It was a two years today that we were pulling out of Jaco, loaded down on the bus, heading back to the US. Two years ago today that I said goodbye to my sweet Cristian, wondering if God would cross our paths again. Two years ago today, as I saw those boys playing baseball barefoot that I knew, I could no longer sit in my comfortable house in my safe world and do nothing. And it was then that I heard Him ask, can you give? Can you give of your money? Your time? Your heart? And at that point, I had no other option but yes. A resounding yes! I want them to see You! To see You, Lord, in all your glory, all your love, your provision. And that is where Hearts for Jaco was born.
I struggled at first with fear and doubt. You don't need me, God, they have others to help. What paltry offering can I make? I have made such a mess of my life, Lord, surely I will mess this up too. And I was right; God didn't need me. If I didn't act, others would. And yes, on my own, I will surely make a mess of it. But God, in His infinite love and mercy, His grace, allowed me to play a part in His plan for these. And with His wonderful love, he made sure that my heart would be so broken for them that I couldn't not act. And over the past two years, each time I “make a mistake” in my eyes, if I wait on Him, He reveals a perfect plan and shows how that “mistake” can be turned for His glory.
Over the past year, I have watched as, through no power or deed of my own, God has grown this sponsorship program. I watched as He opened the doors to enroll the first three students in school through the program. I have watched as those on the ground in Jaco have poured of their time and resources into helping the kids through their classes. I have watched as the program expanded and included single moms that have little option to support their families without an education. I watched as we graduated our first student, a single mom. I have prayed for God to bring others alongside me and watched as He pulled together a board of directors to help guide and run the organization. And now I sit, in prayer, waiting for the final word from the government as to our application for nonprofit status. I'm not worried. As I told a friend this week, God doesn't have a failure rate. So whatever the outcome to this, God is wholly in control. So as I sit and wait and pray, I look to the future and wonder God's plan for it all. I pray for each and every student that will come through the program. I pray for the others that will be touched by ways we hope to expand the program. I sit and wait, humbled by all God is doing, ready to act in obedience as God guides.
As the bus pulls out of Jaco, we pass the ball field. I see boys playing all across the field. I strain my eyes to see if I can catch one last glimpse of Cristian and Jacser. And it strikes me, they don't have tennis shoes. Or better yet, baseball cleats. All week long we have played soccer with them and I realize, they have been playing in their bare feet! My heart breaks yet again for these two boys that God brought into my life.
The whole week went so much more differently than I had thought it would. Thank God that He has plans so much greater than we can ever dream or imagine. I went to Costa Rica ready to allow God to break my heart for what breaks His, but in my mind, we would be ministering to the homeless and the prostitutes. Two weeks out from leaving and I learn that we will actually be putting on a vacation bible school for the kids that live in INVU. My heart is a little afraid now; I don't do well teaching kids, much less kids I can't even communicate with without an interpreter. Satan knows my weaknesses and insecurities about being a "good mom" and I think, if I don't think I am a good mom with my own kids, how can I even begin to reach out to others children? He uses that to bring fear and doubt, insecurity and anxiety surrounding the trip and the work we would be doing. I thank God we have so many on our team that are so blessed to be able to minister to the children. I actually long to be on the work teams doing work projects I am so afraid of the children, but God doesn't release me to that job. Instead He calls me to stand by Scott and Bailey, who both have a place on the VBS team. Not sure what I can do there, I sign up for the VBS team. I stood in the back of the park by the supply table, trying to blend into the tree, determining that my "job" for the week would be guarding the supply table. That is until someone comes up and asks me to go help one of the table of kids working on their crafts. A quick prayer to God, "Really, God? I can't even talk to them, much less do anything else!" I am shuffled over to a table of boys! Even worse!! Having all girls, I don't know the first thing about relating to boys. And then there He is, pushing me along, assuring me I can trust Him. And He introduces me to Cristian and his brothers.
And in one short moment, one small step in obedience to Him, a bond is formed with these boys, a bond that can only be of God, because it sure wasn't of me. And we communicate somehow, broken Spanish, a little English, interpreters, and just being together pouring out God's love on them.
We spend the week playing soccer, teaching Cristian guitar, doing crafts together, and teaching them stories about God and His provision and protection through skits and stories. And through that week, I got to know them and developed concern and care for them. I longed to know they were safe at night, not out on the streets. I ached to think they may not have enough food for dinner. I experienced joy watching them play soccer and "be kids." I was touched to watch them care for each other and the other kids in the neighborhood.
In just a short blink of time, the week is over and it is time to leave for home. But not before God implanted in me a love for them, their whole family, the people in INVU, broke my heart wide open for all of them. And so I leave Jaco with a pain in my heart that I pray never leaves; an ache that drives me to want to continue to pour out God's love on this community, even from thousands of miles away.