By Eric McClellan
In a world where so many suffer, several people have asked me why we would go to Costa Rica to help people. There are, after all, plenty of people who need food and shelter back at home. However, there is something much different about mission work compared to any other kind of volunteerism or even evangelism. Mission work is the opportunity to plant a seed and heed the Great Commission. The Go Costa Rica trip is a unique opportunity to take part in mission work as well as evangelism. We help the local missionaries plant the seed in new regions and help grow their ministry in places that have never heard of Jesus' death and resurrection.
Today we took our first trip into La Carpio, which is far worse than any living conditions we would find in the states, and passed out hygiene products for the families who live there. As a team, we reached out to new people within the community and reestablished a connection with those who were more familiar with Mark and his team. After spending time in this place, it is clear that God is working in this community. Recently, tragedy struck one of the families living in this community and one of the Costa Rican team leaders was able to reach out in their time of need. As a result, this family has engaged in discipleship with the local team and a new outreach has begun within the Costa Rican high security prison. We also learned of new plans to buy land and build a community center for La Carpio, in order to offer a safe haven for the people there. With all of the recent developments in La Carpio, it is clear that there will be great things done for God in the near future. It will be great to see what will come of this soon.
After our time in La Carpio, we spent the afternoon doing our first Vacation Bible School event in Los Guido. The community of Los Guido has become well accustomed to the songs and games during the VBS, so there were lots of people who came to spend some time with us. We had the opportunity to spend time with many of the kids of Los Guido and got a quick start to building great relationships with the locals here. One of the best games during this VBS event, and my personal favorite, was the pineapple eating contest. Everyone split into two teams and took turns trying to eat the hanging pineapple... without using any hands. Things got very messy very quick and the hilarity ensued. This event was a great start to our trip and gives us a lot to look forward to in the coming days.
After La Carpio and Los Guido, we took some time off and went to Las Fiestas De Zapote, a local carnival that takes place once a year around this time. We rode a few of the carnival rides which may or may not be considered legal in the United States and then went to the running of the bulls event. I was hoping to be able to get in the ring this year, but decided that spending my time doing outreach with the locals was a better way to spend my time than standing in line all day. The running of the bulls was a lot of fun and only a handful of people got really injured. You can see more of the bulls on the Fiestas website.
All in all, it has been another exhausting and wonderful day in Costa Rica. I can't wait to see what will happen in the next week and I can't wait to spend more time with the people here. It is truly a blessing being able to grow relationships with people in a foreign country without even being able to speak the same language. For many of the kids, the language barrier makes absolutely no difference. As long as they get someone to hold them and give them candy, they will be your best friend for the whole day. Even after only one full day here in Costa Rica, we have already grown new relationships, reached out to new people in the community of La Carpio, and continued the evangelism in two local communities. The experiences here and the ability to be used as a part of God's work being done in the world is incredibly rewarding and this is why we GO.