After months of raising funds, team meetings, preparing and praying, the 2015 NPCC IO Costa Rica team finally made it to San Jose, Costa Rica.
It was a VERY early start to our day with most students having to wake up at 4:30 am to get ready and be to the international terminal in Atlanta by 6:45 am. Amazingly, everyone made it on time, with their passports, through security, and to our gates with zero problems – which is quite a feat with 53 people traveling together!
We had about a 3 1/2 hour flight with minimum turbulence (but a bit of a bumpy landing). Security in Costa Rica was busy and the lines were long but we were so excited to be in Costa Rica that it really didn’t matter.
We were greeted by a group of smiling Open House team members (a partner church of North Point Ministries right here in Costa Rica!) Our teams split off into two buses to be transported to our hotel in San Jose – just a 10 minute drive from the airport.
After getting off the busses we headed to the top floor of the hotel to the conference room for lunch and the view of the mountains of Costa Rica took our breath away – the natural beauty of this country is jaw dropping and we all had to pause to take it all in (then snap a TON of pictures because thats what we do!)
After an amazing Costa Rican lunch with a ton of local vegetable dishes, we heard from the Open House team about their partner organizations in the community where they serve almost exclusively children at risk. This week our team will be serving with Roble Alto Ministries centers and Finca San Juan school. We learned about the activities we will be doing including playing with kids (of course!) but also working to improve the child care centers and school through painting and construction projects.
Our hearts broke to learn that 20% of the people in Costa Rica live below the poverty level and of that 20%, almost half of those are children. This leads children most vulnerable to drugs, gangs, sex trafficking, emotional abuse, just to name a few. Many children here drop out of school to support their families through selling items on the street and working in coffee bean fields, this leads to a lack of education and without education, this cycle continues.
After learning about the issues that the children of San Jose face, we were even more excited to be serving them this week.
We headed back to the busses after lunch to head to the city for a walking tour. Costa Rica has two seasons here – “winter” and summer or it can also be called rainy and dry season as it never really gets cold in Costa Rica. We are currently in the winter – or rainy – season and IT RAINED ALRIGHT!
As soon as we began our walking tour it began to almost down pour! Half of us remembered our rain coats but no one really seemed to mind the rain. We learned some Costa Rican history and took in some historic sights. We ended the tour in a market where we browsed and bargained for some souvenirs to bring back home.
We headed back to the hotel where we had an hour or so of down time to unpack a little or rest before heading back to the conference room for dinner.
All of us were definitely hungry and definitely tired after a long day of traveling and sight seeing. Once again, we had a delicious Costa Rican meal with rice and chicken and lots of veggies, and a local juice was served called cas popular among the “Ticos”.
Once we wrapped up dinner, we headed down to the lobby to hang out and watch the Gold Cup soccer game to see Costa Rica play El Salvador (current score: Costa Rica – 1 El Salvador – 0).
We are ready for bed and looking forward to another fun and exciting day tomorrow – stay tuned for updates tomorrow night!
Please continue to pray for our health, our safety, (good weather, possibly? ha!) and of course, that God will use each of our individual and unique talents to serve his people in Costa Rica.