Where did you see God today?

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Global Missions Blog

I am...Innocent...Pure...Free...Giving...Loving...Happy...Full of life...Made in God's image...

I want what you want...To be loved...To be held...To be accepted...For someone to care that I exist...

“Since you did it for one of the least important of these, you did it for me.”

There is no greater good than to minister to others.  It may seem at times we are taking a small water hose to a raging fire…helping others in such a short time span…and with few resources of our own…  It may seem like we aren’t doing enough to make much of a difference…  But doing good for others…is never ours to judge.  It is not ours to determine the outcome…  It is ours to simply do as our Father told us to do.

Twenty-eight people gathered from First UMC-Claremore (OK), Kingston UMC (OH), Pasadena Community Church (FL) and First UMC-St. Petersburg (FL) …headed to Alajuela, Costa Rica for this UMVIM trip.

Our destination and “home base” was Centro Metodista, an out base facility for housing mission teams coming-and-going into Costa Rica.  It is located merely minutes from the San Jose International airport.

This base provided dormitory residential facilities.  David and Doralbis Sardiñas are the residential managers, overseers, coordinators – you name it, they do it, at this facility.  They were our hosts for this trip.

Our team provided three organized ministries during our week stay:  1) construction work at the facility, 2) Vacation Bible School and 3) medical clinic.  The VBS and medical clinic were held at a nearby church, that of Pastor Victor and Grace Vargas, Tuetal Sur Methodist Church in Alajuela.

It was a blessing that our leaders, Bruce and Ruth Anderson, were committed to “keeping close to God” during the week.  Every meal one of the team members shared a personal devotional and Carmen led us in singing together.  Every day Bruce asked us to share our testimony, “Where did you see God today?”  Following are some of the stories the team members have shared for this article.  As Luke, writing to Theophilus, encourages, “Many have undertaken to draw up an account of the things that have been fulfilled among us.”  So too, we write our stories:

"I saw God in a young boy who meticulously colored his craft project for VBS. He spent the entire time making sure that every detail was perfect. Then when it was time to leave, he proudly presented it to me as a gift. His gift reminded me that we can never outgive God and that He brings blessings upon our own feeble acts of giving."

 "I saw God in many ways. Therein gives me such desire to go back. I had a granddaughter who brought her 90-year-old grandfather and her baby into the clinic to be seen.. She was so loving and so concerned for her very old 90-year-old grandfather. And just the fact that they came in families.  It wasn't just one person coming to be seen, they wanted to make sure all their family was taking care of,  but  not just medically. They were coming to the church..AND…they came back in the afternoon-- the mothers, one father and they brought their children for the vacation Bible school. And then at the end of vacation Bible school, as they were leaving, once more, I see God as all of our wonderful volunteers made sure that each person in each family had something to take home with them."  

"I saw God during our worship experience at Tuetal Sur Methodist Church. The Holy Spirit, in us, conquered the language barrier. We were greeted by the congregation with welcoming hugs and faces shining with the love of Jesus. There was such energy from the praise band, glorifying our Risen Lord.  They were singing in Spanish and I was singing in English. And, last, but not least, I was touched by Victor’s sermon and will always remember his dramatics, casting out the fishing pole. I felt truly connected with the global community of believers." 

"I saw God in so many places so I will chose the Sunday service at the inner city church.   I felt the love of God through the people at that service.  You could also feel the love the choir director has for our Lord.  With God there are no barriers." 

"I saw God while participating in the Church Service at La Iglesia Evangelica Metodista El Redentor -The Methodist Evangelical Church of the Redeemer.  They greeted us so warmly and gave us a bulletin with the words, so we were able to worship along with them in Spanish, or in English if we liked, because they were singing hymns that we knew.  I really felt a fellowship with them, and thought how great it was to be  praising God and worshipping God our Creator, in two languages.  It was kind of like singing in tongues, and we really felt that the Holy Spirit was among us." 

"At the leadership training on Sunday afternoon, Greg spoke a lot about having cultural sensitivity when we go to other countries on God's mission.  I think it was important to try to speak a little Spanish if  one can do so.  But the language of the heart was so much more important, whether we were hugging crying children, holding babies so their mother could  be free to do the crafts, or packing snacks and a toy for each child who came to the Vacation Bible School.  We saw God in the fact that the number of children who came was almost twice the second day, and many many more on the third day.  We were so happy to hear that Victor’s church was fuller than it had ever been the Sunday after the Bible School." 

"I saw God in the children that came to VBS.  One young man, Kenny, particularly captured my heart the first day.  He arrived early with his two younger siblings.   Although he was just 10 or 11 years old himself, I was mesmerized in the way he helped them get settled in the circle on the floor with such honor, grace and compassion.   He didn’t sit with them but went and stood against the back wall as an observer.  My heart tugged because this was his time also to be loved upon and learn about the great love Jesus has for him.  How could I draw him in? I couldn’t communicate with words however they weren’t necessary.  God had already given me all that was needed to invite, a smile. A smile was returned by a smile and then bigger smiles. As Kenny joined us on the floor, and in the craft room and on the soccer field with his beautiful smile, God reminded me of his faithfulness to provide specifically what is needed to share great love."  

"I love reading everyone's stories.  I am touched to hear everyone share how their hearts have been opened and changed.  The excitement to return  gets me excited too.   I think we've all been bitten and moved by the mission bug, it is now in our blood and we will never be the same!  Reminds me of a book from YWAM-[Youth with a mission] --  "Forever Ruined for the Ordinary". I was blessed to be part of this loving, dedicated, and kind team.  I was sooo excited to finally be able to go on a mission trip again after being sidelined for 10 years due to medical issues. I saw God everywhere...  in all of you ,  all of our new Tico friends,  spectacular nature and scenery,  worshipping and  sharing communion with our sisters and brothers - I think it may be like that in heaven-  - I could go on and on... I was touched by  the children who came to  us.    They came so excited, and trusting and eager to be part of whatever we were going to do.  They graciously accepted our inability to speak their language.  They came early just to be with us and in anticipation.  They were all clean despite their living conditions  and dressed in their best clothes.  I saw little ones running in the gate and jumping around and giggling and twirling  in  excitement and  pure joy.   When they left they were so loving to give hugs and promises to come back. They gave us their best, their joy, and their love.  What priceless treasures  they bestowed on us. They touched  me and made my heart sing and smile.  They  reminded me,  God wants me to come to Him like that and  His heart smiles when I do."  

"I saw and felt God's presence in a local woman, Aida. I would describe her as the Rose Oescher of the church we served in Costa Rica. From the first time we met, we bonded. It was hugs and love each time we saw each other thereafter. However, on the last day of clinic, I was trying to thank Aida for praying over all the patients that we had seen. Now keep in mind, I speak no Spanish and she speaks no English. She then grabbed my hand and led me to the back of the church where she put her hands on my head and began praying over me. I never felt so humbled yet special in all my life. I had no clue what she was praying, but it didn’t matter... I FELT it! I physically felt her words of prayer rushing through my body, penetrating each capillary. I couldn’t speak; all I could do is cry and feel weak in the knees. After she finished praying, I knew I had to get back to my team. I tried sneaking into the back of the team meeting hiding my swollen, watery eyes and avoiding conversation because I knew I couldn’t talk about what just happened to me. I was numb, overcome and vulnerably tender-hearted. Realizing I just couldn’t join my team quite yet because I was so emotional, I slipped back out. I heard my mother’s voice, in all her years of nursing wisdom saying, “When you feel you’re in a situation where you need to regain your composure, it’s always acceptable to excuse yourself to go wash your hands. You can go into the bathroom for privacy and run your hands under the water”.  So, I walked quickly to the bathroom to be alone to stop this crazy crying. As I enter the bathroom, I hear someone in there. It’s Aida! Crying loudly! The Holy Spirit touched her as well! The water works just poured out all over again! What a mess, but it was a beautiful, God-kissed mess! Eventually, we were able to join our group again, but it took me a few days to be able to talk about this without getting emotional. That was an extremely powerful “moment” for me that I will NEVER forget and Aida is a person now etched in my heart for the rest of my life." 

May God be glorified by sharing the stories of His good deeds through His chosen ones!

Paul Marshall, member of First United Methodist Church in St Petersburg, Florida

A feature video of the trip can be seen here:  http://youtu.be/r0JIWQvCXDY


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