During our week with First Presbyterian Church Lakeland and Christian Fellowship (from Missouri), we were able to be a part of some really unique, intentional, and impactful ministries. The church we worked with in Parrita, Costa Rica, isn’t made of a fancy church building, praise band, or elaborate programming. The church consists of a metal roof, iPod worship, wonderful leadership, and a heart for outreach… for actually BEING the church!
Our team was able to be the hands and feet of Jesus. That’s the phrase that I thought of every time I was able to look around at all that was going on… they were truly being the hands and feet of Jesus. It was overwhelming. They were able to work at the homes of church members who were really struggling. 2 of those individuals were José and Esperanza.
José was an older man, a former construction worker, and a previous pastor. His wife left him after several years of marriage and took his daughter with her. His heart had been broken, he had felt abandoned, and his home was more than lacking. He was in need of home repair… but more importantly, he was in need of friendship and encouragement. He received all of it from our team.
Here’s a couple of pictures of José’s home
The toilet was literally sat on the dirt floor… I’m not sure how it worked… but I know it didn’t work well. There was no concrete in the bathroom area. José did not have a shower in his home. He used buckets of water to get clean… and you have to know, Costa Rican men LOVE their showers. His home was one big room… no privacy for his bedroom.
But… this team, in one week, gave José hope. They gave him a new home. They offered him friendship. They restored his faith. They PAID OFF his loan for his home… he now OWNS it!
This team also gave José a shower in his house. This was not in the original plan, but God knew exactly what He was doing. There were some engineering minds on this team, and they were about to construct a shower, complete with a french drain in Josés bathroom. The ENTIRE time the team was working on this, José just watched them… trying to figure out how in the world they really thought their contraption was going to work. At some point, he even called the team ¨loco.¨ Ha! BUT… when everything was installed, they asked him to turn on his shower for the first time. Here that moment is on video: (Please note that he points at them and says ¨no loco¨… PRICELESS!)
Esperanza… her name means ¨Hope¨ in Spanish. But, she had lost her hope… lost her joy.
Esperanza is about 4 and a half foot tall. Her husband and 2 older sons live with her in her home… pictured here:
Ugh… breaks my heart. The home didn’t have outside walls… just black tarps nailed up. All 4 of the family members slept in the same room… with limited privacy and no protection! The toilet was just set on the dirt floor again. The kitchen was just set in the middle of the home… definitely not with safety in mind.
So, our team stepped in. The projects were paid for by extra money raised by the teams. Walls were built. A room for the boys was added on. Concrete was poured for the bathroom and the bedrooms. It looks like a completely new home. These amazing people restored the esperanza (hope) to Esperanza. Prayers were prayed over her and her family. Tears were shed when everything was completed.
Days before we left for our (Eric and my) 5 weeks in Costa Rica, we were busy painting and decorating our new home. Jacob loved installing our new floors. We painted furniture to make it ¨new.¨ I picked out paint colors, bedding, and other decor without thinking twice… or being truly thankful for all we were doing.
Esperanza, for the first time in her life, picked out paint colors for her home because of our team’s hard work and the Lord’s providence.
It cut me to the core. I almost lost it in the hardware store. Why me? Why her? I don’t know the answers to questions like that… but for now I have to rest in words that one of my favorite Tico men, Pastor Warner, shared with us…
He encouraged/challenged us to truly grasp this fact: we (our team) were the miracle these people had been praying for. God used us to answer prayers cried out to Him for years prior to us arriving. We were their miracle. How humbling. The things they never thought would be possible… became possible… because the Lord orchestrates it all. Wow.