Friday, January 29, 2016

Pura Vita Livin

Hola from the montaƱas of Costa Rica! (I know that word because it's on our coffee bag. Still can't make a sentence in Spanish. Workin on it.)

We only have 10 days left in this beautiful place. I absolutely love it here, and our team is getting so close. It's going to be super hard to leave them. I don't think it's fully hit me that when I go home (which I'm excited for) I won't be with them anymore. I know it's an elementary thought, but I get sad every time I realize I'm only with them for three more weeks.

Last weekend was a refreshing one for our team as we got to pack our bags and stay in Grecia for the weekend. (Strong Missions had a karate camp for kids so we got the boot.) Grecia is only a ten minute bus ride away, and we got to stay in the coolest hostel ever. It was Inga's birthday, so we dressed up went out to dinner as a team when we got to Grecia. 

Ministry for the weekend was titled "life", and it's exactly what it sounds like. Our leader felt that God wanted us to practice doing life with God in the center. If we're called to be like Jesus, then we have to learn to do ministry as Jesus did. So we went about our day on Saturday doing what we would normally do. But instead of talking amongst ourselves or looking at the ground as we walked or waited in line, we were intentional about smiling and saying hi to people as we walked by or finding hurt or sad people and praying for them. 

Just living life together. :)

Our team came back with some really cool stories of divine encounters with people who just needed some love. 

That night, we wanted to go hang out in the park across the street from our hostel. We went out with music, a ball, some coloring books, and playing cards in hopes of attracting locals to us. 

Right away, we turned on music and a group of boys came and sat on the steps of the church to laugh at our [lack of] dancing skills. (Except Alex who can bust a sick move or two.) We got them to join in a little bit. It was cool to hang out with them. And they didn't even realize they were dancing to Christian beats. 

Some of us saw that the stage was free, so we sat in the middle and sang worship songs. The acoustics were cool, so we were having fun harmonizing with each other. Then a group of young guys came up to us with tambourines and bibles. They spoke Spanish, of course, so it took awhile to realize they were there to worship with us. It was such a neat experience. There were several songs that we all knew, and with our two Norwegians, we sang the songs together in three languages. The spirit was so present. We were fired up. 

The cool thing about these ministry opportunities is that they're just practice for every day life. We have opportunities to love on people and pray all the time. The key is to use the opportunities given. I have seen myself realizing these opportunities so much more lately. It's cool to see evident growth in this area. 

We worked on the land on Wednesday. It was a HOT day, and we all left with sunburns. On our way home, two of our girls found puppies. The owners were apparently not able to feed them anymore and the girls were faced with the predicament of letting the dogs die or facing the wrath of our outreach leaders by bringing them home. They decided Jesus would save the puppies. So they did. 

Six little puppies. The cutest puppies I've ever seen. And Travis and Josh were only mad for a little bit. :)

They're currently sleeping in our shower. Strong missions people are helping us find homes for them. There are three left that need homes as of tonight. If any of you have connections in our area of Costa Rica who need puppies in their lives, hit me up! ;)

Wifi hour is over, so my update is too. 

Thanks for reading! And thank you for your continued prayers!! See you all soon!

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Life in the Coffee Fields

Hello world! We are on day 20 of outreach, and it's going so quickly. Our team is staying at Strong Missions, and it's so great here. The director has cool connections, and he's been keeping us busy. 

We've done three types of ministry:

1) School hangs. 

We got connected with a school close to where we stay. We went there one day with the intent of sharing some Jesus-love with kids, but only three showed up!! Haha. I think those three felt loved at least. :)

2) Children's home. 

Strong Ministries is involved in an orphanage-type of home here in San Isidro where kids who are the least likely to be adopted live and become family. We basically took two rooms in the house that had been used for storage and made them into bedrooms for the kids. I loved it. 

3) Manual labor. 

Strong Missions bought land they want to build on so they don't have to rent the space they currently use anymore. The problem is, the land is covered in coffee plants. So our team goes out three days a week to harvest coffee beans (the profits of which they use to feed kids in the area) and remove the coffee plants. It's hard work and a little bit overwhelming.

If I'm honest, I hated this work for the first week. I wanted to be out sharing Jesus with people, not in the fields getting sweaty and gross. But one of the other girls on our team who felt the same way shared that God showed her that what we're doing is a step towards building a property that will lead people to Jesus someday, and if we weren't out doing this work, who would do it?

I prayed on Sunday night for a change of heart. I didn't want to go out grudgingly, but with a joyful heart. And when I woke up on Monday I was actually excited to go work! It's been a cool week of spending that time with God and having good conversations with my DP family, and I actually kind of enjoy it now. Aside from the grueling uphill walk back home. My calves are looking good though.. I won't lie. ;)

We were given scrubs to wear in the fields so we wouldn't get eaten by bugs. The locals think we're nurses until they spot us on our walk back after working.  
Shahnee picking coffee beans, looking way too cute.
Inga, Audrey, and Me posing with the coffee plants during our first day of picking. 
Little stickers attack me more than anyone else. I don't know if it's the material or if I'm just a messy picker. 
Inga recently discovered her love for the machete. She hasn't cut any limbs off of herself yet, but the trees have seen better days. 
Josh and I team up to dig out roots. He chops through the roots with his sharp shovel and I pry it from the ground. Since I have weak arms, I end up rolling around in the dirt trying to use all muscles in my body to get them out. It's so fun. 
And rewarding. 
And this is me after a dirt war on the property. I get pretty dirty, but it doesn't usually reach my head. 

Sunday, January 3, 2016


It feels like forever since my last post. We've been on a crazy adventure through Central America. 

This is a long post. But I have to catch you up!!

Christmas Day on the YWAMDP base was awesome. We woke up and had brunch which was AMAZING. My mouth still waters when I think about those pumpkin and chocolate waffles. Mmmm... Later we got to visit staff casitas where they made us delicious food and provided us with movies and music and wonderful company. 

The next morning at 6:30am, Team Costa Rica said our goodbyes to the rest of our DP family with lots of hugs and tears. So so sad. 

We headed by boat to San Pedro where we walked to the airport and took a tiny plane to Belize City.

We caught a taxi from there to the bus station where we got on a sketchy school bus and rode in beautiful country for six hours. We stayed the night in a town in Belize. Got the hook up with a penthouse suite. It was suite. 

We took a water taxi from there to Guatemala. The ride was supposed to last around an hour, but one of the two engines on the boat died, so we had to go super slow until another boat came. We switched to the new boat in the middle of the ocean! 

(In this picture I'm passed out on Anette's lap. Haha. You can see my head if you look closely.)

By the time we got to Guatemala, it was too late to get to the border, so we had to stay the night. God had it planned out though. The guy who we gave hot sauce to so he would drive us to Honduras had a place for us to stay! Bunk beds, showers, a basketball goal, and delicious food. He and his wife were such sweet hosts. We left from there on Sunday morning and took a small van to San Pedro Sula, Honduras where we had arranged to stay in a hostel. 

From there we had to buy bus tickets for Monday morning to get us to Costa Rica. Except there weren't enough tickets for us Monday or Tuesday morning. We had to stay in Honduras two extra days. 

Our team was super flexible about it, but it was a hard thing for our leaders to swallow. Understandably so. The plans they had made for us weren't working out, and as people leading a group of 13 through Central America, it's a little stressful when things don't work out as planned. Especially since we found out that San Pedro Sula is actually a dangerous place to be. (It's called the murder capital of the world on Wikipedia!) 

We prayed about it as a team and felt that God wanted us there for a reason, and we made the decision to go in full force to figure out what it was His plans were. We were on a mission that God stopped all travel plans to send us on, and it was our jobs to get over fear and exhaustion from traveling and go out to the people of San Pedro Sula. 

Travis, our fearless leader, decided that the safest place we could be would probably be inside of the mall. We prayed and God pointed out specific people by clothing or locations, and we did what we call a "treasure hunt" to find the people God showed us. Some of the time we walked around and prayed aloud as we saw things that we felt needed prayed over, and sometimes we went up to strike up conversations with strangers. The language barrier made it pretty intimating for some of us (me), but God was so present in our time there. It was awesome. Our groups went out with the intent of showing people Jesus in whatever way we could, and I truly believe God used us for that at the City Mall in San Pedro Sula. :) 

We met up at the movie theater in the mall after our time of ministry, and watched the new Star Wars movie together. I don't love Star Wars, but it was pretty good.

When we left the mall, we had to cross several busy streets to get back to the hostel. Travis was crossing while cars were stopped at a red light, and between lanes, a motorcycle showed up out of nowhere and hit him! The funny thing is that Travis hardly moved at all. The man and the motorcycle fell. Travis walked away with a bruise, but the motorcycle's mirror broke off. Travis wins! Haha. It was not acceptable to laugh at it at the time, but I did a little bit. He's fine!

Wednesday morning we left our hostel at 4am and loaded a REALLY NICE bus where we rode for 12 hours to the next bus station in Managua, Nicaragua where we slept for the night. We left bright and early the next morning to travel another 8ish hours to COSTA RICA!!!! We got off that bus in San Jose, then got on another bus to get to another bus and eventually got to where we are staying for the next couple of weeks. (Potentially.)

Costa Rica (and really, all of Central America) is so beautiful, and the place we're staying is awesome. I feel so incredibly blessed not only to already have been able to take part in such a cool trip, but also to be in such a gorgeous location with these amazing people. 

These past two days we've been resting. Lots of pool time, some ultimate frisbee and handball, and sleeping. I'm also reading a crazy book. Of course. 

So sorry for the long post. But it's been a long week. Ha. 

I also stole a lot of the pictures in this post from the Team Costa Rica public group album on Facebook. Go there to see the rest of them!

Pura Vida!!!