“Like cold water to a thirsty soul, so is good news from a far country.” Proverbs 25:25
It was with great joy that I connected with Eric and Caroline and their lovely children, John and Evie. Eric was one of my students at Cary Grove High School where he was the valedictorian of the class. Caroline was Kate, the lead, in our school play,” The Taming of the Shew.” I had heard that they were working in Costa Rica. My husband and I began supporting them a few years back. So it was interesting for us to visit them in a different relationship. We actually knew little about their ministry and their role in Central America. I emailed Eric and asked if we could visit. He graciously invited us and set up a two-week agenda for us.
Our first morning in Costa Rica, I woke up to the sound of birds, the crowing of roosters and the smoke from the nearby volcano dotting the pink clouded horizon. Eric took us on a tour of the campus which is a taste of paradise. The flowers, palm trees and large pines spoke of God’s presence in nature. We were able to pick oranges, lemons and grapefruits off the trees. I had been transported from below zero temps in Chicago to the warmth of the sun. With tears in his eyes, Eric shared the wonderful story of how God provided this unique campus. The day in CR begins and ends between 6 AM and 6 PM. A lot is packed into that framework which included joining a visiting Pennsylvania church group in jobs like cutting down trees, varnishing doors and windows and taking down a termite infested building. Serving and eating together helped us develop close relationships. Our cook, a little size 2 dynamo woman named Marlin, cooked up a storm for us. It was not all work. We were part of the bus tour to La Paz where we saw waterfalls, animals and tropical plants; we also enjoyed a wonderful buffet. From there, we visited a coffee plantation.
When the Pennsylvania group left, I mentored some of the staff members in English while my husband continued working with the grounds’ team. As a former English teacher and now a writer, the role fit me perfectly. I also loved hanging out with the many children on the campus. I’m uplifted by their energy, imagination and pure love of God. I encouraged little Evie to speak Spanish with me and she occasionally corrected my pronunciation—nothing like learning from a four-year old, smart cookie. John runs like the wind just like his father did in high school. They both enjoy playing and watching soccer.
We then rented a car for three days at $50 a day which included a Garmin. We spent our first day at Jaho beach, our second in La Fortuna, home of backpackers and volcanoes. We stayed at the Arsenal Palace, a suggestion by a local, that gave us a great view of the volcano and a full breakfast—all for $60 a night, no tax. Our last day, we took a boat trip on the Rio Frio near Nicaragua to see monkeys, sloughs and birds in their natural habitat. Larry said he has a muse in the slough who sleeps in a tree and comes down once every two weeks to relieve himself.
It was inspiring to watch Eric and Caroline follow in the footsteps of Jesus by developing disciples. Eric has a heart for the youth and Caroline is devoted to women’s small groups. This took on the form of stepping into Bible studies with them and taking pictures of their soccer games. God uses so many means to draw people to himself. We also joined in the evening meetings where the Pennsylvania group processed their working day and shared what they learned in their personal devotions.
After our two weeks in CR, we were convinced that this is a wonderful ministry to support with our work and finances. We hope to encourage others to be part of a team with us next year.