Posted by Christine Szekeres in Costa Rica on June 12, 2015
As I flip through photos of our recent trip to Costa Rica I’m amazed by how much happened in the short time we were there. In a week’s time our team of 12 was able to help support a fellow camp in the outskirts of San Jose, Costa Rica called Campamento Roblealto. The week started off with almost a full day of airplane rides and layovers, with most flights including some type of set back or delay but thankfully no missed flights! The delays gave us all a chance to relax and fellowship with one another.
Lesson 1: Don’t always be focused on the tasks that you miss the time to fellowship.
Finally touching down in San Jose just before midnight the 12 tired Sambicaites had arrived! With no missing luggage and no international incidents we were picked up by our old friend Adam who worked with our team to make this trip possible. After about an hour we arrived at camp and most, if not all, headed straight to bed. The next day we began our orientation and the first of our few work project days. The task was simple: use old tractor oil to stain the outside of two fairly sized cabins whilst not inhaling, letting it make contact with our skin, or falling off a ladder. By the end of the day each of us had done at least 2 of these. Many inside jokes and more team bonding occurred and it was a nice time to enjoy the sun and get some manual work done. My first task was to help hold a ladder while someone else was painting. My mindset was still set on the typical American thinking, “If we had more paintbrushes then that would multiply the amount of people staining which equals being done faster.” completely missing the fact that, as small as I felt my job was it was still important, it also gave me a chance to pray and think about things and enjoy the amazing sun.
Lesson 2: No job is too small, if done with the right attitude and mentality.
The second day involved much of the same work as well as a large thunderstorm that began to rain us out, but we were able to complete both of the cabins in time. Next up, on the weekend was children’s camp. We were working with a group called the Hope Project that works with under privileged kids in some of the poorer surrounding areas. The director of this project, a man by the name of Jugo, I had the pleasure of meeting last year when our group of interns came to help out and do similar work in Costa Rica. This man truly has a heart for all the kids he works with and you can tell by watching that they all love him. Before the kids arrived we were given the opportunity to decorate the dining hall in a way of welcoming them and giving them a surprise. Our team was given a bunch of different art supplies and everyone went nuts! I personally am not much of an artist and when it comes to things I don’t know and my natural self says “stand off to the side awkwardly and watch while trying to composite a plan.” Well at first as I was watching everyone I noticed something that seemed out of a strange reality TV show/home improvement show where everyone is scrambling around to get supplies and everyone is working on completely different things with no theme in mind. Instinctively I want to have a plan set. But a beautiful thing occurred. Everything worked together! I mean to help with a visual, we had balloons, giant colorful paper pompoms, paper ring chains, palm trees made out of paper bags and tissue paper, colorful cloth pendants with the camps name on it, egg cartons spray painted different colors, different signs welcoming the kids, cut out paper stars and black lights on the windows. Our efforts though whatever initially our motives were, they ended with a product that said “Hey Kids, We love and care about you” And that was all that needed to be said.
Lesson 3: God takes our mess as it is and He turns it into something beautiful for His glory.
The kids were greeted like stars as they entered into the dining hall giving high fives to staff and taking their seats. I will remember the look on their faces and the slight gasps as they were told they could eat and ask for as much food as they liked. This is not a problem we seem to face here in Bellevue, but to them, this was more than just camp. Our team was split into two work shifts and we took turns helping set up for meals and cleaning dishes, as well as having time to play with the kids and hang out with them. Our time with the kids involved playing in the pool, many of our staff went through the mud obstacle course, helping with a scavenger hunt, as well as being able to arrange a mini carnival for the kids. There was even a day we were able to introduce Mission Impossible to them! For me it was interesting to note that even though a lot of us could only communicate through broken Spanish and hand signals, all the kids wanted was to play with us and to know they were loved. There was many fun times and it was sad to see them all have to go back home. To many of us it was a sad thought that this was only a slight respite from their normal hardships that they face daily. But it is not us that gives this to them, but God. And God was who we were there to give glory to.
Lesson 4: Showing love brings glory to God.
In conclusion, I believe that this experience was truly a life changer for all, and I know everyone took away different things. But these are the things I will keep with me. That and the memories of the delicious food I ate that entire week.
Written by Josh “Motor” Murakami