“Pura Vida”: the Costa Rican motto, “ Pure Life”. It’s on my new bumper sticker and my new hoodie: reminders of my time in Costa Rica last week with my cousin, Melissa. Yet, the memories in my head are much sweeter than my airport souvenirs. My trip truly was “Pura Vida”. I really felt alive the whole time I was there! I truly believe the truth of John 10:10 was revealed in my trip to Costa Rica: “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.”
Abundant life was truly right in front me the whole time I was in Costa Rica. From my first night where I was tired and my neck was hurting, God used my inadequate volleyball skills to help me connect with the Costa Rica University students. I thought about staying afraid and just sitting and then realized: “What do I have to fear?” I laughed and laughed and so did the students as I hit the ball behind my head instead of the right direction. The only sport I did play in high school was volleyball, so thankfully I did know how to hit it. It made me laugh to think of God uses foolish things.
Then, on Saturday I was able to see more abundant life in the beautiful scenery. The mountains are incredible and in the joy of the missionaries I was able to meet. I met a couple that went to Moody Bible Institute and had only in the country a week and half. You would have never known they had only been there a week.
On Sunday, I found more abundant life in the mountainous rainforest hike I went on with my cousin and her friend Salo. Never though I would hike through rainforest trails. So beautiful and amazing and wet! We had to run the last bit of the trail when it started pouring on us. For dinner, we went to a great Caribbean restaurant!
On Monday, I got to see rainforest animals! There were pizotes, toucans, ocelots, hummingbirds, butterflies, big wild cats, poison frogs, and beautiful plants and flowers. Ana, Melissa, and I had a great time. I enjoyed learning more about Ana’s life and what God had done in her life.
Tuesday and Thursday, I spent part of the day at Costa Rica University with Melissa and Jono as they reached out the students. Much of the time they were speaking Spanish and after a while I zoned out. I hope that on my next visit, I will have learned enough Spanish to have a conversation. We’ll see. It was fascinating to see the students’ patience and interest in engaging in conversation about their lives and God. They are searching for Him and some will find Him soon I hope and believe!
Wednesday was a slower day during the day where we rested some and then had a busy evening. Melissa had a class and I went to minister to at-risk youth with Salo, Lindsay, and Ali. What a neat evening! I couldn’t speak Spanish, but I could play Four Square and Connect Four and help keep the kids quiet. It was neat to see God use my weakness of what I could do to reach the students and wow what a blessing! It was so exciting to hear Ali and Lindsay’s stories about how God brought them to Costa Rica.
Friday consisted of spending time with Grace that Melissa disciples and doing Pilates. We also got to ride the bus around town. Then on Friday we went out and had dinner while watching the Costa Rica vs. US soccer game with Ticos. What a funny evening! Costa Rica won so it was rather loud!
Then on Saturday, Melissa, Salo, and I went to the beach. We got breakfast at little restaurant where a lady fixed us Columbian beans, rice, and eggs with fresh orange juice. Yummy! Then we proceeded to the beach where we watched Red Macaws fly around and drop almond shells all over the place. I rode few waves since the water was so warm. We ate plantain chips and drank iced tea. Then we drove back and had pizza!
On Sunday, it was time to go home. I was kind of ready, but not really. All week I had really felt at peace and enjoyed the time to journal and read my bible that I normally didn’t have, so I was surprised to feel really anxious before going home. I got a little shaky, sad and teary as I left. Melissa and I took a picture and then she gave me hug and headed back to her house. I had an hour at the airport before time to go, so I thought I would check out the souvenir shop. Well $100 later, I was calmer and excited about my new goodies and presents to take home. My hoodie came in handy on the plane too!
What lessons did I learn during my time in Costa Rica?
- That being flexible makes life fun.
- That believers no matter the country have unity through Jesus.
- That my cousin is now more like my sister and a best friend that I LOVE sharing life and having conversations about God and life with.
- That God’s creation is stunning and amazing!
- That missions isn’t just about being a street evangelist or being perfect, but being available to be used in brokenness and weakness in combination with the gifts God has given me.
- That coming home wasn’t as hard as I thought it might be because I chose to focus on God and others were praying it would be good.
- That peace is not in a place, but in God. God has provided peace for me this week since being home. He is God and “By his divine power, God has given us everything we need for living a godly life” (2 Peter 1:3). Satan has tried to steal my joy, but you know what? He didn’t steal it for long this week, because my God gives “Pura Vida” or more simply abundant life!