On a recent mission trip, JE Guide Joanna Farnham lead a group of high school seniors to Costa Rica with the intention to serve local neighborhood kids. Through this initial service, God provided incredible opportunities to grow partnerships in Costa Rica and show His faithfulness.
This past March, I had the pleasure of leading a trip for a wonderful group of students from South Carolina. For this group of seniors, the week was filled with a mixture of ministry and adventure activities, all while enjoying the many beautiful sites Costa Rica has to offer! While we had a blast zip lining through the jungle and snorkeling off the shores of a private island, the highlight of the week for me (and the majority of the students) was our ministry time in La Fortuna.
While doing outreach in the park at the beginning of the week, I was praying for opportunities to build more ministry relationships in La Fortuna and for additional ways to invest in the people there. As we were inviting neighborhood kids to come play with the team, God compelled me to go meet the principal and a few of the teachers at the local bilingual school next to the park. I first met Shirley, one of the 3rd-grade teachers, and I was able to share with her the work that Joshua Expeditions does in Costa Rica and around the world. Shirley got so excited about the work we are doing and immediately took me to the office to meet the principal. After our introduction, he said they would love to have us come to their school and help the students as they try to learn English. In their school, students learn to read and write English but rarely have the opportunity to speak with native English speakers. Without verbal practice, they lack the confidence to speak in English and as a result, don’t retain the information they are learning.
On Tuesday, our team was scheduled to go explore the waterfall in La Fortuna and spend the afternoon loving on the kids at the nearby orphanage. After sharing my conversation with the principal with the Group Leader, he asked if we would be able to come back and spend time working at the school prior to our time at the orphanage. I spoke with the school, and we were able to rearrange our day to visit the school after the waterfall hike. I loved seeing how excited the team was to sacrifice “fun time” to do additional ministry! The next day we were able to go back and help teach in the 3rd and 4th-grade classrooms. We practiced introductions in English (‘Hello’, ‘How are you?’, ‘My name is…’, etc.) and helped with the lessons they are currently studying. After the formal lessons, we took the students outside to practice English while interacting and playing games. Even the principal came out to join in on the fun!
As we debriefed our trip at the end of the week, many of the students shared how our impromptu time at the school was their favorite part of the trip and how it greatly impacted them. God gave them a huge heart for loving those students, playing with them, making them feel valued, giving them confidence as they learn a new language, and praying over them.
Through this opportunity, God reminded me how He is so faithful to provide when we are open and willing to the ways He wants to use us. God wants to use all of us in big ways to further His kingdom—it just takes us simply trusting in Him and being willing to listen when He calls us to action. In this case, that meant following His prompting to introduce myself to the teachers and principal of the school adjacent to where we were already doing ministry. I am so excited to see where this new partnership leads as Joshua Expeditions continues to take teams to serve in La Fortuna!
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*Photos courtesy of Joanna Farnham (Instagram: @joannafarnham)