15 de Septiembre – Lindsay
Today marked the beginning of what we have all been looking forward to, beyond the breathtaking views Costa Rica offers. My group ate breakfast at 7 am knowing that we were a few hours from meeting children and teachers that would impress our hearts, undoubtedly forever. We took a lengthy but scenic drive to Roblealto, the organization that started the centers we traveled to. At Roblealto we learned from Diana and Andre about the organization and more about our purpose.
Once my group arrived at 15 de septiembre we were greeted by smiling and screaming, happy children. It was one of the finer welcoming’s I’ve ever had and our entire team could not suppress our smiles. Diana and one of Quince’s teachers, Viviana, led us on a tour of the nice facilities. After this, we split up in two groups; painters and teacher helpers. We were led – with overwhelming excitement – to meet the sweet children we’d be with for the remainder of the week.
The hugs were constant and the hand holding in abundance. The language barrier was so irrelevant – it doesn’t even have the right to bear the name “barrier”. We helped the teachers and children with lunch and then went to the classrooms and assisted with nap time. Every age group faced different levels of reluctance to sleep!
Next, our team was given a lunch of soup and rice. During nap time we either painted, washed windows, or washed dishes. Finally, the children awoke and it was craft time – always a crowd favorite! We made bracelets on pipe cleaners (which is considerably easier to work with than string).
The remainder of the day contained more playing and hugging and wondering what the other person just said. Needless to say, we all left in love with a child…or ten!
El Manantial – Sarah Kate
Wow what a day today! I never could have imagined I could fall in love with a group of people so hard, so fast! Why? I am honestly, just simply “me”…
But simply me seems to be everything for them.
Most of the time I can’t even understand what they are saying to me and no matter how many times “no sé” is used, they keep talking and bringing a huge smile on my face! Something as easy as dancing to no music in a park made these kids feel like I was their best friend and they were mine.
The warmth of those around me brought a light of hope to me that even though I am so different from them, I am still accepted by them. No judgement, no shame – all love for each other and our Father!
When we were walking down the streets today to the park, hearing the kids yell, “padre” and “Jesús” as we passed a statue of our Savior, made me completely wonderfully content and joyful! Even though I was in a place I had never been, I knew God was watching over me!
What love that is!
See my video from the park – crio15SarahKate
Finca San Juan School – Leila (aka “Mama Janks”)
What an incredible day serving with our students, and the sun came out today!
As a group leader on this mission team, I get double the blessings on this trip! Not only do I get to have my own personal experience serving, but I get to witness students, with a HUGE heart for God, have such incredible and life defining moments themselves.
As a Christian, a parent, and just a human being, it warms my heart and gets me SO EXCITED for all of the people our students will impact and inspire not only this week, but well into the future. What God is doing in them and through them during this mission will undoubtedly have a ripple effect, not only in their own lives, but in the lives of so many people on an ongoing basis- THAT GIVES ME GOOSEBUMPS!
Today our team went to Finca San Juan school which is about 45 minutes away from our hotel and is located in a very poor neighborhood. The conditions of the way people lived and how the neighborhood looked did not go unnoticed by our students. Many of them commented on how seeing this affected them, it definitely was a lot different than how they live and made them pause and reflect on the difference of how their lives are in comparison to others.
In Costa Rica, the government pays the teacher’s salaries at the schools but that’s about it. Supplies and the upkeep of the schools is the entire responsibility of the school. As you can imagine, this leaves most schools in poor condition.
Our goal for the week is not only to run a summer camp for the children of the school through games and activities, but also to renovate three classrooms by removing all of the furniture, sanding the walls, repairing ceilings, and completely repainting the entire room.
During the first half of our day, half of our team worked in the classrooms renovating while the other half played with the kids.
I can tell you this, our students BLASTED through the classrooms today! The progress they made was incredible – they worked non-stop and it showed! They were sweaty, dirty, but so happy with what they were able to accomplish in a single day (so much so, they want to try and paint additional classrooms for the school!)
The students who ran the summer camp were greeted by 40 smiling and happy kids today who were so thrilled to see visitors from the United States! Lots of squealing and laughing could be heard the entire time and our students did an incredible job organizing the chaos of a small army of 2nd and 3rd graders. There was kickball, soccer, basketball, freeze dance, crafts, jump rope, and more all going on at once and it was AMAZING! And, very often you’d see our students getting tackled or hugged (or both!) by the children.
The school was noticeably quiet when it was time for the kids to go home but our day wasn’t over! After an incredible lunch served to our team by the school cook, our entire team joined together to work on the classrooms. I am so, so, so proud of what our team was able to accomplish in those rooms today – each and everyone of them working so hard because they want those precious kids to have an inviting and comfortable classroom environment to learn in.
After we wrapped up at the center, we headed back to the hotel for some showers and a little down time. We shared some dinner with our entire mission team then headed to small group where the Finca San Juan team gathered to talk about our highs and lows of the day and have some devotion time. But before we did that, I lead our group through a 10 minute meditation and a few yoga headstands (ask them about it when they get home!)
It’s time to log off and get some zzzz’s – we have another fun and exciting day of service tomorrow. Please continue to pray for good health, and for physical and emotional strength to serve God’s beautiful children in Costa Rica. Pray that whoever we meet this week gets a glimmer of Christ’s love through us. Finally, please pray that the seeds that are being planted here through these experiences firmly take root, and bloom in a way that positively impact our lives, relationships, homes, schools, and communities when we arrive home!