Saturday, November 5, 2016


I have to admit, I was more excited about leaving the United States than I was about living in Costa Rica. I did not choose my destination or my occupation this year; I asked for a change and waited for an answer. I felt a primal yearning to uproot, to find new eyes in a new land, always remaining cognizant that the same Sun would follow me steadily.
Lately, as the homesickness begins to flare, licking me with flames of sadness and doubt, the motives that brought me here can become faint memories. Much time and effort has gone into building and nurturing the community that I have left in Rhode Island, and I knew it well. There are days when I feel much of myself has been left in my community back home. On those days I work a little harder, to build within myself.

Now is a time for self-guided intention.

It has been some time since I have felt lonely. While I am very busy and often exhausted with work, a year is a long time. Here, rather than needing to find ways to make time for myself, I need to curate activities to spend time actively engaged with Alexa. I have been reading and writing, to keep a dialogue of reflection under the spotlight. So days do not pass idly, but are unfolded delicately, with the help of more eloquent pilgrims who have gone before me.

I have been praying. That one might sound too obvious for a missionary looking to be intentional, but jeepers it's been difficult. In the US, prayer is a passive event for me. I am an audience member at a grand weekly celebration. I can recite my responses with my eyes closed, as I am wrapped in a warm blanket of tradition, sweetly awakened by the smell of coffee an hour later.

Now it is up to me to keep appointments in the chapel. It is up to me to choose the words, the scripture, the length of silence that is kept. I am finding it difficult to trust in my own guidance, and to let go into the moment. The trust I have in Rev Patrick at my home parish of The Redeemer is implicit, and due in part to that I always leave feeling nourished and ready to take on my week.

Lately, a week is too long to wait. I need to find space in my day, my head, and my heart, to cultivate intentional community. To trust in the arms that picked me up and placed me here, and spend time in those arms when I feel alone.

This song has been helping immensely too. I hope you enjoy.

"Smile" - Eyedea and Ability

"I can only build if I tear the walls down,
Even if it breaks me I won't let it break me down.
I'm fallin' but no matter how hard I hit the ground,
I still smile."

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Para Los Niños

It happens quite often during my day that I need to remind myself to stretch. To stretch my legs after a long commute. To stretch my Spanish muscles, which have atrophied since high school. To stretch the muscles in my face that form my 'I am VERY serious' face, and twice as often the ones which my 'I am just kidding!' face is comprised of. Thankfully, the language barrier has been easier to face with the children of Hogar Escuela. They are willing to wait patiently while I flip through a dictionary, or ask them to write out phrases on paper when they are lost on the voyage from their mouths to my ears. Better yet, they are just as proud of me when I remember things they've taught me, as I am of them.

We have crossed some hurdles in these first two weeks of school, tripped over a few, and completely missed at least one (it was a train, and I still can't believe the last one leaves the station at 8:00 in the morning). Lesson planning has been difficult, to say the least. 3-5 year olds do not like to listen for very long. And they outnumber us ten to one. Most other classes are comprised of children between six to twelve years of age, which offers a range of ability we are still wrestling with. Within those classes, attendance varies greatly, as our school is supplemental to aid parents in need of childcare for their full time employment. We are never sure what we will receive from each day upon arrival, but we have learned that everyone has more fun if we can be flexible. So I continue to stretch and keep myself warm with the spirit of compassion and love that brought me here. Although I am exhausted at the end of this week, I know that I have earned this feeling. & that makes it so much sweeter.

However slowly it seems, routines are being formed. Most students know our names, our songs, and greet us with ecstatic " 'Ello Teachers!" and a hug when we see them in the halls in which we walk together, as we grow together. I'll include a few pictures of these halls so you can walk with me and see what I see, as best as I can provide.

Pura Vida.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Para Vivir, Para Quemar, Para Vivir de Nuevo

My name is Alexa Henault, and I have just begun a year as a missionary for the Episcopal Church. For many who know me, the subject of that sentence, they are surprised by the predicate that follows. I have never identified so boldly as a Christian. I have been raised in a family and in a community that prioritize compassion, and my church has never been any different. However, many dominant Christian narratives choose to espouse shame keeping me quiet when discussing my affiliation. My church has never been dogmatic or prohibitive. I didn’t want to represent myself disingenuously because of individuals who shared my faith, but radically opposed my values. Odd as it may sound, I distanced myself from the church so my identity would seem more morally sound.
As it turns out, making decisions for your soul based on how they affect your reputation is not a healthy choice. After a tumultuous hiatus I began to actively search for spiritual outlets. I find communal worship quenches my spirit more than independent prayer, so I began to visit different houses of worship. One a week. Slowly, but intentionally, dipping my toes back into the cool waters. I was fascinated, by the buildings, the ministers, the music, the families, the children. I did not often stray from my home parish growing up, so being able to walk so freely into an intimate shared space of strangers was powerful. Some places had nearly tangible boundaries between a new parishioner and the parish community, and some places welcomed me with open arms. The one that felt like home became my spirits new resting spot (and it was only a five minute walk from my house!) After the spiritual taste testing I found myself back in a traditional Episcopal Church, with an eclectic and open minded congregation, all of whom introduced themselves at my first coffee hour.
While my religious ties may be a surprise to some, no one is surprised that I have chosen to dedicate a year of my life to service work; it is not the first time and I doubt it will be the last. Upon applying to the Young Adult Service Corps I admit my expectations for my acceptance were low. In fact, sitting here in my new bedroom in San Jose, Costa Rica I still can’t believe that I was given this opportunity. I feel blessed to be allowed to work with the children and colleagues I will soon meet in Hogar Escuela. Moreso I feel blessed to have the opportunity to be reborn in a new place, with a community in Christ to help guide me. The travel to Costa Rica was delayed by a few days because of an active volcano near the city that was covering the surrounding area in ash. I kept thinking of the allegory of the Phoenix, a bird who was set aflame by the sun while perching on a tree. From the ashes the bird rose again, to new life. I have been welcomed into this new chapter under a blanket of ash. Watched as it was gently cleansed by rain. And I have never felt more prepared.

The Phoenix Who Survived
-@Deanthebard ( )

Rising from the ashes, you spread your wings to fly
Reaching now for those final dreams, belief will never die
Beautiful and so glorious, the eternal bird of fire
Soaring up into the sun, leaving behind the pyre
Dreams are now your destiny; reach with all your might
You’re a powerful inferno, ablaze and in full flight
Yesterday is over, today has just begun
The sky is now your playground your home is now the sun
Destiny is in your grasp, forget the doubts and fears
Your flame will burn eternally for all remaining years
There will be times of doubt, and moments of pure sorrow
But one thing that is ever true, you’re the angel of tomorrow