Thursday, December 10, 2009

A Few Pictures

Thanksgiving has come and gone, and if I'm not careful, Christmas will come and go without my having updated our blog. Missy and I graduate from language school tomorrow! It is hard to believe that we have been on the mission field for almost a whole year now; time is just flying by.

Our little family had a nice Thanksgiving here in Costa Rica. Turkey is super expensive down here, but that doesn't bother me one bit since I don't even like turkey. We decided to start a new tradition and buy a roast chicken instead. At about $7 it was MUCH cheaper and MUCH more delicious.

Devin's daycare at the language school put on a Christmas program a few day ago. It was so funny to watch Devin's class "participate." They all just sat there looking bashful while their two teachers sang a duet. It was still cute though.

On Monday we will be flying back to the States to spend three weeks with our families. We have really been looking forward to this visit, although I'm not sure that we are looking forward to temperatures in the teens. Please pray that God will give us safe trip home.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

For Christa

Here Christa, my dear sister-in-law, this is just for you. (Confused? See her comment under my last post.)

Friday, October 23, 2009

Sunday School Snapshots

Wow, I guess it's been a while since I last posted. My mother-in-law has been after me to post more pictures of her grandson (or something like that), so I had better get back into the routine of posting if I want to get any apple pie the next time we visit the States.

These pictures are a few random shots of Sunday school in Paraiso.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Lancaster Botanical Garden

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We went to this botanical garden when Missy's sister visited us a few weeks ago. It was beautiful even though the orchid season ended back in April or May. We would like to go back next year when the orchids are in full bloom.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Br. Hight

Br. Steve Hight, our former vice president at Evangelistic Faith Missions, has recently accepted the pastorate at Faith Mission Church in Bedford, IN. We will deeply miss his high level of involvement at the mission, but we are thankful that he will still be working for EFM on a part-time basis.

EFM had a special lunch this past Thursday in Br. Hight's honor. We missionaries were asked to share a few thoughts about Br. Hight, and I would like to post the thoughts that I sent. I'm doing this because Br. Hight is one of my heroes. These thoughts aren't flattery, they are reality!

1. He is my friend. It is not everyone who is blessed to have a boss who is first and foremost your buddy.

2. I have an open invitation to "dump" on him. There are very few people with whom I would share my deepest, darkest secrets, but Br. Hight is one of those people. I have shared intimate things with him and he has always been there to lend a listening ear. He has never complained when I have called him late at night to talk about something that was bothering me. And once you do "dump," he always give you good advice.

3. He is one of the most level-headed Christians I know. It is easy for a Christian to go either too far right or too far left, but in my book Br. Hight is as dead center of a Christian as they come.
He will go out of his way to help you. Br. Hight, it means a lot to have someone who is more than willing to drive ten to twelve hours one way to speak for ten minutes at your commissioning service.

4. He has a great sense of humor, even when it comes to alarm clock, electric shower heads, mother-in-laws, and things like that.

5. He is short. It is too bad that all that chocolate didn't help with the vertical growth...

I mentioned that Br. Hight has a great sense of humor. Below is a recent exchange between the two of us that gives a good example of the good, enjoyable working relationship that I have with Br. Hight.

He wrote...
Bless U.

Great comments
Showing good sense.

Thanks for your "write"
To Steven E. Hight.

I wrote...
You're crazy! Missy says that you must have too much time on your hands now that you are a pastor. :)

He wrote...
Hmmmm. I guess I'll just have to be serious all the time so as to appear busy and officious. No more joking!! That's an order!!

I wrote...
Yea right! I'll believe it when I see it!

He wrote...
No more joking
No more poking

No more chuckling
Just keep buckling

Down to working;
Hey, no shirking!

Can't be funning;
Must keep running.

Blowing bubbles
Just brings troubles.

So I wrote a note to some fellow missionaries expressing my "grave concerns" about Br. Hight's leadership and shared the exchange with them. I said that I was having "second thoughts" about Br. Hight being over us.

Br. Hight wrote to the people to whom and had expressed my "concerns" and said...
I can't deny
The things I've said
Reported by
That young red-head
From Costa Ricker.

I just will say,
since he did flout
My kindly words,
"So toss me out!"
I'll eat a Snicker.

I'll play racquetball
All through the fall;
And turn up the heat
In wintery sleet
And let the rest of you bicker.

(Please pardon the varied rhyme pattern
And somewhat irregular meter;
I was caught a little off-guard
By the report from that Tico Tweeter;
You can see that he's quite a kicker!)

So I ended with...
I must admit, I must be kind,
Dear Br. Hight has quite the mind!

I won't him-haw, I will shoot straight,
Our great leader just has that trait.

That trait to take, without much thought,
My true concerns, and make them naught.

So I will say, from deep within,
You have to join when you cannot win.

I posted this picture way back when, but it is worth repeating!

Friday, August 28, 2009

Trip to the Pacific

Missy's sister left a week ago and I still haven't posted pictures. I guess that I had better get busy! We tried to take Christa to a lot of neat places here in Costa Rica, and our biggest trip was a visit to the Pacific Ocean. Unfortunately we had to take a three-hour bus trip over VERY windy roads to get there, and on the way I was holding Devin when he got sick and threw up all over the bus. But once we arrived it was beautiful.

The View From Our Hotel

Missy did a good job at taking pictures!

It was so neat how the forest dropped right into the ocean.

Devin just loved the water.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Tragic Loss

Stephen Delong and I were missionary kids together in Costa Rica and Nicaragua years ago. He and his wife Yvonne were at Penn View while my family lived on campus, and Missy and Yvonne graduated together. Just a little over a year ago our families spent two weeks together at The Summer Institute for Missionary Orientation. A few days ago they went through the tragic loss of their newborn baby daughter and Yvonne almost lost her life as well. We ache for them, and we are praying for them. My mother just sent us this first-hand account of what happened (after sending it to the Delongs to make sure that they didn't mind her sharing it), and I am posting it so that you will be able to pray for the Delong family. Joanna's body arrived in the States this morning, and the funeral will be soon.

Dear Friends and Family,

I’m writing this on the plane on our way back to the United States. I wanted to contact you as soon as possible after the events of the past two days so you would know first-hand what has happened. I know there have been a lot of stories flying around, and thought you deserved to get something directly from me.

As you know, we have been in Honduras for the past seven weeks, where I worked in the EFM maternity clinic in San Luis. Rex taught classes here, as well as in Guatemala and Costa Rica during this time. Jeffrey helped by mowing grass, weed eating, painting, and breaking up rocks on the runway to make it easier to mow.

We were only planning to be here for six weeks, but Jeffrey’s ear infection prevented us from returning on July 11, as we had planned. We were surprised and disappointed at the delay, but were confident that God had everything in control. As Rex’s aunt said, “We will be excited to hear the purpose for God leaving you there an extra week.”

Well, now we know why, though frankly, the events that happened are not what we would have chosen. In the midst of the questions and pain of the loss that has occurred, we still are sure that God does not make mistakes, and we choose to trust His loving care for His children.

Months ago, Stephen and Yvonne DeLong contacted me about the possibility of my delivering their baby while we were here. They are both former students of Rex, and have been serving as missionaries in Honduras for the past several years after graduating from Penn View. Stephen’s parents and we worked together in Nicaragua when he was a boy, and he and his sisters are like part of our own family. Yvonne’s baby wasn't’t due until after we were to already have returned to the States, but we agreed to pray together about it, knowing that if God would be pleased to let them have the home birth that they wanted, then He would work out all the details.

By the time we were scheduled to leave I had delivered 7 babies in the clinic this time, giving me a total of 49 deliveries in Honduras in the six summers I’ve been here. When we knew we would have to say an extra week, I was excited to think that at least maybe I’d get to help one more little one arrive safely, making it my 50th Honduran baby in the year that I turned 50 years old. And of course, we wondered if maybe Yvonne’s baby might be that one.

There was not one birth at the clinic the rest of the shifts I worked during our extra days there, and Yvonne’s baby seemed pretty content to stay comfy cozy inside her mommy. Yvonne called me around 7:30 Monday evening and we both agreed again that, though it would be nice if something would happen in the day that was left, all of us wanted the Lord’s will to be done, and if that meant I would not get to have a part in welcoming their baby into the world, we were sure that He knew best.

We planned to go into San Pedro yesterday afternoon to be sure to be there for Jeffrey’s ear doctor’s appointment this morning. I was still up, repacking the suitcases that we had packed and then unpacked the week before, when Stephen called me at 12:15 a.m. yesterday morning. “Yvonne’s water just broke! She’s having a lot of pressure – do you think you can make it in time?”

Could we make it in time?! I had the clinic’s portable oxygen tank and a large storage container of delivery equipment and medications sitting by the front door. A quick call to Daniel Melton, who had kept his cell phone on and right beside his bed, brought him wide awake and ready to make the flying trip over the mountain. We arrived at DeLongs apartment in a record one hour and 23 minutes.

For the next six and a half hours, Yvonne alternated walking, rocking, and sitting in a warm shower while Stephen and I supported and encouraged her through increasingly stronger and more frequent contractions. Her blood pressure and the baby’s heart beat stayed well within a normal range, and her labor progress was slow but steady.

Around 9:00, she felt an unusually strong pain, and for a minute it looked like the baby was all balled up at the top of her abdomen. I checked the baby’s heartbeat, which was a reassuring 150 beats per minute. I checked Yvonne’s dilation, which was all the way to 7 centimeters. She had a small trickle of blood, but nothing more than sometimes happens at that stage of labor, and it only lasted a few seconds. I felt uneasy, even with the good heartbeat, and my mind flitted to several possibilities, one of which might be the separation of her uterine scar from her C-section four years ago with their first baby. However, their second child was born normally, at home, with a midwife attending, and things had gone fine, even with a 25 hour labor and a 9 pound baby! About three minutes later she had another small trickle of blood, lasting a few seconds, and I again checked the heartbeat. It had been between 130 and 150 every time before that, but this time it was around 100 beats/minute.

“We have to leave NOW for the hospital!” I said urgently, helping Yvonne onto her feet and urging her toward the stairs. Stephen ran to get the keys and to tell his sister Lydia, who had arrived the week before to help them, what was going on. “I can’t go like this!” Yvonne protested, gesturing to her nightgown, as we headed out the door. “That’s not as important as getting you there as quickly as we can!” I replied, jumping into the back seat of their pickup truck and helping her in beside me.

Stephen sped toward the hospital, weaving through traffic and praying aloud fervently. In the 5 minutes it took us to arrive, he had the presence of mind to pull out his cell phone and call their doctor, asking him to meet us. We whipped into the emergency room entrance, he jumped out and ran inside to tell them we were there, and I grabbed a wheelchair for Yvonne. “I’m having another contraction, and the baby’s really been moving a lot,” she said as I rushed her into a curtained cubicle in the corner of the ER.

The ER doctor and several nurses converged on us while I rapidly explained why we were there. They asked all the questions about name, age, where she lived, etc. They checked her dilation: still 7 cms. and she was not bleeding at all. “The baby’s heartbeat was too low!” I reiterated, and the nurse started searching for it with the Doppler. “76…81…83…79…84…” the digital display read. “Where were you hearing it?” she queried, moving the wand around and probably thinking that she was picking up Yvonne’s rate. “Right there,” I indicated, touching the spot. “But that IS the baby. Her heartbeat really IS that low!” Her personal doctor walked in at that moment, took one glance at the heart rate and barked an order to get Yvonne up to surgery IMMEDIATELY!!! Another nurse started to check her blood pressure. “No time for that now,” he snapped. “GET HER UPSTAIRS!” He dashed off to change clothes and scrub up. To their credit, the hospital staff shifted into high gear, starting an IV, transferring her to a gurney, and rushing her down the hall, around a corner, and up two long ramps to the operating room.

She clutched my hand as I trotted alongside the gurney. Stephen had been waylaid in the registration department, and I knew he was aching to be with her. “I’ll stay with you,” I promised, but when we got to the operating room double doors, another nurse insisted I had to change into scrubs before going inside. I dashed into the tiny restroom she showed me and did so with fumbling fingers, anxious to be back with Yvonne. When I ran back out, they were just locking the doors. I peered in through the windows and watched the flurry as first her doctor, then a pediatrician, then another doctor scrubbed their hands and forearms, donned masks and gloves and disappeared through another door.

I learned later that they tried to give her an epidural, but it didn’t work, so the doctor ordered the anesthesiologist to go ahead and give general anesthesia so he could get her opened up right away. Even so, it was still at least 15 minutes from the time we arrived until the surgery was in progress. Meanwhile, Stephen had finally finished up the registration process and dashed upstairs to where I was waiting. “How is she doing?” he asked anxiously. Just then a nurse unlocked a set of side doors and came through. “The doctor promised me I could go in with my wife!” he begged her, but she shook her head. I took his arm and pulled him into the room where the pile of clean scrub clothes was stacked. “Get changed, you’ll get in,” I promised.

A minute or so later he was back, tying the drawstring on the dark blue pants, and asking the nurse once more to be allowed to see Yvonne. “No one can enter,” she stated firmly. “She’s having surgery.” “That doesn’t matter!” I said. “It’s his baby, too; the doctor promised that her husband could stay with her, and he’s going in!!!” I stripped off the paper shoe covers they’d had me put on, and untied my mask and re-tied it around Stephen’s face as he struggled to fit the too small covers over his tennis shoes. “Right through those doors,” I pointed, and he headed through.

I leaned back against a wall, and wearily closed my eyes, grimly waiting for news. The sliding door leading from the hall where we’d come into the operating suite opened without warning, catching my arm and shoulder and knocking me onto the floor. I struggled to my feet as one of the attendants pushing another patient on a gurney turned his head aside, but not quickly enough to keep me from seeing his amused grin. My embarrassment was forgotten as I saw Stephen, shoulders slumped and face haggard, walking slowly toward me.

“They’re working on our baby but they don’t know if she’ll make it,” he said dully. “The doctor told me he’s doing his best to save Yvonne, but she’s lost a lot of blood, and they’re not sure about her either.” He broke into wracking sobs, and I hugged him tightly as he clung to me desperately and we cried aloud together to God for a miracle.

Managing to compose himself, he walked back into the operating suite. No one tried to stop him this time. I called Daniel Melton, who had gone to the mission apartment about an hour after dropping me off at DeLongs earlier that morning, to update him and ask for extra prayer support. I kept sending up earnest prayers while waiting, but when Stephen again walked slowly back out a few minutes later, I knew without asking that he didn’t have good news. “Our little girl didn’t make it,” he whispered brokenly. “The doctor said Yvonne IS going to be all right though.” I held him as I knew his mother would have done had she been there, as Stephen gulped out between agonized sobs, “Lord, I don’t understand why this happened, but I know you know best. Thank you for sparing Yvonne’s life and not taking her from me as well.”

We waited together as people came and went, giving us sympathetic glances in passing. At last we saw a young nurse pushing a wheeled bassinet toward us. Through the transparent plastic sides we could clearly see a tiny form wrapped in a blanket. “Here’s your little girl, Sir,” she said softly. “I’m so sorry.” She stood quietly, tears running down her cheeks, as we looked at the perfect, silent little body, then gave me a hug and left us alone. I gently lifted Joanna Brooke and held her close a moment before handing her to her grief stricken father. He rocked her back and forth in his arms for a long time, gazing at her peaceful face. “At least we know she’s safe in heaven with Jesus,” he said at last, handing her back to me. I put her back into the bassinet, and we stood silently crying, looking down at her. The pediatrician came and talked to Stephen, gesturing dramatically as he offered his explanations and apologies. “I did everything I could, but I couldn’t save her. Both the baby and placenta were outside the uterus when the surgeon opened Yvonne up. The baby bled out through the placenta.” He hugged Stephen. “I’m very sorry.” He left, and shortly thereafter Daniel Melton walked in. Stephen turned to him. “She didn’t make it,” he stated simply. Daniel looked as though someone had struck him. “Oh, no!” he gasped, enveloping Stephen in a strong embrace and starting to cry with us.

Long minutes later, the nurses came to take little Joanna back. “We’ll bring her down to your room after your wife gets out of recovery,” they promised. “The hospital doesn’t have a morgue, so you have 24 hours to decide what to do with her body and make arrangements to bury her.” Stephen asked that they let him break the news to Yvonne, and they agreed to do so.

Down in Yvonne's room, Stephen, Daniel and I discussed options for Joanna’s burial. The certainly of Yvonne's not being able to be present if the burial had to be done within 24 hours was totally unacceptable but Stephen was too distraught to sort through the maze of other possibilities. Daniel, who is blessed with a gift of having friends in high places, and knowing how to get things moving, offered to make some phone calls investigating possibilities, and Stephen gratefully accepted his help. Daniel left, and Stephen began the sad task of calling their families to break the tragic news.

As he was dialing his mother-in-law, the doctor walked in. “She’s going to be all right,” he informed us, “But she was in very grave danger. Her uterus split open vertically, from top to bottom, in a huge jagged tear. She could have bled to death, but not only will she recover, I was able to save her uterus as well, and she should be able to have more children!” At 1:00 p.m., Yvonne was wheeled, smiling bravely, into her room. Daniel Melton was back by this time, and he and I waited in an adjoining room while Stephen and Yvonne had some time alone together. They called us in soon, and still smiling through her tears, Yvonne said, “We won’t ever have to worry about her not making it to heaven now!”

Mid-afternoon little Joanna Brooke, a pan of ice under the thin plastic pad in her bassinet, was brought to the room, and Yvonne got to cuddle her baby for the first time. Joanna’s Aunt Lydia, big sister Hannah and big brother Daniel, Tiffany and Daniel Melton and their three boys, Rex and Jeffrey, and various Honduran friends were in and out, offering prayer, sympathy and love. I went back to the mission apartment around 8:00 p.m. to get my first sleep in over 36 hours. Stephen and Yvonne both hugged me tightly and thanked me before I left, but I was feeling far from good, going over and over in my mind all that had happened, and wondering the agonizing “What if’s” that always accompany such an occurrence.


Now, finishing this up 4 days later at home, I can only conclude that God orchestrated everything, and we have to trust Him. Maybe if the surgery had been a few minutes sooner, Joanna would have lived, but would almost certainly have had permanent brain damage from the oxygen deprivation. Maybe if I had not been there, Yvonne would have been in the hospital when her uterus ruptured, but likely not. She was planning to labor at home anyhow as long as she possibly could before going in to the hospital, because she was determined to not be tied down to a fetal monitor. Without having the Doppler there to monitor Joanna's heartbeat and know to get help immediately when her heart rate dropped, Yvonne might have bled to death, since her hemorrhage was all inside.

Her mother called me last evening, and through our tears we talked about what had happened. She and her husband both assured me that they believe God allowed me to be there so Yvonne's life would be saved. Stephen and Yvonne had said the same thing the morning after it all happened when we stopped in again to see them before leaving the country. Our good friend Steve Height put it this way, "I've been reflecting on the events of the last three days or so and have come to a conclusion: That God worked Jeffrey's ear infections for the good of someone else (the De Longs), even if he doesn't see direct personal benefit at this time. I'm pretty sure that Hannah's being present was to save Yvonne's life, but you'd all have been long gone had it not been for Jeffrey's problem."

We will never know what might have been, but we know what was: God spared the life of a young mother with two little children and a husband who need her, and took to be with Him a precious, perfect, innocent baby who, though terribly grieved and greatly missed, will never suffer the pain of wrong decisions and sin, but is in a far better world, waiting to be reunited someday with her family. For whatever part He allowed me to play in that outcome, I am profoundly thankful.


Monday, August 17, 2009

Sunday With Christa

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Monday, August 10, 2009

Another Honduras Clinic Story

Here is another story that my mother just sent out. As always, it is quite interesting.

...The concept of close knit family was made vividly real an hour or so into one of my afternoon shifts early last week, when I heard a car pull up outside and loud, excited voices chattering back and forth. I headed down the hall as the front door slammed behind the man known in town as “The Shooter” since he has at least two known murders to his credit. (He’s the one who very kindly gave me a lift from the center of town once when I got caught in a heavy rainstorm walking back from buying a week’s worth of fresh veggies and fruit.) The Shooter was supporting another, younger man hopping on one foot, whose face was covered with blood. As he helped me get the wounded fellow up onto our treatment table, The Shooter vociferously declared that, “It wasn’t my fault, he cut right in front of me and I couldn’t stop in time!”

Not sure what he was talking about, but certain that whatever had happened it hadn’t been good, my attention had of course immediately focused on investigating the bleeding from the jagged laceration extending from the wounded man’s hairline down the center of his forehead. I hurried around the table to the side counter and lifted the lid of one of the large round metal canisters of gauze lined up along the wall, reaching with my other hand for the tongs kept submersed in an antiseptic solution, with which we extract the 4x4’s (or a close approximation to that size) that our secretary and cleaning lady hand cut and fold from bolts of gauze fabric, and which are then packed into the canisters and sterilized in our small steam autoclave. Out of the corner of my eye, I caught a glimpse of the man’s ankle, and whirled around to confirm what I thought I had seen. Sure enough, the leg that he was waving in the air had a joint where God had never intended a joint to be. The broken-beyond-a-doubt ankle that he couldn’t hold still kept flopping back and forth at a sickening angle, looking as though the protruding bone could pop through the skin at any moment.

“Please hold still, Sir,” I begged, while applying pressure with the gauze to his forehead, and willing my stomach contents to stay in place as the grotesquely malformed “joint” kept flopping back and forth with his restless tossing and turning.

“My leg hurts,” he groaned, clutching it and raising it off the table.

“I’m sure it does,” I replied. “You’ve broken it badly and you need to quit moving it until I can splint it for you.”

“It’s broken?!” he queried in surprise, straining his head up against my hand applying pressure with the gauze and simultaneously lifting his leg to see for himself. “Flop,” went the new joint, and I winced again.

By this point the room had filled with concerned family and friends, and I enlisted one of them (his mother, I found out later) to hold the gauze to his forehead while I maneuvered through the rapidly growing crowd of people that was filling the hall to get one of the pieces of cardboard cut from the boxes in which our supplies are delivered. The varying lengths and widths of cardboard are wrapped in strips of old sheets and make cheap, handy, disposable splints. Squeezing back into the room, I directed the people clustered around him to move aside so I could work on his leg. I’d taken a few seconds while getting the splint to give a quick phone call to our house to enlist the help of Amanda Byler, a nurse friend of ours who had just the day before arrived to work with me in the clinic for two weeks. She walked in at that moment and together we carefully applied the splint along the non-protruding-bone side of his ankle and fastened it in place with a long length of more of the torn strips of bed sheets wrapped around his foot and leg.

With the floppy ankle finally at rest, and an injection of pain killer starting its work, I could tackle once more the task of cleaning and suturing the laceration. But midway through mopping away the rivulets of sticky, drying blood to better know what needed done, our day guard’s dog wandered in the room to be close to his master (who is the accident victim’s father-in-law). Clapping my blood-stained gloved hands together and stamping my feet I stormed after him, chasing him down the hall and out the front door. Back in the treatment room once more, I pushed through the mass of bodies to get back to my patient, shooing a couple of inquisitive children (cousins maybe?) away from my table of sterile instruments.

While waiting for the lidocaine injection to take effect, I glanced down just in time to see the father-in-law’s dog trotting into the room a second time, and once more the assembled crowd was treated to the comic relief of the foreign nurse’s clapping-hands-stomping-feet-dog-chasing routine. This time I hollered for someone in the crowd out on the porch of those who couldn’t fit inside to please close the door and KEEP THAT DOG OUTSIDE! Two policemen who had stopped in to see the accident victim after determining that he had indeed been at fault in the collision of his motorcycle with The Shooter’s truck stood in the hall peering in over the heads of his aunts, uncles, cousins, grandmother, father, sisters and mother, but I never saw them in my focus on lining up and lacing together with black silk the edges of the wound that had exposed his skull.

Amanda capably taped the gauze dressing in place when I finally finished my painstaking sewing job, while I stretched the kinks out of my back before calling the Red Cross ambulance to take him for much needed x-rays and surgery on his broken ankle. It wasn’t until the ambulance pulled up and the attendants began waving their arms and yelling at the mass of people packing the porch and hall to get out of the way so they could get in that I realized how rapidly the news had traveled and how large a crowd had assembled. Amanda counted over 30 in the treatment room and hall just outside the door, and more than 40 others outside who weren’t lucky enough to arrive in time to have a ringside seat. I wish I could have gotten clearer pictures to share with you, but the brilliant exam light above our treatment table kept my camera flash from working when Amanda snapped the attached photos. At any rate, I found out what “family support system” means in a Latin country!

The unfortunate follow-up to the story is that because the doctors and nurses in the public hospital where he was taken have been on strike to protest some part or other of the political upheaval the country of Honduras has been in since before our arrival, he still has not had his ankle set. That’s been nearly two weeks ago, and as badly damaged as it was, it will be a miracle if he doesn’t lose his foot. So much for the superiority of a socialized medical system!

Wednesday, August 5, 2009


We finally have our religious visas and can now be in Costa Rica for two years without having to leave the country or do any paperwork! It is a huge relief to have completed the immigration process; thank the Lord that it went as well as it did.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Grandpa's Visit to Costa Rica

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Friday, July 31, 2009

A Story from a Missonary Nurse

This is just part of an e-mail that my mother sent me a day our two ago. She is working with our mission's clinic in Honduras, and always has quite the stories to tell.

..."His is one of the many sad cases that arrive at our door as a consequence of sin. But in a land where grudges and arguments are resolved with slashing machetes, some of those involved don’t make it here in time to do them any good. Hopefully, that wasn’t the case with the man who was wheeled in on the Red Cross ambulance stretcher not long ago. It was only my second time in six summers of working here that the ambulance had ever brought me a patient, as opposed to the usual taking them from here to a larger facility. As soon as I got a good look at him, I knew we’d just be stabilizing him, and the ambulance crew would wait to take him on. At least, I hoped we could get him stable enough to leave, and not have him die on our treatment table. He was, without question, the most desperately wounded person I have ever seen. The stretcher was completely covered with a sheet of clear plastic, the size and thickness of a large tablecloth. Someone on either side held up the edges of the plastic so the copious amount of pooled blood would not pour off onto the floor, as yet a third person carefully guided the stretcher with its gruesome burden down the hall.

The wounded man was praying loudly and brandishing his Bible aloft in his right hand. His left arm lay inert and helpless beside him, grit and splintered fragments of bone mixed with the mangled flesh of a nearly severed forearm. The ambulance attendants and I lifted him with infinite care onto the table, and with shaking hands I inserted a large bore, #18 IV catheter into his right arm and started a liter of fluids infusing wide open to replace the lost blood. “Tell me what happened,” I questioned while assessing his other wounds: a deep, 2 ½ inch long gouge on the right side of his neck that narrowly missed his jugular vein and another, longer one on his right upper back. I worked to dress and bandage his wounds while listening, horrified, to his story.

During his walk down the mountain on the main dirt road leading to town, he had chanced upon a stranger, and began witnessing to him of Jesus. The fellow listened with mounting fury, which was unnoticed by the gentleman intent on evangelism. That is, he didn’t notice his companion’s agitation until the stranger suddenly jerked his machete from his belt, screaming, “Well, let’s see if your God can save YOU,” and took a frenzied swing at the guy’s head, intending to sever it from his body. His victim reflexively threw up his arm to ward off the attack, catching diagonally across his elbow and the length of his forearm a blow of sufficient force to have rolled his head into the dirt. His upper and both lower arm bones were all three shattered, and half of his forearm sliced away. Thankfully only the tip of the machete reached its intended goal, leaving the gouge on his neck. A second wild chop whistled down across the man’s shoulder and upper back before his attacker fled.

By the time I’d heard his story and his wounds had been dressed, the man was silent and pale, drifting in and out of consciousness. I started a second bag of IV fluids and prayed aloud for God’s healing touch, and for safety in the journey. We loaded him carefully onto the ambulance once more, and the driver revved his motor, heading out with his fragile cargo. Tragic indeed! Yet what comfort the viciously brutalized man had in the midst of his agony – the promise of a loving heavenly Father to go with him even through “the valley of the shadow of death.” Whether he crosses that valley now or not, he has the hope of an eternity in heaven. How much better than the end awaiting his would-be murderer, who hates so intensely a God who loves him so dearly that He died to save him."

Friday, July 24, 2009

And Now, For the Rest of the Story

After standing along the highway for about half an hour the police were ready to take the two criminals to the police station. Steve and I were supposed to go there too and give a report of what had happened. Thankfully the police with whom we were riding took us home first, and I was able to change. They then drove all over creation trying to find the police station (the police that we were with were from a different district and were too embarrassed to radio for directions). I’m guessing that we probably arrived at the police station at about 4:30.

We thought that we might just have to give a report and then we could be on our way. Simple, right? Guess again! I don’t think that anything having to do with the Costa Rican government is quick or painless. For some reason the officer who took our report had to write it out by hand. Or, should I say that she had to right THEM out by hand. The next time that I have to go to a police station I think that I will take my laptop and teach them how to us the copy and paste features. Then again, I don’t know if my laptop could even be hooked up to their archaic printer. Anyway, I had to give my information. Steve had to give his information. The police had to give their version of what happened. They had to fill out on official report on the robber and how the whole episode went down. Then they had to fill out the exact same report for the driver (enter copy and paste). They no doubt had to fill out a report of what both the bad guys had to say. Are you getting the picture?

After all the reports had been filled out, we were told that we would have to go to some court house a ways away to give more reports. But of course they had to wait for an official transport vehicle to come and take us and the criminals to the courthouse. So, we waited and waited and waited some more. After a while we asked if would could go outside and were given permission to stand out front with the robber (who was handcuffed to a gate) and the driver (who was handcuffed to a motorcycle). The robber kept his jacket pulled up over his head so that we couldn’t see him; he must have forgotten that we had been with him for about a half an hour along the road. The driver was only 17 (did I forget to mention that he didn’t have a license) and got really bored. I heard him complaining to a policeman that he had missed his supper.

Our transport, AKA a pickup truck, finally showed up at 8:30. If you do the math, that is about 4 hours after we first got to the station. Of course the efficient police force didn’t want to waste gas, so they got the bright idea to send five policeman, two Americans, and two robbers in a little Mazda extended cab. At least Steve and I got to sit inside; the bad guys were just handcuffed hooks in the bed of the truck.

By the time we finally got to the courthouse Steve and I decided that we really needed to call our wives to let them know what was going on. The last that they had heard from us was our goodbyes as we jumped into a police car around 4:00. But we were told that we couldn’t use the “only available phone” (I have my doubts) because it was in the same general vicinity of the criminals and we might actually see them. Never mind that we had seen them during the robbery, along the highway, at the police station, and then sat 4 inches from them (through a glass window of course) on the way to the courthouse.

Well, to make a way-too-long story a little shorter, we had to wait to call our wives until the officials got done doing whatever it was that they did with the robbers. By the time that we could actually call home it was about 10:00 and our poor wives were worried sick. We finally got done giving our reports at the courthouse (basically the exact same report that we had given at the police station [enter copy and paste again]), and then had a wild ride back home. Don’t ask me why the cops down here have to fly like crazy no matter what the occasion. We were going full tilt, running a red light our two with lights flashing. And oh yes, on the way back the two policemen who had sat in the bed with the robbers on the way to the courthouse got to sit inside and the two Americans had to sit in the bed. Steve saw a Costa Rican laughing at us; I was quite indignant. We finally made it home to our waiting wives at 11:45 PM.

The End

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Armed Robbery Part 2

...It is amazing that the police were able to capture the robber. He had jumped out of the getaway car, run to a bus stop, and actually gotten onto a public bus before the police located the getaway car! However, witnesses had seen him flee and when the police pulled over the getaway car they were told what the robber had done. Upon receiving a description of the bus, the police were able to chase it down and pull it over. Four officers stormed onto the bus and arrested the robber; I’m sure that the other riders were quite surprised!

The police searched the car and found the black scarf which the robber had worn under the front seat, and they also found the robber’s hat which he had tried to hide in the glove box. We were along a very busy road this whole time. Four police cars, a dozen police, a junker of a get-away vehicle, two Americans (one of them still in his PJs), and two young guys under arrest attracted plenty of stares. I did plenty of staring myself; cops and robbers make me very curious.

Some police retraced the route that the robber took when he jumped from the car, and they found Steve’s sopping wet wallet which had been thrown into a sewer. The approximately $60 cash that had been in the wallet were missing, but the robber hadn’t taken Steve’s credit card. The cash and the gun were never found, so it is possible that either there had been a third person in the getaway car who ended up not getting caught or that the robber threw the gun in a bush or something like that.

I wish that I had time to tell you what happened next, but I need to do a translation assignment so I will have to tell the rest of my story later. Don’t worry, there is plenty more to tell.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Armed Robbery Number Three

Never witness an armed robbery unless you have a lot of time on your hands.

Yesterday at about 3:00 in the afternoon I was sitting at my desk when I happened to look out our front window in time to see a man with a gun and a scarf wrapped around his face robbing our neighbor and fellow language school student Steve. It was literally happening about fifteen feet from where I was sitting. I turned and told Missy “someone is getting robbed!” The robber took Steve’s wallet, patted him down, and then turned to run. As the robber turned, he looked right at Missy and I who were just staring out the window in semi-shock. The thought struck me that the he had big eyes and looked very nervous. Steve later told me that the robber was really shaking during the robbery.

The daycare at language school is shut down this week due to swine flu concerns, and so I had stayed home with Devin all day yesterday. I was in my flannel lounge pants, a t-shirt, and flip-flops when the robbery took place.

When the robber took off, I hollered for Missy to open our electric gate and I took off after the robber. I knew that he had turned the corner and was heading toward a police station which sits two blocks away, and I was hoping that a police would be out. Just as I ran around the corner of our block a mailman on a motorcycle came around the corner at the other end of the block and headed straight toward me. I figured that the robber had run up the street from which the mailman had just come, so I started hollering to the mailman, “chase that guy!” He hollered, “did he rob someone?” and when I yelled “yes” he whipped around and headed back up the street after the robber. I kept running toward the street that the robber had taken, and when I got to the corner I could see the mailman following a brown car. I yelled toward the police station at the top of my lungs, and right away an officer came out.

The mailman followed the getaway car up to the main highway and then came back to where I and the policeman were standing and gave a description of the vehicle and the license plate number. The policeman immediately radioed out the information, and then I took him to talk to Steve.

The police man and I had perhaps been standing talking to Steve for two minutes (the officer was in the process of telling us that there are now about 15 robberies in our neighborhood a day) when a patrol car pulled up. Two officers jumped out and told Steve and me to hurry up and get in the car because a suspect had just been caught a little ways away. So Steve and I (of course I’m still in my PJs) jumped into the car and took off. We drove a couple of blocks up to the main highway and then started weaving through traffic with sirens blaring. Spectators were probably wondering what in the world was up with the two Americans sitting in the back seat of the police car.

We came upon several more police cars and the getaway car which had been pulled over about 3 miles from our house. Police were everywhere, and a young kid was standing beside the car. However, he didn’t look like the robber. Steve and I got out of the cop car and were standing there waiting when another police car pulled up with the robber sitting in the back seat. It is amazing how they caught him. I need to walk Missy to language school so I will have to tell the rest of my story later. Don’t worry, there is plenty more to tell.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Tonight: The View From Our Front Window

Monday, July 6, 2009

Our First July 4th in Costa Rica

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Thursday, July 2, 2009

Laptops and Gunshots

This morning on our way to language school we saw two guys wrestling up in front of us. I said, "Missy, I think somebody's getting robbed!" Sure enough, the two guys take off running, and then we heard a shot followed by a second shot a few seconds later. We hurried up to the corner to see what had happened and saw an American lying on the road.

We had passed the same American a few days earlier on our way to school. He would sit on the curb with a laptop, trying to get a wireless signal. Missy and I had commented about how foolish he was being. Well, today a guy pulled a gun on the American and asked for the laptop. Instead of just giving the robber the laptop, the American put up a fight. The robber shot the American in the foot, but the American kept chasing him, so the robber shot him in the leg.

Someone called 911 right away, but it took about 20 minutes for the police to show up (even though there is a police station a few blocks away) and 30 minutes for an ambulance to arrive. By that time the victim's thigh had swollen to the size of a basketball. Thankfully, the man was hit in the leg instead of the upper body and the bullet passed through. I was the only one on the scene who knew Spanish and English well, so I translated for the police and ambulance driver. Yes, I said ambulance driver, because he was the only one who came in the ambulance! A fellow student from our language school who had also seen the robbery take place ended up riding with the victim to the hospital, or else the poor guy would have been in the back of the ambulance all by himself.

So the moral of the story is, "Don't sit on a curb with a laptop, and if you get robbed and gunpoint stop chasing the robber after he shoots you in the foot." Unfortunately I didn't have my camera with me, so I don't have any pictures to share.

A fellow language school student was robbed at gunpoint yesterday at about the same place. It is scary, but at the same time we just have to trust God and not live in constant fear.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Perfect Pooch

My mother-in-law has mentioned a time or two that she would maybe enjoy having a small dog around the house. I found the perfect match for her!

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Culture Day

Happy Father's Day two days late to all you dads. We had a good Sunday at our main church in Paraiso. There were around 50 in attendence, which is the highest that I have seen since we have been here. Pastor Rolando and his wife Carmen have been working with a number of different new families through the ministry of counseling. They have found that to be an open door which is really yielding fruit.

Last Friday I had to go to immigration while Missy got to go to a special culture day at the language school. The theme was a typical country fair and they had a lot of really neat activities. I wish that I could have been there, but then again what can be more fun than going to immigration.

Missy tried her hand at fishing. If we ever fall too far behind in support I'm sure that she could provide for us by opening a seafood store.

Teachers' faces make pretty good targets for darts.

Our Wonderful Academic Director

They even had cotton candy!

Missy threw three of her ping-pong balls through the clown's mouth and won a candy bar.

Monday, June 15, 2009

A Sunday at Paraiso

Pastor Rolando with a Visitor

Our Future

A Redecorated Church

A Streetfull of Church Members Going Home

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Ear Infection and Big Blue

Well, our little man came down with an ear infection on Wednesday. It is the second one that he has had since moving down here, and he never had one before that. Hopefully we are not developing some sort of trend! Missy and I took turns staying home from school with him on Thursday and Friday. He seems to be doing better now, but we are still not sure that he is over it. The one positive thing about his sickness is that I have a good excuse for not posting sooner (I think).

I'm not sure how much of the time the devil is directly involved in a missionary getting sick, but a ministry can really be affected by illnesses. A good way to pray for missionaries it that God will keep them healthy.

I could post a couple of picture of a sick boy, but that would be sorta depressing. So I'm going to post "before and after" pictures of bath time instead.

Before Big Blue (Kitchen Sink, Not Fun, Very Messy)

After Big Blue (Shower, MUCH Better)

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

The Rainy Season

The rainy season is upon us in full force. They say that when it rains, it pours; that is certainly true for down here! Yesterday we got drenched on the way home from school. Today, it rained hard for a number of hours non-stop. They say that it will rain almost every day until close to the end of the year...I can't wait.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Second Trimester

The second trimester is in full swing at language school, and things are going well. Missy and I both have new classes with new teachers, and both of us are very happy with both our classes and our teachers (I tried to think of a way to throw in a few more "boths," but the only thing that I could come up with was a parentheses about "boths," which would both explain so many "boths" and at the same time let me use "both" a few more times). Missy is taking two hours of grammar and two hours of language each day, and I am taking a two-hour translation class. Devin has gotten to the place where he gets excited almost every time we take him to daycare. So, thank the Lord for his help once again.

Alejandra, Missy's Grammar Teacher

Missy's Language Class (Teacher Eugenia 2nd From Left)

Ana, My Translation Teacher

My Studious Translation Class