One of the things we (David and I) struggled with when we moved to Costa Rica, was where to live. Not only where to live, but what type of house, how to furnish our home, would we be culturally offensive if we didn’t put traditional things that our nationals put in their home, would we seem affluent, would nationals feel comfortable. . .
Those were big issues that we spent lots of time and thought, and prayed over.
This decision is extremely personal and different for every missionary.
David’s primary mission’s focus, was on the indigenous, I am going to be real honest. (confess) I don’t think I would have lasted as a missionary very long if I lived close to, or in the indigenous areas. They are very remote.
For a long time, I thought that made me less of a missionary (Painful confession), because I still enjoyed (and needed) indoor plumbing, internet, and an occasional trip to McDonald’s.
Comparison is an evil but effective tactic of the enemy. No matter your occupation or location.
We sat through missiology classes as new missionaries, (before we rented our house) and one of the area directors that came through the language school at the time gave us some of his top ten recommendations. He said, “never put your budget over the safety of your family” your wife and children need to feel safe. That stuck with us.
Later we heard from an area director’s wife, and she said, ” your home is where you are safe, it is where you relax, make it how you want it”.
Those words impacted us, and helped us when choosing what our house would look like.
Our first term I found myself apologizing to my national friends, saying “I’m sorry my house is so “gringa” (meaning American). Finally a dear national friend said, “you are an American, this is your home, it reflects who you are, and you have added things from here that let us know you are mixing your two countries”. “Don’t ever apologize again”.
I never wanted to offend national friends, what I learned was that my house was a testimony of so many things. I love is telling people that the ladies from Northern California and Nevada gave us money to buy the furniture, and then gave us the beautiful dishes, bed linens, shower curtains, towels, all the things we needed to start over. The women from the US, more specifically from one of our sending district wants us to have a new beautiful home in whatever country we live in. A team hand carried the things that we can not buy here.
Y’all that is a powerful testimony!
I love that we have a guest bedroom for visiting friends and family, but also national friend’s as well, sometimes our indigenous friends are in San Jose for various things, we get to host them.
We started off our second term, with a team that brought over 20 suitcases of our beloved “stuff”, that helped us create spaces we love being in. That team will never ever understand how valuable that was to us.
We live in a safe neighborhood, but I still have big cement walls, and an electrical fence surrounding our lot. I miss wide open spaces and windows without bars sometimes.
My house is a mix of mostly American, but I try to put Costa Rican accents in when I can
Our first term we found a guy who made wrought iron things,
I took him a picture of a pottery barn bed, and he created an exact replica at a fraction of the price.
(Yes missionaries like pottery barn, and God finds fun ways of helping us get it here).
Sidenote, we had been in language school a total 6 weeks and it was a Challenge to go through numbers and convert inches and feet into pulgados and pies. (I wish we had a video of the painful conversation).
This time I really wanted a table for 8, we really enjoy hosting in our home. I had a hard time finding something I really wanted here, so we decided to have one built.
I kind of copied a table from anthropology and Clint (Jo and Chip’s guy). I still love Fixer upper!
Here in Costa Rica, people re-use everything. There is very little hunting for vintage things, although I have managed to find a few picture frames on the side of the road I rescued and turned into decorations (your trash is my treasure!
It was delivered today, and it is perfect, and made all my fixer upper dreams come true. (I don’t think the craftsman understood why I wanted my new table to look old, but whatever)- farm table with reclaimed wood did not translate very well (crazy, right?)
I was so excited and looking over my new treasure, I was not paying attention to much else. The man who made the table (who I am going to have to say has Clint beat, came to make sure I was 100% pleased) came and left, and I was hugging and kissing the guys on the cheek (that’s what we do here, I wasn’t being weird)
they had all left except one . . .
This guy lingered.
I won’t forget what happened next, not ever.
He had a red shirt on.
He pointed to my sign hanging on my wall, and with tears streaming down his face said, “I’m in a really hard place right now”.
I could see the pain in his eyes.
I asked him if I could pray for him, he paused for a long time and shook his head no, do you know those times in your life when if you speak, you will loose it, ugly cry loose it, instead you literally bite your bottom lip, in attempt to maintain control.
I told him I would pray for him, and I understood that his boss was waiting in the car.
There in that moment so many things came full circle.
The sign that he pointed to says, “pero yo & mi casa serviremos al señor” Josúe 24:15
It was the same sign I passed every day walking into my parents home “But for me and my house we will serve the Lord” Joshua 24:15.
It really isn’t about what you put in your home, what it looks like, a hut, a house, a condo in a big city, . . .,it is about who lives in your home.
and if people can feel His presence.