Monday, November 14, 2005
"Yeah, you better give me the insurance, because I'm gonna beat the hell out of this car." -Jerry Seinfeld
Tuesday morning, Carlos, a tico missionary with CFCI, Joe Yoder, a former Amish boy and missionary with CFCI, and myself started our trip to the border of CR and Panama to visit some pastors to be able to possibly take teams to their churches in the future. We had planned to visit a guy on the way down, a bunch of churches on Wednesday and head back on Thursday.
We arrived at Economy Rent A Car at 7 in the morning to pick up our Toyota Yaris. It's a small car and we had hoped for a 4x4, but they didn't have any available. After a quick stop at Burger King for breakfast we headed out of town.
Let me take this opportunity to explain something about the roads in Costa Rica. There not the greatest. This conclusion does not come because of their curviness nor because of the fact that they're two lanes. This can be stated because they have large holes in the middle of the road. So one is driving along and all the sudden one must slam on their brakes, pass over into the other lane of oncoming traffic to avoid what would rival the Grand Canyon. It's destiny to hit a hole every 5 minutes. And so unlike the States where you can set your cruise control and practically fall asleep at the wheel, here in Costa Rica driving is a very active activity. I drove the entire week and as if I needed to say it, I hit some holes.
Most of the pastors that we visited were off the beaten path. The first being a good 20 km, or about 13 miles on a dirt and rock "road". I felt a bit like a Rally Car driver avoiding the big holes. And my mountain biking skills came into play as I had to pick the correct line to avoid the big rock that would most certainly break something on the car. The visit with the pastor went well and for the size of church that he has, God is doing great things. A wonderful place to send a team.
On our way out, it was raining, but the road I knew and the water helped to slid the car over most of the treacherous spots. But then with no warning, the front passenger shock went out. After figuring there was nothing we could do about it right there, we decided to continue on. Most of the ride was fine except when we hit the unavoidable canyons. We called the Economy when we had the chance, but there was little they could do at that moment. After 15 minutes went by we decided we had to continue. Still about an hour out, the brakes and power steering went out. Luckily it was a standard, so I could slow by down shifting and plus there was the hand brake. Not knowing the road there we hit more bumps and flew over some invisible speed bumps, but eventually we were able to make it to Paso Canoas, our destination, safely enough.
We called Economy once again and they said they would send a new car early the next morning so they would get there by 10 am. We passed the night by and slept in a little in the morning. However come 10, they were not there. Double checking we decided to call again. "No we don't have any record of you needing a new car." AHG!!! Finally, at 11 they left San Jose. Our whole day would be shot. For the next few hours we sat around the hotel, sleeping, reading and watching TV. Around 2 we left for lunch, during which we decided that we should visit with the pastor there in Paso Canoas. We were able to check out his church and then he took us to see another pastor well off the beaten path. This pastor is in his last years. He's been planting churches for the Four Square denomination for his entire pastorship. And he admitted that while he's willing to do whatever San Jose tells him he's to do, he feels that this will be his last church. It was very encouraging to hear this pastor speak of his life dedicated to the Lord's work.
After a dinner of ice cream, I was sent back to the hotel to wait for the car, while Carlos and Joe went to a church for a service. Finally at 8 the car showed up. I headed to the church and was able to hear of Carlos' testimony of how God took him from teaching English and in a matter of weeks took him into leading short-term teams with Christ for the City. Later that night we grabbed a real dinner.
Thursday was not a total loss. After taking a short trip to Golfito to check out the Tax-Free Zone, we headed back and were able to find some pastors available for us to visit. We drove out around the country-side and flirted with the Costa Rican-Panamanian border, eventually getting to visit a total of three pastors.
Friday, we had another adventure. Even though we had passed through the police checkpoints several times in the last few days, today was a little more difficult-- they asked for my passport, which I had left in San Jose. I had to go back to immigration in Paso Canoas. The issue arose that I have been here for 4 months, which means my visa had expired a month ago.
"Estás ilegal." You're illegal.
"Oh." They wanted to deport me-- right then and there.
Um, there's no fine or anything I can pay?
Nope, the law changed. You have to stay here until your passport arrives tomorrow morning.
How 'bout this: Can I return to San José, get my passport and some things, before I leave?
Well, yeah, I guess you could do that.
(Deep sigh of relief.) About 5 more minutes and I was a free man again. They gave me a note that would allow me to get through the checkpoints, but said I had to report back to the border on Monday. In reality, all I have to do is leave the country-- I can go to Nicaragua, Panama, Cuba, or the States. However I'm headed out to Panama City to spend some time with the CFCI base there.
Back on the road we were able to interview another 11 pastors before heading the rest of the way to San José. Once there we still had to fight it out with Economy about the first car they rented us. They're claiming that the damage was some how our fault and so far they have not released the vouchers that have my card on them. Hopefully this will be resolved shortly, without too many problems.
We were able to interview a total of 17 pastors and easily we will be able to send teams to at least 14 of them. Overall we had a very successful, adventurous trip.
Friday, November 4, 2005
"Heal me, O Lord, and I shall be healed; save me, and I shall be saved, for you are my praise."
About Friday night as I was going to bed I was feeling a little hot, so I checked my temperature and it was like 100.5 or something just to make me a little miserable. So I took some stuff on Saturday morn when I got, cause it was still there, and it wore off by noon. Well we had a bunch of people over that night and I started feeling sick again. Well I ended going up to bed about 10. Well I kept hearing the people running around and somebody ran into my door, I was thinking it was like 3, 4 in the morning, but when I checked the clock it was only 12:30. I started to take my temperature about every two hours and it went up a degree at each check. At one point through out the night I began to pray and spent about an hour solid in prayer. I called my dad over Gtalk at about 5 and he actually answered. We looked at a bunch of stuff and thought it was possibly dengue, but who knew. I took a cold shower and went back to bed. Woke up for breakfast but went back to bed afterwards.
I began to take Excedrin every 4-6 hours. I spent most of the day in my room and my fever rose and broke all day. My body ached, my head hurt, not too bad, but I when my fever would rise again, I would get really violent chills. Finally I went to the doctor after my fever broke on Monday morning. Sunday night had been pretty bad, rising and falling. The doctor worked me in and had me take some tests. But by the time I was leaving I was having the chills again. I had them really bad when I got back, so I took a 750mg tylex (Tylenol) and slept for a couple of hours, no break. When the four hours had gone by I took another one. An hour later, still no break. So I went ahead and took some more Excedrin.
Shortly my fever broke, but I was still a bit miserable. I had about half a bowl of soup for dinner, really the first thing since breakfast on Sunday, besides an apple or a banana here and there. I was feeling good, and since I had slept most of the day, I stayed up and watched the football game. But as I went back upstairs and was getting ready for bed, aside from the a little too many drugs in your system uneasiness, I began to get the chills again. I shook, rather violently at times and constantly for over an hour and a half. My teeth hurts, my body was sore from shaking. By then it was time for more medicine so I popped two more Excedrin and eventually fell asleep... for an hour. Throughout the night I laid in bed, listened to a John Piper talk and prayed and eventually got to sleep.
I was up at about 4 or 5 though, had a cold shower and some more meds. Most of the morning I was just watching TV, fever up and down. It started to go back up around 11, I took my last Excedrin and slept for an hour. I started calling the doctor at 12 for my test results, as he told me, but didn't hear anything until about 3:30, when I woke up with a 105.4 fever and, literally, a blinding headache. I had gotten a call earlier to tell me that I had an appointment with another Dr at 5:30. But I took an ice cold shower, got dressed and told Orlando that I needed to go to the hospital now! He dropped me off and I waited another hour and 15 minutes before the doctor was able to see me, about 5:50 or so.
They're still unsure with what I have, the blood tests came back negative on Mono, Dengue, and a couple other things. Dengue can be elusive though, so I'm back in for tests on Monday, but he couldn't rule out just a bacterial infection, plus I don't have all the classic signs of dengue, so he sent me home with an antibiotic. My head was still pounding and the taxi--yeah, I had to take a taxi home. I got home and told Kellie the results and climbed into bed. They were leaving, so when I woke up in an hour my head was pounding, fever seeming to still rise, chills, and my stomach was upset. I called and talked to my dad several times, ate a banana, laid around all over the house, took a cold shower, couldn't find anything that would take an edge off. It was getting beyond what I could handle. I cried out for God to heal me. I begged for mercy and grace. How was I supposed to be hydrated if I couldn't even keep water down? I called Carlos, another missionary here on the STM team, and asked him to bring me some Dramamine and Gatorade. My family got back shortly checked on me and went back to other things. I was really just laying in bed wasting away, hoping that relief would come. Carlos showed up about 40 minutes after I called him and delivered. Plus he prayed for me, which was actually the first person to do that for me in my presence. I believe I rolled back over after he left and wasted away for a little bit longer before I drank the Gatorade. I was able to hold that down. I can't even remember though if I slept at all that night. It seems I was awake, or between awake and asleep most of the night.
About 3:30 in the morning I took the the hypothesis that clung to the third ingredient in Excedrin, which I had stopped taking over 16 hours earlier. Excedrin is: Acetaminophen (Tylenol), aspirin, and caffeine. Well after being regimented every four hours for 48 hours, I reasoned I was coming off a serious caffeine high. So at 3:45 in the morning I went downstairs refilled my water, loaded a cup of ice, and grabbed a can of DP. I actually was able to hold that down. Several times through the night I had tried to take some more medicine, or drink some water and it just came back up. Just before 5 I went back downstairs to try to get something in my stomach so I could get some medicine in there. I had worked my way around an apple, before it was back in the sink, along with the water. Frustrated I went back to bed, took the Dramamine and actually, finally slept for about 2 hours.
When I woke up I still had the headache, but it was subsiding. I called my dad again, tried to take some more medicine, but it came right back up. That continued a few times though out the day. Anytime I tried to put medicine into me, I threw up. Around 10 I went downstairs to try to eat. Not too successful. I laid on the couch, watched a little TV and tried not to die. That was my goal through out most of the week-- Don't Die. One of the issues with dengue is that there is the possible risk of hemorrhaging, so taking ibuprofen, which impedes blood clotting, is kinda dangerous, but around noon my headache was still so strong, I decided to take the risk. I slept through lunch and when I woke up my headache had subsided to a reasonable degree, plus my fever had come down to a bearable 102.
It was mid afternoon when I got up to use the bathroom and Robby was on the phone with someone who had called for me. This lady wanted me to come to some clinic to take some dengue tests. I was still in pain, and had no desire to go anywhere, but the "john" and back to bed. My brain wasn't even clicking fully to know half of what she said. She kept talking and talking, and finally, after thinking about just hanging up on her, I told her I wasn't going anywhere, thank you and good day. I used the restroom and returned to bed. I woke back up around 7 when Kellie got home and checked on me. As I laid there talking to her, I realized my headache had continued to recede and that I was soaking wet, a very good sign. I took my temperature. It was normal. I showered, went downstairs and talked to Kellie for a little while and had a small dinner. The first substantial food in my belly since Monday night. I drank some waters and watched some TV. When I tried to go to bed, around 11 I still wasn't near tired, so after laying there for a sufficient amount of time, I went back downstairs grabbed refilled my water and watched a good couple of hours of television. About 3:30 I went back up to bed, fell asleep and didn't wake up till after 9--the longest continual sleep I had since Friday night.
Fever subsided, and head just sore, I went downstairs, poured another glass of water and grabbed a banana. Just as I go to sit down on the couch, the phone rings. The man on the other end knows who I am, but I'm not sure of who he is-- most of the people that know me here are in a meeting. He's explaining somethings and I'm picking up most, but misunderstanding that some one wants me to go some where and I don't know what, but in reality the people that called me yesterday came by to conduct an interview with me. How long's this going to take? Five minutes. Okay. It turns out that they're like the national health peoples here and they're trying to keep a close watch on all dengue cases. But it was still puzzling because I have only about half of the classic symptoms, and as of yet no body knows what I have. She left a number where I could call later and left.
Most of today has been watching movies on TV and eating something. I ate lunch with everybody and didn't sleep at all today. Had dinner too. I'm still fatigued; it is kinda like my body went through a 5 day Point-of-Death Challenge.
I'll take it easy through the weekend and hopefully Monday I'll be ready to leave the house. Thanks for your prayers, even though you fully didn't know what was going on, very few people really did.