Submitted by Mason Norris, Youth Intern:

Wednesday and Thursday, June 15 & 16

IMG_2474A group from the other church at Pura Vida (First United Methodist of Lakeland) has been working on a construction project building a new home for a local family. Their team leader has kept us updated by telling their stories (quite animatedly, may I add) the whole week through.
They have shoveled and hauled through wind and rain, and it looks like the family will be able to have a new kitchen just in time for the mother’s birthday this week. Having helped to build a new deck for our home just recently I can very much relate. He also asked us pray for their translator Roberto, whose close friend was seriously injured Tuesday in a motorcycle accident. Fortunately yesterday we learned that he has been transferred back to San Ramón from the major hospital in San Juan.
IMG_2477As for our group, it has gone surprisingly well through the rough part of the week. Wednesday IMG_2471night after worship we sat down for a group “emotional time” to share our thoughts about the journey so far and how it has affected our faith.
It was a cathartic moment. I heard stories of personal tragedy, loss and regaining of faith, and the many, many ways we have walked closer to God in this week. For privacy I won’t share any of these stories, but as a whole they reminded me of the true depth of the human soul. We truly do not know the full story of another person’s life or faith, and many of the opinions of people set in my mind changed once I knew the deeper story.
Thursday was our final day with the afternoon soccer camp, as Friday afternoon we will be traveling to a hotel for our day of relaxation. We ended in a “Ticos vs. IMG_2457Gringos” game (during which our group was livid that I wasn’t heavily biased as referee) that ended 5-3 for Team Costa Rica.
We have been extremely fortunate in that this mission has gone without any major incidents so far (knock on wood). And as cliche as it may sound, these children have possibly impacted our lives just as much as we have theirs, as I heard Wednesday night.
 My only hope is that the lessons we have learned here continue to impact us as we head to the “vacation” portion of the trip, and further as we head home on Sunday. Pastor Albert, who runs the mission, spoke last night about the imprisonment of Paul and Silas (Acts 16). He told how the owner of his favorite comic book shop asked him to pray for him (and he did, in the middle of his busy store) and encouraged us to continue the mission by “looking upward, looking in, and looking out”.
Today, we pray that we can find the light of the Lord to guide us.
We pray that we can better know ourselves on our path of faith.
We pray we can see those in need and not hesitate in caring for them.
Today I request that the readers at home pray for our safety as we leave the mission, for Roberto’s friend in the hospital, and for the continued work of this mission after we are gone.