What a season it has been for Costa Rica this year.
We began the year with volcano eruptions. Then we moved into the rainiest rainy season Costa Rica has seen in years. Followed by a hurricane warning that thankfully stayed a tropical storm but it did do some significant damage to roads, schools and homes with heavy flooding and landslides.
But to top it all off, we had an EARTHQUAKE Sunday evening!
What?!? Are you telling the truth?
Yes. Yes I am!
Wow! Are you guys okay?
Yes. Yes we are!
On a side note, El Gringo’s straight hair is from a crazy-hair-day we had one morning last week and the amusement park rides were from celebrating Kayleigh’s “would-be” 19th Birthday at Parque de Diversiones last Friday. We had a BLAST!
Paul happened to be on the phone with a Branch President who lives in southern Costa Rica, near the Panama border, when the earthquake hit us. Paul mentioned to the President that an earthquake was happening at that moment. Then, just moments later, he said it was happening to them as well. This earthquake was enormous because it came from the Pacific Ocean (about 75 minutes away) and spread throughout the entire country, even up parts of Guanacaste.
It was evening, and we were reading family scriptures in the Living Room, just before bed. Paul was on his phone call in the guest room when the earthquake happened. At first we all just stared at each other, not really knowing what to do. Then I realized we were surrounded by windows. We needed to get to safety in case the windows broke. I stood up and said that we needed to go to a doorway. Why? I couldn’t remember. But we all obeyed. Paul was already standing in the doorway of the guest room when we got there. He had a HUGE smile on his face. The kids saw it and immediately calmed down.
I was surprised how long the earthquake actually lasted. We have had a couple of earthquakes since moving here almost 3 years ago but those seemed to pass in moments. This earthquake lasted at least 15 – 20 seconds (check out this video at a Walmart). Thankfully nothing fell off the walls and we haven’t noticed any damage done to the home, but the house sure did twist and rumble.
After the earthquake was over, I immediately looked at our tile floors.
Does anyone remember THIS happening to us?
Just as the earthquake finished shaking our home, I was rushed back in time, 2 & 1/2 years previous, to the day the tile floor in the kitchen/dining room erupted!
It was Easter Sunday and I was getting ready for church when what sounded like marbles being thrown down our cement stairs with a furry, rung throughout the house. Immediately the tile started to bulge in one area. After the first tile exploded in one area of the kitchen, a wave of tiles rippled across the floor, into the Dining Room.
I couldn’t believe what was happening, right before my eyes!
The floor was quite dangerous to walk on. It felt sharp enough to cut bare feet, due to the sculpted cement that was too dry when it was applied that it never adhered the tile to the cement flooring of the home. That was ONE HUGE MESS to live through! Contractor visits, workers in my home to keep an eye on constantly (possible stealing), jack hammers going ALL DAY, dust and a pair of Bose noise cancelling headphones to get me through it all. Not my favorite experience.
Then, the following September after a volcano eruption in Costa Rica, it happened again. Only this time it was upstairs. The kids just so happened to be having a sleep over on the tile floor in the t.v. room when the tile erupted right underneath them. I remember how overwhelmed I felt in that moment, having this happen all over again. I told Paul that I INSISTED that the landlady deal with it this time. We were leaving!
So we did!
Thankfully this was a precious time for our family. We had just started to homeschool and everyone’s emotions were all over the place. Even though the floor was a HUGE inconvenience, deep in my heart I KNEW that WE needed this OPPORTUNITY. The tile floor gave us the excuse to get out of town and spend some alone time with each other; JUST relaxing and being together!
We were gone for 2 weeks. Initially it was supposed to be a week but one thing led to another and it ended up taking 2 weeks to repair the upstairs. That was okay with us because we ended up splitting our time between two different locations along the same coastline. The first location was a finca (or ranch) in Garabito, near the crocodile bridge on the Tarcoles River/Jaco area (the epicenter of Sunday’s earthquake).
For a full week we: ate, went on the Carara National Park Tour, played games, worked on art projects, and slept as if we were on a cabin/camping trip because of the bugs being everywhere and into everything, noisy iguanas climbing on top of the metal roof, the sound of howler monkeys (Congo monkeys) in the trees and the colorful macaws (La Paz) flying in pairs up over our heads.
This is also the place where this one learned how to FINALLY swim!! This had been a lifelong process for Curly Cook to accomplish and on this trip, she FINALLY did it!
I too had a special moment. It was on this trip that I discovered that I could actually paint pretty well!
And this kid, El Gringo, got the “time out” that he had been praying for, for months.
Our second destination was in Playa Bejuco, also near Jaco, only just south. After a week of “camping” I NEEDED to return to civilization. Not only to get away from the intensity of the bugs but we NEEDED air conditioning. It was Costa Rica’s DRIEST rainy season in years, so the beach areas were SUPER intense!
Although this one (GingerSnap) gave us a TERRIBLE scare. She had a dehydration attack and needed emergency assistance. The ambulance took so much longer than it should have taken to get to us. Thankfully she made it through and being in that house was a huge blessing. While staying at this second location, we were able to enjoy the beach, swim in the HOTTEST (non-heated) swimming pools we have ever swam in, cliff dive, enjoy Women’s Conference via the internet (a first for us), celebrate Paul’s 30th birthday, all while basking in the coolness of air conditioning.
One of my favorite FIRST experiences of Costa Rica occurred in this location. We were about 40 minutes from a “quality” grocery store, so I had to find a local market to get my produce needs.
This little market gave me a great introduction to what a Tico neighborhood “Mom and Pop” market looks like.
At the end of it all, the experience we had those 2 weeks was AMAZING and unrepeatable. If our tile floors hadn’t exploded, we would NEVER have taken the opportunity to create this experience for ourselves.
I found this quote among all the “tile” photos from 2 years ago. I was touched at how timely this quote was for us then, as well as right now.
This Sunday’s earthquake left me feeling grateful, not scared. Not only because the tile floor was still intact, but because right now would not have been the best time to have those tiles pop off the floor. I felt an IMMENSE sense of protection, foresight and thoughtful care from our Father in Heaven flow over me. It caused me to ponder how we had been saved, in every sense of the word. . .
because had the tiles not have been replaced 2 years previous, BOTH floors would have popped Sunday night and right now is really not a good time for us to be going through this kind of trial. For one thing, we don’t have a family vehicle. So getting out of town would have been difficult and we would not have had the availability to take care of ourselves, once out of town.
Secondly, our Stake is splitting this Sunday. Not only are the oldest 3 kids in the Stake Choir for this big event, but Paul needs to be present and available to help support our ward through this very new experience. Ironically, this earthquake, and the self-reflecting trip back in time, is just what I needed this week.
In the back of my mind, I have been concerned for the last week how this weekend will affect our family’s future. Paul and I are still in the “waiting room” of life and we are desperately trying to practice patience and faith as we wait to hear what is “next” for our family. I think this last Sunday’s experience helped me to see HOW Heavenly Father is helping my family.
No, 2 years ago I would not have seen what happened to us as a blessing. But fast forward 2 years and now I do. I am so VERY grateful that the tile floor exploded 2 years ago, instead of this last Sunday night. I am also grateful that our family was blessed to have that incredible trip 2 years ago. But if I didn’t take the time to ponder and learn HOW Heavenly Father works in my life, or look for the many different and unique ways He is blessing me and my family, I would NEVER have discovered this tender mercy and heavenly mystery in my life.
This is also a quote I found that I saved with the photos from 2 years ago. I find it fitting and I still agree with it. Without the tests and trials of life, how would we KNOW what we believe? Yes, there are days that I miss my “old life”. I miss my family, my friends, my culture, my community, my church, my old church callings, my ability to speak fluently with others, and the ease of money/way of life I once enjoyed. BUT . . . I believe that what I have traded all that for is much better. Living without those blessings in my life, I have learned to personally rely on our Lord, Jesus Christ.
He has become more to me than He ever was for me in Utah. He has become my truest friend, my dearest confidant, my hope, my light and the source of love that I can always rely upon. He helps me. He leads me. He guides me. And He walks beside me. I am learning more each day that He is the only one who can truly help me find my way to where I have always wanted to be; back in the presence of my Father in Heaven.
To Him I owe all that I have. I am nothing without Him.
This I leave with you, in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.