Monday, June 27, 2011
Costa Rica Recap
Our missionary hosts, Lamar and Joanna Salley, along with their three children, were skeptical about the wisdom of housing 14 women and one man, Hands of Compassion Int'l president, Chris Tolley, under their roof. Surely, the predominately teenage group would be entangled in squabbles and drama, right? Wrong. I can honestly report that not one bit of discontent or personal conflict reared its ugly head during our trip. No one fussed about who was going to take a shower when and in what order. No one complained about crowded (but comfortable) rooming arrangements. No one hogged the last pancake or selfishly snagged the pile of mango on the breakfast table. It is clearly a testimony of the Spirit working in the heart and lives of the group.
But what about our work? It was exhausting, to say the least. Often, our roll out of bed was at 5:30 or 6:00 am, only to return home between 8:30 and 11:30 pm. In between, we participated in volleyball clinics in the schools, played in mini-soccer tournaments, taught English in high school classrooms, performed the mime (wordless skit) in public parks and schools, engaged in great fun and frolic at an overnight camp for young professionals (age 18-25), and shared testimonies and the Gospel of Jesus Christ in all those venues. The children of the dump town, Carpio, clamored for love and attention, sucking out all the energy we had left. We ate on the run, consuming more rice and beans, chicken, hamburgers and french fries than we could ever have imagined. But none of us would trade a second of it for all the creature comforts and lazy, hazy days in the world.
The interesting thing about short-term mission trips is that God seems to use them to recreate His workers. Only eternity will reveal heart changes in the Costa Rican people. But I can assure you that God did amazing things in the hearts of this mission team.
I know that "campfire" experiences, common with these kind of trips, usually fade with the morning light. It's easy to be fired up and an enthusiastic follower of Christ when everyone around you is also in the same mode. But all too often, claims of commitment fall short when life settles back into normal routine. Will that happen this time? For some, maybe that desire will become a distant memory. For most, I don't think so.
As a group, we talked a lot about NOT being lukewarm in our Christian walk, for God hates that with a passion. But what is a "hot" walk to look like? I think I Thessalonians 1:3 describes just that. The Apostle Paul is writing to the church at Thessaloniki and affectionately tells them, "We remember before our God and Father your work produced by faith, your labor prompted by love, and your endurance inspired by hope in our Lord Jesus Christ."
The girls are eager to pursue righteousness, desiring mentoring and accountability relationships. They desire to pour themselves into others. Ideas of how they can practically minister to others are rampant. I look forward to continuing to meet with them on a routine basis so that we might together reflect Christ in our lives and mature in our faith.
Thank you, girls, for being such an encouragement to me.
For more pictures of our trip, please visit my Facebook album at http://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.2169531393358.2134015.1098909215&ref=pd