Renewing our visas…

June 14, 2008

In the midst of everything going on – Scott’s trip, DTS finishing and graduation, Leslie and the kids 90 day tourist visas expired. We left as soon as we could, but we were three days over the 90 day limit.

We woke up at 4 a.m. on Sat. morning, and with only a backpack and an umbrella stroller we loaded into a taxi, picked up Jessi at the base and headed to the bus station.

the bus ride

The 6 hour bus ride was beautiful and flew by. Ezra and Jude slept a lot and Kai spent most of the time staring out the window at the rainforest and then the ocean. We road the bus to the end of the line – Sixaola, a border town right on the edge of Costa Rica. By now it was the afternoon and the rain was pouring. We climbed the stairs up towards the bridge to the immigration post.

Our problems began here. Everyone in San Jose had assured us that being three days over would not be a problem, but it turns out it was. Not necessarily a problem, but more of an opportunity for a lot of people to make money. Yes, we were bribed. It felt like such a ‘shady’ deal the way were lead into the office and told quietly what we would need to pay, very ‘hush, hush.’ We didn’t have much of a choice, we didn’t want to be deported! Meanwhile Ezra and Kai played in the rain and the puddles getting muddy and wet

After dishing out money to everyone who ‘needed’ it, we started crossing the bridge over to Panama. This bridge has to be crossed on foot, and it is in a state of disrepair. There are gaping holes all through it and I was so thankful to have Jessi with us, so that each adult could carry a child. I clung tightly to Jude as the rain poured down praying I wouldn’t slip and fall on that bridge.

this is the bridge (minus the rain)

We made it safely across and after passing through one more immigration site and one more set of bribes we piled into a taxi that would take us to Changinola. It was a short drive and the kids were amazed as we passed through “Chiquita” bananas. We were surrounded on all sides by banana trees.

We reached the boat dock and were informed that that a bus would be coming in one hour, and we might be able to fit on it. Well, the boat arrived and left and we were not able to fit on, so we had to sit at the boat dock for another 2 1/2 hours to wait for the next boat. The kids did amazing. Kai and Ezzy lay on their stomachs looking in the water at the fish and feeding them bits of crackers.

After waiting on that boat dock a total of three hours we were finally climbing into a boat that would take us to Bocas del Toro. The boat wound through swampy mangroves and we could see native Indians paddling in hollowed out trees, and living in small huts on the shores. Then we pulled out into the clear ocean. It was a beautiful ride.

We arrived into Bocas del Toro at twilight, and could see all the habitations, restaurants and hotels at the waters edge. We were staying at a little place outside of the town and one final boat taxi would take us there.

the final boat taxi!

We were tired and exhausted as we got into this last boat. At about 7 pm we reached our hotel and were ready to eat some dinner and head to bed!

the boys sleeping after a long day of travel! Little troopers!

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The DTS Graduation

June 13, 2008

The DTS that started in January has come to a close. It was an amazing five months with such a wonderful group of people. We had our final night together and it was beautiful, there were tears and laughter, as we praised God together one last time, shared stories and testimonies, prayed and commissioned each other and said our goodbyes. Here are some photos from the night.

ariana, jessi, leslie, loly, staff girls. We had so much fun planning this night together..

The staff presented “mock” awards… very funny!

Lisa, Brianna and Suzanne’s amazing song and dance that they did on outreach!

Kai and Ezzy enjoying their hot chocolate at dinner!

Our amazing staff team! Isaac, Jessi, Arianna, Grethel and Loly. They were so wonderful to work with.

A little Latin dancing…. and meanwhile….

Jude goes to sleep!

Warner, Angel and Anna give testimonies…

and Kai falls asleep and joins Jude on the floor!

Scott and the staff handed out certificates

And all three of our kids were asleep on the floor! I don’t know how they slept through all the cheering, clapping and shouting!

The DTS!!!!!

It was an amazing experience for us leading this school. We saw so many great things happen in the lives of these students and we know the things they did and experienced with God has changed their lives forever, they will never be the same! What a priviledge to be a part of this time in their lives. We’re excited to do it again…. in just a few weeks new students will be arriving for the July DTS!

To see more photos of the graduation, follow this link: DTS Graduation