Senior Mission Trip BLOG – Class of 2019
October 31, 2018 – From Veanna and Rachel
Today we woke up to breakfast at 7:00 am. We had eggs and bacon as well as the usual bread and jelly, rice, fruit, orange juice, and coffee which is super good. After breakfast, we got on the bus and headed to the Abraham Project for our last day of work. When we arrived like usual we sat on the steps and debriefed with Bruce and Angie about the day before. Then we split off to daycare and Phase 2 construction.
At daycare, the lesson was about kindness and how to show kindness. We sang some songs, such as “I’ve got peace like a river,” we read a Bible verse and lastly, colored a picture. Something that most of us in daycare will forever remember is how the children’s faces would light up when we would enter the room and all the children who became friends with us seniors.
At construction some of us did cement, some cleaned the rust off a smoker grill, and some continued to do rebar wiring. Around 11:00 am we took a break from construction and daycare. Bruce and Angie shared their testimonies with us. It was very interesting to hear their story of how God has worked in their lives and to see how much faith they have. Then for lunch we had rice, Salisbury steak, salad, tea, and dessert. After lunch, we went back to work until around 3:00 pm, which is when we snacked on some pastries from a local bakery. We went back to Franco’s and had some time to relax before dinner. For dinner we had chicken, rice, beans, and tiramisu for dessert.
Later that night at 7:00 pm we went back to the Abraham Project for a worship service. Although the songs and the message were in Spanish, you could feel God’s presence. One speaker did summarize the overall message in English, which was that we should forgive as God has forgiven us and that we should be selfless so God can grow in our lives.
We’ve had an amazing time in Costa Rica, and it’s hard to believe we are leaving tomorrow. Thursday we will have breakfast, a final time of debriefing with Bruce and Angie, then we’ll be leaving to go to the airport around 9:00 am to head back home!
And so, this will be our last blog post. Thanks to all of you for your prayers for us during our mission trip to Costa Rica!
October 30, 2018 – From Emma and Mackenzie
Today we woke up with a breakfast of eggs and blocks of cheese as well as bread and a variety of fruits. After our breakfast, we were ready to start our fun day of going to the Irazu Volcano. Thankfully, the weather was very clear and sunny. We had a long ride up the multiple mountains of Costa Rica and were able to see the mountainside as well as part of the Central Valley. When we reached the top of the volcano, we saw the crater and the lake that had formed inside of the crater. The water inside the crater was a bright blue color, and we could see the bottom of the lake from on top of the volcano. After seeing the lake in the volcano, we went farther down the volcano to a desert of ash. There we were able to see different volcanic rock as well as the lake from a closer view.
After the volcano, many of us fell asleep on the drive down the volcano to the city of Cartago, which is home to a beautiful Catholic basilica, which is a church that has experienced a verified miracle. We were able to go inside the cathedral and see people worshipping from inside the basilica, as well as the delicate structure and stained glass windows in the church. After experiencing the beauty of the church, we visited the Holy Water fountain, where people were able to drink the holy water. We then followed the path through the museum of the Negrita Statue. The museum is filled with trinkets people have brought on their pilgrimage to offer as gifts for healing. The trinkets were mostly metal charms in the shapes of different body parts to be healed.
After visiting the museum, we headed back to the Abraham Project to watch Kaitie and Emma be baptized! When we went to the cell group on Sunday night, some of us had been impacted by the message of being different and being a light in the darkness of the world. Because of this, Kaitie and Emma decided to be baptized by Bruce and Angie to show publicly their belief in God and how they want to be lights in the world. When we arrived at the Abraham Project for the girls’ baptisms, there was a kiddie swimming pool there in which they would be baptized. Jorge, who is one of the Costa Rican workers at the Abraham Project, who was also in the cell group, baptized them alongside Bruce. It was an unforgettable experience, and it was meaningful to those involved.
Altogether, it was a day filled with the theme of the importance of water. At the end of the day, we realized the meaning of water in everyday life. The water in the volcano, the holy water at the basilica, and the cold water of the baptismal pool showed the importance and the symbolism of water. Water, we decided, gives life to those around it: physically and spiritually.
October 29, 2018 – From Logan and Jack
When we woke up this morning, we had pancakes with syrup, scrambled eggs, beans and rice, and orange juice and coffee. After breakfast, we set out for our third work day at the Abraham Project. Before working at the Abraham Project, we started our morning (as we do each day) talking with Bruce and Angie about what we thought of the day before and how we felt God move at church and the cell group meeting. After we finished our morning discussion, we went our separate ways with some seniors going to the construction part of the Abraham Project, Phase 2, and the other group of seniors going to the daycare to do different activities with the kids.
Today at Phase 2, one group of us tied rebar together using pieces of wire, which then will be used to make concrete columns for the children’s homes, which are in the process of being built. The other group of us chipped away concrete on the outer walls of one of the children’s home to help smooth and level out the wall.
The other group at daycare visited several classrooms throughout the course of the day. In each classroom, we started out by teaching a lesson about self-control to the kids. After this we did a dance to get the kids involved, followed by a group activity. With the older kids, we played games like “1,2,3” and “Ninja”. With the younger kids, we interacted with them and did a coloring activity.
For lunch today, we had rice and chicken with potato chips. After lunch, Steve (the director of the children’s homes at the Abraham Project) talked to us about starting the kids’ home 21 years ago and how they have had 104 kids come through the children’s homes. After we left there, we went back to work for the afternoon, then played soccer in the multi-purpose building. We then left the Abraham Project and came back to Franco’s for dinner which was fried fish, mashed potatoes, and salad, and for dessert, we had a piece of cake. After dinner we had a debriefing time to talk about our day and had a time of journaling, then had some time to hang out, play games, and do a little shopping at the local corner store.
October 28, 2018 – From Maggie, Brooke, and Janae
We enjoyed a late morning with a breakfast of fried plantains and scrambled eggs with ham. We were also served the usual rice and beans, fresh fruit, piping hot coffee, and fresh bread. After breakfast we did some last minute getting ready to head to the church service at El Faro, the main sanctuary at the Abraham Project. We were told that the service would be given completely in Spanish and that there would be no interpretation, so we struggled some with obtaining the message from the sermon. The message was about how we need salvation, grace, and faith to enter the gates of Heaven. The physical deeds we accomplish on earth are meaningless when it comes to how we get into Heaven. The worship was in Spanish, but the lyrics to the songs were provided on the screens so we were able to sing along with the congregation. Even though we couldn’t understand the words to the songs, we could still feel the meaning behind the songs. Many people would dance around or wave their arms while worshipping.
We were able to eat pizza for lunch with the kids that live in the children’s homes at the Abraham Project. There are 7 kids divided between two children’s homes. One home housed the 3 older kids whereas the other home housed the 4 younger kids. We learned about each child’s individual story from Angie. A 14 year old was brought to the Abraham Project when they were 8 after going through a failed adoption. A 13 year old was on the adoption list for 4 years with no interest at all but recently, there was an interest from a family in the United States and they plan on adopting them soon. One of the children was part of a family whose mother was an addict and who was beaten at home. Another one of the children was part of a family whose mother was a prostitute and their siblings were sex trafficked so they were taken directly from the hospital after birth. Two siblings were brought to the home due to their parents both being addicts. One of the children was taken out of their home because their mother had them at a young age and she wasn’t capable of taking care of them.
The older kids were strongly interested in playing soccer with all of us and got very competitive as we were playing games. We played soccer for about 2 hours and the kids seemed to enjoy the interactions they had with us. The younger kids didn’t want to be involved with playing soccer in the gym, so they played on the playground at the project. We did things like playing tag, blowing bubbles, and coloring pictures with the kids.
We ate dinner back at Franco’s that consisted of pork, rice, veggies, and cheesecake with strawberries. We had the opportunity to go to a cell group meeting at the home of one of the construction workers. We got to do some worship with them as well as dancing and we absolutely loved it! After we’d finished the dancing, we received a sermon from one of the people involved with the group and he gave a compelling message about the story of Daniel and how it applied to our lives today. We finished with snacks and talking to the members of the cell group. Some people had the opportunity to pray with the members of the group as well as with Bruce. We then returned to Franco’s and had a bit of time to debrief and write in our journals before heading to bed.
October 27, 2018 – From Kaitie, Emma, and Mackenzie
We woke up this morning around 6:30 to the smell of bacon and eggs. After a hearty breakfast, we left Franco’s to go to Los Sueños Adventure Park for a fun day. On the way to Los Sueños, we pulled over along the road and walked onto a bridge where we looked down on the largest concentration of crocodiles in Costa Rica. The class was able to see eleven crocodiles all at once. After the short stop, we boarded the bus and continued on to our ziplining destination. When we arrived at Los Sueños for ziplining, it began to rain. Despite the rain, we still enjoyed our adventure. We were able to see a large view of the mountain as we were ziplining down, and loved being able to go fast down the lines as well. One of the zip lines was nearly a half mile long, and some of us got up to speeds of 50 miles per hour when we rode down it. After we rode the zipline through the jungle, we had a lunch of traditional Costa Rican food, such as rice and chicken or fish, as well as flan for dessert. When we finished lunch, we headed toward the beach. At the beach, some of us played football while others played in the waves. Some even threw the football in the waves. Due to the cloudy and somewhat rainy conditions, the majority voted to cut the beach stop short and visit a souvenir shop for the rest of our day. After arriving back at La Casa de Franco, we enjoyed a relaxing evening and ate a simple but delicious dinner of subs. We definitely enjoyed our fun day today and are ready for the rest of our mission trip!
October 26, 2018 – From Grace and Emma
Today we woke up to another delicious breakfast at La Casa de Franco. Our breakfast consisted of scrambled eggs, hash browns, fresh fruit, fresh bread with jelly, coffee, and orange juice. We then headed to the Abraham Project for another day of daycare and construction work.
To start off the daycare group’s day, we headed to the 3-4 year old classroom. While we were with the younger children, we played games with the kids like “duck, duck, goose.” We also taught a Bible lesson on patience and had the children color a picture related to the topic. We then went to the 11-12 year old classroom and played several rounds of the “look up, look down” game. We did a brief lesson on patience with the 11-12 year olds as well. After our lesson with the older children, we went to the cafeteria to watch a play performed by some of the older children at the Abraham Project. While we were in the cafeteria, we also sang songs and danced with the children. Many of the children were very excited to see us during their assembly and many wanted to stand with us or be held in our arms. After cleaning up the assembly, we went to Phase 2 to talk with Bruce about the history of the property.
To start off the day of work ahead of the construction team, we were given the rebar that we had separated on Wednesday to build cement molds for the buildings for Phase 2 that will house single mothers with children who have been living in poverty. We also had several of the boys working to shape some of the rebar into rectangles in order to be the frame of the molds. While some of the construction crew built cement molds, others mixed large bags of concrete for the Abraham Project workers for them to use on the buildings. The rest of the construction crew spent the day smoothing out concrete walls of different Phase 2 buildings.
After our morning, we had a delicious lunch of spaghetti with garlic bread and sweet tea. When lunch was finished we cleaned up the cafeteria and went back to work at our stations at the Abraham Project. When the day was complete at the Abraham Project, we came back to La Casa de Franco to get ready for dinner at Tiquicia Restaurant. After we arrived at the restaurant, we had a large meal full of tasty traditional Costa Rican food, as well as a view of the entire Central Valley of Costa Rica all beautifully lit up at night, since the restaurant was placed in the side of a mountain. To finish the night, Costa Rican dancers played traditional songs and performed for us, even pulling us out onto the floor to dance alongside them. After a full, fun-packed day, we came back to La Casa de Franco to rest up for another fun-packed day tomorrow.
October 25, 2018 – From Anna and Courtney
We had a later start today because instead of working at the Abraham Project, we were going to go to La Carpio, a very poor neighborhood beside the city dump. We got up and ate a breakfast of eggs, meat and bean burritos, fresh fruit, and lots of coffee at 8:30 am before the bus came to pick us up at 9:30. Angie rode on the bus with us, and she explained that La Carpio is a district of San Jose, also known as one of the poorest and most dangerous places in Costa Rica. She explained that it lies between two very polluted rivers and beside San Jose’s landfill. Many Nicaraguan refugees that fled their country in the 80’s and 90’s are settled there as undocumented immigrants. About 35,000 people live in La Carpio’s two mile area.
(Anna) The pastor James and his wife Christina shared their testimony with us. Listening to their testimony was really amazing because we were able to feel that both James and Christina had a strong faith in God. One of the things that Christina had shared with us that stood out to me was how much they trusted in God even when they had to give up everything for His plan. I really liked when she said that she is building a house in Heaven because the house she’s living in right now is just a temporary house but the house in Heaven is the house where she will end up in with God. It helped me to realize that no matter who we are and how much money we have, it’s not going to matter in the end. In the end, it is all about our faith in God.
After they shared their testimonies, we set up fun activities such as face painting, making God’s eyes, and Jesus’ Fish, and coloring for approximately 100 kids. Seeing kids smiling and running around made me feel so warm and happy. I’ve noticed that few kids were not interacting with anyone and they looked so sad. I tried harder to talk to them and play with them. Then they were able to open up to me a little more. I felt that God was using us to show the kids His love.
(Courtney) I expected today to be a good day. I even expected to be able to break the language barrier and interact with the kids fairly well. I did not expect to have my heart broken. I specifically connected with three of the kids. I had introduced myself to them, a girl, her brother, and their other friend, during the meal, but I didn’t think I had made a connection to them because they weren’t very responsive. I believe now that their quietness could be attributed to the language barrier. When the kids finished eating, we all went upstairs to do the activities and we sat in a circle. The girl and two boys came over and sat beside me. They stuck with me during most of the dances and activities, and by the end I was so sad to leave them. It was eye opening to realize how much we have, even if we already knew we had it. Seeing poverty and spending time with those who live in it gives a different perspective on how blessed we are compared to just knowing we have more than others. I felt as though I needed to do more when the kids left. I think a lot of people had a connection with one or two kids that really impacted them today. It’s incredible that our presence there and just being able to help out the women serving and sit and color with the kids was such a big deal to them. Most of us couldn’t understand most of what they were saying, and some of the kids didn’t even talk very much, but, as Christina said, everyone understands the language of love. Today we experienced that. Personally, I felt that the kids today were more of a blessing to me than I could ever be to them, but I am so grateful for the chance to go to La Carpio and serve the children and the women working at the church.
After the kids left, the women at the church served us lunch. We ate rice and chicken and refried beans with a sweet drink called “cas.” We thanked the women and got a group picture with them. The bus came and picked us up a little after 3:00 pm. We went to a market to buy souvenirs until 4:30 pm, then we boarded the bus to go back to La Casa de Franco. We took a trip to the corner store to buy snacks. We ate a really good dinner of a casserole with cheese, tuna, noodles, and a cream sauce, salad, and Tres Leches cake for dessert. We were given the evening to relax after we had worship, debriefed, and journaled.
We all woke up from a restful night’s sleep and enjoyed a delicious breakfast of eggs, rice, beans, pineapple, bananas, papaya, coffee, orange juice, fresh bread, and guava jelly. After breakfast we hopped in the bus and rode over to the Abraham Project, where we divided into two main groups of daycare and construction.
Today, we ran a daycare for six different age classes. Our lesson topic for the day was the fruit of the spirit, love or amor. The lessons consisted of the memory verse of the day, a short lesson on love, two songs, and a coloring sheet. The two songs we sang in Spanish were I have a friend named Jesus and Hallelujah. The different classes ranged from 3 years old to 4th grade. As the day started many of us were timid around the children and did not interact with them very much, but as the day progressed we were connecting with the kids easily. The lessons also went in a similar way. At the beginning we were unsure of the lesson and it was kind of unorganized, but as the day continued we got into the flow of it and it ran more easily. The children were all very excited about having “gringos” and “chinos” in the class teaching them. The highlight for many of the kids was the coloring sheet and the interaction each student had with the children during the coloring time. As we talked with the kids, many of them practiced their English with us and we practiced our Spanish with them. This is especially true for one of the Kindergarten classes, where some of the kids practiced counting to 10 and all of the colors of the crayons in English. By the end of the day at the daycare, none of us wanted to leave all of their smiling faces.
In the morning, a group of us walked from the Abraham Project to phase two. We started off by splitting into two groups. Some people helped the Costa Rican contractors, while several others of us started moving big slabs of concrete and concrete beams. We had to carry them down a small hill and stack them, so they can later be used for the construction of another building. Others moved rebar and organized it all on to piles, while still others mixed concrete and transported it to the contractors. After lunch (of fried chicken, fries, and coleslaw), we continued working as it began raining, which added mud and much more laughter to the work.
After heading back to Franco’s and showering, we went to a wood-fired pizzeria for a delicious supper, then back to Franco’s for a time of devotions, worship and, journaling. Overall, a great first full day!
October 23, 2018 – From Brooke
We arrived at Baltimore Washington International around 3:30 AM, briefly before the airport opened. There was a little confusion surrounding the check-in process, but once it was all figured out, we made it to the gate with a little time to spare. The plane ride to Atlanta was rather uneventful. Many of us enjoyed watching the sunrise from the plane windows. Upon arriving in Atlanta, most of the class made for the food court, where McDonald’s became a fast favorite. The plane ride to San Jose was longer, but the flight had free movies, so most of the class watched a movie or two. The class enjoyed an easy ride through Costa Rica’s customs, with minimal complications. We were soon on our way to La Casa de Franco!
Once we arrived at La Casa de Franco, we had a brief time to unload all of our luggage before leaving for the Abraham Project. One of the local missionary families working with the Abraham Project is Bruce and Angie Crawford. Bruce met us at the airport and helped us settle in briefly before we all loaded back into the buses. Once we arrived at the Abraham Project, Angie was waiting for us to tell us about the Abraham Project. She gave us a brief history of the project. She explained how the entire ministry started with a calling Pastor George received from God and $20. Then through many miracles and generous donations, the project took off and has grown to help many local children and families. There is an all-purpose gym/auditorium, two children’s homes, and a daycare center. There are around 200 children that attend the daycare each day and 7 of those children are a part of the children’s homes.
Angie then gave our team a tour of the facilities and we observed all of the various contributions previous Shalom classes have made helped with the success of the ministry. We saw all the hard work and dedication that was put into the project and all of the ways God has added to their ministry. After our time at the Abraham Project, we walked to Bruce and Angie’s house, where they had prepared a delicious Costa Rican barbeque for all of us to enjoy. We then headed back to Franco’s for a much-needed good nights’ sleep! Our trip is off to a great start!
Our Seniors will be spending 10 days in Costa Rica working at the Abraham Project. They will be posting updates on this page. Check back soon for more info.