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 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."
"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."
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