Editor’s Note: This week 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, Justin Smith.

This is my first time in Costa Rica. My brother went on a previous trip so I thought I knew what to expect. I entered into this week expecting the work we do to be something to get through before having a good time. However, I have been surprised by how much pride I, and others, have taken in our hard work. Each day is different, and our work and other activities bring something new and exciting.

Today after breakfast, we began Vacation Bible School (VBS). We went to the same church that we had visited earlier in the week. From our efforts of walking around and asking families to come to VBS, over 60 kids showed up to worship and play. It was exciting to see the amount of kids that came, and we are expecting even more tomorrow. The language barrier proved to be a problem at first, but it quickly subsided as we spent more time either coloring or playing games with themDuck, Duck, Goose, or “Pato, Pato, Ganso,” was a fan favorite.

VBS began with some coloring and running around; many of the kids enjoyed playing soccer in the grass. The kids then came inside the church, and we listened to the parable of the lost sheep. We told this parable to explain the importance of each of the children to God. Even if just one sheep is lost, God will not stop until he finds that one. After the story, the kids did a craftmaking a mask. The mask was a paper plate with a hole in it, cotton balls around the hole, a string that could be wrapped around the head and other decorations the kids thought fit. We sang songs and played with the children as well. It was a great time, and I think we, as well as the kids, are excited to return tomorrow.

When we got back to the complex we ate lunch and began our afternoon service work. We have begun to repaint the rooms and the bed frames for the second church. It is hard work disassembling then reassembling all the wood for the frames, and when painting, the paint gets everywhere. People walked out with tiny white specks on their face and in their hair. Even though we still have a ways to go, doing all this work provided a sense of pride and was definitely rewarding. After a couple hours of hard work, everyone cooled off in the pool or showers.

The last thing we did was go back to the church where we held VBS to attend a worship service. An amazing moment was when the kids at the service ran to the front to dance during one song, and each of us followed. For two upbeat songs people danced at the front of the church. The pastor preached about the simplicity of being close with God and having him as your best friend. We hung out and spent more time with the kids and their families after the service and then headed back to our own dorms to call it a night.

It is unbelievable how much has happened in just a few days and the relationships developing among the team members and between the team and the Costa Ricans, especially the kids.

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