Wednesday, August 25, 2010

I guess I should explain...

I just decided to look at this lazy blog I've been keeping and realized there is no explanation as to where I am and why I'm here and how I got here. If there was some type of blogger code out there I'm sure that I'd have violated most of it's shall's and shall not's!

Okay, so I had originally started this blog to keep all those interested up to date with my life in Costa Rica. I moved there with my wife and 2 kids in 2008 to take over a family owned pizzeria and start a coffeeshop. We lived there for 2 years and decided that we were not willing to sell our souls to the restaurant business so we left. We had a tremendous learning experience but found that we were not only out of money but completely unhappy. When my wife and I broke the news that we were moving back to the states to our kids they were pretty excited.

So much happened in those 2 years that I've thought of writing a book about it. I was so busy that there was no way I was able to keep up with a blog.
Well, we decided to move to Chicago with our good friends at Jesus People USA. We have had several friends from the ministry come and visit us in Costa Rica and our hearts have been with them since before we moved. Jesus People USA (JPUSA) is an intentional community and inner-city outreach that began in 1972. The movement has grown over the years and has seen a bunch of changes. My wife and kids and I have always visited here first when returning from Central America. This was a very natural and comfortable transition for us.

So in a nutshell, We are here now.
I am once again attempting to blog about my experiences here and will do my best to update regularly. I am sure I am the only one reading this but at least this will be a good test of my resolve... and writing skills.

Sick in the City

We knew it was coming. It was just a matter of time. You can not live in a place where people do not get sick then move to the land of colds and flus and not expect to get sick.

It started with a slight sore throat. It always does. Then, it turned into a really bad sore throat. Now it's been 3 days (and counting) that I've been out of commission. You know, if I lived in the real world of a 9-5 job and bills to pay something like this would be devastating if my vacation/sick days were not available to cover this "time off".

It's times like this that community living can really shine. I've had friends coming by and checking on me, asking if there is anything I need and praying for me. Quite the contrast from living in the jungle in Costa Rica where everybody is so widely dispersed that if someone in you're small circle is sick you may not find out until the next Sunday when they don't show up.

W. Glyn Evans writes in his devotional "Daily With The King" -

"He (Jesus) came to convey to men a steady stream of truth from His father. The love that He showed was the father's love unveiled in human flesh"

This is what is to be seen from us believers. The fathers love for one another. This is the love that saves souls and enriches lives. This can be seen in community. What a great thing it is.

So yes, I'm sick. A summer cold. It's been a while so I guess I'm paying my dues.
At least I don't have to worry if I have enough sick days available.

Monday, April 13, 2009

New schedule, New vision.

Beginning in May we are changing our regular weekly schedule.  Currently we are open Tuesday -Saturday with Sunday and monday off.  We are lopping off Tuesdays and and one hour from our weekly schedule.  We'll open at 8am instead of 7am and we'll be open on Wednesday evenings until 8pm.  It makes for a long day but we are hoping that we'll be able to draw in more of the local community as we are doing movie nights and game nights.  Our hope is that we will be a little more refreshed and be able to focus on ministry a bit more.  There is no fellowship, bible study, outreach or anything in our area here and we are praying for direction.  It is pretty obvious to us that we're here to do more than making pizza and coffee.  We are seeking His face on these things.  Thanks for your prayers. 

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Weekly Schedule

Here is a loose description of our weekly schedule.

Sunday - 
10am - 11:30ish 
Church in Dominical on the beach.  We are currently in the process of a new church start-up and things are going swimmingly (pun intended).  We set up a few easy-up canopies on the beach and have worship and read out of what ever book in the bible we are currently going over.  
Two coconuts fell on the canopy last Sunday.
11:30ish - 3pm
After church we gather together and eat leftover pizza from the night before.  After cramming a bunch of carbs we (along with friends from another church in the next town) hit the beach.  I usually attempt to surf for an hour or so then just body board or play my guitar.  D usually lays out on the beach with the other gals while the kids body board or play on the beach.
3pm - ?
After the beach we usually head over to Mike and Starla's place for some hang out time and dinner.  The kids all play while we discus theological issues.  Good times.

Monday (Our supposed day off)
Sleep, sleep and more sleep.  Mondays consist of straightening up around the casa and waiting around for our suppliers who never show up anyway.  Thank you Coca-Cola.  Pura Vida!
If all works well we are able to sneak in a family movie night.  In bed by 10pm at the latest!

Tuesday (Our Monday)
4:45am - 5:15am
Listen to my alarm go off and hit the sleep button.
Stumble out of bed and into the shower.
Go into the cafe and begin prep for the day.
First things first... turn on the espresso machine!  Turn on the gas and light the pilot light for the convection oven.  Pull cinnamon rolls out of the freezer for thawing.  Roll out croissant dough and prepare croissants for the day.  Make coffee and fill water jug.  If the cinnamon rolls are properly thawed place them in the oven.
The rest of the day consists of making espresso and coffee drinks, smoothies, pizzas and sandwiches.  We close at 3pm and try and ignore the cafe as much as possible.  In bed by 9ish.
If I'm still coherent before the kids bed time I try and read to them.  It has taken us almost a year to read all of the Narnia books.  Mainly because It has taken me 2 months to read the last 4 chapters of "The Last Battle".

Wednesday - Friday
Pretty much the same schedule as Tuesday with the exception of Thursday evenings when we head to Dominical for Bible study.  Study starts at 6:30pm and runs until around 9pm.


Okay, so Saturdays we are mentally chill until about say 4pm when we begin really getting ready for our only night that we are open.  Pizza night runs from 6pm -9pm.  It is a feeding frenzy from say 6:30 to 8:15.  We make approximately 35 or more pizzas in that time.  Some are carry out but most are for the buffet line.  We are blessed with our friends who come and help out for the night.  There is so much work we could not do it without them.

That is a quick summery of our week.  Now it's back to work for me.


Saturday, December 6, 2008

Way too long...

For all who have been trying to follow along on our journey down here I apologize for not updating.  We opened the cafe a few weeks ago.  Business has been slow but it is beginning to pick up.  D has been refining her baking skills and I have been working on our drinks and our sandwiches.  All in all it has been quite a trip.  We seem to have become accustomed to the random power outages and loss of water.  Saturday nights have become our favorite time to operates as we have a few friends come out and help.  It really ends up being a lot of fun and we get to eat pizza.  I will post more photos soon.  Really.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

The San Jose Trip

Sit back folks and listen to our tale of whoa.
The plan was to leave early Monday morning and meet up with two other couples between Dominical and San Isidro. Before we left we received a call from Mike. His wife was pretty sick with some sort of yucky bug and they were not going to be able to make it.

No problem.
Joel and Krista were the ones who knew the San Jose area. They had lived there for almost a year while attending a language school. Without them we probably would not go. We dropped the kids off at grandpa's and headed out for Joel and Krista's.
We passed the road which leads to their place and had to double back but we found it. We were probably 1-2 hours behind our planned schedule but no problem we were not in a hurry. Everyone was bummed about Starla and were praying for her. We had to make a quick doggie pick up and drop off then we would be hitting the road for real.
D & I were looking forward to getting to know this interesting young missionary couple who were escorting us to the big city. They have traveled all over the world and obviously had a lot of experience in getting around large bustling foreign cities.
The long slow climb up the mountain seemed to be going rather quickly as the gals chatted in the back an the guys were chewing the fat up front. It was just the four of us and we were looking forward to a good trip.

The road we were driving on has a bad reputation (which it lives up to) for being prone to landslides, washed out road areas with 1,000' drops and insane drivers passing semi-trucks on blind curves. One of the popular names of this route is Cero de Muerte or "Mountain of death". I guess every country or state has a "road of death" or "Mountain of Death" but I could say that I believe this to be the most appropriate name for this route. The road is currently the quickest route from southern zone to San Jose so it is the route of choice.

So, as we began our decline down the other side of the mountain I remembered this speed trap that my dad had told me about. You know, the whole way up the mountain you are struggling to reach the posted speed limit and as soon as you begin to get a little bit of gravity on your side BAM! Nailed by the man. And yes, that is exactly what happened.
The kindly officer standing in the middle of the road with a radar gun waved me over to the side. Now in the US you get a ticket. That is just the way it goes. You may be able to talk your way out of it but more than likely you are gonna get a ticket. Well here things are a bit different. The police here make very, very low wages and really all they want is a little extra beer money. The officer began asking me after he came over to the window what I did for a living and if me getting a ticket would be bad for me if I tried to leave the country. What? What the heck was this guy talking about. Then he begins asking "colones (Costa Rican Currency) or dollars, colones or dollars?". Okay, he wants cash. He even asked me if this was okay. I said no, It was not ok but he did not understand. I got out of there with 10 less bucks in my pocket and a deep desire to be able to speak better spanish.

The remainder of our trip was all downhill now both figuratively and literally right? Well, that would be only half right. Our first real stop was at EPA a Home Depot-ish place for a few misc. items then we would drop our stuff off at the hostile we were staying at and re-group over a good cup of coffee and possibly a fresh pastry.

Well, being the savvy travelers we are we decided to put our valuables under the rear seat of the truck. You would have thought that we would have done this before we got into the parking lot but, the parking area was guarded and has a check in and check out gate that monitors the vehicles coming and going. Safe right? Joel for some reason (he had told us later that he never does this sort of thing) left his bag in the truck (under the seat and not visible) which was holding his computer, passport!! and credit cards. I have become accustomed to carrying a man-bag with all of my stuff so D and I just left our clothes bag (my brand new High Sierra super sweet backpack).
We all went into the store after making sure our stuff was secure and the vehicle was locked. D and I were looking at a variety of things so we went off on our own. Joel and Krista looked around for a few moments than went outside and hung out at the outdoor furniture area. Krista said later that she saw some security guys near the vehicle and walked over toward them but no one addressed her or acted like something was going on so she just walked back towards the front of the building. After D and I were finished shopping we met J and K and headed towards the truck. I unlocked the front and opened the back door the same time as Krista. We both lifted the rear seat at the same time and were shocked at what was not there.


She looked at me, I looked at her and we both gasped.
"It happened again!" she said. They had just been ripped off a month earlier.

In retrospect we figure we were being watched maybe even followed before we arrived at EPA. We should have either stashed or stuff way before we got into the parking lot or just brought it in with us. The crooks jammed a screwdriver into the passenger side door and cranked it until it unlocked. The interesting thing is that I inadvertently left my iPod sitting in a pocket in the dashboard and it was still there. There was also some loose cash which had fallen out of my pocket sitting on the front seat and it was still there. These guys knew what they wanted in the vehicle and where it was. Kind of creepy.

The rest of the day found us filing reports and talking with investigators. D met up with an old H.S. friend who currently resides in San Jose with her husband as missionaries. J and K called credit card companies from their home and we could see some of the charges being racked up in real time. A few of us manly men went to a few of the places the crooks had been to but they were already closed.
We extended our stay another day and made the trip back with no real hassle.
Thank God that he is our protector. Who know how things might have turned out?

Sunday, September 21, 2008

What IS The Plan?

What is this plan that the Lord has for us down here?  Sometimes I am amazed that I think I know.  We are still doing the bakery/pizzeria/coffeeshop/social meeting place but I wonder what else is in store for us.  We will have to wait and see.
To Be Continued...

Rodrigo (see picture from last post) has left us for greener pastures.  We were a bit dismayed at first and feeling like this all was to large for us to handle on our own.  But God is great and has plans for us well beyond what we can see with our natural eyes.  We have a new found sense of independence and freedom in having our kitchen back.  Danette has been working hard on perfecting our basic breads and I have been trying to get all of the loose ends with the building buttoned up.  
We had a coffee tasting party last week and a pizza tasting party last night.  
All is going well as we think we know what coffee we are going to use and know how we need (knead, haha) to make our dough.  
We are hoping to open up in 2 weeks?!  Yikes.

More soon.