Considering Costa Rica

I know it’s been a while since we’ve written – sorry about that! We got caught up in the start of the semester. Oops. It’s been about three weeks since I got back from my mission project to Costa Rica. Here’s how the week went!

We arrived at SENDAS (El Seminario Nazareno de las Americas), the Nazarene seminary, on Saturday after taking a red eye flight to get there, so we took it easy the first day. On Sunday, we were blessed with the opportunity to attend church at the Los Angeles Church of the Nazarene in San Jose, Costa Rica. They are a vibrant, growing church, and it was cool to experience that with them. They’re in the process of building a bigger facility to fit their growing congregation. On Sunday, we also got to experience a bit of downtown San Jose, walking around the city and seeing what it’s like on a normal day.

Monday started our work there. We were working on the Orchid building on campus. Since leaving, the building was finished, and it will now be rented out for events. The money from this will be used to help reduce the cost of classes at the seminary for the students while still allowing for the highest quality education. Super cool!

Our team had eight people on it, and though that is a small number for a project like this, we got a ton done. We split off into small teams. Four people put tile on the walls in the bathrooms of the building, two people per bathroom. Here they are at the beginning, middle, and end of the week.

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Looks great, right?

Another couple of people worked on painting the entire outside of the building (I also helped with this particular project for about half the time). Here is one wall, before and after. It’s amazing what a coat of paint can do to a place!

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The last person helped to level the floor (I was also part of this for the other half of the time) and then lay tile. This person was helped by several missionaries that pitched in to help over the course of the week. I sifted dirt for about a day and a half to help make the concrete to level the floor. That might sound dull, but I didn’t mind it a bit! Here are a few pictures from that process.

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On our last work day, we took the morning and went to a children’s outreach. This outreach is in a rough part of town and helps kids with homework, teaches them cultural dances and practices, feeds them, and provides a safe space to play games and do crafts. We got to help paint the main part of the outreach center. The heart that Miriam (the lady who runs the outreach) and her helpers have is absolutely amazing. They don’t have a ton themselves, but they give what they do have to help invest in the lives of these kids. It was definitely a highlight of the week there.

Backtracking a bit, Tuesday, our third day there, was Mother’s Day, which is a national holiday in Costa Rica. No one was going to be working on campus, so we got to go out and see a bit more of Costa Rica. We started the day eating breakfast up in a little family-owned restaurant in the mountains near Poas volcano. After, we zip-lined through the surrounding forests. For lunch, we ate at the cafe inside of Poas Church of the Nazarene and got to see their recently-built facility. Then we went for a hike to see a couple of waterfalls off the beaten path. This hike is something mostly only locals know about, so it was really cool to experience a piece of Costa Rica that wasn’t filled with tourists. We finished the day by having dinner at another local place. It was a crazy, exhausting, fun day, and our team bonded during that time.

Fast forwarding again, I saved my favorite part of the week for last. One evening after dinner, we got to hear the testimony of someone. He spent over an hour telling us his story, but it felt like mere minutes. To give you an idea of the story, he was involved in an incredibly violent gang in Central America. Through an amazing set of circumstances, God got a hold of his heart. The tricky part was getting out of the gang. He said there are two ways to get out of the gang: you disappear forever, or you leave in a body bag. However, God worked wonders, and he was able to tell his fellow gang members that he was leaving, and they let him walk out the door. Now he and his wife are missionaries, and their whole family is serving in Costa Rica through SENDAS. Wahoo!

I’ll close out this (kinda long) post with a few more pictures from the time there, both on and off SENDAS campus. However, before I do that, I want to leave you with a couple of takeaways I had from the trip.

First, God answers prayer. The man who gave us his testimony mentioned several times the impact that prayer had on his journey. No prayer is worthless or goes unheard. So whatever you might think about praying for, no matter how impossible it might seem, pray it, and pray it from the depths of your being.

Second, God is moving, even in the little things. God is probably moving around you right now. Take a minute to really look around and see it. Read through NCM (Nazarene Compassionate Ministries) stories. Look up exciting releases from other denominational sources (yes, that’s okay to do – it’s not blasphemy). Ask God to show you the ways in which the Spirit is moving. You might be surprised and excited about what you find!

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