Studying the Bible was our theme this week, and we had a very interesting first class. We took the bus downtown to the park to study specific Biblical passages. We all spread out across the park and read passages from the Bible aloud in small groups. As we were reading the verses en voz alta, it was awesome see the diversity of the different books – poetry, hymns, stories, parables, advice, and visions. We were challenged to think about what they meant for the original readers when the book was written. During our Bible study this week I have realized how what was written thousands of years ago is still applicable to us today. In the book of Judges, it talks about how God repeatedly sends his people a judge to help them stay faithful and lead them on the right path. And every time, the Israelites mess up again and stray from worshipping God. But through all their mistakes and betrayal, God remains forgiving and merciful. He always gives them a second chance. Today God is the same – no matter how much we try to live our lives independent of him, he keeps pulling us back into his embrace.
During the rest of the week we did an in-depth study of the book of Philemon. This is one of the shortest books of the Bible yet there is so much in it! The purpose of the book is Paul’s pleading for a slave to be released and freed to do the work of Christ. Just as Paul pleaded for the life of Philemon, God is pleading for our lives to be given to him. God wants us to give up our rights to him. One of the greatest challenged for me this week was missing home and life in the states. I found myself complaining frequently about not having a hot shower, my own room, and being able to drive to the store when I wanted to. Then I realized that these are rights that God gave me, even though I don’t deserve them. I am privileged to have grown up in a loving family, to have shoes to wear, and to have an education. Here in Costa Rica I don’t have all the luxuries of home, and I have to be willing to give these up to serve God. I am learning to surrender these rights to God daily. Sometimes obeying the Lord requires that we live in conditions different than what we’re used to. The beauty of it is that God will provide everything we need in his time.
Another way I am being stretched here is living in community. For about the first month I was in this bubble of bliss, soaking up the joy in the new friends I had made, but at some point there came the struggles as well. There are times when the little habits of my roommates really get to me, or when I am sick of having to make small talk at lunch with the same people day after day. There are days when I just need to get away and take a walk by myself to think clearly. But then I think about going home to a room alone, and I know I will miss these beautiful women I share a room with, the conversations we have, and the hours spent with my classmates just hanging out being goofy. I am truly blessed to be here with this amazing group of people who are passionate about knowing God and walking with him daily.
Last night I had the opportunity to work with Freedom Streets, the human trafficking ministry here. A couple weeks ago I had gone to observe and pray, but I didn’t have any interactions with the prostitutes on the street. For a week or so I was really struggling with whether I had the capability to relate to these people who had been trafficked – what did I have in common with them? How could I start a conversation with them? Over this week, I started to think about the ministry in a different way. Even though my life experience has not been anything like that of the prostitutes we talk with, I can simply treat them as friends and love them. The most important thing is to let these men and women know that they are valued. Through these relationships comes the opportunity to share about Christ.
The title of my blog means in English “A light that shines in the darkness.” This comes from John 1:5 which talks about Jesus coming to earth as the light, which the darkness cannot overcome. What came to my mind was that we are a light in the darkness, representing hope for these victims. So when we went to the streets I had the mentality of just hanging out with and loving the people we encountered. I asked God to give me an understanding of Spanish, and he did. Another girl and I talked to a woman for about 20 minutes in Spanish, just joking with her and sharing with her about life. After that encounter, I knew that God would continue to give me confidence and the language skills I needed to bless the people I talked to. Even when we can’t change someone’s situation, just talking to them without judging is enough to give them hope.
I have loved the unity that we've experienced on in our DTS class since being here. Thought we've had our challenges, we stick together. :) Here is a picture of our team:
Spanish word of the day: abrumado means overwhelmed
Psalm 139: 1,4 “Lord, you have searched me and you know me… before a word is on my tongue you know it completely, O Lord.”