The last time I saw my cousins, John, Jill, Maddie and Mari was at my other cousins wedding in August. We were all in tears at the end of the reception because we knew it would be our last chance to see them before they began their journey to Costa Rica. My cousins lived near me in White Bear Lake. The train track ran through both our yards. Jill would text me "trains coming" and minute later, it would go by.
It was an easy choice when I was deciding where to go on vacation this year. My roomie and I booked our flights last minute and got our shots barely in time. The first night we spent at The Orchid Tree Bed and Breakfast. Some people saw photos of this pool on instagram and thought it was my cousins house. Ha! It was so relaxing and peaceful. There was a loud peacock somewhere that scared the crap out of me every time he made a noise. One thing I do when traveling and afraid of creatures is give them a name. It makes them less scary. I named him Kevin.
My cousins took us to a river up the mountain to hike up and jumped off cliffs into pools. There were rocks with little waterfalls that you could slide down. I was sitting at the top contemplating when to go and a woman with her toddler walked accross the top, lost her footing and slid down, splashing into the water. I grabbed for the little girl and pulled her up to the top. We all just stared in shock at the woman who fell in. Soon she started flailing her arms and sinking. My cousin, Maddie, immediately jumped in to save her! She yelled "sálvame!" (help me!) and Maddie told her "tranquilo!" (Calm down!) Luckily, our friend Brian, a lifeguard, dove in and brought her to shore. I think she would have pulled Maddie right under! We walked back to the car reliving our heroic day.
It was so nice to travel to another country and find my family there who are well connected in the community. I am so used to trying to find my own way. After our hike we stopped at their friends house. They served us coffee and sweet bread. I was amazed at how generous and welcoming the people were. Check out their view!
At the time of my visit, my cousins lived on an organic coffee bean farm. Let me tell you...there is nothing like coming home with the scent of fresh roasting beans wafting through the house. I was in heaven.
Gerardo loved showing me things and teaching me about his coffee. I can understand some english so usually I would just nod and smile. Jill had me bring down some chocolate almond bark. We made him some chocolate covered coffee beans and he couldn't believe how good it was. He said is was better than good!
We took a van to the ocean to spend the day swimming. We saw an iguana and a huge red macaw. I had the best time jumping around in the waves. We rented surfboards and tried to catch some waves. The tide got really strong so we had to come in for a while. John got tossed around in a big wave and learned quickly not to mess with Mother Nature. We enjoyed hearing about his near death experience for the remainder of the week.
Here is my cousin Mari, the most passionate chicken farmer I know! Her chickens love her so much. It was fun helping her chase the ones that got out.
We had to do a little family photo session, of course!
Jill is my first cousin. Can you guess how old she is?
Give up? 38!!
John, a carpenter and Jill, a spanish teacher at Totino Grace High School, left their jobs and beautiful home to serve at an orphanage called Residencia de Vida. They currently work with six orphans. I cannot post pictures of them, but I can tell you they are really adorable and hilarious. It was fun to see how these kiddos had such a special connection with Maddie and Mari already. There are other exciting ministries in the works but right now they are getting settled in at a new location up the mountain where they will be able to house more volunteers who come to visit.
Don't even get me started on their puppy, Luna. Aint she cute?
What do you think about John's sweet ride?
I will be making more trips to Costa Rica! There are many serving opportunities and exciting things in the works. You can keep up with their adventures on facebook: