Wednesday, May 6, 2015

And so the day has arrived

I must admit, I have been careless with the time I have had here in Costa Rica. The saying, "you don't know what you have until it's gone" rings so true in this current moment. Even yesterday, I was joyfully skipping around because I was finally about to return home. But today, it was all different. A day of 'lasts'; I had my last breakfast in my home (gallo pinto, of course), I had my last walk to school, I had my (maybe) the last time I'll see you goodbyes, and many more. I was walking down the road by myself, thinking about my time here and just kind of reflecting. There is something so beautiful about having time to yourself, to think in your mind and not have anyone criticize you or contradict you. It's just a simple time to hangout with the person who knows you best, you! That sounds really lame and I know it kind of is, but it's something that I think not too many people take time to appreciate. So anyways, I'm walking down this road and kind of had a flashback to my very first night here in Costa Rica. I was walking home with Beighlie and we were totally lost. It was dark outside and we had been told to fear walking without a male past sunset. I'm thinking, "how the heck am I supposed to survive in another country for three months if I can't even find my own house?" Now, I know this country's capital all-over. I wasn't worried about my reentry because I was, and am, so excited to return to the states. But after today, I realized that I am going to have moments where I feel lost in my own city or moments where I just want to hug one of my amazing teachers. There are things that have become a part of my life that I now have to leave behind and thinking about that just scares the crap out of me. We had a final lunch today at our school with our teachers and other adults that have helped us through these past few months. It was in the moment that the 'thank you's' and the 'goodbye's' started that my heart started to crumble to the floor. So this next portion is about these people that have invested in me in my time here in Costa Rica.

To understand where I'm coming from, we had class every day but the weekends. In the morning, I had a two hour grammar class. After that, I had a one hour conversation class and following that, I had a one hour history and culture class. Also, our weekend trips were also considered a class. Our professor traveled with us to every single one. I've never had teachers like the ones I have had here. Granted, it's easier to become closer when the class sizes are small and you see them every day. But I wish you could all experience what I experienced. Teachers that prayed for us and teachers that encouraged us when they could see we were at the ends of our ropes. I had a beautiful teacher (and friend) help me in numerous classes with personal problems. Not only did she help me during class, but she also took time to counsel me outside of class. I received advice from her that I will forever take with me. It wasn't just Spanish that I learned here, it was so much more than that. Living in another country without your friends and family can be a daunting experience, but I realized today that I had a family here with me the whole time. One of my other teachers could always tell when something was wrong with me. She would hug me and ask me how I was doing- ¿Qué pasó, mi corazón? "What's wrong, my love?"-and would give me relevant advice. And I'm telling you, constantly, they encouraged and encouraged and encouraged. When you're trying to master another language, encouragement from others is sometimes the only thing that keeps you going. I'll miss the genuine hugs and the conversations so dearly. It's something that I want to take back with me to the United States.

Switching the subject a little bit... While here, I have been journaling as much as possible. I personally love journaling and have always done it since I started high school. It's a beautiful way to vividly remember things. I also highly recommend journaling for two reasons: the first reason being that writing things out can help you realize things a lot better. The other reason is that you can write down all your prayers and go back and see how God answered them. It's a great way to share with others. So I actually started journaling about Costa Rica a little before I came. On February 17, I wrote, "I fear the emotional pain I'll experience when I have to leave. Isn't it funny how I can miss something that I haven't even experienced yet? I know this trip will change me and that is the most exciting part. I will really get to figure myself out." And that confirms how I feel today. The emotional pain is inevitable, but I'm glad I have something to miss. It means that it was worthwhile. Although, I don't think I have totally figured myself out yet, which is ok because I'm too young to have it all figured out. But I thank Costa Rica for making me realize this. I will hold my memories and feelings deep within a little, precious box in my heart. Lol, I'm trying to lighten the mood here. Through all of this, every single day, God has been with me and has carried me. If you're reading this and you think that God has left you or has forgotten about you, don't you dare doubt yourself for a second that He has ever left your side. I know that my Redeemer lives and that He is the reason for my joy. He can be the reason for your joy, too. I'm just sorry that it took me going to another country to realize this.

So I guess this is it:( My final blog post from Costa Rica. Thank you all who have followed along with me and have also encouraged me. I seriously feel like the luckiest girl in the world to have so many people that I love in my life. Now I have family in two different countries!

Friday, May 1, 2015

It's the final countdown!

Three months and a day ago, I arrived to a country I had yet to meet full of excitement. I'd known before I even enrolled at MVNU that Costa Rica would play a part in my language acquisition. It was one of the biggest things to ever happen to me. It's hard to see how much I have changed, if I have changed at all. Of course it is nearly impossible to spend three months in another country and not change at least a little bit. I know I have definitely changed in the food department. Before I came to Costa Rica, I was one of the pickiest people you'd ever meet. I'd freak out if there was something on my sandwich that I didn't ask for or if there were finely diced onions in my food. I'd go through my tacos and take out anything other than the chicken and cheese. But now, it doesn't really bother me anymore. Yeah, I'm still picky and my host mom will tell you that I am the pickiest person she has ever hosted but I think I'm finally caught up with the rest of the functioning world. It's kind of a relief. I no longer have to fear Chinese or Mexican restaurants. That's what we call a #FirstWorldProblem, folks. Something else I have recognized as a personal change is how I interact with others. I have learned to have patience when it is most needed and when to pray for others when it seems the hardest. I have this bad habit of saying whatever I want whenever it comes to my mind. It's one of the reasons I am so sarcastic. I'm still working on it, but I realize the importance of our words and how imperative it is to think before we speak, or think before we tweet. I knew I would make it but I'm surprised now looking back that I actually did. These past three months weren't exactly a vacation. Yeah, I visited some amazing places. I guess you could count those as vacations, but it was beyond that. I lived with a family who didn't speak any English (I'm basically a pro at charades now), I had to adjust to their customs and eat their food, and I had to live in a house with people that I love. For me, that last one was one of the most difficult challenges. Aside from the family, I attended classes everyday that were also in my second language. That was ok for me, but sometimes when you're talking about Latin American history, it'd be a tad easier to just learn it in English. We had exams and homework and projects just like usual. Except that on top of that, we were supposed to volunteer every week and do extra studying as well as build relationships with our families, the missionary families, and within our group. Something that I have realized about our culture is that we are extremely competitive and hard on ourselves. Our professors would constantly remind us to take a breath and calm down. My response? I can't! I have to keep a good GPA, and I have to make sure that I learn this perfectly, and I have to make sure that I do better... yeah, the list goes on.

These past few weeks have been rough too. I am so excited to come home. It's not that I am homesick, or that I dislike Costa Rica, I just can't wait to get back into my own routine. I miss being able to be independent (something else that is a big aspect of our culture.) I miss being able to hangout with my friends or my sister when I want. Costa Rica has been lovely, but it is not my home. There really is no place like home!! That's a phrase I can finally say with assurance. I'm so lucky that I have something to look forward to. My family has been so supportive of me these past three months. Their encouragement and prayers have kept me afloat. Actually, it wasn't just my family! I know there are so many of you who have said prayers for me and for my parents. Thank you so much!! The notes and the mail, all were more appreciated than you know. Prayer is a cool thing because it isn't generic. God listens to what we tell Him and He helps us out the best way that WE ourselves need! God doesn't give me the strength to complete a surgery, God gives me the strength to wake up everyday and have a conversation in my second language when I don't even want to be talking at all. I know that is kind of a weird analogy, but seriously! Think about it! God is personal.

I officially have six days left here. The raining season started last week. Everyday in the afternoon, it pours. And when I say pours, I mean cats, dogs, cows, elephants, whales... yeah, the rain drops are huge and powerful. I live for rainy days so I'm content. I only have two more days of classes and then I'm a senior in college! WHAT?! How did I get here? I swear it was just yesterday that I was graduating from high school. It's scary being 20. I have no idea what I'm doing or where I'm going. I guess it's nice knowing everyone was once there and they somehow survived. With that being said, if you'd like to pray for me, please pray that:

I trust God with my future and where He wants me to be.
I get a summer job because I need one realllllly bad
We have a safe flight home (Thursday, May 7 at 8am)
I have an easy reentry and readjust to the United States without trouble

Thanks for sticking with me throughout all these posts.

Monday, April 6, 2015

The best spring break ever

Please forgive my blogging absence, I've been a little busy doing cool stuff. This post is all about that cool stuff! This past week, we had school off for Semana Santa. Everyone in Costa Rica pretty much had the week off so it was like one giant spring break. So, um, let's get this party started!

Part 1: Guanacaste

Friday after class, we left for Guanacaste, a province located about six hours from where I live. We're lucky because every time we travel, we have our own private bus and bypass the public transportation system. Our hotel was pretty nice, it had air conditioning and a great working shower, so I was a happy camper. It's a good thing they had AC, Guanacaste was outrageously hot and dry. Saturday, we walked to the beach and enjoyed the waves. I'm more of a pool person than a beach person, so I spent the rest of the afternoon hugging my sunscreen bottle and chilling by the pool. Saturday night we had a bonfire on the beach. They bought us marshmallows to make s'mores and when Emily asked our teacher if we had any chocolate, he got really confused. I guess a Costa Rican s'more consists of just a roasted marshmallow? They're missing out!! I need to look more into this... Sunday, we hopped back onto the bus and returned home to prepare ourselves for the next leg of our adventure.

Part 2: Coffee Tour

Monday morning, I woke up bright and early (6:30) and boarded our little bus once more to go on a coffee tour in Alajuela. This tour took free samples to a whole new level. Coffee ranks pretty high on my list of things I couldn't live without. I've never really thought about the making of coffee, but it's actually kind of complicated. It made me appreciate the liquid gold even more.

Part 3: La Paz

From the coffee tour, we went to La Paz, a large waterfall in north of Alajuela. When we visited, there were all kinds of things to see. I'll begin with the Butterfly Observatory. It all started off chill and then the butterflies "attacked" me. 

Yeah, it was awesome until I felt their little antennas eating away at my gringa flesh. After that, we looked at more animal exhibits and I got to hold the cutest, wittlest, snuggliest bunny!!

Finally. we made it to the waterfall. It was breathtaking. I've seen pictures, but to hear the rush of the water and feel the cool mist really sealed the deal.

Part 4: Whitewater Rafting

Can I just start off by saying that this was one of the coolest things I have ever done?! I can't really tell you why I liked it so much. Tuesday, we woke up early again and traveled two hours north to the Pacuare River. We split up and began our 3 1/2 hour journey down the river. The highest level we did was a level four. We kept joking we wanted to take on six. Actually, we weren't really joking but there's no way that was going to happen. I really want to go again when I return to the states. I remember at one point, we were peacefully floating and it started to downpour. I looked around me and I wish I could share my memories with you because it was a moment I'll never forget. It was like that cliche moment when the rain starts to pour and you just take a breath and sigh to the sky. Everyday in Costa Rica, I experience more and more of God's amazing creation. I just can't believe some of the things I see. Costa Rica is gorgeous!! 

Part 5: Day Off

Everyone needs a day of rest, right? But I wasn't about to sit in my room all day when there's another country to explore! Beighlie, Stephen, Brandon, and I decided to venture downtown and go to one of the markets. Somehow, we never made it to the market. After that, we went to the mall to see Insurgent. The movie theatres here are pretty nice and kind of cheap. They offer most of the movies in two forms: you can watch it as the original (English) with Spanish subtitles or you can watch it with Spanish dubbed over. I think it only costed me about 3 bucks because it was a matinee. Gracias a Dios. We also went to Chilis because it's the closet thing to the states. It was a nice, tranquillo day. 

Part 6: Nicaragua

Thursday morning, 4 AM to be specific, we loaded up and shipped out. We are required to leave the country within 90 days to renew our visas. We stayed in Granada Thursday-Sunday. Our hotel was beautiful. We enjoyed the night life, something that we haven't really been able to do here in Costa Rica because it's "too dangerous." 

Friday, we went on a boat tour around the lake. We saw a bunch of little islands. There was even one with just monkeys on it which freaks me out because monkeys are gross and are definitely not cute. After the boat trip, we went back, swam, and then loaded up in horse drawn carriages to take a tour of Granada. 

Saturday, we went to San Juan del Sur. It was about an hour drive and when we got there, I was immediately overwhelmed. There were so many people. Like I mentioned at the beginning of this post, it's Semana Santa and everyone has the week off. What better place to spend your week off than at the beach? There were tons of drunks and super loud music. It was horrendous. We left Nicaragua Sunday morning. The trip took about 10 hours by the time we went through customs and stopped for pizza. Here are a few thoughts I have about my visit:

1. There is a lot of poverty in Nicaragua. For an area so full of tourism, I saw a lot of people begging. There were tons of kids who would make little things like flowers or bugs out of a long palm and try to sell them to you. There were also a lot of children selling things on the streets by themselves. When I say children, I'm talking young, like as young as 8 or 9. If they don't bring home money at the end of the day, their "family" puts them out on the streets. If that doesn't put things into perspective for a person, then I don't know what will. 

2. I think it's interesting to note the conflict between the Costa Ricans and the Nicaraguans. From what I've observed and have been told, both parties are not fond of each other. I know America has its fair share of racism, but this was a whole new level. Many of the Nicaraguans were pretty friendly. Although, they did take tons of pictures of us. We walked by a gate and a little girl behind was just intently watching. I heard her whisper, "United Statesians." I felt like an animal on display at the zoo. 

3. Sunday also happened to be Easter. Easter is one of my most favorite holidays, so this was a little difficult for me. Every year, my entire family comes over to my house after church and we eat a lot of good brunch food and have an easter egg hunt. They always try and tell me I'm too old, but let's be honest here, you're never too old for an egg hunt when money is involved. Spring is so gorgeous in Ohio, which is also another reason I love Easter. Being in a bus for 10 hours wasn't exactly my ideal way of spending Easter, but hey, I didn't really have a choice. It was interesting to spend a holiday like this in another country. Easter here is more religiously celebrated. There were lots of processions in Nicaragua. One procession was in the evening. There were a group of men in purple cloaks and purple masks carrying a float with crucified Jesus and Mary. It was also followed by a large group of people and a small marching band. This is totally different from the US's version of Easter. We stuff ourselves with candy, take our kids to get pictures with a person in a large bunny costume, and dye eggs. Taking me out of all the Easter fun made me realize that I forget why we celebrate Easter. My best friend, Jesus, beat death! He beat it and came back because not even the impossible could keep Him from us. What a pity that people lose sight of this. The greatest thing to ever happen to mankind, and all we want to do is make sure that we have a super cute outfit for church so that we can take pictures and post them on instagram. Don't get me wrong, I'm not trying to point fingers. Heck, I'm pointing fingers at myself. But when you're taken out of all of the holiday hoopla, things are totally different. 

So that was my spring break in a nutshell. I'm exhausted and shocked I made it. Please excuse any errors in this post, I have no energy to check it twice, Vanilla. You all are fantastic and I can't wait to see you and hug you when I come back to the U S of A. 

Monday, March 23, 2015

I think there's still sand in my hair...

What a couple of weeks it has been. I haven't really blogged recently on account of 1. I haven't done anything exciting. 2. I've been busy living my life. I have almost been in Costa Rica for 2 months! Some days, I wish that I could have an abundance of days here in San José. Other days, I'm ready to be shipped back on the next plane. It's amazing the things you find yourself intensely missing when they're not at your disposal. Wanna know some examples? I bet you do...

Chipotle and Raising Canes: please, for the love of all that is good do not roll your eyes that I said Chipotle. Just because I live in a country that eats beans and rice at every meal does not mean I am eating the Chipotle equivalent. Quite the opposite, actually. (And I don't eat rice and beans for every meal. Sorry to rain on your parade.)

Thrifting: I love going to thrift shops and finding super great stuff for dirt cheap. Everything in Costa Rica is outrageously expensive. I kind of look at this time as an opportunity for some free shopping rehab. But then again, I'll probably return to the states even worse than I was before.

The showers: wow. I feel like I'm at camp every time I take a shower here. Want a hot shower with fabulous pressure? Not happening; it's one or the other, you choose.

My car: oh, my sweet, sweet Toyota Corolla. How I miss you! I don't mind walking everywhere, but sometimes it's a pain in the butt tracking down a taxi driver and sometimes it's a pain in the butt when you want to go somewhere at night but you're not allowed to leave because you might get robbed or something like that. Never again will I take accessibility and freedom for granted!

Enough of my spoiled white girl rants, how about what I've been up to lately!?

We went to Manuel Antonio this past weekend. We left Friday after classes and traveled 3 hours. Of course we stopped somewhere in there and you better bet I got myself a milkshake!

We stayed at a nice little hotel complete with two pools and a super adorable black lab, Chula. Saturday, we went to Parque Nacional de Manuel Antonio and hiked a little ways to get to a secluded beach. It was absolutely gorgeous.

The absence of waves was appreciated. Sometimes you just want to go into the ocean without feeling like you're being hit by a train, ya know? There were a lot of other tourists there. I love that I live in Costa Rica, even if temporarily, because I have this feeling of satisfaction that I'm somehow one step above the gringos visiting on their spring break trips. I don't know, I'm weird. We went to a public beach after that and got to watch the sunset with my amigas and maestros.

And it wouldn't be a complete trip to the beach if I didn't burn a little bit. I swear I wear sunscreen but the sun is like on a Chuck Norris level here. Sunday, I stayed at the pool utilizing the shade as much as I could while still enjoying the beautiful Costa Rican weather.

Then we came back and stopped at Pizza Hut because we're college kids and obsessed with pizza. In case you were wondering, which I'm sure you weren't, the Pizza Hut here is a actually a nice joint. You could take your lady friend there without being called cheap and other names that aren't appropriate.

My classes are still difficult and I still find myself struggling to adjust. I say this all the time, but I just can't believe that I'm in Costa Rica, doing the things I'm doing. I know I'll wake up tomorrow and it's all going to be just a memory. I'm ready for more, though. I want to see the world and see all the different cultures that make up this planet. Lately, I have been feeling really trapped and discouraged. I want so much out of this life, but I'm realizing that it's going to take work and determination to get those things. There's stuff that I am learning about myself that I know I could not have discovered back in the United States. Studying abroad has been, and is, quite the experience. Central America is awesome, but I'm ready for Europe!

I guess I'll leave you with this:
I've been really interested in the book of Colossians lately. There are certain passages that are perfect for what I am going through. I shared this with my amigos and would like to share it here!

"9 For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you.We continually ask God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all the wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives, 10 so that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, 11 being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, 12 and giving joyful thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of his holy people in the kingdom of light. 13 For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, 14 in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins."

I love when it talks about prayer and having great endurance and patience. Nothing is more relevant for my current situation than endurance and patience! I am realizing the power of prayer more and more. It is no longer just a practice that I do because I was taught to. Praying, for me, is now a way to communicate with God. I thank Him for the good things in my life and ask Him for help with the difficult. I can honestly tell the difference in situations when prayer is involved and when it is not. I had always had a negative relationship with prayer. There was a time when I had prayed so hard that my entire body felt it. I spent hours with God, pleading for Him to specifically answer one prayer. That prayer wasn't answered the way I had wanted it to be answered, and that angered me. I was upset; I was hurt because I had been told that praying would solve all my issues. Yet it had failed me...or so I thought. God doesn't answer our prayers to give us a perfect life. God answers our prayers because He knows specifically what we need. I still struggle with prayer, but I am learning the beauty of it. 

Well, I'm about to get super busy with little trips coming up which will give me some blogging meat. One week until spring break! I think I can, I think I can, I think I can...

Saturday, March 7, 2015

50 Shades of Sunburn

I'm currently sprawled out on my bed, listening to The Lizzie McGuire Movie and The Princess Diaries soundtracks. I am so thankful it's Saturday on account of that fact that this past week was one of the worst yet in Costa Rica. Nothing super awful happened, I just seemed to face a lot of little crappy moments. I had two difficult exams, I was sick, I had some culture issues, and I faced the tiniest bit of homesickness. It's no longer a vacation and I'm definitely out of the honeymoon stage.  It's hard to have bad days here because I feel like I'm almost not allowed. Everyone keeps saying that I'm having the best time of my life. I don't think I'm necessarily having "the best time of my life." I would hate for these three months to define my life's fun potential (for lack of a better phrase). I'm allowed to have bad days and I'm allowed to feel upset. Just because I'm surrounded by palm trees and pineapple doesn't mean that I'm immune to not feeling like myself. On top of that, I have been removed from an environment where I was completely surrounded by people who love me immensely. I have an amazing family and friends that I thank God for everyday. I've gone more than a month without seeing them or hugging them. I'm really not the homesickness type. I'm not emotionally destroyed or cry about it, I just wish that they could all be here to experience this part of my journey with me. But with that being said, I love that I have the opportunity to experience this by myself. Of course I am here with my friends from Mount Vernon, but I am living in a house with a Tican family and I don't have access to just meet up with someone that I love dearly within an hour. My emotional independence is something that I am trying to figure out. I so badly want to do this on my own, but why? Why try and brave out the days or fight through the sadness solo when I have a God who is thirsting for my attention and affection? Honestly, that's been one of my favorite parts of this trip; my dependence on my relationship with Jesus has increased by like, a lot. Through reading my bible every morning, to expanding the purpose of my prayers, I can feel my relationship strengthening and growing everyday. But enough of the sappy!

On this week's episode of, "What the Heck Is Tess Doing?"
Aside from feeling like Bad Luck Brian, this past week wasn't really eventful. Last weekend, I ventured to downtown San José twice. Five of my friends and I also went to the beach. We woke up super early, got a bus to downtown, and then walked for 20 minutes to buy tickets to catch another bus to take us all the way to Jacó. Our bus ride was roughly an hour and a half and the majority of us had to stand because we were late buying our tickets. I was lucky and found a seat next to a young girl who spoke English. We chatted about Costa Rica and the United States. The beach was great but I got super fried. Plus, I realized that going to the beach two days before a really hard exam was a terrible idea. 

I tutor three different girls every Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday. I enjoy getting to interact with them and talk to them about things. They all remind me of my girls from youth group that I adore back in the states. I've had the chance this past week to also enjoy new friendships. It's realllllly frustrating knowing that you're getting close to these people only to leave them within a short amount of time. Goodbyes are the worst. But it's too soon to think about that. Today our group went to the National Museum in downtown San José. My favorite part of the trip was getting a milkshake because I swear on my life that the milkshakes are so much better here. We also went to the artisan's market. It was my second time visiting and being harassed by a bunch of people trying to get me to buy all their crap. I broke my moral code and bought a fanny pack. I don't know why exactly, except that it's a cute pattern and I like that it's different. Sorry, Dad, but it's still not ok for you to wear one.

Studying abroad is pretty cool and I'm glad that Costa Rica gets to be my home for three months. Please pray for me as I work on my language acquisition and work out the plans for my future. Growing up is hard-work. Someone tell me it's worth it?! And with that, I leave you with this:

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Beautiful Sacrifices

Hola to all 3 people that read this! I'm still alive and kickin here in San José. I just wrote a post about my trip to Monteverde in case you're interested. It should be below this post. Ok, well, what's new? Nothing really! It's been spiritual emphasis week at ILE. They flew in a pastor from the Virgin Islands to speak to us. I've been to the Virgin Islands once upon a time, but that's another story. On Monday he spoke about making the sacrifice of waking up early to meet with Jesus. I'm not going to lie... usually, I get a little distracted during chapel, but for some reason, God really wanted me to hear the message that day. He made an excellent point; if you can't make the sacrifice of giving up some sleep to pray, read your bible, and grow closer to God, then are you really doing your job as a Christian? (This is at least my point of view.) He's right, though. It's a lot easier to just read my bible right before I go to bed, but it shouldn't necessarily be easy. Jesus straight up sacrificed Himself for me, the least I can do is sacrifice 30 minutes of sleep. It's not easy, but that's what makes it a sacrifice! Sacrifices aren't meant to be a piece of cake and they're not meant to make you comfortable. I don't want to get to the gates of heaven and have God tell me that I let Him down because I didn't try to invest my time in Him.

So waking up early, I can kind of handle that. But it's not just a sacrifice of my sleep in the morning, it's sacrificing things like watching netflix before I go to bed so that I can go to sleep earlier to make up the time lost. In case you were unaware, netflix is kind of a big deal amongst college students. But all of it is worth it because Jesus rocks and deserves my devotion. 

I didn't know where to start Tuesday morning, so I prayed that God would show me what I needed to be shown. Low and behold, I somehow ended up in the book of James. I was reading about patience and felt so convicted. Specifically, James 1:19, "My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry." Patience is an issue that I think every single person struggles with in a different way. How often I am quick to speak and slow to listen. Whether that be in a conversation with a friend, or an argument, it's an issue I want to work on. I want to be the kind of person that is slow to anger because Jesus was that kind of person. Words have this miraculous way of making things go from great to terrible. But they can also do just the opposite! I struggle with saying whatever comes to my mind. I have hurt many people in the past. I don't want to ruin beautiful relationships because I decided to say something that I know I wouldn't have said if I would have just stepped back and thought about it. I am trying now to follow the three steps: listen whenever someone needs listened to, stop and think about what I am going to say before I open my big, fat mouth, and take a chill pill before overreacting and doing something that I might regret. All these things are great, but I can't do it alone. The best part is that my biggest cheerleader also happens to hold my future in His hands. I truly believe that with God, all things are possible. This is so much bigger than me; it has always been, and will always be. So if you've made it this far, I challenge you to also set your clock back, wake up, and see what God wants to show you. I'm only two days in and already can feel the difference! 

God is so good. 

P.S. Here's a pic I took of the sunset in Monteverde. Enjoy:)

Mount Vernon in Monteverde!

I can't believe I've almost been here for a month! I wish I could slow time down, there's too much I want to do in such a short amount of time. This post is dedicated to my trip to Monteverde. I highly encourage you to google image search Monteverde because it's absolutely beautiful and my pictures don't do it justice. Our group left Friday afternoon after classes and endured roughly 4.5 hours on the open road. I kinda thought I was going to die on the last leg of the trip when we were traveling through the mountains, but God is good, all the time;) Our poor bus driver is always making stops because we want to pictures or pet cows or whatever. He just goes with it.

Saturday was a day full of adventure. In the morning, we went on a hike in the rainforest. There were snakes, tarantulas, super poisonous wasps, gigantic leaves with lethal water, and suspension bridges. Pretty much all the cliche things you would expect to find in a rainforest. 

// a gorgeous tree my brave fellow classmates climbed inside of to the top //

// leaves bigger than me //

// crappy group photo - always a requirement //

After our hike, we went to go zip lining at some random place. It's supposedly the longest zip line in Latin America. I'll take their word for it. I've zip lined before, but this was a whole different ballpark. (Sorry, church camp, you still hold a special place in my heart.) At one point whilst being suspended who knows how far above the ground, I thought to myself, "If I were to fall right now, would I be happy with the way I have lived my life?" Sometimes it just takes one second of being uncomfortable  to make you think clearly. Costa Rica has provided me with some beautiful memories so far. I love that I am having the opportunity to develop myself as a person here. Being in this country only makes me thirsty to visit more. Almost 30 days in, and I still can't get over the views. How sad that some people will never get to experience things like this? But yeah, zip lining was awesome and I'd highly recommend it to anyone who wants to live on the edge.

// another crappy group photo //

// me trying to be cute and adventurous at the same time but failing miserably //

// the view from where I zip lined. On this portion, I zip lined in the superman position. I totally felt like a bird, it was magical //

After zip lining, we had ice cream from some amazing heladería and went to a touristy area of Monteverde. I happened to capture this picture; we saw so many rainbows! They made us go around and interview people. Yet another moment I have been pushed way outside of my comfort zone. I mean, at this point, I don't even have a comfort zone anymore. 

We returned to our little hotel after for some delicious Costa Rican comida and went for a night walk. I really enjoy getting to do these things with the people in our group. We're always laughing about something. 

Sunday, we packed up and had a bible study courtesy of two of my classmates. Then we took a little walk to a hummingbird display and left Monteverde. On our drive back, we passed the beach and begged our bus driver to make another stop. He did and I think we all died a little. I felt like I was six again, running to introduce the water to my feet. What a beautiful encounter it was. 

// this was the first time I had ever seen mountains and ocean collide - I was literally breathless for a few seconds //

Overall, the trip was absolutely gorgeous. There are so many things I am going to take with me from this weekend getaway. I will forever remember the beautiful sites I was lucky to witness. God's creation never ceases to disappoint. This world is such a spectacular piece of art and it deserves to be appreciated.