Feed my children… a week with Pastor Warner

10269521_10100820429504696_2636531905264366715_nThis is Pastor Warner. A week serving with and for this man completely changed my life. It’s been hard to come up with the words needed to describe the ministry, the experience, the people, and my heart transformation. I don’t think that my words will do it justice, but I’ll give it a go.

Pastor Warner lives in Nicoya, Costa Rica. He drives a bus full time (The Happy Bus) and works as a pastor all day, everyday. He has provided transportation for most of our trips/teams in Costa Rica for the past 3 years. I had the highest honor of taking our first PPM team to his community to serve. His church is not made up of a building, Sunday School, youth programs, women’s ministry meetings, or an order of service. His church is held on a gated lot and is made up of children and youth from the San Martin community.  San Martin is one of the most dangerous neighborhoods in Costa Rica. Pastor Warner provides a feeding program to the children at least once a week. He pays for it out of his own pocket and recruits the few involved families to cook the meals each time. Warner believes that a feeding program will bring people in and turn them to Jesus through the prayer, the presentation of the Gospel, and love… because that’s exactly what happened to him. On any given day that the feeding program is held, you can expect that AT LEAST 80 chidren will come to receive a meal. To these children, Pastor Warner is more than just a meal or a pastor… he has become a father figure to so many of them whose need for love have gone unmet for so long.

The love this man has for people, especially kids, is astounding. I have never seen anything like it. Even when he is driving the bus for us to another location, children are automatically drawn to him, follow him wherever he goes, and absolutely adore him. It’s truly a gift. To see him simply interact with kids, lead them in song, and tell a Bible story… it will bring you to tears.

Not only does Pastor Warner have a special connection with the children, he can make anyone feel special and essential. Everywhere we went, people knew him and invited the ministry he was doing to their place of work! Many people in Costa Rica are hesitant to invite Christian ministry into their area because of the strong division between The Church and the Catholic religion, but with a man who loves as well as Warner, it was all welcomed. We were able to experience and serve in a variety of areas, and even had to cut the list short due to a lack of time, because of his witness.

I’ve described him in words as best as I know how… so I’ll show some pictures of our incredible week of ministry in Nicoya.

This is my team from Michigan with Pastor Warner. They are amazing. They came ready to serve and love on every person we met. They also came ready to crack jokes on our driving in Alabama when it snows. Ha!

You can check out the full trip journal HERE from their week.

10402604_10100838691447616_2416093528998930627_nNot pictured here is the smallest pelican I’ve worked with so far, Perrin.

10563097_10100838691806896_8607320625094182107_nPerrin was our youngest missionary on the team! (PLEASE check out the pelican on his outfit… presh!) When I talked to the Group Leader, Tracie, about the trip and found out she would be bringing her baby I have to admit, I was a bit nervous. What would that be like? Would he cry all the time? Would I be the baby-sitter? Haha! Can I just tell you… IT WAS AMAZING having him there! Nothing else in all of this world can start a conversation with complete strangers like a chunky baby with blonde hair and blue eyes can. The Ticos (Costa Ricans) fell in love with him immediately, which lead to walls breaking down and relationship forming! Having him there actually gave me a LOT of hope for having a baby on the mission field in the FUTURE (not today). It was really good to see his missionary momma in action with him! I know… and all of my friends said, “Thank you Tracie!” Yea… yea…

The team did VBS each afternoon at the church lot. At the conclusion of each day, dinner was served for free to all the children. This is a snapshot of the feeding program. It was impossible to get all of the people in one picture… but you get the point. For some of the children, this is their only meal for the day/week.

10516645_10100838688089346_648583777085847424_n

1910408_10100839855714416_8267468549485185447_n

 I feel like it’s all just talk and a good idea until you see pictures of these babies and know some of their stories. It’s hard to describe without experiencing it yourself. It’s a battle. It’s survival of the fittest. It’s a requirement to be aggressive to be okay in this group. It’s hard to be loving and kind and get what you need. 3 of the boys who came to VBS/feeding program each day stole my heart. All of them the age of 12. They reminded me a lot of our Eric when we met him when he was 12 years old. All tough. All have a sparkle of hope in their eye… knowing that they could overcome their situation and do great things.

Meet William. He has 3 younger siblings. His mom is, what I gathered, a prostitute. She leaves for months at a time, with no word or support for her children. When I met him, she had been gone for over 11 months. His dad is in a wheelchair and earns his income by selling tomatoes at the local hospital. William was forced to quit school to help his father sell tomatoes and take care of his siblings. He’s strong, tough, and just wants someone to believe in him.

10557188_10100838682345856_2743411182299101610_n

This is Randy and Alonso. Equally tough stories. Randy lives with his grandparents and experiences neglect and abuse often. He escaped from his home with his parents that provided an even rougher environment. I talked a lot with these boys about becoming men of God. I had opportunities to speak truth over them and encourage them to look up to the examples of Pastor Warner and the other youth involved, to follow Jesus regardless of their circumstances, and to know and believe that God loves them and has big plans for their lives.

10334375_10100838677834896_9174389649046009590_n10552632_10100838677460646_4739120210461014295_n

 Nasa, Maria, Harrison, Herald, Alison… all names with faces that my team and I got to serve and love on while in Nicoya.

10519199_10100839878324106_3757864112882241393_o 10490065_10100839875759246_8098133746098600855_o img_5661 1551693_10100838679301956_8444597378763388665_n

Oh my heart…

My team and I were able to do so much this week.

Serve in an elderly home – shave faces, play games, fix hair, sing songs, and bring joy with the presence of a baby.

10489891_10100838685469596_6408178188032477465_n 10563194_10100838684636266_584650873783660931_n

We were able to minister at the local police station… which is a really big deal. We were able to go inside the station and pray over the officers. The team cleaned the holding jail cell… which was quite possibly the smelliest place I have ever been inside. They also cleaned the room the police officers rest in while on duty. The servant hearts that were revealed when doing this… wow.

10532550_10100838676178216_4285013969949586077_n

This is how crazy and awesome Pastor Warner is – on our last day of VBS, we had a parade. Not just some rinky-dink parade… a parade complete with a marching band, police escorts, lanterns, balloons, signs, and more!!! WHAT?!?!?! I’ve never heard of that happening on a mission trip! Ha! But, he loves these kids and our team SO much, he wanted to set up something truly special for the last night. It was so much fun! We walked about 2 miles dancing, showing signs with Bible verses, and making Jesus’ name known! Hundreds of people came out of their houses to see what all the commotion was!

10300901_10100838674301976_94549405956195338_n 10402552_10100838673578426_1157466169420836048_n

The team and Praying Pelican Missions was also able to fund and build a new roof/shelter for the church property! A place where the children can come, rain and shine, to be feed spiritually and physically! Praise the Lord!

10470724_10100838675843886_1800298112147498954_n

An incredible week is an understatement. I will be processing this one for a while…

The love.

The passion.

The craziness for the Lord.

The purpose. Vision. Calling. Faith.

I’ll never be the same again, and I know my team won’t either.

995491_10100838672221146_8603593664692219667_n
Everybody at the beach!
10577176_10100838672780026_4126609820647792626_n
No big deal… just riding horses on a Costa Rica beach with the Group Leader, Tracie!
1620700_10100838679376806_8804926929929881116_n
Pastor Warner’s precious wife and mother-in-law. They cooked every meal for us all week. Loved the opportunity to meet and get to know them. They shared lots of advice with me about parenting a teenage boy! Ha! Love it!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s