Costa Rica in a New Light

I knew going into this trip that it would be impactful, but I didn’t know quite how big it would be.

I normally keep memories by taking pictures, but this trip deserved more. So throughout the week I spent hours getting footage of the trip to compile into a summarized video. After showing everyone, I realized that the video was something more emotional and memorable than any photos could be.

Thanks for taking a moment to let me share the trip from my perspective.

~ Jonathan Hanks

Superhero Wrecked

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Wow what a start to the week we have already had.

The amount of courage today took for me and my team at Lomas is beyond compare, it was all grace from God. I have never experienced so much patience with those kids and I have never been so loved on by amazing creations from our Heavenly Father. Every student was so welcoming and open to playing or talking as much as we could. I’ve never experienced something as powerful as this and felt so moved by children who have so little. It really makes me take a step back at reality and think about what I do take for granted and everything I am offered and how thankful they are for what they have. It makes me realize how much more thankful I am for the world I live.

These kids today saw us a their superheroes and saw us as rock stars and look up to us, I cannot wait to grow stronger relationships with each and every one of them throughout the rest of this week. We made super man capes with them and told them that God was their superhero and that he would be there for you through all you fear and troubles. Watching their faces light up and their imagination come to life, made my heart so happy. I really cannot wait to see what is coming up for our week.

I’m ready for my heart to be wrecked by my one true God.

~ Sydney H.

Words from Emma

iPhone journal entry provided by Emma H

We woke up, super early. About 6:45 headed to breakfast, might I add being the first ones there and ready to go. (This is a big deal, we are late to everything haha) today we are heading to church and to do a walking tour of Costa Rica. due to their culture, all the girls are wearing long skirts. it’s actually really cool to see everyone in such a different light. the scenery is breathtaking. maybe not because it’s the most clean and upscale place, but because it’s so different. it’s so out of the normal for me and out of my comfort zone. looking around and having everything be different from my everyday point of view, is something that just makes you look a little closer and be a little more engaged. Knowing God reaches all the way here beyond my little johns creek bubble is something that just brings joy to my heart. of course I already knew this, but seeing it for myself is an incredible feeling.

Heading to church was our first experience getting to see all of the city. I couldn’t stop looking out the window seeing all of the scenery. the buildings are so different than what we see in the u.s. But then the nature too is beautiful. the mountains and the fog in the morning are a sight too good for a picture.

We headed to the market next. where it was constant movement with everyone there. it was a routine for the people there. they knew what they wanted, where it was, and how to obtain us. for us, it was nothing of the norm. our Costa Rican leaders challenged us to find a list of fruits. while this may seem a simple task, it was entirely difficult trying to complete when we were not a regular. we knew very little Spanish and trying to communicate with the vendors was complicated. some were nicer than others. some would slow down and talk through it with us while some didn’t really want to give us the time of day. eventually we got all the fruit we needed. we got to try all the fruit which was so cool. it was all so good and so different tasting. it was different to need so much help. we couldn’t do much for ourselves besides attempt to communicate to ask for help. looking around we all started to notice we were the minority. it’s a little intimidating and scary but it’s beyond my comfort zone and that’s exactly where I asked God to take me.

Next we headed to church. it’s called Openhouse here in Costa Rica. It’s a strategic partner church for north point. they have all the same programs. upstreet, transit, insideout. but it’s much smaller. it’s not as developed, as they do not even have a building to call their own yet. they hold their services at a hotel right now.

Getting to see all the small rooms for the different programs was eye-opening. north point was there once. we were that small once. but as long as you invest, invite, and really reach the unreached, it can become north point. they’re all so passionate about growing and expanding. they have the same hearts as us. the same mission, the same passion. that fire is inside of all of us, it’s a fire God sets.

The service itself was very similar to a north point service. the loud, concert like worship, and the sermon that comes off more as a conversation with an old friend. of course for us, we had a translator speaking to us through headphones which made it hard to keep up. For me personally, I couldn’t stop just looking around in awe of the things God was doing in Costa Rica rather than the sermon itself. but I do know he told the story of David and Goliath. which for us on this trip is a pretty good story to hear. we go at this nervous and not sure what’s in store, but with God on our side, we can be fearless and brave. and that’s what we’re doing. we are just as broken and imperfect as the people we are serving, but we are granted an opportunity and with God, we can take it with bravery and fearlessly.

We headed to lunch at the hotel, had a little free time to change and just kinda relaxed for a second. then we headed out on the busses to do a walking tour of San Jose. we walked around while our Costa Rican leaders told us all the history. I couldn’t help but to keep thinking to myself how sad it was to see how run down such a beautiful place was. they tell you this all the time before you head out on the trip, but until you see if for yourself, it’s not really real. so much of the downtown was run down, vandalized or falling apart. and we haven’t even gotten to the places we are going to serve?? wow what a sight we must be in store for tomorrow. it’s time to try to mentally prepare for how much this place is really struggling and the fact that we are going to be the light of hope for the people of the area.

After walking we headed to a souvenir shop where we experienced bargaining with the Costa Rican vendors. it was exciting attempting to speak and communicate with them in order to get what you wanted. we headed to the hotel next to get dinner.

After dinner, we sang some worship songs. which lemme tell ya, they were some good pump up songs. after this we sat together as a group and let Ben speak some real truth into us heading into not only this week, but our senior year. something he said was “are you going to step up or step back?” And this was a lot deeper than it seems. are you ready to step up to the opportunity God has for you? are you ready to let fear go and go all in? God’s plan is the best plan, but fear becomes an obstacle in the way of going all in with God. we learned about the story of Joshua and Caleb. he compared the difference in the two stories being told to Moses. (to check out these stories check out numbers in that cool thing called the bible) 10 of the 12 came back telling everyone all about the obstacles they were going to face, while Joshua and Caleb came back telling everyone about the amazing God they were blessed with. so that’s the question. what’s your report? are you going to make your report about the challenges in life or keep the focus on God? People of strong faith tell their problems how big their God is, while people of weak faith tell God how big their problems are. You can choose to see God in all circumstances. But just because you see God doesn’t mean everything is going to go your way, he promises us hard times, but also promises to be there through it all.

This is my prayer for the year. I want to be a person of strong faith, I want to tell my problems that they are insignificant because my God is for me. As for this week, I am so excited to see what’s in store. We start working tomorrow. I hope to be the hope for these kids. To be the light. I want to show them the joy that comes from Jesus. I can’t wait to see what’s in store for me and my team. I not only want God to come in and wreck the kids, I want him to wreck my own heart and those of my team members. From here, I want to take this home. I don’t want this fire to end. i want to take the passion we have here and bring it home. Continuing to spread the love and joy that comes from Jesus. It doesn’t have to end here. But this is just the beginning.

Faith by Deeds

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James 2:18  says that we show our true faith in God by our deeds. What we do with our faith determines if we truly have it or not.

Today, a group of 59 people (including myself), leave for Costa Rica to take a true test of our faith. After months of stressful fundraising and team bonding, we are all finally ready to show the world the work that God has been doing in our lives these past few months. We are finally ready to show the grace and glory of God by humbly serving him in a place that so desperately needs a light.

1500x1125We will be leaving the airport this afternoon, and I can honestly say it has been a long time since I’ve been this excited. I personally was up until two o’clock this morning because of my elation for this trip, and I spent most of the night last night talking with a few others who were feeling the same way. Needless to say, we’re all so grateful for this opportunity God has given us, and beyond thankful for all the people who helped us get here.

 

– Robert W.

Seniors Rule!

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You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love.

-Galatians 5:13

This summer, 60 people will embark on another journey to carry out what this verse calls us to do – serve. As rising seniors in High School we will travel the 1,691 miles to Costa Rica to spread God’s love, and build our faith by serving Him. We’re so blessed and grateful to have this awesome opportunity, and we know we’ll arrive back in America with hearts filled with more love and compassion than we ever thought possible.

I hope this trip really opens our eyes to the world. As teenagers in today’s technology- driven, instant-update world, it’s so important for us to be able to drift outside of our comfort zones and see how much more is truly out there for us. Seeing these people who live such different lives than us will help us to learn and grow, not only as people, but also in our faith. We’ll be praying extra hard for those we met who are struggling, and we’d be constantly thanking God for all He’s put in our lives that we didn’t even consider until we saw those without. Above all, we’ll see all the love and smiles the people of Costa Rica have, and I know it’ll make us better people. We’ll come back changed – maybe just a little bit, but it’ll be enough for this group of sixty to get back to Georgia and start spreading the love that we had been exposed to in Costa Rica.

My name is Bailey Andree, and I will be contributing to the blog for this trip. I am so excited to be part of this, and honestly cannot wait for July 16th to come along! Coming into this team, I only knew three people, and I’m the type of person that takes a while to bust out of their shell. So, needless to say I was a little bit nervous joining a 60-person group, 57 of which I didn’t even recognize. But, when the meeting started and broke into small groups after hearing from the leaders, I was pulled out of my shell a little bit. Everyone acted like a family, even though many were in the same boat I was. I’m so glad we were like that at the first meeting, because by the time we make it to the real deal, our companionship and love for one another will carry us forward and enable this trip to be successful.

I’m so excited to take part in this trip, and I can’t wait for what the future holds. Thank you all so much for supporting us on this life-changing journey, and we look forward to what’s in store!

Sincerely,

Bailey Andree

Day 3 at The Centers

El Manantial – Sarah Kate

In a city that’s big bright and beautiful a soul could become submerged in the crowed but the beautiful souls of these children are so individual to me. The city that surrounds them may be big but the hearts of the children are bigger. It’s almost humorous how a tiny baby can make me reevaluate the way I think. What about them is so precious? Everything. The contagious laughs and smiles, the way they can simply love and adore you even if they can’t remember your name. They indulge with their sweet personalities better than any candy bar. Today these tiny people who aren’t even two became my best friends. It is a blessing for them to be introduced to the love of God at such a young and vulnerable age. It’s awe inspiring to see the unusual ways that he works to change the lives of others to see his true love and beauty. I can not but look at these kids with the highest admiration. Hallmark movies are correct when they say you can fall in love in 3 days. Love is finding the laughs of children soothing. Love is finding almost every aspect of the other completely compelling. I am madly in love with these kids like they were my own family and I am beyond happy or giddy. I am indescribably filled with glee!

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Finca San Juan – Mackenzie W

Today was my second day playing with the kids and I was so excited to be back with them. We set up a craft and got mentally prepared for the controlled chaos we were about to endure. One of the Open House Staff let the children in and the rapid rush of kids flooded the room. Our craft was beaded pipe cleaners that we made into the Jesus fish. At certain times more than half the kids were doing crafts or drawing with us. We played soccer and freeze dance with a cutest little boy becoming the DJ, dancing and singing on stage. The endless piggy back races with not one but two kids on your back is tough but you’re not even thinking of that when you see what joy it brings them. Most of these kids live one or two streets over from the school and walk to school everyday. We have been ending the day with the kids the same way everyday with a huge water fight. They start of with a every one on holding the perimeter of a big trap then the leaders throw the water balloons onto the trap and the kids go crazy waving the trap up and down while shouting “water” or “explode”. When saying goodbye they cling to your side not wanting to leave and confirm  over a million times that you will be back the next day. I know my team is dreading when that answer becomes no because we have fallen in love with all of the kids and the team we are with. After lunch we played another game of soccer with the professional painters and the staff of open house unfortunately we kicked both of our balls over the fence during the game but retrieved them later. We have made huge progress with the rooms and started on painting the desk today. We as a team paint the base color and the kids paint whatever else they want on the desk. I’m so lucky to be working with such an amazing team and just watching how much joy and love they put into the kids. I’m honored to be working next to them. Please enjoy this special video from today.

Wednesday video

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Quince- Ansleigh & Ansley

This morning we started off the day by visiting the new center of Robleato, which was in the center of the village where a lot of the children live. The center was surrounded by shacks and poverty however, the center itself was looking really good and was coming along really fast. This center is going to be created by a miracle from God for these kids. It was really cool to see the impact that God is making in such a poor area.

After touring the new center, we headed back to Quince for our third day with the kids. We both got to spend the day with kids around the age of 3. The girls loved to brush our hair and pretend to put makeup on us. When the girls would be too rough when brushing our hair, the teacher would remind them “suave y con amor”, which translates to “smooth and with love”. It was so fun to watch God loving and caring for these children through their teachers and through us. Although we are so sad that tomorrow is our last day, we are so happy that we have been able to make a small difference in these children’s lives.
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