet again,” and “all is well and all will be well.” Last night we read in Jesus Calling:
I came to give life – life in all its fullness. John 10:10
“Life is my gift to you – enjoy it! I want every day to be a delight as you live in My Presence and discover My blessings. Choose to enjoy life, and let the world see Me through your Joy!”
We expect to face more culture shock as we return home and see our lives with fresh eyes. It would be all too easy to simply worm ourselves back into the familiar, but we also know that this trip has changed us even though we don’t fully recognize how. We look forward to unwrapping the gifts God has tucked away in our minds and hearts along the journey.
By the way, here’s a short list of what we didn’t do this summer: we didn’t ride horses on the beach or to waterfalls; we didn’t go sport fishing; we didn’t learn to surf; we did not get fabulously tan; we didn’t spend hours (or days or weeks) swinging in beach-side hammocks. And though our Spanish skills have improved, we’ve acquired a nice vocabulary of animal names not likely to come up in everyday conversation (unless you’re anxious to discuss monkeys, snakes, or birds!). We had to leave a few things for the next adventure, right?
So how was this summer? In so many ways, just the same. In one essential way, completely different: we didn’t travel, and my heart aches for missing it. However, the garage is really coming along…