One of the hardest things in life...

Posted by Amanda , Monday, June 21, 2010 12:27 AM

is having words in your heart that you can't utter. --James Earl Jones

I love words and writing.
It's exciting to me. Trying to capture a thought, a moment, a feeling through words.
Truly there is no comparison to what words can do.

But sometimes, I feel like they suck. they just don't work.
They are incapable of describing in full my thoughts and feelings and experiences.

Words do not do them justice.

So then, maybe a photograph can explain better...

*snap* *snap* *snap*

That may show some different aspects that maybe weren't described with words.
You definitely get a lot more details that way.
But it still leaves something to be desired.

Some strong emotion, some strange sense inside yourself that cannot be captured through a photograph or conveyed through words...

"Something is missing."

What could that something be?

Perhaps the fact that the experience is yours, and no one else's.
The fact that, no matter how hard you try...that same experience will never resonate the same way with anyone else the way that it did with you.
It's not just that they have to experience it themselves, which might help them understand much better...even to the point of almost understanding your words and pictures.
It's that ultimately, despite the words and pictures, despite pouring out your heart...

no one will ever have the same experience as you.

Now to me, this is exciting, although slightly frustrating because I want so badly for everyone to understand the experiences I'm having.
Especially the experiences that are occuring here, in Jaco.
But it's also quite thrilling, because I am constantly filling myself up with experiences and adventures that will never be had by another person.
I mean, who else can experience a sweet hug from a child in the river, or an unexpected walk through a plant tunnel, or the sweet smell of the ocean mixed with the strong smell of garbage?

But I'm glad that we are all having experiences and that they are all very different from each others.
This makes me wonder how we can ever get bored of talking.
Just sharing with each other our different perceptions of one event should be able to keep us talking for hours.

Despite all these silly words I've just written, that I still do not feel do justice to the thoughts roaming through my head and have not captured all that is in my heart...

I do hope you have felt the joy of the experiences I've had here in Jaco. And that at some point in time I will also be able to explain the sadness, the laughter, the frustration, the beauty and just the full adventure of my life in the past few months.

And since you are not here with me, and I am providing no pictures at the moment...

Words will just have to do.

Just another day...

Posted by Amanda , Monday, June 14, 2010 9:56 PM

The other day, I had a really bad headache.
We went to the river and it just seemed to intensify.
All I wanted to do was lay down and sleep it off.

Instead, we ended up having some of the girls that live in the river over to our apartment.
Thankfully, it was exactly what I needed.

We had an amazing afternoon together.
Emily straightened one of the girls hair, they ate mangoes, we had girl talk and just relaxed together as girls.

As I'm sitting watching them, I can't get over what amazing girls they are.

To be honest, I exaggerate a lot. I get really excited about a lot of things and I don't know how to express myself other than to exaggerate the situation (ex: "This is the best smoothie I have EVER had!" or "I have never felt this bad in my ENTIRE life" get the point).

Anyways...when I say these girls are amazing and that these kids are some of the greatest I have ever is NOT an exaggeration.
The girls are beautiful, to begin with, inside and out.
They have sweet hearts and really long to connect with you.
They have a warm, welcoming way about them that just makes you want to smile all the time.
They are full of life, always running around and laughing and being crazy.

They are just great.

They bless Emily and I all the time, just by being them.

The other afternoon when we had them over, one of the little girls started doing our dishes...just out of nowhere. After that, she began sweeping our floor. Then she made my bed and organized my living space. We kept telling her she didn't have to, but she kept saying how much she loved doing it.
Then her and I folded my clothes together and she listened to some music on my IPOD.
One of the other girls had started making Emily's bed and organizing her stuff as well.

I couldn't even believe it.

My mouth was gaping, I think. I was in shock. These precious girls already bless me so much, just by being around me...but then they go and clean my house and I am just left speechless!

We were all going to church that night and so some of them got ready with us.
They got their makeup done and worked on their hair.
They were just glowing.

It's a wonderful thing for me to be able to spend time with the older girls and have a part in their lives, even despite the language barrier. It's wonderful to be able to let them know they are beautiful, even without all the words.

I'm thankful I have an opportunity to share love in this way.

While it's been quite a frustration at times to not know the language, sometimes I feel it's a great privilege. Learning how to communicate love and acceptance in other forms is challenging, but also a really wonderful experience. It really challenges me to give more than just a couple sentences, but to give creative thought to how I can show them love.

As this time in Jaco is slowly winding down for me (I'll be heading back home in only 3 weeks), I feel like I've grown more in these past couple months than I have in the past couple years! I'm constantly being challenged and learning new things...about myself, about others, about God, about name it, I'm learning it.

It makes me excited to go home and keep putting these things into practice, but also sad that I have to leave this phenomenal place so soon. This place will always be so special in my heart.


Posted by Amanda , Monday, May 31, 2010 11:13 PM

I don't think anything normal ever happens here.

And I don't ever want to forget it.
Life here is so spur of the moment, but I'm learning to grasp onto appreciate every second of it. I've never lived my life like this before.
It's never been so open to change, so chaotic, so beautiful.

The week started out with rain. Lots and lots of rain. So much, that we really didn't even leave our house.
On Tuesday, it was still raining.
That afternoon, we ended up taking loads and loads of people from the River and transporting them to a carnival in town.
It was interesting to see everyone come to life there.
It's like the parents of these kids we work with became children again.
They were hopping on the rides with smiles on their faces.
Walking around the carnival, I realized how many of the kids I know here. I would get a hug from one of the kids in the River and then the next minute another kid from Kids Club would be yelling my name and waving at me. How do I deserve to know all these great kids?

The next morning, it was still raining.
Daniel and I were supposed to head to the River that morning. To be honest, I was really reluctant. I was trying to find every way out of it that I could. It was pouring down rain and I didn't feel like biking through it.
Then I thought about it some more.

Why can't I bike through the rain? What's the big deal? It's just water. It's not gonna hurt me.
And what's at the end of that bike ride? Kids that I love.
What was the big deal?

The big deal is that we take things too seriously. We let our moments slip by because "we don't want to get wet."
How many moments do I waste or lose or give up for silly, stupid excuses?
I'm too tired, I'm too hungry, it's too cold, it's too hot, I'll do it later.

The next day, we found ourselves biking to the river again in the rain. This time, however, we spent the afternoon skipping rocks with the kids and playing by the water.
Instead of complaining, or just getting by, I decided to grasp and appreciate this moment.
I'm sure glad I did.
I got to watch the kids skip stones and help them collect the prettiest ones.
I watched my favorite little 3-year-old build a little bridge with a brick and a piece of plywood, end up falling into the water anyway and then run up and give me a huge hug.
I saw a chicken fall off a ledge, into the rushing river and get swept pretty far down by the current.
I opened my eyes and everything seemed brighter, better...more full of life.

Really...I just love what a little change in perspective can do.


Posted by Amanda , Wednesday, May 26, 2010 4:28 PM

I wake up each morning
and I wonder...
"How am I ever going to leave Jaco?"
I eat some Trix cereal and a banana
I hop on my bike down to the River
When I get there, I'm greeted with
smiling faces
squeeze-so-hard-you-can't-breathe hugs
and lots of chitter chatter.
We play, we talk, we do homework.
And then I head back to my apartment,
even though I usually don't want to.
I just can't imagine leaving these kids.
The crazy little one who jumps from table to table
The sweet little boy that I could hold all day long
The teenage girl that has nothing but sweetness and smiles coming out of her
Or the one with the attitude, but the amazing heart
Then there's the little boy that wants to be an artist
And the older one too
Oh...and the young girl that just loves being a girl
and always carries her purse and lipstick wherever she goes
then, there is the older boy who takes care of his siblings
sets them on his lap when they are crying
and carries them across the river when they want to go home
there's the girl thats always ready to help
and the quiet little one that likes to give you puppy dog eyes
theres the beautiful little boy that climbs all over the walls
and makes paper airplanes
even though he's not supposed to
And the older girl that draws beautiful flowers
only to give them to you as a present.
I work with these kids every day that are full of talent
full of love
full of potential
full of joy
They are some of the strongest kids I've ever known
But have to live in some of the worst conditions I've ever seen
I feel like the question is constantly thrown in my face.
I don't know the answers.
But I know God has given me this awesome opportunity
To hang out with them
Get to know them
Love them
Be a part of their lives
Their talent
Their joy
What an opportunity...

Special Creatures

Posted by Amanda , Wednesday, May 12, 2010 10:09 PM

If there is one thing I've always been a big fan of...

it's the fact that every single person is special and unique.

Honestly, I can't get over it. It shocks me. There is not a single person on this entire planet that is the exact same as someone else. Our thought system, brain, heart, skin, eyes, toes, mouth, nose are all different from everyone elses. No one thinks in the exact same way as you. No one feels in their hearts in the exact same way as you. No one enjoys things in the exact same way as you.

Amazing. makes me wonder why we compare ourselves to each other. Or why we elevate people because they are "beautiful" or "outgoing" or "talented." Why do we regard a person as better than another because of these things? Because it's just not true.

My entire life, I have always had people that have told me I'm "too shy" and "need to speak more." For awhile, I struggled with the thought that it was my downfall. "Well, I'm a good person, but...I don't talk enough and that's a bad thing" was always rambling through my head. It wasn't until later in my teen years that I realized that God made me a bit timid. But that's okay, I still connect with people and hold amazing relationships. I'm still a human being that God created with special love and care.

I've worked with kids a lot and throughout the Children at Risk school, I thought a lot about how important words are to children--well to anyone really. As I work with these kids in the river everyday, I think about the things I heard as a child or things that my friends heard. I think about what these children might hear. I think, more than anything, I want these kids--and everyone else--to know that they are great as they are. That they don't have to put up masks or try to be what people want them to be. God made them to be just as they are, to do the things they like to do and to feel and think the way that is natural to them. I don't want them to ever feel inferior because of beauty or talent or things that people tell them. Even if you don't have a single talent (which everyone has at least one), you are still a human being and God created you with special love, attention and detail.

There are no mistakes.

I just want kids to know this. To know they can grow up just as they are.

The kids that I'm working with are treasures. They have the world inside of them. They are full of life. They are special.

They are unique.

And every day I just can't wait to spend more time with them.


Posted by Amanda , Wednesday, May 5, 2010 9:36 AM

I'm not sure my life has ever been this crazy, unpredictable or adventurous. I thought driving through Africa was an insane feat, but the adventures just keep on coming.

As if every day here wasn't spontaneous enough, this past weekend took a strange, unexpected turn...

One of my teammates, Isaac, became sick on Saturday with intense stomach pain. On Sunday morning, Leslie, one of my outreach leaders, showed up with her six-month old baby Koa and asked if someone would accompany her to San Jose to take Isaac to the doctor. Thinking this would only be a day trip and I could spend my Monday relaxing on the beach, I gladly agreed to go. What we thought would be a quick two-hour road trip up to San Jose, turned into a 4 1/2 hour trip on a dirt and gravel road, through the mountains and rainforest, along cliff edges with a car that would not stop shaking. We had taken this road as a shortcut, but quickly learned it was not. After an hour, I felt as though it would never end. I could imagine us on this road for days, driving, driving, driving...never finding a way out. Dramatic, I know, but at this point I felt as though I was going a little insane...I could not stop laughing at what was happening. On the other hand, the nature and beauty that surrounded us on this road was unbelievable. The "fake jungles" in the Zoos at home can't even begin to do places like this justice. It was breathtaking.

After making it to San Jose and the doctor, we discovered that the car wouldn't start. I just want to remind you all that at this point we still had a six-month old baby with us. We were unsure of what to do, but Isaac made some calls and soon we found ourselves in another car, watching the van get towed to a mechanic and on our way back to a Camp Center to stay the night with a missionary couple and their family.

The Camp Center was located back in the depths of Costa Rica, surrounded by hills and forests. The roads we were taking made me feel like we were on a roller coaster. We arrived, not knowing what to expect. We knew there was no electricity, but we weren't sure about anything other than that. It turns out this missionary couple is from Kentucky, the woman grew up Amish and he was a carpenter and farmer. They are building a Camp Center to host teams, Pastors, conferences, retreats, ect. It's an amazing place and the work they have done is phenomenal. I could not believe their hospitality, generosity, selflessness or devotion to God. It was incredible and inspiring. They have not yet built a home for themselves. Instead, they are first working on getting the Camp Center done. They heard God and trusted Him for this place and now it is coming alive. I've never seen such pure faith and action. It was beautiful.

Their family was so welcoming, feeding us, talking with us, giving us an amazing room with comfortable bunk beds. Leslie and I had a slumber party that night and the next morning took some walks through the woods, played some games and then were able to pick up the car and head back home to Jaco.

It constantly amazes me that God puts such wonderful people around me. I am always learning and growing. Just watching the way Leslie handled what could be a stressful situation with laughter and grace, taught me a lot about worrying, stress and attitudes. Because of Leslie's loving, gracious and easygoing attitude toward the situation, I felt completely at ease and wasn't upset at all by the twist of events. Instead it turned into a nice, relaxing time. The family that took us in did so without any question. Then, they treated us like special guests and did everything they could to make us as comfortable as possible. Listening to their story really affected me as well. Just hearing about their faith was encouraging. I'm so thankful that God put these people in my life to show me the characteristics, attitudes and faith I want to have.

Every day is a new adventure. Every day is a journey, a growing experience, a time to learn.

I'm learning, growing and venturing in thrilling, beautiful ways.

Sadly, I did not have my camera with me, but here are some pictures I found that might give you a glimpse into what I saw...

This "kind of" shows what the road was like. Much crazier though. And more beautiful.


Posted by Amanda , Wednesday, April 28, 2010 10:39 PM

At the moment my mind is on major overload.

And I'm glad. I embrace the craziness of my brain. I enjoy using it.

So many things are happening right now. Challenging, character building things. Things that are blowing my mind. Things that are rattling my attitudes. Things that are changing me.

I've ventured off to yet another new home and my mind just doesn't know what to do with it. I've always been the type of person to have everything organized. I've always had plans, always needed control over the situations in my life. I love to live wild and free, but only within certain limitations. I think we all feel the same way in a sense.

Since I've been here, I've been considering freedom and what it really means.
I have my own apartment now, just bought a bike that will help me travel a lot easier, can make my own meals and, for the most part, do my own thing. Is that what freedom is? Living on your own, being able to do things your own way.

No...I don't really think so.

Today, I had this picture in my mind of people jumping into water. While I have done some adventurous things in my life, I tend to shy away pretty quickly from water adventures. I have many friends that embrace the water and jump into it full force whenever they are near it. Scott and Leslie, my outreach leaders, have a pool at their new home and I have watched their boys jump numerous times into the water. Letting go of all inhibitions. Throwing themselves into the wind. Falling, falling, falling. Breaking through the surface of the water. Plunging down deeper.


I'm not really sure what freedom is just yet. But I think that this time in Jaco will be a time to learn what it means to me. As I spend time with the kids in the River each day, I find the worries and anxieties of life are slowly melting away. I'm unthawing. Preparing myself for a change, an adventure. Preparing myself for freedom.

And then...

Spreading that freedom as far as it can take me.