I almost never have to go to the grocery store any more. Either Zach or Elizabeth is usually more than willing to walk to the store a few blocks away to get us odds and ends for dinner, and one particular day I was imploring one of them to do just that so I could get supper ready. They both adamantly did not want to go, and rather than fight it, I procrastinated an hour and asked them again before finally going myself. As I was checking out at the store, I noticed two girls that did not look Costa Rican and heard them speaking in English, which can be a little shocking when you’re not used to hearing it spoken regularly, so I was going to ask them what they were doing in my small town, as tourists never make it this far over from the popular La Fortuna area 45 minutes away. They left the store while I was still in line, and I felt a little bummed to have missed the chance to speak to someone in English.
I left the store and turned the corner to walk home and there they were standing and talking to a Costa Rican man sitting on a ledge. I stopped and stared at them, “what are you guys doing here?” I asked. The girls whipped around, also not expecting to hear English, and told me they were visiting for a month as missionaries at a farm about an hour away, and were here to pick up items needed for a retreat they were putting on for local moms. Then five more people joined them from across the street and I met the family that started an organization to help at risk youth in their town and surrounding areas. They promptly invited me to join the mom’s retreat they were putting on that Sunday and gave me their business card.
I felt like I was in a dream. I had to go to the store at that exact time to run into this group of people at that exact moment, and what are the odds that they were throwing a mom’s retreat, and that both my two kids adamantly did not want to go to the store that day? To which my oldest joked that his laziness was obviously God’s will that day… ha! I knew I had to go.
The day before the retreat, the lady of the farm asked me if I wouldn’t mind picking up some moms in a town on my way there, so I agreed. I was a little nervous. I’m not the best driver of our little missionary white buseta that seats 12, but also I had never been there, and also three ladies about my age speaking Spanish for an hour while I drove made me feel very nervous that I wouldn’t be able to concentrate to be able to understand them. So, I prayed extra hard that morning and told myself like I’ve done before all the hard things in missions, that all I had to do was pray, show up and smile, and that God would do the rest. I especially prayed for extra understanding of Spanish, and my ability to speak it better.
It was delightful at first to pick up the girls, who smiled so readily and were easy-going. I was able to hold most of the conversation, praise God, but about a mile out from the farm it was raining, and we were on back winding roads with deep puddles. Suddenly everyone yelled stop at the same time (including me in my head), as we all knew we were about to get stuck. We waited until finally the man of the farm came to get us about 30 minutes later, and hooked a chain to my car and pulled us the rest of the way. The ladies could tell I was stressed and were talking me through it, but I could tell they were stressed as well until we finally pulled in to start the retreat an hour late. I was thinking that I was already exhausted and the day had barely begun. However, concentrating on both understanding fast Spanish and driving those back roads made breakfast and coffee all the more enjoyable. Plus, there were six missionary girls to talk to in English and share testimonies with!
The retreat included praying for healing, and while I was willing to join in the exercises and sharing, I gently felt the Holy Spirit telling me I should just sit back and take it all in. They created a washing feet station and spa station for the moms. When it was time for pedicures, one of the missionaries was worried to cut a lady’s toenails because we were warned that she had diabetes so she couldn’t cut the corners. She looked at me and said, do you want to do it? Sure, I said. I do not like touching feet. I never have, and you might say it’s a family thing that we just don’t like feet touching us. But as I sat down on the floor I thought to myself, these are the feet of Jesus, and I was suddenly incredibly honored to be caring for them. I sat on the floor and lovingly placed her feet on my lap and filed each of her toes into symmetry. I massaged her foot and prayed that God would heal her. Suddenly she looked down at me and declared that I was a “princessa de Dios.” I smiled and told her she is actually a princessa de Dios, but she said it again and then poked her neighbor and told her the same thing. She could sense the love of the Holy Spirit, and it was beautiful. This was my favorite part of the whole day… here I was supposed to be being served as a mother on a retreat, and God allowed me to serve in a way that I could unite with Jesus when he said, I did not come to be served, but to serve (Matthew 20:28). What a gift.
At the end of the retreat, we all were sitting for testimonies and final prayer. One of the women I had picked up that morning, (who had just lost her grandmother who had raised her as an orphaned child just four months ago) stood up and said she had been wrestling with herself about coming today and had decided not to go. She had made up her mind when she then saw me pull up in the car and she knew it was a sign from the Holy Spirit that she should get in the car. She said how much she had needed this day to heal her heart.
That day I witnessed so many women coming together, sharing in suffering and pain you cannot even imagine. My mission that day was bringing some of these beautiful women together for healing from Jesus. In my mind, I did nothing that day but show up. Nothing that day but pray, nothing that day but smile. And God blessed me by allowing me to share in his love in this way. The owner of the farm asked me to drop off even more women on the way back, and I glanced back and every single seat in my little bus was filled, but I knew I wouldn’t get stuck. When I started dropping off the women, many of them asked to see me again and gave me their numbers. The reason this blew my mind is because I hardly shared anything or said anything all day to these women, but it didn’t matter. I couldn’t believe how much God was glorified in my nothingness. It didn’t matter that I probably sounded like an idiot or was difficult to understand. All that mattered was that I went and allowed myself to be a vessel for the Holy Spirit. Praise God.