Thursday, October 13, 2011

Sweat, Ice Cream, and Jesus

     We are now on our third week of outreach traveling around Costa Rica. The first week we went to Cartago, San Jose, and Heredia doing various ministries like serving meals to the homeless, talking to a men's group in drug rehabilitation, and praying at the top of a volcano (one of my personal favorites). Throughout this week I learned how to listen. Many times I am so anxious to talk to people and tell them all about myself, but this week I was really humbled in learning how to just be a good listener. I met so many different people on the streets and in different ministries we did, and most of them just needed someone to hear their story. For example, a man I met at the homeless shelter just opened up completely to me and told me all about his life when I approached him. It was as if he hadn't had anyone to talk to in months. Even though I wanted to share with him as well, letting him release all his emotions was a way of showing love to him. In the end I had the opportunity to pray with him, which was such a blessing (and hopefully an encouragement to him). Although approaching strangers on the street can sometimes be scary, valuing them as children of God and just spending time with them is such a powerful witness.
     Last week our group traveled to Puerto Viejo, a tiny beach town on the Caribbean coast. There is a lot of Jaimacan influence there - rastas, reggae music, and surfers. The weather was super muggy and hot - within half an hour of arriving all of us were sweating. This week was more challenging for me because our schedule was so vague and flexible. Each day we worked with a different ministry, but most days we had lots of free time as well. Sometimes I felt like we weren't doing much, but I realized that even when we weren't doing a group ministry, prayer is always needed. So I spent a lot of time just praying on the beach for this community. Though it's a small town, there are lots of drug and alcohol problems here...many people have lived here their whole lives and just feel empty - without a purpose. A couple of our days here we did service projects - painting a church and helping out at a local coffee shop. This was a great way to get to know people in the town and simply share our faith through our actions.
     This week we are in Jaco, a beach town on the Pacific side. The atmosphere here is completely different than in Puerto Viejo. It's a bigger town and it has more of an urban feel. Also, the past few days here it has been really rainy and because of this the ocean is super muddy and choppy. YWAM has a skatepark ministry here as well as a program reaching out to prostitutes. Prostitution and drugs has become a huge problem here, especially at night, mainly due to it being a popular tourist location. Our ministries here have been much more laid-back but really good. One day we picked up trash around town and prayed for the people who live here. Another day we had to each make a new friend in the community - I met a tica girl about my age and a man from Canada who work in a bookstore. It was cool to just spend time with them and hang out in the bookstore. Later this week we'll being doing ministry at night - probably prayer and working with the homeless and prostitutes.
     Outreach has been awesome so far - God has taught me so much through various conversations and just living in community. It can be frustrating living with the same people day after day - but patience comes with time. I'm loving this country more every day - the people are so friendly and open. The rainforest and beaches are BEAUTIFUL. I even saw a monkey last week! And my Spanish is improving - I've had several good conversations with people in Spanish, and Ticos are always willing to help you learn. :) One of the most important things that has been getting me through outreach is to always depend on God to provide. James 4:13-15 says:
"Now listen, you who say, 'Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.' Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. Instead, you ought to say, 'If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.' "

   ***Thank you for your continued prayers. It's been a great adventure!

1 comment:

  1. So great to hear from you! You and your team are constantly in my prayers. Everything for the glory of God! Love, Mom