Ben Potts, 6/27/11

The first day in Costa Rica; wow, what a trip. For months I (and most of the people here, I’m sure, but I can only speak for myself) have been anticipating coming here. It’s difficult to believe that the first day is already over. Actually, the first day was yesterday, the day we traveled here. Two planes, one of them five hours, the other two hours. I spent the time getting to know my travel buddy and whipping through my book so fast that I will have nothing to read on the way back. The first flight was nothing but a typical plane flight, but on the second, I had a window seat, and I was staring out of it from the moment the plane’s wheels stopped touching the ground to the moment we touched down again. As we rose higher and higher, the country–no, the world–spread out beneath us. It was an incredible sight, impossible to describe in words. Eventually we were soaring above a forest, taunting the cotton-colored treetops beneath us. We were on top of the world, not God, perhaps, but at least his angels and it was so easy to forget that we could only get this high with the help of a machine; a big, bulky, loud machine at that. Touching down was a huge impact. We went from angels in the skies to mere mortals on the ground. I don’t know if anyone noticed that aside from me… but it was a thought-provoking experience for me. Then there was the rush, the hurry, the let’s-get-our-bags-and-rush-out-of-this-airport-as-soon-as-possible. We rode a bus to the place we’re now staying. It was dark. Imagination was yanking my mind in a dozen different directions. Mostly, they were about the coming week. My mind always goes to the extreme when it’s late… I would say that wrestling with wild animals to save crying children or living like beggars in the streets, dozens of us dying of disease, qualifies as extreme. The city within which the airport was located is just like most cities. The roads are pretty good, there are plenty of cars, some motorcycles. Obviously, since we were there at night, I don’t have a complete impression of it, but it seemed a lot like any of the other cities I have been to. Our hosts are the friendliest people I have met in a long time. They speak no English. But despite the language barrier, I feel that they understand each of us and appreciate us for what we are. Smiles fit on their faces as though they were designed for the expression. They have a great sense of humor, and I really got the feeling that they were delighted to see us here, thankful to God and to his only Son for the chance to live with us for this short time. They have two dogs, Blackie and Tommy (I’m not sure about the second one) who love to be photographed, chase teenage missionaries from Floris, and guard the front door. This morning was when work began. After breakfast, we were divided into three separate groups. My group was in charge of painting the “White House”, and in between spotting ladders, scraping spider webs off of gutters, and our recently begun (but sure to never end) war with Costa Rica insects, we had a great morning and enjoyed ourselves tremendously. Some of the teens on break threw mangos to knock other mangos out of the trees, then eat them. We came back sweaty and triumphant. Fortunately, no one was hit. Lunch seemed to go by so quickly, and just like that it was time to leave for Vacation Bible School. I was part of a group of ten volunteers who would work outside while others managed VBS. I think I volunteered because I didn’t want to have to wear my nametag. The silly thing was poking into my arm all the time on the way here. It turned out that it WASN’T supposed to be attached to the carry-on luggage after all. I could have saved myself lots of poke wounds. Anyway, the volunteers were working, in various ways, to build a path around the church building. There was a Costa Rica man helping us named Antonio. Antonio looked like a man born to smile and laugh. He could make us feel like we were actually needed and make us laugh at the same time without even being able to speak our language. He had endless patience and a the corners of lips were permanently turned up. Even as the little ones were running around, playing soccer and occasionally jumping onto the wood we were working on, he was patient. Coming home was a disappointment as we realized that our work day was over. Yet there was still more: dinner, free time, and a program from Tim that inspired us to think over the meaning of faith, and what it meant to have ‘daring faith’. For perhaps the first time, we saw the story of Noah and the Ark as a tale of a man with the faith to give his all–NOT as a nice bedtime story with animals and a wooden boat. Tomorrow is the second day of the mission trip. I cannot wait. The happiest country in the world (yes, I read that on a poster in the airport) awaits me. God awaits us. I can feel His hand on us even now, and know that what He has prepared for us will be life-changing and inspiring. Thanks for reading! And good night. Ben Potts.

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Allison Corser, 6/27/11

The first day here has been fun but exhausting. Makes sense considering I had been awake for almost 24 hours. Both flights were calm and uneventful. We were served meals on both flights, and anything looked good considering how hungry we all were. When we arrived in Panama City, I was expecting to use my cell phone and such…mostly because I thought we were in Panama City, Florida, not Panama City, Panama. Our layover in Panama was about 4 hours, but we made good use of the time. By the time we got to the campsite in San Jose, it was only about 7:00 but we were all ready to pass out. Wake up was around 6:30 today…6:55 for me and many others We had a delicious breakfast…no beans and rice, but toast and eggs instead. I remembered Costa Rican hot sauce as being mild, but after drenching my meal in HOT sauce I realized that wasn’t the case whoooops. Our morning consisted of working at the camp and at the local church. We painted, mudded, drywalled and helped build wheelchair ramps. It was really hot in the morning and by the end of the day it had cooled down the the 60s, sweatshirt weather. After lunch we drove to the church for VBS. It was so great seeing all of the kids who came back from last year. The hardest part again this year was knowing little Spanish. It was so difficult to communicate with the kids and their parents; still didn’t stop us from having a great VBS. By the time we got back to the camp, we were all ready for showers. However, the showers on the girls side of camp were just not working, either zero water pressure, or dripping cold water…let’s just say panic arose. Most of us ended up washing our heads in the sinks #rough. Tonight has been good! Relaxing and ready to sleep by 9:00…weird right? Im excited to see whats in store for the rest of the week and to see what God has planned for myself and the rest of the people on the trip Love, Allison Corser

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