January 09, 2016

Another Kind of Christmas This Year~

Costa Rica at Christmastime


The plans, the motivation, relationships, new friends, new faces, challenges, smiles, hugs & ahhhhhh yes, the stories.

Let's flash back to November and Sunday morning worship service at FBC/ Troy, Alabama.  Music can be so much more than pleasant to the senses-the Holy Spirit can use our worship time to nudge and direct our thinking.  As we sang praises that morning there was a three way conversation going on in my head-God was prompting-Yes you need to go to Costa Rica, the Holy Spirit was whispering "Yes, Yes"- again and again just simple words- Costa Rica, yes, yes....and just as real my husband Ted cheering in the background "Do it Jonell, stop talking about it-just do it."  That was settled by the time Pastor Luke began his message -no more discussion.  D.O.N.E

The Faces...The Stories


Off we go -at 2:30 a.m. headed for the  Atlanta Airport-


On the ground in San Jose, Costa Rica
We left bags & bags, [hundreds] of gifts then left most of the  large suitcases 'just because.'

The Blessing Bags filled with what we call necessities. Still some of the bags' space filled with treats, frivolous, fun - unfamiliar.

But what about the empty large suitcases left behind?  Leaving them was easy for us since they cost little or nothing and traveling with them on the return flight would have been foolishly expensive- [airline fees] And for these dear people they can become storage, seating, whatever they need them to become perhaps a bed for a little one.

Let's skip the boring details of packing all my take along STUFF  into one carry on bag- period.  Yes, we did it.

This day we had [play] activities with the children at the church I think..so many things some run together.

Stephanie joined this little guy to try to connect with him-he's alone and seems so lost in thought. Soon other children gathered in the same spot and the children began to pick the beautiful blooms from the trees and offer them to Stephanie -a really sweet scene there.

One of our volunteer interpreters Emanuel  Mondragon` -such a sweet, genuine Christian

One of our men really stepping up to do what had to be done -Way to Go Rob Drinkard

When the stove that was hauled to the location to cook the meal for hundreds of people DOES NOT WORK...What do you do? 


and start cooking!

This is not a church as we know our churches to be.  Envision a strip mall constructed of cinder blocks-three small rooms. Jose and Leda's church gathers outside behind the building..

  This is a good section of a neighborhood..Notice how well swept the entry to the home is. It was not unusual to see   people really taking pride in their living  space.

They can make use of anything

No we didn't see any walk in closets, king size beds, or custom kitchen cabinets & no Jack & Jill bathrooms- They find a way and make use of whatever is available to them

A brief aside here:  The date is December 16-23. Yeah, I know. We all 17 of us knew.  It's Christmastime and we all know what that means in the United States.  I had several conversations in our fbc group taking note of how we had forgotten what was going on in America during this week..Christmastime as we know it in the United States. 

I wish I had a story here-I don't, only the picture and impressions.
This was the head of one of the lines as the Blessing Bags & small
bag of fruit were given to the children -All I can surmise is that this
Bag was filled to capacity and somewhat heavy & this was a very
small  precious little guy determined to hold onto his .

*Justa note:  We placed ONE GRAPE in each bag of fruit, knowing we would hear no complaints.

Like Ander & Hayes  here, all our young people responded in such an amazing way to the precious children - Smiles and Hugs translate well even with language limitations.

Top-Right picture in the collage:  What a stack of breakfast pancakes- Two & 3 ladies cooked & served 3 meals every day for us-Most of us agreed we rarely if ever eat three meals a day at home. We tried to relay our gratitude to these precious ladies for their hard work by loving on them all week.

Last Day before returning to America brought the FBC Troy group an unexpected surprise-plans fell through for our lunch time and another option just  happened.  After driving miles uphill with the feel and sound of impressive rocks...more rocks than sand  on the roads- a  wonderful place where they would in just minutes have already prepared our lunch,,HAMBURGERS for the Americans and not  only did we relish outdoor dining in such a fabulous setting..the family [from Jose & Leda's church] who were our guests had a Disney  World type experience of playing in a pool for hours, riding a pony, the petty zoo with chickens,turkeys, ducks, baby deer and more

Real milk shakes, specialty coffees,
This outing qualifies as a honest to goodness

Another fyi for you: In this group of 18 there are two people over the age of 50...pretty sure of that.  Two from my Lydia Sunday School class...and the oldest?   Me  ~

"What in the world is she thinking??"

the Church where you see the open door.  We spent lots of time in this bus while there.

I don't have names but I recall this man quickly giving thanks to God for a job.  This was the praise shared in Sunday service by several in the group-

Raymond -He is sharing the Gospel-the plan of Salvation with a group during activity time. I was so blessed to have some quality one on one face to face time with Raymond one afternoon-an impressive dedicated [interpreter for us] man totally immersed in ministry.
Look for individual posts -  I   wll share on face book about Raymond Castro Carbollo

Yes, we have to have leaders and I don't think this endeavor could have come together without their  dedication and hard work-
Morgan & Rob Drinkard. 

New faces-New friends! Tessa knows how to carry her share of the job to be done...fun too!
In the background just steps away from their worship space-housing

Worship service to start soon...some new chairs in place -a Christmas gift honoring a
fbc Troy Sunday School teacher-On this morning we couldn't show the picture & share the
information because it was to be a surprise for  Pat Dillard in Troy,Al.

The view from Jose and Leda's balcony

-  here in my computer room on January 6, 2016  I am laughing out loud remembering (After returning home) one of my sons  immediately asked:

"Mom did you decide this is a mission trip for young people?"

I admitted without hesitation there were challenges but no defeats.  I confess the first challenge for this about to be 75 year old woman was the first half of  the driveway at Jose and Leda's home.   Let's just say "I'll betcha their car is in low gear going up that driveway."

During the first online update one of our leaders posed a question to me and my reply for my daughter's benefit was: 
"Your Mom is a Survivor-I am a Survivor."

What? No jump rope?  What do you do?  Simple, someone tears a piece of cloth into strips, ties them together and LET THE GAMES BEGIN!


Yes, it was a different kind of Christmas this year!

These are by no means all the pictures or the stories-follow on facebook and follow links added in weeks to come for - the rest of the story!
After a week it's time to say Good bye to our hosts Jose and Leda [front row]

Saying Goodbye at the airport to a dear young man EMANUEL  who was a volunteer interpreter

Looking Forward,

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