One of the coolest parts of the mission trip to Costa Rica was that I got to go with some of my closest friends. After surviving high school together, we went our separate ways for college, but I still count them as some of my best friends. And, in a way, it was like reliving those days of sleepovers and laughing fits, only it was a week-long, God-serving adventure of a lifetime.
My sister, three friends, and I all camped out in one bedroom. The floor was covered with mattresses, suitcases, and whatever no one felt like finding a place for. Within moments of arriving, it already looked like a storm had come through the room. It was awesome.
Around 5:00 the first morning, a noise woke me up. I froze, my hands clutching the blanket, trying to figure out what it was. Honestly, it sounded like a bear was trying to break into our room. It was an extremely loud roaring noise…and extremely scary. I noticed my sister was awake, too, so I tiptoed around an air mattress and asked her if she knew what it was.
“It sounds like a donkey getting sawed in half!” She whispered.
The next morning, the rest of my roommates said they’d also heard the noise. So we asked what it was. Here’s the culprit:
Know what that is? That’s right. It’s a howler monkey! Right outside our window! After learning a large pack of these critters were the reason we woke up in the middle of the night, we went out to the back balcony. Sure enough, there they were, hanging out in the trees. This particular guy just gazed at us, scratching his arm and head. He seemed to say, “Is there a problem, fools?”
How cool is that, though? I have squirrels outside my bedroom window at home, but monkeys? Amazing!
As the week progressed, my group and I had the opportunity to see so many different creatures.
From my travel journal:
Yesterday we went to a national park. We walked through a nature trail for maybe 1 1/2 miles until we came to a string of gorgeous beaches.
We saw so many different kinds of wildlife! Sloths, monkeys (and babies – probably my favorite part!), iguanas, deer, butterflies, and raccoons.
The racoons would come up to us and our stuff, and it was nearly impossible to scare them away. I’d never seen live raccoons before.
The beaches were beautiful, too, with their silky sand, thousands of tiny hermit crabs, and crags the waves crashed over.
We picnicked near the beach, then spent some time swimming, bobbing over the waves, and laughing as the current tried to drag us out to sea.
Last night after dinner, our pastor asked us to share something we had never done before until this trip. Honestly, I thought it would’ve been easier to share things I have done before, since the new experiences are so numerous.
Sometimes we grow so accustomed to the wonders around us that we become jaded. And sometimes it takes leaving your familiar surroundings to encounter a renewed sense of awe at God’s great creation. Creation that is created for His glory, but shared with us so that we can taste just a little bit of his majesty here on Earth. Creation is proof of a Creator, and His glory can be clearly seen.
“You alone are the Lord. You made the heavens, even the highest heavens, and all their starry host, the earth and all that is on it, the seas and all that is in them. You give life to everything, and the multitudes of heaven worship you.” – Nehemiah 9:6
“How many are your works, Lord!
In wisdom you made them all;
the earth is full of your creatures.
There is the sea, vast and spacious,
teeming with creatures beyond number—
living things both large and small.” – Psalm 104:24-25 (NIV)
Look around you. Experience the world He’s made. Breathe in His grace. Know that God is who He says He is, and He delights in His creation—He delights in you.
“For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.” – Romans 1:20 (NIV)
In His love,