Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Costa Rica Missions Update #5

Pre-Script – It’s tomorrow already today. Mama used to say that the Internet in Costa Rica is like a box of chocolates – it occasionally goes down for random reasons and it sometimes takes forever to get it back going. I never quite knew what she meant by her sayings, but I still loved her. Mama and I got along just like peas and carrots.

Muttley, formerly known as Smedley
             I read recently that a scientific study concluded the human body is capable of expelling up to one quart of sweat per hour. When I read that my pores laughed at their underachieving brethren which dwelt upon the bodies of the test subjects. Seriously, they actually laughed – a creepy experience that feels like a cross between the pins & needles of having a numb leg wake up and the vibrating massager they use on your shoulders and neck when you purchase the MVP treatment at SportsClips (hey, don’t judge; it’s only a few dollars more, and sometimes I need a little pampering, too), and that sounds like that furry dog with the pilot’s goggles on the old Snagglepuss cartoons (was his name Smedley? My Internet’s down right now, so one of you is going to have to spot me on that [late minute bulletin - word is he's Muttley, not Smedley - we now return you to your regularly scheduled blog]). My body is easily able to drain a quart of sweat in the time it takes to walk from the van to the front door of the church.

            One quart…amateurs.

Kids getting registered for VBS
            Today was the first day of VBS. They told us not to be disappointed when we see the number of kids. Typically, events like this start small, then gain momentum as the days go by. And, at first, it seemed like that advice was well founded. The 8:15am start time came and we had around ten kids waiting at the front of the church. So, I start preparing in my mind the “Well, it’s our commitment and sacrifice in coming down here that counts” speech. You know, the one that says, “God is in control, and He brought the ones He wanted” and “If only one kid finds Jesus, then it’s totally worth it” (both are very true statements, but are most often used as the equivalent of “Well, at least she’s got a nice personality”).

Playing games during registration
            The fault in my thinking came in forgetting the great Costa Rican force called Tico Time. The Source of Tico Time has been explained to me a few ways. Some believe it to be a primeval demi-urge that dwells in the forests and jungles which causes the entire Costa Rican nation to occasionally move very slowly, as if they were walking through mango-laced Jell-O (you can’t escape the prevalence of the mangos here, even in the gelatinous workings of a semi-sentient natural force). Since, it happens to everyone at once, when the demi-urge lifts the spell no one knows what has happened, they just find that they are 35 minutes late to wherever they were heading. A second theory has to do with a tick that is carried in the fur of coatis and certain species of howler monkeys. The tick has some sort of saliva-based coagulent that causes fugues of extreme lethargy. A third theory has to do with simply being a laid-back culture that doesn’t find much need to rush through life. As an American, I find the third theory to be ludicrous. I also find the second to be too zoolgocially off-putting. So, my money-play is on the demi-urge.

Joyce and Madeline
helping with crafts
            Whatever the cause, Tico Time came into play in a big way this morning. 8:20 arrives, and kids keep coming. 8:30 passes, and kids keep coming. 8:45, 9:00, 9:15, more and more kids. Once the final children arrived, we counted up the total and discovered that 98 were registered! We were blown away (and the folks in charge of making the snacks were overwhelmed)! And this is just the first day! I can’t wait to see what tomorrow brings.

            I’ll let the pics tell the story of the actual program – just know it was fun, active, and Bible-strong. I’d rather tell you the story of these kids:

·      There were a number of kids from the neighborhood surrounding the church. This is great, because it gives the church a good name with the people around them. It also helps toward the secondary goal of getting parents connected with the church.
Kids "feasting" on what may be
their biggest meal of the day

·      A majority of the kids, though, came from outlying areas – very backward and poverty-stricken areas. Many of these kids had never stepped foot in a church before this morning. We used our vans to drive out, cram the kids in, and bring them back.

·      One lady brought some kids with her. She and her husband have started a church in their home in one of these outlying areas. Her goal was to bring 20 children – a very lofty goal for a house-church. She ended up bringing 30.

·      Because of the poverty, many of these kiddos are coming to the VBS with empty stomachs. We fed all of them a bologna and cheese sandwich at the end of the morning, but, knowing that for many that snack will be their big meal of the day, we’re working on ways to expand what it is we’re able to feed them.

Jose Daniel, whom Andres led
to the Lord
·      Andres, one of Pastor Jose’s sons, has an amazing gift with the kids. He obviously loves them, and they are naturally drawn to them. At one point, he saw that one of the older boys just couldn’t keep himself from misbehaving (again, most of these kids have never been in a church before and have no idea how they should act). So, he took the boy into another room and talked with him while they worked together on his craft project. As a result of listening to this boy, treating him like he’s someone special, and showing him some love, this boy gave his life to Jesus (remember that comment earlier of “If only one kid finds Jesus, then is it totally worth it”? The answer to that question is emphatically “Yes!!”).

The first soccer camp is going on as I type. I think I’ll wait until tomorrow to give you the run-down of that. This is another of those events where we’ll be bussing (vanning?) youth in from the outlying areas. I can’t wait to hear what God is doing there.

Soccer Camp Action
Things to pray for on Tuesday: VBS Day 2, Soccer Camp Day 2, Joyce’s on-going meetings with the women, I’ll be preaching at an evening church service. As always, thank you so much for your continued prayers.

Before I go – Smush-Frog Update! He’s still there, although he appears to have turned somewhat dried and leathery (curious in this humidity). Much longer and the hotel won’t need the shovel; they’ll just be able to Frisbee him into the neighbor’s yard. I’ll keep you posted.

Before I go again - Heard last night that eight children asked Jesus into their hearts on the first day of VBS, including Andres's boy and this girl whom Nancy has developed a very special bond with.
Nancy's special girl, who also received Christ

Craft Time

Kids in line for their meal

Some of the older youth who came for soccer camp

More soccer action
Pastor Elias's wife, Delia, leading
games for the little ones

1 comment:

Vicki said...

Tears of joy.....