It’s almost Halloween.

Boatswain’s Log October 29th 

Yep. This month is drawing to a close. We had class today in which we were introduced to our locations and assignments for our concentration. We write 3 essays and Andrew Brauer and myself head out to the overly warm region of Guanacaste to work in farms planting stuff. The old journey to Sarapiqui stopped existing because it didn’t work out. Sad day. Now I get to be all sweaty elsewhere. I am kind of excited though because this gives me the opportunity to experience what my dad did when he was growing up in Texas picking cotton. I get to see what he means (or at least to a small degree).

 

John Stam came back and talked to us today. He was great again. He talked to us about the church in Latin America. He started talking about the second Vatican council and how in his mind it marked a historic peak in church history. He said it was on the level with the council of Nicea…In essence the first real church council since the year 500. In the 60’s. He gave a lot of credit to Pope John the 23rd. This guy sounded pretty cool. He was apparently one of the only Popes who saw the catholic church as needing the “wind of the spirit”. As a result the council of Medellin in 1968 in John Stam’s opinion was better than Vatican 2. The documents were great I am told. Between the 2 of these councils the catholic church recognized the protestant churches officially as a Christian churches. Before this we apparently weren’t given any official status as a church. Nowadays it is harder to find Catholics that won’t say Protestants are Christians than it is to find the opposite. At this time injustice was labeled a sin, as was the status quo in Latin America because it killed people. The church began to get involved in real life in Latin America in the slums. John the 23rd did a good job. The problem was that other popes were to follow.

 

John Stam described Pope John Paul II as a tyrant who brought back the inquisition and silenced voices speaking out against oppression. Furthermore, according to John Stam he was a very ideological Pope who supported right-wing capitalism. The next and current pope (Mr. Ratzinger) isn’t much better in his opinion. He called him a hatchetman of the inquisition. I am inclined to agree. He talked about a whole lot of things really. All very interesting things that I never get to hear in any other context. So I am going to give you a bunch of highlights.

 

He mentioned that the protestant church in Latin America became very anti. Anti-catholic, anti-socialist, etc… He then said that, “Negation has significance only as the shadow side of affirmation.” That was impressive. What you deny is seen in the light of what you affirm. Interesting.

 

“It’s not an airplane flight that makes you a missionary. It’s God’s calling.”

 

“Sometimes wisdom is letting people make their own mistakes.”

 

He talked about the way authority had changed over time from the authority of church fathers, to the authority of scripture, to today where post-modernism is creating an environment where the authority of scripture may not hold up in the opinion of everyone. That is kind of a scary world. He said that the authority that people would see would be intrinsic authority. The sort that is won by love and example. The same kind of authority Tony Campolo mentioned when he came to SPU.

 

He mentioned the fact that power as and end is unchristian, but power as a means of service is what Jesus wants. He said that Christians should be leaven in national parties and up to our necks in politics. There was no worry in his mind about being too political, but rather too unethical or too untheological.

 

Okay. That is enough John Stam. What do I think? Well, that last paragraph was really important for me. I have been thinking about that for a long time. What is the Christian response in the political sphere? Oscar Romero obviously thought the gospel had implications as far as real life goes. So did Jesus. Where does that leave us? So many of the things we want to see changed in the world don’t have a likelihood of changing without our active participation in the political process. My friend Ben Climer says that Christians cannot or should not be senators. I don’t know that I agree.

 

The problem I see in Latin America is so many of the problems here are caused by United States policy. We mess things up. Look at the financial crisis. It hits people here very hard because the price of their exports drop and suddenly there is less money and therefore less workers. It hit the whole world. We meddled in governments here, and as a result there is more inequality. Something that I think is that if Latin America is going to really change in the way we as Christians desire it to on the macro-scale the United States needs to change to allow that. How does the government we have change without us as people wanting and acting so that it does? I don’t think Christians can just sit around or pull back from a system that is broken and wait for it to change. We have to be involved in changing/fixing that system. Does that mean politicians who are Christians? I think so.

 

I don’t think Shane Claiborne and myself see eye to eye on this one. I read some of that Jesus for President book, and while I agreed with 95% of it. I found myself frustrated by his tendency to say that we should have radical politics but not be involved in politics. What does that mean? We cannot be separatists. Jesus engaged the Roman Empire’s policy. We live in a participatory democracy in the US. I think that the reality of life forces us to think about our political system in different ways. Christ changes us from the inside out…can we (with Christ in us) do the same in the US government? Or am I an idealistic fool who believes that Americans really think that we as human beings have 3 inalienable rights “life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness”? I think the baseline ideas of things like the constitution and the declaration of independence give lots of room for Christians to use them in the way they should be used: for God’s Kingdom. Still, others may disagree. I suppose that I would like to see them propose solutions to structural problems that beset our world without getting involved in politics.

 

What about the Pope bit? What do I think about that? Well, I don’t think that the Pope is necessary. When the apostles died we never lost the Holy Spirit. End of opinion.

 

Let’s see now…after class I went to the pharmacy among other things. I bought some antibacterial ointment. Neato gang. I watched the legend of Zorro. Antonio Banderas and Anthony Hopkins made a great film. It’s good in Spanish too.

 

My mom asked me what I was going to do to make a memoir of my time here. I decided I would try to edit a video together with my host brother’s help. I hope it works.

 

I am seriously ready to come home now. It was actually chilly today and that reminded me of the autumn that I am missing. As the title says it is already almost Halloween and I am itching to see funny little kids scampering about the neighborhood seeking free candy. The issue is that I have about another month of time here. There are things I still really want to do. I want to go to Cuba, I want to go work in Guanacaste, I want to spend time with people in the program….however, I also am ready to go home. I never really thought that those 2 things would coexist. They do. You could pray for me to live in the moment. It is harder than I had thought it would be.

 

I still have a headcold, so I am going to go to sleep early. Gotta kill it. I will give you a Nicaragua day another time.

 

PS: Ben Weins said he would register for me because I won’t be able to do so in the campo in Guanacaste. As academic counselors go he is my hero. I plan on getting him a gift from Cuba.

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A thought for y’all

well folks here it is. My service project starts on Monday. I will be in Guanacaste (Which is hot and humid) working in the fields. I will get tired and there will be no internet. Thus you will get serverely out of date info about a month after the last post this week. I promise I won’t die. I don’t promise that I won’t get more tan. I will do my best to write regularly, the question remains as to whether or not you want to read a months worth of posts all at once. Maybe you do…

I went to the beach.

Boatswain’s Log October 28th 

Yep. I took my Fall break with some friends (2 dudes, no women. Me, Craig, Kasey.) over to Dominical. This is a beach town on the coast of the Pacific Ocean. I spent 3 days at the beach getting a killer tan. Seriously. It’s good. We left Saturday morning and came back today.

 

We got there about 12:30 on Saturday after about 5 hours of bus travel. The road from San Jose to Quepos (embarkation central to the pacific coast) is nice, but from Queops to Dominical one has to suffer a 1.5 hour bus ride because of the unpaved dirt road. If it were paved I think it would last about 20 minutes. Well. We got there and found a tiny town. It had about one street and a market that was useful. We found lodging in a hostel called Tortilla Flats for 20$ a night. For three people. Clean rooms, a shower, and electricity. About 100 yards off the beach. We pooled resources and bought food as a team. Cereal and tortillas were staples of our adventure.

 

We hit the beach almost immediately. After being in busses for 5 hours (since 6AM), the pacific ocean sounded marvelous. Was it ever. I hadn’t had the opportunity to splash about in the biggest ocean in the world yet (despite my love for it. Longbeach, Washington has deadly riptides), but after doing so let me say a few things.

 

1) The ocean makes me feel small. In a good way. The waves are stronger and steadier than I could ever be and they never stop. Furthermore, there is no visible end to the ocean. All this to say, it is one of the few things in life that makes me feel tiny and I like it.

 

2) The water in the pacific is better than the carribean. It’s actually cool water. It is refreshing. However, the salt taste takes some getting used to.

 

3) There are lots of cute girls in the Pacific Ocean. I think I saw the most beautiful girl I have ever seen doing impressive things with a surf board (word for surfboard in Spanish = tabla).

 

4) In your face Char Beck. I can take good pictures too.

 

5) Dominical is rad.

 

I spent 2 of the three days talking, playing in the water and meeting interesting people. Kasey was a stick in the mud about meeting people the first day. I met a guy from Israel, people from Oregon, people who worked at the bar (no I didn’t drink, but I was tempted. Especially when the British couple we met offered us rum. That sounded really good. Integrity isn’t fun sometimes.), a guy named Steve who told us repeatedly the places where we should eat in San Jose and where “there was more pussy than we could shake a stick at”, and a British couple named Sherril and Jamie. The British couple were awesome. We randomly started talking to them and they were some of the most interesting people I have met. They work at a resort in the French alps 5 months out of the year and travel the rest of the time. They are extremely funny, like to share (we said yes to the pepsi, and a disappointing no to the rum after giving them Kasey’s map. Sherril told me that it was okay because “if you’ve got principles, you should stick to them.”), told us that saying “bloody” gets you mocked in England and shared all sorts of great perspectives on everything. Really, talking to them made me want to go to Europe and work in a resort to meet more people like them. There is a first time for everything.

 

Seriously, they cursed a lot, but their accents made it endearing. I wished they would have stayed longer. They were drinking the rum all the way through our 2 hour conversation and by the end they admitted to being drunk, however I just thought they were getting funnier the whole time. They just made more outlandish statements…If I hang out with drunk people in the future I hope they are as cool as they were. The only downside to the Brits was that they left the next morning without saying goodbye like I wanted them to…Great people live in Dominical. Some of them just for a bit. Others all their lives.

 

The third day at the beach was the day we decided to try our hand at surfing. Craig and I rented boards and hit the waves. I noticed immediately that fighting waves with a board is harder than when it is just you. Especially when the board hits your head or the fin cuts your shoulder…just hypothetically. I then noticed that surfing is hard. It involves swimming (cardio), lifting one’s body (upperbody strength), and balancing while standing (core and leg strength)  I fought the waves for a really long time and just as I was heading in when the owner of a surf shop told me I should take a lesson with his 10 foot 2 board. I was using a 9 foot 2 one before and he said that he had been worried that I might break it.

 

He made me a killer deal and so I got my first surfing lesson for 20$ with board and instructor included for about 1.5 hours. The result was awesome. The Costa Rican man named Ronnie who had been competing since he was 12 in international competitions gave me the lowdown on how to surf. Out in the second break the waves get scarier, but they are also better to ride. I got owned for awhile before I got used to it. He coached me through it and my last attempt I rode a wave all the way in to shore. Standing up. Note: Surfing is really cool and more fun when you know what you are doing. I went to bed that night really early, because I had been surfing (or learning to surf) for about 6 hours. I was a tanned wreck of a man.

 

I came up with a fun analogy about surfing and Jesus while I was learning. Learning to surf is like a relationship with Jesus. There are waves in the process that never stop. Some waves are bigger than you, some aren’t. Some you go over, some you go under. You learn how to respond to different waves. There is someone helping you (if you ask for a lesson) the whole time. Eventually you get good enough to stand on the board and use the waves for the fun they were probably made for…surfing.

 

It’s like in life. There are hard things (waves) that come all the time. You learn to handle them in the process of surfing (relationship with Jesus). You have an instructor who is a world-class surfer (analogous to Jesus). It takes time to learn how to surf/have relationship with Jesus in a manner that isn’t just frustrating. At first you get owned by the waves. Eventually you learn to use the board on the waves (walk with Jesus). Then you can do tricks if you want (miracles?) or you can just surf (walk with the Lord) as much as possible…because believe me you want to. Both surfing and a relationship with Jesus are amazing.

 

Okay. I know that this might have holes in it, but it made me really happy to have a fun analogy that made the hard process of this relationship with Christ easier to grasp. Surfing is a process, so is relationship with Jesus. Sometimes you do better than other times, but you don’t quit because it is really great. Yeah…That’ll do.

 

Anyhow, after surfing we got dinner at the bar. Tasty. And then we went to bed. I went to bed much earlier than the other dudes.

 

Today we started the day without breakfast waiting for the bus back to Quepos which took too long. We got to Quepos and got food and then hopped another bus to San Jose. We sat in the back of the bus. Little did I know, but I think this meant I was sitting right near the exhaust thinger. I started the day with a sniffly nose and tired body and somehow managed a headache (which I think was from dehydration, my host mom in her “I know everything” manner assured me it was from not eating breakfast) which became a migraine. So by the end of the bus ride I had to throw up. The last half hour was me fighting the urge to vomit out the window. I held it (by the grace of God) until we got to the bus station…where I promptly vomited in the street. As though I had been drinking. I really hadn’t been drinking, so this made me feel odd and stupid. Just the unfortunate sick fool instead of the stupid drunk fool. A taxi driver and Craig and Kasey helped me out and I got home in one piece. I am doing much better now.

 

Upon getting home I washed the vomit from my chacos and feet and then tried to sleep. Eventually my host mom asked me why all my clothes were dirty when I came back from Nicaragua. Why didn’t I have any clean clothes? Did I forget to give my clothes to the host family to wash? She thought so. She knows everything soooo well. Well. The reason all my clothes were dirty was because…Surprise! I sweat through shirts in Nicaragua in about a half hour. My host mom in Nicaragua actually washed my clothes twice. I am just a sweaty human being who took advantage of that second wash to wear clean clothes every day possible. Apparently that just put my mom off. I tried to explain that, however my host mom adamantly asserted that I must not have given the clothes to my host mom in Nicaragua despite my statements to the contrary. Deep breath. Exhale. This is me ready to leave this house, but sad because it means less time with my host brothers who are legit.

 

On to Nicaragua. Day 2.

 

 

Day 2: We started the second day by heading out to our first interesting experience. We went to a community of people parked in front of the president’s office (or mostly). They lived in tents and had been there for about 16 months, but they have been doing this for 17 years. They were people who were affected by Nemagon. This is a chemical that a variety of  banana companies (Chiquita, dole, del monte) used in the 70’s in Nicaragua. 20 years after the chemical had been banned in the US. The people working in the fields had direct exposure to this for a long time and as a result they are really sick, lots of them have died. They currently live in a piece of land in Managua without sufficient resources, in tents to get their point across. They have been there a long time. Them, their families, their annoying birds all trying to get the government to lend them a hand in surviving and getting a very justified lawsuit through against these companies. Apparently the Daniel Ortega (president) administration is the only on that has helped with food and some legal aid. This same administration has disappeared 510 million dollars in aid, and pays people to stand in the rotunda waving flags with signs that say “love is stronger than hate” to try and counter the very negative outlook lots of people have towards D.Ort.

 

Why do they have beef with him? Well, he cuts out the possibility for third parties in elections. He disappears aid. He is the party of the revolution and doesn’t really help the state of his country. All that and there is a general sense of agreement that he will amend the constitution to make himself able to be elected again, the word dictatorship is used frequently. Boo on that.

 

After our time with the Nemagon community…which was a harsh reality to see. We went to a park in Managua. We could see the whole city. There was an earthquake there in 1972 and the old dictator used all the relief money that was supposed to rebuild the city to line his pockets. Thus, the city of Managua is filled with trees…but has no downtown. The park we went to is the same park that used to have the national palace. A hero of Nicaragua (Agosto cesar Sandino) was assassinated in this park by the first of the three Somoza dictators following Sandino’s victorious war to get the US marines out of the country. So, they have a big silhouette of him there with a poem in his honor on a big white piece of marble. He signifies dignity of the Nicaraguan people.

 

As we drove through Managua it became very obvious that Daniel Ortega wastes significant amounts of cash to make ginormous signs with his face that say “vamos por mas victorias!” or “we are going for more victories”. Sigh. That’s an interesting call for someone whose nation has 70% of its people below the poverty line.

 

We went to a church that was filled with murals of the revolution and the history of Nicaragua. The oppressor (a constant them) was portrayed as a twisted form of semi-human. Sometimes a monster. Other times a macabre rendition of a human being. Heroes of the revolution were men of honor with flags in their hands and honorable looks of determination on their faces. In general, while the murals were beautiful I was frustrated by them being in a church. Firstly, the murals made the oppressor out to be an inhuman beast. The oppressor was essentially beyond all hope for redemption. Not a true part of what we understand to be true as Christians. No one is beyond all hope. Everyone has a bit of humanity in them, even if they have done their best to kill it. Secondly, the violence of the oppressor was talked about by the tour lady as evil. Their use of arms was wrong, their killing was bad. However, the killing of the revolution was okay. This death was justified. It didn’t make any sense. What makes the death of a national guardsman or a FSLN guerilla different? They both had families, they both were made in the image of God. The deaths of both these people ought to have been mourned by the church, instead one death was justified while the other was put on a pedestal as an example of suffering…I have difficulty with that. Death is death isn’t it? I think so.

 

One last thing, the woman said that they couldn’t connect with the standard bloodied crucifix Christ. I think it was because He was white. So they muralled their own in a way they could understand. That is absurd and their muralled Christ didn’t seem to get the point of the death on the cross across. When an oppressed people group cannot connect with Christ on the cross who was killed by the forces of darkness in a very similar way to their own people…then something has gone awry. I don’t care if they have to make Christ brown to connect with Him, He was and is brown. It will be okay if you put an accurate Christ on the cross.

 

We then went to the MCC or Mennonite Central Committee in Nicaragua. Another reason why I want to work for them. They are really cool. Still. Moreso after visiting them. Super neato. Got me all pumped up.

 

Then we went to the National plaza with monuments to just about everything. The Sandinista victory was celebrated in the plaza. The old cathedral from before the earthquake in 72, the old presidential palace, and monuments to famous poet Ruben Dario (he is really good) and Carlos Fonseca (leader of the Sandinistas until his death) are all there. Interesting fact. There are huge signs there like the sort I was talking about earlier…but bigger. Also, they built a new presidential palace/government building. It’s called the house of peoples or something along those lines (casa de pueblos). About 200 meters to the left of its new fanciness there is raw sewage in the street. Welcome to Nicaragua.

 

Then we went to the national Cathedral. That building is beautiful, warm (like all of Nicaragua), and a great place to pray. There was a full moon. Probably the only one that I will see in Nicaragua ever. But, you never know.

 

Then we went back to the compound. We got families the next day….oooooh. Excitement builds.

The Refreshing Recap of a long journey. Part one.

Boatswain’s Log.  October 24th.

 

Well, in case you wondered. I am not in fact dead. I went to Nicaragua and survived, I may have got a tad sick at times, but I am none the worse for wear and my Costa Rican mother tells me I have lost a lot of weight. Surprise for me…there was no mirror in my house in Nicaragua. I made notes by the day without the date, so I don’t exactly know what day corresponds to what date. With that said, here we go with two weeks of back history. I think I will give you a couple days at a time and then today, so you aren’t overwhelmed.

 

Day 1: We got to the Transnica bus station at balls o’clock. By that I mean 5:15 or so. Really. My mom desired that we get there very on time. We were so on time that we waited for an hour and a half for the group. At 6:30ish we exited the station on a huge bus for a new country. The bus ride lasted a long time. About 11 hours or so.

 

The first thing I noticed about Nicaragua at the border was that they have huge frikkin’ wasps there. I mean huge. Think about a fun sized candy bar. That is about how big the wasps are there. Scary huge.

 

We got to the center we were staying at and I proceeded to camp in a room with some classy gents and we had our first speaker. His name was Phil Bert. That made us giggle. He went to Messiah college in New York and had some negative things to say about it, in general he emphasized that things in life really aren’t that big of a deal. You aren’t as important as you think and ideas of that sort. He had a powerful point regarding the focus of Christian communities being about praise and worship and not doing the things Jesus did.

 

I guess I didn’t really agree with him on the matter of importance. I think that while it may not make a huge difference in the world in our eyes, our decisions are important. We are not insignificant things without purpose. We are human beings that all have a chance to make the world a better place by living out God’s plan for us. So, when someone tells me that I am not important…I tell him that the Kingdom of God is like a mustard seed. It is the most tiny of plants but when it grows it is huge and birds can nest in the branches. If the kingdom of God is like this, then I think it is okay to say that small things make a difference.

 

We got dinner at this restaurant that was in the front of a lady’s house. I was hungry and overestimated the amount I could eat. I ate way too much greasy evil and felt incredibly sick. Mancub and I ate dinner with the bus driver. (Don Jose) He taught us some cool stuff. 1) mae (or dude in Costa Rica) used to be maje. Interesting. 2) young folk in Nicaragua call each other caballo. That means horse. 3) If you want to tell someone that you are feeling really good, you tell them “pura postra con huesita en la sopa” or “Pura postra with a little bone in the soup” Hurray for idioms. 4) Tenedor means fork because it finds its roots in the verb tener. To have. When you use a fork you have stuff. Roughly translated it’s a “haver”…cool.

 

Upon going to bed we all learned an important lesson about Managua, the capital city of Nicaragua…it gets really really hot there. Not just there. The whole nation. By comparison, Costa Rica is almost chilly.

 

This part is postdated. I finished early and went to bed. The next morning started my Fall break.

I doubt that I really know the name of the Jazz singer I saw and financial crisises suck.

Boatswain’s Log October 11th and 12th.

 

Well, yesterday was a long day. So I will summarize. I went to San Jose in the morning with Craig and Kasey and bought some cheap clothes for Nicaragua, got food, and went to the zoo. It was a big afternoon.

 

I bought 3 buttondown shirts, a hockey jersey, and a pair of pants that fit for about 6$. Some nice stuff too. Hurray for thrift stores.

 

The zoo was a bit sad, the animals lived in small dirty cages and didn’t really seem to happy to be there. Especially the lions. The toucans seemed pretty chipper though.

 

My brother had asked me on Friday what I would be doing for a 6 hour block of time on Saturday afternoon and like a fool I said that I wasn’t busy. The result was that I spent 5-6 hours in the Pentecostal church at a “coffee house” that was more like a “church service”. Apparently the goal was to get a bunch of churches together and have this thing to support a missionary.

 

We started out with some praise songs, and then it did become like a coffee house. Other groups played music and there was theatre. The downside is that all of it was at best mediocre. The music was pretty bad. Seriously. I would not choose to listen to it. Not great. Maybe glorifying to the Lord, but not good music. The theatre was similar. All of it had to do with a “is your name in the book of life?” theme that portrayed God as an angry figure who (aside from not knowing himself who was in the book of life…his angelic secretary had to check for him) cast people into hell repeatedly. This image of God pisses me off. The idea becomes scaring people out of hell rather than loving them into heaven. Not the way it should be done, and furthermore the actors we poorly trained.

 

The missionary himself was an interesting figure. The church was surrounded by different country profiles that “needed” missionaries. China was up there, along with Italy, Argentina, and several others. This is my opinion. These countries have the gospel in them already. What needs to happen is that citizens within those countries need to be the main source of missionaries. God might send people from outside to help, but generally things work best within the context that exists. The Chinese have Christians there. They have some of the best Christians in the world. I doubt they need our help with regards to preaching the gospel. Instead they might like to have money for bibles. Maybe we should pray for Chinese Christians to preach to their people instead of telling people in Costa Rica that they should go to China.

 

Anyhow, aside from the things that were sketchy there was a good feeling of people praising Jesus. Not a bad thing.

 

After all the time at the church I called my folks. It seems like the financial crisis is hitting everyone and it is frustrating not being able to do something. I doubt it would be different if I were in the US though.

 

This morning I woke up and went to Catholic Church with Andrew Ryan’s family. They’re really nice people. Afterwards we went for a “paseo” to the mall San Pedro and the supermarket. Andrew and I had some good conversation and then I returned here after icecream at their house.

 

Great time except for the Catholics not allowing other Christians to have communion. I was legitimately angry about this. I feel that there is no reason to deny communion to anyone who has a relationship with Jesus. I am not catholic, but that is no reason to deny me one of my rights as a Christian. Participating in the eucharist is something we all get to do. Shape up Catholic church. I disagree with your practices in this regard.

 

Off to Nicaragua tomorrow at 5AM. 11 hours in bus. Here we go.

Friday October 10th and Thursday October 9th.

Boatswain’s Log  

Okay here’s the past couple days. You will find out why I failed to do this last night for yesterday in the process.

 

Yesterday was Thursday and as such we had our final presentation in Base Seminar. My group had the lovely task of talking about missions in Latin America. An area which Trevor (the assistant director) correctly asserted as being one that everyone feels they have a corner in. It was true. My group busted our asses discussing our topic. We sat in the library and discussed our perspectives until it became clear that we had to agree to disagree. I feel like the scriptural examples in the NT give a lot of credence to the old fashioned idea of “preaching” the gospel, while others were trying to rule it out as “imposing” “our truth”, I feel like this was already talked about recently by me…Whatever. Anyhow, let’s just say my friend Kasey and I were and still are at differing places on the matter that aren’t really reconciled although in principle we agree on a few things.

 

Sigh. To make a long story short, we got to LASP at 9AM, and we left at about 5PM. We prepared our presentation for about 3 hours, which I feel was one of the strongest in our actually taking a real stand on something. We ended up saying, rather correctly, what the core message of the gospel is. In an audience of staff that is overwhelmingly leaning toward a pluralistic perspective we used the Apostle’s Creed to state what we felt the gospel was, and at the same time what had to be believed to be a Christian. I strongly doubt that everyone was pleased with that. We only got a “good effort” off of the staff. Well balls. So much for post-modernists accepting everyone’s definition of truth (assuming I understand the phrase post-modern). It seems like there’s a bit of a disconnect there. We fielded some hard questions, which were A)hard because of their vagueness and B) hard because they asked challenging sorts of questions. In any case we went first at 1PM. Four hours later we finally left the building. That means there were 4 hours of more presentations. Too long. Too long.

 

Some were good, some were not so good. In general I wanted to go sleep. We stuck it out though, and at the end we were congratulated by the staff for completing the rigorous academic part of our thing and now we are ramping up to go to Nicaragua. Javier gave a talk that almost made me cry. That guy is pretty awesome. I realized that I am going to miss all these lovely post-modernist folks here. They are some of the most wonderful people I have met in a long time. That doesn’t mean that I agree with their perspectives though, it just means that I appreciate them very much. My advisor for my paper is really wonderful, it was her last official day at LASP the other day. Kasey and I snuck out of the presentations to giver her a hug goodbye. I hear she liked my 19 page giant of a research paper.

 

After way too long of a time spent sitting we finally left, after Trevor told my 4 person group about our trip to Nicaragua. Let’s say we get a different and new experience from everyone else. No more details than that. I will tell you about it when I get back. We leave Monday at 5AM to get to the bus that takes us in an 11 hour journey to Nicaragua.

 

I came home and played Uno with my brothers. Uno in Spanish is surprisingly appropriate and fun. Then we watched the shitty finale of Latin American Idol. I think I have mentioned how much I hate the program, well we watched it and I watched it to hang out with my family. Frick. I could care less who wins, the only reason I wanted Maria Jose to win is because she is the contestant from Costa Rica and that is where I am. I think the excitement has to do with nationalistic pride here in CR, the only things I enjoy about the show are 1) the Cuban judge who shouts and is funny “BIEN CANTADO MARIA JOSE!!” 2) the girls are cute. In general there’s not enough of the Cuban judge and the girls cuteness really doesn’t change the fact that I still hate the show.

 

Luckily I got to go to a Jazz show last night to escape. Well, mostly R&B…but I saw Sasha Cohen sing. She is a very attractive black woman who sings very well. It was fun spending time with people from the program, hearing her sing, and eating nachos. PS: Nachos here involve the Costa Rican version of cheese. Not good cheese. The nachos take on a sweet taste that just rubbed me the wrong way. Really I didn’t escape Latin American Idol (and I sort of wanted to see who won. It has been on the TV for about 400 years…or something like that), when we got to the venue they were watching it. Maria Jose lost, to which the Tico “news” replied this morning that “she was already a champion” otherwise known as “we are saving face for making you think she was going to win for every hour of every day until now.”

 

After Maria Jose lost and before Sasha sang we watched the Saprissa game against DC United. I was a Saprissa fan for this game, rooting for a Costa Rican team against an American team. It was more fun that way, and to be honest the DC goalie seemed a bit like a pompous chump.

 

Sasha was lovely in multiple senses, and then she finished. I was pleased that I went and then mancub (Andrew Ryan’s new nickname. I decided that is what I would call him and I hope other people catch on. It’s from the jungle book, sometimes I would say “lay it on me mancub” when I wanted him to tell me his opinion. Then I decided that he should be mancub.”, Kayla, and I taxied home. I was up until 12:30 on a school night…ooooooh. Someone’s in trouble. Oh wait, nope. Just kidding.

 

 Random fact from yesterday, I got a haircut. My friend Chelsea cut my hair for free. Score. She did a good job too. I got compliments, especially awkward ones when I took my shirt off to keep the hair out of it. People kept coming out of doors and being surprised by a shirtless me getting my hair cut.

 

This morning began at 6:30, which makes my sleep time insufficient. I rolled to Spanish class and had my last day. We had a test, a graduation, and Xinia (our teacher) gave us her first impressions and parting advice. Her impression of our group was that we were going to be a hard group…for the first 5 minutes of class. Then she changed her mind. She was our favorite, even though for the first 5 minutes I thought she was going to be a bit of a hard-nosed teacher. I was wrong too after 5 minutes.

 

At graduation there were “diplomas” given, three speakers, and music provided by Kasey via guitar. That kid. He’s a good one. Strangely enough there were chips and HUGE BOWLS OF TUNA to eat afterwards. Why anyone would ever need so much tuna, I have no idea. But nonetheless, my buddy Joel and I took a corner of the table that was hard to get to and ate tuna for a long time. There was also cake, we ate that too. The tuna, (while strange) was nice because I don’t get enough protein here. I ate too much tuna and thus I had to give my lunch away so as not to waste it.

 

Graduation was a bitter-sweet experience as they always seem to be. We were done with 6 obnoxious weeks of Spanish, but at the same time we didn’t get to hang out with Xinia anymore or everyone else. The group is splitting up for the most part starting on Monday, after Nicaragua I am going to the middle of the foresty mountains and some people are staying here, others are going other places. We get to see each other after this for about a week after this and then we go home.

 

In the process of ending things I realized

 

Then after tuna-ing I went to the internet café with Craig and Andrew Brauer before our last soccer game. I checked emails. Got one from mo-eesha Seebeck, that girl is really cool. Those chumpy freshman girls don’t even know how cool their PA is…or maybe some do. She brought me from Costa Rica into remembering this last year. Facebook messages did too. Gosh. So many good times you guys. Thanks. It’s nice to know that I am missed. You are all missed as well. As much as I love it here, I am excited to see you when I get home.

 

I also watched the presidential debates. Sigh. I wish politicians could A) answer questions thoroughly…especially John McCain and B) not sling mud. At the same time I was not impressed with McCain’s approach to the financial crisis “cleaning up Washington” is not the same as doing what is necessary to make sure giant corporations don’t manage to almost send the world into a depression…again. I think that despite Mr. McCain’s idea of not taxing anyone…we may just have to make sure businesses pay taxes, because with CEOs making more money than some small countries I think trickle down economics has gotten out of hand.

 

Then I went and played soccer. It was raining. I got wet for 2 hours. I also played goalie better. I am starting to learn how to do it through trial and error and am getting better at getting scored on (in the goal. Get your mind out of the gutter.). In the sense of I am not beating myself up as much anymore. It is a good exercise in humility being the keeper. Sometimes you just get scored on. There’s not much one can do about it. It’s important to learn not to attach your value to success, that’s why I think failure is a good learning experience. Also, those few times that you get really good saves are super fun.

 

After this I went back to the medical clinic to check out my ear again, which hasn’t quite gotten better. The doctor gave me medicines to use in case the pain appears while I am in Nicaragua. The goal was to make sure I don’t get to Nicaragua, get an ear infection, and experience lots of discomfort. The girl who works in the pharmacy is pretty foxy.

 

I have to admit that when I came home I was not expecting dinner the way it was. I will try to explain my dislike of it while expressing thankfulness for the fact that it existed. Whitebread sandwiches and coca-cola. Ehhh…that’ll do. It was the first time it had been like this and I sincerely hope it is the last.

 

That being said tomorrow is “buy the items necessary for Nicaragua” day. Adventure in San Jose starts at 10AM.

Another day.

Boatswain’s Log. October 8th 

I did my final Spanish presentation today in ICADS. I made a powerpoint presentation. I presented 2nd out of 8 or so. I talked about the Costa Rican Civil War and the constitution that followed. It got to the point where the teachers asked me “is that your last slide?” (I only had 5) I said yes. They said “good because we need to give time to other students.” I take it I did well.

 

I then went to LASP for a long time. I was there until about 5PM. My group and I have our presentation tomorrow on contextualization. Basically it means putting the gospel in a cultural context that people can understand as opposed to (for example) bringing it Africans from a European perspective and expecting them to get it. Some people are awfully fearful of “imposing” “our” truth on others by telling them about Jesus. I think the best way to do it is indeed through relationship, but at the same time we have biblical examples of people preaching the gospel. They aren’t just helping people, they are preaching the gospel. What strikes me is that in the mindset of Liberation theology (excepting Oscar Romero, bless that man) people place an overly high emphasis on helping people. I don’t mean to imply that this is not what we are called to. We are. However, I do mean to imply that instead of solving world hunger Christ died on the cross for man to have a reconciled relationship with God. There was something more important than the material. He fed the hungry, healed the sick, but most of all He died for us. I think that’s important to remember. The two are important (helping people physically and spiritually), however at the end of the day the fact that Christ died shows us that there is something more important than the physical.

 

I think that Paul and Peter grasped that. I think all the apostles did. Their social action was the product of their newfound relationship with the risen Lord. It wasn’t a means of being saved, and it did not fail to put an emphasis on preaching the gospel in the midst of their material service.

 

I read this book once. It was called “The Heavenly Man”. It was about the house-church movement in China. This man, whose name I have forgotten, had his entire life focused on sharing the gospel. Preaching. That is his life calling. To call people into relationship with Christ in China. He was tortured by the police, had a crazy miracle-filled life, and eventually had to leave the country. His emphasis was on spreading the gospel to whoever would accept it. He is an impressive human being whose life shows the commitment to the Lord that we need to have. Lots of people worry about being offensive with the gospel. I think there are some people who are right to worry. Those guys on the street with bullhorns are missing the point and there are others like them. However, I don’t think we have to be scared of preaching the gospel to people and having it offend them. No one seemed to have that problem in the 1st century church. Oscar Romero didn’t have the problem. I really don’t get it.

 

I understand the idea of being respectful yes, but is that just a modern day means of avoiding sharing the gospel? Sometimes perhaps. I think somehow in the idea of tolerance we have managed to make the truth of Christ that we hold a relative truth through philosophical shenanigans to avoid offending people. The reality of the matter is that I don’t find philosophy that useful. It’s helpful. To a point. But if I take philosophy too far I get to a place where I can say that you can’t prove to me that you exist. You could be a figment of my imagination. I’m sorry, but that is just bullshit. Forgive the language. I think it is helpful to use philosophy when it is helpful. There comes a point where you have to let it go. It’s fun to play around with like the toy cars in radio-shack, but thankfully most people leave those at home. I think philosophy can be like that. It’s fun to play with it for awhile, but for a life of faith you may have to leave the car of philosophy in the store. That car that was fun in the store will become boring and a waste of your life outside the store.

 

Furthermore, the gospel is offensive. End of story. People don’t want to hear that they are wrong. Maybe they do want to hear that there is someone who loves them unconditionally. I know I do and I already know Him. I never get tired of hearing the part about how Jesus loves me unconditionally. Never. Always worth hearing. I think people don’t really get how huge the love of God is and to be reminded of that is like someone telling me that Christmas is tomorrow or something like that…but better.

 

I think that in the process of taking so much of a relativistic approach to religious tolerance into our conception of the gospel we have in part managed to throw out the baby with the bath-water. It is true, but we don’t want to tell people it’s true because it might not be true or for some reason their truth is just as good. I am not saying that we go around willy-nilly tossing the gospel out there, I believe there is a time and a place, but I don’t think the idea of people preaching should be so strange to us either.

 

Anyhow my group and I came to the conclusion that we would not agree on some things. People like me are just too stubborn to let Jesus become a truth that someone has to be afraid of speaking for fear of being offensive. We argued for awhile, but the process was beneficial.

 

Someone made a comment about a question I raised about the concept of “machismo” (latin American male dominated societal tendency) that blatantly offended me. For the first time in a long time. I asked if we should be able to say that this is a negative thing and my friend stated that “I don’t think that as white people we should be judging.” Implying that I am just another white person. I got furious. I said, “I am not just another white person. I am Hispanic too. Do not put me in a box. I have the right to talk about this.” I said it strongly. There was an awkward silence that descended on our group afterwards. Really though, I had had enough. It is hard when people don’t acknowledge your ethnicity in general, but when they exclude you from your own people group because you speak English as a first language and because you grew up in Washington State…that is just damn offensive. Maybe we shouldn’t be worried about the gospel being offensive, maybe people are offensive enough with or without it.

 

Really though. Did you know that I am Hispanic? That has been hard for me in life. I was raised speaking English in Washington where there isn’t much sun, and decided to become a Spanish major to speak with my dad’s half of the family because they are Hispanic and I want to be able to talk with my family and especially my dad in Spanish. My whole life has been white people telling me I am white and Hispanic people telling me I am white. I am not just a white kid. I have an ethnicity that is more than just Caucasian. I have that too, but there is more there. How hard is it to come to grips with something that people tell you that you aren’t but you know for a fact you are? Very hard. It takes awhile. I only owned that in November. Do me a favor and don’t assume things about my ethnicity. Please. Let me be who I am. I promise I won’t steal your bicycle or some other racist joke if you give me the privilege I am owed of being Hispanic in your eyes.

 

There are people who give me that. The fact that I am Hispanic. I really appreciate it. Keep it up you guys.

 

Anyhow, that’s enough big things for now. You probably don’t want to hear any more deep sorts of thoughts or things that make you uncomfortable. I don’t really want to write anymore of them right now anyway.

 

My host mom told me for the first time the things that I had trouble with in Spanish. Not directly to me. A friend came to visit and she and he started talking with me and they got on the subject of things I have trouble with in Spanish. She listed off things as though she had known the whole time, but hadn’t said anything. Well balls. Those things would have been nice to know as they happened. Thanks a whole lot on that one.

 

I went to “hacer spinning” again. This time the squad had increased to 4-5 people, one of whom didn’t look great after we finished. I made my bike big enough this time. High five to me. Note to you: If you ever go to Latin America for any length of time, just get a gym membership. Seriously, it will be worth it and you will want it.

 

I am ready for bed now. And so. I am going now.