Costa Rica Final Update 7.28.23

Friday was our last day of ministry in Cachi. Since we had arrived, Pastor Alfonso had been talking about and praying about our ministry in the local Elementary school. It was the first time we had been invited into the elementary school, and more than that, he had been asked to speak to the 5th and 6th graders about their identity and worth. It would seem that the anxiety and depression from early smartphone use has hit Costa Rican kids, and the principal of the school had asked Pastor Alfonso to speak to them. It was a big opportunity. We spent the morning in various classrooms and were blown away by the response from the kids. They were so excited to have our students in their classes for the morning. One group got to play recorders in a music class to the great delight of the Costa Rican students. Another group spent the morning cutting and pasting alongside their first grade buddies as they worked on a project. Other groups taught songs and English phrases to their classrooms. All shared the Gospel through the course of the morning.

At recess time, we gathered in the gym and our dance, puppets, and drama teams performed. The response to the drama from Costa Rican students was so boisterous and so much fun. Taylor, with the help of an interpreter from the church, explained the drama and shared the Gospel. The team handed out the last of our Gospel tracts in Spanish to the kids. God made sure we had just enough! The school then surprised us by feeding us a delicious lunch of rice and lentils with salad. We were back at the church when Pastor Alfonso’s message to the 5th and 6th graders began. We were praying. When Pastor Alfonso returned, he reported that 15 students had prayed to surrender their lives to Christ. It was an awesome moment. Praise God we got to be a part of his work in the lives of those young students!

Saturday, along with our friends from the youth group, we took a long walk up the mountain to a favorite local swimming hole supplied by a beautiful waterfall. Of course it poured rain as soon as we got there, but since we were there to swim, what was a little extra water going to hurt? In the evening, we had our last meeting with the youth group. We shared a meal together and spent time sharing and praying. It was a sweet time together.

Sunday morning, we led the church service. We showed the church the dance and puppets performances that we use to draw crowds during street evangelism. Then, Trent interviewed a panel of students - Elliot, Malachi, Alyson, and Katie - about what God had done in their lives during the trip. Finally, I shared a short devotional from Philippians 1, praising God for the long partnership the church in Cachi has had with Royal Servants.

After many tearful goodbyes, we departed Cachi for our debriefing location in Jaco. We settled into our hotel in the pouring rain, which has been a theme this summer as most of our transitions have included torrential downpours. The coastal heat and humidity hit us right away … we were not in the mountains anymore. But after three weeks of sleeping on our camping mats at the church, we were thrilled to receive beds and air conditioning for the first time this summer. That first night of sleep was deeply restorative.

Debriefing is a vital part of our summer at Royal Servants. Our summer is an intensive discipleship and missions experience. The students have strengthened their relationship with God, grown deep relationships with their teammate, and had their hearts broken to see more and more Costa Ricans saved. Going home for many students is a radically disorienting experience. During debriefing, we prepare students for some of what they might feel and experience upon returning home and help them process their experience through reflection questions. Students work through Bible studies on fear, courage, temptation, and obedience. Along the way we have also enjoyed time at the beach, ziplining through the rainforest canopy, and a national park. It is hard to believe that in a few short days this season of life and ministry together will be over and we will each be back home. But it is right and good. A Royal Servants summer is a summer of service for a lifetime of ministry. This weekend, we send our team to really start the ministry - living out the Gospel and sharing the Gospel at home among their friends as a part of their local church. Pray that each one takes the lessons and truths they have learned this summer and carries them home - that the world would know that Jesus is LORD because of them.  

For the Costa Rica Team,

Matt