Costa Rica STM Day 3 - Feeding the Hungry
Today was the first official day of ministry, and it was a busy schedule! To begin our day, our team did devos, a time set apart in the day to fellowship with God by reading the Word and reflecting on it, together and prepared our hearts for the day. Personally, I felt that I needed to put my camera away for the day and participate in serving, but I did take some quick shots on my phone. However, I am so glad I followed that conviction.
We headed to a ministry building in Pavas, where we cleaned the room and prepared lunch for local mothers and children. As a team, we expected between 25-30 women and children to attend, but about 5 mothers and 8 children came in by the time we had to leave to our next destination. Our team took advantage of the low numbers and seized the opportunity to get to the know the children and mothers at a more intimate level. I admit, at first, I felt a little awkward engaging in conversation with them, but I reminded myself that I was there to serve and love them, so I took that step and began the conversation.
Afterwards, we headed to La Carpio, which is a very poor town located between two rivers. The living conditions in this area were very hard for me to accept; seeing the structure, the size, and location of the homes made my heart break. In addition, the children and teenagers' family life is a real struggle: many mothers are out doing whatever they can to bring money back home, including selling drugs; moreover, many of the parents are illiterate and cannot help their children with homework, and many times the children drop out of school; additionally, most of these children and teenagers are abused and become violent towards others. Sadly, this is the reality of their lives.
However, knowing these details did not discourage our team from loving these children and teenagers. We approached the area with the intention of caring and loving them. Our primary focus was helping the local ministry leader with her lesson for the day, and she told us, "You come expecting to give, but you'll find that you'll actually receive." Because there are so many children and teenagers, we divided our serving time into three sections based on age group: toddlers, children, and teens, one hour each.
During the second group session, a little girl in my group, whom I forgot the name of but I'll call her Elsa since she also had a Frozen shirt, began to talk to me so comfortably. Elsa is 7 years-old and is very playful; she kept talking to me, asking me questions, telling me about herself, and even played with my necklace and poked me a couple of times. And when it began to rain, she told me she was cold and got closer to me. My heart melted. At that very moment, I felt a great sense of love towards her. I wanted to hug her and tell her how much she is loved. I left La Carpio having received more than I gave: God's unconditional love for me and these children.
At night, we headed back to Pavas to help a local church group with feeding the homeless. After several stops, we set up at the corner of a shop located on a small street where most of the homeless live. The queue for food and drinks grew quickly. Although we did not directly share the Gospel with them, we hope that serving them warm food and juice or coffee was enough to make them feel loved and cared for.
But perhaps the most interesting aspect of our day is our interactions with the Costa Rican locals who are running these serving ministries. For example, while we were en route to our final location for serving the homeless, our team talked to two Costa Rican locals riding with us about things they enjoy and what they do; but, the most brilliant part of it all was that English, Spanish, and Mandarin were all spoken at some point during the car ride. Wow! Isn't God amazing? How is it that God uses a group of young Chinese, three Costa Rican locals, and a white missionary man altogether to serve in His name with three languages being used at some point? Truly, God is amazing!
- Protection from Spiritual Warfare
- Good night's rest
- Patience and boldness
- Strength and energy
Our co-team leader, Karina Lin, has made a special blog dedicated to her two-month experience in Costa Rica. If you are interested in reading an alternate perspective on this Costa Rica STM, feel free to check out her blog at: afraidyetfilledwithjoy.wordpress.com!