This week has been a whirlwind of activity. God has not just opened doors for us, he has created a revolving door! By the time we finished one meeting another one opened up. We have barely been able to keep up with the pace since we arrived in San Jose. And even though we have accomplished a lot we have found that there is still a lot to do before we arrive May 26th. 2 months may seem like a long time but we will have to really get after it to get everything done that is required before we bring our team into Costa Rica.
We arrived in San Jose Monday night to find that we had a meeting with the Vice President, Alfio Mesen, at 3:00 on Tuesday. Before we met with the Vice President we had 2 meetings to secure information needed before the meeting at the Presidental House. Our first meeting was with Roberto Chacon, Director of Human Development for the City Council of Guatelupe. He specializes in community development and gave us information about Christian foundations and donated goods. In order to bypass a lot of the "red tape" Torch / IRC needs to apply to be a NGO (non-governmental organization) foundation. Once this process is completed bringing in medicines and other donations into the country.
After meeting with Roberto we met with Mariano Ocampo , a local lawyer who has worked for many years helping groups establish foundations. We met over lunch at a local seafood restaurant across the street from the Munincipal Building. During the meeting we covered all of the forms, applications, and requirements needed for a group like ours to establish a foundation. Let's just say it is a lot of requirements and we will not have time to complete everything before our mission trip this summer. So, this summer we will have to do things the hard way. Other than picking up the lunch tab Mariano did not charge us for his time (and all he had was a glass of papaya juice!).
The meeting ended at 2:00 and it gave us 45 minutes to find the Presidental House.We arrived at the Presidental House at 2:30 and passed through 2 layers of security before we gained access to the main building. We were led to Senor Mesen's office at 2:45. The Vice President's executive assistant greeted us and took us from the waiting room into the office. Our meeting lasted nearly 2 hours! Nearly an hour was dedicated for us to introduce ourselves and stating the purpose of our visit. Tim explained in great detail what we have done in Honduras and what we would like to be able to do in Costa Rica in the near future. After our presentation we had about 45 minutes of questions and answers and a stategy was outlined. We left the meeting feeling very confident about the results from the meeting and look forward to working more with Vice President Mensen in the next few weeks!
Wednesday we met with the office of the Department of Health. We met with Ronny Munoz Salazar, the lead lawyer for the department. The meeting focused on how to bring our doctors, nurses, and medicines into the country this summer. This meeting lasted nearly an hour as he laid out all of the things needed as far as documents, lists, permissions, and legal documents that will have to be completed before we arrive. After this meeting we went to meet with Agnes Guiterrez Rojas, the director of the College of Nurses. We met with her after being referred by Seno Salazar. This 45 minute meeting focused on the requirements needed from our nurses and the process of being appointed an overseeing nurse from Costa Rica that will work with us during our clinics in Buenos Aires. Our oversseing doctor from Buenos Aires has already been apointed.
Thursday we traveled north to La Fortuna where we will be having our retreat. We met with Fortuna Welcome, the company that is handling our reservations. Our initial reservations by phone / email had problems so we met with the office staff personally to work out the details and pricing. This paid off since we were able to met with them face to face. Our contract is now in place and everything is set up for our retreat. Since we were there, we spent the rest of the afternoon at the Baldi Resort and enjoyed the thermal springs (sacrifices must be made). It rained most of the day and the volcano was covered by clouds most of the afternoon. Finally about 4:30-5:00 the clouds broke and we were able to get photos of the volcano. Locals told us that Arenal has been dormant for the past 11 months and is "asleep." Even without any fireworks from "monte del fuego" it was really beautiful (and very hot!).
Today we spent most of the day looking at different hotels that we could stay the night before the group flies home. We met up with Diego Rojas and his girlfriend Katherine, and looked around the area of Heredia, where Diego lives. We found a beautiful hotel that has villas (private houses) that we negotiated a very good price. I had to go to a local ATM to withdraw enough money to pay the deposit to secure our reservations. tonight we are going to go the one of the malls and eat at the food court. We have early flights in the morning so we will be calling it a night early.It has been a very productive trip. We got a lot done and we put hundreds of miles on our rental. We traveled the southern part of Costa Rica, drive along the Pacific Coast, drove throughout the cetral part of the country, and drove to the northern part as well. Only the Atlantic Coast was missed in 6 days.
We are tired and ready to get home and eat some home cooking and sleep in our own beds again. This week was very much needed to get ready for the Costa Rica trip. On top of that, Tim and I did a lot of planning for the Honduras trips as well. The first trip is 2 months away with the Honduras trips not far behind. It will be here in a blink and the pressure to get everything done ahead of time increases. A lot more to come, so stay tuned! Dios te bendiga!
The photo is of Minor Perez, Vice President Mesen, Mayor Don Carlos Mora (Buenos Aires), myself, and Tim Hines at the Presidental House