Friday, January 25, 2008

Deep Conversations

Well, I told you that our classes would be more difficult this trimester! Here is a sample of our Conversation / Language classes in the past two weeks...
  • Last week, the teaching theme was "La Iglesia" (the church). On Monday, Billy's class received 87 new vocabulary words related to the church. Some were nouns and some were verbs. Some were words that we don't even know the definition for in English! Some were words that are specific to the Catholic church, but are important for us to learn since we will be serving in predominantly Catholic countries and will need to understand the culture that we are working with.

  • Billy's class had to each prepare a bible study and teach the class about the early church.

  • Billy's class had a long discussion on the best witnessing techniques... through Scripture? Through example and daily living? What is best?

  • Laurie's class had to each prepare studies on the parables in Matthew.

  • Laurie's conversation test questions for last week were "Explain the differences you see in the North American church and the church of Latin America," and "Define faith... what is faith, how does one have faith?", and "What is the Bible? What is in the Bible? Why is it important to us? Why should someone read it?" and "How do Christians greet each other / treat each other / show others that they are Christians?" All of this is one-on-one in conversation with the teacher! Most if not all of it is hard to answer in English, much less Spanish!!!

  • This week's theme is "La Oficina" (the office). Again, we received close to 100 new vocabulary words dealing with business.

  • Billy's class was given the assignment of interviewing people in various offices and asking them questions related to their daily work environment, etc.

  • Laurie's class was assigned an acronym for a government office and the assignment was to find out what the acronym stands for, where the office is, visit the office, and ask questions related to the services provided, the history of the office, etc. Laurie's office was the Instituto Nacional de Seguros (National Insurance Institute).

  • Common discussion strands for this week... What are typical workplace problems in Latin America? How do they compare to North America? What are typical problems with the work of missionaries? What does the Bible say about the workplace, attitudes, and how we should conduct ourselves when working together? In your opinion, what are important values, abilities, personalities, etc. to have in the workplace?

  • Today, Laurie's class got into an hour long conversation comparing the Costa Rican system of Social Security with the USA system, retirement issues, insurance issues, differences between state governments and the laws that effect workers in each state, etc. It was pretty deep!

So if you were wondering what language school is like and whether or not we are learning anything, maybe the last two weeks of class gives you a glimpse at our level of comprehension and learning right now! We are not allowed to speak English in class at all - only Spanish. It's rough, but we are hanging in there and seem to be progressing well.

So what did you talk about this week? :)

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Back to the daily grind...

Okay - first I want to say that I'm sorry I have been a little lax about posting lately. Getting back into the groove of school has been "different". I'll try to bring you up to speed on Life with The Drums...

1. Miles decided that he has had enough of "change" and he needed to get back to something that seemed somewhat normal. Therefore, sadly, we said goodbye to him and allowed him to return to Texas to live with my mom and finish his high school years there. It is a sad thing for us, but it seems to be the best decision for him. He is now settled in at my mom's house, attending school at this old high school, has a car that was loaned to him for the semester... all is going well and he is happier than he has been in months. By the way, he turned 17 on Monday... Happy Birthday, Miles!

2. Billy and I started back to classes on Jan. 9th. Our course load didn't change, but the expectations sure did!!! The workload seems to be double! There was no "easing into class" time this semester... we started right off with serious homework and tests and projects. I have two tests this week, Billy has one test, Billy has to give a bible study in spanish tomorrow over the early church, I have had to write two papers already... all in one week! We come home from school at 1:30 and eat lunch, then we work with Lizbeth on homework or whatever we are desparate for a spanish speaker to help with until 3:00. When Lizbeth leaves, we continue our homework or take care of business issues, etc. Tonight, we have been working on homework and studying pretty much non-stop -- We did stop to go running for awhile to try to get the blood flowing to our brains again! Oh, and we did play a rousing game of CandyLand and Go Fish with Sarah. But other than that, it's been "nose to the grindstone".

3. We started back with the La Carpio ministry last week after a long Christmas break... too long for our tastes! We really missed the kids!!! We were so happy to go back and make connections again. On that note... please pray for one of the kids (Nelson). He has gotten involved with some not-so-great decision makers in the community (ie drug dealers) and he was arrested for stealing last week. So he is a young kid, in jail with grown men, a Nicaraguan... none of this adds up to a pretty picture. He is one of the kids that Steve has been working with for a couple of years and this is a big blow. Please pray for Nelson - for his safety, for his maturity, and for Christ to be with him in jail and work in his life.

So, that's it in a nutshell. We have great teachers and we are really excited about this semester, but we are already under the gun and stressed. (Hint, Hint... we have used exercise DVDs three times this week and we went running together tonight... that translates into "Oh my goodness! These people are totally stressed out and have resorted to exercise to try to relieve the pressure! Dios les ayuda!)

Love to you all! PS... Please also keep our good, good, good friend Amanda in your prayers as she continues to stay on the ground in Nairobi, Kenya and serve God no matter what the cost! We totally stand behind her and support her decision to rise to the occasion and continue to minister to her national friends, even in the midst of chaos and tribal warfare. If God "will not leave us or forsake us", then we will carry the same burden for His people... we will not leave nor forsake the people we have been sent to serve in His name! Go Amanda!!! We are proud of you for persevering and focusing on your call. Please pray for every precious hair on her little red head! We love her!

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Back to "the real world"

Well, it's back to the real world today. Laurie's mom and a friend have been visiting us since Christmas and we have been living in the "tourist world" for awhile. It was a nice break for us, and we got to visit some beautiful parts of this country, and it was a vacation / Christmas present of sorts for our family.

We visited Volcano Arenal for a couple of days. Arenal is one of the top ten active volcanoes in the world. It is constantly spilling lava and bellowing. While we were there, the thermal clouds created around the mouth of the volcano kept us from seeing the lava flow. On our last day, it was looking much clearer, but still never totally unobstructed.

Also while at Arenal, we went on a horseback ride (or we THOUGHT we were going on a horseback ride). When we arrived at the stables, we found out that our friend who booked the ride for us had actually booked us for a horseback ride TO THE ZIPLINE PLATFORMS! Are you kidding me!!!??? Pat and Laurie are both afraid of heights, and Sarah is 4 years old! How are we going to do this?! It was actually amazing and everyone had a great time, conquered some fears, and had a fabulous day - although we were all VERY sore the next day.

We took Pat to see the sights of downtown San Jose... shopping in the markets, visiting the National Museum, the National Theatre, and the Museo de Los Ninos (children's museum). We did way too much for one day!

We also took a drive to the cloud forests, visited a coffee plantation, and hiked to several waterfalls.

But now, it's back to the real world. School starts back up this week, which means studying, early to bed, increased stress levels, etc. Miles goes home to Texas to live with Pat this week, which means packing and cleaning and getting proper documentation for him (guardianship), buying a vehicle "long distance", etc. We're definitely not in tourist mode anymore... Billy is cooking hamburgers for dinner on our homemade grill - a tire rim with a grate on top! It sure was nice to have Mom here for awhile!!!