How beautiful the mountains were at 6 AM this morning as four of us, plus Hannah, intern/guide at Strong Missions, got up early and ran at the soccer fields…some ran and some walked! After our energizing start to the morning we walked around the neighborhood and discovered a Panderia (bakery) nearby. We hope to go back as none of us brought colones (money). Having worked up an appetite we joined our group at the mission for a breakfast of fried eggs, Gallo Pinto (rice and beans), manga (a different kind of mango) and pineapple. After breakfast, we walked to the nearby Evangelical Methodist Church.
Oh the joyous feeling of being in church in Carrillos! Surrounded by lush green native plants, from mangos to coconuts to bananas and limes, the church sits atop a long hike upward. Its front is like every building in this area, made of sheet metal and concrete, the gate permitting entrance to those who walk down the long driveway. There are no signs on the road leading to the driveway. You must know the church is there. Walking in, greeting people, we saw a large room with colorful, flimsy-fabric-shaped flags descending from the ceiling. The floor was painted bright reddish brown, the pulpit was a slightly raised platform with orange and purple curtains hanging behind it. The walls were screens giving the impression of an open air, huge meeting room. The ceiling fans and occasional breeze created a comfortable ambiance.
As a woman talked and commenced the service, dancers and musicians expressed themselves artistically interpreting the spoken words of worship. A young man took the microphone and led us in praise songs. The dancers continued, creating a distinctly Costa Rican flair to worshipping God.
The minister, slight in stature but large in his love of God, talked for an hour about God’s love for Abraham. He reminded us that Abraham is like us, an ordinary person, with weaknesses. But Abraham’s faith to his God was unwavering. When God chooses a man or a woman, this person influences everywhere he/she goes. It is our hope to be that influence here, among the people of Costa Rica.
We received communion as the music moved us. Through the universal language of music, God shows us that we are all a part of His family. A version of Allelujah touched a chord in all of our hearts. Our minister emphasized that Jesus’s love is the same for all of us, whether we live in Costa Rica or the United States.
After church, Daryl, another intern from Strong Missions led our group on an excursion to an amazing, privately owned waterfall called Los Chorros. From the gate, where we paid five dollars each, we hiked about a mile through lush, gorgeous rain forest terrain. Along the way we interacted with some Brahma bulls, one taking a particular interest in Billy!! The air got cooler as we neared the first waterfall. The path was rocky, muddy, a bit slippery, and proved to be a great work out. As we grew closer we could hear the waterfall and our anticipation escalated. The first sight of the waterfall was breath taking and nothing short of God’s splendor could describe its beauty. Getting across the bridge and down the rocks to the water was an experience in itself and was not easy to navigate. The water was freezing, but so clean and so clear. The air was filled with squeals of laughter, delight and some say terror. The roaring waterfall fell from the cliff above with thunderous might. We walked through the waterfall into a small cave…such an amazing experience. From there, we backtracked to the bridge onto another waterfall, some of us barefoot, tiptoeing precariously over sharp, slippery rocks and rushing water. Along the way, the cliff wall had many smaller waterfalls jetting from the green, mossy surfaces. This group adventure was a great way to support each other as we had to literally lean on and trust each other. You can’t help but think of the scripture shared by the Pastor today from Pslams 23:2. ” He maketh me to lie down in green pastures…He restoreth my soul: He leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for His names sake. ”
Today, being Sunday, was filled with worship, fellowship and an appreciation of God’s majestic beauty surrounding us here in Costa Rica. We look forward to beginning our mission work tomorrow and interacting with the lovely people of Costa Rica!