As I sit here eating semi-fresh (been in the fridge for a day or two)pineapple likely trucked in from the same vast rolling hills of pineapple farms (they actually grow close to the ground and not on trees as you may have assumed) that we visited yesterday, I'm pretty amazed at all that God has done in this brief visit.
While I will likely blog later to revisit the things that God has done overall on our journey, these last two days have been really good for our team and the work here. On Monday morning we toured La Carpio (I know, if you know Spanish it seems like it should be "El Carpio"...I'm sure there's a logical explanation). This is another barrio (neighborhood) that is extremely poor, filled with gangs, drugs, pollution, and essentially forsaken by most people. Almost 100% of the population in this barrio are Nicaraguan who moved here seeking a better life for their families. While it may be better by some standards, it is still extremely poor in others. The main river that runs next to this land that was known as a garbage dump is heavily polluted with raw sewage and yet the children still play in it as if it were not. During our time there we heard many stories of extreme need as well as people of peace who have welcomed the ministry of CLFCR. They have discipleship groups that meet in this barrio and they have partnered with a Pentecostal church to reach people where the gospel is desperately needed. I could go on and on about this ministry need, but it has challenged me to pray and seek God's direction as we consider opportunities in Costa Rica.
The rest of our day was spent with the soup kitchen in Los Guido at La Finca (the home base of the ministry). After some play time we buckled down in a discipleship time. The people broke into small groups and worked with one another teaching the Bible using discipleship materials. It was refreshing to see people investing in one another's lives in a simple way to help each other grow in the faith. I sat in on a few of these, but my favorite was with William and Joan. Many of my American friends would pronounce "Joan" as Joan, but here in Spanish it is Jo-ahn and a semi-common name for guys. So twelve year old William was teaching Joan who is fifteen (I believe). While unconventional for many in the States, it was in the context of relationship and friendship that this dynamic is working well and God is using it. There are so many other stories and encounters that we have had and ways that these poor children who have very little materially are growing in the faith and leading others, but I can't even begin to express it all in the context of this brief blog.
Tuesday ended up being a "Free Day" for us as the taxi drivers decided to strike. So thankfully we had warning and were able to narrowly escape the gridlock at 5:30a.m. to head out to Hacienda Pozo Azul for some horseback riding and whitewater rafting. For those who have not traveled on a missions journey before, it is customary to have at least one free day to see a different side of a culture and/or country so that everything will not be so very depressing or discouraging. These days also allow for teams to decompress a bit before returning home. So we had a long day as much of our travel was in the rain, but it was a great time to enjoy the natural beauty of this country as we saw howler monkeys, wild toucans, many species of birds (including my favorite-hummingbirds), and many other wonders of God's creation.
So that gives you a glimpse into our last couple of days. The nature of our schedule and the fact that we are sharing a computer (with a teenager...ha ha!) can make it a challenge to get updates posted, but we sincerely appreciate all of the prayers and support back home. Pray for us today (Wednesday) as we wrap up our time here and say "ciao" for now. We are doing some more soup kitchen time and then helping with English studies at Los Guido. So it should be another great day! Also, be sure to connect at Peace Haven tonight as Gordon Simms will be sharing in our prayer service one more time at 6p.m. Buckle up!!!