This is part six in a series where I share pieces of my Costa Rica travel journal. Follow the links below to read the previous installments:
- Part One: “Into the Nations”
- Part Two: “Beneath His Feet”
- Part Three: “Clearly Seen”
- Part Four: “Deep Calls to Deep”
- Part Five: “Hearing Hearts”
Come back Thursday for the final installment in the series!
The week before the mission trip, I went to the dentist. I’m one of those weird people who actually looks forward to going to the dentist, so I was excited. Plus, our dentist is a really strong Christian. The staff is extremely friendly, and the local Christian radio station always plays in the office. I always feel welcome there.
After checking my teeth, and while I was still reclined in the chair, my dentist placed his strong hands on my shoulder and prayed a blessing over our team, our trip, and the people we would meet there.
It was an incredible moment for me. First, it was one of those times when I actually felt the Holy Spirit breathing on me. I can’t remember everything he said exactly, but I know it was exactly what my heart had been thirsting to hear; what my soul had been needing.
One of the things I do remember clearly is that he asked God to break my heart for what breaks His, because “it’s a good break.” I don’t know why, but that line resonated within me throughout the entire trip, and even now as I think back on the experience. Can a broken heart really be “good”? Oh, a thousand times yes.
From my travel journal:
We had a pool party with some kids from the orphanages today. One little girl stole my heart. I couldn’t understand her and she couldn’t understand me, but she would just look at me and smile with her big, chocolate doe eyes and tiny teeth. She had two dark chocolate French braids, round little cheeks, and cinnamon skin. She must be three or four. And she’s an orphan.
God, I pray she knows the love of a forever family soon. That the little girl who held my hand and giggled and wanted me to hold her would be loved and cuddled and kissed and told about Jesus. I love her even though I’m not sure I even know how to spell her name. Protect her, please Lord, and show Your precious creation Your love and Your grace. Make Yourself and Your peace known in the little lives at the orphanage.
Yesterday we went into the village and handed out goodie bags. We also had some Spanish coloring books and crayons to give away, along with the pictures we took of some families at church on Sunday.
The longer we were in the village, the more children flocked to us, wanting extra bags for their siblings.
After that, we went to the home of a fourteen-year-old girl and her eleven month old baby. Her house had a dirt floor and no electricity. The roof had holes in it, which meant the floor turned to mud whenever it rained.
It really broke everyone’s heart, even though the girl was used to living that way. It reminded me of what my dentist said when he prayed a blessing over me last week: “It’s a good break.”
We had some extra money for the trip, so today we’re going to buy the supplies for her to have a new roof. What the whole thing really did for me, though, was break my heart for America. Because poverty in America isn’t even poverty when compared to the lifestyle here, and yet those with plenty have endless complaints. It makes me almost ashamed to be from a place so rich and spoiled.
But it also makes me realize this: I’ve seen poverty here. This is where life starts. This is where you turn yourself—with God’s help—into a channel of blessing, receiving God’s blessings and blessing others with them. This is where you realize why you live in such abundance—so you can give abundantly. This is where the decision to stop living for yourself and start living fully for Jesus is made. It’s where faith becomes real and you decide there’s no turning back. Ever.
If your faith is real, you’ll start moving mountains with the help of the One in whom you place that faith. Even if it looks crazy—loco—to the rest of the world. Even if you’re laughed at, mocked, taken advantage of, rejected. It doesn’t matter, because it’s the Lord Christ you are serving.
God, give me the endurance to make this feeling last. To never take this for granted. To never give up, because You sure don’t. My dentist was right—it’s a good break. A very good break. A necessary break. Like the missionary down here said: I wish all Americans were required to spend a week in a country like this, and then go home and try to complain about their lives again. It would change our nation.
“Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.” – James 1:27