Saturday, August 6, 2011
Well, it’s been another incredible week filled with blessings, struggles and frustrations but, with every step, God has been holding my hand as I invite Him into my day every morning. In order to cope with community living and still feeling a bit of homesickness, I decided to implement a couple of my creature comforts from back home and am now having my rolled oats with cinnamon and fruit and a freshly brewed teapot of green tea infused with jasmine...all the way from China (a gift from a friend), every morning.
Words cannot describe how thankful I was to have these two, seemingly, small things now occupy my Costa Rican world. All I have been able to do each morning as I enjoy these luxuries is praise God over and over again. Wonderfully enough, when I would praise God each morning for the brand new day and along with that, His mercies, sunshine would come through the window at that precise moment!! Cool, huh?
Although that has taken away some of the homesickness, there are definitely things that I still miss. Like being only a province away from seeing my son during the summer, if possible; my weekly phone calls with my Mom; great chats with my Dad; spending time with friends; going for gelato....well, I could go on and on but I won’t as that will only further perpetuate my homesickness.
I definitely have come into knowing my threshold for being over stimulated by people and the chaos that often accompanies the people noise. I have also come into a wonderful knowing of when I need to be with God and spend time with Him and just be. It’s funny as, often, it’s God calling me to come into communion with Him and I am SO there! He always makes the times happen!
Anyway, back to my incredible week with several wonderful and heartbreaking moments. This week’s class topic was, ‘The Character and Nature of God’. Our speaker was Scott Freeman from the US who is located in Jaco, San Jose, with his lovely wife, Leslie and their four boys!! He took us on a free spirited journey into the justice and compassion heart of God.
On Tuesday, we went as a group to downtown San Jose to serve at the Salvation Army for breakfast. However, by the time we arrived downtown, breakfast had already been served so we put our money together and decided to buy bread to distribute to the homeless. The area we went to was one of the poorest and most dangerous parts of the city where there is a lot of prostitution and drug activity. Fortunately, we were there during the day and didn’t face any danger, just some pretty outrageous sights for the eyes.
One that really stands out for me, as well as most of the team, was standing on one sidewalk and looking across the street to feast our eyes on a plastic barrel filled, to overflowing, with pig’s heads. No joke! They were just there, looking at us...no matter where you walked it was like their eyes were following us! LOL It was kind of disgusting but I’m sure we were spared from seeing the worst of things because it was daytime.
Once the bread was purchased, we broke into two groups, divided up the bread and started walking until we found a homeless person to give bread to. Considering it was one of the poorest areas of the city, it didn’t take long to find a homeless person. I ended up getting separated from the crowd but was, luckily, teamed up with Joel, one of the translators from my Operation Christmas Child trip back in March. We soon came across a gentleman who humbly asked for some bread. I began to ask him questions for Joel to translate and I quickly found out that not only had he been born in that area but at almost 50 years old, he had also lived on the streets his entire life. However, he quickly indicated that he knew God was with him and that God was the one that kept him going through everything.
I asked him how he ended up living on the streets and he became quiet, not willing to disclose anything. The entire time I was talking to this man I could feel the brokenness in his life, for I was seeing him as God was seeing him. I could feel God’s heart for this man. I managed to hold back my tears until Joel and I left him and we exchanged God’s blessings on each other.
The next person we talked to actually found us first, hollering at us to give her some bread. We turned around to find a woman of 33 years old approach us and I handed her the remainder of our bread and we engaged in conversation. Her name was Monica and she had lived in the poor area her entire life and had been on the streets for 15 years. She was scantily clad from the waist up and donned an angel tattoo on her right arm. I asked her why she got it and she said that it was her guardian angel, watching over her and keeping her safe. She then disclosed that she was 2 ½ months pregnant. My heart broke at hearing that. Being a mother, myself, I couldn’t imagine being pregnant and living on the streets, even though she said that she had a place to live but I’m not so sure that it was under the best of circumstances.
As we kept talking I asked her if she believed in God and after hesitating briefly, she said yes. I then asked her if she had family in the area to which she answered a simple, “Yes” and nothing else. I knew that it was territory that she did not want to venture into. My heart was so heavy for her but she started making casual conversation for a few more moments before she started to walk away from us. I stopped her in time to ask her if I could pray for her and she agreed. Again, I held myself together until after we parted and then the tears began to flow freely. God just kept breaking my heart for what was breaking His and I got angry.
Angry at the injustice I had just witnessed, a man who knew God yet was living on the streets. Angry at a pregnant woman being exposed to who knows what kind of lifestyle while carrying an unborn child in her womb. What would that child’s future look like??
I wrestled with so many thoughts as Joel and I met up with other members of our group who were talking with the homeless. I was overwhelmed and so very broken but, at the same time, filled with the peace of God at knowing and feeling God’s heart for His people. I don’t think that there was any possible way for me to feel numb in what I had experienced.
On Wednesday we travelled to a local park where we were given an hour to be with God in nature and just...be. To experience the glory and majesty of God in His purest form...nature. After receiving our instructions for this time with God, we each went our own direction to find our special spot and I found God directing me to a cubby hole where I became surrounded by His beauty. Trees, plants and bushes surrounded me as God slowly brought surprises of: a black and white butterfly, a jade green spider with a striped back as it munched on lunch in its web; a spider with a back shaped like horns on another web; a fuzzy caterpillar; a white coloured beetle slowly moving across the leaf of a plant; a mauve coloured banana flower and songbirds serenading me as I closed my eyes.
I then turned my eyes heavenward and gazed at majestic trees that seemed to go on forever. One tree, in particular, had leaves with hundreds of pinholes in each of them and as I looked up at the leaves, it was like looking at billions of stars during the day! Amazing!! Incredible!! It was mind blowing! I was, truly, seeing God’s beauty and majesty in nature! I was overcome with joy and peace at being there with God. I could have stayed there all day!
Yesterday was the day we, as a DTS class, had been waiting for since we arrived to begin our DTS...our Outreach location(s)!!! The anticipation was so thick you could have cut it with a knife! Weeks prior, we were all asked, one day per week, to devote 20 minutes in praying specifically for our outreach location, its purpose and the strategy behind the outreach phase. Last week we were told that our team leaders would be praying for outreach and God’s direction involving that and that it would then go to the YWAM San Jose leadership team for further prayer and asking God’s direction for our outreach.
When I went to pray about outreach last week, God gave me a vision of our outreach that was very specific. So specific, that I was asked to share that vision with a couple of my team leaders that ended up confirming what they had received as direction from God after they had prayed about outreach. However, during my first week here at YWAM, God had already been speaking to me about the DTS outreach and about the key role that each person within the group would play in it.
So here goes...our outreach location is.....drum roll please....Costa Rica! That’s right, we will be remaining in Costa Rica for our lecture and outreach phases! It was in line with what God was telling me since I arrived here and throughout the past weeks as well as my call received back in March during my time here with Samaritan’s Purse. As well, it turns out that this country is key not only on God’s heart but also on the hearts of the YWAM leadership team! God just keeps getting more and more amazing in all of this!! More than that, turns out YWAM San Jose has never seen a DTS team more unified than my DTS class! God is up to something and I can’t deny the fact that we are a very powerful team with each person anointed with extraordinary gifts and talents from God!!
Oh, and about my vision? The one I received from God while praying for His direction for outreach? It was a picture of a map of Costa Rica with us, the DTS team, working from the northern and southern tips of the country and as we moved inland, back towards San Jose, we were lighting the country on fire with the Holy Spirit, renewing and restoring the country to God and filling them with a passion for God! Pretty cool, hey?? God has been so incredible in showing me great things not only about this DTS but also about my character and how God sees me and my life! I am speechless and blown away! God has been so good to me!
Others within my group have also revealed things to me that God has told them about me that have caused me to take a step back in shock, not really believing what they are telling me! LOL But I think that as I spend more time with God and go directly to Him for everything and for revelation, help and solace, that He will just continue to be ever faithful and speak to me like He has been for the past several weeks. I mean, He’s been speaking to me all along, since becoming a Christian, but I’ve really noticed that I can feel Him and hear His voice even more clearly and more often! The whole, I am His sheep and I know the shepherd’s voice thing! Hee hee
So, another great week of experiencing God and having Him answer in ways never imagined! He has been really holding me together and placing people in my path at just the right time to bring me reassurance about my experience and time here and that, all along, God is really wanting to work on my character. Somebody help me! Ahhhhhhhhhhhhh!!!!!! LOL