Thursday, July 17, 2014

Parting is such sweet sorrow....Hogar de Vida

Here we are teaching our Costa Rican friends the important skill of photo bombing!!



We had a different schedule for today.  Instead of classes at the church we visited Hogar de Vida   in Ateenas, CR.

 Steve Johnson had found them on the internet and contacted them about the work they do.  He had also asked if we could visit and about any help we could give. Some of the churches had given donations and most of our group contributed and some of our ladies went to the store and bought necessities for the orphanage.  (Socks, underwear, movies, sheets, electric skillet, shoes for the tias and other things)



The director, Tim, gave us a brief overview about their work.  They are basically a foster care facility.  There is a government agency similar to our DHS that protects children against abuse or neglect. Most of the children have been removed from their homes or have been abandoned.  They currently have a little more than 30 children aged from infant to about 7 years old (if I remember correctly).  There were three homes on the beautiful grounds, one for the infants, and another for toddlers and a third for young school aged children.



We enjoyed the tour of the grounds and were very impressed with everything.  A native New Zealander who has been on the board from the beginning showed us around.  One of the buildings was a nice little school building.  Although the school aged children go to a nearby school, the building is used to do preschool activities for the younger children and homework for the children in school.  The lady asked if any of us was teachers and she said they were currently looking for a “missionary” teacher who could be funded and come down to work there.  I know several of our young education students would love to do that.  Speaking Spanish would be a requirement though!  Many of the children have been victims of abuse, so the centers have two therapists, one who works full time.
I got many pictures off the internet because of wifi issues, here is one that I took.



We had lunch on a large covered patio area and the director answered questions that we had.  The center is also set up to house very small mission teams. (around 20)  There was a group who was finishing their trip and heading to the airport.  The director was a wheelchair bound “gringo” and I thought I had remembered that there was a story behind how he ended up there.

This picture looks fine on my phone, but for some reason it is looking blurry on here.  Maybe it's my eyes!

Tim, the director, was generous enough to tell us his story. (Please forgive me, if I don’t get the entire story exactly right!)  He was 19 and in seminary and had gone home for a semester to work on his family farm.  His brother was living in Colorado and called him about a job that paid twice as much as what he was currently making.  He was a Christian and he said he prayed to God about what he should do.  His parents had told him he was an adult and needed to decide for himself.  He prayed to God, but he felt like he was trying to convince God that he should go to Colorado.  He had a sense that he shouldn’t go.  He kept praying and picked up his mother’s devotional book and the title of the lesson was literally, “No!”.


Needless to say he didn’t listen.  He went to Colorado had a good time.  One day he had been riding on four wheelers and switched and rode another one.  He crashed and woke up with many injuries including a crushed spine.  He said when he woke up in the hospital, he realized that he had been living his whole for himself and not for God.  He realized that if he had died at 19, his tombstone would have said, “He lived for himself”.  He said from that day forward his life was changed.  He started being obedient to God and from then on, he was blessed.  The Home takes about $30,000 a month to run and only $15,000 comes from the government.  The rest is funded by benefits and donations. 



Oh, I almost forgot, there were two swimming pools on the grounds.  The person giving us the tour said that a lady was visiting from England and she wanted to take all of the children off the grounds to a swimming pool.  That was a very impractical thing to do, so the next year the lady came back with a check to build the swimming pool.  They use it for therapy for the children.


Oftentimes when we go to orphanages, we play with the children.  Although, we say a few toddlers having lunch, the facility keeps the children on a tight schedule and they don’t think it is beneficial to have strangers come in for a day and interact with the children.  That makes sense to me!!!  There are some interns that come and stay for months at a time and of course, the mission teams that come get to interact with the children.



Tonight we are heading back over to have the last night of the gospel campaign with our brothers and sisters at Purral.  As a special treat, I believe we are having pizza for dinner.  After the service, we will have a reception for all who come.  I think we are having chips, veggies and dip.  As I said before, we will be sad to say good-bye and I’m pretty sure plans are already being made for next year!!!

We all love this little boy, Santiago, he's the baby of the preacher's sister-in-law!! 

Tomorrow there is about 4-6 people who are flying back home.  Tyler and Michelle will go back to Honduras.  Chase and Bev are going back to the states and I believe Pam is spending time with a family member in CR.  The rest of us are heading for our retreat in La Fortuna.  The most active volcano in the world is there.  I’m looking forward to some relaxation and maybe even a manicure/pedicure!

Diego is interpreting and Daniel is preaching.  He is the father-in-law of the regular preacher.  He is the preacher in Buenos Aires, CR.  We had members from other Churches of Christ who traveled many miles to come!!

The last night of our campaign was a huge success.  This church has an average attendance of around 20 and each night we broke the record for attendance and the last night had about 120!!!  Of those, around 40+ was children!!  GOD IS GOOD, ALL OF THE TIME!  Elizabeth, the lady we had done the Bible study with, was also back tonight.  Of course, we all greeted her and gave her a hug.  At the end, we had responses from people repenting or wanting prayers.  A few of the visitors need more Bible study and I feel confident that the congregation will continue to work with them.
I'm sorry for all of the blurry pictures, I'm only using my iphone.

I knew parting would be difficult!  We spent over 30 minutes giving hugs and kisses to everyone, some more than us.  We took a group picture and Christian surprised us because his sister had made bracelets for each of us.  We were just about to sing, "I love you with the love of the Lord", when they started singing it to us!!  As I said before, they are already talks of next year.  I know in the states, gospel campaigns and meetings aren't successful, but you know how in the Bible, Paul and others traveled around and visited congregations to lift up and encourage them?   Well, Entonces (Spanish for well),  that is exactly what happened here!!  We encouraged them and more importantly they encouraged us!!!



Hasta luego!


PJ  xoxo

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