It was a little bit of a tough day to begin with. One challenge is that we are all together. I’m not gone for 80% of the day. That means that I don’t just come home to hear about the challenges and then give my recommendations on a situation or deal with the remnants. I’m here for all the parts. Although this is good in that Rachel and I can support each other, develop more consistency in the expectations for our kids, and take the time to follow through with what we say, it’s also a challenge because we have to do all of that together – and be united.
It’s also tough because the kids have to adjust to things being a little different with Dad around all the time. I think Jacob likes trying to be the alpha male, and that isn’t flying so much anymore. We’re trying to establish consistency. We’ve come up with the “Big Three” rules (Jacob, especially, loves rules as long as he’s not the one that has to follow them): 1. Listen, 2. Don’t whine and complain, and 3. Save “Why Questions” for mealtimes. Today we added number four: Respect each other’s space. Well, yesterday seemed to be the crux of the situation. Long story short, Jacob had a tough time with rules one and two and wouldn’t listen to any sort of reason (probably the first almost five-year-old to experience this problem), so he and I ended up staying home all day while Rachel and Charlotte went to the beach. Although I think what we’re doing is good, it’s still challenging. Especially when you’re just feeling the struggle without seeing the result.
Another challenge is the change in routine and being stripped of everything that we know: No work for me. No libraries, parks, friend meet ups for Rachel and the kids. While our new routine and rhythms and purposes will come with time, it’s hard to see and feel now.
Some friends have let us stay in their vacation rental for this week, which has been a blessing, but we’re not expecting to end up living in this area, primarily because of the high cost of living and because we’d like to be in more of a Tico town. Playa Guiones is very far removed any of the areas where we are expecting to end up, so driving to explore them isn’t really feasible. We’ve embraced this week as a vacation, a needed respite between our hectic last few weeks in Los Angeles and the transition to our new life here. But it’s hard to relax with the future so unknown. I feel like we need to be doing something to try to find our town and our living situation. So last night I got online and started trying to find long-term rentals. Bad idea. There is no consolidated listing of rentals online, especially one for the entire Guanacaste province, and everything online is insanely expensive. As with so much of online shopping, it sucked up a ton of time with no results, leaving me feeling terrified and hopeless.
Even surfing here is tough! I feel like such a complete newbie and can’t even get out past the whitewash.
Last night I just wanted to pull up our stakes and head back to the U.S. It’s probably not too late to get my old job back. Our finances were solid. We had a decent apartment (mad neighbor, terrible management company, and all) close to parks and my work. Rachel and the kids had a great friend group, and I had a great surfing buddy. I’d be embarrassed to have talked about this for six years and then to call it quits so quickly, but there’s more to life than pride.
I can’t convey the depth of my fear in words.
Yesterday was the downward spiral. Today was truth and hope.
- Holding my crying wife in my arms. Reminding her that I’m in this with her and for her.
- Turning our new rules and expectations for our kids into a game, drawing a map of our day, and planning out how we could get to everything that we wanted to do.
- Seeing our kids begin to understand and respond to our new way of doing things.
- Reading Swift Arrow to Jacob at a Tico pizzeria in Nosara Centro while Charlotte napped in the car.
- Talking to my dad and feeling his support while standing in the rain outside of the pizzeria, watching a herd of cows in a verdant field with the lush jungle covered hillside, shrouded in mist in the background.
- Worshipping with - and being welcomed and embraced by - the Casa Vida congregation tonight.
What was it about the Casa Vida experience tonight that was so uplifting and encouraging? I’m not exactly sure. The sermon was in Spanish. I didn’t understand every word, and I kept getting distracted and falling asleep. But we pulled up as it was getting dark, and the road to the church grounds was remote, rutted, and muddy. The church was simple. No walls yet, just a tile floor, beautiful wood beams, and a roof. The electricity was from a generator. But there were bistro bulbs strung out to create a sense of simple beauty. The moment of we walked up, we were greeted sincerely and shown to the last few available plastic chairs. The congregation was singing “Jesus Paid It All” in Spanish. There was no professional band; I think the accompanying music was just played from a CD. I’m not a great singer and sometimes just listen, but during the song service, I read part of a verse from Romans that was painted on a wooden slab. Not even the whole thing. It said something about being saved by Christ’s blood, and I started to cry. What I needed tonight was to feel embraced. To be reminded that we are saved by God’s doing, not by our own. To feel part of a community of believers that is bigger than us. To feel welcomed by a beautiful Tico community. To worship in simplicity and sincerity.
After the service, the congregation shared in a meal of hot dogs and birthday cake while fireflies glowed in the jungle and lightning flashed in the distance.
No, we’re not packing up and heading home with our tails between our legs. If faith is “the confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see,” then my faith is pretty weak. But I’m thankful that I can cry out and say with tears, “Lord, I believe; help my unbelief!” (Mark 9:24)
As a side note, to those of you who are reading this blog, thanks for your encouragement. Personally, Clarabeth, I read your comment this evening after the church service, and it meant the world to me.