Saturday, September 15, 2012

Some Facts (FAQS, rather)

1. What Sorts of Things Are You Doing?
 The basic format for Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday:
5:00 am Wake up, breakfast, run, take a city bus to mass
8:00am Mass
9:00am Morning prayer corporately and then individually
11:00am  lunch and free time
1:00-4:00 pm individual projects of the GAP year (retreat organization,personal formation, meetings)

Wednesday we serve at an orphanage: playing with the kids, and cleaning. Monday night we go to Shalom (the Arbol del Vida Community's youth group); Tuesday and Friday afternoon there is a spanish class; Thursday night is a Bible study with a small group of young women; Friday nights are a university outreach (Christianos En Marcha) event; Saturday there is a gathering with the community, and a celebration of the Lord's Day at night. Sunday is a 'free' day, or a 'crash-and-do-nothing-but-sleep' day. Starting this week, Thursday will also be our college evangelization day. This means that we will be going to the UCR (University of Costa Rica), and basically giving our testimony to whomever we encounter. Needless to say, I am slightly terrified. But less than I would normally be, since any insults or rejections will probably in rapid-fire spanish, and thus go right over my head.

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2. Entendiste?/ How Goes Your Spanish?
This question always makes me laugh... or not... depending on how long of a day it has been. There are two reasons why it evokes such a response: 1) A complex immortal soul just asked if I understood them. 2) They were speaking another language. Regardless, I am improving. And though there are days when not being able to understand others or speak with them literally drives me to my knees, there is always grace to continue. And it is there, when I am empty and have nothing left to give, that I am truly blessed.

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3. Are You Homesick?
I have been in this country for 1 month and 2 days -- eating food that is unfamiliar, speaking words that have never been uttered from my mouth with people that I do not know. I spend my nights in a bed that is not my own, and my days in a room whose walls are still foreign to me. And yet, despite all of this, I still call this place my home. Why? Because homesickness is a funny thing. We can be surrounded by our family, or home, or our friends, and still be homesick. And I believe, if you will bear with my philosophy, that this is because our hearts were not meant for this place alone. Our hearts rest in an eternal kingdom and as long as we are on this earth, we will never be truly home. So, do I miss the comfort of my family, my home, my friends? Yes. But if I were to pack my bags tonight and go home to Minnesota, a piece of my heart would remain here.


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Blessings!
Catherine

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Earthquake!

We interrupt this blog for an important news update:
On September 6, 2012, at roughly 8:42 am, an earthquake of magnitude 7.6 struck 88 miles west of San Jose, terrifying many and putting into effect a tsunami warning for Costa Rica and the surrounding countries. The Red Cross recommends staying calm.....
In San Jose, the effects of the quake were not extraordinary: objects were thrown from tables and shelves, entire buildings were rocked violently back and forth and up and down, and pots, mirrors, and other such things were broken to bits. The mercy of this quake was that it struck 20 miles underground, significantly decreasing the superficial effects of the quake. The following is a story from one of the eyewitnesses herself. It is a story of self-sacrifice, honor, and bravery; a true heart-render, and sure to bring a tear to the eye and valiance to the heart:
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I got up that morning at the usual 5 am, thinking it would simply be another normal day of mission work. After daily mass, we were headed off to the orphanage as we do every Wednesday for our social mission day. We were supposed to arrive at 9, but by the grace of God, we had arrived 1/2 hour early that day. All five of us Gappers were sitting in a room, discussing the plan for the day with when the shaking started. Minnesota doesn't have earthquakes so my first thought was "I didn't know there were train-tracks that ran through the orphanage." My second was "there aren't train-tracks that run through the orphanage", and my third was "so this must be an earthquake". The shaking lasted for nearly a minute, and as the walls of the building continued to shake and buckle, we all stumbled out as quickly as possible, grabbing the hands of the children around us, and congregating in the grass outside. Children were crying, some had been thrown to the ground by the seismic waves... it was pretty disorienting. We linked arms,crouching together until the shaking stopped. The rest of that day was spent with the infants and youngest children of the orphanage, comforting, and caring for them, calling people to tell them that we were alive, watching what we had just experienced unfold on CNN, and then decorating the hallways for Costa Rican Independence Day.

**In another interview, a friend of the eyewitness commented: "Thankfully the orphanage is in the mountains so the effects of the quake were reduced. But never in my life have I seen such quick-thinking and calm in the face of such circumstances. She's a true fighter."
 **the contents of this quote are more or less stretching the truth...

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The lessons from this quake are simple: 
1. Always be aware of your surroundings
2. The best excuse ever for not having a clean room is: 'the earthquake messed it up'
3. If you have faith the size of a mustard seed, it is equivalent to a magnitude 7 earthquake, 20 miles underground.
4. Gappers bring it.

Until next time, God bless and goodnight!
Catherine