Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Day by Day

I only have a few words about my time here... I'm in love with it. I am hot, but happy. I'm muddy but loved. I'm eaten alive by bugs but being fed by God daily. I am in a country that doesn't speak my language, yet I am communicating volumes with those I meet. I am in love with the children we're working with. My heart is simultaneously full and broken for the women in prostitution here. I am learning to love the men on the streets, locals and tourists alike. I am laughing off things that once insulted me, and beginning to see good in things and people I used to hate. I am seeing God change lives and am being changed myself. I am not just happy here... I am full of joy that can only come from God. I feel released of future pressure and am living day by day, asking God how I can love Him and my neighbors with all my heart, strength, soul and mind - every day. And I'm doing just that :)

Thursday, April 22, 2010

On Fire (Literally) For God

The thermometer tipped past 100 today. Each day is hotter than the day before. And on days like this (which has been EVERY day), my brain is hijacked by the heat and can usually only produce one repetitive and unproductive thought: "I'm hot." Literally every other thought in my head is about the heat. A normal thought process would go something like this: "Time for lunch. It's so hot here. What is there to eat? I don't know, but I'm burning up right now. Maybe we should go out for lunch. Although it's far too HOT to walk anywhere. Cook pasta? Nah I'm too hot to eat pasta" - etc, etc... it is inescapable, both physically and mentally. So imagine my dismay tonight when the power went out. I've dealt with power outages for days before, and the lack of light or television have never been much of an issue. But our recent power outages, which have been at most inconvenient times, have been causing Amanda and I much more distress than ever before. No electricity here means no light in a place where we don't have candles or flashlights lying around. No more internet exists. It means no ability to cook meals, and the most epic implication of all is that our air goes out. Our little air conditioner is like a tank of oxygen that our very survival depends upon. Perhaps I'm getting dramatic... but the power also controls our ceiling fan. Without those two little guys working together, our room quickly becomes a steamy oven of frustration and impending death. Whoa, dramatic.

Tonight we came into our apartment after a long day and laid down to rest. We woke up shortly, however, to a blazing hot room and no electricity. Big surprise. But tonight, God had plans I was too human to realize. I think He may have had a hand in our 2-hour-long power outage that left me laying in bed covered in sweat and trying not to move. As I wandered in and out of sleep, I began feeling delirious and wondering how anyone lives in weather like this. At the peak of my frustration and yelling for the electricity to come back on, I resigned myself to the fact that we probably wouldn't get electricity back tonight and to just chill out. That mindset shift caused me to lay down, turn on some worship music, and decide to pray to and worship God even in the sweltering heat and moment of anger that I was experiencing. That simple decision -to be content in my relationship with God no matter the circumstances - resulted in one of the best quiet times and communion with God that I had had in a really long time. Had the electricity been on all night, I probably would have been distracted by Facebook, microwaving tea, Skyping family or just peacefully sleeping the evening away as I had originally intended. The cool thing, though, is that this little power outage - and my overreaction that accompanied it - actually brought me a lot closer to God. He used those crappy few hours to let me commune with Him instead, and worship my God who is more important than a skipped meal, more valuable than a ceiling fan and far more powerful than the heat.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Making a Home in Jaco

WE'RE IN JACO!! Emily's game of life just went from great to incredible. In the past, outreach locations and housing have been... well, interesting to say the least. My missions trip last year with YWAM took me on a 2-month trek through Russia and Eastern Europe. I lived out of a school-sized backpack for that amount of time, and slept on everything from a concrete church basement to a mattress with stains that looked suspiciously like blood. It was rough, but that was my idea of missions on-the-go. And it was fine. My tolerance for "gross" skyrocketed and I even took showers without flip-flops in questionable conditions. I actually don't really recommend that one ever again... Anyway, all that is to say that when I decided to come to Costa Rica, and especially to move to Jaco, I was in no way anticipating nice living conditions during the outreach phase. Turns out the base in San Jose was actually a little rougher than I had anticipated, as there was much construction and we had a few mice making their homes in and around our beds. But those three months are over, and I got the privilege to move to Jaco with my good friend Amanda. I couldn't ask for a better roommate, so that was a good start. But when we arrived at our new home yesterday, I was blown away. I almost cried with happiness. We somehow got blessed with an incredibly cheap, beautiful, perfect, nearly pristine little apartment. Perhaps apartment is an overstatement... it is one room. But there are some counters and cabinets and a sink, plus a refrigerator. That's a complete kitchen in my book. A mattress on the floor and a mattress in the "loft" (which I can't quite stand up in...) comprise our beds, and the bathroom is just beautiful. I am finally able to unpack and live out of something other than my suitcase. We can refrigerate our water. We can have a space to ourselves, a place to be private and rest and rejuvenate between ministry times. Internet is free and fast. The biggest bonus: there is AC in a room that would otherwise be closer to the 98 degrees on the thermostat. These things may not sound like a big deal, but with such low expectations for housing, I am feeling incredibly blessed. I know that this new home of mine will be a haven from the harsh realities just outside its walls. I will not try to escape the town I am in, but I do feel that this place is a kind of a refuge from all that we will be encountering from the moment we step outside our gate until the moment we're back in it. Jaco is a dark place - but I am finding light in little places. And my new home is one of them. Thank you, Jesus.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010


Ok, I have been a terrible Blogger. My only semi-excuses are that I was sick for a couple of weeks, and made an epic journey home for 6 days. Now I’m back in San Jose, Costa Rica... moving to Jaco tomorrow, and super excited for this next chapter of my life!

The last two weeks of lecture phase for the Children At Risk School were really amazing. Ro Potter came and shared so much new and exciting information about human trafficking. I learned far more in those 5 days of class than I had learned total about human trafficking in the past. Tons of new information was presented, and I walked away feeling inspired and ready to take action! She was a gifted speaker and her heart for justice was contagious. I think the entire base was fired up by the end of that week. The following week, we had a speaker from Switzerland come and teach about attachment disorder. This disorder is a fairly recent discovery, but affects an alarmingly large number of children. We learned about the vital importance of a strong and trusting bond to form within the first couple years of a child’s life. If at least one strong relationship isn’t formed for a child in those early years, many negative symptoms of attachment disorder will creep up later in life and cause a lot of issues for the child. Documentaries, case studies and personal stories made for an enlightening week on the subject. I feel much more able to attribute certain difficult children’s issues to attachment disorder, piecing together the behaviors I’ve witnessed with what I know about their past. It was an epiphanic week for me!

The end of the school meant no more living with the 8 other wonderful students I did this course with… Although a few of us are heading to Jaco together, I had to say goodbye to valuable friends I’d made during my time in San Jose. Sometimes YWAM’s on-the-go schedule rubs me the wrong way. We form deep and spiritually rooted relationships with those we are around – living, serving, working, and playing together daily. But 3 months later, it’s goodbye and we’re scattered all over the world again! I won’t complain, though. I made some friends for life and am ever grateful for the people I had the privilege to meet during this time. So to my Children At Risk buddies, good luck on the field, guys – I’ll miss you :)

The black and white picture posted below is a drawing I did of a boy, Jesus, that I formed a unique relationship with while I was here. He lives in Santa Ana, the community we visited every Friday and did the programs with. He is 9 years old, and a precious and very special child to me! We played and talked and really loved each other during my time here. It was emotional saying goodbye to the children – especially ones like Jesus that I had grown very close to. It’s hard to say goodbye “forever,” since I can never really guarantee that I will return. If that’s hard on me – an adult who knew that my time in San Jose was for a mere 3 months – then I would imagine it was especially difficult for a child who opened up their heart to someone who is now leaving them. I feel borderline guilty about it. But, technology can be a blessing and I have the little guy’s phone number. Maybe I can continue loving on the kids of Santa Ana regardless of distance!

So home was incredible. It was like a beautiful dream that I woke up from, still sick in my bed on a YWAM Base. I got some kind of flu for my last week of classes, then spend the duration of my time at home at the doctor’s office, giving blood tests, and double checking that I didn’t have malaria or some kind of parasite. Thank God, everything checked out okay and I am finally starting to feel better. But the week was full of laughter and conversation with the people I love most in the world. It was my mom’s birthday that week, but I’m thinking I received the biggest gift. My little nephews seemed to remember who I was pretty well, thanks to hours of Skype peek-a-boo. Again, God bless technology. Saying goodbye to family is hard, but much easier when you know that they love and support you. I am so thankful to have such loving and wonderful people in my life!

Now I’m refreshed and revitalized… ready to get to Jaco and see what God has for us there! I cannot wait to put these last three months into practice and see God moving in miraculous and big ways. Please continue praying for me and my team as we embark on this transition… I will keep you posted!