October was a dramatic month here in Costa Rica! Most notably were the dangerous floods and mudslides that completely destroyed many rural villages as a result of torrential rainfall before, during, and after hurricane Nate passed by. One-third of the country’s main roads were severely damaged or completely taken out. Here’s a picture of our friend’s (Elieth) brother’s house just a couple kilometers from where we live. The river that eroded the mountain normally runs over a kilometer from their house:
Today is a national holiday, and we had plans to get out of town for the weekend, but the roads were missing. So instead we joined a church group to do some aid/relief/rebuilding projects for families who lost everything, I mean EVERYTHING. Most escaped from their houses at night with only the shirts on their back before the floods came.
The area we went to help is known for its high density of crocodiles. I (Josh) did some manual labor building some new “casitas” (small houses), while Erin and the kids worked in a smoking-hot warehouse sorting donated clothes to hand out to families in the community. It was awesome! I have never sweat like that before. As I’m wading through the putrid, contaminated, crocodile-infested muck, Elise walked by, noticed the smell and asked “Dad – did they bring in cow poop for their garden or something?” “No” I responded. “That’s human poop”. “OOOOHHHHH” she said raising her eyebrows and quickly passed through.
While sorting through the destroyed shacks to collect anything salvageable for the rebuild, I stepped on a soaked mattress with rusty springs narrowly escaping tetanus. Of course the instructions to wear work boots were in Spanish (which I misunderstood, dang it !), so I spent the day digging a new foundation under the sun in poop-soaked running shoes looking over my shoulder for displaced crocodiles with every swing of the pickaxe. Does it get any better ?! Here's a few pics of the day:
A home that was completely underwater
The beginning of a new foundation
We found some crocodiles nearby and kept our distance...
Isaac surprised us with how helpful he was.
I’ve asked myself recently “what are you doing here?” There’s a natural progression to life. People of my age and experience generally don’t signup for this level of ineptitude (talking about Spanish)! I regularly realize I don’t belong here. It’s undeniable. But something wonderful happens when I recognize and embrace that disquieting feeling: My core belonging and identity as a Husband, Father and fellow Cristian sojourner is fortified while the cultural identities I’ve accumulated over the years are uncomfortably stripped.
Spanish Word Study of the Month:
“Sin / Cera” – literally means “Without / Wax”. It’s the root of our English word “Sincere”. In biblical times clay pots were used for just about everything. Because of the dry hot environment, many pots cracked in the process of being made. There are good uses for clay pots with or without cracks, but merchants regularly put wax in the cracks of a pot and smoothed it over to disguise the flaw as uncracked pots sold for more money. An astute buyer always held a pot up to the sunlight to inspect for cracks that had been waxed over. A waxed crack always reveals itself in the sunlight. The truth is we’re all cracked. I want to be sincere about it. God has perfectly good uses for His cracked pots….