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The Power Is Out In The Entire Country – What Do You Do?

Imagine this:

It's a quiet Saturday afternoon and you are relaxing at home.

It's cloudy outside, but no rain.

Without warning, the power goes out.

A few minutes later, you get a text that the power is out in the entire country.

What do you do?

What goes through your mind?

Do you call your family? Check on neighbors? Do you stay calm, or do you panic? ​Do you figure it's no big deal - or when you get that text do you start imagining that it's the end of the world?

This happened last week in Central America. A power failure in Panama took out power in parts of that country, the entire country of Costa Rica, and parts of Nicaragua, El Salvador, Honduras, Guatemala, and Mexico.

It ​was a cloudy Saturday afternoon. My wife was at work and I was home with our 3-year-old daughter.

The power went out. But since this happens every few days, it wasn't any cause for concern.

But then I got this text from my wife:

power out in Costa Rica 2017

Here were my thoughts:

1:30 pm “Uh oh… I’ve never heard of that before… 'The power is out in the entire country'?!"

1:35 pm "OK no problem - We just need to keep the fridge closed so the food doesn’t go bad."

1:45 pm “Hmmm this could be a problem. We have food but what if the water stops working? I’ll fill up a big container of water.” (I fill up a giant water cooler bottle)

2:00 pm “If the power is out in the entire country, it will probably be out for more than a few hours. Maybe a day or two? A few weeks? Oh boy…”

2:01 pm (I text a friend in the U.S. who asked what the weather was like. When I try to look up the temperature, my phone said “no service”)

2:02 pm “No cell service. Oh no. This is a big problem. What if I can’t get in touch with Shannon? What’s happening in the rest of the country? Chaos?”

2:03 pm “Is this the end of the world?”

2:04 pm “What if the ice cream in the freezer melts before I get to eat it? I’d better eat that now before it melts.”

2:05 pm (I eat the ice cream sandwich from our freezer)

2:08 pm “That was a pretty selfish move… I probably should have been more concerned about our neighbors than the ice cream melting. I wonder if any neighbors are in trouble? Can’t think of any that are older, or that live alone…”

2:37 pm “Maybe I should call our pastor to see if the church is rallying people to go help anyone who’s in trouble?”

2:38 pm Power comes back on

2:39 pm (Sigh of relief) "Oh good, it’s not the end of the world.”

I text Shannon to let her know the power is back on.

power out in Costa Rica 2017

I learned a few lessons that Saturday. Next time there is any kind of emergency, I need to:

  • Think about others first - instead of eating the ice cream, I should think about and take immediate action to ensure that my family and neighbors are safe
  • Have a plan - and a backup plan. My wife, daughter and I need to all have a plan written down and rehearsed so that we know exactly what to do if we have an emergency
  • I need to pray. When I heard the power was out in the entire country, I should have fallen to my knees in prayer

We are grateful that this power outage was quickly resolved and we don't know of anyone that was hurt by it.

But it could be different next time - and we will be prepared.

Are you prepared for an emergency? What's your plan - what will you to prepare and to respond when it happens? Comment below and let me know.

How we chose the wrong home

When we moved to Costa Rica, we needed to find a home to rent.
It was high season in a part of the country that has tons of tourism, so almost everything available was for short-term vacation rentals.

We finally found a long-term rental in our budget.

The good:

  • it had the # of bedrooms we wanted and my mother-in-law would have her own space
  • it gave Shannon the shortest possible commute to work (still 40 minutes!)
  • there was a beautiful community pool
  • it was fun seeing (most of) the wildlife – monkeys, iguanas, snakes, scorpions, bats, tarantulas, geckos, etc
But over the next few months, we realized we had made the wrong choice.
The bad:
  • we were too isolated from others – which would have been great for vacation, but not for long term living
  • there was only one other family with kids nearby, and we only saw them twice the whole time we lived there
  • we had a burglary and every few nights, there were burglary attempts nearby
wild horse playa panama costa rica

On a bike ride near our old home where the horses roamed free

Where did we go wrong?

We forgot what was actually important.

We focused on the technical stuff like a short commute, square footage, # of bedrooms, etc. and lost focus of how actually living in this home would fit in with our family’s values and mission.

Instead of looking for a home with x square feet, we should have focused more on whether or not we’d have opportunities to build relationships with neighbors, because we value community.

Instead of looking for a home with a nice kitchen, we should have focused more on the opportunity for 2-year-old Grace to have kids nearby that she could play with, because we want to teach Grace how to be a good friend.

Instead of looking for a home with outdoor space, we should have focused more on whether or not there was a church nearby, because we want to be able to worship God with others.
After the isolation grew to be too much, we moved to a new community where:
  • where we’ve been building friendships with neighbors that we hope will continue for many years
  • where we can walk or bike anywhere
  • where Grace has friends to play with
  • where we can ride bikes to a thriving church that is focused on serving the community

At some point, we’ll move again.

And we don’t want to make the same mistake we made when looking for our first home in Costa Rica.
So I’ve put together a home search criteria checklist that will help us make a better decision based on factors that are more important than the physical features of the house or apartment we are looking at.
If you haven’t downloaded it already, there should be a link to it here:

CLICK HEREto download the Home Search Essential Criteria checklist

We used this when we moved to our second home in Costa Rica, and it was a huge help in keeping the bigger picture in mind rather than getting distracted by unimportant details.
If you’ll be moving anytime soon, you might find it helpful in your home search.
Do you have a story about choosing the right or wrong home? Or have any feedback on the home search document? Comment below and tell your story.

Don’t go that way!

My mother-in-law Bonnie was digging her nails into the dashboard and showing signs of a panic attack.

My wife Shannon was screaming from the back seat "Don't you dare drive through that! Turn around!"

My daughter Grace, well, I don't know what she was thinking but probably something like "Wow this is fun!"

As swimming frolickers in the creek moved aside, I ignored everyone in the car and plowed through it, praying that we didn't get swept downstream and right over the small waterfall to our left.

Llanos de Cortez Guanacaste Costa Rica

This was our destination: Llanos de Cortez waterfall near Liberia, Guanacaste, Costa Rica

We had never been there and I was relying on Waze to get us there.

When we were close and Waze told us we only had about 1 kilometer left to go, we came across this giant rock with the word "waterfall" and a giant arrow telling us to turn right:

Llanos de Cortez waterfall sign directions location

I probably should have followed that arrow

To the right was an entry gate and women that were collecting money.

But Waze was telling me to continue straight and make a right a little further on.

Convinced that Waze was right and everyone else was wrong - including the giant rock sign, the women collecting money (which turned out to be donations for a local school), and my wife and mother-in-law; I defiantly drove straight past the entry and found ourselves facing a creek.

I continued to defy everyone else's advice and drove straight through the creek.

Eventually we came to a dead end, and I had no other choice but to admit that I (and Waze) was wrong.

We backtracked over a bridge that crossed back over the creek (which I had ignored when we drove straight through the water), followed the giant rock sign, made a donation to the school, and found the waterfall.

Llanos de Cortez waterfall school donation entrance location

Here is the waterfall entrance that I ignored the first time we passed it

Sometimes you just have to trust the advice of others.

Were you ever so convinced that you were right that you completely ignored wise advice and directions that others who loved you were giving you?

I've done that too many times to count.

Sometimes we are right, but if someone we love and trust is telling us that we're doing the wrong thing or going the wrong direction, we should probably at least pause to think "Hey, maybe I'm wrong about this thing".