Saturday, April 28, 2012

A Little About What is Going On

I know that I haven't really written anything about letters or letter writing in awhile. This time of year is very busy at Heart's Ease Cottage. It is hard to get anything done inside when there are gardens to be planted and tended, and then the bathroom renovation is occupying the evening hours...
I am mostly caught up with my "letters to be written" stack, the ones that remain require special attention, (art desk time), so I haven't gotten them out. I haven't had a chance to check my P.O. Box in a week, but the last couple of times I checked, it was empty. It is a busy time of year for everyone! I will get back to regular posting and letter writing once I get the garden tasks under control...( "control" is tongue in cheek since the garden controls me, not the other way around!).
Until then, I will encourage you to see what we've been up to by checking out my other blog: where I have posted many photos of the gardens at the Cottage.
Also, my husband has authored an update on Samuel's progress at:
if anyone is interested in how Samuel is doing.
I hope this finds you well and having a wonderful Spring! See you in the Mail!

Thursday, April 19, 2012

We are so Grateful!

 Dear Friends,
   There are times in life when things happen that are so far above our own control that the we can clearly see the hand of God, no question, no doubt...
   We are in the midst of one of those times right now. I must say that I have been totally bowled over. If you have read my blog for awhile, then you are aware that we lived in Costa Rica for a year, and while there we became friends with a family that lived near our farm on the top of the mountain. Samuel, Lourdes and their extended family became as close to us as blood family. There are several posts about these wonderful people in the archives to catch you up on who they are, if you haven't heard of them before.

Da and Samuel at Cataratas Vienta Fresco
   Samuel and my husband were hiking buddies. They hiked up and down every mountain and volcano slope that they could find. But my husband had been noticing that Samuel was dealing with a lot of pain after their hikes. As time went on he started using a hiking stick, then he wasn't able to go on hikes any more. He finally confided to Daniel that as a young man, he was injured in a work related accident, which was never treated properly. The construction company he worked for did little to help him with his medical expenses and basically ignored the problem . He had to work, he had small children to feed, so he just lived with the injury and moved on. Unfortunately, after many years of living with an untreated injury, at 52 years old he was no longer able to do the physically demanding work that his job required.
  Jobs are hard come by in Costa Rica at the best of economic times, but with the local economy being closely tied to American tourism, the last few years have been very hard. What jobs there were in construction and tourism evaporated with the bursting of the American Mortgage Bubble. Samuel began to find other ways of earning a living, he used the back yard of his mother-in-laws house to raise meat chickens, and for awhile he was able to make enough to support his family from selling his chickens as butchered and dressed whole roasters. His method of sale was to butcher, clean, chill over-night in an extra fridge at his home and then on the following morning, take a 90 lb. sack of individually wrapped chickens, and walk with the sack selling them door to door. Samuel's home is at the foot of a very steep mountain  lane that lead up to our farm at the top, the other direction that he could walk was a steady incline for several miles.Everywhere he could sell his chickens was up hill from where he started. His knee continued to deteriorate to the point where he couldn't make the grade any more, (literally), and had to stop raising chickens.
Samuel before his knee gave way
  We were preparing to move back to the states in a few months, and we saw clearly the handwriting on the wall. Our dear friend, an honest and hardworking man, would soon fall into destitution, since everything he knew how to do required the use of his legs, and one leg was failing him. So my husband encouraged Samuel to have CAJA (Costa Rica's socialized medicine), evaluate his condition. They gave him an appointment for an evaluation 6 months in the future. In the meantime, my husband and I helped him to see a private doctor. We also helped him file for disability, and talked to a lawyer about pressing the construction company to pay for his medical care.
   The private doctor was able to tell Samuel why he was in such pain. The cartilage in his knee was completely gone, his knee was essentially gone and he was grinding bone on bone. The hopes of disability to help while he pursued a solution to his problem evaporated, according to the lawyer, there was no legal recourse that he could successfully take against the construction company, and CAJA said that they wouldn't authorize a knee replacement until he was 65 years old.... There seemed to be little hope.
  We came home and stayed in contact with Samuel, helping financially as we could, and continued to explore options long distance. Samuel's family pulled together, his 17 year old son went to work and Lourdes, his wife took on more house cleaning jobs, while the other kids did what they could to keep life on track. It brings tears to my eyes to think about it. As a family they showed such courage as faced their future together, and made the best of the life that they had.
  At home here in the states, Da and I prayed for a miracle, and kept encouraging Samuel not to give up. Then came the day that we called Samuel to find out about his visit to the CAJA doctor. He said the doctor had injected his knee with some kind of lubricant, which caused him a great deal of pain due to an allergic reaction. He also told him that if he couldn't wait until he was 65 years old to be put on a waiting list for a knee replacement, they could amputate his leg at the knee now to alleviate his pain. The very thought of it made my hair stand on end!!
  So with those options, it was going to take a miracle, and we continued to pray for God to help Samuel. Meanwhile my husband helped him to get into to see another private orthopedic specialist, who did arthroscopic surgery to place a pad between the bones to help with the grinding. It was supposed to give him 2-3 years, it lasted 3 months. The doctor gave a quote of $20,000.00 for knee replacement, which was a number that staggered Samuel and made us realize that for this to happen at all, we would need to begin fund raising immediately. We had no idea how to raise that much money, but prayed for provision and took the first steps in the journey of a thousand miles....
                                                              Miracle #1
  During the next several months we exhausted all possible contacts for medical help from Stateside doctors and were beginning to wonder if help would come. Then one day Lourdes, Samuel's wife, mentioned their problem to a woman that she cleaned for. The woman took an interest in their plight and contacted us.
   This was the beginning of an answer to prayer. Da and Ginny talked by phone, and then met face to face in December, when we were in Costa Rica for six weeks. Ginny had found a Costa Rican surgeon who trained at  Cleveland Clinic in Ohio, where her husband is a doctor. She had arranged a meeting with the surgeon while she was vacationing for a few weeks. So Samuel, Da, Ginny and I took the four hour bus ride to San Jose and met with the surgeon. He said that due to the damage done to his knee and his age, Samuel's only option was a knee replacement. He also understood that Samuel did not have the means to pay for the procedure and agreed to do the surgery for free!!! This would still leave about $ 10,000.00 in other medical bills, like the knee apparatus, hospital and anesthesiologist bills plus physical therapy and feeding Samuel'a family while he was getting back on his feet.... but $10,000 dollars at least in the realm of possibility.
   This story goes on for some time, and is just full of miracle after miracle. I have created a blog to keep informed those who are interested or have contributed to Samuel's knee surgery, with prayers, emotional support, and finances. If you want to hear the rest of the story, the link is: .

I will be continuing to add updates there as things unfold. But to finish up here I will tell you that the outpouring of concern and love from so many quarters is really overwhelming... Ginny and her husband and Da and I agreed to come up with half of the money each that was needed, The total sum was raised in less than 30 days! As I write, Daniel is in Costa Rica, helping Samuel through his first two weeks after surgery. The replacement went well and Samuel is getting stronger every day. My cup runs over.... I can't help but tear up every time I think about it... Samuel has a new lease on life, but it doesn't stop there... I am renewed. I can see again, that there is hope and goodness in this world and I feel so close to the Creator who brushed away the impossible and made possible a knee for Samuel.
Samuel the day of his surgery April 10, 2012

Monday, April 2, 2012


 More than 10 years ago, while looking for pen pals on the internet, I ran across one of Ruud Jansen's websites, the TAM Rubberstamp Archive. One of several sites that Ruud had on the web at the time. That site opened a door for me into a whole new world of postal delight... Mail art.
  It was through the archive site that I learned about I.U.O.M.A. The International Union Of Mail Artists is a brain child of Ruud Jansen, a native of the Netherlands and long time mail artist. He originally started the "Union" in 1988 as a joke, but it has grown into a virtual world where more than 2000 mail artists come to interact with other mail artists. There are forums, members can post scans of their sent and received mail, join various interest groups and can even have their own blog on the site. If you haven't ever visited the site, you should give it a peek, there is a lot going on there. It is a great way to meet mail artists from around the world.