Blessed in Costa Rica -- College student describes Claremore group’s journey
When someone says they’ve gotten more than they bargained for, it normally has a bad connotation. They mean there is too much work to be done. But what if we give this phrase a different implication?
What if it means we were blessed to receive more than we bargained for?
Claremore-First United Methodist recently went on a mission trip to Alajuela, Costa Rica, for the eighth year in a row.
When getting ready for a Volunteers In Mission trip, there are certain expectations of what will happen: the work, the people, the ultimate goal of worshipping God. All of these are naturally considered when planning for a mission trip.
God, though, always has bigger plans than any of us.
Claremore’s team consisted of 28 people ready and willing to give a week of their summer to do God’s work. Most of us were young adults, like me, and our previous mission experiences centered on Youth Force projects in Oklahoma. One of us had never flown.
But our leaders, Laurie and Jeff Ault, had directed the teams on the seven other missions in Costa Rica.
Because of their leadership, our group also welcomed 10 more people from a UM church in Plantation, Fla. This was their first time on an international mission trip, too.
One way our group gained more than we bargained for: We got 10 new friends.
We stayed at the Methodist volunteer reception center in Alajuela. Its campus houses teams from many denominations and organizations, who serve in mission throughout Costa Rica.
During the week our two groups worked mostly on different projects, but we also served side-by-side some afternoons.
The Florida team worked at the center, repainting some of the living quarters. Our Oklahoma team worked at Iglesia Evangélica Metodista Restauración, the Methodist church in Alajuela, painting, digging drainage ditches, wiring a new kitchen for electricity. Daily we were leaders for Vacation Bible School and a women’s study group at the church.
These are the things that we did, but what we accomplished was so much greater — and could not have happened without the grace of God.
Claremore church members who had been on previous missions reconnected with Costa Ricans whom they had not seen in years and noted how many of them had grown.
In VBS, we saw timid children sing their hearts out to God in front of their congregation. We saw women gain confidence in themselves and in their faith through their study. We saw our relationships with each other grow whether we previously knew one another or began the trip as strangers.
Most of all we saw our personal relationships with God grow, strengthen, and become better as we answered The Great Commission from Matthew 28:19-20: "Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age."
Throughout this trip our team continually got more than we bargained for because God’s love for His people was so great that He did greater things through us than we ever could have imagined or done on our own.
Solely through Him, our team was blessed beyond measure.
Laurie Ault said the young missioners continue to share what the VIM experience means to them. Pastor Victor Vargas, from the church in Alajuela, was scheduled to speak at Claremore-First on Nov. 16. He is traveling in the United States, reporting on ministries in Costa Rica.
(Nagy is a student at Rogers State University in Claremore.)
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At a Methodist church in Costa Rica, Claremore-First Volunteers In Mission teach VBS songs, above, and build a perimeter fence, below.