This past Wednesday, I was officially placed to serve the indigeneous Bribri and Cabecar tribes in the remote Talamanca region of Costa Rica. I have been praying about my placement for a little over a month now and I am so excited to finally know where I am being sent! I was officially accepted to serve with Experience Mission for their cross-cultural internship at the beginning of March. This program places 2-3 college students in a cross-cultural context for the duration of the summer to lead short-term missions teams that come in each week. We will be coordinating the details of their trip including lodging, food, projects, evening worship, so on and so forth; but we will also be serving right along side them to meet the needs of the local community. I feel so blessed that the Lord has opened up this incredible opportunity for me to be a part of. You can read more about Experience Mission and the internship program here: www.experiencemission.org
As soon as I found out where I was going I began researching the region and people group that I will be serving. I had been selfishly hoping that I would be placed in a context unlike any that I had experienced before, and it seems that Costa Rica will be just that. Talamanca is in the southeastern part of the country and is the poorest region with lowest income per capita in Costa Rica and limited access to education and healthcare. Many of the remote villages and less populated jungle communities of the Bribri and Cabecar tribes survive without electricity or running water, and many still live in traditional huts.
In the midst of reading about the natural environment I came across these few sentences "During the rainy season, which includes the summer months, torrential downpours are not uncommon. Local wildlife includes monkeys, anteaters, iguanas, geckos and various species of tropical birds. Throughout the jungles, it is believed that wild boars and occasionally jaguars still roam."...what, wild boars and jaguars?! Haha, I joked with my sister that I need to brush up on my Tarzan skills. Haha, but really, I am so very excited-- no doubt will this experience be one that stretches me, but I've witnessed first-hand how the Lord equips us with words and actions that we could never have on our own. I fully trust that the Lord will guide and direct me throughout the summer to best serve and love both the local community and the teams that I will be leading.
Please pray for me as I begin to holistically prepare for this trip emotionally, spiritually, and mentally. Also, please pray for the short-term missions teams that are preparing to visit Costa Rica this summer. That their hearts and minds will be open to best serve the Bribri and Cabecar people, that they will begin preparing now to meet the local community's needs before their own, and that the impact of their mission trip will translate to long-term effects in their lives back home.
I was encouraged this past week when I had the honor to hear Pastor Bob Roberts speak at a conference in Truett Seminary, where he reminded us that missions is not reserved for pastors and missionaries. If it was, we might as well give up now. It would be impossible to spread the Gospel and make disciples of nations if it was only up to a select group of people. No, we are all called to be missionaries- whether that means at our jobs, in our classrooms, or when we're in line at the grocery store. Missions is not reserved for "missions week," it is part of our identity as Christians. We are called to live missionally, and how could we not? When we are so blessed to have recieved the indescribable joy of the Lord, which is deeper than human emotion and founded on His unfailing promises and eternal truth of grace and mercy. How could we not want to share that with all who are around us?
Holy Spirit, equip us to live righteous lives - that by the peace of your truth we will glorify You in all of our words, all of our thoughts, all of our actions.
Prepare us all.