There’s always a lot of uncertainty in returning to a place that used to be home, a place you’ve invested so much of your heart and life. People have changed; you’ve changed. Will you be overcome with homesickness for the place and people? Will it cause you to question your decision to leave? How strange will it feel? But in spite of all this possible uneasiness, we long to go back. And most often when we do, there is a great reward in reconnecting with those we love but had to leave behind.
This was my experience last month. Even though the timing was complete craziness, I bought a plane ticket to spend a week in Costa Rica, returning to California only 2 days before I had to be in New York for grad school. And every bit of chaos was worth it!
It was so wonderful to spend time with those friends who had truly become family during my 3.5 years in Costa Rica. We didn’t do anything extra ordinary, just engaged in the regular day-to-day which reminded me how different life is in Costa Rica. The morning appointment to check out a piece of property that turned into a whole day excursion. Or us spending 3 hours in line at immigration trying to get my deposit back, only to be told it’s still not ready after 8 months. (Thank you Tracey, for hanging out with me and letting the immigration office be our “coffee shop” for the morning). Or gratefully getting “stuck” at the Mendozo Soto’s house for several hours because it’s pouring and lightening too much to safely leave the house. Each of these experiences and countless others, reminded me of things I love about life in Costa Rica. A part of me will always miss it, but in visiting I was affirmed that my season there is finished, at least for now.
A huge piece of this affirmation came through seeing how well the Tutor Center is doing in the hands and hearts of José and Tara. I was privileged to spend several days working alongside them in the Center. There was a great mix of old and new kids filling the benches, working together on multiplication facts and reading books to each other. It is such an incredible blessing to know the Center will continue to serve the kids of Los Guido long after I am gone. It’s not my work, I was just an instrument to get it started. What a privilege it is has been to be a part of it all!
Felicia, the best host mom ever! We both had cut our hair super short.
I had a great time staying with the Dixons. Unfortunately I did a terrible job of documenting all the fun we had together.
(Sawyer, Oliva, and Lynnea)
Special dinner at one of Cailah and my favorite restaurants, Cafe Mundo
A morning session at the Tutoring Center with José and Tara
I got to lead the craft one afternoon. We made awesome airplanes out of foam plates
Hanging out with the Mendoza Sotos
Catalina and Alicia, these girls helped found the Tutoring Center. Now they are both doing great at the local high school!
Las Viejitas, the breakfast club of girls' group. It was so good to get to hangout with these girls and see that they are all doing well.
The new expanded girls' group. Tracey has done a great job continuing to care for these girls each week. Since Tara has joined the Center, she's been able to start building relationships with them as well. It so exciting to see things continuing to grow.
It worked out perfectly that SI had a Family Night planned for while I was there. We had a blast playing games and being silly together.
The theme of the party was stripes, in case you weren't sure.
And of course, a quick trip to the feria before heading to the airport. Sadly I couldn't take any of the beautiful produce with me, but Jeff and Tracey made a great send off breakfast with some of the bounty from the market.
While I don’t know specifically when I will get back again, I will continue to hold my family, the kids, and life in Costa Rica close to my heart. They will forever be a part of me, and they continue to inspire me, especially here in
I’ve experienced a bit of a climate change. While I can’t say I’ve learned to love the cold, I do have a new appreciation for wool socks, giant sweaters, and hot water bottles. (If you don’t know what those are, do some research. They are amazing!) Even though it has been quite a bit cooler here than I’m accustomed to, I’ve still been able to get outside and go for long walks through the beautiful English countryside. And while the landscape is nothing like that of Costa Rica, having the time and space to process my last 3 years there has been so helpful. If you want to learn more about L’abri or see how beautiful the house in the spring time, check out their website here.
You may be thoroughly confused by the title of this post. "Doesn't Krysta's family live in California? What is she doing in England?" To find out and hear a little bit more about my last few days in Costa Rica you'll have to read my last newsletter. If you didn't get it via email, follow the link below.
And yes, my family does live in California, where we shared a great couple weeks together over Christmas break. It wasn't nearly enough time, so it's nice knowing that after this stint in the UK I'll be Stateside for awhile and able to spend more time with them.
One of the few photos with majority of my family. We were all together for over a week, which was amazing! But it's really hard to get 14 people together to take a picture.
Saying goodbye to the ones you love is never easy, but the heart receives a calming peace when you know you are leaving them in good hands, with someone who will grow to love them just as much as you do.
I'm so thankful José and I had these last three months to work together and ease the transition. He's a quick learner. Amazingly he has soaked up all the routines, expectations, and procedures established to help the Center run smoothly. The learning process also allowed the kids to take more ownership over the Center as they were responsible for teaching José how the store works, the library system, and their unique set of rules for playing Scrabble.
Yes, there were tears as I hugged my kids goodbye at the cafecito, but at the same time, I'm excited to come back and visit and see how things have grown. It's incredible to see all that God has done through these past three years and I know he's going to do great things through José and Tara's time there.
Everyone hanging inside the Center at the End of the Year Cafecito
It was so encouraging having many of the moms come. They were all so grateful for role we've played in their kids lives.
Cata was a huge help setting up and monitoring the cookie supply
Estefani and Reyneir, a couple of our first students in the Center
It's a little hard to see in this picture, but José is teaching the kids a bunch of games with the sidewalk chalk. He's great about jumping right in playing with them! I know he's going to really share his heart with them.
Here are few of the highlights from this last week in the Tutoring Center. It was a great week to wrap up the year. We had cafecito on Saturday and invited all the parents and students. It was a big success, but I'll write more about that later. For now enjoy a view pictures from the special events of the week.
Las Viejitas with the aprons I had made for them by a couple of the ladies in our micro-financing site. They turned out super cute and the girls loved them! They were so funny; they didn't want to get them dirty despite me explaining a million times that was their purpose.
The girls decided they wanted to be in charge of making our last breakfast. Each of them brought something to contribute, and Tracey and I learned how to make some Costa Rican treats.
Our very healthy spread: muñuelos (think dense funnel cake) "sweet meatballs" (popcorn balls), chocolate cake, and fruit with yogurt
Later that same day we made the sugariest, sugar cookies I've ever had.
The kids loved them, of course!
We finished out the week making Christmas cards as gifts to give to our families.
Last weekend was our final Girls’ Group trip. Per the girls' request, we went to the beach and experienced one of the most gorgeous days I’ve ever had at the beach! There weren’t too many people, the waves weren’t too strong, and it was sunny with a slight breeze all day. It was incredible! The girls spent the whole day taking in all the beach had to offer-- rolling in the waves as they crashed on the shore, floating on the boogie boards, sunbathing on the rocks, and even trying to make friends with the Jr. high boys surfing right by us. (Oh yes, we are teenagers now!) We rounded out the day with a stop off at McDonalds for Happy Meals and all the soda they could drink. The last 20 minutes of the ride home I was pretty sure my eardrums were going to explode due to all the giddy hyperness, but thankfully we all made it home safely.
Stopping at the crocodile bridge along the way.
This was one of the favorite activities of the day--sitting on the shore waiting for the waves to crash on them and send them tumbling in the whitewash.
Pamela after being tossed by a wave. (This is one of my favorite pictures from the day)
A brief moment of both Tracey and I sitting on the shore. Lynnea fit right in with the "big girls".
Alicia, Debby, and Shaudin
Sunbathers after they rolled around in the sand. It took them FOREVER to rinse all that sand off, but they had fun!
Our gorgeous beach!
It was a great day with lots of fun memories made that we will continue to share, even from a distance.