Saturday, July 12, 2008

No Child Left Behind.

Well, we all made it, as this official photo, taken on our next-to-last day there, proves:
We are back from Costa Rica, and, after a quick scan of all our available beds, I find that everyone made it back and is now asleep.

As for the trip, I have to say, it was a delightful time. Here are a few things I learned while abroad:

1) My kids are great travelers. They are very good at standing in long lines at airports that move very slowly*, and on the way there, they did a relatively whine-free job of toting all their clothes, crammed into their individual backpacks, due to our highly rational fear that the airline would lose our luggage (it happened to someone else on our team!).
2) San Jose, capital city of Costa Rica, is much bigger than I thought. And much more cosmopolitan. Being a dumb American, I was expecting ramshackle huts constructed of mud and straw. They have supermarkets!
3) Buying avocadoes the size of your head from some guy on the street? Genius.
4) I never got tired of gallo pinto for breakfast.
5) It's possible to have too much fresh pineapple. Just barely, but it's possible.
6) The people of Costa Rica are absolutely beautiful, inside and out. They are also, by and large, incredibly earnest, and my American sarcasm was lost on them. Fortunately, I know how to be funny without it.
7) The correct way to say "you're welcome" there is not "de nada," but rather "gusto."
8) Even when brewed in mass quantities with subpar water and so-so filters, Costa Rican coffee is incredible.
9) Short-term missions trips are as much about changing yourself as they are about changing the country you visit.
10) The USA is incredibly foolish for sweetening Coca-Cola with high fructose corn syrup instead of cane sugar.
11) I understand more Spanish than I thought I did. Speaking it is still a problem, though.
12) Everyone has a story to tell, and everyone has something to contribute to the cause of Christ. Even kids.
13) Charlotte's personality is her ministry.
14) Dorothy can be best friends with just about anyone, at any age.
15) Noah was born to play in the ocean. It's like every breaker is his long-lost twin.
16) Emma has the most willing missionary heart of anyone I know. The girl yearns for the lost (even though she gets humanly cranky at times).
17) Marley is great with kids who don't speak the same language as her.
18) Outside of Jesus, Michelle is the greatest thing ever to happen to me.
19) I can take a two-week break from my computer and not only not die, I can not even miss it.
20) "Por favor, depositar el papel en el basurero" is a wicked, wicked phrase, even if they do say please.
21) Americans, myself included, are far too concerned with trifles, to a troubling extent.
22) Guanabana is quite possibly the best tropical fruit you've never had.
23) Franz and Francisco are incredible bus drivers, and, should bus driving ever become an Olympic sport, will take home the gold and silver for Costa Rica. Regardless of where said Olympics are held, these two men will drive their medals back to Costa Rica on their buses. In reverse.
24) You can have some of your loudest congregational worship with just an acoustic guitar and someone playing a pulpit like a djembe.
25) Surfing is simultaneously fun, peaceful, and awe-inspiring.
26) People in Costa Rica actually say "Pura Vida" and mean it. It isn't just a tourist thing.
27) The iPod Touch costs about $550. But there is an authorized Apple Store in the mall in San Jose.
28) If you speak Spanish and aren't afraid of the walk-out, you can negotiate a super-cheap price on just about anything.
29) All kids love VBS.
30) Fly on Wednesday afternoon. There was literally no waiting at the Miami International Airport security checkpoint.
31) When in Jaco, eat at either Soda Rustico or Pachi's Pan. The former is authentic Costa Rican food for cheap, and the latter is a bakery that blows the mind. At Pachi's, order the chicken empanada (only a buck) and marvel.
32) The world needs Jesus, and the United States is not his favorite place in the whole entire earth.

That's all I can think of now. I'm sure there'll be more to come.

Thanks to all who supported us. It was truly an educational, enriching experience for every member of the Palmer Tribe, and now that we all have our passports, I tremble at the thought of where God might send us next...

*(I mean that the lines move slowly, not the airports.)