by Grettel Loney
I love writing for the918, and am so excited that I’ll be posting more frequently. For this reason, I wanted to give you a little snapshot of my life.
I’m proud to be Costa Rican/American. Costa Rica is a beautiful little country in Central America between Nicaragua and Panama. It’s smaller than the state of West Virginia, and the entire country’s population is right under five million—less than the city of Miami!
“Pura vida!” is like the national slogan of Costa Rica. It translates literally to “pure life,” but Costa Ricans use it all the time as a greeting, or to respond to “How are you?” or to just describe something as great. You can’t say, “pura vida!” and not smile!
My parents were born and raised in Costa Rica. My two brothers were born there as well, but I was born in Queens, New York, on May 11, 1971. Just five months later, our family moved back to Costa Rica. When I was six, we moved again—back to the United States. That’s when I learned to speak English.
The Buckeye State
In November of 1977, we settled into Hartville, Ohio, a town of fewer than 1,800 residents and between Akron and Canton. Soon after, the first snowfall settled in as well. I remember looking out the window, and all I could see was a blanket of white covering everything. What a sight! I’d never seen snow before—only on TV. I had no idea what it felt like. I thought it would be soft and fluffy, like cotton—not cold and wet! I remember running out the front door in my pajamas and slippers, before my parents came after me and scolded me to put on a coat and shoes.
My parents chose Ohio because of an American pastor, Henry Helmuth, who they met when he and his family were missionaries in Costa Rica. I was born into a Catholic family. I had a godmother, and I had been baptized in the Catholic Church as an infant. My parents became evangelical Christians in Costa Rica under the teaching of Henry Helmuth. He had a congregation in Ohio—a very nice congregation. I say that because when we arrived, the church had many gifts for our family. From appliances, to pajamas, to electric blankets—they sure knew how to bless a new family. I was especially thankful for my electric blanket. To this day, I use one year-round and remember that congregation’s kindness.
The Great Pacific Northwest
After eight winters in Ohio, we were ready for a change. So, when another pastor friend moved to Oregon and raved about how beautiful Oregon was and how mild the winters were in the valley, my mom, my younger brother, and I packed up and moved to Woodburn, Oregon… via Amtrak! Prettiest move ever—traversing through the northern part of most of this massive country—through Chicago, the Great Plains, and the Rockies to get to the Great Pacific Northwest. My dad and older brother stayed behind to give my brother the opportunity to finish out his last year of high school. Those of you who don’t know much about Oregon have probably at least heard it’s a beautiful state and it rains a lot. As I think back to my four years there, I can honestly say the rain didn’t bother me. Some of my favorite memories are playing soccer in the rain, running in the rain, and track meets in the rain. The winters in the valley were mild as promised, but if you wanted snow, all you had to do was drive to Mt. Hood. And if you wanted to see the Pacific Ocean, you could skip school and be there in an hour and a half!
My older brother came to Tulsa to attend Oral Roberts University. I followed in 1989. My mom and other brother moved down here, too. My dad met up with us a little after. I graduated in 1993 with a degree in Broadcast Journalism. Because my immediate family had moved to Tulsa, too, there was no reason to go back to Oregon after I graduated. Oklahoma—where the winds come sweeping down the plains—has been home ever since. I am now married and have a family of my own.
That’s just a little background on me, but I’d like you to also know the reason I write.
“I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes.” Romans 1:16 (NASB)
I simply want to share straight from my heart and God’s word about His love and His faithfulness. I can honestly say that without God I would be a bitter woman. I would be painfully shy, anxious, depressed, and would have really low self-esteem.
“Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.” 2 Corinthians 3:17 (NIV)
For some, Christianity can seem a little crazy, or a lot crazy, or a big mystery. Some think one’s religion should be a private thing. I’m no expert on theology or religion, but I do know this—because of God, I can gratefully say I am free! Free from bitterness, free from shame, free from anxiety, and free from worrying about what others think of me. I am free from a poor self-image, free from over achieving to only feel average. I’m just free! With this freedom comes joy and lasting peace—even through the storms of life. I look forward to sharing more with you!
By the way, the918 has provided many of us with a platform we’ve never had before. We’re encouraging thousands with stories about Tulsa, Life, and Faith. If you have a story you’d like to share that falls under any of these categories, please reach out to me or Carol Sokolsky. We’ve love to talk to you! Contact info: Grettel Loney: gretloney at gmail dot com or on Facebook, Grettel Loney. Carol Sokolsky: carol.sokolsky at gmail dot com or on Facebook, Carol Sprunger Sokolsky. Check out the rest of the918.org to get a bigger picture of what we’re all about.
“Let the whole earth sing to the LORD! Each day proclaim the good news that he saves. Publish his glorious deeds among the nations. Tell everyone about the amazing things he does.” 1 Chronicles 16:23, 24 (NLT)
Grettel Loney is a wife, a mom, and a follower of Christ. She has two teenagers, a sweet dog, and a silly cat. Her greatest desire is to point others to the love and the power of the Almighty.