This is the continuation of our mission trip to Costa Rica. Go here to read the first part (if you want, if not, just keep reading.)
Tuesday morning we had a fun, memorable adventure. We went to a place called Fossil Land to do the zip line over the rain forest. Just let me say, if you ever have a chance to do this....do it!
"Du, Du mantenga!!" Which, according to our guide "Tom Cruise", means Go For It! But I've tried to look up a translation and can't find one! I think our guide just made it up or it could mean, "I'm a crazy gringo!" Who knows?!
My cousin Kaylan, who has a fear of heights, even loved it. I can't even tell you the rush you get from speeding across a cable high above the rain forest. Of course, you could always use your right hand to slow yourself but me being the speed-demon that I am, never once tried to slow myself!
After lunch, we returned to San Jose and met up with Pastor Gabriel. He has church that ministers to a community of Nicaraguan refugees. The plan was to purchase about $10 worth of groceries for 15 families. We had allotted $200, so Pastor Gabriel decided that we could buy some extra things that would bless the families. We bought rice, frijoles (beans), sugar, salt, butter, oil, spaghetti noodles, and coffee. We were trying to keep track of the costs and with thought it would be about $180. When the cashier finished ringing up the merchandise the grand total was $152!!!
After we bagged up the food, we headed to an area that was like nothing I'd ever seen. These refugee families live in small little tin shacks probably as big as our bedrooms. There are many that have 4 or more family members living there. Because we were going into people's homes, we could only go one or two at a time with Pastor Gabriel. While some would go into the homes, Pastor Gabriel was adamant that we needed to keep the windows on the bus closed for our safety. But I have to tell you, when we saw children, teens and adults walking right by our bus, we couldn't pass up this God-ordained opportunity. When Pastor Gabriel would take a group, we would open the windows and pass out the Spanish NT's, salvation bracelets, tracts and candy! There's a picture of a little boy in the slide show, he's knelt down and you can see his back. When he came by, Steven handed him a bracelet. He immediately knelt down, in the rain, read the card and put the bracelet together! It was priceless! This turned out to be one of the best times of ministry! It was quite funny because when we would see Pastor Gabriel coming back, someone would shout, "here he comes!" and we would quickly close our windows!
You know, the thought just hit me. It was these very things (bibles, tracts and bracelets) that were in the suitcases that got left at home and had to be brought to us in ATL. No wonder the enemy tried to keep us from getting them to CR!
Wednesday we were able to go to a Kindergarten. The kids were between 5 and 7. It was a half day program so we had a group in the morning (approx. 60) and then a different group in the afternoon (approx. 55). We had an absolute blast with these kids. We sang some Uncle Charlie songs that our JAM kids sing. The songs are silly and have silly motions and even though there was a language barrier, silliness is universal! Steven presented the gospel and again, it began raining while he was talking. But after he shared, we had the opportunity to sit with the kids and put together the salvation bracelets. The instruction cards were in Spanish, so the kids could read them and hopefully take it home and share it with their parents. These kids were so loving and fun and we really enjoyed being with them and their teachers. In between the groups, the sweet lunchroom lady fixed a snack for us. Rice, beans, a slice of cheese and homemade tortillas. Although I was pretty tired of rice and beans, I ate them and they were delicious. We had a refreshing glass of carrot-orange juice. Most of our group didn't like it but I loved it!
After we left the school, we went back to the grocery store to buy the food that we would need to feed the homeless. We bought enough bread, cheese, bologna and butter to make 150 sandwiches. Because God had blessed our shopping earlier and we had extra money, we were able to buy juice boxes, packages of cookies and apples. Once again, we thought we were spending around $210 and it rang up $179! Dios es bueno!
We made the sandwiches and prepared everything to go. We left after dinner to head to downtown San Jose. Because this could be a potentially dangerous situation, we had to follow Pastor Hubert's instructions. When we got off the bus at a street corner, we lined up against the store front. Pastor Hubert would hand us the food and we would in turn hand it to the people who formed a line as soon as they saw us pull up. Along with the physical food, we would hand them some spiritual food, a bible and/or tract. The women handed out the food and the men had to stand behind our line to keep anyone from coming up behind us. There was a gentleman who walked up to get some food when it was my turn to hand it out. He had a cast on his left arm and and with his right, he was clutching a large piece of cardboard. When I went to hand him the food, he couldn't take it because he's hand were full. My first thought was, "why doesn't he put the cardboard down?" Then immediately, I realized that the box would be the only shelter he would have from the rain that night. I pointed to his shirt pocket and he nodded. So I put the juice box and apple in his shirt pocket and he was able to hold the sandwich bag as well as the cardboard. When I realized he couldn't hold the bible I wanted to give him, I quickly tucked it in his shirt pocket as well! :)
It only took us about 15 minutes to hand out all the food. My prayer is that once those precious people had a full stomach, they would be able to sit and read the copy of God's word that we had given them.
Thursday, our last day in CR was spent touring the Poas Volcano and then doing some last minute souvenir shopping. Earlier in the week, we had been to an open air market and I met a girl there who fell in love with my little purse. I bought this little shoulder purse for $7 at our local grocery store, the day we left for ATL. It was a Vera Bradley knock off and I had planned to leave it as a gift. When this girl saw my purse, she kept saying (in very broken English) "it's so cute, I've looked every where for something like that. Is it Italian?" At which I had to laugh and told her, definitely not! I wanted to give her that purse right then and there. When I told Steven about it, he reminded me that I didn't have a tract or anyway to share the gospel, so he told me to wait and if we came back to this market, we'd come prepared. Well, here it was Thursday, the last day of our trip and I was at this market for one purpose, to find that girl!
I walked down the aisle, praying that I would recognize her and that she would be there. When I made eye contact with her, I knew she remembered me too. I asked her if she remembered me and she immediately said, "oh yes, you have purse that i love!" I immediately began cleaning out the few things I had in my bag and as I handed them to Steven, I was telling her that I wanted her to have my purse. The look on her face was so precious. She kept saying, "Are you sure? For me?" I kept saying, "Si, Si." When I gave her the purse, she put it on her shoulder and then hugged me and kissed me. I hugged her and told her that I loved her. I finally remembered to ask her name and she told me, Chantel. I handed her a tract (and left one in the purse) and tried to explain the reason I wanted to give her the purse was to show her God's love. I told her Jesus Christ changed my life and I wanted her to know him. She said, "my English not very good." Which I think was her way of telling me she wasn't comprehending what I was saying. So I asked her to promise me that she would read the tract and she said she would. Steven took a photo of us (see slide show) and she told me to come see her if I come back to CR.
If you hung on and read this long post, thank you. Thank you to all of you who said a prayer for me while we were on this trip. I believe that many lives were impacted for all eternity!
And you will be witness to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.
I love you all!
The first video is me. The 2nd video is Steven while he's on the zip-line!