Mission Trip to Costa Rica 2016
Work as Prayer
“You know everything I do; from far away your understand all my thoughts.” Psalm 139:2
We are far away from Houston and our parish church, St. Martin’s, but we know God is not far away from us!
Today has been our first full day of physical work to build La Iglesia Epsicopal de Ascención here in San José. I can confidently speak for all that the laughter and happiness, energy, and day-long sharing alongside the dedicated Costa Rican craftsmen who are also joyfully building the church was not “work” for us; rather it was a happy day-long prayer-in-action for our praising God and his gifts to us.
Since we arrived more than 48 hours ago, camaraderie and comity (also comedy) continues to grow. We are a very congenial group who range in age almost 50 years apart. Yet we are all here for a meaningful purpose. Not one of us would say we’re giving more than we get!
We hammered and chiseled the decades-old plaster from a wall in front of the church; filtered soil to make it ready for a concrete mixing; swept the WHOLE church for accumulated construction dust; sanded railings to ready them for painting; mindfully played with the bi-polar rescued watch dog on the parish grounds; and much more! Then there was a rush to the limited shower space to cleanse the day’s grime from the top of our heads to the soles of our feet.
Between the morning and afternoon sessions, we enjoyed the delicious cooking of Padre Eduardo’s wife who made us PASTA! It was such a welcomed familiar meal (although we’re really enjoying typical Costa Rican fare at other meals).
My personal best moment which underscored my happiness from the day was when I had a brief chat with The Reverend Canon Arturo as he was waiting for someone to pick him up from in front of the church in the afternoon as we were finishing. I asked him if he were pleased with the progress. His eyes lighted the face of a reverent and intelligent man that many people have known and loved for many years. “Yes, I’m happy. I’m very happy. I’ve prayed for this building for many years. Now it is happening!”
Peace be with you. – Elionne Belden
Finally My Child!
What, you mean I don’t know everything?
We enjoyed another full day of both work and play. Leading VBS at the Diocese school has not only been rewarding, but humbling as well. We’ve learned that while we planned for a lot, it’s the things for which we did not plan that have taught us the most. We packed appropriate “things,” planned engaging Bible lessons and organized enough activities to fill the allotted time.
Our supply bag, however, did not include the right equipment to handle the child who didn’t know how to accept a full, new piece of sidewalk chalk since all he’d ever been given were the broken pieces. Our arsenal of gizmos did not offer the right tool for accepting the hug from the child who couldn’t believe we came back the following day as we promised.
The execution of our schedule didn’t involve understanding the teacher who reminded her fair-haired “gringo” friends to reapply sunscreen. In her most busy time of day, she noticed us – our bag of tricks didn’t have the explanation for this! It’s in these moments and many others that we realize how very little we matter here.
God has a way of taking over and we’re thrilled to be his vessels. It takes a while, it seems, for us to learn to get out of his way. In the work, we find the stillness that’s needed. Isn’t that strange? To us, yes it is. To God, he’s like “finally, my child!!! I’ve been trying to tell you…..”