Or AWANA as it is officially known, is a weekly event in our household. AWANA stands for, Approved Workmen Are Not Ashamed, and it is not AWANAS, just AWANA. To break it down, almost every Wednesday night we load up the van and head er north to the church with a pit stop at the coffee shop along the. You see the coffee shop is a must for I am a game guy at AWANA. A game guy’s main responsibility is to run the snot out of the kids with minimal injury and maximum fun. Therefore a game guy must bring energy every week into the game time, whether it be God given or artificially injected into the system.
By the time I finish the 16 ounces of hot liquid adrenaline, I am ready to go. The little kids like Jake get to do crafts and games downstairs. I have not had the pleasure of watching this but I take it 15-20 3-5 year olds leave their mark in an hour and 1/2. For every time I wander downstairs to pick up Jake, I see the tussled hair tear stained cheeks of the volunteer teachers. Sometimes they have a vain pulsing in the side of their neck and they are always extremely grateful to see me and watch the herd of toddlers disappear. Yet they continue to show up week after week.
After the introduction, song, rules, and prayers, the kids head off to do Bible verses and study. They have listeners in each room corralling them and focusing them for an hour each until they are let out of their corral into the bull ring, where I work.
My job is not nearly as difficult as the listeners or the toddler teachers. There is usually 3 or 4 of us to run games. We try to come up with unique style themed games for every week; Games that are not too complicated but not too easy. Games that wear the kids out but keep them focused on the prize. As game guys one of our favorites is dodgeball. You see our version of dodgeball is to line all the kids up against the wall while we hurl plastic balls at them picking them off one by one. The last 3 standing get points for their team. Funny thing, the kids seem to love the game too.
Sometimes we have overall themes, like this week was inside out and backwards week, and Mr. Kelly went all out, literally down to his underwear. It seemed to add and extra dose of energy to the kids, something I really did not care nor was I prepared for.
AWANA needs millions and millions of volunteers each week, well at least 20, and we seem to have them. It can definitely be trying some weeks, like this one. I often wonder if the kids are not stopping at the same coffee shop on the way north? Perhaps they get the 24 ounce. I may have to step up my game.
For those of you that keep track, remember last Sunday we went to Liberia and got lost amidst a city wide celebration, and the way we escaped was to put Church’s Chicken in the GPS. Well we promised to be in church today, and we were. We went to the Beachfront Community Church. Now it wasn’t beach front and, like many public buildings here, it did not have walls. It was quite breezy, so that made service a lot of fun, but they were ready and it did not faze them a bit. Me, I was sweating throughout the service, and no it was not because I was convicted, it was because I was hot and the breeze, well it too was hot. The winds are called Papygao, and they are seasonal.
After Church we did something we had not done since we have been here, we ate inside a place with actual air conditioning and walls. While inside, Tra spotted a friend of hers, a little boy that had been wandering the area trying to sell things, and when he met us, Tra loaded up with his wares. Ever since then, every time we see him he waves emphatically. So Tra ordered him a mango smoothie and while I paid the bill she ran it over to him. He was very excited and drank it quickly. I think we have another amigo in the area.
Another interesting tidbit, apparently the dry season is the burn season. Yeh, I know, it makes no sense to me either. But we noticed fires all over the place and so we asked what was the deal, and the deal is they don’t care about wild fires. They flat don’t care. The fires burn slow, and the houses are not built out of wood, so they don’t care. Apparently the Papygao winds end the end of this month and then everybody really burns like crazy, along with the hillsides. Every once in a while they take out a power pole, but hey who cares?
Finally we have hit several grocery stores here, the main ones are called Super Compro, Super Mercado, Auto Mercoda and Double Massai. The most American one is the one in Playa Del Coco, which we have shopped once. Most of the time, they look like the pictures below.
We ended the day returning to one of our favorite restuarants, or first re-eatery, and it again was wonderful, El Coconut in Tamarindo. There
we ended the night looking at the sunset and reflecting on the fact that we have passed the half way point of our great adventure, and like the pastor said this morning, the end is near.
What we learned:
1. A church without walls, and wind, can add empasis to the message if timed right.
2. A church without walls can make you sweat, which isn’t always bad.
3. Fires in Costa Rica, just like the people, burn slower.
4. The markets closest to the tourist areas are by far the most expensive.
5. The kids here work hard, and they appreciate a mango smoothie.