Costa Rica Mission Trip

    08.01.18 | Articles Missions by Judith Pedersen

    (NOTE: This is long, so I titled each paragraph. Basically, I began with the purpose of the trip and then moved on to culture and stories.)

    INTRODUCTION: Gerald and I, along with our dear friends and fellow church members, Richard and Margaret Marques (both bilingual), went on an adventure together spending seven full days in Costa Rica. It was a beautiful time of heart and soul fellowship with our Christian brothers and sisters from our two like-minded Reformed Baptist churches there, one in Barranca and one in Los Lagos (near San Jose).

    THE CENTERPIECE OF THE TRIP: Two of our pastors were asked to teach for the Costa Rican churches’ annual conference. The theme was on the family. In addition to the three messages at the conference, they also collectively taught once on Wednesday night and three times on Sunday. We heard six of those messages and they did an excellent job with the content being extremely insightful, helpful, and equipping.

    OUR PRIMARY ACTIVITY: When we weren’t listening to messages, we were having informal visits. In the course of our stay, the Lord blessed us daily with multiple significant conversations. Many in those congregations are first-generation Christians greatly in need of examples and encouragement for living out the truths of Scripture. They are eager to learn.

    LANGUAGE CHALLENGE: We appreciate the prayers for us regarding our translation needs on this trip. There were more people able to more or less speak English than we expected. Margaret and Richard helped us greatly, plus there were some able translators among the church members there.

    MESSAGES BY GERALD AND ME: Prior to the trip one of the pastors set up a Monday-evening gathering for the purpose of having Gerald speak on Biblical financial principles and having me speak generally on children and home education. I ended up expanding it to include other aspects of family life and home management. They recorded these sessions and put them on YouTube. Let us know if you would like to receive the links. Each recording is a bit over an hour.

    IMPROMPTU EVENING WITH THE SINGLES: An informal gathering occurred after the Sunday evening service at the Los Lagos church when the young people asked us to join them at a local home for questions and conversation. Our pastors and their wives needed to head out with their hosts to prepare for their departure the next day, while the Marqueses and we accepted the invitation of the young people. Again we experienced God’s hand in our conversations as we discussed matters such as singleness, courtship, and living as the only Christians in their families’ homes.

    HOSPITALITY: Over and over again we were the recipients of loving and abundantly generous hospitality as our hosts gave up their beds for us, made sure we never felt hunger pains, and opened up their hearts and lives to us. The cultural and language differences melted away as we shared in prayer and the reading of God’s word. The treasure is that in Christ we have common ground. We are immensely grateful to the Parajeles, Valverde, and Ramirez families for taking us into their homes.

    FOOD: Since we were privileged to be in Costa Rica as guests in the homes of the church families, rather than tourists, we enjoyed many meals of the common, authentic Costa Rican food. We were eager to experience as much of the culture there as possible, so this was a treat. The food was delicious and always served up with love!

    NATURAL BEAUTY: Costa Rica is lush and verdant. We were able to enjoy a fair bit of time in the mountains since some of our nights were with a family that lived in the mountains and one night was at the Valverdesfinca. (The Valverdes’ primary home is in San Jose.)

    VISIT TO THE VALVERDES’ FINCA: Our overnight there was quite a treat! It was a spacious mountain cabin where some cows are kept and tended nearby. It was gorgeous and we had the delight of meals cooked over an outdoor wood stove. Also, Gilbert, the father in the family, was a wealth of knowledge about everything that was growing there. It was all worth the very challenging road going in to, and especially coming out from, the finca. It was touch and go, but we finally made it out. I would describe that road as rough for hiking, let alone driving on it!

    WEATHER: We expected more rain than we got. There was a deluge one day and scattered rain the rest of the time. We were told that usually there would be more rain at this time of the year. Less rain helped, considering the amount of driving we were doing.

    NAVIGATION, TRAFFIC, AND ROADS: Whew! This was a challenge, but Driver Gerald with Co-Pilot Richard made a fabulous team! We must express particular thanks to all who led us here and there caravan-style and especially to Pris Pinto and Prisi Parajeles who gave us great amounts of their time by riding with us as navigators. It would have been a nightmare without these helpers because the majority of Costa Rica has no street names or house numbers! We’re used to unreasonably heavy traffic in Houston, but the heavy traffic in Costa Rica seemed less controlled. Our experience with Colorado’s mountain roads served Gerald well. We were often on winding, narrow, hilly roads.

    THE WRECK: Seconds after pulling away for the evening from the Ramirez home, the right front wheel of our rental car dropped into a huge hole. It was dark and the front right headlight was out. We were following our friends’ car to lead us to our host home, not realizing that our friend had turned wide to miss this hole. There was a road grate at the corner where we were turning right. Over time the road had apparently broken away from the grate leaving a cavernous hole, shrouded by weeds, around all but one side of the grate. It seemed that almost instantly all the neighbors were out and ready to help. They really wanted to try to lift it while Gerald tried to back it out. We let them try and it only tore up the car more. We were so thankful that no one was hurt and that it happened just a few doors down from our friends’ home. We removed our luggage and all walked back to the house to make phone calls and new plans. When we realized this was all going to take hours, it was decided that Margaret and I would ride with two friends to our host home (Parajeles home), where a meal was waiting, and Gerald and Richard would stay the night at the Ramirez home. We had purchased insurance for the rental and are VERY glad we did! Christian Ramirez was a tremendous help in communicating with the different entities involved in resolving the matter. Eventually, the police and the insurance person came to make reports and a tow truck came with a new rental car and hauled away the wrecked car.

    SLUMBER PARTIES: The night Margaret and I were without our husbands, we shared a bedroom with our two young friends, Mariana and Prisi. It felt like a dorm! That was a novelty, but not nearly as much so as when we two couples shared a room together in a different home! None of us minded a bit and it just added color to our trip.

    MOTORCYCLE “LANE”: There don’t seem to be any road rules for motorcycles in Costa Rica. Gerald joked that the double yellow line down the middle of the road is the motorcycle lane!

    DONKEY ON THE ROAD: As we were heading down a primary road one day, we saw a pickup truck with a boy in the back. He was using a rope to pull a donkey along. It was such a funny site! I guess that’s what you do when you don’t have a trailer and don’t want to walk the distance.

    FLYING BUS: I was shaken up one evening when a full-sized coach bus came flying around the corner of a sharp bend of a narrow two-lane road. For an instant I thought I was a goner; had we made impact, I would have been the first to be hit.

    CONCLUSION: We are very grateful to have had this opportunity. It took quite a bit of persuading by our children who have been to Costa Rica, and our Costa Rican friends, but we’re very glad we went. (We knew we wanted to go but were reluctant because of the language barrier.)