30 May 2011

A Day to Remember

Being away from home on American holidays is one of the few things that really makes me remember that, metaphorically speaking, we’re not in Kansas anymore! When I spent Thanksgiving in France, I refused to go to class on principle, and spent the day watching the Macy’s Parade on a bad internet stream while making my mom’s sweet potato soufflé from scratch.

Cooking Thanksgiving is much harder without American products or a well stocked kitchen!
Memorial day isn’t a major holiday for family traditions, so it doesn’t make me particularly homesick, but it does give me pause to spend some time thinking about my country. I have some friends who have lived overseas and travelled a lot and found that it really made them dissatisfied with America and our culture (or lack thereof). For me it has always had the opposite effect. I’ve always been a patriotic person and loved my country, but there’s something about experiencing life elsewhere that just makes me love America even more. Sure, you can see the problems with our country and things about it you would change if given a chance. But you also get to see the really wonderful aspects of it and see how inordinately blessed we, as a nation, truly are.

My dad jokingly asked if they celebrate Memorial Day in Costa Rica. I laughed because Costa Rica does not even have a standing army. CR has been blessed to be probably the most stable and secure country in Latin America and has lived in peace for many years. They do not have the sorrow of remembering those who have given their lives in defense of their country. However, on the flip side, they also do not have the pride of honoring men and women who have made the ultimate sacrifice to protect their nation. Ticos love their country, the flag is everywhere,

but some of the young adults especially seem to regret that they lack a collective sense of national pride. For that reason, and so many more, I am thankful that while America is a safe country and has been free from the wars and violence prevalent in so many others around the world, that peace has also come with a great deal of striving. I love the quote by Thomas Paine because it is very accurate, “What we achieve to easily, we esteem too lightly.” What America represents is especially precious because of what it has cost.

Grandpa Webb
Grandpa Gordon

Although I have not personally known the pain of losing a loved one in war, I am very proud of my family’s service and honored to be the granddaughter of two WWII vets and the daughter of a Vietnam vet. (Dad, you lucked out. I don’t have access to any of your Navy photos here.) From my earliest years I remember loving to hear Grandpa Gordon tell stories of his time in the Pacific Theater serving under General McArthur, and he made sure to always remind me of the price of freedom. As I get older and watch close friends go off to war, I understand that even a little bit better. I pray we never forget the sacrifices made by so many, or take for granted the men and women who serve so faithfully. To the veterans, those who are serving today, and their families, THANK YOU.
Grandpa Gordon in D.C.

Grandpa Gordon in training

Grandpa and Grandma Gordon

Me and Grandpa
Thinking about my grandpa, who was probably my favorite person ever, I was reminded of another “butterfly moment” from last week. Tuesday I was having a rough morning, so I was exceptionally glad that not only did we have chapel during break, it was a special worship chapel service. I was already enjoying the time of praise when they began to play a vaguely familiar song. The lyrics were powerful and fitting and I sang along wondering why the words seemed stored in the recesses of my memory. And then I remembered the one and only time I had heard the song before.

It was Fall 2004 at a Wednesday night FCA service during my first semester of college at UF. Our awesome praise band (that included a banjo at the time) was playing to a packed auditorium when I felt my phone vibrate. I didn’t answer it. I knew right away the only reason mom would be calling during FCA: my beloved grandpa had passed away after a painful struggle with Alzheimer’s. I remember standing there in the crowd choking back tears and smiling as I listened to a cheerful rendition of “On Jordan’s Stormy Banks.”

On Jordan’s stormy banks I stand
And cast a wishful eye
To Canaan’s fair and happy land
Where my possessions lie.

All o’er those wide extended plains
Shines one eternal day
There God, the Son forever reigns
And scatters night away.

I am bound, I am bound, I am bound for the Promised Land.
I am bound, I am bound, I am bound for the Promised Land.

No chilling wind nor poisonous breath
Can reach that healthful shore
Where sickness, sorrow, pain and death
Are felt and feared no more.

When shall I see that happy place
And be forever blessed?
When shall I see my Father’s face
And in His bosom rest?

I am bound, I am bound, I am bound for the Promised Land.
I am bound, I am bound, I am bound for the Promised Land.

The memory of that night flooded back and with it a twinge of the pain from that season of loss. Those recollections mixed with the angst of the current day, and the tears rolled down my cheeks as I lifted my hands and sang along. You are probably saying right about now, “I thought you said this was a joyful ‘butterfly’ moment?” It was, trust me! I had never been able to remember what song we sang that night, although I always fondly remembered singing about one day reaching the Promised Land at the moment I learned that Grandpa had made it Home. It was a perfectly timed gift that 6.5 years later when I was having a bad day in Costa Rica that song would come back to me and bring with it sweet memories and refreshment for my heart. It was a powerful comfort to me the night I lost my grandpa, and it was just as much comfort on a day when I was feeling a little stranded in the desert.

I don’t know where God is going to guide me in this life, or how long I will remain standing on Jordan’s stormy banks. But praise Jesus! I DO know that some day I am bound for the Promised Land! On that day, the sadness and difficulties that plague this life will fade away when I finally see my Savior’s face. Praise Jesus! What a promise! 

I hope you take time today to remember those who have served and sacrificed for our nation and the freedoms we enjoy. But far more, I hope that you take time daily to remember the ultimate sacrifice that Christ made on the cross that allows us freedom from sin and the assurance of eternal life in the Promised Land.

"Just as man is destined to die once, and after that to face judgment, so Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many people; and he will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting on him." -Hebrews 9:27-28

29 May 2011

Butterfly Moments

Thursday the sky had been working up to a rain all day.  By the time I was walking home from the Institute in the late afternoon the light was beginning to fade, a low blanket of grey clouds hung over the city, and the normally colorful neighborhood seemed to have absorbed the monochromatic pallor of the sky. The weeds along the sidewalk, the trash in the streets, all seemed to add to the general dreariness of the day. I walked quickly towards home, staring at the grey sidewalk to avoid tripping on some chunk of concrete or falling into a gringo trap (more on those later). That’s when it caught my eye balancing on a piece of litter in the weeds along a vacant lot: a small butterfly so brilliantly blue that it seemed to produce its own light. I stopped in my tracks and bent to examine it. It would have been beautiful at any time, but the grim grey day seemed to provide the perfect backdrop for the butterfly’s luminescence. I could tell it was injured and I as I held out my finger, it climbed on, slowly shifting its wings. The tiny miracle poised on my finger, a gorgeous shimmering spot in a drab world. My friend accompanied me as far as the corner before it fluttered awkwardly to a nearby clump of grass and hid itself among the blades, and I walked the rest of the way home alone, smiling.

Just a few days before, when discussing a butterfly garden, I had told Brittany that while I thought butterflies were nice, I had never been impressed by them. 

Dolly Parton and I do not see eye to eye on butterflies.  
But this one…this one impressed me.

Life here in Costa Rica is pleasant. I have a comfortable home with a very nice Tico family. I am surrounded by friendly likeminded Americans. We have access (albeit it expensive access) to most anything we could need. But after being here five weeks things have settled into a routine, and there is a certain monotony to this season of language learning. Here’s a look at my typical weekday:

5:15am- Wakeup because the sun is pouring in and the other family members are already up and making noise. Go back to sleep.

6:00am- Wakeup for real. Quiet time, check email, get ready for the day while watching Foxnews.com videos and catching up on the world.

7:00am- Breakfast. I want a cup of coffee. Instead, I am fed a bowl of cereal, fruit of the day, glass of juice…and coffee. I try to cram it down while making conversation with my Tica mom in Spanish, and usually learn something about a family member’s life that makes me wonder if she isn’t just pulling plot lines from a telanovela.

7:20am- Walk the 5 blocks to school.

7:30am- Conversation class starts with a prayer in Spanish. We discuss directions, household objects, and very useful things like the word for “chef’s hat” (el gorro) or a “large paintbrush” (la brocha).

8:25am- Phonics class starts with reading a passage from the Bible (in Spanish of course). We practice over-pronouncing our vowels and appropriately slurring our words together. And sometimes, if we’re lucky, we play hangman.

9:30am- Break time. Tuesdays and Thursdays we have an optional chapel service which is always nice. The other days we hang out and chat, study, have a snack, or grab a quick nap.

10:20am- Grammar class starts. We try to learn the difference between the 6 different verbs that Spanish has that mean “to be,” and strain to remember the long list of exceptions to every rule we’ve learned.

12:00pm- FREEDOM! Head home from school and hope we beat the rain.

12:15pm- Lunch with my Tica mom and her 11-month-old grandson, Matias. We chat about my day, but mostly I make silly faces at Mati and my Tica mom tries to get him to identify where the parakeet is. (It’s been at least a month and he has yet to even look at its cage. I don’t think he cares about the bird.)

12:45pm- The rest of the afternoon is spent in various combinations of sleeping, reading, studying (maybe), Skyping, jogging, editing photos, zumba class, and eating oreos (they are the one American snack cookie readily available so I keep a stash on hand).

6:30pm- Dinner time with my Tica mom again. Usually the conversation involves how ridiculously hot it has been that afternoon and what funny thing Mati did. She sometimes feeds me bizarre things like a green bean omelet or neapolitan ice cream with cherry jello, but for the most part the food is good.

7:00pm- See “12:45pm” above.

We do have opportunities to serve on the weekends and do some exploring, 

We got to explore Sarchi, the town famous for the colorful painted ox carts that many associate with Costa Rica. Beautiful artwork!
but the day in and day out routine can get a bit mundane, especially with so much down time and when we’re anxious to be on to the next part. But, like that grey day helping me to appreciate the remarkable beauty of that butterfly, sometimes the commonality and sameness of everyday life can help us appreciate the humor and joy in little things that we might otherwise overlook in busyness. 
Here’s a few recent “butterfly moments" (and yes it bothers me to call them that because it's quite a bit girlier than I am comfortable with, but it seems to fit so I'm just going to go with it):

-If you haven’t gathered from my facebook posts and pictures, it rains a lot in Costa Rica this time of year. Generally in the morning it’ll be sunny and dry, but by lunch the clouds are building up and moving down off the mountains, and then by mid-afternoon or early evening it’s raining. I love the rain, and hopefully will STILL love the rain by the time we leave in August. One afternoon a week or so ago it was sprinkling when I left the house to walk back to school for a zumba class taught by a fellow student. About a block away from the home, the skies opened up and the gentle mist turned into a torrential downpour. My umbrella provided little protection from the wind-driven rain and within a minute I was drenched…and grinning like a fool. I laughed uncontrollably all the way to school, and was thankful that there was no one else out on the streets. If the Ticos could have seen me sopping wet and giggling I’m sure it wouldn’t take long to get the reputation in the neighborhood as the crazy gringa. (Although, there’s plenty of competition around here for that title. So many gringos live in the area they call it “Gringo-landia.”)

-Facebooking the other evening I was reading a status update of one of my translator friends in Haiti who normally writes in French or Creole. I read it and about half way through realized that while I was understanding it fine, something was weird about the French. I thought perhaps it was creole and read it again, but I knew that wasn’t right either. I could NOT figure out what was wrong with this French! And the simple reason was…it was in Spanish. One month and I can no longer differentiate between the languages…oy vey!

-In that same vein, last night I was walking up the front steps and my Tico dad was at the kitchen sink and called out a greeting to me. I replied with a very cheery… “Bonsoir!”
Bonsoir? Really?! I can carry on a decent conversation in Spanish now (the verb tenses and gender agreement are often wrong but you can get the point) and I still randomly pulled out a French greeting. I was really hoping that the running water drowned it out or that he would think I did it intentionally just trying to add a little international flavor (like I need more of that!?).

-I was introduced to Hillsong in Spanish and it’s awesome. I mean, Hillsong in English is great, and I loved when they would do bilingual worship at Hillsong Paris, so I shouldn’t be surprised. I highly recommend downloading the albums: “Con Todo” and “Unidos Permanecemos.”

-Last week we visited church with some other staff members and the Spanish song that they sang during their “welcome time” was to the tune of “Red River Valley.” Many of the churches we have visited use primarily English hymns and praise songs translated.

-In grammar class we are constantly having to make up sentences to practice whatever rule we are learning. It gets tedious after a while writing sentences about situations that you would likely never have to discuss in real life. I entertain myself by writing a great deal of my sentences about llamas. My favorite of this week: “The llamas are mad because they are in a pen and are not playing on the hillside.”

This llama IS playing on the hillside. But he is still mad... and also considering eating that family. 
There are a lot of those moments, the little things that just make you smile or appreciate something simple. I am trying to learn to live with more gratitude and I pray that I will be aware of and thankful for the small "butterfly moments" that fill each day. What little things are you thankful for today?

*Thank you so much for your continued prayers and encouragement. I say it a lot, but it really does make a difference! Please be in prayer for us that we will continue to learn the language quickly, that we will be sensitive to the needs and opportunities around us, for a deepening hunger for God, that we will develop strong team relationships, and for continued health and safety. Also be praying for my good friends at home, Rachel and Velyn, who are preparing for extended trips this summer to serve in East Asia and Africa, respectively!*

17 May 2011

A Matter of Time

I just couldn’t figure it out. Why there was someone on the roof, that is. Or why that person was making such a racket stomping around up there.

It was a sticky Friday afternoon after a long week that included a retirement party for our mentors, a flashflood of sorts, a trip to the newly converted Walmart, and our first test in grammar class, just to hit the highlights. 

It has rained quite a bit here, but this was our first torrential rain that turned the streets into rivers for several hours.  It even flooded through the roof of one of the families homes. Thankfully all houses here have tile floors!

I was instant messaging with friends back home and letting my brain relax. My Tico family had company over for the afternoon coffee break and they were chatting nonstop at the other end of the house. When I first heard the slight rattling I was just confused, trying to place the origin of the sound. I paused and stood up, deciding if I should go see what was going on. Suddenly the rattling turned into shaking, swaying, and rumbling, and that’s when it hit me (pun intended)… earthquake!  I’m a little embarrassed it took me so long to identify what was happening, but you have to remember, I’ve never lived anywhere with tremors, so that’s not the first thing my brain jumps to when attempting to explain strange phenomena. When it finally dawned on me, to be honest my first thought was, “Cool!” eventually followed by, “I guess I should go stand in a doorframe like they always tell you.” I stood in my bedroom door, watching the mirror in the hall swing wildly and listening to Josefa, Brittany’s Tica mom, shrieking next door in the carport.

Gradually the trembling subsided, and I stood for a minute listening for my Tico family in an attempt to gauge my response by theirs. Maricela, my Tica mom was calming down her 11-month-old grandson, Matias, who had been fine during the earthquake until Josefa’s hysteric screams terrified him. The others remarked that it was a pretty strong “terremoto,” and then promptly returned to what they were doing. I’ve felt weak tremors before, once in Japan and once in Haiti, but this was by far the most significant shake I’ve experienced, and I’ll admit it got my adrenaline pumping. It was apparently pretty strong, about a 6.0 according to the USGS (get the stats here), but thankfully it was deep in the earth so the damages were minimal across the country. Allen, one of our local supervisors, called to check on me a few minutes after. When I answered the phone he said in his steady Texas drawl, “Well I ordered up a good shaking for ya, just wanted to see how ya liked it.”

In sum, it was an exciting Friday the 13th, and although I didn’t find it all that frightening, it did bring up some sobering realities. First of all, the earth is crazy. In the midst of an earthquake you can’t know if it’s just going to stop with a little shake, or turn into a cataclysmic disaster. And unlike the hurricanes I grew up with, there’s not any real warning or way to prepare for the ravages of an earthquake. Having been in Haiti a couple of months after their devastating quake, I’ve seen firsthand the destruction of structures and lives. I’ve talked with people who were miraculously saved and with others who lost loved ones, seen the mass graves and the buildings that collapsed into tombs, and tried to understand the psychological toll that the trauma and fear continues to exact on the people who survived. God has used the disaster to His glory and the country has seen tremendous revival, but many more continue to live in fear, and in that one day thousands perished without a saving knowledge of Christ. It was the same in Japan and it would be the same in Costa Rica, or California for that matter. It’s only a matter of time. And that “matter” is that time is running out.

"Christ is the answer. Exodus 14:14"
Our little quake was a good reminder to me that time is short and the work is urgent. Even without massive natural disasters, everyone we encounter is getting closer to eternity every minute, and we cannot know how much time they, or we, have left. People need Jesus, and they need Him now. Sometimes the disasters we face are physical, sometimes they are personal but just as devastating. The ground may split open or you may feel like your life is crumbling, but Jesus will still stand as a firm foundation. Listen to the promise from Isaiah 54:10, “Though the mountains be shaken and the hills be removed, yet my unfailing love for you will not be shaken nor my covenant of peace be removed.” 

And in Psalm 46:1-3 we are told, “God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging.” 

I’m ashamed to think about how many times I’ve let timidity or simple unconcern keep me from sharing that truth with people who desperately needed it. I pray that I will better keep the exigency of the task in mind on a daily basis, and that when I forget, that God might shake me out of my complacency yet again.

Heat lightning over the mountains. This is looking south from our language school. I'm pretty sure those are the lights of Desamparados.

07 May 2011

Adios and vaya con Dios!

I don’t want to go.

The thought exploded in my mind during an unguarded moment laughing with a friend a couple of weeks before my travel date. I didn’t know where those words came from, but like a blindside corner blitz, suddenly they were there, catching me off-guard and knocking the wind out of me. I had guarded my thoughts for a long time, not letting myself linger on the painful parts of what was coming. But eventually the truth burst out: I didn’t want to go. I surprised even myself, and before the pain from that realization could subside, in swept the guilt.

I’m not supposed to feel like this! I’m a missionary for crying out loud! I’m supposed to be thrilled about having this rarefied privilege to go to far-off lands and tell people about Jesus. It’s not like someone is forcing me, I volunteered for this. I worked hard for this! I danced around in my office like an idiot when I found out I got the job. I’m supposed to be so passionate about sharing the Good News that I count everything else as loss. I’m supposed to want to go!

But the truth was, I didn’t. I didn’t want to go through any of it. I didn’t want to try to shop for everything I might possibly need for two years. I didn’t want to pack my life into two (okay, okay…4) suitcases. I didn’t want to leave behind my wardrobe or…*gasp*…my shoes, my beautiful high-heeled shoes! I didn’t want to pick just a few precious photos and knick-knacks to remind me of home, and trade my stacks of books for a Kindle app. I didn’t want to give up driving and leave Gerald with my mom. I didn’t want to exchange my independence and personal space, my comfy bed and house to go live in a rented room with a Costa Rican family, living by their schedules and customs. I didn’t want the sweet cards and thoughtful gifts from the people who care so much about me. I didn’t want the last meals at my favorite restaurants, or one last plate of mom’s spaghetti. I didn’t want a final Friday Night Bible Study or a “Day o’ Lyndsey” to say goodbye to so many wonderful people. I didn’t want the beautiful prayers of blessing, the accolades and recognition, or people telling me how proud they are of me. I didn’t want to be held up as someone to be admired, after all, if they knew how I felt, they wouldn’t. I didn’t want to leave the beach or drive through the darkened streets of my hometown knowing it won’t be the same when I come back. I didn’t want to cling to the people I love and watch the minutes drain from the clock, knowing what was coming. I didn’t want to hug and kiss my friends and family one last time. I didn’t want to feel my heart breaking or cry with so much anguish I thought I’d never stop. I didn’t want to leave my comfortable home and pleasant life. I didn’t want to say goodbye. I didn’t want to go. Not one little bit.

But I did.

5:00am at DAB with Daddy and Timmy and a farewell Dr. Pepper

And you know what…it hurt! Really, really bad. I wasn’t expecting it to be so painful. I really thought that I could handle it. I’ve left home and moved to foreign cultures for extended periods of time before. Sure it was sad, but I was okay. But I was suddenly very aware that this really is an entirely different bag of cats. Moving to Europe for a school year when all of your friends are still off in college is a different challenge from leaving the USA for 2 years when everyone is in the midst of making critical career and life decisions. And I’m a different person than I was back when I moved to Paris. Maybe I’m getting soft in my old age? ;-) Whatever it is, I’ve cried more in the last 4 weeks than I have in the last 4 years, and I think my sudden sensitivity was even more alarming to myself than to the close friends who had to deal with my atypical meltdowns. For someone who usually has their emotions in check, the amount of tears that I have shed in recent days is disconcerting.

I’d like to tell you that nearly two weeks after the big goodbye I have some amazing story to tell you about how being obedient to Christ has completely erased the pain and filled my heart with gladness and enthusiasm and I’ve already seen fruit. But the truth is, it still hurts and it’s still hard. It took me a week before I made it a single day without tears, and that was less because I didn’t feel like crying, and mostly because I was simply too tired. Life in a foreign culture is exhausting.

Before you start really worrying about me and my emotional stability and go calling Member Care to get me some counseling, let me assure you I am fine. The first morning I woke up here, my immediate thought was, “Hey. I live in Costa Rica.” And that thought strikes me again at random times and makes me smile. I love learning about the culture. The mountains and plant life are beautiful, the people pretty friendly, and the food not half bad. I like the Tico (Costa Rican) family that I live with and have settled into a comfortable routine.  School has started and my Spanish is improving rapidly. Perhaps nicest of all is that we’ve been welcomed into the community of other staff from our organization that either live here permanently or who are in longer-term language study. They have gone out of their way to get us settled and show us around and are quickly becoming our family away from home. We’ve gone to church, had some gringo gatherings, and experienced a Tico birthday party complete with piñata and a cake fight, and we have laughed a LOT. I really can’t complain.

Piñata at a welcome fiesta at school. Who doesn't love a good piñata?! (Except maybe Donkey from Shrek...)

At the good times I’m amused that I live here, I enjoy the challenge of learning a new language, and I appreciate the unique culture of this place. Anytime I want, I can walk out my front door of my upscale home and buy a coconut with a straw from the guy in the truck on the street. No joke, there’s a coconut guy. But there are still times when I am lonely and the pain of missing people is raw, when I don’t want to learn a language I managed to avoid for 9 years in school, when I want to point out that I never signed up for Costa Rica. I hate to say it, but there are times when I simply don’t want to be here. In my younger years I would never had admitted any of this in a blog that everyone and their grandmother can read. I like to be seen as the one who “has it all together,” who’s competent and strong, not phased by anything. Admit my weaknesses? What weaknesses? Let’s just talk about how interesting everything is and tell clever anecdotes about not being able to flush toilet paper (for real, you don’t do that here). But I am slowly learning to let my guard down. So instead, I’d rather be transparent and show you as real a picture of me right now as I dare. It’s what I like to call “ugly honest.” So I hope I haven’t horrified any of you with what I’ve shared so far, and I hope you aren’t too disappointed with me if I admit that this hasn’t been a walk in the park and that sometimes I don’t feel like being where I am or doing what I’m doing.

As I said at the beginning of these ramblings, I didn’t really want to leave or do any of the hard things that got me here. But I did them and I’m here because that’s obedience. We don’t wait to obey until we feel like obeying. “Living by faith mean obeying God’s Word in spite of feelings, circumstances or consequences. It means holding on to God’s truth no matter how heavy the burden or how dark the day, knowing that He is working out His perfect plan.” People love to tell you to “follow your heart,” but I think that’s some of the most dangerous advice out there. If I were following my heart right now I’d be on a plane headed back to the US, because at this moment my heart is still in sunny Daytona Beach.

Can you blame me?
In Jeremiah 17:9 the Bible tells us that “the heart is deceitful above all things.” Sometimes we have to obey even when we don’t want to, but when we do, right feelings eventually follow right actions. So I think it’s okay if we don’t always feel like doing that to which we’re called, so long as we go ahead and do it anyway. And we don’t do it because we’ve been promised blessings on the other side, but because we were simply asked to obey. Like I’ve said, being obedient doesn’t protect us from hurt, sometimes it leads us right to it, but how sweet to know that while we walk that road we never walk alone.

“The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.” –Psalm 34:18

And so, on the good days I will praise Him for bringing me here, for walking beside me, and for His abundant blessings… and on the bad days I will thank Him for bringing me here, for walking beside me, and for His abundant blessings. And when I am weak and crushed in spirit I can rest in His arms and in the promise of 2 Corinthians 12:9, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” I hope that I can learn to say, as Paul did, “When I am weak, then I am strong.”

Leaving church on our first Sunday in Costa Rica.

*Thank you so much for all the outpourings of support and continued prayer during my last days at home and this transition to Costa Rica. It’s a tremendous comfort and blessing to know so many are interceding on my behalf. I mean it when I say, I couldn’t do it without you! Right now would you specifically pray that we will learn the language rapidly, that we will be good stewards of our brief time here in CR, for divine appointments and opportunities to serve, and for the continued health of team relationships. And please let me know how I can pray for you!*