Pura Vida: A Costa Rica Adventure

Posted by Christine Szekeres in Costa Rica on March 18, 2016

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What can I say about spending a month in Costa Rica? It was exciting, yet challenging and frustrating at times. Most of all though, it was beautiful. From the mountains, to the sunrise and the sunsets, God’s creation was all around me. I saw the most beauty of God’s creation however, in the people. It was incredible to see that all these people are also made in the image of God, the same as you and me.
I spent a month serving at Campamento Roblealto in the mountains in San Jose de la Montaña, Barva, Heredia, Costa Rica with another intern, Griffey. My time there was a huge opportunity for growth personally and spiritually. God chose me to be used to further His kingdom. I accepted the calling and I cheerfully served in whatever way I was needed. There’s something so beautiful about humbling yourself and putting others before yourself, and just being cheerful about serving them. I was able to let the light of Christ shine through me, and I believe the people I interacted with saw that through my actions.

My first week was spent working on service team in the kitchen. It was a great time of bonding with the staff and learning to become humble and serve where we were needed. We set tables, put out food, swept, and mopped, and hand washed hundreds of dishes every day. Week two, I was with the preschool group taking pictures and working programs. I got to play with the kids, run activities, and even was asked to come up with a game. Taking pictures that week was a great opportunity to catch a smile on the face of kids just having fun, and playing with each other. Doing the mud course with the kids was the most fun part of that week. Getting to run through mud, and just get messy with the kids was a blast. The joy on their faces was totally worth being out of my comfort zone and getting muddy. Later that week I was with the school aged kids doing programs, and the activities were so much fun. From getting water thrown on me by kids, to a whole bucket dumped on me by someone on program staff, that week was full of surprises.

During my third week there, I was back in the kitchen. This time there were less people that spoke English. I was thrown back into an uncomfortable place, and if I’m being totally honest, I really struggled that week. I was serving, and doing so happily. However, I being someone who struggles daily with anxiety, hit a wall, and I was a mess. They rearranged the tables in the dining hall, to make it more interesting for the kids. Along with that, because new people had come in, they didn’t know my system for the dishes. I immediately struggled with my need for organization. I had to quickly learn that I couldn’t have things be organized the way I wanted. This was for the kids, not for me. That is when God used Griffey in my life the most. Without Griffey, that day I would have totally lost focus. We prayed together, and talked, and I went back to work. The Lord knew what he was doing when he didn’t send us alone. Having each other during that month was crucial. We helped each other, but most of all we learned from each other. I learned more that week than any other. I saw myself grow, and sought to connect with God even deeper than I had before.

As we entered our final week, I experienced many emotions and feelings. We had two days of work that week before the rest of our team arrived for a week of service. When our team was to arrive, it was going to be a totally different week than we had experienced before. We didn’t know what to expect. I had been in a routine for a few weeks, and that routine was about to totally change. Though it was difficult changing routine, it was totally worth it. Our final week was spent working with kids from the Hope Project. These are kids that live in a slum community. I’ve spent time working with homeless, and kids from poor communities, but this was the first time I had gone into a slum community. My heart broke. Not out of pity, but the way that God’s heart breaks when He sees broken people. I immediately just desired to love those kids like our Father loves us. After all is said and done, Costa Rica gave me the chance to change who I am. I am being molded into who God wants me to be. I am furthering His kingdom every day. Pura Vida!

Written by Kady Treagesser

Being Humble

Posted by Christine Szekeres in Costa Rica on February 12, 2016

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There’s an interesting story behind this picture. I wasn’t even supposed to have the opportunity to visit this orphanage in Costa Rica. As soon as I found out there was an orphanage I so desperately wanted to visit. Since I was a little girl the thought of adoption has always been in my heart. On a typical day I normally wear my “I Am Second” bracelet as a reminder that God and others are before me. Not anymore.

Patricia and kids

While on my week long mission trip in Costa Rica we were going through the book “Humility” which is something I very much strive for, hence why I wear my “I Am Second” bracelet but I don’t have that bracelet anymore. I have a new one.

During the visit to the orphanage as I was saying my goodbyes, I knelt down giving hugs to the kids and the little boy in the bright blue t-shirt pointed at my bracelet. I looked up at him and in my not so good Spanish said “¿Quieres?” trying to ask if he wanted my bracelet. He shook his head yes so I took it off and gave it to him. Walking out of their loving home on my way back he had ran out to me with a bracelet on his hand. I thought he was giving me back my bracelet and I said “no Es para tú” attempting to say “No, it’s for you”. One of the three volunteers who made the orphanage visit with me, turned to me and said “No, he’s giving that to you”. It was a rubber band loom bracelet that he must have made himself. I was so surprised and grateful for such a kind gesture. I wear it everyday as my new reminder to stay humble.

God is so good. On our extremely long flights back to Seattle I was praying constantly about what was next for me and praying for all of the kids and staff I was fortunate enough to interact with in Costa Rica. SAMBICA has an after school program on Wednesdays where each intern gets to be a camp counselor of a small group of kids. We returned from Costa Rica on Tuesday so the very next day back we were right back into the swing of things. During our Wednesday morning meeting we were told we were going to have a few new students joining us this week and that one was recently adopted. As soon as I heard “adopted” I instantly was thinking “Oh my goodness! That is so great,” as we continued to learn that this student also didn’t speak very much English. At this point I was thinking, why on earth would they speak Spanish, they probably speak French, or Chinese, anything but Spanish. I was wrong. Alright Lord, what is that supposed to mean? What are you trying to tell me? I believe He’s bringing my passion for adoption into my everyday life and that is an amazing blessing!

Written by Patricia “Dyno” Elders

Costa Rica & Lesson’s Learned

Posted by Christine Szekeres in Costa Rica on June 12, 2015

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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

Learning to Worship God through My Labors

Posted by Christine Szekeres in Costa Rica on March 5, 2014

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As part of our internship program, my coworkers and I at SAMBICA traveled to Costa Rica to work alongside our brothers and sisters in Christ at Campamento Roblealto. While we were there, we helped accomplish a variety of tasks, including painting benches, walls, and buildings, digging ditches, blazing trails, watering plants (which was not as easy as it sounds, considering most of the water had to be carried up a huge hill in 5-gallon buckets from the river), building dams to help work toward an irrigation system for the trees around the camp, cleaning cabins which were used during their summer camp program, sanding and staining wood pillars, and many other housekeeping and maintenance projects.

Costa Rica

On the first day that my group (group 2) had the opportunity to work at Roblealto, it became obvious to me that this place was very different from what I was used to. We gathered to find out what we would be doing for the day, and the leader of the maintenance team said, “We need four guys to take machetes and clear some trails.” Seriously?! Of course, my hand shot straight up, as did the hands of three of my good friends. David handed us all machetes, explaining that we would need to clear the branches and limbs hanging over the trails. Additionally, he gave us rakes and told us to rake the leaves and litter off the paths to make them safer. Splitting us into two groups of two, we moved to tackle opposite sides of the camp. After living in the suburbs for far too long, I was excited for the opportunity to get dirty and wander the woods! David walked us to the trail we would be clearing and set us to work.

Josh and I started working as hard and as fast as we could to get the path cleaned up. But after 30 minutes or so, David came to check on us and see how our work was coming along and told us to slow down! He explained that it didn’t matter how fast we got the job done, that it was more important for us to get the job done well and have fun along the way. He encouraged us to enjoy our work and to worship God through our labor instead of trying to rush through it all and kill ourselves in the process. The perspective of work displayed at their camp was so radically different and so incredibly refreshing throughout our time there that I even brought hints of it home! Ever since our trip, I’ve been so much more joyful in my work, because I’ve started seeing it as an opportunity to glorify God as 1 Corinthians 10:31 instructs.

Even though I ended up bedridden and sick halfway through my time in Costa Rica, I had an amazing time working alongside my brothers and sisters in Christ to extend the kingdom of God and help them fulfill their mission. It was sobering to realize that I serve the same God as they do, and our mission, no matter how many miles separate us, is the same: to make disciples of ALL nations.

Written by Tyler Watley

New Perspectives Gained in Costa Rica

Posted by Christine Szekeres in Costa Rica on February 15, 2014

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Uncertainty flooded my mind as we traveled to Campamento Roblealto (Camp Tall Oak) in Costa Rica on February 2nd with half of our SAMBICA team (the other half would overlap their trip and ours over the weekend). I had no idea what to expect, and particularly because this was my first time out of the country, I was nervous! Little did I know that my perspective on life was about to change.

Within the first 24 hours we had experienced so much that I was sure several days had gone by. After breakfast we received an introduction to the camp, followed by a camp tour across the 45 acres of land, during which time we even worked on some team-building activities. Unfortunately, this exercise ended in a twisted ankle, which sobered our mood a bit. Nonetheless, after lunch we were immersed into various projects around the camp. From watering the trees to cleaning the pool, from brushing away spider webs to digging ditches, each and every one of us had an important role to play. Even though the job may have been hard in the moment, it was well worth it because we were able to be a blessing to them and their sincere appreciation was easy to see.


We got to work with kids at a children’s center in the slums just for one day. The kids there were so precious! They just latched onto us and were so playful. However, hearing some of the kids’ stories was heart breaking and seeing parents struggle to provide for their families triggered my conscience. Sometimes I complain about the littlest, most insignificant, things…and yet these kids do not have food to eat or the things they need for school. Not only that, but they may even be abused at home. I wish I had had more time loving on the kids through a child’s love language of play.

Even though communication was a challenge because so few of us spoke Spanish and not all of the staff spoke English, the patience and gracious attitudes of the staff was so apparent and the language of love through service and play broke down many barriers. A soccer game closed out our week’s work: gringos (people from the US) versus the ticos (Costa Rican natives). This was a really great experience for me and I wish we could have stayed longer. This won’t be the last time Costa Rica sees me; I will be back!

Written by Denisha Moore

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