Saturday, February 28, 2009

2 weeks, one backpack

We’re packing everything we need for two weeks into one backpack.

Monday at 6.30am we’re meeting at the bus station to make the 11 hour trip to Nicaragua. I’m excited and nervous all at once, but I think the excitement outweighs everything else.

Lately, as a part of Core Seminar, we’ve been Nicaragua’s history and how the US has constantly sought to hinder it. If you don’t know anything about the history there I would recommend looking it up—it’s a worthwhile endeavor. It’s a sad and troublesome history.

The first few days are going to filled with “charlas” (talks/interviews), so that we can hear more of the story and learn about the reality of today in Nicaragua. Then we’ll be splitting up into small groups of 4-5 and travel to every corner of the country to live with rural families living in poverty.

I am excited! I don’t think this trip could have come at a better time.

So due to the fact that we won’t have internet access for two weeks, you can expect to see nothing new here for the next two weeks. See you all in March!

orange juice and the 80's

There are many days here that are hard—especially with my Tica family. But I am learning how important the little things are.

A lot of times on the buses in between Spanish songs there will be a song in English from the 80’s. It’s so ridiculous, but just hearing a familiar song makes the day so much better. Today I got to sit in a little street side café, drink orange juice, and listen to songs like “Uptown Girl” and “Living on a Prayer.”

The 80’s and orange juice—a great combination to brighten your day.

john stam

I you haven’t been able to figure it out yet, I really like stories—probably more than you would think. I’ve written papers on and studied the psychology and spirituality of stories. We’re people of story, and I love that. All that to say that’s why I end up writing about people so much; I love their stories. So here goes an attempt to share another story.

Today for Core Seminar we had John Stam come and visit us. This guy is nothing short of amazing. I was made fun of, because my eyes were glued on him the whole time, I talked to him during the break, laughed at every one of his little jokes and puns, and had an endless amount of questions during the Q&A time.

John is an 80 year old missionary and dreamer whose lived in Latin America for the past 60 or so years. He’s lead Bible studies for Sandinista revolutionaries of the Nicaraguan Contra War, knows more about Latin American history then any North American that I’ve ever met, seen how the US has repeatedly stirred up and initiated wars, revolutions, conflicts, and near genocides throughout Latin and South America; spent late nights talking with Fidel Castro about Jesus, and so much more. I told you this guy is amazing.

I want to live a life as full as this guy.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

everyone needs a girl's night

We’ve entered into the final push of the semester. After next week it’s all downhill, but as for now it’s been a bit stressful. Something that’s made it a bit more difficult for me is my family (tico family that is). This has been the first major wall that I’ve hit since I’ve been here.

A lot of the other students have had a hard time with their families, because they do nothing. Mine is the extreme opposite. There is never a quiet, not-busy, down moment with my family. I’m grateful to have an active family, but it can be tiring. Whenever I’m home, even in my room with the door shut, one of my parents will find some reason literally every 10 minutes to come, knock on my door, and get me. So it’s pretty hard to find alone time. The majority of the time I’m not really talked to, I’m just talked at. My dad likes to explain everything, and I mean everything. This is a tortilla. You can buy torillas in the store. This is how you fold and eat a tortilla. This is a thermos. You put hot food in it like this…you get the picture. Thanks for listening to my little vent.

Yesterday we had our final presentation for our Spanish class. As we were waiting to go in before the panel, one of the girls in my class had the idea of going over to her house afterwards for a girl’s night. So after the presentations Liz, Lindsay, and myself walked back to Lindsay’s house. We played with her little siblings (little kids refresh me), ate PB&J and ice cream, had good conversation (we are girls, of course), and watched Momma Mia. It was a great night, and I felt/feel so refreshed.

Praise God for girl’s nights, PB&J, ridiculous movies, and friends.

Monday, February 16, 2009


Before coming on this trip, I remember having a conversation with one of my close friends, Jamie. I was trying to explain to her what was going through my head as I was getting ready to come here, but, as is common with me, I couldn’t find the right words to express what was in my mind. I couldn’t think of a better way to express what I was thinking other than saying I need something of my own again.

Once I got here I was trying to explain this same feeling to another dear friend, and finally was able to come up with a word to describe it—reclaiming.

Today I got to sit in a circle with my peers at LASP as we all got to share a part of our spiritual journey. When it was my turn to share, I shared this thought about reclaiming. The past year and a half or so have been rough and have taken a heavy toll on me. In coming here I, in some ways, feel like I’m getting a fresh start. A time to step back from the norm and rediscover, reclaim.

I think that may be my word for the semester.

spanish thoughts

Every Thursday, during our Core Seminar time, we meet in smaller groups to help process all that is going on. This past week my group was with Javier, a LASP professor who is a Tico. Thus our conversation had to be in Spanish.

It was phenomenal. As we were discussing I found that I wasn’t actually thinking about what I was speaking or working on translating in my head, I was just speaking. I can’t even begin to explain how excited that makes me. It’s the same story with Spanish class. This past week we had in depth, great conversations about the essence and purpose of humanity, sexuality, poverty, racism, and theology in Spanish. I even translated Tozer’s thoughts into Spanish! This new found fluency is ridiculously exciting.

As we closed our time on Thursday, Javier shared with us how amazing it was to have a group of young people from the typically dominating culture and world power discussing major issues such as poverty, economics, and sustainable development in a language that is not their own. He said that seeing that was extremely powerful. I agree.

vamos, vamos ticos...

Walking through the streets of San Jose throughout the day, it didn’t feel normal. People were extra friendly and jolly. Half of the crowds were dressed in red too.

It was the day of the World Cup qualifying game between Costa Rica and Honduras.

I met my sister’s boyfriend and his friends in front McDonald’s in La Plaza de la Cultura, and we were on our way. Every five minutes someone would pat me on the back or say something, because I was wearing my Costa Rica jersey. The streets were extra busy. At the bus stop there was a line that went on forever and was carefully guarded by police. When someone in a blue and white (Honduras) jersey walked by, chaos would erupt.

As we walked into the stadium I was a bit nervous, because I had been told by some classmates that the section that I was sitting in had the reputation of being insane to say the least. Before entering we had to put our coins in our shoes—they don’t allow anything in the stadium, including coins, because people would through them at the players on the field. Two hours before the game, half of the stadium was already filled with people on their feet singing and chanting. Many times the actual infrastructure of our section would sway and move with the crowd.

When the Honduran players were being announced, the announcer would say their first name, but it was impossible to catch the last name because it was drowned out with the Tico’s shouting ‘perra’ or bitch. Once the game started the energy in the stadium was out of control, in some ways literally—police having to break up/prevent fights, lots of middle fingers given and strong words said. But the best part was when Costa Rica scored (twice). It didn’t matter who you were surrounded by, everyone got a hug.

The game was an amazing experience. In many ways it was like what you see on the TV about Latin American soccer games. And did I mention that we won, 2-0? I’ll leave you with two victory songs…

Ole, ole, ole, ole, Ticos, Ticos!
Vamos, vamos Ticos. ¡Esa noche se ganará!


Do you ever see a person that just based upon their presence you think I want to be this person’s friend? Well, I had one of those encounters this past Tuesday. During our Core Seminar time we took a little field trip to an organic finka (farm).

When the young owner of the farm greeted us with is two year old son, I couldn’t stop think I want to know this guy. As he gave us a tour of his modest farm, he explained that he used to own the surrounding land and grew a monoculture coffee that required many pesticides. One day he said that it just dawned on him that organic growing was the way to go, so he shut down the cash crop to begin an organic farm that would be more environmentally friendly.

Now he wakes up at 4:30am every day to begin his work and doesn’t get to sleep until 11pm typically. Rodric’s wife works in San Jose, so he has to later take his daughter to school and pick her up too. Then he comes back and does the farming while watching his two year old. The work is hard and laborious, but he’s committed to doing it.

The thing was that Rodric was truly glowing. He loves what he’s doing. He explained how making the choice to go organic and working on the farm all day is an act of worship for him. Pointing to San Jose, he said that he couldn’t imagine every having to work down there.

I hope I can love my job as much as Rodric does one day.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

"The peace
is not the duty of any one man
nor the task of any single country.
The peace
is a responsibility
shared by all humanity and all the nations."

-Oscar Arias, the President of Costa Rica

in the moment

Lately I’ve been thinking about what it looks like to live in the present. I’m very much a person who tends to dwell either in past or worry/think about the future. My mind likes to meander, and only a small percent of it lives in the present.

So I’ve been trying and praying that this will begin to change, and coming to Costa Rica has undoubtedly aided that process. The majority of the time I have no idea what will happen within the next hour, and it is hard to dote on the past when everything around you is so new. It’s been a fast learning process, but I feel like I’m finally starting to get it a bit.

I’m enjoying the little things so much more by choosing to live in the present. It’s so much more peaceful. I suppose it really comes down to trusting God, and believing that he truly is who he says he is.

Tozer was on to something—what you think about when you think about God is the most important thing about you.

LASP meets Groome

Here at LASP, we have a student lead, fellowship/chapel-like time every Wednesday, and I’m a part of the group of five who plans it. The thing is everyone else is there to sing or play guitar. So most of the time it ends up being me who gets to come up with the idea for the ‘lesson or non-singing time.’ Actually it’s kind of been fun. I feel like I’m getting to teach the other four a little bit of what I study at Taylor.

This past week LASP was introduced to Groome and his 5 movements. I got to lead a discussion on one of my favorite passages Luke 4, when Jesus makes his proclamation in the synagogue. We found the generative themes, named, booked it, made it ours, and applied—it was great.

I love being able to tangibly apply what I’ve learned through my classes at Taylor; it’s a good feeling.

brought back to life

Good news—my computer has seemingly come back to life!
I’m hoping it will hold up for the rest of the semester now.

soccer games

This past weekend a group of us went to the province of Cortago to play soccer against some local teams. That probably sounds like a ridiculous thought—a bunch of gringos from the US playing ticos—but it was so much fun!

The first game was all of us girls against their team. We lost, but I’m proud to say that I got a header goal off of a corner kick. The second game was a co-ed game, but the gringo team had all the girls who hadn’t ever played before since those of us who play of have played played in the first game. We were disappointed that we couldn’t play again, but then came our glory moment—the tico team asked Katie, Julia, and myself to play with them! It was a blast to be able to play with them. I love being in a country that loves soccer.

On another soccer note, tonight I’m going to a World Cup qualifier game—Costa Rica vs. Honduras. But I’ll share more on that after the game.

Monday, February 9, 2009

I forgot to post this earlier...

Programa de estudios latioamericanos
Melesa McEwan
Apod. 54-2070
Sabanilla, San Jose
Costa Rica

Friday, February 6, 2009

i'm back

I´m back to posting on this thing again, but you may be wondering why it´s been so long...

Well, other than our limited internet access, it just so happens that my computer decided that it would be a good time to play dead. And it´s still being dead.

The great part about it all is that a few days before I had been praying that God would take away any distractions or hinderances to my time here. Yet still these past few days since the computer died have been some of the best and most joyful days that I´ve had since being here. Funny how that all works out.

we love ice cream, yes we do

During class yesterday we were having a brief review of the future tense, so our professor asked us what we were going to do tonight. We decided to make up a story about going to the grocery store and having a party in isle seven. Nearly every sentence ended with the phrase “…y comerémos helado (and we’ll eat ice cream).” So it just so happened that in the process we convinced our teacher that we’d go get ice cream during class the next day.

And the best part was that we did. We escaped Spanish class, and ate the famous POPS ice cream. My favorite--dulce de leche.

Moral of the story, just keep talking about ice cream and eventually you’ll convince someone.


I don´t know if you know Karin Case, but if not you should. Karin is one of the other Taylor people here, and it has been such a blessing to have her here. She is such an encouragement, and it´s great to have someone who you share more of a history with then the people that you´ve known for the past 3 weeks.

All this to say, if you don´t know Karin you should.

speaking peace

This weekend we got the chance to go on a group trip to the poorest province of Costa Rica, Limon. The history of Limon is a sad one filled with racism and inequalites, but in our visit there was one place that didn´t seem so dampered by it´s surrounding conditions.

It was that catholic church. On Sunday half of us went to a service that I was anticipating to be dry, empty, and boring. Yet it ended up being the complete opposite of all of those. It was suprisingly refreshing. The service undoubtedly had the flow of mass, but there was a depth and significance to it. The singers were all singing in their own key, but it didn´t matter because they were worshipping. Everything that was done was cnetered around scripture, and we even got to sing Oh, how I love Jesus. I think my favorite part of the service has to be the ‘say hello to your neighbor time’ (you know that time when everyone in church turns around to greet each other). Well they took this time to speak peace to everyone. So literally every one in the service (granted it was only 30 people) greeted eachother with the work peace.

There was something special about that. Maybe we should start speaking peace to others more often.

night out with Austin and Annie

I´m an introvert. Big groups, especially when I don´t know the people, can drain me if they go on for long periods of time. So coming to Costa Rica with 47 strangers has been a bit draining during this first few weeks.

But this past Thursday was absolutely refreshing. After our Spanish class in the afternoon, I knew I needed some time to chill before going home, so I started walking around San José. There I ran into Austin and Annie, two LASP students who go to Gordon. So it soon became the three of us trying to escape for a while and enjoy a night out on the town.

It was just what I needed. Annie and Austin are great, and I´m excited to get to know them more.