Today is our 9th day in Costa Rica and our 1st day spent without the youth team; they traveled with us and helped us to get settled into our new Costa Rican home. (Thank you!!!) We have experienced more things in the last nine days than I think I can express, but I would love to share with you some highlights.

What God has done with us:

We can’t deny that this week has been overwhelming and stretching. But it has also been full of blessing and growth. We have already learned so many important lessons. The first is rest- God’s timeline is not always the same as what we think it needs to be and it is good to take time and rest in Him.

The second is preparedness- we already got to experience our first visit to the Dr. for a member of the team and it was an eye opening experience for us. Because where we live is remote, we need to be prepared with an emergency plan as well as maybe even some basic medical training for ourselves and future teams.

The third is double checking our receipts before leaving a store. We had purchased a table saw for work that needed to be done at our house. Not only did it take a day and a half to assemble, but it was missing pieces! So we had to return the saw and we bought a different brand. Well I was checking over the receipts, returns and our bank account and an outstanding withdrawal was unexplained in our purchases. Well it turns out the first saw that we purchased was charged twice! I was very worried about returning to the store and trying to explain what had occurred with the added complication of a return already having been made and Spanish being my second language. God was gracious. They understood everything, were able to check our story against their inventory and grant us our money back. We are grateful we learned this with a large ticket item so that we could notice it now rather than paying more for little items over a long time not realizing this lesson until later.

The fourth lesson is “Pura vida.” Pura vida is an expression used by Costa Ricans to express a lot. Literally it means: pure life. The best way I can explain it is this: life is good, so no worries. Were you unable to finish a project? Pura vida, it will get done tomorrow, or next week, or someday. Did you accidentally wrong someone or experience a wrong? Pura vida, there is forgiveness. Is there a tree down in the road? Pura vida, we can take a different route or even help to cut it up, where ever we are going is not so important that it can’t wait. Were you getting ready to leave the house and an unexpected guest arrives? Pura vida, the time spent with them will be understood by whomever you were going to meet. This culture can be both challenging as well as comforting and I think we will be learning this lesson for a long time.

In other news we have been able to purchase a lot of necessities for our home and work here including: a microwave, a bed, a computer monitor, some tools, basic home essentials, a washing machine which Matt is working to install today, and a heater that doesn’t work… but that’s another story. It has been so incredibly and unusually windy and cold for this season and we will hopefully be able to exchange the heater soon. Some things we hope to find this week are a vehicle  (our rental is due back on Wednesday the 18th), and a cell phone plan that has coverage on the mountain.

What God did with the team:

From the first day we arrived, the team was already involved in ministry. Wednesday just happens to be one of the two days that the bi-weekly Bible study falls on here at the building on the mountain. People with whom we have been sharing life with for about 2-3 weeks out of the year, during the past 5 years of missions teams, attend this meeting to learn more about God and grow in their relationship with Him through the worship and Bible teaching. Agustin and Nela have been facilitating this study for the past year. The team was enthusiastic to share worship and teaching with the adults, as well as worship, puppets, teaching, and crafts with the kids. They also were involved for the following Saturday study.

After the first day, the actual days get a little foggy, so here is a general description of the rest of the outreach and ministry days: They were invited to Pastor José’s church near Jorco in the evening. We met him during the youth trip one year ago and the encouragement and love was so mutually edifying that we couldn’t wait to see him, his family, and congregation again this year. The team shared the Life House “Everything” pantomime drama, as well as some worship songs and a short teaching about the drama. After the service we were invited to share in dinner and fellowship at Pastor José’s home with his family.

The team was also invited to Pastor William’s church in Jorco for their Sunday service. We met Pastor William one year ago at the same event where we met Pastor José. Calvary Placerville’s Youth Pastor was able to teach the sermon and the rest of the team shared their drama, as well as ministered to the children with their puppets and worship songs. Every member of the team was so blessed to participate with them in their Sunday service. Their Worship leader speaks English and was a huge encouragement to the team both during the service and afterwards.

Finally the team was invited to another church in Jorco for a special outreach midweek. The team shared their worship songs, and one member shared his testimony with the adults, while the kids did a craft, worship, and puppets. Afterwards we shared in lunch and fellowship while many of the team members were very encouraged by the Pastor.

In addition to all of the outreach, the team was able to share in some one on one conversations with our friends on the mountain. I was also blessed to have help shopping for some of our more essential items and with cleaning and organizing our home. Some of the team members were able to work on our electrical line to bring us electricity after a few days without it. They also built us a beautiful bed frame so our mattress is now up off the floor and away from the bugs. Our sliding bathroom door is hung and operational. Some preventative maintenance was also done on the property to avoid power-outages in the future. We are so grateful! It was also so neat to see God working individually in each member of the team and especially the youth. I can’t speak for them, but I believe each of them grew a lot in their relationships with God and will never forget this experience.

Some rough roads: literally 😉 We live up a mountain on some pretty awesome four wheel drive roads, which I think serve as a good picture for a large part of our experience this week. As we drive along these roads it can be uncomfortable at times, feel like a lot of time is spent on a short distance, require alertness to the obstacles, and can sometimes instill a bit of fear or worry at certain seemingly impasses. But we always get to where we are going and also get to enjoy A LOT of beautiful views along the way. There were many times we (including the team) were uncomfortable this week; be it new experiences, physical pains and sickness, the lack of electricity and internet , having to step out in ways we feel ill-equipped for within ourselves, the horribly windy weather, or simply adjusting to a new home. The amount of time it would take us to accomplish a goal became a very long process due to different complications in seemingly most every circumstance! 🙂  We needed to stay alert to maintain unity and not allow our own needs to come before others. We were continually called to put our trust and confidence in God as we faced trails that seemed overwhelming at times. But for all the bumps, dips, fog, and trees in our literal and figurative road we are so grateful that God’s faithfulness proves true every day; every day we made it to where God wanted us to be and we certainly got to experience a whole lot of beautiful things in the process.dsc02651