Preparing Palates for Costa Rica? … Hmmm

It’s a beautiful, sunny afternoon in St. Louis.  The children and I are revving up for our month-long journey across the Midwest, Ontario and Louisiana, that will hopefully bring us closer to our ultimate destination of Costa Rica.  As I’m preparing my list of “to-dos” for our journey, I sent my boys (Caleb & Isaac) out to the back deck to enjoy popsicles in the warm sunshine (within eye shot, of course).

About ten licks into the popsicle consumption,  the boys emerged through the back door, sticky fingers and all, and announced they’ve been eating ants.  “Ants,” I exclaimed with a mortified look on my face.  “Really, ants?”

“Yeah,” said Caleb matter-of-factly.  “They’re good — but only the little ones, not the big ones.  The big ones are sour.”

“Um-hum, ants,” added Isaac, “yeah — ants.”

“You’ve been eating big ants and little ants?”

“No, just the little ones,” said Caleb.  “They taste good.”

“Yeah, the wittle ones,” mocked Isaac.  “The wittle ones are dood!”

“Huh … so the popsicle wasn’t enough for you?”

“Umm-um-um,” said Caleb (in mock ‘I don’t know’ fashion).

“Ooooh-kay … well how about you go back out on the deck, leave the ants alone and finish your popsicles.”

“Okay,” the daring duo said simultaneously.  (Boys depart scene.)

“What is this,” I ask myself, “preparation for the mission field or one too many episodes of ‘Bizarre Foods with Andrew Zimmern’?”


What’s in a Name?

Mother’s Day seemed an appropriate time to reflect upon the names given to our little blessings, as we honor the responsibility God has given us in raising His children.  You see, I may be their mother and Dan their father, but Emma Margaret, Caleb Daniel, and Isaac Jacob really belong to our Father in Heaven.  As their mother, I have been charged with the task of bringing them up in the ways of the Lord, so they will not stray from it.  This responsibility also came with naming priviledges and the right to be called “Mommy.”

Dan and I thought long and hard about what to name the kids, looking back at old family names, flipping through pages of books on meanings of names, performing all of the word-play tricks that peers would surely conjure.  We took this task with the utmost of seriousness and care.  What name shall we give to this little person God has placed in our lives?

Here’s the run-down on the names of the three Jenkins ninos (or kids) to whom this blog is dedicated.  We hope their names will serve as reminders of whose they are:  children of God, followers of Christ.

Emma Margaret Jenkins' first day of life.

Emma Margaret Jenkins' first day of life.

Emma on Easter Sunday 2009.

Emma on Easter Sunday 2009.

Emma Margaret is the oldest of the Jenkins children, born in 2002.  Together, her first and middle names combine to mean “universal pearl,” and a precious gem she is.  Emma happened to be the name of a great aunt in the Lapp family, as well as a favorite title character from a Jane Austen novel.  Margaret is a name shared by two of Emma’s great grandmothers.  Together, they represent the precious girl, who is sure to capture the hearts of those she meets.
Caleb Daniel Jenkins -- day one.

Caleb Daniel Jenkins -- day one.

Caleb on Easter Sunday 2009.

Caleb on Easter Sunday 2009.

Caleb Daniel is second in command of the sibling helm and was a special Christmas-time gift in 2004.  He has lived up to his biblical namesake, Caleb, the spy of the Israelite army as they approached the Promised Land from the wilderness.  Caleb literally means “faithful” or “bold,” and our Caleb has shown his boldness and faith by not fearing new situations.  His middle name, Daniel, honors his earthly father and also serves in meaning as a reminder of his Heavenly Father:  “God is my judge.”  Caleb carries his name well.
Isaac Jacob Jenkins -- Day one.

Isaac Jacob Jenkins -- Day one.

Isaac on Easter Sunday 2009.

Isaac on Easter Sunday 2009.

Isaac Jacob is the baby of the bunch, joining the Jenkins clan in 2007.  Isaac’s name was a bit of a compromise on the parts of Dan and I:  Dan pushed for a child named “Abraham” from Emma on down, but his nicknaming of Emma as “Gracebraham” (his two favorite names during my pregnancy) wore on my hormonal nerves. … What we didn’t realize was that our compromise, Isaac Jacob, better suited our son than any other name we could have come up with.  Isaac means “he laughs, and God laughs with him” — boy is that the truth.  Isaac is a jokester, who is full of joy.  His middle name, Jacob, means “supplanter” or “may God protect.”  We hope Isaac’s name serves as a lifetime reminder that God is in charge of everything and holds him in His hands.

This Mother’s Day, I couldn’t be more thankful for the children God has given me.  We are excited for what He has in store for them as we journey to the mission field in Costa Rica, and entrust them all into His hands.

Feed My Starving Children

Emma and new buddy, Sofia H., work to pack food bags destined for hungry children in Nicaragua.

Emma and new buddy, Sofia H., work to pack food bags destined for hungry children in Nicaragua.

In mid-April, three members of the Jenkins family (Dan, Sue & Emma) headed off to Minneapolis, Minnesota, for “Pre-field Training, or PT Live.”  Among the many experiences we shared during the week, Dan and Emma had the opportunity to help pack food for an organization called Feed My Starving Children.  Dan, Emma and the other missionary kids at PT Live donned hairnets and pushed up their sleeves to help serve others who are less fortunate.
Feed My Starving Children (FMSC) is a non-profit organization that utilizes the service of volunteers to package food that will be shipped to third-world countries, where children are dying of starvation.  Schools, churches and corporations can host food-packing events and help fight the battle against world hunger.  The food distributed by FMSC was designed specifically to meet the needs of malnourished children up to age 8.
According to Emma, the food is as delicious as it is nutritious.  “It’s good–it tastes like Rice-A-Roni,” she said.
This was a great opportunity for Emma to share in God’s call to serve the poor.  (“Blessed are those who are generous, because they feed the poor.”  Proverbs 22:9, NLT)
Emma in action.

Emma in action.

This food is packaged and ready to ship.  The ReachGlobal team of missionary kids packed 5,000 meals, or enough to feed 14 kids for a year.

This food is packaged and ready to ship. The ReachGlobal team of missionary kids packed 5,000 meals, or enough to feed 14 kids for a year.

Emma, the Song Lyricist …

Since about age 2, Emma has enchanted us with her ability to recreate songs to suit her situation (a skill she inherited from her mother).   At age 2 1/2, Emma reworked the theme song to one of her favorite TV shows, “Bear in the Big Blue House,” to emphatically declare to Mommy that she did NOT want to leave the park to return home for a nap.  As we pulled into the driveway of our home, Emma very defiantly began singing, “No, I just can’t be at home …” (to Bear’s tune, “Oh, it’s great to be at home …”).   

While we often giggle at her antics, Emma recently wrote out* a song that really moved her mommy’s and daddy’s hearts.  Take a look at the Spirit at work in our beautiful girl’s heart. …

“Undivided Heart”

Your Word goes out to all the earth, and I hear you …

I hear you call me to obey, and to trust you and strengthen my will to follow …

And give me an undivided heart, an undivided heart.

(*Copyright disclaimer:  Emma and I discussed the origin of this song again and learned it is from her summer program at church–not the work of a prodigy. …  We are nonetheless proud of her taking this song to heart and treasuring its words … and we’re having another conversation about truth v. untruth. …)

Spanish word of the day: mi primo=my cousin

Emma, Caleb and Isaac are excited to announce the birth of their new baby cousin, Luke Michael! 

Sweet, sleepy baby.

Sweet, sleepy baby.

Aunt Sue & Emma (a.k.a. "Baby Hog") with baby Luke.

Aunt Sue & Emma (a.k.a. "Baby Hog") with baby Luke.


What do you think of your new baby cousin?

“Rawwwrrrrr … ,” says Isaac.

“Cute!  I want to see him again,” says Caleb.

“I really, really, really like him!  I’m a baby hog,” says Emma.  “I’m really excited that he’s gonna be a big boy and that Uncle Doug can lean down over him and say, ‘Luke, I am your father.'” (Imagine Emma immitating her Uncle Doug immitating Darth Vader, and you get the picture.)

Because you can never have too many pictures of cute babies to enjoy …

Luke Michael, 3 days old.

Luke Michael, 3 days old.

Eyes wide open ... for about two seconds.

Eyes wide open ... for about two seconds.


Mono … Oh, No!


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Our family was excited to note and record a special on Animal Planet this week about the monkeys of Costa Rica.  What we learned about our cute, little, white-faced friends, however, was a real eye-opener. …

As it turns out, the monkeys we enjoyed in the Costa Rican rainforest are “Capuchins.”  The Capuchins are omnivores — they eat fruit (this we knew) as well as other small animals.  These seemingly happy-go-lucky tree-dwellers are also predatory and vicious.  According to the program, the Capuchins enjoy eating squirrel, when given the opportunity.  But instead of dispatching of it quickly and eating the rewards, they apparently like to torture the squirrel for a while with a game of “pull the tail off the squirrel.”

Our jaws dropped as we watched the documented drama unfold on our television screen.  The poor, defenseless squirrel was thrown from one monkey to the next and taunted.  The monkeys proceeded to pull the tail off as a plaything, before putting the poor squirrel out of its misery — several minutes later.

“Uhhh … was this really the animal we allowed to play mere inches from our children? … The same animal we laughingly watched steal the sugar packets (not the Equal or Sweet n’ Low, thank you — just the sugar) straight from the table centerpieces?”  Apparently, it was. …

The Capuchin, although small in stature, is the wolf in sheep’s clothing — too cute to believe such had it not played out on film.  But don’t take my word for it … here’s what Emma had to say:

What did you think about the monkeys we saw in Costa Rica?

“They were cute and cool!”

Were they scary?

(Laughing)  Noooo … They weren’t scary!

What did you learn about the Costa Rican monkeys on TV?

“They torture squirrels and eat them!”

How do you feel about the monkeys now?

“A little bit scared.”

Will you ever let them approach you again?

“Well, sure.  They’re nice.”

Buen Dia de los Presidentes!

Can you guess which one of these “little presidents” Dan wanted to name “Abraham”? … Seriously, it was his first choice of boys’ names.

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