A Letter to the Weary

Sweet Friend,

I know you feel like you can’t do it anymore. I know you feel stressed, down, and depressed. The joy of life may be hard to see right now. I know, it sucks. 

Friend, while you are going through this, I want to remind you of something. 

God is not finished with you yet. 

He knew this season of your life would come to be. He knew that this would make You want to draw closer to Him, and He will use this time to grow you to become more of the Creation He planned for you to be. Each and every day, we are being molded into His likeness and when our Creator starts on a project of restoration, He always will see that it is completed. 

It’s like watching a movie and knowing the ending in advance. When you get to the point of the movie that everything is seeming to fall apart, you’re not as sad. Why? You know things will work out in the end. My friend, things will get better. The Lord promises that. When, exactly? I’m not sure. But I know that the Lord always fulfills His promises. 

Let me say that again. He fulfills. He literally fills to the full. He takes joy in that. He absolutely loves you, adores you, and wants to spend time with you.  

When you don’t know who to turn to, He is there. And it may not seem satisfying, but He gives us living water that never runs out, that will never make us thirsty again. I promise you that He truly fulfills the deepest desires of our souls. 

The moment you feel weary and a like failure, realize that in the deepest weaknesses and flaws, the Lord is made known. You can make an impact for the Lord’s Kingdom through your weaknesses. You may not feel like the Lord can forgive you for what you have done. My friend, know that God can forgive that and more. His power and readiness to forgive is so great. 
Have you learned that when you start relying on your “natural” strengths for everything instead of Him, He tends to take those away? It’s not because He’s a bad Father; it’s because He wants you to realize that human strengths or advantages are nothing compared to the Lord’s strength. 

Weakness. Weariness. What beautiful words. 

Why? They show us just how much we need Him. They remind us that we are nothing, and He is everything. That is so freeing! When we realize that we don’t have to strive anymore on our own strength, our focus on the weakness and weariness slowly fades. 

Don’t be chained by weariness, but rather take joy in God’s unconditional love. Don’t take pity on yourself; use your situation as a way to serve others. Remind yourself every day to be filled by the Lord and help others do the same. 

You weariness is real, but there is a way to overcome it. Let’s do this together. 

~ BECCA

A Day in Shiroles

1:00 am – Receive my “good morning” call from the roosters that never dare to venture behind our house. 

3:00 am – awoken by my host Mom listening to Christian music and praying with amazing faith, I remind myself of just how much I have yet to grow . . . 

8 am is really when the day all starts, though. I unzip my bug net and get ready for the day in the once-closet-turned-room that I have. Life in Shiroles can seem pretty lazy on the outside, but it’s always filled with random adventures and work. 
In the States I despise breakfast, but here, breakfast time has become one of my favorites. Usually it involves plantains, fantastic banana pancakes, or beautiful bread arepas matched with the best coffee in the world! Either getting caught up in conversation with my brother on the trip, or a surprise conversation with my host parents brings me to midday. I look forward to those conversations. By then, we have done our daily chores and exercised a bit. Ahhhh. That cold-only shower is something I look forward every day. 10am – 2pm is the prime humid time of the day; I make sure to save my shower time around then. 

I might first shoo away some chickens or stray dogs that like to enter the house, but finally, I start my devotions. I usually try to snag my favorite blue and white rocking chair that my family keeps out in the front porch. 

By the time I read, journal, and pray while watching the men and women walk past our house, I hear a “Rebecca!” come from the kitchen, letting me know that lunch is ready. My host Mom has probably prepared a plate of food for some man wandering around the street, too. 

Costa Rican’s have three main foods: rice, beans, and chicken. While one may think that it would get boring after a while, my host Mom does a fantastic job at mixing them all together with different spices, in different ways every day. I have never gotten sick of a food that she has prepared for us, and one thing I have not missed whatsoever is food from the States. I crave Costa Rican food. 

After lunch, the house turns quiet. This is not common in every house in Shiroles, but it is a breath of fresh air for me, someone who needs some privacy. I may do my laundry, go to the store, read, try (and fail) at playing the ukelele, talk with my host brothers, or take a walk with a member of the IMMERSION group. The later the day becomes, the more random, extended family members come in and outside of our house. 

5:30 – 6 pm: The sun goes down. 

This has been such a hard part in my transition. I am so used to going to bed when the sun goes down. Here, it goes down hours before we have dinner! 

By this time, my family may be watching TV. I’ll watch a soccer game, National Geographic, or a new movie that just came out (who knew that they carried good movies here!?), and then I try to help with dinner. 

Let’s just say that cooking is not my favorite thing in the world. I don’t know how to cook a lot of things, but I want to learn. I have officially become the chopper of vegetables in my family, and although I may get tired of it, I try (as much as I can!) to keep a good attitude and be faithful with this task the Lord has given me. 

We eat dinner around 8:30 or 9pm. To me, that is super late. By that time, my stomach is growling hardcore. I may get two plates of food by the time dinner is over. But, I say that a happy, growing stomach is a good stomach while I’m here in Costa Rica. I can worry about weight loss later ­čśé With every meal comes a drink. Coca Cola is such a huge priority here, and I really fear they have an addiction. I get at least one, sometimes two glasses of Coke a day. I used to not like it, but now I am warming up to it . . . 

And from there, we talk. I tend to go to bed early; I don’t know how my family makes it until 10:30 or so. But people joke around with each other and talk about the neighborhood gossip. It’s a good time of family (immediate and extended) members of the community that my family has “adopted,” and us, the white gringos that are striving to understand at least half of what everyone is saying. 

This is a day in the life of Shiroles. If short-term mission groups are here, my lazy day turns into helping my mom cook for the team. If the school needs us, we teach lessons. If my host dad asks us to work, we work in his plantain field. A day in the life of Shiroles is impossible to fully explain, because it changes every day. You never know what’s going to happen until a couple minutes before or right when something is going on. The beauty of spontaneity is this: we rely on the Lord for our daily actions and we stress less. If we rest, we rest for Him. If we work, we work for Him. When we commune with others, we commune for Him. 

Shiroles has taught me a lot about what it means to truly live. 

Present 

Today, my team and I are resting at a house near the Mennonite church we attend, away from our host families and away from our new “normal.”

It’s a perfect time to bond more with my group. And yet, while I have the perfect opportunity to pour into others, I want to retreat away from everyone and take a nap.  If this was a one-time thing this wouldn’t be a problem, but I notice my tendency to retreat a lot here. 

Oh my, how hard it is to be present. 

To be honest, I never thought I had this problem. I thought that I was semi-decent at change and could adapt pretty easily. I realize now that it is not the case. 

My desire to serve my teammates has gone down and my homesickness has increased since I’ve been here. My initiative regarding connecting with my family has been lacking. I’m having a hard time. I want to make these last couple of weeks count, but all I want to do right now is rest. 

I don’t always feel like that, though. This past weekend, our group and our host families went together on a trip to the beach for the day. It was such a great time, and I felt so in awe of the scenery, the sunset, and God’s creation. I was craving more and was sad that we had to leave. 


When I retreated at the beach, it was to spend time with the Lord and praise Him. When I rejoined again with the families, I felt present and alive.  Why can’t I do the same in day-to-day life here in Shiroles? 

Because I haven’t been intentional with finding God in everything I see and do here. 

It’s easy when I see nature to praise God and be filled, but when I’m surrounded by people that I’m not fully comfortable with yet, I have a hard time. Yet, God’s most beautiful creation is the human being. And although we are all broken, we are all still God’s masterpieces, being worked on day-by-day. 

Will I finally be able to focus on the work that’s being done in the lives of those around me and not their flaws? Will I finally be able to regard that progress, and not the lack of what I think as progress, as beautiful?

Once I see my host dad’s jokes, my host mom’s service, and my teammates’ progress as a beautiful way that God is displaying His glory and His character, I will then be in awe of Him and be present. 

I desire to be where God is. If only I could remind myself to see how God is working through others in Shiroles, then I would want to be here. If I desire to see more of that change where I am at, the Lord will grant me the gift of being present. 

God, show me how to praise You through the work You are doing in others, and in me. Let me desire to see progressing holiness in the people I am with.  Help me not retreat, but rather be present here and be thankful for all that You are doing. 

Rest in the Work

Relaxed doesn’t mean lazy. 

“It seems like they have no care in the world. I wish I could be like them, with no stress whatsoever.” – Average person going on a mission trip 

Wrong.

They do have things they care about, and they can be stressed. We are all similar, but may handle the same situation differently. 

It doesn’t matter what time an event is going to happen, because they know it will eventually get done. People here are hard workers. 

That doesn’t mean that one can’t take a break once in a while to talk and catch up with someone. But it doesn’t mean that they are being lazy. 

Being here in Costa Rica, I’m learning the balance between rest and work. I’m learning that I need more rest in my day-to-day life, but that doesn’t negate the necessity to work hard. 

Here, you work for your food. You legitimately put in physical work on the plantain fields in order to have fried plantains that night. 

Here, you work for your house. It’s more common to build houses here than in the States; my host brother, the same age as me, right now is making a plan for a future house he wants to build. 

Yesterday morning, our team helped a bit with a house that the church community is building for their pastor. Seeing how detailed and hard-working my host dad was reminds me not to become lazy while I’m here. Seeing the community come together and build a house together makes me desire to see our church communities in the States come together more to help around the community. Think of how much we would grow, serve, and connect if we just worked together more, instead of holding an offering and only donating money to pay someone else to do what we could do, ourselves. 

When us Americans come to other countries the mindset of “just pay the next person to do it,” or “use this tool to make it easier,” we are missing something extremely important; the satisfaction of work and community. 

Work was meant to be a good thing in the sight of the Lord. It may be hard, but it is definitely rewarding. 

And after putting in a good days work, why not rest and relax? Why not just care about the things that are necessary? Why stress about what’s going to happen tomorrow? Tomorrow will happen the way the Lord wills it, anyways.

That also doesn’t mean that people go about life with no plans whatsoever. I need to let my host mom know if I know I’m leaving in the morning so she can make sure breakfast is ready in time. That’s called respect. But if I don’t know what the day might hold for me, I shouldn’t stress out about it. I know that things will happen the way the Lord wills it. 

While I live here, I learn a lot. I hope they’re learning from as much as a fraction of what I’m learning from them. 

Sleepless nights 

Have you ever had this happen to you? The moment you’re sick with a cold and need sleep the most is the moment that you cannot fall asleep?
I’m having one of those nights. Instead of getting the rest I need, I’m just sitting in bed until the wave of exhaustion wins over my stubborn spirit preventing me from getting better. 
So here I sit. And sit. And sit. 
Honestly, a lot of our time in Costa Rica has been spent sitting. Whether that be at the dinner table, with our teammates, or the family, we have a lot of time to do . . . nothing. Or maybe we have tons of time to do the things we’ve wanted to do for a while. Or maybe things we need to do. 
I now have no excuse to say that I cannot have long times with the Lord because I’m so busy. I can’t say that I can’t help my host mom around the house, because I have so much to do. I am not here to “change the world.” God already did that. I’m here to be faithful with what the Lord has given me, whether big or small, and glorify Him in all I do. If He gives me a lot of time to talk and clean, I better talk and clean as if I’m doing it with Him and for Him. 
If I am waiting in a line for the bank, I have to wait in line as if I’m waiting with Him. If the bus from the nearest bank runs out of gas an hour into the trip (solely hypothetical, of course) I have to see what God is trying to teach me. 
Patience: That has definitely been the word of the week. 
When I try to teach an English lesson to a group of ten year olds that don’t understand how to control themselves in a classroom, I cannot lose my temper. When I am working with others that do not have the same cultural mindset that I do, I need to respond with love and try to understand, not judge. 
I need to have patience when all I want to do is go to bed, but the Lord just won’t let me fall asleep. 
As I write this blog post, one of my favorite songs came on: our hearts are restless until they find rest in You.
Maybe the Lord is using my cold that I have to make me restless and reflect on how much I need Him. Without Him, I wouldn’t have had this opportunity to serve here in Costa Rica. Without Him, I wouldn’t be the person I am today. Without Him, I wouldn’t have wisdom to handle the situations that stumble along my way here.
Maybe I did need to be restless for a bit. Thank you, Lord, for guiding me through the unknown. 
Thank You for things that we might not understand at the moment.

New Beginnings 

Today is day 37 our 82 day journey. We have officially moved from the big city of San Jose, to the small, rural area of Shiroles, just next to the Panama border on the north eastern side of Costa Rica. 
As the group paired up and set out to live the local way with their host families, my partner and I were blessed enough to travel with our host parents to Coroma, the most off-the-grid place I have been. We had to take a boat ride, go on a bus, and hike for 45 minutes to get there. The journey was amazingly beautiful.
During this time, we were able to help out a short-term group with their work projects. We bathed in the river every night, played (or watched) soccer with the locals, and just talked.
It’s crazy to see the difference between a short term group and a longer-term mission group. Although I really enjoyed my time in Coroma, I wouldn’t say that I got to know Coroma. I was only there for five days, doing some work and talking with people in the process. And although those short-term trips can be helpful, I am so thankful to be living in Shiroles for two months to really get to know my family. 
This week, the Lord has been teaching me the gift of silence. There have been a lot of times that I’ve wanted to show someone the “more efficient” way to do things, or to do something for them. I’m learning that I can’t always fix people’s problems and that letting someone struggle through situations, whether that be the language barrier or something else, can be more valuable than giving them the “right answer.”

If you could be praying for our IMMERSION group, please pray that we all can grow closer to our host families and build relationships with the locals. Thank the Lord that whatever community we are in, we can build community. 

Comfortable in the Uncomfortable

I have been living in Costa Rica for more than two weeks, and I haven’t been sharing much about my experience. So, naturally, this is the blog post where I tell you all about my amazing experience in Costa Rica, the amazing host family that I have, and the wonderful adventures that I’m going on, right?

Nope.

Continue reading “Comfortable in the Uncomfortable”

Stepping into the Unknown

I got the nerves . . . Scratch that, I have legitimate jitters about my upcoming experience in Costa Rica. The idea of living away from home in a completely different culture for an extended period of time isn’t a new concept. When your parents are numb to the idea of their daughter traveling overseas “by herself” so much that they don’t even check with the organization anymore as to the safety and credibility of it, you know that you have the travel bug.

If I’m not nervous about experiencing a new culture, then what am I nervous for?

I think, at the end of the day, I’m nervous to fail.

Continue reading “Stepping into the Unknown”

Exciting News… you gotta read this!

Did that title grab your attention? Well, that is exactly how I feel right now . . . I literally can’t hold it in . . .

God is so good. You know when you know how good and great He is, with His perfect timing, yet once you actually experience it, it shocks you? That’s pretty much me right now.

Okay, I can’t hold it in any longer . . . Continue reading “Exciting News… you gotta read this!”