Hello! Today we finished cementing the drive way at the United Methodist Center we are currently staying at. We are still working on painting the fence, which will take a very long time to do. One thing I look forward to each day is VBS, or Vacation Bible School. It always amazes me how these kids contain so much joy even though they have so little. Even if you say that you don’t understand Spanish, the kids will still interact with you. Same goes for the parents. If they don’t understand English, they try so hard to communicate with you, with hand motions and pointing.

~Mary Cronin

Hey everyone,

I’m back; my blog on the first day was all about the trip and my first impressions of everything. Today I will focus on everything since, not just today or one single event. Oh my goodness! There is so much to talk about I just don’t know where to begin. Well, first off, I feel like I never left home, I have not felt unwelcomed or uncomfortable at all since arriving. Everyone here is my family now, including those I am helping here in Costa Rica. I love every minute of working, I have worked on the driveway from start to finish and I feel so proud of myself and everyone else who was involved with it and the projects at the other sites. This is an amazing place with all amazing experiences.

Vacation Bible School (VBS) is something that I look forward to all day every day. The other day I met this five year old boy named Isaac. He and I have become great friends, even though there is a slight language barrier, we understand each other and get along like we’ve known each other for years. I have had the privilege of working with Nick, Virginia, Annie, Jeffery, and Mary Francis on different days for the story and song time during VBS, and I love it. It is a great way to connect with the children and I enjoy it all and I like to think that the children do too.

All of the lessons that I am learning during the morning devotionals and the afternoon programs are changing me so much every time I go, for the better. I am always trying to improve myself, and the Bible study at this trip has been a catalyst for that improvement. Also, as I mentioned in my last blog, I am making a lot of friends, more than I thought I would. I am friends with the entire camp now and a lot of the children at VBS. I could not be happier with how this trip has turned out so far, I can’t believe that it is more than half way over now and I don’t want it to end.

-Matt Kelly

Hi everyone!

This is my first international mission trip, my first was JP, and I just have to say this has been the best experience of my life. I’m a tiny little freshman (or was) and today I was in charge of scooping the dirt and rock into the concrete machine and then wheel barreling the concrete to the complete other side of the church. As I was scooping up the rocks to put in the machine I thought for a second and realized that it didn’t matter my size or my age because we are ALL here to help these people and any help they get means the world to them. At church on Tuesday they were thanking us saying it was a blessing to have us but the real blessing is for us, we all have changed in so many ways.

I have no knowledge of any Spanish except from Dora the Explorer. My friends have helped me develop a very special relationship with one of the cutest boys I’ve ever met, Joshua. Yesterday, during VBS, for two hours Joshua rode on my back and we ran around chasing the kids. He kept talking about his shoes and how he didn’t have any. At one point we were playing tag and he ran me over to a bush. Behind the bush he pulled out a pair of shoes. The shoes had holes all along the soles and they hurt his feet so he didn’t wear them. As I rode the bus home I looked at my pair of tennis shoes and realized that I have so much and don’t need most of the stuff I have. Today I waited very anxiously for him to arrive. I began to think that he wasn’t going to come today, but I saw him standing all alone by the door and waved. This smile appeared on his face and an even bigger grin appeared on mine. Today he rode my back for the whole two hours again, at one point I was spinning him around and I heard his little giggle. There is nothing better than a Costa Rican giggle.

This experience has changed me in many ways. From the devotion in the morning to the good-bye hug from Joshua after VBS. God has helped open my eyes to see the world in different ways. When I get home, I am dedicating all my time to be the person I was here this week. I know some of my friends won’t understand the changes I’m making, but I do know that God does and all of the amazing people I have met here. I cannot wait to sign up to come back next year and to see Joshua, from a world away.

– Virginia Bulger

Today was my favorite day so far. First of all, it is Katie Athearn’s 18th birthday which meant that our day was full of random outbursts of “Happy Birthday,” cake, and soda. Second, today was the first day I did something I would have never thought I could do. For the past few days at the church, I have been helping the team mix cement, and build the walls for the soon to be kitchen. My jobs were never extremely strenuous or hard. But today was different. The team that went to the church today was much smaller than normal. This meant that only Jeremy Wood and I would be working on the wall. This meant lifting cinder blocks, guiding pipes and rebar through said cinder blocks, and leveling out the rows. Because of our work up to today, the wall had been built up to about 5 ft. Today in order to thread the pipes through one cinder block, I had to stand on top of the wall, which is 5 inches wide, lift the cinder block over my head, lean back and slowly guide the block into place.without falling off. When I completed the task, which probably wasn’t the safest, I felt renewed in strength and confidence. Jeremy and I continued to complete the wall at full speed and I felt like I had contributed more than I had before.

This being my second time on the trip, I was anxious about how the VBS would be. It had moved me so much last year and I didn’t know if I would be as affected this year. But of course, God has His hand in everything we do. This year I was immediately drawn to a four year old named Nasly. Nasly is the Shirley Temple of Costa Rica. She is ADORABLE with her giggles and curly brown hair. She clings on to me and loves to be spun and held up-side-down. Even though the language barrier is clear, she calls me her “Amiga preferida” or best friend. Her innocence reminds me of the story of Jesus calling the children and explaining to his followers to be more like the children. She longs to understand my language and she is overjoyed at the smallest things like the story time and crafts. Each day when she receives her snack she immediately runs to me to share, if I refuse she offers to others around her so that everyone is satisfied. It is touching each time because she has so little yet she still makes sure everyone around comes before her. Once again, I came on this trip with the goal of teaching children about Christ, and I will walk away learning more from them than I could have ever imagined.

-Hannah Berlin

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