My first trip of the summer was leading a group from Vandiver, Alabama. I knew it was gonna be great! They are good ol’ southern folk… you can’t go wrong! But… I knew it was going to be awesome long before they arrived in Costa Rica.
This trip was birthed out of a 21-year-old’s heart for missions. Her pastor, her family, and 40 people from her home congregation got behind her! She (with her team) tirelessly planned and fundraised and prayed and dreamed and communicated for her goal of taking her church on a foreign mission trip. She was so thoughtful in her planning – making it personal to each individual for their preparation, thinking of designing t-shirts for each day of the week, and casting the vision for her whole church family. AMAZING.
They were set to work with a church in Colorado, Costa Rica. Pastora Eva, a passionate woman who loves the Lord, jumped at the thought of having a team serve with her. Her congregation needed a church building. The Alabama team had just completed a new church building of their own and wanted to do the same for a pastor in Costa Rica… it seemed to be perfect.
A couple of weeks before the trip, Pastora Eva called us with some discouraging news. The bank denied a loan they applied for in order to purchase the permits to start building. Ugh. This meant that the money the team had raised for the building wouldn’t be able to be put into use. The permit price tag was $2,000. I knew that the team had only planned to raised $3,000 total. $1,000 in construction material wouldn’t get them much…
I called the team. They had 2 options – They could decide to partner with a different church that was ready to build and ensure their money would be used for materials and construction… OR… they could pay the $2,000 for the permit and then use the remaining money for whatever we could, knowing that the huge construction project they wanted would be majory downsized.
They went with option 2. That’s when I knew I loved them. They said that this is the community and the pastor we committed to from the beginning, and we will do whatever is needed.
So… they not only raised the $2,000 for the permit. They raised an additional $3,000 for construction materials AND enough for 41 bags of groceries to be distributed throughout the community!!! WHAT?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!
So, the team arrives, and of course I love them. They are hilarious and fun and Spirit-filled and everything I knew they would be.
And family with the church in Colorado was instantly formed… more than I had ever witnessed before.
It was a tough week… 2 toilets and 3 showers (kinda) for 50 people. Bugs. HEAT. No relief. Sweat that would fill buckets. SWARMS of mosquitos (I’m not exaggerating). But, it didn’t even matter. It really didn’t. God was so present and His works were so evident… it just didn’t matter.
So much happened in this week… it’s hard to articulate it or process it. One of the examples of confirmation that God was all over it was this:
As soon as the team walked into the place that would be our dining area for the week, one of the cooks grabbed one of the leaders of the team and said, “You are her!”
The team member was taken back. She had no idea what was going on. So as the cook explained through a translator…
The church had been praying for a building for 12 years (the same amount of time it took the Alabama team to complete their building). They prayed and hurt and questioned for 12 years. When they found out a team was coming to help, they prayed and fasted together. As this cook prayed, she closed her eyes and a vision of a lady on the church property with a shovel kept coming to her mind. She would open her eyes, shake her head and regroup. But, every time she would begin to pray again, the same lady with the shovel, digging into the property that would host their church building would come as a vision. The image was clear and undeniable. The lady in her vision was this team member. She was who this cook had been praying for. She had come and they were instantly family.
Sure enough, the first day of construction, the team member grabbed a shovel and went to the church property and shoveled the ground-breaking dig!! Awesomeness.
Needs were met.
Pastora was encouraged.
Kids were saved… generations were changed.
The church walls went up!!!
Hope was lifted. Pastora lost her husband suddenly in September of 2015. She was/is hurting. This new family from the States encouraged, empowered, and lifted her in ways only Jesus knows.
People were loved.
Women were encouraged.
Here’s some pictures… because words are not enough.
What an incredible week. This is what it’s suppose to look like –
2 church families coming together as one under the name of Jesus.
It was a beautiful thing.
It’s just beginning. This relationship is long-term.
God is so good.