Group Zoo Photo

Costa Rica Group Picture at the Zoo

Laura Merten

This morning we woke up at 6:30 for our trip to the zoo. After seeing the beautiful city of San Jose, we finally arrived at the zoo. We saw many animals such as lions, jaguars and monkeys. However, unlike American zoos, the animals were extremely close up to us, almost to the point where we could touch them. Everyone had a great time today at the zoo. After the zoo, we traveled to the marketplace. They sold things such as bracelets, t shirts, and other Costa Rican souvenirs. After the market we loaded back on the bus to tour the city of San Jose. However, I was exhausted and was asleep for the whole ride back.

After we got back to the camp, we waited for our bus, which was late to take us to VBS, so we arrived right as the kids were arriving. It was difficult to communicate with the kids, but through common faith and a bag of balloons, we were able to have a blast. I was playing with one little girl, and we were volleying a balloon back and forth. She wrote my name on the back of her nametag that she kept, so she wouldn’t forget me.

Tonight , our program ran almost two hours. We were talking about David and Goliath and the boys acted out the passage. We learned about how David used his faith and God gave him the power to defeat the Giant.

I’m having a great time in Costa Rica and am really enjoying meeting the kids. I hope that everyone has an opportunity like this because it is really eye opening and makes me think about all the things at home that I take advantage for.

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Hola mis amigos y mi familia!

Costa Rica has been amazing so far! We are only three days into the trip, and have accomplished so much already. At El Centro Methodist (the area where we are staying), we have constructed two wheelchair ramps and painted la casa blanca (the white house). At the local church, we plastered the sunday school classrooms, and have nearly finished construction of a sidewalk. For the past three days, we have had the incredible opportunity to interact with local families through the vacation bible school. Tuesday night our group attended a service at the church with many of the locals. Despite our cultural differences, the unity that was felt in the church was amazing. We were all singing, dancing, and praying through a common faith.

Today, we took a break from all of the difficult physical labor. We started the day by riding the bus into San Jose with a tour guide. We viewed the city from the bus while our guide, Jose (a young Costa Rican man who studied English in Chicago), educated us on Costa Rican history. Next, we went to the San Jose Zoo, one of the most fascinating zoos that many of us had ever seen. The whole zoo was covered by this forest, which made it feel like we were walking through the actual rainforest. The animals at the zoo were mostly unique to the area. My favorite animals were the two-toed sloth, the toucans, the tapir, and the talking parrots. We were able to stand very close to the cages and had an excellent view of all the animals. We ended our visit in San Jose by walking through an open market. Many of us made attempts (and had success) at bargaining in spanish with the stand owners.

We returned to El Centro Methodista for another delicious meal prepared by the women that live here. These women have provided us with generous servings of Costa Rican cuisine (with an American spin) throughout the trip; we are very grateful for their hard work. After lunch, we returned to the church for another day of VBS with the local children. A few members of the group, including myself, were able to walk through a residence area near the church to gather children to come back to the church with us for an afternoon of games, snacks, prayer, singing, and stories. By now, many of us hear the song “Agua de la Roca” repeating in our heads all day long.

We ended our day with a very inspiring program led by Pastor Tim and Pastor Tom. During the program, we focused on the story of David and Goliath, which was read by Aidan and acted out by about 12 guys. It was entertaining for the audience to watch us act out the story, but also fascinating to discuss the meaning and application of it as a group. Pastor Tom asked us to think about “giants” we may face – either personal or global problems. This program lasted a long time but it heavily impacted many of us.

We look forward to more success with VBS, physical labor projects, and faith exploration during the remainder of the trip. It is exciting to be a part of a group that is capable of making a huge difference here. I can’t wait to return home with more stories for everyone.

Love and Blessings,

Matt Colturi

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Wednesday 6/29 Mary Frances Roll

As we finish the half way mark of our mission in Costa Rica I continue to be constantly repeating to myself ‘God is good’. When we arrived here on Sunday it became visible that this simple statement of faith would become a challenge to proclaim with as much joy as before. But God, in all of His goodness, has proved us wrong once again. In a place of deep poverty I have met some of the most faithful and joyous people.The smiles on the children’s faces as they flock to the church for Vacation Bible School shows the joy that they find in the little things each day. It is evident that the community in Alajuela knows better than any of us how great God is.

In continuing to experience His goodness, today we enjoyed a break from manual labor. We ventured into the city of San Jose to visit the zoo. The lions wanted to eat us, stuffing their faces as tightly pushed up against the barrier fence as possible, I witnessed possibly the fastest moving sloth on Earth, along with the most adorable monkeys tearing apart the bodies of vibrantly colored lizards for lunch. The zoo took us by surprise in it’s enjoyment and reminded us of the beautiful creations of God.

The market experience in San Jose was thrilling and overwhelming with all of the souvenir options. We divided into teams with adult leaders to walk through the city to the market. I had the opportunity to be part of TEAM TOM. We made it successfully to the market after asking for directions in Spanish, receiving the wrong directions, following team Marie, and sprinting across the streets to avoid the cars whom have no caution towards pedestrians. Nonetheless, it was a successful journey into the city.

El Jesucristo es El Senor

A sign in the gathering space reads “Jesus Christ is the Lord” in Spanish

In all, the day was simply wonderful. God is amazing. And each of us continue to find the joy, community, and love, that is evident in places where God is the center of life. A sign hangs in the gathering space saying ‘El Jesucristo es El Senor’ meaning Jesus Christ is the Lord, it is a daily reminder that we are simply the hands and feet of Christ sent out by HIS calling, for HIS glory.

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