I’ve been trying to think of how to start this blog post for about a day now. Should I start off with a story? A photo? My biggest takeaway from the trip? It’s almost impossible to boil down my experience in Costa Rica to a single memory, moment or photo.
But I should probably back up to the beginning first.
When people were asking me “Are you so excited?!” in the weeks leading up to the trip, I would usually smile and say “Yeah!” But inside, I honestly didn’t know. I was constantly fluctuating between being really excited and being scared. I didn’t know what to expect, obviously, and the fact that my last mission trip had been nine years ago was really weighing on me, too. A lot in life changes between the ages of 17 and 26, and I honestly had doubts about how 26-year-old me would respond to all that a week on a mission trip brings. I was really struggling with just giving all of those fears over to God.
I was praying the entire way to Costa Rica “God, just please take this fear away and replace it with Your joy.” And boy, did He ever answer that prayer.
I experienced joy, in the purest, truest, beautiful form over the past week of my life. I was humbled that God chose to use me and honored to see how He worked through other people. I’ve never been around a group of people, both Americans and Costa Ricans, who showed such love without any boundaries or hesitations. Just honest, God-filled love.
A verse that I feel sums up the events of the week well would be 1 Corinthians 2:9: “What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man imagined, what God has prepared for those who love him.”
If you had told me a week and a half ago that I would experience God the way I did in Costa Rica–see Him actually start to heal broken hearts before my very eyes, to see Him move in people’s lives, to see Him bring over 140 people to His saving grace–I would’ve believed it because He can do anything, but experiencing it in person is something I’ll never be able to fully express in words.
One thing I definitely was not expecting heading into the trip was the personal impact the translators and the local church members would have in my life. The very first day, within an hour or two of officially getting to meet and know them, my translator, Stip, and local church member, Yeudy, shared their testimonies with me. Their hearts for God were so evident throughout the week, and then as I learned more about different translators and different church members and their personal stories, I became just overwhelmed by His goodness. We all came from such different backgrounds, struggles, and pain that God has worked through to bring us all to this point in our lives. Together for a week. I will always, always be thankful to God for bringing all of those people in my life. They encouraged me and taught me more about faith, love and His grace.
There are more stories I could tell…and I probably will at some point. There’s just a lot of emotions I’m still shifting through. But for now, this is what I wanted to share. God used me, God used the people around, but it was not about us. It was all to His glory.
I experienced grace like an avalanche in Costa Rica. A beautiful, unexpected, life-changing avalanche. I’ll never be the same.
I feel like God has more for me in Costa Rica. That I’m not done there quite yet. I don’t know exactly what that means yet, so I would appreciate your prayers in that manner. But I feel like there are more people to reach there and that He wants me to be a part of it.
To all of you who prayed for me and our team, thank you. Your prayers and support made the difference. To all of you I was privileged to meet in Upala, I love you all as my brothers and sisters in Christ. Let’s all never forget what God showed us in Costa Rica. Ever. Because He is so good.