After over a month of outreach, I have been stretched in so many ways. Just to give you an idea of some of our experiences, over the past 2 weeks I have lived in the jungle, hearing monkeys screech at night; been chased by a herd of cows on the road; crossed the channel in a ferry; got thorns in my hands; and washed dishes with rainwater as it fell from the sky. Such a variety of people, places, and opportunities. Since my last update we have been to 3 different places - Cobano, Nicoya, and Monteverde. After doing night ministry in Jaco for three nights we traveled to Cobano, which is on the southern coast of the Nicoyan penninsula (on the western side of Costa Rica). We took an hour ferry ride across the channel to reach the penninsula.
Cobano is a small beach town, but we stayed outside the town at a really cool Christian retreat center in the jungle. The 3 days we spent there were to refresh before going into a week of intense ministry. The time we spent in Cobano was so good - we had time to relax, as well as prayer time on the beach in Montezuma, a nearby town. We had the chance to help out with a church service that takes place at the retreat center. One of my favorite parts of the night was washing the feet of the congregation - it was the first time I had served someone in this way, and it was very humbling and special. More than anything, this week helped refresh my spirit by spending time with the Lord. Sometimes I get so caught up in doing ministry or hanging out with my teammates that I don't spend much time with God. This is always when I start to feel lonely or empty - I need to be filled up again.
After Cobano we traveled to Nicoya, where there is a YWAM base. It's much smaller and in a more rural area than our base in San Jose. It's a much newer base, so there aren't as many schools or ministries going on, but it was great to be there and get to help out. For four days we helped out with their Bible distribution ministry in a nearby community. Basically we split into teams of people from our team and some locals from a church that was helping us. The locals showed up where to go in their town and we passed out Bibles to every house in that community. It was so much more than just giving out Bibles though - we talked with people at each house, encouraging them in faith, and praying for them. One of the most important things I learned throughout this ministry is just to be honest with people. If they're having problems or feel broken, it's good to let them know that we are struggling too. No one is perfect. Sharing our weaknesses can sometimes allow people to open up and be more ready to receive Christ's love.
The week in Nicoya was challenging for me because I didn't feel like I was making a huge impact every day. But then I realized that even just encouraging someone in their walk with the Lord is so critical. And often we don't know the impact we have on someone until after we leave their house. I also got to share a message one night at the base - it was about discipline in our Christian walk and being obedient to God's call for us. Most of you know that I hate public speaking. I overcame some of my fear this week! Already on outreach I have shared short messages a couple times now and tonight I'm going to talk about YWAM at a youth event. God is definitely giving me more confidence.
We just arrived in Monteverde yesterday. It's cold here because we're in a more mountainous region and it's further north. Today we did a short presentation in a high school and helped out with some projects there. Tomorrow is the youth event. One exciting thing happened yesterday. Our group went to eat dinner at this restaurant because we got in late, and a few of us walked over to the souvenir shop next door while we were waiting. We started talking to the store owner, and he was really interested in what we are doing here. So we shared about missions and prayed for him. I think God really used us to bless this man!
Every day here I am in awe of what God is doing in my life and how he's using our team. I am so grateful to have this experience, and even as I think about coming home, I'm thinking about what the next season of my life will hold. I don't know yet, but I know God has a plan. I just have to trust him. I miss you all back in the states and I'm thinking about you!