We hosted Cumberland Fellowship of Tennessee and they were an extremely flexible and understanding group – you could tell that they just got it. In everything they did they wanted to empower the local church and support the local pastors and members, recognizing that they were the ones who would reach the community for Christ. Of course, the week started off with a little dilemma. On our way to San Jose, our bus got stuck in the middle of nowhere when the streets were closed from flooding. After waiting four hours at a standstill, we cautiously crossed a flooded road, only to stop at a nearby gas station for the night. After spending the night on the public bus, we woke up the next morning only to find out that we would be stranded for most of the morning. Every single route to San Jose was closed off, mostly because of the unpredictability of the mountain roads and the danger of possible landslides. The roads opened up right in time for us to race to the airport to meet our team; but after evaluating the situation and learning that the roads near Shiroles were still closed we decided it was best to stay the night in San Jose. So, we arrived in Shiroles early Monday morning and took our team around the community and to the river for a quick swim. It was unfortunate that we missed a day, but if there was any team that could have handled it, it was the team from Cumberland Fellowship. Our team of 14 was a mix of college students and adults; they had a huge heart for children’s ministry, and were all extremely hard working. Our team continued work on the church bathrooms; we finished the top blocks of border and began spreading cement to form a smooth outside wall. We also continued work on the computer classroom of the local school where we created wooden forms to poor cement on the outside walls. What most teams complete in five full days, our team this week completed in three half days.
With their passion for children’s ministry and their experience with local children’s outreach, our team felt especially drawn to the kids of the community. The entire team decided to participate in kid’s club each afternoon. We also had a community movie night with a huge wall projector, and were able to continue outreach to the kids and to the youth of the community who are a little more difficult to reach. On Friday afternoon, our team decided to use the morning for a special outreach . We threw a huge field day at our host church and had an entire morning of relay races, crafts, popcorn and lemonade, and pump up jams. Our team put their imagination to work and created an array of games with random items lying around the house: everything from work boots, to water bottles, to pieces of scrap wood.
On Thursday night, our team joined Pastor Indalecio’s church for a worship service. Susie and Blake led songs in both Spanish and English and two college students from the team shared their testimonies. In Talamanca, the Bribri often see white people and assume that they are from a life of affluence and ease. It was beautiful to hear the blunt testimonies of both Cody and Erin. It was the first time both of them shared their testimony, which was a surprise to me because they were so direct and vulnerable – holding nothing back and talking directly about their past of alcoholism, drugs, sexual immorality, and teenage pregnancy. Sam, the youth pastor, talked about how God’s plan unveiled that night when people from the community began crying while our team shared their stories. The issues in the testimonies are issues that are very prevalent in the community. As I looked out into the congregation, I could see how the Holy Spirit was moving in everyone’s hearts. The young girl next to me cried as she wrapped her arms around her little girl. I loved being able to witness it all. This is how we can reach the Bribri – humbly admitting our similar weaknesses and proclaiming how God can conquer them all. We don’t have it all together. We may be materially affluent – but there are still so many who are spiritually dead. We all look different, we have different ways of doing things, we speak a different language, and even believe in different things; but there is one thing that every single person has in common on this Earth: we are all under the horrible darkness of the world and tempted by the wickedness of our flesh – and we all desperately need the salvation of Christ. That’s what this is all about. It’s not about making buildings that will one day crumble, it’s not about singing songs or delivering messages, it’s not even about any service or love that we can offer – it’s about the fall of man, and the need for life that is only found in our Lord, Jesus Christ.
Now, this week is what I like to call our “finale” week here in Costa Rica. It is now just Roberto and I, and this week I will be taking on most of Susie’s responsibilities with kids club and evening worship. We are hosting 17 people: a group of 7 from Florida (they sing Gospel and I’m really excited), a young couple from a college in Kansas, a group of 7 from Michigan, and Danielle – a girl who was allowed to come alone as a special mission trip before she serves in the Israeli army. I KNOW the Lord has some awesome things in store for this last team and our last week in Costa Rica. It is such a bitter sweet end to a beautiful summer in Talamanca. It’s hard to imagine that this week will consist of many “lasts”: our last time grocery shopping, our last time telling facts of the cloud and rain forests, our last time going to the river, so on and so forth. Please be praying for Roberto and me as we handle this week on our own. Pray that we find strength in God and direction and guidance in every word and step that we take.