I am sitting in my living room listening to fireworks in surround sound and I remember the first New Years we spent after saying goodbye to all of you. Following several teary days, it was one of the coolest things I have ever seen. We stood on the balcony outside our apartment in Costa Rica and watched the fireworks shoot in every direction (we take fireworks seriously here in Central America.) December 28 marked 3 years of living overseas for us. Yes, I know you are thinking, “Wow, the time sure flew by.” But I can assure you that it did not always seem that way to us. Our 3 years has been filled with victories, struggles, tears and laughter. I am taking this noisy time to reflect on the last three years and the lessons that I have learned. The first is how to ignore and even sleep through the constant fireworks (yes, every night there are fireworks, for some reason, somewhere.) More important lessons include, trusting that God will take care of me and my family. This isn’t something that I say flippantly as I would have in the US. No, I truly have learned that even though there is evil in this world, God will help me through it (although he may not stop it) and will give me peace. I have to continually remind myself of this when my husband is out after dark, or when we are shopping in “the murder capital of the world,” or when one of my kids are sick and we don’t have access to great medical care. He has taught me, no He is teaching me, that I am not in control. I can beg, I can bribe, I can cry but when it comes down to it, His timing is perfect, albeit sometimes slow. He is still teaching me this. However, living here has increased my patience and faith in his timing ten-fold. I have learned that God heals. Sometimes with doctors and sometimes with prayer. One of my hardest but greatest lessons comes from being away from family and friends. I have had to learn to lean on my Father and on my husband. Without friends to talk to or family to run to, I learned that my husband, along with Father, can and should be my best friends. Not in the cliché way people say it but he should be the first one I call when I learn something good, want to laugh with someone or hear something that makes me cry. Other lessons include realizing that electricity is not a need (although it is a great thing. You don’t have to have instant communication (shocking right?!) People can survive with out fast-food and air-conditioning. All groceries can be bought in a two isle store and a family really can live with just one car. I’ve also learned that stating the obvious about someones looks is not rude. You can call someone (to their face) fat, old, big nose etc and this is ok. It is how God made them and they should be proud of it. This continues to amaze and shock me although I am so glad my kids are growing up with that attitude and not feeling the need to be Hollywood beautiful. I have learned that stereotypes aren’t always accurate. I am told on a regular biases that all white people are rich although my bank account says otherwise. Lessons I wish I didn’t learn are that personal space is a matter of opinion as is privacy and personal possessions. Cat-calls in the street are part of the norm. Safety should not be taken lightly. Police are not always on your side. Smooth streets are a luxury. Lastly, tortillas and coffee are to be served at every meal. period. no exceptions. So on that note, have a Happy New Year and here’s to 3 more tortilla filled years!
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