Costa Rica 2017: Work concludes at centers

Brandon Sudge

May 25, 2017

In a flash, the time of serving in childcare centers has come and gone for our Costa Rica team. As the days went by, the serving time unfortunately sped up.

It was a great final two days at each of the Roblealto centers — Quince de Septiembre, Los Guido and El Manatial — as each of our team members either shared God’s love and grew closer with children or put the finishing touches on a painting project. Both of those tasks brought on plenty of success as God’s work was done relentlessly in each of the groups.

For Wednesday, the core message was that Jesus is our friend, and it was portrayed in two different take-home activities for the children. First off, a coloring sheet with a sun was distributed, saying “Jesus is my good friend,” and each child had a fun time with that as a variety of different coloring “strategies” were displayed. Secondly, a scratch-off cross became a big hit as the children would scratch its outer black layer for a rainbow-colored pattern to appear. Both of those activities created a fun-filled atmosphere at each of the centers.

In concluding interaction with children on Thursday, it was known as a “fun day,” with a bible-based assembly and a period of games with the children as they bid farewell to our team. It ended up being a sad time for many as the goodbyes had to be said, but the interaction will continue for a good number of students as many of them have showed interest in donating to Roblealto by sponsoring a specific child and keeping in touch.

For the painting project, a heap of progress has been made from Monday’s bare starting point. At Los Guido, a beautiful and bright mural has been completed (aside from a few minor touch-ups from our lead artist Alfredo), and the jobs of staircases and walls have been completed at Quince and El Manatial after just beginning as a sanding job to begin the week.

All in all, God did some special work throughout our group this week, and my prayer is that His love continues to be shared even after our team returns to Georgia. In an area that is said to be “hopeless,” the Lord surely used us to provide hope to those children and families, regardless of the situation.

Our group is slated for an adventurous off day on Thursday, in which we will explore the Costa Rican coast for a zip-line and beach outing. Thereafter, the week will conclude Saturday afternoon and Atlanta will await.

Costa Rica 2017: Work continues at centers

Brandon Sudge

May 23, 2017

The halfway point of our Costa Rica mission trip remains, but the pursuit of serving the Lord throughout our group has been relentless throughout day two at the childcare centers.

Whether it be interaction with the children at the Roblealto schools or physical work such as sanding and panting, plenty of progress has been made and God’s impact is becoming more evident. Each center had its own unique take on curriculum for Tuesday, and members from each location had personal takeaways.

El Manatial — Our team set out to keep our momentum going from yesterday. Some of us got to paint while others spent time in the classroom teaching the children a message of “God loves me,” and getting to do some awesome crafts to communicate this message. The truth that is ringing for us is that God is alive and well in these communities. No matter what situation these kids are in, joy always wins. — Michael Hall

Quince de Septiembre — This center was full of joy and laughter today. About halfway through the day, my cheeks were cramping from smiling for so long. I was able to spend a majority of my day with my sweet sponsor child, and boy did he make my heart happy! God is working, loving and is alive in Costa Rica. Pura Vida. — Sarah English

Los Guido — God is doing some pretty awesome things in this place. We started off the day by loving on the “maternals,” or babies — ranging from five months to 1 1/2 years. Later on, we were tasked with cleaning the windows with vinegar and drying with newspaper. Our day ended with teaching Kindergarteners the message of “Dios me ama,” or “God loves me.” It is very important for this to be instilled in these kids at a young age because of the community they live in. The county of Desamparados is known as “the abandoned ones,” and we are praying that this can be a truth that is held onto. Our painting squad continued to make a lot of progress on the beautiful mural. We are sad that our serving days at Los Guido are halfway over, but we’re so excited to see what God has in store during the next two days. — Madison Dunagan and Eliza Hill

Photos: A number of technical difficulties have occurred with posting photos in collaboration with our nightly posts. We have been inserting as many as the site will allow, and plan to work on compiling a comprehensive photo gallery from each photographer at the trip’s conclusion.

Costa Rica TLRN: First day serving at centers

Brandon Sudge

May 22, 2017

The serving has begun as we show God’s love and serve for His glory in a variety of different ways.

The group has been divided up into three different childcare centers — Los Guido, El Manatial and Quince de Septiembre — and either interacted with the children or participated in a service project. With three service days remaining, our group developed its thoughts on how the festivities began.

Los Guido — As a returner to Costa Rica, it has been amazing to see the Los Guido center that was empty last year, and is now filled with children. We have deemed our team to be “the varsity,” and we had a very incredible first day. We split into two smaller groups, one of which painted a wall mural and the other interacted with the children as a part of their school day. Our painters absolutely killed it today, and made a ton of progress on a project that will be continued throughout the week. Our classroom team was granted the opportunity to love on the sweetest of kids and taught them the big idea that God made them each uniquely and wonderfully. It was a great day of serving, and it was great to see our team grow closer. After a day such as today, I can’t wait to see what the remainder of the week brings. — Ella Reitler

El Manatial — We were greeted by dozens of little ones running to embrace us with smiles all around. We spent time with the kids while they ate snack, playing and goofing off. Today the children learned about how “Dios me hizo” which translates into “God made me”. They colored sheets that had the phrase as well as made molds of their hands (by the way- we quickly found out that mixing plaster with a popsicle stick is a lot harder than it sounds). The kids were so excited throughout the time we were there and could not stop jumping, running, laughing, and hugging us — the hard pour of rain we experienced for a little while wasn’t going to stop them from having fun. During the time we were there, half our group spent time playing and crafting with the kids while the other half spent time preparing for our new paint project by sanding. Before we knew it, it was time to head back to the hotel, and needless to say, we left with full hearts. We are looking forward to returning to the smiling faces tomorrow morning.  – Kasey Morone

Quince de Septiembre — Today our team was so excited to finally get to see the kids we have been dying to  love on! At our center we arrived and were immediately greeted with big hugs and bright smiles. There were sweet reunions with students returning from previous years which started our day of great! Our construction project given to us was to repaint all the walls in the dinning area. Today we spent time cleaning and sanding the walls to prepare to paint them throughout the week. The people that were in the classrooms spent time playing with the kids and reminded them that they are loved and that God made them! They colored a sheet of paper they could take home and we did a hand mold for them that we will write “God made me” on the hand tomorrow for them to take back. Our team is so excited to go back to these centers tomorrow. There is a lot of work to be done, and a lot of kids to be loved on and we cannot wait! It was an amazing first day and it exceeded everyone’s expectations in the best way possible. – Alexis Bartsch 

TLRN group explores San José, prepares for serving at centers

Brandon Sudge

May 22, 2017

Greetings from San José, where the first two days of our Costa Rica mission trip have been action-packed and full of excitement.

After arriving Saturday afternoon and settling in, the group convened with OpenHouse — a partner of North Point churches — to partake in a Night of Worship. It followed the usual routine of a church service in the United States and featured the same music that would be sung at a North Point community church, such as “Death Was Arrested.” However, there was a language barrier for us visitors as both the worship and the sermon were given in Spanish. Nevertheless, God knows no boundaries and was able to move within our group at the event, setting up a cool experience in which His glory was still present.

A few hours later, the group was up-and-running once more as final preparations were made to serve at our respective centers — El Manatial, Quince de Septiembre and Los Guido — and tour the city of San José. The first stop was the Farmers’ Market in downtown, in which we were given a short list of different fruits and were challenged to purchase those items in Spanish. Quite frankly, there weren’t many other ways around it.

To follow, we took a walking tour of the city, and saw national landmarks such as a historic national theatre and a park laden with cork trees. It allowed our group to gain a better understanding of our surrounding area and take in numerous historical tidbits along the way.

Our last event of the day was a 2-hour trip to La Paz Waterfalls, in which we saw the Costa Rican rainforest and an illustration of God’s beauty. The views were quite surreal, even for us that have been to Costa Rica before. It was the first venture to La Paz for all of us, and it gave us a different prospective in many different areas.

The night concluded with an open discussion large group and a more focused small group. The off days are over and the serving begins. We are now headed to our respective centers, and the prayer is that we all serve the Lord selflessly and pursue His glory.

TLRN group is in the air, off to Costa Rica

Brandon Sudge

May 20, 2017

Greetings from high above as the anticipatiob is through, and the experiences are set to begin.

After a near 5 a.m. wake-up call for many, the group eagerly convened at the Atlanta airport terminal and put away six months of waiting for this moment. The Living Room North is on its way to Costa Rica — at last — for the 2017 mission trip.

We are slated to arrive at approximately 11:47 a.m. local time (1:47 p.m. eastern), and will spend a few hours becoming accustomed to an out-of-the-country stay. After getting settled into our hotel rooms, we will be set to take a brief tour around San José.

It will serve as a precursor to doing God’s work  with a host of college students and our eight great leaders. This blog will be updated daily and IMG_0840we hope you’ll continue to follow along.

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2017 Costa Rica team gathers for retreat as mission trip nears

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Brandon Sudge

April 30, 2016

The Costa Rica mission trip team gathered for its first meeting in November at Browns Bridge, and the leaders told our group that May would come extremely fast.

Five months later, 32 college students gathered at the Woodlands retreat center for a weekend of fellowship, and it was hard to fathom that it actually came this fast. In three weeks, our chance will come to serve the Lord in Costa Rica. Before May 20 came around however, an exciting weekend in Cleveland, Ga. was in store.

The group arrived and became settled, one of the weekend’s best activities was waiting on us. Our leaders — led by personality expert Karen Stubbs — conducted a test to see where each of our team members lie on the personality skill. Ranging from Green (peaceful and laid-back) to the Red group (leading, controlling and responsible), our team was able to gain a better understanding of those around us and be able to decipher who would be best-suited for the tasks at hand in Costa Rica.

That event allowed the team members to become more comfortable with those that we may not know too well. Consequently, the encounters with other students increased and new friendships were able to develop.

The outdoor fun came on Saturday — accompanied by beautiful North Georgia mountain scene and temperatures topping 90 degrees. The group split up and took on the Woodlands’ rope course, which allowed the team to see Friday’s personality test put into action as different students approached the events in different ways. After a quick breather, the group made it to the other side of the campground and took on the zip line — a preview of the adventure day on the Costa Rica trip — and after everyone was able to get past the fear of stepping off of the platform’s edge, many of the group members made their way down the track with smiles and plenty of enjoyment.

The 24-hour gathering concluded with another large group, in which the guys and girls were separated for specific conversations in preparation for the trip. The Woodlands trip allowed the team to become closer, and build bonds with those they may not know too well, in addition to hearing brief talks from our eight leaders on how the Lord can move on this trip.

Whether it be staying faithful in the small responsibilities or past experiences on mission trips, it was a great opportunity for students to hear from those that have an abundance of mission trip knowledge — whether it be your first or 13th international opportunity to serve.

The moment is coming closer, when our group will be off the ground in Atlanta and en route to San Jose, Costa Rica. This gathering just gets you more excited for that day, and we will reconvene one time more for “Lake Day” on May 17 before heading out.

 

 

 

Day 7

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As the morning approached and the sun arose, no one believed it would be possible to move past the grogginess and heavy eyelids. Our minds droned on and on about children screaming, playing, and destroying their classrooms with their newly obtained soccer balls. The smell of fresh cooked lunches, paint, and drying sweat remained fresh in our minds; we all simply wished to hold our children once more. Yet, upon the mention of today’s activity, spirits soared and approached a steady ascent. The team packed up their GoPros and began a two-hour trek via bus to the Succio River. Greeted by enthusiastic river guides, we embarked on a perilous path through class 3 rapids as we accumulated multiple bruised tailbones. In all honesty, the rapids were not that dangerous and we only fell out because we sucked at following the one unspoken rule of being on a river: stay in the raft. Water blasted all around and paddles slapped the water. Muscles contracted to propel us forward and helmets clanked together. Battered, bruised, and beaten the team found solace on land two hours later. But the danger was not over. Upon returning the equipment that had just recently kept us alive, fire ants swarmed half the group as we walked through the Costa Rican Rainforest to get to our busses. Eventually, the bus drove us away and we wrapped up the day. As I sit here now the team preps for the emotional ups and downs of debrief. I warn you, tears will be shed tonight, but all these tears are because God has done something incredible in the members of this team and in the souls we were oh so blessed to encounter.

God bless.

 

-Austin Ingram

Day 6

Quince de Septiembre:

Today was our last day at Quince de Septiembre and it was filled with emotions. We started off the day being welcomed by the little ticos and ticas in the cafeteria; then we headed off to work. Half of our team finished putting the final details on the classroom that we had been working on all week, while the other half played with the kids we have grown so close to. After lunch, the kids had a performance for us to show their gratitude for the work that we did at the center. I think the best part of the performance was getting to see the kids worship and have an absolutely blast doing it. With all of this being said, our last day was so much fun, but it was also hard to say goodbye to the kids and the teachers. It is truly incredible to see the love that the teachers have for these kids and also to see God at work with these kids. Every single one of us that worked at Quince de Septiembre can agree that God is doing great things there; this was such a life-changing week.

-Mackenzie Ziegler & Gillian Bailey

 

El Mantatial:

Today was our last day at El Manatial and, throughout the day, we were able to finish our painting and spend the last precious moments with the children. We arrived at the school with a collective feeling of exhaustion. Thanks to the help of Heather’s encouragement and Mason’s humor to keep us going, we were able to be fully present and hard working. After lunch, the children put on a short celebration for us “gringos”, and it was filled with dancing and singing. The kids had a great performance of a song about a frog wearing a suit that loves Jesus- so that was kind of weird but nice. At the end of the day, we were overwhelmingly consumed by the emotions that come with saying goodbye to your students as they grab on to you by any means, while begging us “visitas” (visitors) to stay. Nevertheless, the little seeds of love, progress, and relationship planted this week are sure to reap a huge harvest for the kingdom of God some day.

-Michael Hall

 

Lomas Kindergarden:

So today was a heavy day at Lomas Kindergarten. Today was our last day and everyone had some pretty full hearts. It started as a normal day with a few workshops; around 2:30, they told us it was time for a ceremony. This ceremony was full of many incredible “thank you’s”, a dance to a song they all learned to show gratitude, and an award ceremony where we were given certificates of appreciation. Then came the good-byes where we were met by parents and kids for hugs, “thank you’s “, “god bless yous”, and many tears. They may have been thanking us for what we did, but what they did in our hearts was even greater. So with heavy hearts, we make our way home, knowing Lomas Kinder is slightly a brighter place and hoping these kids always remember how loved they truly are.

-Maddie Maloney

 

Lomas Elementary:

Today, we leave Lomas elementary with heavy hearts. We’ve made numerous relationships and countless necklaces and bracelets. It’s hard knowing that these kids are still going back to poverty stricken homes. I can only pray that we shed some light on their situations. While it was sad, it was also very rewarding. Over the past week, we’ve been painting, sanding, and sponging. Today our work paid off because we got to see the students light up when they saw their newly painted classrooms. They quickly swarmed us with drawings that said “te amo” and showed us the abundant love that they had for us. This has been such a humbling experience. I also connected with a dog and named him Pepe le Peu. I’m bringing him back to the states. Sorry mom, I love you. Kiss Blu for me.

-Derek Barker

Day 5

Quince de Septiembre:

Everyday when we walk through the doors of Quince de Septiembre, we are greeted with a roar of “hola’s” and we are instantly immersed into spending time with the kids. Today we were able to almost finish painting the room we were working on. While in the classroom’s we did two activities. We made slap bracelets and play dough. In the classroom I was in, which was the two year old room, the teacher had us put the kids in chef hats and aprons and the kids they made corn tortillas for a snack. Today was also really special because a couple members of our team decided to sponsor children. It was very cool to see. Overall today was a super amazing day at Quince and none of us are looking forward to tomorrow being our last day. Even though this week was spent learning phrases that are somewhat irreverent in Spanish, this week was still spent showing these kids the love that they deserve and the love that God has for them.

-Matthew “Mateo” Barber

El Manatial:

Other than the active volcano, rampant crime, a person being shot less than ¼ of a mile from our school, and serious water contamination at our hotel, there is absolutely no reason parents should have any concern about this trip. While peeling somewhere between one thousand and twenty thousand green beans for all the children, Maddy and I talked about The Princess Diaries, Active Volcanoes, and lots of other things you probably don’t care about. More relevantly, today we helped the kids make custom t-shirts. The kindergarten girls did a magnificent job, decorating theirs with symmetrical patterns, circles, and shapes. However, most of the boys did less “painting” and more “splattering”. Typical. Other than that, today was much of the same. On a serious note, we are all so thankful for the organizers of this trip, Browns Bridge Church staff, leaders, and our “senders” who supported this trip. It’s been an amazing experience to love, hug, play, dance, and paint with children who come from such unfortunate circumstances. And most importantly, it’s all about God, and that isn’t just what we want, but what the world needs. We will be forgotten, but God will always be remembered. We are thankful that He has led us to be “The light of the world” and we cannot wait to see our ticos tomorrow!

-Mason Waters

Lomas Kindergarden:

At Lomas Kindergarden, we touched up the windows where we painted, and scraped off the excess paint with razors. For lunch we had some of the most delicious fried fish with some fresh mangoes. After lunch we taught 2 classes. We started by introducing ourselves and reciting our memory verse. We had the first class paint crosses and decorate slap bracelets, since they don’t speak english, I had to translate to Spanish. The second class had the children decorate slap bracelets. Then they played a game called “tierra y agua” or “land and water”. I loved playing with the kids and teaching them. They loved all of the activities, especially painting. However, they seemed to enjoy painting my arms more than their crosses. They were just full of so much joy and happiness; I could spend every day with them. Also, today I helped hand out the 1,300 soccer balls to the children of Lomas Elementary. It was amazing to be able to see the joy on their faces and to see how happy they were to receive something as simple as a soccer ball. Some kids even asked me to sign their soccer balls! I absolutely love spending time with these kids and it will be hard to leave them Thursday.

-AJ Haney

Lomas Elementary:

Today has been an absolutely amazing day!! We have been truly overwhelmed by the faithfulness and love of God. The team that went to Lomas today experienced a day that can only be described as a gift from God. Starting out, the day we split up into three groups: one painting and sponging a classroom, one continuing to work on our mural, and one loving on the sweet children of Lomas Elementary. Around lunch time we were able to do something very, very special for all of the children at Lomas. We were able to give each child in the school their very own soccer ball to take home with them. Words cannot even described the pure joy that these kids had upon receiving their soccer balls! It was so humbling to see such a small gesture doing so much for these sweet children. After writing their names and drawing pictures on their soccer balls, each child made it a point to get as many signatures or “autobiografias” as they could. Although we came bearing gifts for them, it is needless to say that the gifts that they gave us were even greater. We have been absolutely filled up with love and grace from these kids; it is evident to see God working in their lives and in Lomas Elementary School. Additionally, we found a new team mascot in the form of a cute puppy – Pepe. Pepe may actually end up coming back to the United States in someone’s carry-on. After a day like this it is hard not to feel rejuvenated for the rest of the trip and we are so excited for what is to come!

-Miller Cone