For those who may not be aware, we have retreated quite well and have also arrived safely in La Fortuna where will be staying two nights. I have a confession to make before you all…We did have access to the internet at the church camp in Sarchi where we had our retreat with the church members from Purral and Buenos Aires, but I decided that it would be nice to spend that extra hour or two in fellowship with my brothers and sisters on our last night together. I don’t regret it and you all will be well informed of our last few days!
Let’s see, I believe we left off on Thursday night which was our last night of the gospel meeting. We awoke later on Friday morning since the buses didn’t leave until 9:30. Terry arranged for the hotel to keep a room reserved where we could store the majority of our luggage—This way our buses weren’t loaded down unnecessarily and we could travel lighter and faster. The ride to the church camp in Sarchi was only about an hour and a half, which is long enough for you to want to take a nap, but short enough to make that impossible. Soon after our arrival, we ate lunch and had an epic futbol match between the ticos and the gringos. Since the gringos out numbered the ticos for a majority of the match, our 7-3 win was to most unfair, but as it was said: Americans will do whatever it takes to win (I personally disagree with this thought and wish our rematch had not been rained out). It was a dangerous game between being hit in the face with the ball by your soccer coach and having limes thrown at you from Laura Myers. Overall, it was fun to play around for a little while. After the game, Terry went over our schedule for the afternoon. The group was split into men’s and women’s classes again on Friday and Saturday. The men’s classes were led by Todd Mikula who spoke about elders, why they are necessary and what their role is within the church. The women’s classes were led by Margaret Reeves, who spoke about whatever she had been thinking of the past few days because her husband did not inform her of this class until an hour before it was supposed to begin. After the men’s and women’s classes, we all came together for a class where Jeremy and Jon Hackett co-taught on the topic of youth ministry. Pizza was on the menu for our supper on Friday night, which I was excited for because that meant the lovely ladies that have been cooking all week finally got a break! It also taught me that I do like pineapple on pizza—that I am still shocked about. Our evening devotional was led by Thad (Tad, Dad, etc) Butts and he had us all consider perspectives. We were all on the same trip, yet most of us gave different answers when asked what our favorite part of the trip was. Our perspective of this trip has all be different because we are all different. Sometimes we need a change in perspective to get on the right path. Thad used two churches mentioned in Revelation chapter 2 to illustrate this. The church in Sardis seemed live to the worked, but really they were dead. The church in Laodicea thought they were rich, but they were lukewarm. Both of these churches had perspectives that were wrong. We may be able to fool others. We may even be able to fool ourselves. But we will never be able to fool God. It is vital for us to be able to examine our lives using God’s perspective because it is the only one that matters.
Jeremy Myers led our morning devotional on Saturday. His key statement throughout his lesson was: “We only retreat so that we can advance.” He referenced the book of Acts to show how those in the church were asking God for help to speak boldly and with all confidence. During our ladies class today, Margaret had us talk about what we would say to everyone on this trip if we knew we weren’t going to see them again. One of the things mentioned that stuck with me the most was the command for us all to strive our hardest to go to Heaven. I believe it was Margaret who told us that she wants most for us all to do our absolute best, above all else, to get to Heaven so that we will be reunited there with our Lord. There were a lot of tears shed today in class, but that comes with the territory when you start considering the possibility that you may never see someone you love again. After all our classes were over and we ate lunch, it was time to clean up the camp and say our not so good-byes and see you laters. A group picture brought us all together, and then it was time to give the warmest hugs we could and load the bus. This is the time when I personally desire to go to Heaven the most, because this is when I need to be comforted in knowing that even if I never get to return to Costa Rica in my lifetime, there is a Home in Heaven waiting for us all if we choose to make it our goal and strive for it without ceasing.
We headed out for La Fortuna which was between 3-4 hours on the bus in the rain. Unfortunately, we haven’t been able to see the volcano, or really anything for that matter, but we all have high hopes that the rain will move out tonight so that tomorrow we can behold more of God’s beautiful creations. Let me just tell you, our dinner tonight made most of us sick because it was so good we went back for seconds. Steak and chicken and the best alfredo sauce I’ve ever tasted on bow-tie pasta and chocolate tres leches cake. (“Tres leches” is “three milks” in English, basically just think about a chocolate cake that is soaked in some milk after it comes out of the oven.) I think there were some vegetables, too, but I didn’t have much room for those. Our devotional time tonight was primarily singing, which was phenomenal led by Tim Hines in a room that was made for acapella singing no doubt. There were even a few visitors with us tonight for devo: Luke and Sam Butler from the Bell Shoals congregation in Florida. They came up for the day since they knew we would be in the area and there are quite a few members of Bell Shoals with us on this trip.
Lots of people have some big plans for our day at the hot springs tomorrow! Right now, there is a group of 19 that is signed up to go zip-lining in the morning—We even talked Cristian and his family into joining us. We are all excited to have a day of fun and relaxation. I hope that Cristian and his family enjoy their time here as it is one of the last activities they will have together in Costa Rica before they move. I’ve already written a novel tonight, so I am waiting for our last night to explain the changes which will be taking place very soon.
I thank you all for your prayers of safety and spiritual growth! Please continue to pray as I hope you all are able to worship on the Lord’s Day and remember His sacrifice because of His faithful love for us.