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Final Moments

Well friend, this post is well over due (and I apologize for that fact). This past week after Costa Rica has been a blur getting back into the swing of things. So without further ado…

SABBATH MARCH 24, 2012

This was our last full day with our people in Costa Rica. We faced the day with mixed emotions. Glad that we had come this far and sad that we would have to say good-bye later in the day.

We ate breakfast around 8 and headed out on the vans that would take us to the sites at 9.

This Sabbath was a bit different from the other two. This day, the sites consolidated. Those that had been meeting in tents and open places went to the closest church building (except for those who were close to Sixaola in the tent. See Rain (Reign) Down from March 13).

I was assigned to the local church in Cahuita. It was a nice break to walk for 5 minutes down the road to the church rather than riding for upwards of one and half hours in a van full of people. The Eastlands from the Laguria site, the Armijos from Hone Creek, and Daniel and Arisbe from Cahuita, were all there.

We walked to the church around 9:30 and arrived while they were having Sabbath school. The adults were all inside the church and the kids gathered in the fellowship hall and split into groups divided by age.

They moved into the church service around 10:30 and everyone came inside the church for prayer and praise. The place was packed because of the 3 different sites that were gathering there.

During the church service, they called all the international evangelists to the front to give them thanks for the work they had done in Costa Rica. Each elder from their sites, respectively, gave a little speech detailing the speakers and children’s ministry personal had impacted the lives of those at their sites.

Back row: Daniel Quinones, Arisbe Jaquez; Front row: Mrs. Eastland, Raiden Eastland, Mrs. Armijo, & Amanda Armijo.

After more singing and prayer, Daniel got up to speak.

This was the first time I had heard Daniel speak to his church. He was very, very, very, very excited (and that’s not over doing it). He got the people involved, having them call back responses and asking questions. His message for the morning was about the reality of heaven. It was a nice note to end the series of meetings on: the hope that if we would not see each other again on this earth, we would meet in heaven.

While the sermon continued on, the kids had left and gone back over to the fellowship hall for their church service. Arisbe was leading out, telling stories and singing with all 50 of the kids. They worked on crafts as well.

Once church broke up, a group headed down to the ocean front for a baptism and lots of group photos.

That was followed by potluck and socializing with each other. Kids were running all over the place with huge grins and many were asking for pictures.

After about an hour of that people began to say their good-bye’s and head home. Like I’ve said before, this was a bittersweet moment.

Once just about everyone had left, and we had gotten all the pictures people wanted, we headed back to the hotel to change and relax from the tiring 2 and a half weeks we had just been through. A trip to the beach came shortly after and we spent the rest of the afternoon basking in the beauty of God’s creation in Costa Rica.

Around 4, everyone had returned from their sites and we met on the beach for the baptisms of Ismael and Olivia from our group.

We stayed there at the beach for a while after to enjoy the sunset (which was pretty cloudy) and play in the surf. Everyone seemed glad that our time in Costa Rica was drawing to an end.

That night, we packed and relaxed at the hotel pool.

SUNDAY MARCH 25, 2012

Sunday we ate our last breakfast at Roberto’s and loaded up in a bus around 10 to embark on a 4 hour bus ride to San Jose. It was nice to the see the scenery that we had previously seen in darkness, in the light of day.

In San Jose, we stayed at the Adventist University there.

We played basketball and soccer with the students there (which was pretty fun) and others got their fast food fix at the mall that was near by.

The night brought rest for the early morning the next day.

MONDAY MARCH 26, 2012

Alarms sounded as the 4 o’clock hour struck and we awoke to load the vans that would take us to the airport. We got to the airport around 5:30 and got everyone in the group checked-in by 7:45 for our 8:30 flight. After boarding the plane, we sat on the tarmac for about 20 minutes as maintenance fixed a leaking coffee maker on the plane. Once that had been taken care of, we took off with our sites set on Dallas, Texas.

After our 4 hour lay-over in Dallas, we took off again on the last leg of our journey. We were Albuquerque bound.

A short hour and a half flight later, we were walking out of the terminal in Albuquerque greeted by a large group of family and friends smiling and shouting, excited that we were home. It felt good to be home.

And we are now only continuing our journey, bringing back the experiences and lessons we learned in Costa Rica back home to apply them to our home lives.

Thank you, friend, for hanging with us on our journey to Costa Rica and back. Thank you for the prayers and support. Many lives were changed on this trip.

Until next time.

-Michael

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Dirt Roads and Kindled Fires

FRIDAY MARCH 23, 2012

For many, Friday was the first day that it really sunk in that we are going to be flying back to the U.S. on Monday. It’s bittersweet. It will be good to get back home but sad to leave these people behind that we have grown so close to.

Friday followed the usual routine. We worship back a half hour to noon so that Mr. Reeve could go pick up our t-shirts and be back in time to give them to us.

Daniel present the sermon for the day talking about the unpardonable sin. He did an excellent job and kept it interesting.

We also had an a capella song service right before Daniel’s talk to bring a little bit of home down to Costa Rica with us.

After worship, Mr. Reeve passed out the t-shirts and gathered for a group photo.

In the event that you want to see the design in better definition, check out my previous post from March 14 Jesus Saves.

After lunch, Daniel and I were able to go back to the national park for perhaps the last time (we will have to see what today brings). We went the deepest I have been in the park with the hopes of seeing snakes and lizards, but we ran out of time and had to turn back. Although, along the way Daniel was able to catch a blue morpho butterfly that he has been searching for all this time. I’ll put up a picture soon.

The time came to leave for our sites and for the last time we entered the van that would take us all to our different sites.

For this evening I was assigned to go along with Justin Longshore and Anissa Romero to their site in Suretka.

From them to get to their site, they first ride in the crowded van to a bridge over a river. There they transfer to a smaller car along with Naomi and Ivette (Where Two or Three Are Gathered). After dropping Naomi and Ivette off at their site in Volio, they continue on for about 15 miles on a beat up dirty, dusty  road that gets super muddy when it rains (like it did this night).

We were taken to the church elder’s home for a dinner of bread and jam. Then a short walk to church in the drizzling rain. But our spirits weren’t down.

The church building is a copy of the Puerto Viejo, Bribri, and Paraiso churches. They all look very similar.

Inside the church, about 7 to 10 people had gathered there. We walked inside and they almost immediately started the meeting.

Right before the sermon, the kids took off with Anissa to a room behind the church to do their program.

Justin got up to speak. But there is something different about this picture and the other sites. Justin doesn’t speak with a translator. He preaches the word of God in Spanish. This is an incredible challenge since he is not fluent in the language.

It is the same for Anissa. She is not fluent in Spanish either but still is able to talk to the kids in their native language.

It is incredible to see how these two people stood up to adversity and faced their challenges head on. They could have said, “No, we can’t do this” but instead they rolled with the punches and relied on a power greater than their own to be able to communicate with the people in Suertka.

I can tell that the meetings that were happening in Suertka are kindling a fire in the people’s hearts. It may not be a big one, but it is definitely there.

Today is Sabbath and we are looking forward to the baptisms that are going to happen today. The series of meetings have come fruition and all our hard work is paying off. Many of our own team members have seen a change in there lives. Christ is more evident in my life and lives of those around me.

Please continue to pray for us as we venture out on our last day with the people at our sites.

Until next time.

Charging Batteries

THURSDAY MARCH 22, 2012

Thursday was the second to last full day of sermon prep and preaching in the evening.

Jeremy presented the message for the morning at worship. He did a phenomenal job sharing some of his personal testimony to go along with the message.

In the afternoon a group of us got together and went and played basketball and volleyball with some of the local kids. It was a great time and we had a lot of fun. Then afterwards, to cool off, we headed to the beach.

Then back to the hotel to change for that evening’s meaning.

I was assigned to Jeremy and Janelle’s site in Margarita. We headed out in the packed van and got to our site around 5:45.

The church in Margarita is a block church that resembles one built by Maranatha. It is only half finished on the inside though.

This is also the site where Ismael has been working as a translator. You may remember him from When People Pray, Miracles Happen.

Ismael in front of the church in Margarita.

We set up the equipment and waited for the people to begin arriving. A lady there named Luisa brought us all food.

The sun began to set and by the time it was dark, the church had gather about 15 people.

It was about this time that I realized that my camera had about 3% of its battery left and I had left the other battery back at the hotel on the charger thinking it was the dead one. So I shot up a quick prayer trusting that the battery would last me the night and get me the shots I needed.

That battery incident reminded me that in our own lives, we have to have our spiritual batteries charged and always ready to go. Time waits for no one.

The church is built up off the ground and the kids meet in the space underneath the church. There was about 15 kids there by the end of the night and they all busily run around doing the craft that Janelle plans.

Up stairs Jeremy and Ismael present the sermon.

Jeremy and Ismael are a really dynamic duo. They go back and forth rapidly firing out the words with enthusiasm and energy. It is fun and interesting to watch and hear them. Definitely an entertaining time as well as a different way of hearing the word of God preached. The people in Margarita seem to love the two of them and really get into the message.

The meetings finished up and we waited about an hour and a half for the van to come back by and pick us up. It was nice to be in the solitude of that town and talking with each other and the people there.

The meetings are coming to a close and we are finishing up our work here. There is word that many want to be baptized on Sabbath in 5 different sites. We will have to see what that day brings.

As I write this, our group is walking by me on the road headed down to the church for worship where Daniel will be preaching.

Thank you for the continued prayers.

Until next time.