It has been said many times that the Lord is all around us every day, but it wasn’t until I traveled hundreds of miles to the Central American country of Costa Rica that this expression became a reality. During the summer of 2009, I joined my church family and our mission group to journey to Alajuela, Costa Rica. As anyone would expect I was very anxious to learn all the details of our trip including, where we would be staying, items to pack, work to prepare for, and most importantly the time and date of our flights. Unfortunately, I was not given any of this information! The leader of our mission simply told us to bring a bible and an open heart.
When I was finally informed of our flight details, I spent the entire week planning and packing for my trip. What I did not realize was that no amount of preparation could possibly prepare me for my world to be completely changed. When our flight landed in San Jose, Costa Rica our mission group was greeted by locals that were eager to work. I had never seen men scramble so fast to grab luggage or escort us to our van waiting outside. As we rode on a bus to the neighboring town of Alajuela we immediately encountered the poverty stricken communities. Unlike in the United States, homes in Costa Rica are built of scrap metal, floors consist of broken tile and mud, and yards have cement rather than grass. Each property is barred with security fences to protect their personal belongings because crime is extremely high in these underprivileged communities. As we arrived at Iglesia Cristiana Evangelica Metodista Agape Church where we would be living for a week, I knew that God had brought me here in hopes that I would look at life in a different light.
After seeing the devastation for the first time, I immediately asked, “How can we assist these people”? The next morning we began God’s work by painting flower pots and walls at the local grade school. The children surrounded us with love and amazement because our mission group cared enough about them to improve their living conditions. We spent three mornings at that school and each day the children were even more pleased to see us. Twice a day our mission group held a vacation bible school in which we would have a bible lesson, crafts, and games. On the first day of VBS we had an attendance of twenty children, but by the middle of the week our attendance rose to one hundred students per class. Not only did we provide support to the children of Costa Rica, but we also assisted local families. A program called Unto the Least of His that is organized in Middle Georgia has donated over 200 pallets of clothing to Costa Rican communities. While in Alajuela we helped by delivering unfortunate families these clothes. Our group also provided one church family with three months food supply, because their three children were starving daily.
Indeed the Lord guides each giving hand to change the lives of others. While in the beautiful rainforest of Costa Rica my mission group was blessed to provide better living conditions to those who are in desperate need of daily necessities. In return each of our giving souls received insight into the lives of others and was touched by the courage and strength of these people. The most memorable part of my traveling experience was the mutual love of God and his presence in each of the souls we helped.
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