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by Abby Michiels Abby was a member of the 3 Month Costa Rica IMMERSION that launched in August of 2018. She and her teammates spent time in language school before moving in with host families in Shiroles, Costa Rica.

Last week, after walking home from working in the rain all morning, my host mom Sarah gave us a certain look, which reminded me of my own mom, saying, You better take your shoes off before you track mud into my house. It was true we were muddy, but to be honest I didn’t even think twice about it. After rinsing off my shoes with the hose I left them under the table on our porch to dry. Soon after, I got sucked into watching Guardians of the Galaxy in Spanish with my host brothers for about the 3rd time that week.

When I woke up the next morning, dressed in my still slightly wet from the rain/sweat clothes, I remembered my shoes tucked under the table. As I made my way over, I only saw a single Chaco sitting there. No big deal, it’s around here somewhere. I began to look, and soon had the help of both my roommates and, before I knew it, half the household. All out looking for this dang lost shoe. I was told it was possible a dog stole it, and there was really no hope in getting it back. 

I had a small moment of grieving as I placed the lonely remaining Chaco in my room. I laugh when I think about this story. Of course, of all my IMMERSION teammates, this would happen to me. And, of course, of all my shoes, it would be my Chacos. I didn’t plan to forget about my Chacos and have one get stolen. In fact, there are many things on this trip and in life in general that I did not plan for. And there are things that, if you had asked me, I would not have chosen to plan for.

We usually don’t plan for hard things. We plan for the good. And then when the bad comes it always finds a way to catch us off guard.

We don’t plan for sorrow. We don’t plan for poverty. We don’t plan to lose jobs. We don’t plan for sickness. We don’t plan for churches or homes to crumble, and we don’t plan to feel like God didn't show up for us. In no way am I trying to compare the loss of my Chaco to the real pain that many people endure every day, but I did learn something from this lost shoe of mine. 

A few days ago one of my teammates had to leave Costa Rica early to return home due to a family crisis. As my teammate Mary Claude and I spent hours trying to find the right words to say, trying to find the encouragement to give, searching for a way to remind our friend of God’s faithfulness and goodness, we found it to be an almost impossible task.

How do you encourage when your not so sure there's encouragement to give? How do we find Christ’s goodness in the middle of chaos and pain?

I have been struggling with these questions the last few days, but really I think I have been struggling with them my whole life. The questions always seem to come when life isn’t going as I had planned; when things change and get hard.

The questions take various forms, but I have found that the answer has remained the same: God is good and God is faithful. He is good when we can see it and He is good when we are blind to it. He is faithful when prayers are answered and He is faithful when He answers them in a different way then we wanted. He is faithful to be our joy-giver and our comforter. His plans are good and complete.

After receiving a hard update from our teammate back home, I sat in my room trying to process all these ideas that had been running through my head. I was racking my brain for the right answers to give. Through the noise of my music and thoughts, I heard my name being called from the kitchen. I opened my bedroom door to see my host dad Victor standing there with a goofy grin and what else in his hand but my lost Chaco. And there it was; God’s goodness and faithfulness in the simplest form, yet so undeniable. After much laughter was shared at the unbelievable odds of finding this shoe, I returned to my room with a newly found answer to give my friend.

God always shows up—usually in ways we would have never expected.

God cares about our biggest anxieties and our simplest of inconveniences—He even cares about a lost shoe somewhere in the middle of Costa Rica—and He is always faithful to show up.

Check out 3-Month Costa Rica IMMERSION!

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