After our day visiting the community of La Carpio and Los Guido, we went back to work for our last day at the church in Carrillos. We divided and conquered. We returned to the work we had started the first two days and then as each group finished their task, we met up on the hill and started to dig. We were to essentially move the hill- or rather level it off enough for a greenhouse to be built on top. The church is going to use this greenhouse to grow fruits and vegetables they will use in their feeding program. And sometimes this is how Jesus moves mountains. He moves through us to move it with the intention of making us see how hard He is at work to create something better.
After the first day of work, my husband took me around the site to show me the work our team had accomplished. My heart swelled in awe for everything we had done. Although we only laid a brick in the wall, so to speak, we had built so much! Imagine what we could have done with twice as many people. With three or four times the 13 we had. And I can only think about how many people would hear God’s story upon returning if we had that many! After all, it’s not us that moved that mountain. It was God’s hands that held those shovels and pick axes. It was Christ’s feet that held our bodies up from falling down the side of the hill. And it was the Holy Spirit that prompted us to even go and work. This is His story we’re telling. This is how He is changing the world.
The last few days most of our team had the chance to visit Manuel Antonio National Park and see the beauty God had intended for Costa Rica. This park, untouched by the poverty we had seen in La Carpio, was beautiful to say the least. I believe it is important to see every part of the country to which we’ve been called to mission; to understand every angle. After our visit to the park, we understand that Costa Rica is truly beautiful in every way.
Two weeks later, we’ve all gotten back into the swing of our lives and have settled back down into the familiar steps of Houston. Some of us have gone back to work, some to visit family, and some went onward to answering another call to mission. I feel sometimes that the true mission doesn’t come from being in Costa Rica, nor in working for Strong Missions but in the return. After seeing Christ in so many people and things in Costa Rica, we can’t help but run back to where we came from and shout from the proverbial mountain top in Houston that Jesus is alive! The mission is to share the stories we’ve heard and tell everyone about the work Strong Missions is doing to create God’s kingdom here on earth. Just like the men’s eyes were opened when breaking bread in Emmaus, our eyes are opened when we see the world outside of our hometown. Although each of us was touched by the stories and sore from the work we did in Costa Rica, we don’t live there, and that is not our mission. We are called to international mission so we can return and share those stories with those who have remained behind. We see Jesus everywhere and sometimes, people just have to be reminded of the injustices of the world; to be shaken of the comforts of our lives and completely understand that Jesus lives in other countries too. We’re reminded that He doesn’t just live in our hearts here in Houston but in the playful hands of the children whose mouths we fed in Los Guido; in the blind faith of Pastor James in La Carpio; In the hands of the women who prepared our meals; in the experience of the men who worked alongside us at the church in Carrillos; in the songs the women sang before VBS in Los Guido; and also in the conviction of the work of Charlie Strong, Rebecca, and the interns who have given up their lives and summers for His work. Our mission is to tell our friends and family about where we have seen Jesus, to return to Costa Rica year after year and to work beside these people and be reminded that He lives.
I love that every one of us came from our own corner of the church and that each of us were called to do something greater than ourselves. We got to know each other, we helped each other and we watched out for each other. As we each shared our talents, we were able to accomplish great things. I love that although we won’t see each other every Sunday, I know that God has worked on our hearts and will give us the words to tell His story. I know that through those words, more will hear of the great work being done in Costa Rica and will be called to be a part of it.