I was sitting around a campfire with friends in late November. We were talking about life and the topic of the upcoming missions trip to Costa Rica came up. I cautiously asked if there was still room (there was) and said maybe I'd go (a strong maybe) if my boss would allow me to leave work for a week (he did).. and that was that. So with less than two months before the trip, I signed up. In January, I packed my bags and headed south to a new country, with new people, to see and learn new things.
My first glimpses of the country. Beautiful mountains and villages.
Our team of eighteen served in Heredia, CR. It is located just outside of the capital of Costa Rica, San Jose. More specifically, we worked at CEDCAS, an organization run by an amazing woman who serves Jesus in this beautiful place. It's located in a lower-class neighborhood and provides medical and dental care to the people in the area. As if that wasn't enough, there is also a community center where people can take exercise classes, cooking courses, and other classes teaching valuable skills.
CEDCAS also partners and works with a small children's center in Guararí, which is a squatter community (or shanty town) only a few minute's walk from the health clinic. We went there Saturday to assist in their Bible club's celebration party by helping with games and crafts. Lillian (the admin of CEDCAS) told us we only had one job, to love these kids. Even though we didn't speak the same language, we communicated through smiles and sign language and lots of laughter.
I was so blessed to be a part of this ministry that brings joy to the lives of kids who don't have much of anything.
I only took a handful of photos at Guararí,. I found that sitting on the ground with kids, playing tic-tac-toe in the dirt with chalk, and playing parachute with these new friends was ten times better. Besides, these pictures really can't properly describe the contagious happiness of these kids.
The ministry is called sonrísas con esperanza - smiles with hope.
There is still so many needs that need to be met in Guararí. I've been on over half a dozen missions trips but I've never encountered this level of poverty and need before. It was eye-opening.
The rest of our time in Costa Rica was spent working at CEDCAS preparing more rooms to become operational for the clinic. I'll be sharing those photos & moments in the coming week. But those fleeting few hours in Guararí were easily the best out of the trip. I am having trouble coming up with the proper words to describe them. Working in Guararí was eye-opening to say the least, and (as always) it is a privilege to see what missionaries are doing around the globe and see their work. God is good.