Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Breaking the barriers one word at a time: Costa Rica 7/20

We are home in the states, but I wasn't able to finish blogging about the whole trip there. I'm planning on finishing it before the week is out. :)


Despite the assumed simplicity of basic communication, the team in Costa Rica has discovered the power of speaking through love and not words. The most basic sentence becomes the starting point for friendships that transcend wealth and cultural differences. While teaching English doesn't clearly scream, "We're Jesus freaks!" we were able to reach out to those in the community by helping them improve what they do know. We went over work books practicing the numbers, colors, and shapes.  We ended the English practice by singing "Head shoulders, knees and toes."

Next we went to help out at the feeding center at the Celebration church, Alajuelita campus, which is right near 6:8. It was like a small church service before the meal. There was a sermon and a song before those gathered ate. This service project went fairly quickly because these men ate really fast. It probably was there only meal of the day. With that fact in mind, it was extremely humbling to see how thankful and smiley they all were. The whole group was touched when Spencer sat down to eat among these men. It doesn't take much to do something that "simple" or "basic", however, I know that it spoke volumes to those men. Spencer is the  president of 6:8 ministries but that didn't matter or have any significance while he communed with the Ticos.

After lunch we went to Alajuelinda (i think that's the spelling.) spend time at a local playground. 6:8 hasn't made many contacts in this area, though, we were able to share the love of Christ by playing, providing entertainment, and stimulating the kids day. Who knows what they were doing before? Were they bored? The joy, smiles, and hugs for even those brief moments, definitely showed them that Gringos (white people) aren't any better than they are. We're all people and we all need love.  When we came back from playing we dispersed into our VBS groups to finalize our plans for the following day.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Costa Rica: Day Three--7/19

We were picked up by this bus from the airport.

We love our kitchen ladies! They feed us SO well. :)

Coloring with some kiddos(7/18)

Thursday involved making care packages of food to take to families in one of the poorest areas. The people in surrounding areas view these homes as eye sores. We were able to take 12 bags of food to 12 different homes. We asked the families if they had any prayer requests, prayed for them, and gave them the food. In one of the homes there was a grandmother taking care of her grandchildren while her daughter went to work. There were eight people living in a very small, narrow, home. Thanya, Shane, Rachel, Daniel, and I were in the home praying and it was so sweet to see how affected Thanya was as she tried to hold back her tears. We all were moved by the welcoming attitude despite how little each of these families had. It was also really cool to be able to be prayed for by one of the recipients. Even though we were praying in English and she was praying in Spanish it was so touching to be prayed over. We quickly gathered some kids and began blowing bubbles, playing soccer, and coloring with chalk and crayons.

Our next outing involved traveling to Juan Pablo, a place very near and dear to those who went to Costa Rica last year. In Juan Pablo, the 2011 team built two houses and we got to go back and see how the families have been since last year. Tears were shed and hugs exchanged pretty quickly as we made our appearance. For me, as a first timer, it was super sweet to see the bond and connection that my team members made the previous year. It was an absolutely beautiful afternoon. A group of our team and several locals got a soccer game started in four foot high grass. I kid you not, it was literally that high. I hope someone happened to get video footage of the running because it was highly amusing. Daniel reached out to Jeremy, who had some special needs, it was such a tender moment as I watched them interact. He, the towering American, and Jeremy, a little Tico with the largest smile I've seen in a while :) Thanya also got attached to Jeremy and she sat cuddling with him against one of the homes. Isabella was chasing and playing with two siblings, a brother and sister, and by the end of the afternoon the little girl slowly released the grip of her crayons and fell fast asleep in her arms. During the midst of the game, Carson and Lexi collided and Lexi was in a lot of pain. Which resulted in a trip to the hospital that did not definitively say what was wrong with Lexi, but she did not break anything, Praise the Lord!

Group chapel was lead by a 6:8 staffer who shared from Isaiah 58. The whole chapter talks about how the people of Israel think they are dedicated to the Lord and giving him the proper sacrifices etc. However, the fast that the Lord chooses is one that releases us from our stuff. As Americans, we are so "fulfilled" by our things that we cling to them. How about fasting and going to take your meal to the homeless? Or not donating your crappy clothing items and shoes to the homeless but giving your very best? More often than not, our things own us rather than us owning our things. And when we become so selfless and unconcerned with material items that won't last, we will give freely.

Our personal group time (we do group chapel with Celebration church) was really great. We had affirmations, which is when everyone draws a name at the beginning of the day and watches how God uses them during the day. It is one, encouraging to hear about things that other people notice that we don't think twice about, two, it is neat to see how God shows himself through us. After we had people affirmations we went around and affirmed God. How he spoke to us, showed himself to us, convicted, or made each of us aware about his characteristics.

Shane with Jose Antonio.

The little girl that eventually fell asleep in Isabella's arms.

Trooper Lexi! She stayed so positive through all of this :)

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Costa Rica: Day Two- 7/18

Yesterday road a bus to a local grocery store, Pali, to buy some groceries for a family we were going to visit. We went to visit Jose Antonio's family. Jose Antonio is a boy that Cross Creek has been supporting for some time now. He is a special needs boy who, recently, had the opportunity to to be accepted into a program to help reign in, his more of less, spastic behavior. Through horse therapy, Jose has been able to begin learning how to do tasks like wiping off the table. These tasks, while simple, show how much improvement has occurred. It was neat to be able to hear about how far this little boy has come! We were able to bless them with food and pray over them. I (Lacey) offered to start the praying and during the prayer, all of the sudden, I became overcome with emotion. I wasn't expecting to cry, and I wasn't just crying I was weeping, tears continued to flow even after I had stopped praying. I really don't know what I was praying, I truly believe God was praying through me. It was so powerful to have our group pray for these people.

After we left Jose Antonio's house, we walked to a little alley to play with kids in the area. You know the saying, "Build a walmart and they will come?" (referring to rednecks, from Tim Hawkins) Well here we say, "Bring a soccer ball, and they will come!" There were two soccer games going, some coloring in coloring books, jumping rope, throwing the Frisbee, and playing with chalk. It was great to interact with and experience the culture through laughter with the kids. A lot of memories were made and even more pictures taken. :)

Next we came back to the team house to eat lunch and when we were done we left to go back to another Pali that was closer to 6:8. This time we were buying food for care packages that we are going to distribute today. (7/19) From the store, we walked to meet these two twins who have been addicted to drugs and on the streets for 15 years. Their home was a concrete house with concrete slabs to place the mattress on because they had sold their other bed to buy more drugs. They didn't have a door either because they also sold that. The community of Alajuelita frowns upon them because they have always been begging for money. Everyone also views these men as the lowest of the low. We gathered around these men and prayed for them. Afterwards, as we were standing there, buses would drive by and the people would stare at us because they knew how "terrible" these twins are. Yet, Christ tells us that when we serve the least of these we serve him.

All of our days are very full and a lot of us have been saying how it feels like we've been here for so long. We really have just been blessed to see how much God has worked in how little time we actually have been here.

We ended our night yesterday with a trip to San Jose, the capital. We took a bus in and then did a bit of walking to get to the market. Sadly, Kirstin began to feel pretty dizzy and slightly nauseous. Shane thinks that she may have vertigo only because Sara does as well. (maybe hereditary?) We walked to eat some pizza and I think she was starting to feel better then. After we ate, Spencer, was greeted by a friend of his. Spencer told his friend that if he wore the boots that Spencer gave him previously, Spencer would buy him groceries. We stopped so Spencer could get some groceries and then we got to pray over Spencer's friend. We then walked near, but not in front of the Hotel Del Ray. This place used to be a hotel but has now turned into one of the biggest brothels in this area. There are casinos, strippers, and prostitutes that fill this place of darkness and evil. It was getting later and if it had been earlier, we would have seen families dropping off their mom's and their daughters. Again, we stopped to pray. It was heartbreaking to know that this is how a lot of people made money.

When we made it back from our bus ride, we all got to hang out, some on the balcony, some downstairs. We talked and talked. There was an intense game of Liar's dice (from Pirates of the Caribbean) with a bunch of the guys. I know what your thinking, what a game for a mission trip, eh? ;) While we are here, we are on Costa Rica time, which means, things happen when they will. So, because we have to be flexible and we've been staying busy, we haven't had a chance to upload some pictures but I will try to have those for the next post.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Costa Rica Update

Hello from Alajuelita, Costa Rica!

(If you would like to comment, feel free to do so by scrolling to the bottom of the post and clicking the comment box. If you have a gmail or google account you can select that. Otherwise choose, on the drop down menu, anonymous  and the please type your name under the comment so we can know who's commenting :) )

Checking into the airport and waiting to board our flight was very smoothly executed. We had no problems staying together! Shouts of joy, squeals, or, "WE'RE GOING TO COSTA RICAAAAAA!!!!" would randomly explode with the anticipation mounting.

Our only issue was Kirstin's motion-sickness. She felt queasy as we started moving in the plane, even though we hadn't lifted off the ground. Our brief 2 hour and 45 minute flight was the longest and most uncomfortable flight for Kirstin. She did end up throwing up several times, but when we got to the team house she was slowly beginning to feel better and she kept her food down. Praise the Lord!

After quickly unloading and rearranging our luggage, we went on a prayer walk in the area just outside of 6:8 ministries. It was very powerful for all of us as we began to really have our eyes opened to the reality of the lifestyle here. One of the most important things that Bryan (6:8 staff) told us in orientation was to be open to the "living-in-the-moment" Holy Spirit leading. We actually were able to have an impromptu prayer circle around a man, who goes by the name of shaggy. We also stopped and prayed over what used to be a thriving coffee field. Now, the overgrown coffee plants hide dark activities such as drug dealing and using. The ground is covered in trash and apparently was in better conditions than it has been before. 6:8 would love to see how God would take over this land, how he would use this land and take dominion for His kingdom and glory. It was very moving to be apart of praying over this property.

Next we had chapel, lead by Bryan (SO great!) and a brief small group. It was a wonderful first day and all of use are very much enjoying our time here. Thank you for your prayers, we appreciate them so much!

Look for pictures next time :)

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Not why, but what

During the week of Passion 2012, I came to God with expectations. Note: Don't do that. (haha) Don't try to comprehend God. One, it won't work, and two, "trying" to expect what God will do will just steal the joy that comes from your vulnerability and brokenness towards your maker. He works in you when you are at your lowest low because you realize that is then, when you are stripped of everything else distracting, that you need him.

After a wonderful time learning more about God, I came home feeling really bummed out about my knee.  It was hard for me to be dependent on people. I wanted to get up and go help, yet I physically wasn't able to complete all my regular responsibilities.  I was quickly slipping into a hole of discouragement.  Through that experience, though, I felt convicted about how was spending my time. Most of my time was being spent with people outside of my family. I began to realize how little time I actually had left living at home, in comparison with the rest of my life. There were times of tears when I couldn't push myself to reach a physical therapy goal, but all the while, God kept reminding me not to ask Him, "Why me? Why would you make me go through something like this?"  but rather, "What, God, do you want to teach me?" The latter question turned my focus from myself and my pride and refocused my attitude towards Him.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

You Stay The Same

Since the last time I posted, I have been occupied with working, training for the pharmacy, and preparing for Costa Rica. I'm still fundraising, but my youth leader assured me that he would make sure that I was coming. :) I've been tested and stretched in my faith regarding the mission trip because of my type A oldest sister side. I like to know that my ducks are in a row. I'm a planner. While I'm mostly a relaxed, go with the flow person, I really felt the need to take this into my hands and fix my "problem." On top of my worry about the trip, I was dealing with insomnia. My mind was SO busy that I had thoughts constantly running through my brain.I was more focused on the coming day than calming down, reading the bible to direct my thoughts, and trusting God. Strangely, I came across this verse while I was up at 3am one day:
 At midnight I rise to praise you,
because of your righteous rules.Psalm 119:62.

I was so thankful for a sweet time of worship with my friends from Daytona over the weekend; it was helpful to regain the perspective that I was numbing myself away from. As soon as I sit down and reflect, I have thoughts of thankfulness trickle into my mind. I'm so blessed to have a fantastic church. I'm thankful for awesome parents and faithful grandparents. I'm undeserving of the job that I have. Yet, without God's word guiding and clarifying my thinking I quickly drift away from those thoughts I just mentioned. Lately, I have been reading, "Weird: because normal isn't working." The book is by Craig Groeschel, and it has been so convicting and encouraging to me. The whole theme of the book goes along with a post I wrote prior to reading the book. It's super neat for me to read an entire book based on thoughts that I had previously! :)

{i've been humming this song all day}