It has been a year since we first packed up our van with most of our remaining belongings and made the trek to Louisiana to embark on this missionary journey. It has been a beautiful year filled with many blessings and challenges, and despite not yet being fluent in Spanish (although our children have already surpassed us), we have been able to make true friends with the poor.
Here is an update on our missionary journey so far in the little city that God has called us to serve here in Florencia, San Carlos, Costa Rica.
Many people come to our house to sell hand-picked fruit, sweet bread or cheese, and we try to support them, as we know jobs are hard to come by here. We hired a friend of ours to help us in our house a few days a week while her husband was out of work. It has been a big blessing to us, as it takes a lot more effort to manage a home here, and she also has been teaching us Spanish as we work side-by-side throughout the day.
We always try to help people in the moment who need food, money, diapers, etc. We have also been doing one-on-one bible studies with some friends and neighbors who stop over. All of these encounters are building true friendships and are so edifying in the faith as we pray with those in need.
Once a month we have been visiting the orphanage in La Fortuna, making friends and playing with the kids, where, sadly most come from abusive situations. Where the orphanage is set is like so many tourist areas, where what we see in the charming downtown is a stark contrast to the poor living in shacks not even a block away. It has been a gift to spend time with the children there.
Brad and the boys will play catch or soccer while the littlest kids yell out “muchacha” and “muchacho” at us to try to get our attention. Some of the older girls love to show off their taekwondo moves and to color with Elizabeth. Rachael brings her guitar to play songs for the kids to sing with, and they have a lot of fun strumming on it.
Our family was assigned a holy hour with adoration and a communion service in the little town of San Rafael, about a half hour away from here. We will soon be training to be eucharistic ministers and will eventually be leading it. Our priest here is in charge of about 15 pueblos where a lot of people can’t get to mass very easily. We will be inviting people to come to this service, and we pray that God will move the hearts of the people of San Rafael!
There is a lot of interest in learning English here as it provides more job opportunities in nearby bigger cities. We host a class once a week where we talk in English and pray together. I really think the kids are drawn to the solidarity of friendship and faith that these evenings provide. A common problem here is that so many families are broken and left without a father. Our hope is that these meetings will draw them closer to their real father; one that will never leave them.
We are working on adding a room to a house for a poor single woman named Anya, and her two children, who currently picks and sells limes for a living (they are extremely cheap here, around 5-10 cents a lime). The three of them are living in a tiny, neat little 2-room house, and all of them sleep in the same room. We are trying to raise money to provide them with an additional bedroom. The construction is estimated to be around $1500. If you would like to help financially with this project, please let us know!
There is another single woman who has three children and lives in a tiny wooden “hut” tucked into a side of the mountain in a nearby pueblo. Her floor boards dangerously don’t meet evenly, she does not have any light, and when it rains it leaks all over the house because of the condition of her sheet metal roof. We are looking into helping her repair her floor and roof, however it is a tricky situation because she may be taking her house structure and selling it for food and other things. Please pray for this woman to overcome whatever is at the root of her troubles.
Please pray for our neighbors, the kids at the orphanage, for the girls at the end of our road that sometimes don’t get to eat dinner, for the men who want to provide for their families, but can’t find work, for an increase in morality, purity and modesty and for the reparation of the family here in Costa Rica. Please pray for the poor that live in steel metal shacks so close to us with rain dripping in their roofs, for the children who don’t have shoes to wear, and for those whose budget is so tight that they can’t afford real butter. But mostly, please pray for those here who don’t know Jesus and his infallible love for them.
Mother Teresa was quoted saying “A sacrifice to be real must cost, must hurt, and must empty ourselves. Give yourself fully to God. He will use you to accomplish great things on the condition that you believe much more in His LOVE than in your weakness.”
Jesus says, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” -2 Corinth. 12:9
The sacrifice that it is being here, away from family and friends and land and language can feel overwhelming at times. We are constantly challenged to give even more for God while continuously being faced with so many needs around us. That is why every time I think of this verse, that His power is made perfect in weakness, I can rest easy. We may be one tiny ripple in this ocean of need, but if that’s all God needs to move mountains, then we can do that. And then, like St. Paul, we can boast gladly of our weaknesses so that the power of God can rest in us.
Please pray that we never lose sight of His LOVE, and his work here in Costa Rica.