Summer Step 17 Costa Rica report 1 - 21/7/17 "Fear not, for I am with you, Be not dismayed for I am your God. I will strengthen you, I will help you. I will uphold you with my righteous right hand." Isaiah 41:10 Friday 14th After twenty four hours of travelling (and more for those from the Isle of Lewis), we arrived at the airport of Liberia in the north of Costa Rica. Our bodies were not sure what time it was, but our tummies decided it was time for a McDonalds; then on, by minibus, to our host families in the village of Aguas Claras. Pastor Melvin, his wife Hilda and other members of the church were there to welcome us. The team (from back left): Mark, Lyndsey, Janice, Tom, Katie, Cameron and Graeme. (Front): Feya, Joshua, Amelie Saturday 15th We were woken early by the crowing of cockerels and the singing of birds and chorus of cicadas. We enjoyed a delicious breakfast of the local delicacy ‘pinto’, scrambled eggs and fresh avocado, all wolfed it down, including the children who are an important part of our team. It was great to savour Costa Rican coffee too! Our first impressions were of the heat and lush green vegetation. As a team we feel hopeful and expectant about our time here.In the evening we went to a nearby park with local youths where we enjoyed a time of singing, sharing of testimonies and playing some games. It was very humid, as well as dark and lots of mosquitos were buzzing about and enjoying some new blood. Sunday 16th We headed off to church with our families for 9am. We worshipped God in singing and in prayer, while enjoying watching three visiting dancers with flags, banners and ribbons. The worship was lively, accompanied by keyboard, guitars and drums, along with a singing group. The team has varying amounts of Spanish and the host families have varying amounts of English, so we have all had lots of funny misunderstandings. Janice told her host that she was a very good kitchen instead of a good cook and Lyndsey was teased by her host family for putting salt in her coffee instead of sugar. Monday 17th Monday was busy! We had back to back meetings: with the local primary school to arrange visits, planning children’s clubs, checking craft materials for activities and meeting with members from the church to plan joint youth work. After all those meetings we were rewarded by a walk into the village and a stroll through the fields to the river where we paddled/waded/swam. In the evening, we led a prayer meeting for the village. Tuesday 18th On Tuesday the whole team went to Pastor Melvin’s farm to look for sloths. We didn’t find any, but we did see lots of frogs, mud and a river to wade in. We had fun playing in the river and then we got caught in a torrential rain storm and all got soaked through and very muddy. It was a good teambuilding exercise. Wednesday 19th We changed the rubber feet on all the chairs in the church building. Some of the team paid a second visit to the school to finalise the times and activities for the lessons the following week. The afternoon was mostly taken up with walking in heavy rain and eating doughnuts at one of the host family’s houses. This was a relaxed environment in which to practise our Spanish. Thursday 20th We swept and mopped the church after we headed in to the village to pick up litter and pray for the community. We were invited into two different houses for specific prayer requests. In the evening, there was a service at the church similar to the one on Sunday. Regular occurrences: We have extremely heavy rain showers every day, interrupting extreme heat. We eat rice and beans every day. Cameron gets bitten by more mosquitos than anyone else. Graeme likes to lock himself out of his room! Answers to prayer: Safe travel. A warm welcome. Good health. Strong relationships with our host families and within our team. Prayer requests for this week: Good health and high energy levels for the team. Positive interactions with the children and staff in the school. Good communication to overcome the language barrier.