Editor’s Note: Lastweek 30 high school students and sixleaders traveled to Alajuela,Costa Ricato help with construction projects, work with children at a Vacation Bible School program and help meet the needs of the local, under-resourced community. The following is a blog post from one of the students, Laney Hartin.

My week in Costa Rica has been an incredible experience of learning and connecting with new people. I came into this mission trip not expecting much; however, I have bonded with not only other teens from the church but also with the people of Costa Rica.

I’ve learned how blessed I am in my everyday life and also how great it can feel to help others. Riding the bus through the multiple neighborhoods, seeing stray animals and rundown homes and shops made me feel extremely blessed to live in such a fortunate county with everything I could possibly need or want.

A huge moment for me was the first day when we went house-to-house praying for people and delivering rice. We heard many stories of the difficulties these families dealt with, which made me even more grateful for my family and the support I receive from my community.

One of the best parts of the trip was Vacation Bible School (VBS). It didn’t feel like work at all because we were able to have fun with the kids while also making a huge difference in their lives and the community.

Over the course of the three days at VBS I bonded with a little girl named Linda who was so sweet. Linda loved to talk to me even though half the time, because of our language barrier, I responded with, “Lo siento, no comprendo.” Which means, “I’m sorry, I don’t understand.” We still had so much fun drawing pictures, tossing the beach ball and blowing bubbles. It was really sad to say goodbye to her when we left, but she gave me a card that said, “Te amo,” with a heart, which made leaving a little easier.

Aside from VBS, working construction was also a huge learning experience. I got to put others before myself even when I was physically exhausted, which in the end was a great feeling. I loved seeing the finished products of the team’s hard work and how happy Antonio and the rest of his group were. Overall the trip was a great experience, and I will probably visit next year so that I can put even more work into helping the Costa Rican community.

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