Have you ever considered taking your children on an international trip? Here are five reasons why we are taking our kids to Costa Rica this summer!
On Monday, our family embarked on an adventure we had been dreaming about, saving for, and planning for a very long time: We are currently in Costa Rica for five weeks, and we couldn’t be more excited.
Transparency with this blog is huge for me. I’ve built The Humbled Homemaker with the intentions of showing my own imperfections in everyday homemaking, learning the ropes of natural living, navigating life on a low income, and transitioning to helping support our family financially as a work-at-home mom.
A few years ago, we would have thought a trip like this to be unattainable. And I know some of you are there now: You can barely manage to make ends meet, much less take an international trip with your family.
My goal is always to encourage you, so I thought about not blogging about our journey in Costa Rica. But then I realized it would be inauthentic of me to do so.
You precious readers have walked with me through so much these past four years, and I want to give you a window into our family’s life wherever we are.
Costa Rica is dear to our family for many reasons. We did not haphazardly choose this location for our summer trip.
At one point in time, my husband and I envisioned spending our entire lives on the foreign mission field–somewhere in Latin America.
He and I actually met each other in Costa Rica in 2003. I served as a missionary there for a year after college, and he served there for two years.
What to expect on The Humbled Homemaker During Our Costa Rica Trip
Over the next few weeks, I hope to give you a glimpse into our Costa Rica journey, but I don’t want to bombard you with overly-personal posts. I always want you to feel like you’ve read something that you can take and apply to your own life–wherever you might live!
So, with that in mind, I will be posting about our Costa Rica trip no more than twice per week (and sometimes less). I hope to have one content-rich post on Costa Rica per week–creating something that will either inspire you or encourage you. My mind is already spinning with ideas like how we paid for this trip (it’s not with credit cards!), how we are navigating the trip with food allergies, Costa Rican ministries you all can pray for, ways to instill a love for missions in your children from home, and more!
The second post I hope to publish will be more of an update of what we have done during the week. Those will go live on either Fridays or Saturdays.
I hope to publish some other regular content as well and will be welcoming some more guest posters who have some amazing content to share with you!
I will be updating my social media accounts daily, and you will be able to see more about our Costa Rica trip via Instagram and Periscope, especially! You can find us via the hashtag #odomsincostarica. As for Periscope, I got it JUST for this trip. It allows people to LIVE broadcast video feed, so I though that might be fun to try!
Without further ado, though, I’d like to dive into five reasons why we are taking our 3 young children (age 7, 4, and 2!) to Costa Rica for five weeks this summer. Some people think we are crazy for doing it, but I can assure you that we have been very intentional with bringing out children along for this journey!
5 Reasons Why We Are Taking Our Kids to Costa Rica
1. We want to get our children out of their comfort zones.
Let’s be honest: The American culture can be very child-centered. We frequently tell our girls that the world does not revolve around them, and we mean it.
We do not want them to grow up thinking that the most important thing in life is their comfort–because it is not!
Traveling to another country removes the comforts of home, language, culture, food, and so much more. With only a few days into the trip, our girls have had to learn:
- not to flush toilet paper (but to throw it away instead)–our newly-potty-trained one is learning this the fastest!
- to take showers even though they prefer baths (bathtubs are a luxury here, and we do not have one!)
- to eat rice and beans for breakfast–every single day
- that, sometimes, going to the bathroom on the side of the road is the only option when you are on a side of a mountain with no public restrooms are in sight
- that, sometimes, we have to go without toilet paper altogether!
- that even though our apartment has a swimming pool, that doesn’t mean we get to swim every day
- that all of the cartoon characters on TV speak Spanish (our 2-year-old asked us: “Why do they just speak Spanish?!”)
- that sometimes we will have to go without carseats if we are riding on crowded public transportation–like buses and taxis
- that once our snacks from the U.S. are gone, we have to eat the types of snacks we can find here–and they might not be favorites
All that said, we are taking strides to make sure our girls get proper rest and nutrition. After feeling like we overdid it the first day, we have decided that we must keep to a good rest time each afternoon.
2. We want our children to love other cultures.
Many parts of the United States can be very mono-cultural–even though it’s a country that is made up of so many different cultures!
We want our girls to grow up with a knowledge of and appreciation for cultures outside of their own. We feel there is no better way to do that than to place them inside of those cultures.
As we have been traveling around the San Jose, Cartago, and Alajuela provinces the past few days, we have been in constant conversation with the girls about what is the same and what is different when comparing the Costa Rican culture to our own.
3. We want to immerse our children in the Spanish language.
Will they retain it? Who knows, but we feel like any language learning is an advantage.
More than become fluent in Spanish (which is pretty impossible during a 5-week trip), we want to whet their little appetites for learning other languages in the future–whether it be the Spanish language or another language altogether.
I first came to Costa Rica as a 19-year-old college student. I had enjoyed learning Spanish in the classroom, but I didn’t love it.
After the one-month study abroad trip to Costa Rica that summer, I was hooked.
Although I do enjoy the grammar and phonetics of the Spanish language, it wasn’t those things that motivated me to learn it fluently. It was seeing how knowing Spanish built a bridge for me to communicate with a whole new world of people!
Although I was once near-fluent in Spanish, it has gotten very rusty over the past seven years since I do not use it! We will spend two weeks of our trip studying Spanish at a Christian language institute.
It will be a refresher for my husband (a Spanish teacher who still is very proficient in the language!) and me, and our two older girls will take beginning Spanish classes. Our youngest will stay in a Spanish-lanugage nursery while the rest of us are in our classes each morning.
4. We want to expose our children to international missions from a very young age.
I was over-the-moon excited when Samaritan’s Purse invited our family to participate in an Operation Christmas Child distribution here in Cartago, Costa Rica on Tuesday! (Yes, they actually distribute the boxes year-round!)
We have been putting Operation Christmas Child boxes together as a family since our firstborn was 2, so when we told our girls about this opportunity, they knew exactly what we are talking about. They were so excited to see gifts like theirs physically reach the hands of the recipients!
In addition to this opportunity, we will be partnering with a ministry in the same town as the language school we will be attending.
This ministry is set up for families who want to come learn the Spanish language and Latino culture in order to reach others with the gospel. Families learn Spanish in the mornings and minister together in the afternoons.
We want our girls to realize that mission work is not reserved for grown-ups with a special calling, but sharing about Jesus is something that everyone can partake in, even little children like themselves!
Can we teach them that back home? Yes. But we want to make both domestic and international missions a normal part of their childhood.
5. We want to expand our children’s worldview.
I have no idea if we will be able to take an international trip as a family again (I sure hope so!), but regardless of if we can do it again or not, we want to start now with fostering a worldview that is much bigger than the Lake Norman area of North Carolina.
We want them to grow up with a strong sense of the world as a whole and an appreciation for people who are different from them.
Costa Rica is a good place for us to start because my husband and I are already comfortable in this culture and with the Spanish language. We feel we can meet these five goals because we already know the country fairly well.
Thank you for sticking around as I blog a bit about our Costa Rica trip this summer. I hope we can learn through it together, as I seek to share with you what God is teaching us by being here.
What is your family doing this summer? Have you ever considered taking your children out of the country?