Doing up these posts was really difficult in the sense of how does one condense 7 days of ministry, love and happenings from 1400 or so pictures down to small bites that would convey to you what I experienced. How do I represent Jesus well in these posts? How to translate all the emotions? That is the challenge. I hope I do well and from it give you a sense of the miracle these little shoebox gifts really are to the children who receive them.
Operation Christmas Child
Costa Rica Team April 2019
In our official group photo, taken on one of our last ministry days. It was such a great thing to see how God took this huge group of people from varied backgrounds, lives, jobs, experiences andpersonalities and how they arrived to the point of being there and totally knit our hearts together. Testimony after testimony of God's saving grace and power were shared over our meals and during our long bus rides. This team really made a huge effort to get to know one another and didn't just stick to sitting with the same comfortable few people they first connected with. It was an amazing thing to be a part of. That is one of the things I miss most since returning home is the camaraderie of a shared vision and goal and the constant natural conversation of how God has moved and is moving in people's lives.
Costa Rica leaders
Operation Christmas Child partners with churches and leaders of the countries that they are going to. Above left is Carlos Gamboa Umana the National Director for Operation Christmas Child Costa Rica. He is a pastor full of heart and love for the kids. The lady beside him is my friend Linda who got us going on this trip. Next to me is Adilita Porras. This little lady is a force to be reckoned with. She works tirelessly ministering to the poor of Costa Rica. Her ministry, Moviendo Esperanzas (google translated link), is who Samaratin's Purse works with to provide all sorts of services such as health and dental care to the rural poor of Costa Rica along with the Operation Christmas Child ministry. She is an advocate with government officials for the rural poor and for ministries in the country. She was amazing at teaching us about her beloved nation and about the people and what God is doing in Costa Rica. Next to her is our fearless bus driver. We were very blessed to have a very comfortable tour bus for our mission. I had totally been trying to prepare myself for riding in some hot, rickety old school bus but we were spoiled with an amazing air conditioned ride. This man deserves a special medal for patience not only driving the crazy traffic of Costa Rica and getting us everywhere out in the middle of nowhere safe and sound, but for patience as he was constantly being asked to open the bus as we'd forgotten something or other on it.
These ladies were our translators. They deserve a special shout out as their jobs were non-stop and exhausting. They translated not only as we were individually trying to talk with children and people but they translated quietly to us the lessons that were being taught to the kids. Translation is not an easy job I learned as they don't just change words from one language to the next as that doesn't always come across properly. They must translate ideas and context and their brains are always going one step ahead. It is a huge job. The little gal 2nd from the left was only 18 years old. She and I had a special connection as she was my bus partner from the airport. The other ladies are all in full time missionary work and I still am in contact with the lady on the right and consider her a friend. She has been a missionary for about 35 years and is amazingly creative in ministry. The young lady next to her ministers to street people and prostitutes on the streets of San Jose and the young lady on the left is actually from the States but lives in Costa Rica and works with YWAM all over the world.
Our first morning was spent in orientation. They were so good walking us through exactly what was going to happen and what we could expect and what to do if certain situations presented themselves. They even had us sitting on the floor just as the children would be.
Ministry material prep
We then got busy sorting the ministry materials that everyone had brought. We all provided all sorts of fun stuff for the different stations for the kid's parties such as coloring books, stickers, crayons, nail polish supplies, sports equipment such as balls and frisbees, bubbles, tattoos and face painting. We also made several bags of thesesupplies to gift to the different pastors we would encounter. This group ended up providing over and beyond and they even had supplies left over to be able to bless other children with after our team had finished our week there.
Every morning we started the day with devotions led my one of our two team leaders. I learned so much from these ladies and the lessons they brought forth. If I look upset in this picture it's because for the 1st three mornings I woke up with a headache due to caffiene withdrawl and the advil had not as yet kicked in. Yes we are in Costa Rica where they have awesome coffee but it took me 3 days to figure out I had to actually ask for another cup and that it was alright to do that. And they only served it at breakfast. All other times we were served amazing fresh made juice which was incredible...another thing I really miss.
Whew. And that was just the first morning. Now we were ready to meet some wonderful people of Costa Rica.