This past year, a new missionary family that had just joined us in Costa Rica presented us with the idea of joining forces to build a new playground for the little town of Sonafluca, where we were both doing missions. The old playground was in complete disarray. The swings were broken, the wood promised splinters, and really the only ones who used it were bored teenagers looking for a place to hang out. It was regularly trashed, and in the center of town.
We wanted to dedicate this park to Saint John Bosco, which is our parish name, but also is a perfect example of a saint that brought children to Jesus through play! We also wanted to get the blessing of our priest, Padre Mainor. In the meantime, Brad and our mission partner Mark, had scheduled an appointment to meet the bishop so he could put faces to the names of his missionaries now serving in Sonafluca. At this meeting, which included our local missionary friend Pablo, they explained our desire to put up a new park for the kids and dedicate it to San Juan Bosco. Brad even mentioned that it would be really great if the bishop could come to our opening party and bless the park. Pablo joked after they left, that in Costa Rica, that would never happen!
We then met with Padre Mainor and received his blessing, and before we knew it the park project was under way. First we had to tear down the old park and clean up the debris and trash, but then it was exciting to see the new park go up in just three days! Here we are laying the ground with rock after it was built.
Our boys, some locals and a lot of kids helped shovel and pour it on.
Soon the park was almost complete and we decided to meet with Padre Mainor to see if either he or the bishop could come bless the park for our opening party. Not only did he agree to come, but he checked with the bishop on a date that would work for him, and he agreed to come bless the park AND say a mass for Sonafluca at our tiny little chapel! Because the bishop had other bishops from other countries visiting, there ended up being three bishops and five priests for a total of eight in all! Meanwhile, when the locals got word that we were going to have this blessing and a mass said for the park, they put together a huge dinner for all the missionaries and priests. Only God could have taken a little suggestion from a humble missionary in a tiny town of Costa Rica and have blown it up into the holy event that it was!
It was a magical night! Not only was it packed with locals, it made the national news and FB watch, and Pablo was interviewed on behalf of Family Missions Company.
So that is the story of how, on June 8th, God orchestrated a blessing of the new park of Sonafluca with eight priests, a huge party full of kids and families, and a mass at our little town church, followed by a dinner for all the priests and missionaries.
San Juan Bosco, pray for us!