Holy Week Walk
Six weeks into our quarantine life, I had begun to explore nearby streets to our new home in Herradura, Costa Rica. Surrounding streets I had once explored were closed off and beaches were no longer an option. The one supermarket I spent much of my buying our family food from was just adjacent to the only stop light in our town. I had never considered turning right at that road, but on this Palm Sunday, I decided to explore. My reflections began as I walked the nearly desolate street of Herradura village.
We had been living in Pacific Sun community for three months. I still remember the countless bags of things it required to uproot our family of four to move to Latin America just after Christmas in 2019. My time working as a Youth Director for a church had come to a close, and my husband's work bringing troops who had experienced trauma from war had began to soar. There's something about this place that brings out the stories that need to be spoken. My son, having just turned 5, and my daughter, about to turn 2, were loving life in our new environment despite all that the Corona Virus had impacted.
As I walked down the village street, I first passed a Catholic Church, followed by an elementary school. I began to think of my kids and how set apart we can feel at times being "gringo" here. I wondered what it might be like for River to attend Kindergarten in such a school. As I continued to walk I saw a fruit stand, bakery and soccer field. The playground, while roped off due to the virus, had the sense that it had experienced a great number of children at play. I could just envision what this place had seen. The nearby town of Jaco is known for its sex tourism and I know many mothers and children are affected by the pull into the trade. My years serving as a Peace Corps volunteer in Vanuatu were telling me that this was an ideal setting for community development. My heart began to pound. I felt a calling to love on this town of Herradura.
Prior to arriving in Costa Rica, my hometown friend from Tappahannock Virginia, Susan Eastwood, had shared with me that if we ever felt led to enter into ministry, using her organization called Neighbors Outreach Worldwide as a hosting agency, would be more than welcome. For the next week, all of holy week, I walked that same path, past the church, school, fruit stand, bakery, soccer field and play ground. I prayed. I sat. I reflected. I asked God to open doors for the ministry He had in mind for my family. We learned that our son, in fact, would be eligible to attend the public school for kindergarten. We received confirmation from the pastor at our church in Jaco and his wife that our vision was much needed and they would support us. Horizon church has been here for 11 years so this was a big confirmation. Susan asked the board of N.O.W. if they were open to launching a satellite site here in Herradura, now to be called NOW Costa Rica and it passed with flying colors.
I invited advisory council members to pray and meet online and applied for a ministry based Spanish language school. My son and I were accepted and plans are now in place for us to learn in an immersion setting outside the capital city staying with a host family for the first 6 weeks of 2021. God is opening doors in a time when it can feel like the world is closing in around us. We have been ministering to countless neighbors and community members even in the midst of the pandemic. We are seeing our faith grow stronger and we're beyond ecstatic for what is to come. As it says in Esther, we truly feel as though we were created "for such a time as this". We pray His will be done. We pray you will join us in ways you are able. Bless you in this season.