they would speak a thousand things

Archive for July, 2012

Costa Rica Day 1 cont’d & Day 2: The Word is Light

 

Day 1 continued:

I suppose I should pick up from where I left off in my last blog, which means I’m back-tracking a little to finish off what happened on Day 1.

Since the plane took off late from Houston, we didn’t arrive in Costa Rica about 40 minutes late, and by the time I got through customs and grab my checked bag from baggage claim, it was 3pm. I went out and Ruth was there waiting for me with a sign that has my name on it, like she said she would. As we drive home, I look through the car window to see the mountains surrounding the busy, overcast and humid city. All plant life that I can see is lush and green, and even here in the developed parts of town, there are tons of public parks with no color but green adorning their landscapes.

We get to the house, and Ruth shows me my room, gives me a tour of the house, and introduces me to the other girl renting a room here, named Lily. She is from Germany, working at the German Embassy here in San José, and speaks not only German and Spanish, but pretty good English as well. I want to connect more with her, and have her show me around a bit, but this weekend and coming week her family is here visiting, so her free time will be devoted to them. The 6 bedrooms and 4 bathrooms monopolize the majority of the space in the house, but there is also a small kitchen, laundry room, large open combined dining and living area, and small backyard patio with a table and chairs outside. Along with Ruth and her tenants, her sons Pedro and Oscar and her daughter Graciela live at the house. As I unpack, Ruth makes me a pancake for dinner (I haven’t eaten much in the last 16 hours or so) and some coffee – black. I am still unsure about the food here, and I really do not want to be sick on my first night, so I decline the offer of milk in my coffee until further notice. I’m also not sure about the water, since I’ve been to Mexico and know it’s definitely not safe to drink the tap water there. But later, when I am thirsting for liquid and have a headache from dehydration, I try a sip of the water and don’t get sick. I drink a whole glass and my stomach feels fine, so I decide the tap water at the house is perfectly safe for me to drink (haha). I take a much needed shower after the long day I’ve had, I decide to just go to bed because I’m exhausted.

 

 

 

Day 2 – Saturday, July 7th:

I started writing everything that’s happened down in my journal partially to help me remember this experience as best as I can, and also because I have so many thoughts and emotions coursing through my brain that I have to get them out somehow in order to calm down and organize my what is going on inside of me. I guess I needed some rest, because I slept 10½ hours, when usually I sleep about 6. My room doesn’t have a window or anything, so it gets really stuffy and hot, especially at night. I took another shower this morning because I was so sweaty, then mostly hid in my room all day, spending lots of time freaking out about being here and how scary it is. You don’t expect things to be so hard when you go on an adventure, but so far, this experience has been a difficult one for me. I feel alone and purposeless here, even though I know it isn’t true. The enemy attacks my mind and plays on my vulnerable emotions, and it’s a battle to remember that I’m not alone because God promises He will NEVER leave me (Deuteronomy 31:6, Hebrews 13:5) and that it’s okay to be scared because it is a new place and I’m still adjusting. I just cannot stay in that frightened mindset forever. I have to put on my armor, take captive every thought, and fight back because this is a war we’re fighting against Satan! I have my Bible with me, and decide to follow a “read through the Bible in a year” guide so I would have a suggestion of where in my Bible to read each day. I read both the English and Spanish translation, in my head and out loud for an hour tonight before I went to bed, and I realized that I’ve been really hungry for the word.

For various reasons since school ended and I came home for summer break, I have not spent much time talking to God or reading His word. Of course I know how important seeking after God and staying in communication is with Him because I’ve had to depend on and trust in Him for everything – even my very breaths each moment – when I was at Mercy. But tonight was a really clear reminder for me tonight of how imperative it is to stay spiritually fed by God’s word – through going to church, praying continually, and reading and studying the Bible on your own. Unfortunately, we humans are fallible and often forget even the most important things. I have heard that most people only use 2% of their brain’s capacity. That isn’t because they are stupid, but I believe it’s a function of the fall. Our brains are limited in their understanding now, even though God designed us for so much more.

I could write a whole lot on light and darkness, because it is covered extensively in the Bible; but I’ll try to keep it short for now in order to make my point. God’s Word is a powerful thing; keep it ever present in your mind and hidden in your heart. In Psalm 119:105 the writer says, “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path” (ESV). The Psalmist says right here that God’s word lights his path. We are constantly surrounded by darkness in this crooked and twisted generation (Philippians 2:15). We cannot possibly see anything clearly – especially the path upon which we walk each day, without illumination in the blackness. There are tons of verses in the Bible about light and darkness!

In Luke 11:33-36 Jesus said, “No one after lighting a lamp puts it in a cellar or under a basket, but on a stand, so that those who enter may see the light.Your eye is the lamp of your body. When your eye is healthy, your whole body is full of light, but when it is bad, your body is full of darkness. Therefore be careful lest the light in you be darkness.If then your whole body is full of light, having no part dark, it will be wholly bright, as when a lamp with its rays gives you light.” In chapter 1 of John, it says that “the Word became flesh,” referring to the fact that Jesus came to earth in a human body. In addition to the written word of God that we have in the Bible, according to John’s account, Jesus is also the Word of God. This means that the word of God is our light, and without knowing the written word and knowing Jesus himself personally, we cannot see clearly! This is why God’s word is so essential to our daily survival.

So I want to encourage you to remind yourself however you can – seriously, put a sticky note on your bathroom mirror, write it on your calendar every day, set up an alarm on your phone – to stay in communication with God throughout the whole day, every day. Even this is a challenge sometimes, but it God’s call to us to be faithful and diligent in our faith. In Proverbs 8:17, Wisdom is speaking and says “I love those who love me, and those who diligently seek me find me” (ESV). We only gain wisdom, and by extension, intimate communion with God, when we diligently seek him. It does take work, but it’s worth every bit of the effort that you put into it – I promise.


Costa Rica Day 1: Flight Troubles

To say the least, the first day of my trip has already been an adventure.

This being the first time I have ever been on a plane by myself, and only my third flight experience in my life, I was pretty nervous as I stepped through the security checkpoint and waved goodbye to my family standing behind the gate. I felt confident enough, remembering what to do from my 2 past experiences with flying and being able to easily follow directions on the clearly marked signs in the airport; little did I know what awaited me when I reached my gate. My plane is scheduled to leave at 12:35am, July 6th, and I go through security over an hour before then, so I should have plenty of time to find the gate and wait until boarding, right? How very wrong I was. When I got my boarding pass, they told me Gate 87, which of course is the furthest from where I was. I followed the signs, and passed some people waiting for their flights around Gates 79 and 80. But the airport is far too empty for this time of night. I always thought that airports were open 24/7, because there are constantly flights coming and going from different time zones in places all around the globe. But the silence is almost uncanny at 11:30pm on a Friday night. I finally get down to 87 (I never realized how huge airports really are!) and there is absolutely no one around. Not even someone who works for the airline to ask if I am in the right spot. I find an Arrival/Departure board and my flight is listed for Gate 75, though I double checked with the lady who gave me my boarding pass that it was Gate 87. Naturally, I am confused by this, but having never flown alone before, I paced around for a bit talking to myself before I figured out what I was going to do. That was mistake #1. I finally decided to find an information desk or something to triple-check at which gate my plane was actually flying out of. Incredibly, since there is hardly anyone else around, the information desk has a long line. I wait and wait; finally it is my turn at 12:10am. The lady checks my flight number and says they changed the Gate to 75. So the Departure board was correct. She says I might still be able to make my flight. I run all the way to Gate 75 and miraculously they are still boarding.

I finally get on the plane and find my seat…but when I go to put my carry-on bag in the overhead compartment, there is no room. In fact, there is no room in the overheads anywhere in the cabin. Another guy sitting behind me says we have to take our bags to the front. When I bring my bag, a flight attendant puts a label on it and says that they are going to check my bag all the way to Costa Rica. There are three major problems with this. 1) My computer is inside that bag and it will get totally decimated if it is stuck under the plane with hundreds of other bags and then transferred to another plane and flown to Costa Rica. 2) I have a layover in Houston, Texas and need things that are in that bag. 3) I already have a checked bag that was free to check, so if they check another bag, I will have to pay the fee for it. Mistake #2 was letting them take my bag without taking a moment to think the situation through. As the flight attendant gives me the receipt, the fact that I won’t get my bag back until I reach Costa Rica, and that there is a very real possibility of my computer being destroyed when I get it back, doesn’t quite register in my brain until the plane is taking off. I don’t sleep on the plane so when I get in to Houston I am more than exhausted, hungry, worried, and sad. I call my mom and she helps me make a game plan to go to the information desk and find out how to get my bag back before they transfer it to the other plane and it is truly irretrievable until Costa Rica. Thankfully, I have 5 hours in between my two flights, so I have a little time to sort things out before I have to abandon my efforts and resign myself to seeing my bag in Costa Rica.

40 minutes after landing, I am 2 stories down, outside security telling this whole sob-story to Robin, the baggage claim representative. She says she will help me, if she can, and asks what it looks like. Unfortunately, it looks like every other bag that circulates through airports: a black and grey backpack. But I remember that at the last minute before we left home, I needed a tag with my name on it to identify my luggage, so my dad put the ugliest blue and yellow flip flop tag on my backpack. I tell this to Robin, and she goes to look for my bag. She comes back 20 minutes later with nothing, but says there is one more option, if we catch the guys who transfer the bags and see if they have it. She leaves them a message and shows me where to sit if they have it and bring it out for me. Surprisingly, Robin calls my name over the intercom just 15 minutes later. When I reach her office once again, there is my backpack on the floor! I am astonished, and ask how she found it. She says she went out to look one more time at the bags, and it was buried on the very bottom of a pile of luggage; the only way she knew it was mine was that ugly flip flop tag.

After checking my computer’s wholeness and thanking her a lot, I joyously return upstairs to go back through security and get some food before I find my connecting flight gate. To be on the safe side, I double check this flight’s Gate number with the info desk, and it hasn’t changed.

I still have about an hour and a half before my flight from Houston to Costa Rica, so I get food, coffee, and water and set off to find the gate. It is easy, though a far walk, to find the gate, and now all I have to do is eat and wait. Fortunately, this second boarding goes quite a bit smoother, and I have no trouble grabbing my mp3 player and book from my bag before putting it in the overhead cabinet. However, while the boarding was smooth, the take off process was not. However, due to complications with baggage getting loaded on the plane without the people to whom the baggage belonged on board, the airline decided to unload the baggage and leave it in Houston. Thus, an hour after the original scheduled departure time, the plane takes off from Houston, bound for exotic San José, Costa Rica. I try to sleep on the plane, but a combination of nervous shaking and excitement, food churning in my stomach and a pounding headache keep me from any restful sleep.

Finally, after what seems like forever in the air, the plane lands at Juan Santamaria airport in Costa Rica, around 2:40pm local time. Since Costa Rica is located in the same time zone as California is, the time is not much different, except that Costa Rica does not participate in daylight savings time, and is thus one hour ahead of CA time. So when it was 1:40pm for my California brain, it was actually 2:40pm in Costa Rica. We had left our house in Livermore for the San Francisco airport around 9:30pm on Thursday, July 5th, my first flight left at 12:35am and I arrived in San Jose, Costa Rica at 2:40pm (1:40 CA time) on Friday, July 6th. Overall, I had been traveling for a grand total of 16 hours with almost no sleep and very little food.

To say the least, I was exhausted, but I had had an adventure within the first 24 hours of my Costa Rica trip. I wonder if the rest will be as interesting. We’ll have to wait and see.

Costa Rica national flag