The week before Easter is what they call in Latin America "Semana Santa" or Holy Week also known in the States to most people as Spring Break. In Costa Rica, instead of taking kids to summer camp we take kids on a service project during the week of vacation before Easter. Like Young Life camp, this is meant to take kids out of the comfort zone but instead taking them to camp, we put them to work. The area we went to is one of the last indigenous regions of Costa Rica and has a much poorer population than what these kids experience in their every day life. The service part of the week was also a draw for some kids who had never come to YL club but were interested in the service hours so it turned out to be a great way to meet new kids too!
There is so much that I want to tell you about this week that it might all come out as one big jumbled thought but I hope you see the beauty that came out of this week.
For our project we built a basketball court for a small community in Talamanca, Costa Rica. We worked along side the staff of Pura Vida Missions/Vida Net that has a base in Talamanca where about 7 of their staff members live. I really enjoyed getting to know the staff and was so impressed with everything about their base. The base is there for the community, primarily the kids, to have a safe place to come away from the temptations of the drugs and violence that are so common in their area. The basketball court that we built will serve as yet another alternative to those things as a way to pass the time with friends. The base also has a church that worships with amazing admiration for the Lord. Our first day working was Sunday and I'm pretty sure their church service was at least 2 hours - we could hear the music as we were hauling rocks. We stayed on the base the whole week but were able to interact with the community through the people who came to help and the kids who came to play.
Three of the afternoons that we were there, we helped host a mini lesson for the local kids. You could tell how comfortable each of them felt on this property where they were able to be free and just play. We taught them about good hygiene, good eating habits and how to say no to drugs. When we were finished we just played with them - tag, hopscotch, soccer, basketball (with a hoop attached to a tree until we finished the court), some even became jungle-gyms that the kids climbed all over - pure joy.
The work was hard. We hauled all the rock, gravel and sand from the river. We mixed the cement with shovels and man power. But no one quit, no one wished they were anywhere else. I was so impressed with the students that it made me work harder just to try to keep up.
|So the grass...has got to go!|
|That's my teammate - she's a beast!|
|Such good attitudes all week!|
|Working hard or hardly working?|
|These girls came to learn about healthy habits!|
|We got creative in our rock hauling ways.|
|But since we're in Costa Rica, there's always time for soccer!|
|Oh the rocks, sand and gravel|
|Who needs a cement truck when you've got these guys?!|
|This must be day 4...getting so close!!|
|The house the girls stayed in.|
But what would a YL trip be without a little club? Every night, after a long day of work, the leaders and I would also host club. We had amazing skit characters, Isa and Bella, from Italy trying to get their cooking show back. We played plenty of games, sang lots of songs and heard the sweet truth of God's love for us through his son Jesus. Our speaker was Kent Williams who flew in from the US and was able to speak to this group of very intellectual kids in a way that stirred hearts and raised questions. I know at least one kid committed his life to Christ that week and I was able to be a fly on the wall for a lot of other conversations with kids who have a new desire to hear more about Jesus. My roll in club was the "techie" but I have to say, I have a new appreciation for the work of real techies because it wasn't super easy and I was off on cues more often than not.
|Isa and Bella but you can call them both.|
|Good thing Josh flew in on his Spring Break to be covered in spaghetti.|
|How often do you get to put spaghetti on your teacher's head? Good ol' Young Life.|
|The final product on our last night.|
|Rocking our snazzy shirts on the bball court the last morning|
|Our "cabin time" spent praying for kids filled with great joy, laughter and delirium.|
This week was nothing short of amazing. I loved getting to know the Costa Rican YL team better. I loved getting to know more kids by name and even some of their back stories. I loved the exhaustion from a hard day's work. I loved hearing the Love Story that the Lord has for each of us if we just receive it. I loved the laughter and the joy I felt hauling rocks because I knew that was exactly where the Lord wanted me.
There are so many days since I've been in Costa Rica that a pure contentment just comes over me at the end of the day. There's no place I'd rather be.
|The club we had on Wednesday as a mini reunion/picture party after Service Project. Isa and Bella made even the trip!|