Calling All Judson Alumni


Check out this link for my guest post as a Judson University alumni.  I give a testimony as to how Judson gave me the opportunity to travel that later sparked my interest in living overseas. Enjoy! :)


Latest Painting Series

My latest 5 paintings are all already claimed by my good friend Meredith, who is also teaching here in Costa Rica at another private school, Metodista. She bought the canvases and hired me to paint all 5 for her 4th grade classroom. She gave me the verses she wanted but other than that, I could do whatever I wanted! :)
I painted a dribble design first, then decided it was too busy, so I painted over that with yellow. You can still see the first design under the yellow layer in real life.

This is the only one that turned out iconic.

This one started out as a drip painting but quickly morphed into a splatter painting, haha.

I added blue sequin fabric in the corners to add texture.

Nothing like some bubble letters :).

I'll be delivering the paintings this next weekend! I'm excited for Meredith to be able to use them in her classroom.


First Year Mini-Reunion

Tricia and I shared our six months here in Costa Rica as we were both new to Spanish and to the culture. She was working with a mission team last week and I was able to see her last Saturday!


Don't Jump to Conclusions

A part of the Costa Rican culture I have become increasingly aware of is this: It is okay to lie, as long as it helps you maintain your own personal comfort.

I've struggled with this concept since realizing the depth that it is ''sunk'' into the thinking of ticos here. Not all are comfortable with lying, but the majority are.

For example: You're waiting at a coffee shop for a friend to arrive. You arrived five minutes early and your friend told you she would be there right at 2pm... You wait... and wait... and wait. It's 2:15. You call her. She answers, exclaiming, ''Yes, I'm almost there!!'' You ask, ''How long will you be?'' She says, ''I just left my house, but I'm almost there!'' You know that her house is actually 40 minutes away from the coffee shop... so if she just left, that means she will arrive at about 3. But yet she says ''I'm almost there!'' so does that mean she's arriving in the next 5 minutes??

Time is probably the most common lie. ''I'm almost there!'' is a common cover-up for ''I'll be an hour late!''

Or when you call for a taxi and the phone attendant says, ''The taxi has already arrived,'' before he hangs up. Does that mean the taxi is already waiting outside your door? No...

So I came to a situation over the last few days where I thought a tico was lying. I have become so skeptical, so hardened to the possibility that there might be an honest tico.

My prepaid cell phone informed me I had 4 more days of service. I went to the store that afternoon and re-charged it by putting $20 on it. I thought that amount would last me for quite a while. Well, four days later, my phone was inactivated... and I was ticked. I had just put $20 on it! So I dug in the garbage for my receipt... only to discover that I had put $20 on someone else´s prepaid cell phone number... I had mixed up two of the numbers in mine, and paid someone elses. Oops.

I went back to the store and explained the situation. I put $5 more on my phone so I could re-activate it and have access to texting/calling/etc. So I called the other number that I had paid to ask if they could pay money on my phone. A far shot, I was thinking, but it was worth a try.

Well, a lady answered the phone and said, ''You'll have to make an agreement with my dad. Here's his number.'' So I called the number. Lady #2 that answered that phone had no idea what I was talking about. So I called lady #1 back to ask her dad's number again, and I had heard incorrectly the first time. So now I called this number and reached lady #3. She also had no idea what I was talking about...

So I immediately thought that lady #1 had lied to me to get herself out of paying me back the $20. I decided I would not pursue it anymore, but I was frustrated and discouraged by these lying ticos...

The next day after school, I had 4 missed calls, all from the same number. I called the number back and reached lady #1's dad. He told me that my money was in good hands, that he lived in Cartago (a poorer district of the city than where I live), that he was going to pay $10 on my phone this week and then $10 on my phone next week so that I had the $20 back.

I jumped to conclusions, and this time, I was proved wrong. There are honest people here.

Now I just feel convicted because $20 is a lot for a stranger to put on a phone... especially when people here earn $400ish dollars a month as the average salary...

Blog Worthy

Last Saturday, I was headed to San Francisco to see some gringo friends. On the way, I decided to stop at the feria that I used to go to during the 2 years I lived in that neighborhood. I was looking for a couple of my favorite vendors, the ones I would always talk to for Spanish practice. I found one lady and her son at their avocado stand, and while in mid-conversation, my gum fell out of my mouth and onto the ground. OOPS. I was really embarassed and they were laughing so I tried to laugh and told them how embarassed I was. I glanced around hoping no one else had seen the event, but unfortunately, more than just the three of us had witnessed my mishap. Another woman came up to us and gave me a brochure for her cosmetic services. She offered to sell me a breath spray ''so that I wouldn´t have to worry about spitting out my gum''. Haha. I kindly told her thank you and that I would think about it (which basically means no here).

When I was telling my friend Lisa this morning about my embarassing moment, she was laughing and said, ''That is blog-worthy.'' So here it is, officially on the blog.


Equipped and Confirmed

''May the God of peace, who through the blood of the eternal covenant brought back from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep, equip you with everything good for doing his will, and may he work in us what is pleasing to him, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.'' Hebrews 13:20-21

''God did this so that all the peoples of the earth might know that the hand of the Lord is powerful and so that you might always fear the Lord your God.'' Joshua 4:24

''Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, 'This is the way; walk in it.'' Isaiah 30:21

I don´t do share what's really going on in my heart very often here on my blog, so consider today your lucky day :). God has really been challenging me and working deep in my heart, which is at times uncomfortable and painful. I recently read on a friend's Facebook a quote from some famous author (he's so famous I can't remember his name, oops!) that God is not concerned with our physical comfort, but He is instead concerned with our spiritual perfection.

If you know me even a tiny bit, you know that I am very much a perfectionist. I have a student this year who is also an extreme perfectionist, and I think God put us in each other's lives to work through this issue together. I have given her some articles and verses about how perfectionism can be debilitating and how we can work to overcome our negative self-talk. Little does this student know that I am learning right alongside her... but I think the fact that I am learning with her makes it that much more powerful as I share with her what I learn instead of just what I think about the issue.

So God has been working on me deeply and one of those areas is again questioning whether or not I want to be a teacher.

We all know that God works in mysterious ways and usually behind the scenes. So there I am on Tuesday during our class meeting, crushed to hear from a student that ''everyone'' in the class has been passing notes behind my back. Apparently it´s something that started when a substitute teacher was with the students for those 2 weeks that I was with my family, and the note-passing habit has continued since I got back. I went home after school on Tuesday, discouraged about how much I put into learning the material, creating ways for students to learn the material, and then realizing why science grades have been so low lately... because students aren't paying attention to the lesson; instead they have been passing notes.

I didn´t want to go to school Wednesday. I got out of bed like a sloth crawling down the tree for his breakfast... I think it took me 3 hours to get ready for school. (exaggerated... I was actually running for the bus stop because I was super-late.) I made it to school in time and taught the math lesson in a creative way so that there was no chance of passing notes. At recess, I asked a couple of the girls when most of the note-passing happens, and they confessed it was during science class, which is what I had suspected. I still didn´t know how I was going to handle it during science class.

Then, as students got out their textbooks for the science lecture, I sat down in my desk chair in the back of the classroom. I'm not sure why I did, I just did. When all students had their notebooks and textbooks, I began giving directions. ''Open up to a fresh page in your notebook. Draw a square that takes up the whole page. Then divide the square into 12 squares by drawing 3 columns and 4 rows. etc.''

I continued sitting in the back and giving instructions. ''Now in the top left box, write the words 'combination reaction.' Then in the box underneath, draw a circle plus a circle that is colored in equals a circle connected to a colored-in-circle.''

One student raises her hand. ''Yes, Christina?''

''This is kind of hard.''

''Really, what makes this hard?''

''Well, it´s easier if you write it on the board so we can see what you want us to draw.''

''Hmmm... Can anyone tell me why I can't use the whiteboard today?''


One student murmurs, ''Because you turn your back and we pass notes.''

''That's exactly why.''


I say ''Please raise your hand if this would be easier for you if I drew it on the board.''

all hands are raised.

''Please raise your hand if you promise not to pass notes during the science lesson so I can use the whiteboard.''

all hands are raised.

''Deal. BUT as soon as I find or even suspect that someone is passing notes, I will come right back to my desk chair and teach from here. Understood?''

a murmured, ''yeees...'' and note-passing free lessons (to my knowledge anyway) Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday.

Amidst my doubts about whether or not I am a good teacher/should continue to be a teacher in the future, God continues to equip me with what I need in exactly the moment I need it. Not a moment too early and not a moment too late. God gave me a strategy and confirmed (again!) that He has me right where He wants me for now.

In the classroom. Meeting students right where they are at. And to allow Him to meet me right where I am at.


Spanish Guide

As I am thinking more and more about how to teach in a bilingual classroom, I am aware that pronunciation is an important aspect of learning any language. While eating out with friends last night, a friend found in the brochure table at the restaurant a ´´guide for gringos´´ on how to pronounce basic Spanish phrases. We smiled and laughed about the pronunciation guide for how to say phrases that have almost become second nature for us now... so I thought I would share the guide with you. Consider this Kate practicing her Spanish teaching skills :)

Costa Rica (CO-sta REE-ka... never CA-sta)

Buenas! (basic greeting) (Bwe-nas)

Hola, cómo estás? (Hello, how are you?) (OH-la, CO-mo et-stA)

Muy bien, y usted? (Very good, and you?) (MUEE-be-yen, ee OO-sted?)

Pura vida! (Life is good!) (POO-rah BI-da)

Con mucho gusto! (You're welcome) (cone MOO-cho GOO-sto)

Hasta luego! (See you later!) (ahs-sta LUEH-go)

No me moleste. (Don´t bother me.)  (no MAY mo-less-te)

Si. (Yes) (sEE)

No. (No.) (no) :)

Tal vez. (Maybe.) (tahl bAys)

No hablo español. (I don´t speak Spanish.) (no AH-blow es-PAHN-yol)


Yearbook Photos

I have to turn in photos for the yearbook next week, so we had a photo shoot this afternoon.
The girls' idea was to have their photo taken in the tree behind the soccer field.
Going to see what the boys decided to their photo...
The boys´ idea was to run down the hill and somehow get all faces in the photo...
This is how it worked out, haha. Some were ''flying'' :)

Then, of course, when we're done with the photos, I realized that one student was absent today. NOOOOOO!! We might have to have another photo shoot tomorrow!


Talent Show

We had a talent show at school last Friday night. Check out Lisa and my ''talent''... making people laugh :)


Flexibility Skit

Each month, we focus on different character traits at school, complete with a monthly assembly discussing that character trait. This month the topic is flexibility, and somehow I was nominated to be the lead exercise instructor for the skit!
So here we are, stretching out

And we did a tae-bo 3 minute workout, haha, including different ways we can be flexible when plans change. At the end, we shouted ''Let's get flexible'' and we did flexible poses! I did the splits :)



Wow, time is flying here in San Jose! Since getting back from the U.S. Feb. 6th, I have hardly had a moment to sit down and rest... My good mom keeps reminding me with Facebook messages that I need to rest :). Thanks, Mom.

This week's happenings at school:
  • Science exam building boats, adding cargo until they sink, identifying and measuring mass, density, and weight.
  • I was the aerobic instructor in a skit this morning :). I'll have to post photos of my SWEET one-piece exercise outfit, haha!
  • Sending students to the office for disrespect... they come back very responsive to my directions :)
  • Enjoying Spanglish and reinforcing English
This week's happenings at home:
  • no Internet
  • feeding the dogs at 5am... that's a long story.
  • chilly, windy in the morning and HOT in the afternoons... I never know what to wear! The sweater or the sundress?
  • I bought my favorite cheese bread from the panaderia Pan Por Kilo :)
And a big hello to Mr. Monger's students as I know they will be checking the blog soon :) Keep working hard on your ISATs, boys!!!