Happy New Year! We pray 2011 will be full of amazing blessings for you and your family! This year has started with a bang for us and we are off and running on the field. Here’s a quick timeline to show you how this first week of January has gone down…

Saturday, cialis January 1 – We brought in the new year with our moms, Tona’s sister and Corey’s brother. We stayed up most of the night playing Wii games and spent the day crashed out from staying up so late! Corey spent the day watching our poor teams, Michigan and Michigan State lose miserably in their respective bowl games.

Sunday, January 2 We enjoyed our last morning worship service at Mount Hope Church in Grand Blanc. After church we opened up the house for an afternoon of fun with friends to say our final farewells. We had a wonderful time, but of course it was hard to say those goodbyes.

Monday, January 3 With the holidays over and just days from leaving, we spent Monday packing away!
Thanks to my sister, Josi, we had a lot of help shoving things in suitcases and closing up the house! We also took time to celebrate Tona’s mom’s 60th birthday since we’d all be gone when it actually came. We gave her a gold necklace with a tree holding all of our birthstones.

Tuesday, January 4We took Josi and our nephew, David, to the train station in the morning for their return home to Chicago. It’s always very difficult to say goodbye to my beloved sister. We spent the day scurrying for new tennis shoes, saying goodbye to the kids’ dogs and cleaning up mom’s house as we emptied out the rooms. We had our “last supper” at Red Robin – Tona’s favorite – before our moms drove us to the airport hotel in Detroit. Our final goodbyes were said as they left to return to Flint.
When we got to Detroit we thought we’d catch an early bedtime since we had a 3:30am wakeup call, but when there was a glitch checking in for our flight, we ended up on the phone until midnight. There had been a problem with our booking and instead of showing one continuous travel, they had booked each leg as a separate travel experience and wanted us to pay double for baggage fees (which would have been $1400) as well as go through the check-in process at the next stop (with only an hour layover). We would have missed our connecting flight. After a lot of chaos and fear we would not be able to take our flight or be out a ton of money, all of the kinks were worked out at the last minute and just after 1am we were snuggled in our beds for the next two and a half hours.

Wednesday, January 5th – THE BIG DAY!! Up before the sun we waited for the 4am shuttle to pick us
up. We were traveling with 12 suitcases, 3 carry-ons and 4 backpack/computer bags. The shuttle driver was not too thrilled with us when he came to pick us up. We tipped him well, though, so hopefully we didn’t ruin his day! When we got to the line for the airline, the computers were down and they were doing everything by hand. It was a little humorous to see the panic of doing things without computers – just makes you realize how much we all depend on them! Just as we were about to go to the counter, they came back up making our check-in go very smoothly. Travel went very well. As we waited in our gate at Fort Lauderdale we looked around and were surrounded by gates going to Colombia – Armenia, Bogota and Medellin. I won’t lie, we were tempted to sneak onto another plane!
We made it safely into San Jose and through customs with no problem. This time around it is a million times easier with the kids being bigger and able to help with all the luggage! Along the drive to our apartment we began to remember experiences and places as we passed things that once again became familiar. Although leaving is hard, the kids were very excited to be back in Latin America. Exhausted, we unpacked, took a break for a pizza party for the new students and came back and crashed!

Thursday, January 6th – Corey and I celebrated our 15th anniversary the same way we did our 10th – getting set up
in language school! Corey had to take a Spanish placement written test and interview. Kind of cruel, if you ask me…we were running on very little sleep and just overwhelmed with transition and he was desperately trying to pull out his Spanish brain!
Alex and Maggie were off first thing in the morning back to school, but only for new student orientation where they were given cultural instructions and an introduction to the school.
When everyone was finished we went to the grocery store. I had forgotten what an ordeal grocery shopping can be. It’s a long uphill walk to the store. We were surprised to see many more American items than last time we were here, but they come at a steep price, so we’ll be sticking to mostly Costa Rican dishes while we’re here. We were so tired after the walk back, we spent the evening at home. The kids from next door, another missionary family, came over and watched movies while we relaxed.

Friday, January 7th – This morning Corey and I had orientation and got lots of answers to questions we’d been forming since our arrival. The kids had another day of orientation as well. Theirs included a trip to the Children’s Museum. While they were at school, Corey and I made a trip to Hipermas (sounds like eep-er-mahs), which is actually owned by Walmart and in general resembles a typical Walmart store. Prices are better there and we were able to pick up a few household items much cheaper than the local grocery store. This was also our first taxi ride this trip and I’m glad to say we survived!
With the adjustment and pressure to use my Spanish, I found myself at the crashing point this afternoon and thought I’d take a quick nap. I slept for hours! I woke up feeling much better and we headed over to another missionary’s house for taco night with all of the students. It’s great to be surrounded by wonderful people who are going through the exact same things we are.
As I write this, I can’t believe this is only the end of the first week of the year. I feel like we’ve spanned a few lifetimes just in the last few days, but I am so glad that we are finally on our next step to Colombia. I can’t begin to express the gratitude we have for everyone who has supported us along this way. I know so many of you have been through very challenging situations and yet you stay faithful to help us in this journey. Monday we will begin “real life” as school starts all around for everyone.
Thank you for your prayers and support!