Sorry I haven't gotten much of a chance to blog. Today is the last day in Costa Rica, and I think we are going zip lining in the rainforest(in Costa Rica, zip lining is like really intense).
On Sunday, I got food borne illness from the restaurant mentioned in the last post. I could tell it was from there, because I had the ribs. Three other kids also got the ribs AND the food poisoning. I got to practice more Spanish with people from the church. We went to the church to help out with the kids and run programs with them. It was alright, but it wasn't as good as it could have been because it was our team's first ministry and I wasn't feeling well.
Monday was our first ministry and we went to two schools. Schools in Costa Rica(most of them) are poorer and very different. We were allowed to speak openly about the gospel in most of the schools. We did our pre-prepared programs/skits and played games. The first school was very small and only had about four classrooms. Pastor Steve and Damaris(translator) and I dropped out near the end to talk to some of the older girls about life in their town, their boyfriends, etc. The second school was much bigger.
One time we were waiting in the parking lot of a grocery store, and Ryan was like "Is that a pig in the grass?" There were really tall grasses and we could see animals moving around in them. We were like "That's the fluffiest pig I've ever seen", and "that's the cutest pig I've ever seen", because the pigs were actually dogs. For the rest of the trip, we just refer to dogs as pigs and "Instabacon"(what happens when the pigs(dogs) get run over by the crazy drivers here).
We also wanted to play punch buggy, but there weren't any Volkswagon beetles here, so we played punch piggy instead, where you just punch when you see pigs(dogs).
One of the hardest things to get used to on this trip was the "engage" aspect of ministry, breaking our barriers of shyness to really relate with and have fun with the kids as a whole, and individual kids. It was especially hard with limited Spanish, and I was shy around them. This lasted the first half of the trip, and I was depressed because I couldn't build connections with the kids as well as some of the other people on my team could.
On Tuesday, the second day of ministry, we went to work with a church in Heredia. They run an amazing theater ministry that puts on theatrical productions every week for free. It reaches youth who don't attend church. They have a new show every week. The whole theater, including the stage, curtains, scaffolding, make up, screens, etc, was made by teenagers like us. The teenagers (youth ministry)had the idea to found the theater and have run it ever since.
We went to two schools and ran our program a total of seven times. Today, the Sin and Salvation team was running their program. It must have been exhausting for them. It certainly was for us. We had to be high energy and engaging with each of the seven groups of kids. Our team made it through all right, though.
I was starting to get frustrated because I didn't feel like I was clicking with the other members of my team. They were almost all sixth-graders(my least favorite age group ever)and of course I couldn't relate to them as well. The exception was Faith, Tyler, and Jeremy(Tyler is a going into 11th like me, Jeremy is going into 9th, and Faith is going into 7th). The girls all seemed to enjoy being loud and messy and obnoxious and spraying people with water, fighting with steak knives, and like taking the sauces on the table and mixing them in people's drinks???
Faith is my best friend on this trip. She's a lot like me. I've known of her ever since I was like five or six, but I didn't really know anything about her until this trip. She's very funny, and likes making faces and macabre/slightly disturbing comments. XD She's also very responsible, kind/soft spoken, and has a very beautiful soprano singing voice. We also began to watch the three episodes of Fruits Basket I have on my ipod. She thought they were weird(especially Yuki) but wanted to watch the next one.
Tyler went with my brother, Jro, on the first trip to Costa Rica two years ago, but I didn't know anything about him until I met him on this trip. Tyler, his dad, and his twin younger brothers are all on this trip also. When we were getting on the bus ready to leave California, I was carrying my suitcase up and he offered to carry it for me and I was like "O.o well okay i don't really know you but sure". That pretty much describes him(and his brothers). They're all very gentlemenly/(gentlemanly?) and awesome. Tyler in particular is a true spiritual/ministry leader of our group. He gave our team devotional several times and helps the adult team leaders lead our program. Of all the kids on the team, he's the one who engages with the Costa Ricans the most.
He is very good at sharing the gospel and does it in a creative and engaging way. We nicknamed his talks "Tyler's Teachings". I got to watch him with a group of kids and it was very good. He's also very hysterical. I'm very glad I got to know him and got to hang out with him on this trip. I'm going to miss seeing him when we leave. I didn't know guys like him even existed. XD This is going to sound really awkward, but he's kind of raised my standards for guys and when in the future I get a boyfriend, he better be a lot like Tyler or I'll be ticked. XD
We were going to do our program (Worship themed) the next day, Wednesday, so we got together to work on it. I was worried because ours was more complicated(two skits instead of one) and seemed unfocused. I was also nervous because I was narrating it, and I don't like talking in front of people.
We practiced our skits a bunch of times, one themed on different views of God, the second based on the Parable of the Persistent Widow found in Luke.
The next day we sang in the van. The van trips are all over Costa Rica and always long, so we just decided to sing. We sang worship songs until we found out that Faith likes Les Miserables and has memorized almost all the Les Miserables songs we have, so we just sang Les Mis songs. We also listened to my ipod.
This ministry was way up in the mountains. The road is very twisty and the forest is very awesome, but it was hard on the carsick people(not me) There were people from the church we were ministering to. They were dressed up as circus people to entertain the kids. The clown had to stop, open the van door, and throw up on the side of the road. We all wrote in our journals that day, "We saw a clown barf".
At the first school we went to, we weren't allowed to talk about God at all, so we decided to just do a program on morals/values. The Sin/Salvation team did their skit with the Sin/Salvation part taken out, which was kind of lame but oh well.
This was the first school where I felt like I began connecting to the kids more. There were a couple kids that seemed to like me, and we played soccer for a while. I LOVE LOVE LOVE watching/playing South/Central American soccer. It's violent and no-holds-barred and a lot of fun. you can play anywhere, on cement, in vacant lots, anywhere.
At the second place, we did our program for the first time. We did fine, but we needed more work, which I vowed to put in. We also made like a million sandwiches for the kids.
I had to like give a mini-sermon about prayer to the kids. I was discouraged because I didn't think I did very well. I compared myself to Tyler a lot(we were the same age) and I felt totally lame next to him, considering we're in the same grade and he's so much more insightful and fun, and a lot better with the kids. Our trip leader, Shawn, told me not to compare myself to other people.
The way back was very fun. We sang more Les Miserables songs, and Faith and I got to sing the soprano songs together alone. (everyone else in the van was a guy) and I think we sounded good. XD Faith sings in a choir/band/talent shows and I've taken voice lessons, so it was cool. A girl from the Costa Rican church was in our van. She was my age and spoke English, so we got to talk about Costa Rica and her life. I don't think she liked our loud obnoxious singing much. But she taught us some songs in Spanish and called us "the music van."
On Thursday, we got to drive through the RAINFOREST! It was totally awesome, because I have ALWAYS wanted to see the rainforest. It was AMAZING>>>>. The trees were high and lush and on all sides of us, blanketing the steep sides of mountains. There were a lot of weird plants with huge umbrella-y leaves, and fog, and mountains, and birds and butterflies.
We didn't get to walk around in it, just stop to take pictures. We are going to the rainforest today, though.
The two ministries we did on Thursday were the best days ever. Our skit went much better, and I engaged with the kids more.
The first church we went to, there were coconut trees outside next to the sewer. The boys got them down and cracked them on the side of the sewer wall to open and eat them. There was this Costa Rican kid who was really good at opening them.
Something really really weird/strange/amazing happened to me afterward. The pastor of the church we were partnering with, Giovanni, came up to me after my skit/mini sermon and said he had a message from me. He said that while I was up there talking, God laid a message on his heart. He told me that God has given me a gift of teaching. He said that God told him that I would travel to many beautiful places, and that many people would come from far away places to hear me talk/teach. I was kind of shocked because I have never been exceptionally good at talking in front of people. I can do it, but I've never been singled out for being very good at it before.
At the second church, we were all really tired, dehydrated, and sweaty, but we decided to make the most of it. It was the best ministry ever! The kids were the poorest we had seen so far on the trip, but by far the most open, friendly, and happy.
There were a bunch of kids who wanted to sit on my lap, do cartwheels with me, talk to me, etc. One even got me a cup of cold water without me asking!
We went to a different location of the restaurant chain where we got food poisoning. We were all like "DON"T ORDER THE RIBS" very loudly to everyone. I got to sit next to Tyler and talk to him some more. He told me stories of when he was an exchange student in France two years ago.
Yesterday, we packed up and came here to Jaco. We watched the second episode of Fruits Basket!
We got to stop over the river to see the crocodiles in their natural habitat. They were big and nasty and scary. Shawn bought two raw chickens. The first he just chucked over the side and watched them all dive for it. The second, he lowered on a rope and kind of played with the crocs for a while before he let them eat it. They just kind of chomped the chicken whole.
We are staying in a resort, a really cool resort with like private beaches and pools and a butterfly farm and paintball. Our hotel room is all right. We couldn't figure out how to make the showers spew hot water instead of cold, so I had to take a cold shower D:<. We figured it out eventually. Also, I get my own queen sized bed! :D
The place is like a tourist town with like posh hotels/restaurants but LITERALLY right around the corner is a slum. It's a very sharp contrast. It's like what I saw in Mexico/the DR, with the corrugated tin and trash filling the streets, and the water pooling in puddles. Chickens/ real pigs/stray dogs were running loose everywhere snuffling around in the street. That's where we did our ministry, doing a skit program and passing out clothes. Some of the kids weren't very nice. They yelled what we think were insults, gave us the Costa Rican equivalent of the finger, and threw rocks at us.
The last ministry was at a park, it was very hot there. We got to go to Pops Ice Cream as a reward. We walked there from the restaurant, and there was this crazy drunk guy who kept coming and bothering us the whole afternoon. I got a pistachio/brownie cone. After, we played ninja in the parking lot, and the drunk guy kept trying to join in, but we ignored him. When we left, he kept banging on our windows and trying to block our vans off.
Someone else awesome on this trip is one of the other drivers, Irama. She's very hilarious and likes to play pranks/jokes on us. She's also a crazy driver, who goes fast over speed bumps, pretends to try to hit pedestrians, uses her horn constantly and takes corners sharp. I love her!
Now I'm sitting typing in my dad's room. My brothers just got back from the private beach and are laughing at me sitting in my room typing. Thanks for reading it all the way! I have pictures but it'll take a while before we can put them on here.