Happy Spring! We hope your days are beginning to warm up! Since arriving in Costa Rica we have seen less than five minutes of rain total. We have really enjoyed the warm, sunny days. (I know all of my northern friends are going to get on to me for saying this!)
Our time in language school is flying by. We have just two weeks left to finish our studies before we leave Costa Rica. Classes have been going very well as we learn new concepts and clean up bad habits. One of our classes has been preaching class where we've been working on preparing sermons in Spanish. Both Tona and Corey had a turn preaching during a Wednesday Spanish chapel. Nervewracking? Yes! But it is wonderful practice so we can be prepared to preach on a moment's notice when we arrive in Colombia.
We entered Costa Rica on a tourist visa, which means that we are only allowed to be in country 90 days at a time, at which time we are required to leave for 72 hours. At the end of February we took a mandatory trip to Panama so that we'd be able to reenter Costa Rica for the remainder of our trimester. We took an eight hour bus ride and had wonderful favor crossing the border. We'd heard stories of people being stuck at the crossing for hours and hours and we got through very quickly. One of the biggest shocks to us in Costa Rica is the price of food. It is expensive! Panama, however, is much less expensive and uses the US dollar, so we enjoyed stocking up on some groceries to take home. It was nice to get a break away from the classroom and experience a new country. We enjoyed the beautiful weather and a couple of hours at the beach before returning to school.
While we finish our classes we are also turning our focus to gathering all of the necessary letters and requirements for the visa process that lies ahead next month in order to enter Colombia. We will be returning to the US at the end of April to visit the consulate in Chicago and request the visas. Please be praying as we approach this time that we will not have problems with this process. Our last experience with the visa process was extensive and not one we want to repeat!
Our teachers have taught us so much about culture and the differences in perspectives between "American thinking" and "Hispanic thinking". One recent conversation was about girls and weight. My teacher commented, "You Americans are so funny. You won't wear a bikini unless you have what you believe is a perfect body." I said, "Well, yeah, nobody wants to see all your rolls falling everywhere." She said, "It's not the same here. If a Costa Rican (or any Latina) woman wants to wear a bikini because she's going to the beach and wants her belly to be tan, she wears it. It doesn't matter what other people think of how she looks. If they don't like the way she appears, it's their job to look at something else." She was struck by how much our culture makes decisions based on what others will say - and I can assure you, they definitely dress the way they want here instead of what we might deem as appropriate or at least well-fitting clothes. She added, "American girls think they are less pretty than they actually are. Latina girls usually think they are prettier than they actually are."
Safe travel ahead as we leave Costa Rica at the end of the month and return to the US to apply for our Colombian visas
Favor at the Colombian Consulate so that we may get our visas quickly and without issues
Peace, especially for Alex and Maggie, as we transition once again - saying goodbye to friends and starting over in a new place
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Corey, Tona, Alex and Maggie Kautz
Want to know more? Check out www.kautzfamily.org to find out more about our ministry, read our blog or connect with us on facebook!