Well we did it! We survived and even have our eyes open right now. Before we left on our trip, deep down inside, I was thinking what if we get there and realize we made a mistake, this isn't the place for us? It became immediately apparent that it was the right place. And news alert: this is NOT about us. Each person we met, each story we heard, we became instantly aware that this is about JESUS and what He is doing through the lives of these women. God is obviously working in the hearts of many women in Costa Rica through this ministry and we are both so excited to join!
Going into this trip we were praying for clarity on when we needed to be in country full time. We've been tossing around a few options ranging from March to September. While there, we felt the urge to come even stronger than before. At the same time we want to make a wise decision regarding Brandon's current job and his time needed to vest in the pension. While we didn't get the writing in the sky we were hoping for, we definitely felt that we could make it work if we waited til September. This would involve monthly trips down to check on the centers and to connect with the people, until we can move in country. This is where we are right now. Struggling with a clear date and not having one given to us, other than the obvious early September, we felt like God is showing us it will all be ok if we wait til then.
So enough about that! Here are the fun details from our recent trip down:
We hit the ground running! Somehow we made it right through immigration, were out the door and in the Beautiful Feet International van in less than 15 minutes of landing. Kathleen Kidwell (the current director) picked us up and chauffeured us around the whole time. Our first stop was in Tarcoles. Here we visited the first center and met with Jazmin. Currently she single handedly runs this center. She is open one day a week and counsels 32 women!
After a look at the center, we walked to lunch and "talked" through broken Spanish to Jazmin. She has such a heart for this ministry and she is simply amazing. She works in the hospitality industry on the weekends and only has time to volunteer at Centro Prenatal on Tuesdays.
We then headed into Jaco for some yummy coffee and a walk on the beach to watch the sunset. A peaceful moment in the midst of the crazy schedule.
After the walk we headed to meet the Bell family for dinner and were pleasantly surprised to see our friend Lisa (CasaFe) had joined as well!
Did I mention the sun rises at 5am? wowzer. At 8am, we set out for Upala, which is up near Nicaragua. Four and half hours later we arrived. This was more intimidating for me, because it is Spanish only! (I really need to get my Spanish in gear)
We met Pastora Maria Jose, Pastora Esther, Esthercita and her sweet 2 month old daughter Daniella. These three sweet ladies run the center here and they each see 8-10 women weekly. They are in the middle of adding on a room specifically for Centro Prenatal at the local church, but the construction has been halted due to lack of funds for laborers.
We went to lunch with them and then headed back to the church, where they each shared with us amazing stories of why they chose to be apart of Centro Prenatal and what they have seen God do through the prenatal centers for the women in Costa Rica.
They invited us back to their house for a few minutes, before we got on the road to make the trek back to Jaco. This was a very long, but fantastic day!
We had a more relaxed morning and took our time getting out the door. Rye took us up to a great spot where we could see the whole town of Jaco. Then we headed into town for a quick breakfast before meeting up with Kathleen.
Kathleen took us to the Jaco Center. We delivered some supplies and also hung some curtains for them to help keep the heat out.
Then it was time for lunch, where we met some more missionaries Dave and Pam Sanders. It was so great to meet them and talk with them about living in Costa Rica.
Afterwards we headed back to Tarcoles (which is about a 20 minute trip) to deliver some supplies that they needed. We spent some time down near the beach where all the fisherman were. Such a cool sight to see (not so much to smell).
We drove back to Jaco, and visited the Center while it was open to see first hand how they run things. Centro Prenatal Jaco is counseling around 30 women between 3 counselors. Becky Bell was volunteering as the secretary on this day, so she walked us through her responsibilities. Roxana was counseling at the time and had another woman waiting for her appointment in the lobby. It was so awesome to see the faces of the women that this ministry is impacting.
Kathleen gathered the volunteers for a meeting to discuss the needs that they have and any ideas that we could implement to make things run smoother.
After the volunteer meeting, the local Centro Prenatal Board (minus a few members) met for dinner. It was a great time to get to know them better and pick their brains about fund raising and housing. We are so thankful for the missionaries that are already down there. Everyone we have encountered is so welcoming and are wiling to help us in anyway they can. We feel like we hit the jackpot with this great community of believers.
Heading home! The Bells so kindly drove us to the airport. Kathleen's flight left 3 hours before ours, so we headed to breakfast then hit up the mall in San Jose...which was closed. But at least we got to see it. Since it was closed, we headed to Walmart! It was much cleaner than the walmarts in the states. You wouldn't get any great pictures for People of Walmart website in here!
We said our "see ya laters" to the Bells and then waited for the flight. Everything was going so smoothly until we actually got on the plane. There was a malfunction with the towing equipment, so that put us 30 minutes behind. Then we finally get on the runway, and we never pick up speed...ugh 2 hours behind schedule before they get everything perfected and we finally take off. I knew I should have bought that sandwich...
We are so thankful for a great trip organized by Kathleen. We felt a bond with the people we encountered that is indescribable. Just walking in downtown Jaco, we ran into several different missionaries and felt accepted by them all. A huge thanks to the Kidwells, The Bells, The Barretts, BFI and the many women who make the Centers what they are today. We can't wait to get back!
And how could I forget, a huge THANKS to Nana, Memaw and Grandpa for watching the kids (and the Guillen's for watching Ryder).