Guest post by Abby Holland, Christ Church Summer Resident
NOTE: When Christ Church summer intern Abby Holland agreed to work with our Serving & Outreach team, little did she know how God was already at work making her path toward Costa Rica clear. Being open to an invitation to go on her first mission trip, Abby formed a special friendship on the trip, which she looks forward to developing more as she returns to study abroad in Costa Rica next spring.
Even before I became an intern for Christ Church, I knew I wanted to study abroad in Costa Rica. So when Christ Church Director of Global Missions Stephanie Powell presented me with the opportunity to serve in this beautiful country, I couldn’t say no.
Upon arriving in the capital city, San Jose, I was tasked with finding our guide for the weekend, Francisco. The rest of the group would land a few hours later, so Francisco and I made our way to the nearest mall to have lunch. He suggested rice and beans, chicken and fried plantains. Our bus driver, Pato, picked up the rest of the group from the airport and drove us to our quaint hotel for the night. We woke up the next morning around 7:00, had breakfast and began our journey to San Isidro. We drove for three hours on winding roads through the mountains filled with coffee fields.
We finally met our friends at Amigos de la Fe (Friends of the Faith). We were greeted with open arms and a home-cooked meal. That night we met Felix, the prominent leader of Amigos de la Fe and the oldest member of the congregation. He shared his testimony with us. Felix told us when he worked as a barber, a fight broke out with a customer, and the customer was sent to the hospital. There was a mix up with the nametags in the hospital. The customer’s name was labeled on a bed of a deceased patient, and Felix was in trouble. He was sent to prison and lost hope. He prayed to God for help, and Felix said if God did that, he would give his life to God. One of Felix’s friends came to the jail and convinced the officers that Felix was innocent. Felix’s testimony struck passion into the hearts of everyone in the room—it was a powerful moment!
The weekend was spent encouraging the congregation of Amigos de la Fe. We poured into this church through preaching, loving and praying. I spent most of my time helping Dawn Weaver with the children making crafts and telling Bible stories. The adults listened to Jesse Johnson, Mike Weaver, Stephanie Powell and other group members preach the Gospel. During down time, I befriended some of the youth by playing cards and, later, spent time with them on the beach.
One girl in particular, Luana, quickly became a good friend. We waded in the ocean and talked about what type of music we listened to and how she learned English by watching American movies. I told her how excited I was to come back to Costa Rica to visit everyone in the springtime. When it was time to leave the night before we traveled back to San Jose, Luana said goodbye, took off the necklace she was wearing and gave it to me. She said, “You have to see me again and bring back the necklace. Take care of it.” Needless to say, that interaction was emotional, and I definitely want to return to study abroad in Costa Rica.
There are infinite takeaways from this trip, but most of all, I bore witness to the power of God and how He places events and people in your life for a purpose. There’s a saying in Costa Rica, “pura vida,” which means “pure or simple life.” It is a beautiful country with beautiful people who choose to live their life through God.