Hello, there! I’m Christopher, which you should have known if you saw my cute little green logo. So, let me not distract you from the following post. I hope you like it! I’d love to hear your thoughts after you’re done reading it! Enjoy!
As you all may know, God has blessed me with the opportunity to go on a mission trip to Costa Rica in July. It was an amazing time of ministry, evangelism, and loving people.
I was one among twelve teens. My youth pastor and his sister went with us. Some of these kids I knew decently well, and some not as well. I do feel like I am closer in my relationships with most of them. We spent most nights staying up late and talking together and playing games and singing songs.
But we spent a lot of time helping the missionary who went down to Liberia, Costa Rica, named Jamie. He has been there for several years and has a small church. You can pray for him to be continually strengthened in the Lord, people down there will believe in the Lord, and that people up here will want to surrender their lives in service to live there.
Starting in January, the fourteen of us met together mostly every other week. We read through the entire New Testament together and went through C. S. Lewis’ classic “Mere Christianity” (based upon apologetics) and Paul E. Little’s “Know What You Believe” (based upon doctrine). We learned a lot during those meetings together, including how to present the Gospel in a short period of time. (We are sinners and are condemned to hell, but the Son of God died for our sins and rose from the dead. If we put our trust in Him and repent from our sins, then we can live forever with Him in Heaven.)
We also saw the Lord provide in amazing ways. We all had to raise more than $1500 for our trip. I saw the Lord provide my money quickly, while some people saw the last cent paid days before the trip.
Day Zero (7/18)
And, so, it was the day that we were going to leave town to head for the trip. I had packed my bags a few hours before we left and I tried to get some sleep in, because it was going to be a late night flight. As my siblings went to bed, I hugged them goodbye. My dad drove me to the church and it was a little past 11 PM. A little before midnight, we headed off and I sat in a truck with one of the associate pastors and two of the girls in the back
Day One (7/19)
We talked the whole way to the airport in Washington D.C. We talked about our spiritual gifts and quite a range of other topics. We got to the airport and went through the normal stuff and waited for an hour for our flight. My youth pastor sat in the corner and read (and that was what he usually did for times like this). The flight to Atlanta was uneventful and we waited for another hour at that airport. I texted my mom a little bit and let my head bob up and down. Some of the kids talked, read, or slept. One girl slipped away to talk with her parents (and she was one of the few who made an effort to talk with her parents every day). During the four hour plane ride to Costa Rica, I stayed awake looking at the ocean and listening to a saved Focus On The Family Daily Broadcast. After touching down and waiting in the immigration line for 40 minutes, Pastor Jamie and his family brought us to a tour bus reserved for our time in Costa Rica. We got comfy at the hotel and ate lunch. I realized that since I was tired, the devil was trying to wreck my attitude, so I prayed to God to make me a selfless vessel during the trip. We went to Jamie’s church that night and he taught about Moses and the Israelites crossing the Red Sea. It was a really great sermon. The next day, my grandma told me that I held the record of staying up the longest in the Patti family! I stayed up 40 hours without sleeping. A record I didn’t attempt to break.
Day Two (7/20)
On the second day, we went to the home for the elderly. We colored with them, talked with them, and played music for them. We also played two rounds of bingo. During the first half, I colored with a couple of them. During the second half, I sat with one of the ladies and sang as I held her hand as she bobbed her head. It felt really good that we were able to give them something to do and make them happy. After chilling at the hotel in the afternoon for a bit, we went out and went to three specific parks and walked around the city stadium to pass out fliers to the locals to invite them to a free self-defense class organized/sponsored by the church.
Day Three (7/21)
On this day, we went to Borinquén. On the way, some of us shared our testimonies. When we got there, we walked for a little bit to reach the horses’ stable. We got on the horses and rode a little bit. We stopped and hiked a little bit and reached a waterfall. We walked a little more and reached another waterfall which most of us walked under. We walked back to the horses and rode a little bit to the zip lining station. After we ate lunch, we sat ten minutes in a steam sauna and then pasted mud all over ourselves and let it dry for a little bit. After showering, we jumped in a super hot, a hot, and a cold pool. After we did that again, we played in the pool a little bit. One of the girls wasn’t feeling well, so she didn’t go out with us that night to hand out more of the self-defense fliers.
Day Four (7/22)
This was the day of the self-defense class. We spent the morning milling around the town handing out more fliers. Then some of us got some mats from a car and place them together inside the gymnasium. Then we waited as people started to trickle in for the session. I’d say that about fifteen people came. We were split into men, women, and children and we learned how to capture someone if someone started to push you against the chest, grabbed you by the front of your neck, and grabbed you from behind around the neck. At the end of the session, Pastor Tyler shared the Gospel with the participants.
Day Five (7/23)
We went to church that morning, and Jamie taught from Romans. After the church service, we got ready to go to Ocotal Beach. The drive was about an hour to the black sand beach. We spent several hours in the water. Some of us also played a little soccer. Then we explored the coast a little bit where there were tiny sea creatures and rocky areas.
Day Six (7/24)
We went to Villareal (1+ hour drive) to help prepare the church for the new pastor coming in. Most of the guys grabbed machetes and cut down plants on the outside of a fence surrounding the church premises. After I helped clear out a bedroom so it could be painted, we helped the ladies scrape off paint off of chairs. After we ate lunch, the ladies left to help at a kids activity camp elsewhere. We guys helped dig holes and drive wooden “poles” (in reality, tree trunks) into the ground, which was taken care of relatively quickly. Except for little things here and there, we didn’t do much for the rest of the day.
Day Seven (7/25)
We went back to Villareal and that day we had more to do. In the morning, we dug trenches so we could install a water pipe in the ground. I struggled a bit, because that week was the first time I had ever used a shovel. (Well, except for sand and snow shovels!) In the afternoon, we helped with the pouring of cement and placing bricks in the trench for the wall around the house. I also helped cut wires again. That day, the ladies didn’t go back to the kids because it would start too late for us who traveled a while to get there.
Day Eight (7/26)
On this day, the team from Paris, Texas working at Villareal assisted us in evangelism and handing out tracts around the town. We were delighted to see at least one person we invited come to church that night. The pastor who used to work at Villareal preached that night on Wednesday. (One thing that happened is that after lunch, I got left behind with the Paris group and I went with them back to Pastor Jamie’s church together.)
Day Nine (7/27)
We went in the morning to the special needs school, where they had a little cultural performance and invited people to dance to Mexican music. We did facepainting and temporary tattoos with the kids. I got a couple facepaint tattoos on my arms and I got a monkey tattoo on my right arm with a boy. While we were at the hotel that afternoon, a couple of the girls were sharing the love of God with one of the ladies who worked at the hotel. Later, we went to Nazareth and went to homes to invite kids to a soccer camp at the nearby field. Jamie explained that we would be teaching the kids soccer techniques, but when the kids got there, all they would want to do is just play soccer. So many of us played a game of soccer with the kids. I stayed behind with the little kids and cheered them on as they kicked the ball between cones. Then the little ones played a game of soccer.
Day Ten (7/28)
That morning, we spent time doing more evangelizing. We were able to talk with a lady whose three sons have fallen away from the Lord and two of them were on heavy drugs. We all prayed for her and gave her hugs. When we got back to the hotel, Jamie was already waiting for us. We went back to Nazareth and played more soccer with the kids for a long time. That day, I did play for a bit. The kids were very sad to see us go, as we hugged them and took pictures with them. Some even ran with the bus as we were driving away. One kid ran alongside the bus for a very long time to see us off. That night, we spent time together at the church with some of the young adults of the church. We ate pizza, played games, and sang.
Day Eleven (7/29)
We went to San Rafael in the morning and played soccer with the kids. I played the whole time and enjoyed it, except at the end I got really tired. Then we gathered together and after Pastor Tyler presented the Gospel to the kids, the kids and their mothers came to get clothes for their families. We also handed out sunglasses to some of the older boys. The hotel gave us extra time to get out of our rooms, and we were thankful for that. We did get out 20 minutes before their extended time expired. We sat in Pastor Jamie’s church for a bit and talked, sang, and played games. We ate for the last time in Costa Rica and went back to the church, where Pastor Jamie, his family, and some of our friends took us to the airport to say goodbye. After we got our luggage checked in, we said goodbye to our friends. As we were waiting for the plane to arrive, we saw one of our friends who works with Delta at the airport. So we hugged him goodbye as we boarded the plane.
Last Day (7/30)
I slept for most of the ride. We arrived in Atlanta and after going through immigration, we had to pick up our luggage and drop it off again, which didn’t make any sense to me. We boarded the plane and I slept for only a very tiny bit. I kept my eyes closed as I tried to sleep. Before we got our luggage, our youth pastor prayed over all of us that this fire that was ignited in us would keep burning. We got into the vans and I got the whole backseat of a van and I slept for most of the way. We stopped by Chipotle and everyone had a hard time getting me up. I got a chicken burrito. I fell asleep for the rest of the ride and was waken up when we got back to church. I hugged my mom, my sisters, and John Richard. I said my goodbyes (and some hi’s to other families picking up their kids) and we headed home, where my dad and brother welcomed me home. After we threw my wet clothes in the laundry (which was washed three times to get rid of the wet clothes smell), I took a shower and answered some questions for my family. Then after using the bathroom, I talked to my dad a little bit, but was growing very tired. After I ate dinner, I went to bed.
And that was my trip to Costa Rica in a nutshell! We did a lot of ministry work inviting people to church and to the Kingdom of God. We shared the love of the Lord with a ton of people from giving out clothes to playing soccer. Many of us declared that we wouldn’t mind staying another week in Costa Rica if we could choose.
Something I had to keep reminding myself over and over was that I was there to do ministry for the Lord and that I should have been more willing for the Lord to use me. But now I can apply that here in America and let the Lord use me when I talk with people.
I learned a lot during this trip and it was an amazing experience. I do hope that this spark ignited in me will continue to burn in the night!
Hello again! I’m so happy you finished reading my post, and, boy, do I hope you liked it!