Costa Rica J-Term Blog 2014
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Our last days here in Costa Rica have been very encouraging. Our students enjoyed relaxing at Los Lagos in hot springs that are heated by an active volcano! The hot springs were pretty awesome, but the best part was spending time together.
I wish you could have seen the views of Costa Rica that we had driving back to our hotel. It was so beautiful! Unfortunately, there's a lot of messiness and brokenness to see too. However, when there is a view of beautiful green mountains, you look right past the messy to see the beautiful. It's a beautiful mess, exactly what we are, but we often tend to focus more on the mess than we do the beauty.
God is working in our students’ lives, and they are engaging their leadership potential. They're using their free time at night to share testimonies and plan future bible studies -- all on their own initiative! It has truly been a joy to see.
We fly out in the morning. I'm sure it will be very emotional for many since the leaders that we spent the entire week with will say goodbye to us at the airport.
Today we were able to join Pastor Jeremy's church for Sunday morning worship. A couple of our kids helped with children's church, Mr. Johnson preached, and the rest of us enjoyed worshiping together with the congregation.
After lunch, our groups held one more VBS. We stopped at POPS again (we couldn't resist!) and had a wonderful time worshiping and sharing afterward. It has been so good to see God work through the hearts of these kids this week. Tomorrow we head to Los Lagos to enjoy the scenery and hot springs after a long week of good work.
Today in Costa Rica, we hosted a group of teens from Concepcion. This was exciting for those of us who were here in the summer since we saw some of the friends we met during that trip.
It was a fun day of playing games and hanging out with the ticos and ticas. Some of our boys went on a mission to catch an iguana. They came close, but not close enough. Iguanas are a lot faster than you'd imagine!
After some relational time, we shared the gospel in small groups. One team performed a drama, and Pastor Louis, who we partnered with this past summer, gave a presentation of the gospel. We were encouraged to hear that a lot of the students who made decisions for Christ this past summer are still plugged-in and growing in their faith. One of them will even be a leader for a kids’ camp in a couple weeks!
Tomorrow we go to Pastor Jeremy's church in Atenas. Mr. Johnson will be preaching with the help of Kevin translating. Kevin, Lamar's 15-year-old son, has been a major leader for us on this trip. Our kids were blown away when they realized he is only 15. He’s been such a good example for them to see their own potential as leaders, even as teenagers!
We sponsored 87 youths from Atenas to enjoy a full day of camp activities. Our kids did a great job interacting and getting to know the ticos. We played soccer, spike ball, and volleyball, among other activities. We also had the opportunity to share God’s plan of salvation in small groups by using gospel bead bracelets and by performing a drama. Eduardo and Pastor Jeremy, a local pastor in Atenas, then asked who wanted to receive Christ and at least ten raised their hands! We were so sad to see them leave that our kids ran after their bus! It was a rewarding day and we are tired but excited for another day tomorrow.
Today we split into two groups and took on 4 different VBS’s. Our students are doing extremely well and have really come out of their shells as they build relationships with the Ticos and Ticas (that's what Costa Ricans call themselves).
We can see God at work here, and He has revealed Himself once again to be faithful in answering our prayers. We were able to see 12 kids make decisions to follow Christ today! It has been an unexpected blessing for us to have helpers every day from the local church we partnered with. Mau and Stephanie, two of our helpers, are with us all the time. They are cousins of Eduardo and are very friendly. We learned that Mau used to be a pastor in Atlanta.
After VBS, we made a pit stop at Pops, a famous Costa Rican ice cream place. Sorry parents, we ended up having dessert right before dinner this time! After dinner, we headed back to our soccer tournament and had a lot of fun. Relationships are building and paving the way for our evangelical outreach. We have 84 teenagers coming to a field in front of our hotel tomorrow to finish the soccer tournament and share the gospel. After having so much fun tonight, I can't wait for tomorrow!
It's 11 pm and we've just finished our second day here in Costa Rica. It was a long full day, but very fruitful. We split our group into two teams and led 4 vacation Bible schools. Our students took charge and led games, songs, crafts, lessons, and shared the gospel with over 100 kids! At one VBS, 5 kids accepted Christ as their Savior and Lord!
Tonight we got to watch our boys compete in a soccer tournament that we're doing this week to build relationships and draw teens in to our weekend outreach. I think the Ticos took it easy on them because we only lost 5-0! There were tons of teens there tonight and our kids did a great job stepping out of their comfort zones and realizing that Christ's love transcends language barriers.
We ended the night with a time of worship and encouragement as each kid passed out a colored bead to another representing either love, leadership, cheerfulness, stepping out of your comfort zone, servant, or growth. We do this each night we're here and it really is a special time.
Our first day in Costa Rica was a lot of fun. It was a joy for those of us who have been on this trip before to reunite with our friend Eduardo, one of our missionaries. We also met Kevin Salley, the 15-year-old son of one of the missionaries. Both Kevin and Eduardo will be helping us throughout the week.
As soon as we left the airport, we went straight to Walmart, where the students stocked up on Yippies and chips. The leaders bought cabbage and bottles of water for lunch and dinner. We're blessed this week to have Eduardo's wife, Alma, cooking for us! Her food has been awesome so far!
Eduardo and Kevin led us through orientation, and Eduardo did a great job speaking to the hearts of our students and challenging them with truth. He told them that missions isn't just a one-time trip; rather, missions ends when we die.
Next, we spent a couple hours practicing our skits, lessons, games, songs, and crafts. Then, we ate dinner, worshiped, and enjoyed some pool time!
Tomorrow is a full day with VBS in the morning and a teenage soccer outreach at night. It should prove to be a great day!