26 June, 2014

I got back from Costa Rica on sunday. We spent a week in Tamarindo working at Capilla del Calvario de Villareal (Calvary Chapel Villa Real). There were seven of us total: Amy, Christina, Haley, James, Jared, Vanessa, and me. We left early monday morning, had a five-hour layover in Houston, TX, and made it to Liberia, Costa Rica around 8:00 that night.

On tuesday, wednesday, and thursday morning, we worked at the church. We pulled weeds, helped with landscaping, and turned over the fallow ground in preparation for planting grass seed. I also did some filing and painting. The work wasn't very difficult, but it was so incredibly hot and humid that we constantly needed breaks. But we seemed to get a lot of work done. I hope it was a blessing to them.

We ate our lunches at the home of Don Victor, one of the church's elders. Lunch usually consisted of rice, beans, some type of meat, plantains, and a fresh fruit juice. It sounds plain, but everything was extremely flavorful. It was delicious, especially after a morning of working in the heat.

After lunch, we usually headed back to our hotel for a rest and maybe some swimming or a shower. We got smoothies most days for 1,200 mil colones, or about $2.40. I discovered my new favorite fruit: the guanabana! It's called soursop in other cultures and I'd heard of it before because it's thought to be able to cure cancer. This was the first time I'd tried it and I loved it! Jared and I have been trying to describe what it tastes like and have compared it to all sorts of things: coconut, pineapple, strawberry, lemon; and it's really creamy. I had it every day in smoothies, as ice cream, or as juice. I'm going to try to find it at home because I loved it so much!

On tuesday, wednesday, and thursday afternoons we went back to the church to help with their children's ministry. We played games with the kids, gave them guitar lessons and english lessons, and did a little skit with them about the battle of Jericho. It was really fun and the kids were adorable!

In the evenings, we went back to Tamarindo for dinner. We usually got ice cream and went swimming. We also had a few nights of worship and prayer.

On friday morning, Costa Rica played Italy in the World Cup. We went over to Don Victor's house to watch it along with a lot of people from the church. There were nearly 20 people gathered around the tv. Costa Rica scored one goal and when they did, everyone went crazy cheering, singing, hugging, and jumping up and down. It was as if they'd all just won the lottery! Costa Rica won the game, which means they've made it through to the second round for the first time in twenty-four years. People were cheering and celebrating all day and all night. It was definitely an experience I'll never forget!

On thursday and friday after lunch, we walked around a couple neighborhoods inviting people to church and asking if they need any prayer. It was difficult because of the language barrier, so I let the spanish speakers do most of the talking. Everyone was extremely friendly and welcoming, and most said they'd attend the church.

After that, all of our work was done. We worked hard, then we played hard. We spent about six hours in the pool on friday evening. We all got pretty silly and had a lot of fun. On saturday morning, Corey and Eddie (from the church in Villareal) took us to a beach called "Little Hawaii." We drove for about a half hour and parked in the jungle. We then went down a little pathway that eventually turned into a walkway of wooden planks surrounded by a marsh. The gray spindly branches grew up above the bridge, leaving an archway to walk through, It was unlike anything I've ever seen before. The walkway went for quite awhile, then ended in a grove of trees on the edge of the beach. We walked along the beach toward a good spot to sit where the waves were good for surfing. We had to cross the deep, rushing outlet of a river, which just added to the adventure. A few of us got smoothies from a nearby resort. We stayed at the beach for a couple hours, playing in the waves and surfing. It was gorgeous with white sand and turquoise water.

After the beach, we went back to the hotel and hung out in the pool for a couple more hours. We had a sunset dinner on the beach with all of our friends from the church. We ate banana cream pie to celebrate Amy's 30th birthday! After dinner we (of course) went back into the pool.

We left early on sunday morning, had an eight-hour layover in Houston, and finally made it home to San Diego around 9:00pm. Nothing really glamorous happened, but we worked hard, tried to serve the church, and overall had a great trip. My least favorite parts were the heat, humidity, and bugs. My favorite parts were playing the with kids, experiencing the World Cup excitement, and spending time with the rest of the team. Thank you all for keeping us in your prayers! Pura vida!

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