This week has been a transformational experience for me. I have seen God in every circumstance and in every person. Two people who have left a huge mark in my life are Tania and Pastor Victor. Tania was the 6 year-old girl from Vacation Bible School. I met Tania the first day when I was doing registration, and the next two days she brought me flowers. What surprised me the most, was how God’s love transcends cultural barriers and stereotypes. Tania and I came from two different cultures, we were raised with two different languages, and we live in two different situations. But what I learned is that all we needed to develop a relationship was the love of Christ. On Friday, when we said good-bye, both of us were very sad to part. She wrote me a card, gave me her hairband, and we traded name tags. It seemed, as I walked her walk down the street, I was losing a best friend or a sister. The love of Christ had been so present at VBS that even after only five days we had developed deep and loving relationships with the children. Tania is an encouragement to me. It shows me that with Christ’s love, all things are possible.

The next person who has left an impact on me this week is Pastor Victor. Pastor Victor was always so welcoming and joyful. I was able to have a couple nice conversations with Pastor Victor. The one that I will remember forever is our discussion about the career of a pastor. He told me all that it involved, but also how rewarding it was. Whenever I spoke to him, he spoke to me as an equal. His humble disposition and the interest he took in my life was an inspiration.

This week in Costa Rica has reminded me that Christians everywhere have a global mission. There are those who are hungry, those who are suffering from poverty, and those who are alone. The world needs Christ’s love. This trip has shown me that we do not have time to be complacent. The world needs the hope and love of Christ. We can’t afford to waste any time.

Thank you, Floris Church for giving me the opportunity to serve in Costa Rica. It has been a true blessing and an experience I will never forget.

-Emily Lopynski

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The final day has arrived. We received a visit from Pastor Victor this morning (On a Sunday morning, too! That’s a big deal for a pastor). He enthusiastically gave thanks to God and blessed both our families and ourselves for the work we have donenot just this week while here, but for the work it took to gather the resources to get here. A sense of completion and excitement is in the air, and it’s easy to tell that all of us are eager to get back home.

Yesterday was beach day, and we had such great fun. Raccoons and monkeys were courteous enough to visit usor to be more accurate, our backpacks. As far as I know, nothing valuable got stolen. For a while I was afraid that either animals or the too-quick-to-rise tide had taken my glasses, but they were found buried in the sand nearby. Note to self: never bring glasses to a beach again. We had sandwiches and chips for lunch and dinner. The ride home seemed to pass like that. I fell asleep without realizing it. We stayed at the beach for a total of about four or five hours. The amount of time spent on the bus was about six or seven hours.

Last night was a night of grand speeches and affirmation of others. I also learned something interesting about Antonio, the person we worked with this weekhe’s actually a pastor and has started churches before. He’s taking a break from that kind of work now to take care of his wife, who is ill, but he still has time for construction work at Pastor Victor’s church. God bless him.

God has been good to us this week. We’ve heard from both Tim and Tom that this was one of the best mission trips they’ve had the blessing to be on. Considering how many trips they’ve been on, I’d say that’s quite a compliment. But it’s probably truethroughout the week, everyone was working hard and contributing a lot to the work we’ve done. My particular contribution was getting Barky at the worksite to be quiet for more than two minutes. Jeremy, even on his birthday, was tireless and worked harder than any of us. And while we’re on the topic of birthdays, it blows me away that two people were willing to give up their eighteenth birthdays to come here. We jokingly say that Mackenzie and Jeremy are Costa Rican citizens now. Jose has been the bridge between languages translating almost every time there’s a speech to be made or instructions given. He’s not a great card player, though.

And now we’re packing up. Gloves, goggles, water bottles go in the suitcases. Other gear is being packed away. Our bags are being put on the pavilion. When they’re all there, they’ll go on the bus, then on an airplane, then to Dulles. We’ll follow them. We’ll come home to our old families and friends that we haven’t seen in a week. But I pray that we not leave our friends from Costa Rica behind. As clich as it may sound, I do hope that we keep them in our hearts and minds as we go about our American-teenager lives. And that we dust off that old family Bible left forgotten on a shelf somewhere.

To our family and friends back home: we’re coming back, and can’t wait to see you all! As much as we’ll miss the hand-signal-communication and beautiful, smart children, there’s nothing quite like home. As much as I’d enjoy staying in Costa Rica for a while longer (Pastor Victor said that those who wanted to stay were welcome to, and most of us laughed), it feels like an age since leaving Dulles.

I can’t wait to see what the blog actually looks like. I haven’t actually seen it yet. I personally am also faced with a dilemma what am I going to read? Fortunately, the answer is right in front of me: the Bible. What better after a week serving the Lord and living with such vibrant examples of His children?

Here we go! Homeward bound, ready to share the Word of God!

-Ben Potts

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