On my summer trip to Costa Rica, through an organization called Youth With a Mission (YWAM), I encountered a serious speed bump while traveling with my youth group. On the third day of the trip we were helping a woman that led a church by cutting down extreme rainforest overgrowth, on a hillside, with machetes, in a neighborhood controlled by two feuding drug cartels. Very dangerous work! I assumed that was going to be the most exciting part of the trip but little did I know what was ahead.
Later that day, I felt some unusual stomach pain but thought nothing of it. It persisted for hours and finally got to the point where I had trouble walking. I approached my leader to describe the pain and when his face dropped I knew something was really wrong. Appendicitis! The pain rapidly increased and the decision was quickly made to transport me for medical help. Pablo, my driver, gave me the choice of a free clinic or a hospital. Super easy decision! Even with the speed and swerving of his erratic driving, the thought of what was happening began to weigh heavily on my mind. I was in a foreign country headed to get emergency surgery which could ultimately be my last stop if the healthcare was not superb. As we neared our destination I became increasingly ready to die but prayed I would walk away unscathed. Once we arrived at Hospital Clinica Biblica in San Jose my heart fell at rest as I gazed upon a magnificent facility.
When I realized my trip was taking an entirely different turn then I originally planned, I could only try and make the best of the situation. I’m just not sure what the funniest part of the experience was. My two years of Spanish were quite insufficient to communicate. I only caught bits and pieces when the hospital personnel spoke medical jargon in Spanish. My youth leader knew even less Spanish then I did. Realizing he needed to handle the situation, he proceeded to the internet to google medical questions in Spanish. He practiced speaking them to me and then went to the nurses’ station for the real test only to provide much laughter for everyone involved. And, how would he have known the answer that was provided in Spanish?
The funniest motion had to be the universal hand symbol to let the nurses know I needed a TV remote. I chuckled with disgust when there were only two English speaking channels available with one being the Food Network. Let me mention that I could only have broth.
Laughter continued with the nurse who finally gave up on speaking Spanish when she walked in and just came in silence, jabbed me with a shot, and left in silence. Surely one of the top moments for amusement was when the staff told me to take off my boxers, three times, but I just smiled and stared at them.
In all seriousness, if a medical situation arises, the care at Clinica Biblica (www.clinicabiblica.com) was superb and I was so thankful and blessed I was able to stay there. YWAM (www.ywamsj.org) is also an excellent Christian organization to work with if you desire to serve others. They offer many options from building homes for poor families to working with children at risk.
My Costa Rican adventure was an experience I certainly won’t forget and taught me valuable life lessons. Never take life for granted because you don’t know what situation you may encounter that could affect the rest of your life.
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