International Ministries

52 Weeks in Costa Rica

April 21, 2012 Journal

52 weeks of my Tica Life

I have survived my year of language studies! It feels so great to finally be able to say that, although I technically still have two more days of classes but I can say that I'm done since I won’t have any more tests or homework. I have compiled 52 things that I have learned myself, Costa Rica, the culture, God, Spanish, my observations and how I've survived during my 52 weeks of living in Costa Rica.


1) It is possible to learn Spanish in a year, but it’s impossible to be fluent after one year!

2) People will come and go out of my life but I am very thankful for the time we had together and the blessing they made in my life for knowing them.

3) God doesn't not call the qualified he qualifies the called!

4) Only take red taxis with a yellow triangle, and make sure they start the meter when you get in the car.

5) Seeing a Tica wearing high heels while carrying a baby around town is the norm. They of course sell strollers here, however this is more common.

6) Always look down as you walk, if not you might trip on uneven pavement, or fall into what I like to call "gringo traps".

7) Eating French fries with ketchup and mayonnaise is really good!

8) Never make eye contact with a guy walking down the street, it might give off the wrong idea.

9) It is perfectly normal to have a ham and cheese sandwich with lettuce and tomato for breakfast. All lunch meat in Costa Rica has ham in it, and it’s not like ham in the States, but I have learned to like it.

10) Cafecito happens twice a day, it’s coffee breaks that includes bread, or some type of salty snack.

11) Costa Ricans point with their lips not their fingers, and yes I do this now....a lot! hahah.

12) Costa Ricans don't like to eat a lot of sweets, and as for my host mom she doesn't ever eat chocolate...I'm still trying to figure out how one can go without the goodness of chocolate.

13) Costa Ricans are in fact Americans too!

14) To hail down a taxi or bus you hold out your arm and waving your hand palm down.

15) When asking directions it’s good to ask at least two different sources because most Ticos will want to act as they are helping by telling you a direction even if it is wrong, I guess they think it sounds nicer than just saying no, sorry I have no idea where it is.

16) When it’s about 68 degrees F. The moms will dress their little ones with thick jackets, beanies, and blankets.

17) Ticos think if you walk around the house bare feet you will catch a cold.

18) You always have to make your bed, there are no exceptions.

19) If I'm about to leave the house in sandals and it had just rained, she would tell me to change my shoes to cover toed shoes so I won’t get sick.

20) Cooked meat can be left out all day and night, if it is properly covered...and be heated up and eaten the next day with no problems. (I have yet to get a parasite.)

21) Lunch is the main meal of the day and must include rice or it’s not a completed meal.

22) Found myself praying a lot on my own half in Spanish and in English.

23) Family is very important and they spend a lot of time together.

24) You don't move out of your parent’s house until you are married.

25) The number of sneezes are measure: salud, amor, dinero, hospital, y cementerio. (wish you health, love, we'll give you money, to go to the hospital, and finally cemetery if nothing works.) And you wonder why people stare at me weird in public when I sneeze 6 or 7 times in a row.

26) Costa Ricans like to take their time while walking unless they are trying to catch a bus, then they will walk extremely fast.

27) Being surrounded in a Christian environment at the Spanish Language Institute has helped me immensely in my spiritual growth.

28) You can recharge your prepaid cell phone with minutes in about any business you could think of.

29) Learning Spanish is very challenging and you cannot compare yourself to a 3 yr old Tico at a bus stop talking to their mom, and think wow they already know how to use past tense perfectly, and mine stinks.

30) Personal hygiene is very important with must shower every day, wear deodorant and perfume, hair done, and make-up done (for Ticas) before leaving your house.

31) God has taught me the importance on trusting in him and that He is always in control and He has a plan for me.

32) Keep seeking God with all your heart, soul, and strength.

33) God provides in sometimes the weirdest and smallest ways, which I can't imagine...such as getting copies done for free at a bakery.

34) When Catholics pass by a Catholic church they will sign the cross, yes I had my taxi driver do it once in rush hour while driving a manual.

35) Latin space--people drive closer, sit closer, hug, kiss, stand in line closer. I have caught myself standing really close to a person in front of me in line at the grocery store and didn't think anything of it.

36) People can be very content with living in their own culture and their own country and not want to move to the States, as if that is the best option in life. ;)

37) Costa Rica doesn't have an army because they just think the US army can just help them if they have a problem, no, it’s because they are a peaceful country and they can work out issues with words not guns and bombs. If there was a case that they need to go to war, they have other countries that would step in and help...not just the U.S.A!

38) I never thought I would feel so comfortable and such at peace in a country that is not my is a total God thing!

39) Saying yes to God and letting Him lead my life has probably been the BEST choice I have every made and following him into the mission field in 2011.

40) This year has given me time to have a lot of alone time with God and He has filled my empty soul.

41) Trusting God with all of my finances for living and doing ministry is sometime very challenging especially when I was used to relying on myself financially before, not other people. Glory be to God, He has always provided, and will continue to do so!

42) During the raining season you must carry an umbrella even if you leave your house and the sun is out, it will rain come 2pm!

43) Every city has a Catholic church in it and in the front of the church there is a city park.

44) There is an impressive long line at Taco Bell during lunch hour.

45) Taking buses for transportation take twice as long as traveling by car.

46) Standing in an overcrowded bus and standing on the stairs and to add to the adventure the driver doesn't close the door-something that is not out of the norm.

47) Piñatas are always at children's parties, they are filled with candy and shelled peanuts.

48) At church we sing happy birthday every month for anyone that has had birthdays that month and pray over them--the song is about 5 minutes long. ;)

49) Translating is very tiring and sometimes I get my wires crossed and ask the English speakers something in Spanish or vice versa.

50) When there is a big soccer game playing and a goal is score everyone in the house will yell GOAL!!! and all the other neighbors down the block are yelling at the same time and banging on the walls!

51) There is a reason why the little electric water heater shower head is called widow maker. I have been shocked by it. Luckily my host mom fixed it by putting extra electrical tape on it.

52) I have learned that distance between family and friends is sometimes very difficult, but I have been to be able to stay in contact with them through Facebook, mail, email, and Skype. Words cannot expressed on how much I have enjoyed watching my nephews and niece grow through pictures and Skype, seeing friend’s wedding pictures, and or new baby's pictures.

Thank you all for coming alongside me this year, to support me financially, in prayer and in words of encouragement. Thank you for giving me this opportunity to be obedient to God and supporting me as I learn Spanish so I can minister to our Spanish speaking brothers and sisters in Christ. There aren't enough words to express my gratitude for each one of you. This year is something that I will never forget, I will be forever changed, and I know that God is just beginning in me and His plan to use me in His ministry. I am just honored to be His hands and feet to Latin America. Thank you so much for your support. I pray that you will continue to keep updated through my blog posts and Facebook posts. Please continue to pray for me, I am in the process of making some big decisions in regarding my future of full time ministry. God has done extraordinary things in my heart this year and continues to break it and reforming it to his glory.


Sarah Jean

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