Costa Rica, Day 2

Another amazing day full of lots of happy children, smiling parents, and a bit of misadventure.  We’ll get to the latter a bit later.  First, breakfast was an awesome buffet and then we had a group meeting about the day’s schedule.  Keon and Cristal gave their testimony about how God led them through different phases of their lives together and showed them His plan and His timing was His best for them.  We were reminded to drink lots of water and that the bus would leave at 9:10.

Our first stop was a school in a nearby village of Santa Cruz.  We set up the boxes of Toms Shoes behind 2 rows of chairs and while some children were being fitted for new shoes, others were having their faces painted, making balloon animals, playing ball toss or blowing bubbles.  It was really neat when girls returned with their mothers to help them get new shoes, too.  And then, the little kids from nursery school came in as well.  It was impressive to see how God was reaching out through us to help these people in this tiny community.  We gave out at least a hundred pairs of shoes at our first stop.

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Then we got to see a new kind of stove being produced as a pilot project totally supported by Samaritan’s Purse, Canada, so that there will be less incidence of respiratory illness in families due to the smoke not escaping the house when moms are cooking.  Along with the new stoves, the families have trees planted in their communities and the children are invited to take part in the discipleship program, The Greatest Journey.

At lunch, we took a group picture of the whole team at the little restaurant where we had delicious fish & chips.  The photo turned out really well.

In the afternoon, we did another shoe distribution that was in a school right on a highway. It had a little fenced garden out front that was very pretty and at the side of the building, there was a playground with a pair of small soccer nets.  A slightly high kick would send their soccer ball over the fence and onto the highway.  We gave away a lot of shoes to a lot of smiling kids and parents.  At each school we give the principal and teachers a large container of school supplies and thank them for hosting us, then a member of the team says a prayer for the school, teachers, and the community they serve.  It is a very special time.

After the host staff treated us to watermelon, we started to board the bus only to discover that it wouldn’t start.  We sat on the cement steps from the highway to the school for about an hour and a half  singing songs, telling jokes, and snacking while Carlos (national director for Samaritan’s Purse, Costa Rica) made arrangements for another bus.  We arrived back at the hotel at 5:55 and supper was at six, so we were given the evening off and many of us got into the swimming pool to revive after our first full day of activities.  Hopefully tomorrow will be as much fun with less of unexpected adventure.



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Costa Rica Update April 18/17

Well, we are hours away from flight time and both Sharon & I are more excited than we can possibly say.  We are packed, repacked, and packed again.  We think we have everything.  My neighbour is taking us to the airport in the morning (4:45).  Our alarms are set.  The only thing is whether we’ll get any sleep at all tonight.

I managed to get my 25 frisbees into my suitcase which means coming home I’ll have some room for souvenirs — probably clothes.  I know I’ll be coming home, too, with lots of photos of the children, the villages, and sights we get to see in between getting out into the countryside to see the children.  Got a couple of extra SD cards for my camera today and have my hard case on my ipad.

Probably should hit the sack soon but I have the distinct feeling that sleep will be a long time coming and I, at least, will continually be waking up thinking it’s time to get up!  Can’t wait to get on that plane in the morning; can’t believe it’s finally time to go!  The next post will be from Nicoya, Nicoya Peninsula, Costa Rica.

Vaja con Dios!

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Costa Rica Update April 13/17

Hi all.  A little late this week with the update but I wanted to tell you about the conference call the team members and leaders had last night.  Pretty amazing.  There must have been more than 20 people on the call and we all got to introduce ourselves and tell what we were most looking forward to on our mission trip.  For many, like myself, it was the opportunity to see the faces of the children as they open their Christmas shoeboxes and to sense their excitement.  None of us can quite grasp how close we are to flight time.

The co-ordinator for the mission moderated the session.  We got a lot of great tips about packing, more info about our itinerary, currency exchange, and many questions were answered.  Some of us will be rejigging our packing lists.  We had a brief devotional based on Philippians 2:12-18 about how we are doing this to honour the Lord and leaning on Him as many of us will be stepping outside our comfort zones as He has called us to serve in this unique mission field.  I think what surprised me the most was learning that some of our visits may only consist of maybe 30 or 40 children while others may have 2 or 3 hundred children involved!

I’m a bit dismayed at the weather forecast for Nicoya for the first few days of our trip.  It’s calling for thunderstorms.  Even if it only rains for a small part of the day, it may be a bit wet for playing soccer or frisbee with the children.  I guess those may be days for indoor crafts and music.  I do have a lightweight rain jacket so maybe it won’t rain after all.

The main thing is how excited everyone is.  I usually appear fairly calm on the outside but inside my heart is thumping and my mind is going in 18 different directions.  I am notorious for forgetting things I wanted to pack so that is a real prayer concern for me.  (One March Break I went down to visit my parents and when I got there and opened my trunk there was no suitcase; I only had the clothes I was standing up in.)  The other major concern for me is transitioning to the connecting flight in Toronto as there is only a little more than an hour between arriving from Ottawa and taking off to Costa Rica.  Same airline so our luggage should go through all right but please be in prayer about this in particular.  Only one more Countdown blog post until we leave.  Can hardly believe it — 6 days to go!  Thank you all for your prayer support and —

hasta la vista!

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Costa Rica Update April 4/17

Two weeks from tomorrow we take off.  Flight itinerary and tickets are in my hand.  T-shirt and cap arrived today.  Funding deadline is tomorrow and my friend’s is complete and mine is almost there.  Praise the Lord!

Some of these days I don’t know if I’m coming or going.  Took time out last night to go and see the Samaritan’s Purse documentary Facing Darkness about the fight against ebola in Liberia, West Africa.  It was an amazing production that really brought home the immense battle they had against this deadly disease.  What an experience these missionaries had and how their faith saw them through!  I’m overwhelmed to have a small part in this organization and its dedication to helping people around the world regardless of their colour or creed.

I have one more pill to take tomorrow against typhoid and the second drink of Dukoral to take the following Wednesday.  Then I just have a course of pills to take while I’m there starting the day before and finishing the day I arrive home.  All is good.

I was able to get a light-weight rain jacket and some very light-weight pants which will need to be adjusted.  Just trying to find a small flashlight.  Got extra batteries.  Probably forgetting something.  We have a group conference call a week from tomorrow which should answer any remaining questions.  The time is just flying and I’m having trouble keeping track of the days.  Very soon the pictures on this blog will be ones I’ve taken and I may even be in some of them.  So excited!

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Costa Rica Update March 28/17

So much to do — so little time left.  The excitement is mounting.  I’m still gathering items I need to take with me, still trying to learn more Spanish, and still fund-raising.  Several of my teammates on Facebook are still short of funds as well and it all needs to be in place by the 5th of April so please keep praying for all these things.

I still have one shot to get and the anti-diarrhea medication to begin drinking next Wednesday.  Yikes! We leave 3 weeks from tomorrow!!  Just got a medical form to fill out, completed my background check application, and have to figure out how to get 25 frisbees on the plane.  Oh yeah, I’ll have to go soon to the currency exchange to get some USD for the trip.

There should be a package coming in the mail any day now with my Operation Christmas Child T-shirt and further information about the trip.  I’m riding my stationary bike every day to try to build up my strength and stamina and that’s going quite well.  Oh, and I’ve added Nicoya to my weather app right next to Ottawa.  We had mounds of snow twice last week and freezing rain yesterday and Sunday.  Nicoya?  High of 35 °C, Low 22 °C, sunny (just over 12 hours of daylight), with light winds when I checked last.

I’m sure there’s more I should be writing about but I’m so excited I can’t think straight — pray that I calm down and get everything organized and done.  Twenty-two days left.

 Hasta Luego!!

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Costa Rica Update March 21/17

Hola! Exactly 4 weeks tomorrow and I will be on my way to Nicoya, Costa Rica.  The team members are on a closed Facebook group, meeting, sharing ideas, praying about the trip, and getting very excited.  There are young singles, couples, older singles (like me) and even families coming on the trip.  There are lots of tips about what to pack and how to pack, as well as ideas of crafts to bring to make with the children we meet.

There are several songs we need to learn in Spanish and we’ve been pointed to an amazing online program called Duolingo.  (It can also be downloaded to an iPhone or iPad.)  I’m spending about an hour a day practicing Central American Spanish so that I will be able to communicate at least a little with the people we meet while we’re there.  Please pray for my ability to learn enough Spanish — I keep getting the feminine and masculine words mixed up and it’s teaching me verb conjugation which is at times confusing.  The other thing is, these songs we’re learning? there’s choreography to them — we have to learn the tune, the Spanish words and dance at the same time!  I’d be so happy just to be able to sing the words and understand what I’m singing.

Please also pray that I will raise enough funds.  Our funding needs to be in place by April 4th which is coming up fast.  This is an opportunity to be a part of something HUGE that makes a real difference in the lives of these children and their families.  Please also pray for the whole team, that we will “gel” and work well together.  Thank you to everyone who has come to my blog, commented, or clicked to my fundraising page which has more information about the trip.  It is very encouraging.

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Costa Rica Update March 14/17

Prayers have been answered and Operation Christmas Child – Costa Rica now has enough volunteers to make it a “go”!  The transportation is all in place and excitement is rising.  The volunteers have received their orientation packages and before long our T-shirts will be in the mail with our flight tickets to follow.

Our itinerary tells us we will be flying into Liberia, Costa Rica, and from there moving into the Nicoya Peninsula which is in the north-west of the country.  In addition to the shoeboxes collected last December, we will be distributing wheel chairs and Toms shoes which I hadn’t realized before.  We will also be attending/assisting with several graduations of children from The Greatest Journey program.

I have only a little bit of Spanish so I’m trying to brush up on it and learn the correct Spanish for Costa Rica.  There is still so much to do.  I am so thankful for those who have contributed to my mission page, Operation Meet the Children, and am praying that I will have reached my goal by the deadline of April 5th.  I’m also looking forward to the team Conference Call a couple of weeks before we head off.  If you are praying for this mission team, please be specific:  great team work, health, and meeting our financial goals.  Thank you for your prayer support.

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