Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.
Yep. He did immeasurable more than I could have asked for or imagined last week. Let me give you the run down of what all was swarming in my head/heart before the week –
This was my first trip as a leader (Trip Leader or Assistant Trip Leader). This was my first time back in Costa Rica since March of 2013. I was working with a church/school that PPM had not worked with before. I do not know Spanish (I’m working on it). I was handed keys and a car… and had to drive in some crazy Costa Rican traffic. My first team was PPM’s president/founder’s home church… WHAT?!?!? When Laura (the Costa Rica coordinator) told me that I would be leading Matt’s (the PPM President’s) home church all I could say was, “So… I don’t need to screw this one up, huh?” Ha. I have A LOT of money in my purse and I have to keep receipts for every single colones (money) I spend… oh lordy. I need to make sure no one dies… okay.
Because of… not despite… all the uncertainties that became my insecurities, I clung tight to Jesus… and the week was more than amazing! No… I didn’t get all the logistics perfect. No… not everything went completely smooth. No… the schedule didn’t stay exactly the same as planned. BUT… Jesus wrecked us all and lives were changed and friendships were made within the teams and with the Ticos (FYI – Costa Ricans are called Ticos). That was my prayer for the team all week, that Jesus would WRECK US… and he surely did!
The leaders/adults that were with the teams were amazing. They felt like family as soon as we met at the airport. They trusted me (scary) and I trusted them. I loved watching them love on the students they brought. They really cared about each one of them… you could tell they’ve invested heart and soul into their ministries and I adore that!
The students were awesome! They reminded me a lot of our youth group – the girls were GORGEOUS, sporty, fun, talkative, and hard-working (made me miss my girlies). They wanted to learn, to build relationships, and to drink coffee!! HA! They (the girls) yearned to have their identity in Christ, to throw away the chains that were holding them captive, and to live in His beautiful freedom… don’t we all? The boys were great too! They were clever, fun, loud, and loved to play!
I don’t know how else to share about the week except to show you pictures. As we talked about during the week with our team, God used an unlikely gal (me) to lead a team to do great things. When people in the Bible trusted the Lord to do the impossible (Paul, Ruth, Esther, Timothy, Mary, etc), He used them and gave them purpose. Somehow… He allowed me to be a part of this incredible adventure.
This was the team – Duluth and Northwoods – with the staff! This was taken at Dona Ana beach on the last day! The beach is always fun, and this beach even has little monkeys that will come down and get food right from your hands! This group is AMAZING! Eric loved them too!
This is the staff I had the honor of working with – Doug, Cecilia, and Janet!! I don’t have the words to explain how thankful I am for each one of them! Sometimes you go on trips and you may wonder what the exact purpose you had… not this trip! It was so evident we were all there for specific purposes! Although not pictured, I am SO SO SO thankful for Jacob and Eric and all their help on the trip as well. I would have been much more frazzled without them! So blessed by my fellas!
The amazing leaders/adults from the teams (minus Megan) with all the books they collected and brought for the school’s library!
Each morning the team led VBS for the children at the school/church. The school and church were actually bilingual and knew both English and Spanish. This was a really unique situation and made ministry even smoother because of the lack of a language barrier! We had a bout 70-90 children each day at VBS.
While some of the team was leading VBS, the other part of the team would be helping with the construction of a parking lot. This was some hard and tedious work! Sand had to be poured, smashed down, and smoothed out. The sand had to be the perfect height. Then, brick by brick, the parking lot design was laid. During rainy season (which is NOW), the parking lot would flood and make driving there nearly impossible. By laying sand and bricks, the rain would be able to drain allowing cars and people to use it throughout the year. The team worked alongside the Ticos from the high school!
So so thankful for our Eric! He became part of the team last week – working hard, participating in team meetings, playing with the kiddos, and laughing with the team! Watching him made my heart so full. SO PROUD OF HIM! Please continue to pray for him as he meets more people and is stretched like never before. Pray most of all that he experiences the love and power of Jesus is an almost tangible way! He makes me so happy. I am beyond thankful that he is here with us.
Each afternoon, our teams would do different outreach projects. One of my favorite stories happened when we sent teams out to pick up trash around the community. The team pictured here, met a man while walking down the street. A conversation was started by the man asking the team about recycling. He wanted to take care of his home and neighborhood, so he wanted to know how it was done in the states. They told him what they knew, and they also told him why they were doing what they were doing – to clean up the Moravia area and to share Jesus. Later, the man shared that he was an alcoholic and he knew that God had been trying to get his attention because of several things that had happened. He hated the life he was living and wanted freedom. The team shared the Gospel with him. He was SO ready to accept it, they barely finished explaining it all! So… we have a new brother in Christ who is pumped to share about Jesus and clinging to the hope of freedom from his addiction!!
Here is the group with the high school students we served alongside! It was such a cool opportunity. The high school students worked as our translators for the week as we ministered through the community! The friendships they all developed were genuine and will not be forgotten!
Another afternoon, some of the girls got to go to a foster home in the area. They were able to love on children who had been taken from their families for various reasons. The team took them hand-made dolls and lots of toys!
We were also able to visit an edlerly home! Visiting a place where many are just left to be out of the way and/or wait for death can be scary, uncomfortable, and stretching! The team did a phenomenal job playing piano for the men and women, painting the women’s fingernails, and DANCING WITH A 97 YEAR OLD MAN!!! So precious!
Thursday morning was one of my favorite mornings I’ve ever experienced. I titled it “Girl Talk.” It was one of the most amazing times of intentional girl ministries. Many of the children who had attended VBS were not able to come on the last day, so we split up the high school students by gender. The girls, Americans and Ticos, talked about their struggles and had a powerful experience realizing that they all battled insecurities, lies they believed about themselves, and pasts they aren’t proud of. We spent time learning how to find our identity in Christ, encouraging each other, and laying down the lies!! So many girls commited for the first time or re-dedicated their lives to Jesus! What an amazing time! I’ll never forget those 2 hours…
Another amazing things about this team was 12 (TWELVE) BAPTISMS ON RECREATION DAY!!! What?!?!?! It started with one person mentioning they had not been baptized and would do so when they went home. I just looked at her and said, “Ya know… we are going to the beach tomorrow. There’s an ocean there. Why not do it there?” She freaked out and jumped for joy at the thought of it actually happened. Others heard about it and decided to join in on the step of obedience to be baptized! One… became TWELVE!!! Incredible. I had heard of people being baptized on trips in the past… but never thought I would be privileged to be a part of one… much less 12 baptisms… on my first trip! So… in the ocean waters in Costa Rica, these amazing people publicly proclaimed Jesus as their Lord and Savior! YAHOO!!
We also got to be a part of something really special and exciting… COSTA RICA IN THE WORLD CUP!! It’s a HUGE deal here!! Soccer is to Costa Rica as SEC Football is to Alabama… it’s intense! Costa Rica was picked to lose out and go home in the first few games, but it’s not so. They’ve won TWO games and will play again tomorrow! We’ve got to be a part of the cheers and fan-dom! We rode through the streets and witnessed people yelling and waving flags in celebration!! I hope they continue their underdog climb!! Pura Vida!
So… that’s my first week… in a HUGE nutshell. It was more than amazing. This is my dream come reality. I was made for this… and that’s really awesome to know and say. My heart is at home in missions.
The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me,
because the Lord has anointed me
to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
to proclaim freedom for the captives
and release from darkness for the prisoners,
2 to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor
and the day of vengeance of our God,
to comfort all who mourn,
3 and provide for those who grieve in Zion—
to bestow on them a crown of beauty
instead of ashes,
the oil of joy
instead of mourning,
and a garment of praise
instead of a spirit of despair.
They will be called oaks of righteousness,
a planting of the Lord
for the display of his splendor.