I have been sick for a week straight. What do you do when you have a terrible head and chest cold, while living in a tropical climate? So strange! I want to curl up in my bed and take a nap but I am TOO HOT!! I have had fevers too and that is a strange experience to break a fever in a tropical climate. My back literally has sweat dripping down it. (Yes, too much information but that is the only way I can explain how HOT and humid it is here.) We have also been having thunderstorms and rain showers all week, so the humidity is high and it is messing with my head. I have never been hot while having a cold. Strange experience indeed.
So, to get my mind off of belly-aching and onto better things in life, I decided to look over my photos and find the pics that haven’t been found “worthy” to be in any past posts. Truly they have been neglected and are of the utmost importance. So, without further ado . . . my Photo Blitz from January 2015 – May 2015.
Wednesday, January 14, 2015
Before we left for Costa Rica, E had an annual Stake YM/YW Ice Skating activity at Cottonwood Height Recreation Center. L had put on her “bucket list” of last things she wanted to do before we moved, Ice skating. So, we decided to embarrass E and join him in the fun. It actually turned out to be a great idea and a cherished memory for our family. EVERYONE had a blast skating, especially L who showed us that she has mad skills on the ice.
On February 24th, K stayed home “sick” from school. I don’t remember if it was physical sickness or a metal case of home sickness, but she was allowed to stay home. She rested for maybe 2 hours and then was up and about, just like her dad. She used up her supply of duct tape and created sandals for each of her siblings. She was SO EXCITED to show L her gift, I think she forgot she was “sick.”
That same day, L had earned a trip after school to get something for being good at school the week before. I pondered what would happen when we picked up L, realizing that big sister was home from school so how would we cash in on L’s privilege. But then I was prompted to turn this into a moment of friendship for L and K. I was able to help L see how special K’s gift to her was and then also encourage L to invite K to come with us to McDonald’s. It actually worked. The girls had a blast and made an instant friend at the playground with a little girl that they both adored. The normalcy of the playground also gave the girls the needed comfort they both were seeking and their relationship was strengthened in the process. I hope these two become the best of friends, forever!
Saturday, February 28, 2015
The kids LOVE to go swimming!! They would go swimming EVERY DAY if we let them. This was one of their favorite things to do while we only had one car and couldn’t go anywhere. It was free, it was fun, it cooled us off and it got us out of our house. On this day, Paul took the kids to the pool so that I could blog. As I was working I heard a little, tiny knock at the front door. I walked up, fortunately with my phone in my hand, and saw this cute little face through the windows in the door. I couldn’t help but take a picture. Even with goggles, who could resist loving that little face?
Thursday, March 12, 2015
I live in the ward that meets in the chapel behind the temple. That means we have many of the temple missionaries coming to our ward as well. These temple missionaries happen to also be the ONLY other people who speak English. I must admit that each time I saw the sister missionaries at church it made me homesick for what Relief Society was like for me back home. I yearned for a monthly Relief Society activity like back home, since the ones I was attending in my new ward were SO COMPLETELY different than what I was used to.
I decided to take my concerns to the Lord and when I did, I was prompted to plan a brunch for all the temple sister missionaries to attend. I shared the idea with Sister Haws (one of my favorite temple missionaries who recently left Costa Rica this April) and she thought it was a great idea and helped me plan the whole brunch. We decided to have waffles, since most hadn’t had a waffle since they came on their mission, as well as a sausage breakfast casserole, fruit, juice and waffle toppings galore. We had a lovely visit and it was just what I needed to help me start to let go of Utah and start to embrace what Costa Rica has to offer me.
The sister missionaries also invited my Visiting Teacher, Sarene. It was wonderful to get to know Sarene better, for she became a HUGE support to me and I in turn was able to help her a small bit as she and her husband relocated to Guatemala. Out of the 9 women in attendance, 3 have moved. I am so grateful I took the prompting and got to know them all on a more intimate level. Now to plan another brunch . . . we have had 2 new temple missionary couples move and they deserve the same warm welcome I received.
March 16, 2015
One day, Paul showed me a different route to get home from the kid’s school. I took the chance and drove it and while on our way home we drove past the most incredible neighborhood playground. Heredia, the city that my kid’s school is in, has the most amazing neighborhood parks. Some even have exercise equipment for the adults to use, set up in a way that you exercise while the children play on the playground. L saw the playground and begged to stop. So I did!
We had so much fun that we knew we needed to show this playground to the other kids. Unfortunately, E has grown quite a bit since we left Utah, so he wasn’t interested in playing very long, but K & G had a BLAST! We stayed for almost an hour, on a school day (Monday actually – I can tell because that is the day K & G dress in their PE clothes) which never happens. But it was a GREAT way to de-stress from going to a new school, with a foreign language and facing homesickness and culture shock.
Monday, April 6, 2015
Isn’t this gift the cutest? It is so simple to make, that I had to post it for all of my friends and family to see. It is simply a piece of orange poster-board cut into the shape of a cone. They glued it together and then glued the inside of the mouth of the cone with green tissue paper. They filled the cone with easter goodies, tied it with a string and put a cute Easter note on it, wishing L a Happy Easter.
L actually had to wait to receive this gift until the Monday after they handed them out, because she had missed school the day everyone had their Easter parties. We had gone to the beach with my in-laws, so I thought it was extra sweet that her teacher held one back for L and made sure she got it the day she came back to school. She was SO SURPRISED! Look at her sweet face and ALL the goodies that were inside her gift! Cute, cute, cute!
Saturday, April 4, 2015 & Friday, April 10, 2015
In one week we had two special moments happen. The first was E’s first time attending the Priesthood Session in Costa Rica with his Dad. Paul wanted to continue the “Whitchurch Tradition” but put a fun spin on it, to make it theirs. Paul took E to the Marriott cafe for dessert. Pretty cool if I do say so myself. The cake did look like a Peanut Butter Chocolate but it wasn’t it was a maracuya cake, a fruit that is grown here and is very delicious. YUM!
The next week we had a surprise at school. Apparently our children were supposed to decorate eggs for an elementary school wide art project. I had NO IDEA about this project, so while the other kiddos had at least a week to complete this activity, we thought we had only the weekend. But due to the excitement, we got right to work. G made his egg project out of flour filled balloons and turned his eggs into ninjas (think ninja turtles with just face masks). K wanted to use REAL eggs. So Paul drilled 2 holes and blew the eggs clean. Paul and I left for the temple but K continued to work on her project. She painted and painted, all the time we kept thinking we had until Monday to turn in the project, but something in K told her otherwise. The next morning K pled with us to help her finish her project so she could turn it in that day. So, Paul and I desperately wired the eggs with clear string and hot glued the eggs in place, so K could turn in her art project “early.”
Well, we found out it wasn’t early but actually late. Luckily K had stuck to her feeling and persevered to get the project done. It was a lot of work (think last minute science fair project) but we were grateful to have it completed and have another lesson learned. We knew that more experiences like this would happen in the future but the best way to handle them would be to do our best and just try to get through it, until we know better. Got to love the learning curve!
Monday April 6 – Tuesday April 14, 2015
The Kitchen Remodel – this was SO MUCH FUN! Actually, it wasn’t that bad (at least after all the jackhammers stopped). In the middle of living every day crazy life, we had to remodel our kitchen floor. The first day the contractor came, with his 2 workers, checked out the floor, made a plan and . . . .LEFT! What?!?! They told us they would start to work the next day. OKAY?!?!?
The next day they came and Paul stayed home from work, while I drove the kiddos to school. That was a hard day because they had to break all of the tile out of the cement foundation and then use a jackhammer to chisel out the tile cement that was stuck to the cement floor. They jackhammered all day Tuesday, all day Wednesday and part of Thursday morning. The drilling was mind numbing but the dust was the worst, it was EVERYWHERE. Fortunately Paul saw them sweeping up the dust and ran to the local “Home Depot” to grab a very low quality but expensive shop vac (think Harbor Freight products at Lowe’s prices – ouch!)
The men used the shop vac but still, dust was EVERYWHERE! Fortunately for us, they decided NOT to rip out the countertops or cabinets, so we were able to use our kitchen each night for dinner. We only “had” to eat out once and that was because the tile in the kitchen couldn’t be stepped on while it set. Not bad, if I do say so myself. The whole remodel only took a week, from the day they started, and the clean up from the dust was manageable. I can’t say it was my favorite experience but I can say, “I DID IT! And I am surprised how it all worked out!”
So grateful it is over with!
Saturday, April 11, 2015
After a week of mind numbing drilling and being cooped up in the house, to make sure the workers didn’t steal anything, Paul and I needed a break. Paul decided to take us all to Jaco, the local surfing beach. We headed out bright and early, after a quick trip to the Cenada (the farmer’s market). When we arrived in Jaco, we stopped by a local surf shop and rented 2 surf boards, a boogie board and Paul signed himself up for a surfing lesson later that afternoon. G instantly fell in LOVE with the boogie board. He had a hard time sharing it, he was so in love. Paul did the best he could to use up his full hour of surfing lessons but was wiped out after 30 minutes. So we asked the teacher to teach K. She was an instant success as well. Boy are these kids just like their father!
The beach had multiple lounge chairs with umbrellas set up between them. For $10 we were able to rent 2 lounge chairs and an umbrella for the day. Not bad if I do say so myself because I was able to take a MUCH NEEDED rest in the peace and quiet of the beach. (Paul was a stinker and took my picture. No, I’m secretly not a Costa Rican ninja. I had burned my face and was using a wet towel to cool it off.) Try as we have, we have NOT been able to return to the beach since. Sad but true. We have been so busy with “other” responsibilities. But taking a moment to look back, I am truly grateful we had that “break” because it recharged our batteries for the adventures that lay ahead.
Wednesday, April 29 and Friday, May 22, 2015
L has had some really fun activities planned for her in Prepa School. She has had: “Community Helper” day where she dressed up as a Mom (pretty cool if I do say so myself), “Explorer Day” where EVERY CHILD but L dressed up like an explorer (I honestly thought it was optional, like in Utah), “Indian Day” (now, I have seen how the Indians dressed here and it wasn’t modest. They were naked from the waist up. So I thought, NO WAY! Well, they dressed just like an American Indian and L was one of the only kiddos who didn’t get dressed up – she was mad at me!), “St. Patrick’s Day” (believe it or not), “Easter” with bunnies and eggs (not exactly my ideal way of celebrating such a special and holy holiday) and many “Show and Tells” where you are to bring a prop and present it to the class . . . in English. That is too easy for L, so she is now to present in Spanish. (As her kindergarten teacher can a test, L dislikes speaking in front of people VERY MUCH! But we are working on helping her.)
These photos are of “Pajama Day” and a field trip to the local fire station. She got to ride in a HUGE bus, not like the school buses in Utah, but one you would take to Wendover. She had a WONDERFUL time!
Thursday, April 30, 2015
Today I went on an adventure. I needed to find little foam birds for a craft we are going to do in Fe en Dios. Many people told me that the only place to find such a thing would be downtown San Jose and the best way to get downtown is by bus. I mentioned this to one of the mothers at school, (honestly, she and one other mom are the ONLY moms who have spoken to me the entire school year. So different from Utah!) and she said, “YES! We MUST go downtown by bus together!” Ok!!
Two weeks later we took a long, hot bus ride to downtown San Jose and met 2 other women, her friends who are married to her husband’s co-workers. We enjoyed a morning of walking, walking and more walking. Downtown San Jose is a lot like any other metropolitan city, just think 1980’s. We finally found China Town but didn’t have any luck finding the birds. We were told, in China Town, to go to the City Market. Exactly where we had began our initial walk.
The City Market was a very lively and interesting place to visit. It is as large as a city block, sunken down a foot or two, packed full of booths of all sorts: fruits, veggies, plastic containers, meats, cheeses, candy, clothing, leather work, t-shirt printing, and 2 craft stores. Ironically, I didn’t find the birds at a craft store. I found them at a little odds and ends store, just hanging up in her booth. She charged me a buck per bird, I needed 15, and she wouldn’t go down on her price. I totally got ripped off but oh well, welcome to expensive Costa Rica. Life sure is an adventure here.
My First Church Calling in Costa Rica – Fe en Dios (Faith in God for girls and boys)
Up to this point, we have met 3 times (the 2nd and 4th Saturdays of each month). Our first meeting is the top right picture. Only 5 kids were present but I was happy because that was about all I could handle for the first day. (I had a lot of fun showing them an air popper. They LOVED it!) The second meeting we had the same 5 kiddos, plus another boy in our ward and our very first visitor – Guillermo. I love that kid! He isn’t a member but he has the sweetest spirit and he actually helped me translate and understand the kids better. We made temples out of salt dough during this activity. I was nervous after baking them that they wouldn’t turn out.The picture to the left and the bottom right is of our 3rd meeting. At this meeting we painted our temples and they DID turn out! Fortunately someone made an extra temple because we had 2 extra kiddos from the ward join us. The kids enjoyed themselves and were excited to take their temples home and show them to their families. Above all, I am super grateful to have K with me. She helps me each week pack up what I need and she comes with a great attitude and is a big helper with the Primary President’s little girl. Blessings, blessings, blessings.
Saturday, May 23, 2015
After my 3rd Fe en Dios activity, we decided to get out of dodge and go see a bit of Costa Rica. We all ate some lunch, grabbed a few snacks and piled into the car for a drive to Sarchi and Grecia. Both cities are famous in Costa Rica for building and decorating the Costa Rican Oxcart. These oxcarts were used to carry the produce all over Costa Rica to the ports for sale. They have been around for 100’s of years and are still in use all around Costa Rica today, especially in the rural areas.
Paul was amazed to see how they make the wheels of the oxcarts by placing triangular wedges of wood, into a circular form and then heating a circular piece of metal, smaller than the circular shape of the wood, until the metal expands so that they can place it onto the wood like a wedding band. As the metal cools, it tightens the circular wood together, thus creating a tight seal. No nails or glue is needed. It is all shear pressure! And ALL of the wood was cut by a water powered wood shop, complete with water wheel. It was truly amazing to see it all in action!
After the wheels are cooled, they are then painted with ornate designs. The kids desired to try painting one of the wheels and a nice man allowed them to try painting on the wheel he had just started. They did a pretty good job! We asked if he would just remove the paint and he said NO! He must made several layers of paint on each wheel, so the painting job is just fine. Just think, somewhere in Costa Rica, there will be a wheel in use or in a shop that K, G & L helped to paint. Pretty awesome!
On our way home from the museum, we stopped for a Whitchurch favorite . . . Ice Cream! We dashed across the road from where we parked to each get a double scoop (single scoop according to the shop keeper) of what ever flavors of ice cream we wanted. We were adventurous and tried pistachio ice cream, a caramel nut (which tasted just like egg nog to me), orange pineapple (YUM!), neapolitan and vanilla. We then dashed home to attend a new convert baptism, just in the nick of time.
Joy Boy sure is growing in Costa Rica. You know what they say (you probably don’t, since you don’t live here), “Anything can grow in Costa Rica!” Even a cute little boy! He is about to turn 8 at the end of June and we are planning his baptism for the 4th of July. Cool huh! Nothing special is happening in Costa Rica that day, so WHY NOT! G man is working hard at getting ready to be baptized; we are so very proud of him.
Here he is reading his scriptures, one set in English, the other set in Spanish. The container that is divided is an invention that G man came up with, to help us organize ALL of the plastic containers that we use each day for lunches. It was out of control, until G man came up with this AWESOME solution (we are still using it. It works beautifully!) Here is a photo from “Pet Day” in his class. These are the children who don’t have a pet. G man was grateful to not be the only one. The last picture is of G after a long drive to visit an Oxcart Museum. He was given a sucker to help the ride be a bit more fun but passed out. He had slept on the floor with L the night before and I think he was missing some sleep. We sure do love our Joy Boy!
Service Month of May made me VERY Happy!
I am so grateful for the blessings that service brings. Yes, serving others does bless their lives, but have you thought about how service blesses YOUR life? I was invited by a few women to share a few of my talents: hair braiding and baking. I was SO EXCITED and THRILLED to be asked to serve them all. Serving others brings a feeling of SATISFACTION and JOY that is hard to explain. I also thoroughly enjoy seeing the fruits of my labors, once the service is finished. Just look at these pictures!
The story behind the hair braiding is a fun one to share. Our family was invited to a birthday party for a 2 year old in our ward. The party was up in the mountains, which was a needed change from our crazy, busy lives in the city. My friend, and mother of the 2 year old, asked if I would arrive a bit early and braid her hair. Well, once her hair was finished, and all of the “oooos and ahhhs” had finished, her sister-in-law asked if I would braid her hair as well. She had just spent an hour straightening her hair when it started to rain (I KNOW how that feels). So, I had the pleasure of braiding a very long, straight head of hair. That is better than any hair salon mannequin head could offer. Her hair turned out gorgeous and she wore it with honor.
The next day at church, I was pulled aside after sacrament meeting to help the Bishop’s wife. It was her birthday the next day and she wanted to know if I would braid her hair too. To be honest, I was a bit hesitant because I didn’t know if it was proper behavior to braid someone’s hair during church? But once I saw her face, I knew this was something she NEEDED! I placed my hands on her head and she just melted. I could tell she was needing some special treatment. I took my time and made sure to do my very best work, even better than I had done the day before. She beamed when I was finished! She didn’t even want to look in a mirror, she already knew she looked pretty because she FELT pretty! I did take her picture and when she saw it, she only agreed that the picture showed what she already felt. What a lesson that was for me.
The story behind the 2nd photo collage is a special one, and one that I must treat with the utmost reverence and respect. I don’t know that many can understand TRULY what I saw when I visited a sister’s home in my ward. She invited me to her home to teach her how to make cake. I prayerful chose to teach her Texas Sheet Cake. I felt it was a simple enough, fail proof enough recipe that anyone could learn it. It also requires easy ingredients. At least that is what I thought.
I arrived at her home and she excitedly ushered me from my car to her front door. In order to get to HER front door, we had to pass by the front house and go to HER house, which was an addition to the back of her mother-in-law’s home. The home was pure cement and the entrance was strewn with ropes, covered in drying laundry. She wove her way threw the clothes and into the doorway of her humble home. The room we entered was her kitchen/laundry room/bathtub and it was the size of my Damon Way downstair bathroom, just a bit wider. This was for a family as large as mine. It honestly reminded me of what the pioneers might have had. I wanted to drop my jaw but fortunately my father taught me better. I smiled, acted like nothing was out of the normal and asked where I should put my things.
She then took me into the next room, their “family room/tv room” where all that was found was a hard, old couch, 3 chairs and a tv stand, all the size of a walk-in closet in Utah. I wanted to cry. But I didn’t. We got to work and I did my best to teach her how to make cake. Long story short, we couldn’t fit my cookie sheet in her mother-in-law’s oven, it was too long. They have the tiniest ovens here. So, we poured the cake batter into a large cake pan and I prayed it would bake well. The first cake didn’t turn out too well, as it had to be removed from the pan so we could use the pan a second time, but she made the most of it. We frosted the cake the best we could and sprinkled it with coconut. It was beautiful! (look above).
Okay, the picture with the kiddos is complicated. They are NOT the children of the “cake woman.” They are cousins and the girls are the daughters of a woman I visit taught the next day. The surprise was to find my sweet Guillermo at this home I visited – the lady was his aunt. The girls were a surprise because they had been given some of L’s clothing from the “cake woman.” Wow! She is a fast worker! I had only given her the bag of clothing the day before and these women live at least 5 miles apart. She saw a need and got to work. Oh how I want to be like these women. They are there for each other, trying to make their lives as sweet as possible. Am I as well?
I have truly thought about these two days over and over again. And oh how I have cried ever since at all the ingratitude I have shown our Heavenly Father my entire life. What a magical moment serving this woman, her friend and her children has been for me. I have learned so much and I never truly realized how special my gifts and talents are. I truly feel that I have taken them for granted all my life and only now am I beginning to SEE the blessing they are, not only to others, but to myself!
Fun Lubie Dubie (aka “L”) Moments
L has been my partner since we moved to Costa Rica. Each day I get to have her undivided attention for at least 2 hours, before the kids get out of school. Most days she has to clean up her room, but on the occasional “good day,” we might venture out to PriceSmart to buy groceries or go swimming in our pool, or recently with all the rain storms, I have let her dance in the rain.
One of her FAVORITE gifts to share with others is friendship. L has made some pretty special friends in Costa Rica and they love her just as much as she loves them. The top right photo is L talking to our security guard, Freddie, and our community gardener, Joel. They both adore L and LOVE that she will do her best to speak Spanish with them. The bottom right photo is L with the flowers the gardener gave to her and to her mother. He is the sweetest man and is always looking out for L and I. He calls me “THE Hard Worker!”
The bottom left photo is of L’s BEST FRIEND in Costa Rica, the one she LOVES THE MOST! Her name is Kelyn and up to this week, I had been picking her up and taking her to early morning (5 am) Seminary. I will miss seeing her every day but fortunately she comes to church almost every week. I pray for this sweet girl. She and her sister are the only active members out of 7 siblings and her mother. She has a light about her and L makes sure to do her best to try to squeeze some of that light out, so L can take it home with her. Kelyn has truly helped L acclimate to Costa Rica. Friends are truly a treasure!
Last but not least, a collage of Family Fun!
There are many things that have brought strength to our family, since our move to Costa Rica. Here are just a few “highlights” of that fun. First is reading our scriptures each and every night before bed. We have been reading them in Spanish since the 2nd week we moved here. After we sing a favorite primary song, we each take a turn reading just 1 scripture, out loud. Then we have Paul lead us in a scripture, so we can practice repeating when people are telling us something to say in Spanish.
All in all it has been a great experience, one that is strengthening our courage and willingness to accept that we live in a foreign country with a different language than we are used to hearing and accepting the fact that we MUST learn to speak it ourselves. But, we have missed hearing the stories of the Book of Mormon.So, to remedy that, we have started to listen to the Book of Mormon on our 15 minute drive to school each morning. It has been a real help and has started many fun and important conversations during our family drives. We have had some technical difficulties here and there but that has only taught us to be grateful for what we have now, because you don’t know if you will have it tomorrow.
The second thing our family has learned to do since moving here is to depend on each other. This has been a difficult lesson for us, each in our own ways. It was difficult to be with each other, day in and day out, when we only had one car. But it was a fast lesson to learn to like each other, instead of push each other away. We are becoming more and more each other’s best friends. I truly see the blessing in this experience and I thank my Father in Heaven for answering a mother’s heartfelt prayer in such a wonderful manner!
The third thing our family has learned to rely on is FHE. Each Monday night we hold FHE. Confession time. FHE has NEVER been something Paul and I strove to do in the past. But last April General Conference, Paul and I heard a talk that touched us both. We both felt an urgency and a desire to start holding weekly FHE. It wasn’t easy to do or keep up with, but for a year now, we have faithfully been holding FHE and to the best of our abilities, the kids actually look forward to it. Once a month we have a very “special” FHE with our family in Utah. We are blessed to live in a time where the internet can bless us globally. Our children LOVE to see the faces of their family and they feel the spirit when they hear them sing and pray. I am truly blessed to marry into such a wonderful family!! Thank you “in-laws!”
Last, but not least, Family Activities. Okay, another confession time. Paul and I STINK at this area of our lives. We get so caught up in “being responsible, dependable, trust worthy, hard working and timely” that we forget to relax and enjoy the journey. Our children are fortunately willing to teach us how to “chill out!” and invite us to go swimming on an almost daily basis. We aren’t always able to oblige them but we are trying to find more ways to have fun. Fortunately we have been blessed with friends who know how to have fun, until we can figure it out for ourselves.
We have enjoyed going out to eat a few times to places like “Spoon” and a friends Brazilian restaurant, we have gone bowling (we have a REALLY NICE bowling alley in our area and the food was pretty tasty!), we have watched a few movies together, had “Mom & Dad dates” with one kid at a time, we have enjoyed bike rides down really steep hills, played tennis together, swimming, swimming and more swimming, and we have even allowed the occasional sibling sleep-over in L or G’s room.
All in all, we are doing pretty great! Life isn’t easy but it wasn’t created to be. It has been one wonderful, life changing, appreciating adventure after another, for which we owe all our thanks to the Father who loves us all and His beloved, Only Begotten Son, in whom we adore. In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen