After getting a little lost on the way and taking a very bumpy road that would have had amazing views had it not been dark and foggy, we finally arrived at Arenal Lodge last night. This morning we walked down to an overlook over the valley and had worship. After worship, we split into two groups and hiked the trails surrounding the lodge. Although we didn't see anything super amazing, it was fun to explore the jungle. In the afternoon, we explored the town of La Fortuna and went souvenir shopping. We ended the day by enjoying the hot springs and water slides at Los Lagos.
We spent most of the day in the car, but we had a beautiful church service on the beach before leaving Brasilito and an amazing immersion into the beauty that God has made in the Volcan Tenorio area. First we enjoyed a trail on a farm near Bijagua, and then we explored the Rio Celeste area of the Tenorio National Park.
We worked at the school in the morning, and we took a surf lesson in the afternoon from Luis' surf school in Tamarindo. We had a blast!
Today was the last day of serving in the community. We’ll be wrapping things up in the school tomorrow, but today we finished Comanche’s covered patio and finished painting Jairo’s house. It was a bittersweet ending.
Helping people is hard. It is beautiful and Christ calls us to serve one another, but it’s also hard. It’s hard because it’s impossible to help everyone at one time, and someone’s going to get left out. It hurts to turn someone away who has an obvious need or want. And it’s hard because it can create unhealthy relationships of condescension and diminution, hence the negative associations with the word “charity.”
Working with Comanche’s family this week has been awesome, but as we wrapped things up in the community, we brought out some gifts that our group had, some clothes, soccer balls, and toys. Neighborhood kids began to gather as they saw the soccer balls come out, more kids than soccer balls. One boy who showed up first was going to get a ball from Pastor Steven, but unfortunately it wouldn’t inflate and the boy who wanted a soccer ball ended getting a fun toy that just wasn’t a soccer ball. From our eyes, he should have been happy that he was getting anything, but how can a young boy who was so excited to get a soccer ball not be disappointed and a little upset? Mothers who wanted clothes for their children were disappointed when we didn’t have enough for them. And some others expressed frustration that Comanche family should receive help with his house but not them when their needs were just as great.
We want to help everyone, and it’s hard to not be able to do that. We want to feel appreciated for what we have given, and it’s hard when the response feels demanding or ungrateful. We want to change someone’s life and we invest in that person, or situation, and it’s hard when there is no visible transformation. Helping is hard, and sometimes our reaction is to not help at all.
I’ve grown to really like and respect Comanche. God led me to him three years ago when I brought a group from Orcas Christian School to Brasilito. I had enjoyed working in the schools in Portrero and Manzanillo, but I also felt like we could do so much more to build relationships in the community and to directly improve living conditions. So on the last trip, I went walking through the streets of Brasilito, praying, and looking for someone we could support. The needs were obvious, but it’s easier to want to help someone than to know how to do it. After exploring the community and feeling overwhelmed, I decided I should head back to the group before they sent out a search party for me. On the way back, I saw a well-dressed elderly man sitting on a log by the beach, and I decided I would ask him if he knew of anyone in the community who needed help. Of course he said that we could help him, and I was skeptical and afraid of being taken advantage of. I walked with him back to his house, which was little more than a moderate sized shed made of corrugated metal with no windows. The floor was half dirt, and the only contents in the house were a hammock to sleep in and a stump to sit on; apparently he really was in need of assistance. Through Cristobal, we also connected with Comanche who lived next door and had a much larger version of Cristobal’s house.
Comanche was a pretty intimidating guy, but he took me around the town and introduced me to different people who needed assistance. He rode with me to a department store and the hardware store and coordinated purchasing the supplies and having them delivered. (Comanche seems to know everyone in Brasilito and the surrounding towns.) In addition to helping Cristobal and a few other families, our group painted Comanche’s house and helped him mix cement to patch a large hole in the floor of his house from the earthquake the year before.
We connected with Comanche three years ago, but we connected with him and his family much more deeply this time. It was fun to watch our students love on his grandchildren and the neighbor kids. We ate fruit together and tried interesting new foods. We laughed together and worked hard together, and when it came time to leave, we felt like we had made an impact and we had also been impacted. It was beautiful to work alongside this family. I didn’t feel any demanding expectations from them, and they seemed genuinely grateful for our assistance without it feeling like condescending charity. It felt like beautiful service through relationship, which I believe is what Christ calls us to. Not impersonal handouts, not gaining riches and power so we can make a bigger difference in the world, but entering into relationships with people and working alongside each other as we seek to serve one another and to “wash each other’s feet.” This kind of service is beautiful, not hard.
Another great day. Although every day drains the energy out of each of us, our kids are energetic, positive, and loving it. We started painting Jairo's house today and are also trying to finish up painting part of the school and building the porch for Comanche's family. After work, party of our group did more conversational English in Huacas while the rest of our group went to Danta beach to the north. We enjoyed a short hike with an amazing view and then relaxed on the beach and enjoyed an amazing sunset. Dinner was delicious, as always. And one thing I've really enjoyed about this group, is the great song services we've had with each worship. These kids can sing!
Below, you'll find posts from many of these kids from yesterday and pictures from today.
Today was the best day ever because I worked with 3rd grade. Although they are crazy, they are really fun to hang out with. I played soccer with my class, and my team won. Then we played red light, green light. It was super fun. One kid named Ivan won the game, and then all the kids started jumping on me, but it was funny and fun. After, we helped in the community, like making cement. It was tiring but fun. After that I went to the beach, and the waves were really awesome. Then we went to an English school, and it was also fun. There was this one guy named Worship, and I asked him if he had a girlfriend and he said no. I looked to the left and raised my eyebrows, and he said, “that’s my cousin!” We just started laughing so hard! -Noemi
The beginning of the day was okay. I went to a restaurant for breakfast and then went to the school. I didn’t like it that first grade wasn’t there because I was really looking forward to seeing Genesis. After I was at the school, I went with other people to the community. There were two groups: One that painted and the other that went to the community. We were helping make cement, ate fruits and foods (mango, coconuts, chiles), and played with kids. I saw Genesis, which made me sooooooo happy, and I was playing with her, and Shannon was also playing with the kids, too. I went to the beach, which was very refreshing and then took a shower and relaxed a bit, and here I am, about to eat dinner. The drinks here are very good. The best part of the day was being with Genesis; that’s one thing I really liked, besides getting hugs and playing with kids. –Esperanza
Today, I woke up to the sound of loud music and chickens. Then I ate breakfast, and it was good food. After breakfast, we went to the school and did art with 1st, 2nd, and 3rd grades. While I was there, my stomach started to hurt, so I had to sit on a chair away from other people. When I was sitting on this chair, one little girl waved at me and then ran up to me and gave me a hug. After that hug, my stomach actually started to feel better. –Leah (Monday)
Today we went to work with the school again, but what was different is that I was assigned to a certain grade. They are difficult to keep under control, but even so if you show them something as simple as a magic trick, it blows away their minds. –Isaiah
Today I had lots of FUN! We went to help the kids at the school again. Then I helped paint. The school We finished painting the bathrooms, some of the kitchen, and fixed the other bathroom. We walked back, and on the way back, we got a popsicle. Then we went to the beach and played for one hour. Then we got clean clothes and went to dinner. –Isabella
Today I had a lot of fun! We started off helping at the school where I helped the awesome second graders. Afterwards, we went into the community to work and improve residents’ living conditions. We made concrete, scooped rocks and dirt, and laid the concrete to dry as their patio and floor. My favorite party actually happened then, while we were working. We all took a break, and that’s when we ate different types of fruit from their yard. I tried their mangos, green mangos, coconuts (which everyone drank out of and ate), and two random fruits I didn’t know about. They all actually were pretty good, and it was great when Mr. Fox and Sammy ate the chiles and when the people there chopped the coconuts with a machete. When we left, we went to the beach, went in the water, and drew in the sand. A great day in Costa Rica!
Today was a really fun day because I got to stay with the second graders. When we got to the school all the kids were screaming and were happy we were there. So the first thing we did with the kids was sing songs with them. Then we had to go to different stations like P.E., Art, and English. My group first went to P.E., and we played Simon Says, Duck Duck Goose, and this rocket shooter thing. After that we went to English class, and we heard a story, played Bingo, and sang songs. Later, we went to art class, and all the kids seem to love art class. What they did was paint these picture frames and got their pictures taken so they could put their photo in the frame. Then one kid was done and was listening to third graders in English sing a song, and he was singing along with them. I asked him if it was his favorite song, and he said it was. Afterwards some kids had glitter on their hands, and they put the glitter all over my arms. Then one girl wanted me to spin her so many times. Finally, at the end of the day, they didn’t want us to leave. -Daniela
Well, it was a good day, but I'm exhausted! The heat, the Costa Rican kids, and cement mixing takes it out of you. The Costa Rican kids were super excited that we were here again today, and that excitement sure bubbles over into the activities that we do. It's a great opportunity for our SBJA students to practice being confident and proactive in managing the younger kids, and it's awesome to see the talents that each of our kids have. I'm impressed with their positive spirits.
In the afternoon, one group worked on painting in the school again, and the rest of us went to our friend Comanche's house. We finished pouring the patio and filled a large hole in the floor of the house next door. While working, we also got to burn our mouths trying chili peppers, we ate a variety of fruits, and we played with the children.
Be sure to watch the video of Esperanza and Shannon!
Today we first went and got breakfast. After breakfast, we went over to the school and hung out with the kids. I stayed with the first graders and went to each station: P.E., English, then Art. All the first graders were so cute. A girl named Estefani was so attached to me; it was cute. After we painted the wall of the school. When done, we got ice cream and went to the beach. Then a group of us went to an English school to practice conversational English with people whose language was Spanish.
One thing I first noticed that was different than what I expected was understanding what the little kids were saying. Also, that painting gets harder the longer you paint. My favorite thing about today was hanging out with the little kids.
My verbal snapshot would probably be when Estefani jumped on me and grabbed my leg. She was by my knee looking up at me while I was looking down at her. We both had big smiles on our faces and then laughed. –Shannon
Costa Rica is very fun! Today we went to a restaurant, which was very good. We went to work with the kids at the school, and when I was with the first graders, there was one girl, Genesis, who sat on my lap, let me braid her hair, gave me hugs, played with me, and gave me kisses, which made me feel so warmed up on the inside. After that we had lunch and it was good too! Once we were done eating, our group split up into two groups; one group stayed and painted the walls, and the other group made cement; we then got ice cream and went to the beach, and after the beach we went to do conversational English, and now here we are waiting for our food.
I didn’t expect the kids to be nice to us. They had a lot of energy and did what they wanted to. They were loud but also very loving. I’m so glad I’m getting to know them and to see Costa Rica. -Esperanza
Today we played with kids at a school. After that we made a concrete patio. The people here are extremely kind and humble, and we also went to a place where they teach people to speak English. The beauty here is amazing. The one thing that I expected differently was the look of the town. A picture that I will remember forever is the amazement on the kids’ faces as we launched the stomp rockets. –Isaiah
Today we helped out a school by teaching them and playing with them. We played soccer, then tag, then they all shot the rocket stomper thing. Then after that, we ate some bomb rice and beans. After we ate, we made cement and poured it to make a patio (I think).
In the evening, we went to a language school and helped the students practice conversational English. I thought they were going to be like 10-16 years, but they were more like 30-40 years old. I also didn’t expect the first graders to have such dirty mouths.
My favorite part of the day was talking to the English learners. I thought it was going to be boring, but it was really fun. -John
When we arrived in Costa Rica, the first thing that struck me was the heat. As I expected, it was very hot and sunny. As we drove around, it kind of looked how I expected, but not really. I imagined it being greener, but it was pretty dry and brown/barren (in some places). There weren't that many people and the town Brasilito looked very chill. What I didn't expect was the blasting music non-stop. I guess some influence has made it here. It is kind of nice in the background through. When we went to the beach there were boys playing soccer with coconuts, so I tried and it was very fun. Then a dog snuck up to me and scared me half-to-death. This dog had been chasing us around, and I don't think it was afraid to bite so I screamed and ran. I didn't really expect there to be dogs either. -Tamara
I'm on a mission trip to Costa Rica. When we arrived about 4:00, I saw a dry place. We went on a ride to our hotel which is right next to the beach. It was beautiful watching the sun set above a rock near the beach. Costa Rica is hot but not too hot. We were driving and I saw lots of fields and animals. It was not what I expected. Then we came to the city part, not like our city with big buildings but small buildings shopping centers and lots of people walking and playing. -Isabella
My first reaction about Costa Rica was it was pretty but dry. I love how Costa Rica looks. It's very different than California. The people here drive way better than California. The people here drive way better; they don't honk (that much), but they drive on the wrong side of the street to get around slow cars. So far of what I've seen, people seem very nice and chill. The water in Costa Rica is wayyyy nicer than California's water, hardly any waves, but enough to have fun. -Mystery Student
Initial reaction: Wow! I love this place! I feel like I finally found my home! -Pastor Binus
Well, the money's been raised, and we're packing our bags! Our group leaves for the airport at 5:00AM this coming Sunday, and we're beyond excited!
We'll begin posting to this blog on Sunday evening and will update it every day, to the best of our ability. Check back often, and feel free to leave comments and ask questions.
Thank you so much for all of your support!
Written by students on SBJA's mission trips to Washington, D.C., in 2018 and to Costa Rica in 2017.