Sunday, February 15, 2009

Day 9! Our Final Day in Costa Rica

Today is the day on any short-term trip that team members face with a mixture of joy and sorrow. The joy is because we are heading home soon to our family and friends. The sorrow comes because in just a few short days, relationships have developed and lasting friendships have begun. But for every team this day must come and so we face it with grace.

A little extra sleep helps us recover a bit from the hard week. At the same time, we realize a few more aches, a few more bug bites and a bit more "internal issues" than we would like. The good news is that no one individual is dealing with all three!

We go to church again at CCA and enjoy their Latin influenced worship style. It feels more comfortable for us this week since we have had the opportunity to meet some of the people throughout the past week. The message is about caring for the fatherless and the widows. I am struck by the importance of a community of believers who consistently maintains a ministry of service and care to these parts of the body. I was especially challenged to the fact that many men going through rehab say they began their struggles as at risk children, thus building the case for the importance of men mentoring into the lives of children and young teens.

After a quick lunch, we head to Jasmin for the "Final Game in the World Series of Baseball" between the US and Nicaragua. OR as it is commonly known, the old Gringos vs the young boys of Jasmin. Many of these boys have heard about baseball, but never gotten the chance to play. With only a little coaching -- in another language remember, the boys get the hang of it. Rodney wisely brought a whiffle ball and plastic bat to play with since there is only a small peice of flat ground to use for the game. A small group of parents gather on the hill above us to watch this site. It is amazing how a language barrier can be broken with a simple game of baseball. Everyone, including the kids laughed and had a great time...but alas, the US lost the game in a tight 25-20 battle. How wonderful would it be if some of the dads watching today realized the ability they have to connect with their sons through simply playing with them. Maybe in coming Sundays, we'll find father-son games going on in Jasmin and a few more at risk kids saved from a life of addictions.

Immediatley after the big game, we haul ourselves up the hill to the build site and find Joselyn at home in her new place. The electrician has been there and added electric to the house. Joselyn has also added here own touches including simple drapes in all the windows. This is very significant since her old "house" did not have any windows. She seems pround to have us tour the place -- the place that was simply a dream to her this time last week. We take a few minutes for a team picture with her before passing out copies of photos we have taken of the children throughout the week. They are all very excited to get these gifts and we are pleased to know that maybe we brought a bit of the love of Jesus to them and their families. Maybe one day soon, as the Father draws them to Himself, they will more completely understand the reason a bunch of Buckeyes came their way.

A trip to the store to purchase Costa Rican coffee for all our coffee loving friends is next. Let me just say that going shopping with 7 men is something I never want to repeat again if at all possible. I can also tell these guys wives that they should never let their husbands say anything about having to wait at the grocery for them again. It's just entirely too sad a story to tell at this point...

Steve and Paul make a quick run down the hill to Los Anonos to check on yesterday's projects and determine what follow-up is needed. Several of us stay back to clean up. I get the chance to spend extended time with my young friend Tito. god has great plans for this 19 year old young man and it is a blessing to be a small part of his life. After dinner, the New Life Team and the Harvest Hands Team meet together one last time. We discuss the Kingdom of God and how it differs completely from the world in both its goals and its methods. We share what God has done in our lives this week. As we prayed together I was most struck by a prayer that Cindy LeFrance prayed. She asked God to never let us forget the sounds of Los Anonos and Jasmin -- the sounds of the poor, the needy, the forgotten, the children, the church. I pray that same prayer. "Lord, never let us forget. May we continue to be transformed into the likeness of your son Jesus, who gave His life as a ransom for us."

Off to bed to rise early for the airport and the journey home; forever changed, forever grateful and pressing on to minister through our tears to those whom Jesus loves with a passion that took Him to the cross.

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