For many, today was immensely humbling. We began our day earlier than usual so that we could visit a few places and see some scenery. Our first stop was a coffee plantation. The same family has been farming the coffee for over 40 years and has just recently gotten into processing and packaging it to export as well as selling locally. We visited various stages of the coffee process and learned that they hope to expand the operation further in the near future.
Next stop was La Carpio. On the way to La Carpio, we drove through a few little towns and got a quick glimpse of the Strong Missions Headquarters for next year, as well as, the beautiful authentic houses on the hillside. Since La Carpio was the main stop for the day, we prepared our hearts and minds for whatever we would encounter since the majority of us had never visited. For those that don’t know, La Carpio is considered the slums of Costa Rica, where there are roughly 44,000 poverty-stricken people who struggle everyday to live and provide for their families. Once in La Carpio the pastor of the United Methodist Church shared his heart-warming stories with us about the struggles he faced in his home when he first accepted the call of a pastor. He also shared the constant struggle he faces to keep the doors of his church open and the children of his community fed. Strong Missions currently assists the United Methodist Church in La Carpio to feed approximately 100 children per day who would otherwise not have had a meal. We were fortunate enough to be able to participate in the feeding process the day before. As we handed them meals, their little faces lit up and it warmed us and opened our eyes to the realization that for many this is the only meal they would have for the day! Once the children were done eating, we had time for fun! They danced and sang to their little hearts content and even pulled in a few of us to join them. We had tons of fun! Some kids climbed in our laps and wanted pictures, some just wanted to be hugged and loved. This experience really touched us. For them, to leave was bittersweet. The pastor’s wife then explained to us that many of these kids are not looked after and they are abused on a daily basis. We would never have known this had we not been told because the children were so loving and happy. For them, the smiles and the love that we gave them helped them to forget their troubles for a moment, even if it was for only an hour. May God bless their little hearts and protect them in their homes. As we drove away from La Carpio, we all realized that we have so much to be grateful for. Those kids found joy in the most adverse conditions and we are beyond blessed. We need to be joyful and thankful everyday. Visiting La Carpio was an experience that none of us will ever forget but will share with other generations to come.
With the day winding down we visited the wood factory, and their refining process, where wooden souvenirs are made. We bought a few souvenirs for family and then began the journey back. Today was long but filled with lots of memories and experiences that have humbled us and made us more appreciative of God for the blessings that He has bestowed upon us.
Ephesians 5:20 says, “Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
Written by Krishan Saunders, Cypress UMC member