4.29.2010

Procrasturbation.

Procrastination is like my favorite thing.

I love it.

When I am procrastinating, I suddenly become this strange, ultra-high-functioning human that never stops moving. You know what I mean? Like, if I have to prepare for something big; a trip, a speaking engagement, a dinner party at my house, or whatever, I will do approximately one million things that have virtually zero significance in relation to the thing for which I am preparing. One. Million.

And that is why, by 1 o'clock this afternoon, I had cleaned out my closet, mopped the floors, gone to the grocery store, cleaned the fridge, stopped by the bank, run to the vet to buy flea stuff, and read a chapter of a book. All of that happened, because, really? I need to pack.

I need to put some clothes in a bag and zip it up. It's not a hard thing. And it's the one and only thing that I NEED to do today.

I. need. to. pack.

And that's why I'm writing a blog... and baking a cheesecake....

It's called procrasturbating; Putting off what MUST be done in order to fulfill immediate carnal desires. Cheesecake, anyone?

El Chupacabra even noticed how much more I've been getting done these last few days. He said if he could, he would send me to the states once a month, because my intensely productive procrastinating has made his life a dream come true....

Seriously. The house is clean, the fridge is stocked, the laundry is put away. And when he gets home from work I follow him around like a manic puppy, eyes wide, tail wagging, panting, "Is there anything I can do for you?"

He likes that. And he has procrastination to thank.

Last night, when he walked in to our room at 10:30 and I was furiously peddling away on the stationary bike, he was all, "What are you doing?!"

And I was like, "I'm packing for my trip.... Duh."

What about you? Are you a procrastinator or a....whatever they call people that do stuff when they should?

4.27.2010

Christmas in... I don't know what month it is...

So. Last week was pretty cool. 

First, these guys showed up:
Our first work team of the year arrived carrying blood pressure medication, fiber supplements, a C-PAP machine, and T-shirts that bore the image of Charlton Heston as Moses and read "Old Guys Rule!" 
And these old guys did. 
This was a tough bunch.  They dug, formed, and poured concrete, laid tile, did some painting, and built some benches.  But despite their exterior badassness, they were also a very tender group.  Holding hands and talking sweetly with the shriveled up old-folks at the assisted care facility in town came as easily to these guys as moving boulders and renovating the walkway there.
Aaaaand.  One of them passed a kidney stone here.  With no morphine.  
O...M...G.

They were such a cool group of guys.  Seriously.  And they even made El Chupacabra an honorary member by giving him his very own t-shirt, which I thought was funny.  Not, like, funny/haha - like, funny/rad.

And then this happened:                         
This is a picture of the North American style football team (to which El Chupacabra has recently been named "head-coach") celebrating their very first victory on the field!  

It was awesome.  And it made my husband very, very happy.  And that made me very, very happy.

He had 31 players show up!  And, the really cool part is that there was enough gear for every player.  Enough pads, enough helmets, enough stretchy pants for everybody.  That's a really big deal considering that a lot of that stuff comes from donors and usually the guys have to share - yes, share! - sweaty, smelly pads and helmets and junk.  Ew. 

But the coolest thing is that El Chupacabra invited these guys to join him in studying the life of Christ, and he's now meeting with four of them on Wednesdays before practice, and another guy, individually, on Thursdays.  One of the guys just asked if he could bring some friends!  

Doesn't he look cute? All serious and coachy and everything?  ...I think it's hot.  

 And then, as if our week wasn't already bordering on perfect, all of this came out of a suitcase and landed in our hands:
Do you know what you're looking at?

Our friends, Brian and Theo, came to Costa Rica, and they brought their friends, John and Brent, and they all worked on the windmill project, but also, they brought treats.  Not just any treats... You see peanut butter, and chocolate chips, and Craisins - and those are a major score! - but it's that other stuff, the thermometer, the little plastic doodads, the pink packages of brewers yeast and the silver wrapped hops that have El Chupacabra skipping around the house like a little girl.  

He has always wanted to brew his own beer. And now, thanks to this gift, he can!

Also? This is the best chocolate I've EVER had.  Find some, buy it, eat it.
         We opened all of them in one night. And it was glorious! 

That brown one, Dark Chocolate with Almonds and Sea Salt, good God - it's AMAZING!

So, it was a good week.  A great week, actually.

I feel just like he looks. 

4.23.2010

Flying Solo Sucks Nuts!

Get it? Like airplane nuts? Ya know... PEAnuts? Well, I thought it was funny.... Anywhoooo...
I’m going to the states next week.  That’s why, this week, I’m losing my freaking mind.

I am excited.
But I’m also kinda freaked out cause I’m going ALOOONE. Yes. ALONE. All by myself. Solo. Sin nadie. On my own.  Like, carrying my own luggage, checking myself in, buying my own airport snacks. All of it. I’m gonna be in charge of all that stuff.

And that is just not how we do it.

How we do it is El Chupacabra and the kids do everything while I stand nearby wearing sunglasses, with an impressive scowl on my face, pretending that he’s my body guard and I do not know who the hell those loud, economy class kids belong to. Then, after we get through security, I sit, with my feet up on a carry-on, and they run around the terminal getting me a Cinnabon and a coffee... and a Newspaper (a spanish newspaper, but not that one with all the slutty girls in thong bikinis, the other one that’s not full of porn and ads for 1 hours motel rooms)... and gum... and a handful of those chocolate covered espresso beans they give as free samples in the gift shop... and some napkins... and a water bottle.  After I have everything I need, they sit around me, strategically, while I pretend to send texts, but really I’m take pictures of people wearing retarded outfits. 
Ok. So maybe that’s not exactly how we do it.  But it’s close.  
No. For real?  The big thing, the thing that’s making me wet my pants, is that I absolutely HATE to fly.  I hate it.  And I extra hate it when I have to do it alone!  I was just telling El Chupacabra, last night, that if God has been looking to smite me, He’ll probably do it next Friday by crashing the plane.  And he was all, “Yeah, probably...”


So anyway...
The point is, I’m no good by myself.  My family makes me a better person.  And I can’t handle all the pressure of...like....buying my own Cinnabon and crap.  
Oh well. 
Also?
I haven't decided, but I’m thinking of wearing something like this charming little number from Costa Rica to Houston:

*shrugs* Seems like a perfectly reasonable thing to wear on an international flight.

I wonder what the chances are of the person next to me holding my hand during take-off and landing? I'd really like that...

4.21.2010

Yes. I did give a birth control pill to a 9 year old boy.



 “Well, we’ll just make do with what we have.”  This is the mantra of missionaries and hippy freaks all over the globe.
We “make do”.  
I don’t even know what the hell that means, except that when we have to substitute something crappy for something good, or when we half-ass a job because we can’t find/get the tools or materials we need to do it right, or when we live with holes in our Converse because they won’t be replaced until the next visit to the states, those are the times we say “we’re making do”.
Usually we make do out of necessity.  Sometimes we make do out of choice.  Occasionally, we make do out of Guinness-is-crazy-expensive-here-so-we’ll-have-to-use-Bavaria-negra-if-we-wanna-slam-Irish-Car-Bombs.
But the cool part about the whole making do thing is that, often times, the final product turns out to be better/less-expensive/tastier/nicer looking than it would have been had you found or bought whatever it is you thought you needed in the first place. (Although not in the case of Irish Car Bombs.)  And making do comes with a better story, one that makes you sound all clever and innovative and stuff.  
So that, my friend, is how I ended up giving a nine year old boy a birth control pill for an imaginary headache.
I was making do.
When our Burn Victim friend was in the hospital, his poor wife was freaking out, trying to go back and forth between him and their kids.  So we ended up taking their two oldest sons to the beach with our family for a few days so that their Mom had less on her plate and so their Dad could have a chance to heal a bit.  We LOVE these kids, it was no big deal to us.  So, we loaded up our car with our three boys, their two boys, and everything we’d need for a few days in the surf, sand, and sun, and we headed to a beach house at Playa Bejuco.  
The first day was spectacular! All the boys were getting along, they had all stayed sufficiently sun-blocked and super hydrated, and by some miracle, we had the four youngest all showered and in bed by 9pm.  I read to them, tucked them in, and said goodnight, and that was that.
Until 10 pm.
That’s when I heard wailing coming from the room the boys were bunked in. Wailing.
I went in to find three boys covering their ears with pillows and one little, schmoopy, mess of a kid, in the middle of the floor, wrapped in a blanket, and rocking back and forth, while screaming “I’m SO TIRED I can’t take it anymore!”
So I got him up and brought him out to the living room and I tried to talk him down.  But I knew, before he even said it, I knew that he was gonna play the headache card - it’s like this thing he does - I dunno, he likes to take medicine, or something.  Anyway.  I love this kid to pieces, and I know him well enough to know the difference between when he’s honest to goodness got a headache, and when he’s overwhelmed and exhausted, and worried about his Dad, and missing his Mom, and up way, way, way past his normal bedtime.  And I really did feel bad for him, but I didn’t have any headache medicine, and he didn’t need any headache medicine.
And it was becoming painfully obvious that this kid was not going to bed until he’d swallowed something resembling an Advil.
He was tired.  I was tired.
A decision had to be made.  Action had to be taken.  I was gonna have to make do!
So with a sigh of exasperation, I went to my purse where I keep the birth control pills (which I don’t need since El Chupacabra had a vas-snippity about 45 seconds after our third child was born but which I take anyway for vanity purposes and in a feeble attempt to thwart a monthly psychotic break) and I carefully popped out one of the little white pills at the end of the pack - one of the nothing pills.
See, I was preeeetty sure at the time, and later confirmed my belief - Thank you, Google - that those little pills at the end of the pack contain...well...nothing. 
So I poured him a glass of water and gave him the little pill, and not even kidding, he was asleep - FULLY ASLEEP - in under 3 minutes.

I. Win.
So then I went back to our room and El Chupacabra was like “Wow. He’s quiet. What  did you do?”
“I gave him a birth control pill and told him it was headache medicine.”
And he was all, “Please tell me you’re kidding.” But after I explained the deal with the nothing pills, he was cool with it, and so were the parents, and probably so are you... 

Lessons learned from giving a nine year old boy the pill:
  1. Making do is awesome.
  2. Irish Car Bombs are awesome, but not as awesome when you have to make do.
  3. You shouldn’t tell your spouse something that you don’t want the entire world to know because they may pressure you to spill the beans until you do.  (It ended up ok for me... but you could end up in some Latin American prison for well-meaning but ignorant people who give inappropriate meds to young children. So watch yourself!)
  4. Sometimes, it’s all in your head.
  5. Taking birth control pills for clear skin and mood management may inadvertently result in the calming down of a hysterical child.
  6. Sometimes being innovative means taking risks....with someone else’s child.
  7. You probably shouldn’t let me watch your kids, I mean, if you value them.
  8. I am officially the Queen of AwesomeMakeDoNess. 

Good stuff, huh?

Yup....commence massive unfollowing.

Even I cannot believe that I did this...

A couple of weeks ago, El Chupacabra and I had this conversation:
Him, laughing, “You have to tell them.”
Me: “I will NEVER tell them. I will never tell anyone. I’m already sorry I told you.”
Him: “Jamie, just tell them. They’ll think it’s funny.”
Me: “They will not think it’s funny. They’ll call CPS... or whoever you call in Costa Rica when you need to have someone arrested for doing awful, terrible, despicable things to children.”
Him: “Nobody’s gonna have anybody arrested - You didn’t do anything wrong. It’s hilarious!”
Me: “No. It’s not hilarious. But I didn’t know what else to do. So I improvised - and it worked!! Ok? Let it go...”
Him: *snickering*
Me: “Shut up.”
Him: *wheezing*
Me: “I hate you. Go away.”
Him: “Seriously. *chuckling* You have to tell them...”
So yesterday, I sat down with my Burn Victim friend and his Amazing Wife, and I confessed something that I had promised I would take to my grave. El Chupacabra has been bugging me to tell them since it happened, so I did just went and blurted it out.  I said, "You guys, I have something to tell you and you're probably gonna hate me, but -" and then I told them the whole stupid story that I swore I was never gonna tell anybody.
And he was right. They laughed.
And then they said “You have to post that on your blog.” And I was like “No way! I wasn’t even gonna tell you! Why would I go and tell the world that I gave your nine year old SON a birth control pill?”
Pause. Rewind. Read that part again.
Now you’re like, Waiiiit...WHAAAT?!?! She did not! ...Did she?

Yeah. I did. Ok? 
Im just gonna say this: It’s not what you think.  I mean it is.  But when you hear the whole story it will all make perfect sense and we'll all have a good laugh and then everything can go back to how it was before all this....or you will remove me from your RSS and forget you ever crossed paths with the Very Worst Missionary and I will completely understand., and I mean completely.

Soooo....The problem is I've gotta go run some errands right now.  I'll have to post it when I get back.  Sorry.  

Ooh. And try not to judge me too harshly while I'm gone...  I know, I know - "there's a special place in hell for missionaries who give birth control pills to male children, blah, blah, blah...."

I'm just gonna hit "post" now before I change my mind.

4.14.2010

Today I bought a bike that I couldn’t afford


Three years ago, we sold everything we owned. Everything.


When we arrived in Costa Rica, it was with 10 checked bags, 5 backpacks, and the clothes on our backs. That was it. That was all that was left of our possessions. It was hard, but good. And I have no regrets about it.


Except.


Three years ago, we also sold everything our kids owned. And that’s kind of a messed up thing to do to a kid. If you don’t believe me, ask a kid. Go on. Turn to the kid nearest you, right now, and say “Hey, kid, this weekend I’m gonna have a giant yard sale featuring all your favorite junk. Ok?"


Did they cry? I bet they cried. I hope you did that to your own kid and not some stranger's kid in the mall or something. That would be terrible. I mean, not as terrible as actually selling a kid's entire bedroom worth of stuff in a yard sale. Not as terrible as taking everything your kid has ever touched, played with, or looked at, every book, every dvd, every board game, every Lego, every stuffed animal, every piece of sporting equipment, every bit of camping gear, and every Dollar Store treasure, along with their bed, dresser and bookshelf, out to the driveway to sell for way less than what it’s worth.


That... is a pretty terrible thing to do.


I know. I did it.


And during that whole agonizing process, my 3 boys -the same kids that I joke around about being ungrateful, selfish, little turd-balls - they never complained, not even once, about the sacrifices they were being asked to make. Not even once.


But we had a plan. The plan was to get here, to Costa Rica, set up house with the basics, some dishes, a little furniture, daily essentials, and then El Chupacabra and I had budgeted a certain amount of our set-up costs to go directly toward things for our kids. Things to replace some of the stuff they had so willingly given up to make this journey.


Partly, we wanted to reward them for their awesome attitudes and for all the help and hard work they had put in to the move. And partly we wanted to help them feel at home here, give them something to come home to, so to speak.


But we hadn’t anticipated the extreme cost of setting up house in a country that boasts a 50% import tax. And we hadn’t foreseen the huge increase in airfare. And we weren’t quite sure of what the full cost of having three kids in private school would look like. And, naturally, we hadn’t planned on having our house robbed, or our car stolen, or our credit card number snaked online and used in Vegas by a guy who I still hope picked up some kind of flesh eating venereal disease on his exploits (and I mean that in the most Christian way).


Before we knew it, we were wiped out.


Our kids slept on mattresses, on the floor, for the first two years that we lived here. That’s not exactly the “thank you” we had had in mind, when we embarked on this adventure.


We have been, slowly but surely, building a home. It’s true that it sometimes has the look/feel of a college frat house (minus the vomit stains and the sour smell of weed in the upholstery) with laundry hampers doubling as bedside tables and stainless steel kitchen shelving standing in as closet space. We stack books on the floor, we cut our entire lawn with a weed-whacker, and we have broken all but 3 of our drinking glasses.


But today, even though it seems like we need a whole bunch of other stuff more, we bought a bicycle.


For today was my fair haired boy’s 10th birthday.


And this kid, who has given up so much, who has adapted so incredibly, who has taken on a new life so willingly, this kid who has taught me so much about trust, and faith, and who has reminded me time and time again of what is really, truly important in this messed up world, this kid deserves a bike.


Because he traded his in for something better, 3 years ago.



Happy Birthday, baby! I am so proud of who you are!!


4.13.2010

Pretty sure Moldova is stalking me.


Just a couple of weeks ago, I got a comment on this post from a girl living in Moldova.


Normally not a big deal; I mean, it’s a missionary blog, so naturally, there could be other missionaries reading it and commenting from different parts of the world. BUT. This time was extra special because - well, here’s what I told her in my response:

Jamie, the Very Worst Missionary said...

Moldova!! Annie, you just made my day!!
El Chupacabra and I just got in an awesome argument the other day over whether Moldova was a real place because I said that Moldova is the fake country from Princess Diaries and he was like, "No. It's a real country." And I was all, "You just THINK that cuz you're a sucker." and I kept saying, all day, how Moldova wasn't real, until finally he got really mad and googled it and shouted "LOOK! This is the Wiki page for Moldova, the REAL country!!" and I rolled my eyes and said, "Sheesh, you'll believe anything." and then he, literally, threw his hands in the air like, "God what did I do to deserve THIS woman?!"

It was all very satisfying. And, yes, I knew Moldova was for real.
I cannot wait to tell him I got a comment from Moldova, of all the places in the world!! So funny!!

Now, tell me that’s not weird.

Of aaaaallll the places in the world - I get a comment, on my stupid, mostly entirely unheard of blog from someone in Moldova, like 5 minutes after the... um... charming incident described above.

But wait. It gets curiouser.

Cause then, something like a week later, there’s another mention of Moldova, from Anne Jackson over at Flowerdust (who fulfills, for me, that odd internet phenomenon of Here’s a person that I’ve never actually met but I like to think that we’d be friends in ‘real life’.) Anyway. Out of the blue, she announces that she’s going to... drumroll please.....Moldova!

And I’m like “No way! It’s like this country is stalking me.”, because, of course, it’s all about me..... *sigh*

I’ve been following Anne Jackson’s journey as she and a few others walked right into the middle of the Sex Trafficking Capitol of the World* (*not its official name). From an unsuspecting cafe in Moldova, she tells the story of how thousands of girls and young women are secretly swept into the dark underbelly of the illegal sex trade and kept in a life a slavery with virtually no help, no recourse, and no hope of escape.

So I was already thinking about slavery, and how strange it seems, to me, that slavery exists today. I was already mulling it over in my head, wondering how we let things like this happen, and telling myself that it’s just because the problem is so far away. Ya know? Out of sight, out of mind, or something like that. And then my husband handed me this paper:

It’s the front page story of 36 asian slaves being rescued off of a Costa Rican fishing boat. 2 hours from where I live. They had been trafficked from 5 different countries on the other side of the world. Beaten, starved, and held against their will for the past 2 years, their story hit a little too close to home. But these people have been rescued. I have no idea what the future holds for them, but at the very least, they’ve been given a second chance. They’ve been handed their freedom.

When I was reading this article, I just kept thinking of Moldova and the thousands of girls being enslaved, abused, and terrorized after being lured into the sex trade. And I couldn’t help but wonder who will step up to help them? Who will grant these girls their freedom? What can be done to rescue them from the atrocities they endure?

And then. I got an email.

It was from Jeff Goins (again, someone I’ve never met, but like to think we’d hit it off in real time- does that make me lame?). Jeff asked me to help get the word out about his friend Tom Davis, who was in - you guessed it - Moldova! So I was like, “Heck yes, I can spread the word - Moldova is like my favorite country right now! It just keeps popping up!” Ok. I didn’t actually say that, but I thought it.

So.

This guy, Tom Davis, is launching this ministry, Children’s HopeChest, in Moldova. Here’s a peek at what they aim to do:

Look. I know I'm not all that activist-y. I'm not even all that nice. And I know that you probably popped in here today hoping for a chuckle and not a guilt trip.

But I also know how God speaks to me. And what started out as a joke about a forsaken little country in Eastern Europe, turned into a nagging feeling that I was supposed to be saying something about it, and when I responded to that feeling with doubt and hesitation, He went ahead and sent someone to straight up ask me to say something. So yeah, I'm slow like that, but I usually get it in the end...

So there it is. Moldova. Sex Trafficking. Slavery. And all the links you need to learn more about it.

And here's the link to give $...or $$... or maybe $$$, so that a girl halfway around the world can find freedom.