If you drive anywhere in Costa Rica you will notice big yellow hearts painted on the roads. They are far and wide. They are in the city, in the country, small roads, freeways…everywhere. Sometimes they are stacked up, two three right next to each other.
Each heart is placed by the government at the site of an auto death. After a fatal auto accident the government later comes along and paints these yellow hearts as a sort of memorial, but, also to remind drivers to take care.
Costa Rica is reported to have the worst rate of traffic accidents in all of Central America. After living here for nearly 10 months this is not difficult to imagine. Traffic lights, signs, lanes, speed limits are all generally ignored. Drivers blow through four way stops, blowing their horns to worn others they are coming. Pedestrians have no right of way. Cars frequently swerve all over the road to avoid potholes. Frequent rain adds to the problems. Three or four cars often occupy roads with two lanes.
We have witnessed countless accidents, but, greatfuly never been involved in one.
On June 6, 1992 Mike Pettengill and Erin Brumm got married at Fair Oaks Presbyterian Church
. Mike had just received his BA in Political Science and Erin was still working towards her Nursing degree. After the wedding they moved into a 900 square foot duplex with their two dogs and two cats.
At 23 and 24 years old we were poor, happy, in love and living in a little home. Boy how things have…uh…changed. Sixteen years later we are poor, happy, in love and living in a little home.
In addition, this has been the first full year that we spent ALL our time together. Erin worked nights for 11 years and we didn’t see each other a lot during that time. So, in all honesty, I was very scared about this year of our marriage. We had never spent this much time together. Plus, the stress of saying goodbye to friends, moving to a new country, going to school together, studying together, never being apart. This looked like a recipe for a disastrous marriage to me.
In my humble opinion, this has been the best year of our marriage. I rediscovered Erin and remembered that she is a pretty cool person. She has again become my best friend. We fight less, laugh more, and are more in love then ever. After 16 years of marriage I remember exactly why I fell in love with her. I would not have wanted to go through all this with anyone else.
What does Erin think about this…I don’t know myself…go to her blog and find out.
One thing that you can say about Costa Rica is the neighborhoods are loud. It seems to be a cultural thing that noise is not a problem. Everyone makes lots of noise and nobody complains.
Weed eaters are fired up at 6:30am. Cars picking up people for school or work honk their horns at 6:45am. The Coconut Man tosses his empty husk in the metal container at 6:50am. The trash truck roles down the street at 7:00am
Then you have dogs barking all day and night. Fireworks going off at all hours. Church bells. Security guard whistles. Horns on delivery motorcycles. Car alarms. Crazy loud birds. And, nobody cares but gringos.
In the U.S. all my neighbors would have received citations from the homeowners association by now. When I talk to my Costa Rican neighbors they just say, “Oh, I don’t even notice it.”
To continue the ongoing battle cry of the missionary: It’s not bad, just different.
This past week Mike has been very busy producing videos. He has produced six videos this week. Four of those videos have been for us and two have been to promote other Christian ministries.
Mike has shot and produced over 50 videos in the nine months we have been here. You can view most of them posted on our YouTube site. Most of those videos are about our life, our ministry or our world and are used on Erin’s blog in order to allow our prayer partners to have a better understanding of the world around us.
But, in the past seven months Mike has begun producing videos for other missionaries to use and help promote awareness of other Christian organizations. In that time about 20 videos have been produced to benefit other Christian ministries. We hope and pray that this work raises awareness of the worthy work being done in the name of Christ.
Costa Rica is a relatively safe place to live. Costa Rica’s overall crime rate (11 crimes per 1000 people) is less then that of the U.S. (80/1000) or the U.K. (85/1000). But, crime has recently been on the rise in our little corner of the world.
As some of you may be aware our family was victimized by crime three times in the first 10 days of May. And, this is after not having any problems in the first eight months of living here. This has cost us more time and anguish then anything else.
In the past five days three families from our school have been targeted by crime – a gunpoint mugging, a home invasion robbery, and an attempted (but failed) drive by purse snatching. This is nearly as many crimes as the students of our school experienced all last semester.
Crime rates are still low on a comparative basis; in 2007 the Costa Rican murder rate was 6.6 per 100,000, the lowest in Central America. However, violent crime is rising more rapidly, with the government stating in early 2008 that robbery rates have risen by 700 per cent since 1990, while drug-related crime is up 280 per cent in the same period.
We know that all is in God’s hands and we hold great comfort in that. We ask you to pray that we are safe and secure in our last four weeks here in Costa Rica and that our safety continues on into Honduras.
“Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.” – James 1:2-5