Okay, I have to vent. The last 2 weeks have been CRAZY busy around my home and I have finally hit a brick wall. Since the day we moved in, our house has been under attack by “the Lamanites.” That is what I call these little ants. This is not a picture I took, thank you pestcemetery.com for the picture, but this is what they look like and they are everywhere and they are tiny! These ants are nothing like what I’ve ever seen or experienced in Utah because they thrive in the tropics. Oh what a nuisance they can be.
(photo courtesy of beaumontpc.net)
The biggest problem is that they make colonies in your home. For months I have asked the locals about these ants and they just laugh the concern away. “They are everywhere. Try to keep a clean home but realize that they are just a part of living in Costa Rica.” Well, they are WRONG! I have been to plenty of homes that DON’T have these pests. I see how they live and it isn’t anything different than what we do. So why do I have SO MANY ants?
Well, these ants are pests, true pests! They have several queens and they start up colonies all over your home, if you let them. No amount of cleaning can get rid of them. They intermingle with each other and have many different roles among their colony. They even have fliers. We thought they were fruit flies but after researching these pests, I found out the nasty truth. They will just keep growing and spreading unless they are stopped. I am praying, and I would love to ask you for your faith and prayers too, that when the fumigators come tomorrow, they will be able to treat these ants and that they will cease to exist in our home once and for all!
I did everything I could to get rid of these ants on my own. After the sprays didn’t work, I put out boric acid traps (so dangerous to my children – that stuff burns! I know, I got some on the skin around my right eye. OUCH!) But no amount of re-packaging of food, storing in air tight containers, sweeping, mopping and counter wiping could stop these critters – (seriously, I do have more to do than battle these little, numerous lamanites). And they only grew worse once the rains started. The locals said they would do this, they come inside to protect themselves from the rain, but I have had enough!
Unfortunately, it took us finding a massive colony of ants in the kitchen table leg and also runny along the back of the cabinets to get us to finally call a fumigator. It will be $100 and I pray that they have a poison small enough to kill these little “Lamanites” but I also pray that the poison won’t hurt our family. I don’t want to wake up with a third eye, just to be rid of these pests. But it is time they go! I have battled them for 6 months and I am finished!
On top of the constant battle with ants and mice (we are up to a total of 8 being caught in our garage bathroom), I have been given a few church assignments and opportunities to serve that have quickly been emptying my energy tank. I tried to re-charge Saturday night by simply watching a movie, but I fear the lack of 2 more hours of sleep has set me back drastically, for I am now emotionally exhausted.
Before I move on, I must put a plug in for a 5 book series that has 3 of its books made into movies. The series is “Sarah, Plain and Tall” and I absolutely have enjoyed reading the 1st book to my children and then watching the 3 movies on my own. Initially I watched the 1st movie to make sure it was safe for my youngest 2 to watch, since they were the ones I had initially started to read the book to (K and Paul joined in towards the end of the book. This book grabbed everyone’s attention!) I wish there were more movies, Glenn Close was truly mesmerizing for me, but alas, 3 is all they made. If you want to watch something wholesome, powerful and inspiring, this is my recommendation to you. I don’t know that G or L will like the movies, but I think K will. Regardless, I LOVE THEM!!! I only recommend that you choose sleep over watching or reading, for sleep is always the better choice over any form of entertainment.
Now onto to telling you about my terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day. This last Monday was a real tanker for me. All day I just felt a weight come down upon me. I tried to be productive and even made myself go through our 6 months of receipts and organize them. I made a pile of receipts for shredding and made manila file folders for receipts that we will need to keep while we live here (insurance, automobile, school charges, purchases of big items, etc.) I even took a break and had lunch, while watching two “Story Treks” (another great show I recommend on BYU TV or channel 11 in Utah). But the weight still remained.
Then, while picking up L at school, I was informed that more money was needed for “extra curricular” / mandatory activities that the school had planned for my 4 beautiful children and it was my privilege to pay for them. Things are tight for us in Costa Rica. The responsibility of private school fees can be overwhelming but to add to it $20 here for a costume that my child will wear ONCE that year, and $50 there for a meager meal at the school with the entire family, plus $100 for a Costa Rican costume that EVERY girl MUST HAVE if they live here but might where it 3 times a year. Well, I had enough of it! I broke the rules of buying everything new and BORROWED a costume from a member of our Stake, in which she gave it to us because she was going to THROW IT IN THE GARBAGE! Look how cute L looks in this costume. The entire family thought she looked adorable. It might be “old” according to the hip, new moms, but it filled the bill (FREE) and got the job done, which = happy and the bottom line is, L was able to participate.
(G man had to be part of the picture. He was her biggest fan and said, “Oh my L. You are the most adorable thing I have ever seen!” I love it when these two are each other’s biggest fans!)
All of a sudden it was dinner time and the dinner I had planned back-fired on me because the crust needed to be in the fridge for “at least” 2 hours to be delicious and flaky and worth my time and hard work! So now what? I had no idea what else to make for dinner because at the same time I was being fire hosed with “extra-classes” in my email inbox. After printing the stack of assignments and seeing the “this is impossible” looks on my children, I wanted to just sit down in the corner and cry. (7 assignments minimum for all three of my older children. All having due dates that start from tomorrow until next week. What are extra classes? It is the Costa Rican School of Ministries’ way of giving children “homework” but EVERY course assigns out their homework project at THE SAME TIME! IT is INSANE!!! And ironically, it is usually on a topic that the kids have NOT discussed in class, so they still have “homework” to do, on top of these quick projects that are one on top of the other. THEN, they get to study for exams with the threat of “you will not graduate from 9th grade if you don’t study!” hanging over their heads. It is awesome, to say the least. NOT!!!)
With only an hour to go, before dinner needed to be made on onto the table (remember, it was FHE that night too!), I had to help translate said “extra-classes”for my youngest son, so he could complete the first assignment due in 2 days. That was when said child, started to cry and told me that he honestly had NO IDEA what was going on in his class. His class is made up of different teachers, kind of like junior high and high school, but the kids stay in the same class and the teacher rotates to the different classrooms. My children have “half” their classes taught in the Costa Rica version of English, and the other half taught in Costa Rican Spanish. I say “Costa Rican” Spanish because the Ticos use their own words that are not translatable by any technological means. It is difficult to understand what they say, so my “formal Spanish” is frustrating to them and they don’t understand why I speak the way I do, if and when I do speak at all to them.
Listening to my sweet, little boy, break down into tears, telling me “the truth” broke my heart. I was beside myself with frustrated emotions. My sweet boy took my frustration as “his fault” and got even more upset. This only upset me more. The frustration of languages and communication is overwhelming. It truly is the one thing I miss most about Utah, but it was also my greatest weakness. It would take major issues for me to be brave enough to ever talk with one of my children’s teachers in Utah. Imagine how I feel living here, not have the opportunity to easily speak with my children’s teach in a language that we can BOTH understand. At times it is more than I can handle. And last night proved that idea true.
The miracle of it all, is that my husband and youngest children came to my aid. I was down-trodden, feeling like we were headed on a dead end road in education, wondering how my children will ever amount to anything if they aren’t learning in school, when my youngest son asked “Amazon” (or Echo – how many of you have one of these toys?) to play Josh Groban’s “You are Loved!” I wish I could say I ran to that little boy and hugged him and kissed him and told him that everything was going to be okay . . .
BUT, I didn’t. I couldn’t. I wanted to run upstairs, jump into my bed and pull the sheets over my head.
Thankfully my husband reached out his arms and hugged me, allowing me to cry on his shoulder and try to breath. I kept thinking how going upstairs would only make my problems worse. I needed to stay downstairs with the family, as hard and as challenging as the problem was, I was needed downstairs and I needed the courage to stay downstairs. Then, out of no where, my youngest son came and joined my husband’s hug. He hugged me tightly around my legs and then my youngest daughter followed suit.
Between my husband and two youngest children, they kept asking “Amazon” to play one song, after another, that were my favorites. I couldn’t bare the love they were showing me, after I had given up on the problem at hand. So . . . I did what all that I could and focused on washing the dishes, all while my family showered me with love and encouragment. I didn’t know what to do with myself. I was embarrassed, uncomfortable, ashamed, frustrated and sad. I thought to myself, “Wendi, just breath. It’s going to be okay somehow. Just breath and wait this moment out, just like all the others before.” And as soon as I exhaled, a feeling of courage swept over me.
I felt the smallest voice inside of my heart and mind say, “Do you feel that love, coming from your family? They are following your example. The way you have been handling their problems, they are now practicing that with you. They are only giving you what you have already given and shown to them. Don’t be ashamed. Don’t even be embarrassed. They are only given back to you what you gave to them. It’s okay to take it. Let it help you. Let it heal your pain.” I wanted to cry but I had a choice to make. Do I let the love in OR do I push it away, like I have done SO MANY times before. It took courage (thankfully I had just been given a healthy dose of it) but . . . .
I LET THE LOVE IN!
(who could honestly say NO to these two little faces, full of love for their Mama? Thankfully, I chose to say YES!)
The next thing I knew I forgot why I was so unhappy and upset, even though I could have thought about it again, I chose not to. And instead, I ended up pulling out a bag of beef jerky for the family to snack on while I made a marvelous dinner of Ramen Noodles with green peas, sliced apples and spoons of peanut butter (got to have a protein right?). Poor Paul can’t eat MSG, so he made himself a triple stacker ham and cheese sandwich with a side of leftover fruit from the day before. Then at dinner time, we discussed one of my older son’s “extra-clase” assignments on Human Rights. It was a fascinating discussion and made our family seem so “grown-up.” Everyone was enjoying themselves that we forgot what time it was. So we put our dinner dishes aside and started FHE.
I had put together a fun activity for our family to do on the 24th of July but we didn’t get to it, due to spending time with some wonderful guests we had over for dinner after our families performed baptisms for the dead. I asked Paul to start our FHE and he chose, “Popcorn Popping” as the song. I appreciated his upbeat attitude, while I struggled to resist the urge to still “go to bed.” After a beautfiul prayer, I introduced the kids to a little intro of the pioneers and their struggles and their needs (Human Rights) to survive and make it to Utah. I shared a small part of their pain, the extermination order and their hardship in doing what was needed to survive. I then shared that we had several members of our family who were one of those pioneers. The children’s faces lit up.
Left – Ralph Wardle (1775 – 1849) and Right – George Wardle (1820 – 1901)
I pulled out my laptop and asked them to help me find just one of them on my line and then we would find only one on their father’s line. The first name we searched for was George Wardle. I had searched him out a bit the week before but came across a story about his father, Ralph Wardle. George had joined the church at 22 in England during the time that the 1st missionaries came to preach there. George and his new wife, left for the United States and joined up with the Saints in 1841. At 28, George joined Brigham Young to head west. George would return to help other pioneers make it to Utah. I think of all I did at that age and can see what a strength and powerful resource George was to the Lord at that time.
But what about George’s family. Did any of them join the church as well? So I looked up George’s father, Ralph and found that he had joined the church as well but did not come to the US until 1848, a year after the Saints started to arrive in the Utah territory. Sadly, Ralph was buried in a river, for after he crossed the great ocean, he landed in New Orleans and boarded a steamboat with his wife and daughter. Cholera broke out aboard the boat and Ralph died. Soon after, his wife died too, leaving their daughter an orphan. I have yet to learn about their daughter or more about this family, but boy am I excited to!
The looks on my children’s faces, as I shared these stories, were tangible. I saw that my children WERE being educated . . . they were being educated about the most important facts that this life could ever teach us. I was helping my children learn about the Gospel of Jesus Christ. By sharing these stories and by living my life EVERY DAY in an exemplary way, I am teaching my children the truth. They can always gain a fuller education in college or at the university, but they can never have this one on one time with Paul and I, ever again.
While we waited for our oldest daughter to put the powdered sugar glaze on the all-in-one pan chocolate cake she had whipped together while the family serenaded me with my favorite songs, my youngest two children played a game with some photos I had made for their “My Family” books that my in-laws brought to us from Utah. It made my heart leap with joy to see them SO EXCITED to match “who belongs to who.” I felt right there, in my heart, ANOTHER confirmation that what I was doing was MORE IMPORTANT than ALL the education the very best schools could offer my children. I was giving my children a face to match the power and strength they were being surrounded with, while they faced their difficult challenges in life – like going to a Costa Rican, Spanish speaking school. It started to all come together.
We all sat down at the table and enjoyed a delicious slice of K’s cake. The look on K’s face was priceless. She had accomplished something that once only mom could do. Now, she could do it too. The last piece was put into place and then this scripture came to my mind, Ether 12:27-28,
“And if men come unto me I will show unto them their weakness. I give unto men weakness that they may be humble; and my grace is sufficient for all men that humble themselves before me; for if they humble themselves before me, and have faith in me, then will I make weak things become strong unto them. Behold, I will show unto the Gentiles their weakness, and I will show unto them that faith, hope and charity bringeth unto me—the fountain of all righteousness.
I am truly touched by the power that comes from being honest and allowing ourselves to be “weak” in front of those we care most about. I wanted to run and hide, not show my family my weaknesses, but instead I “stood in Holy Places” (where the Lord needed me to be was DOWNSTAIRS, not upstairs, hiding in my bed) and let the winds blow and the storms rage but that allowed my family to come to my rescue. How can our families truly learn to “comfort the weary, and strengthen the weak” if we don’t allow them opportunities too?
Extra-classes and Ants are a HUGE weakness of mine. They make me feel like my life is out of control and I do not yet know how to handle the stress they create in my life. But, through Faith in our Savior, Jesus Christ, I am gaining one small step at a time. I am grateful for what this blog allows me to do . . .
which is, to take a much needed rest from the “climb” of life and stop and see how far I/we have come. I LOVE this view! It reminds me of Utah and Costa Rica mixed together. “Home” Sweet Home!
In closing, I truly want to thank all of you who take time out of your busy lives to read this blog. I had such a tender response last week, something that I truly needed, that I was eagerly motivated to try to blog again this week. I don’t know how professional bloggers do this every day? I am lucky to get one post out a month, let alone once a day. I pray that something I shared uplifted, encouraged, inspired, or just made you happy in some small way. I miss and love you all. Thank you for helping me climb my mountains of life.