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Just a Girl Living in the Wilderness


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Amy Saya Amy is part of the 3-Month Costa Rica IMMERSION program who are wrapping up their 3-month journey this week. This is a story she wrote while living with a host family in rural Shiroles, Costa Rica.

A month ago today I arrived here in Shiroles, Costa Rica. It's a sweet day today, a day for feeling reminiscent.

Time has flown by in leaps and bounds. Never in a million years did I believe that my first long-term missions trip would fold out this way. Yes, there were heaps and hurdles to jump through, but those are the sweetest memories because God was holding both my hands like a Father playing with His little girl.

The Lord placed this precious image in my mind after I realized one night that every time I played with my youngest host sister, Miley, our playtime consisted of me holding both her hands and on the count of three she would jump as high as her little legs would let her. At the same time, I would pull her up as far as my arms would let me. And she would giggle and smile in glee as she was soaring higher and higher in the air, reaching for the heavens.

God has reminded me to giggle in the moments when I'm jumping through heavy parts of this trip because He's holding my hands and allowing me the freedom to have fun, like a little girl. After all, we are all instructed to have childlike faith, so why not laugh and smile in glee like a young child, like young boys and girls of one big family with a good, good Father. With that said, I would love to highlight some sweet moments of my experience here. I have boatloads to tell you! Most importantly though, as you read this please inhale the words and exhale a praise to God that I am safe and content with the families here in this small town of Shiroles.

3 Month Mission Trips

First off, upon arrival, I fell right in love with my host family. A sweet family of four, with two daughters who have become my hermanas. My host mother works from home running her own small business of sewing clothes. She makes the most detailed dresses, cutest blouses, and adorable bags. My host father is a skilled carpenter who is hired by friends and locals in the area. For both of them, their jobs aren't steady but they make a good income, thanks to God. My parents are precious at thanking God constantly for their provisions.

My oldest host sister is just finishing grade 6. Next year she enters high school. (Learning about the school system here has been fascinating as high school starts in grade 7 through to grade 12.) This girl has a heart of pure joy. She is so independent and so motherly at her young age. It reveals the different culture. My youngest host sister, 5 years old, is a burst of happiness. She loves to play with me like I described before and she loves to be embraced by hugs. Sometimes it can be a little tiring, but then I remind myself that I'm not here for my own benefit. So I lay down my complaints of too many hugs and just embrace them, for when will I ever get a hug from her again after I leave for Canada? Only God knows if I'll be back and when.

Unfortunately, just as I was getting into the swing of things with my family I fell ill. I threw up 6 times within my first 14 days in Shiroles. And, yes, it was exhausting, but I also found a lot of stillness and quietness in that time. During a team debrief one afternoon I remember telling my team that I was thankful I'd fallen sick because it made me actually stop dead in my tracks.

I know myself, and I would have entered this mission trip full force, like a train with no breaks. I'm a "goer," a "doer," and a person that would not let anything stop me unless it's an illness. And God so wonderfully knows that, so He allowed me to find peace throughout my illness. And boy did I find peace. I sat in my bed with my journal and Bible, I walked slower and talked slower. I did everything with more time and simply a lot more slowly. Through that steady pace, I was able to build stronger relationships, to listen more than speak because I was honestly too scared that if I talked more and more I would lose energy. So I sat and listened when my family would speak to me about their lives, when I met new locals, and when I was out at the corner store speaking with people from the community. Now, as I look back, I'm quite thankful that the good Lord allowed me to be weak and find so much fruition in that time.

3 Month Mission Trips

Some of the people I have met are working so hard in this little village for God's light to pour through into the hearts of everyone. I've met youth and young adults so close to my age who have extraordinary lives of faith. I believe they have so much strength to live here and every day wake up with the decision to be vessels for God's kingdom. I hope these young adults can always be encouraged and I plead for your prayers for them to continue doing the Lord's work here in Shiroles. That their youthful strength can be renewed.

A typical day here in Shiroles involves me waking up to the sounds of roosters and chickens. Very early. Around 5:30am, nature uses its alarm clock of roosters to get me up and going. I was dreaming that I would wake up to the sound of tropical birds, but you don't get everything you hope for. Going downstairs, I sweep the house, then help my mom make breakfast and wash the dishes that are in the sink from cooking breakfast. The typical and quite-famous dish here in Shiroles is Gallo Pinto: a mix of rice, beans, onions, and cilantro. Some families add more spices and herbs, but I enjoy the simplicity of my family. I appreciate that they let me cook eggs in the mornings because back at home in Canada I always have eggs with my breakfasts!

Now, after breakfast each day is different, so I can't give you a structured outline of a regular afternoon and evening here. At first, I found that disappointing, but I soon realized that was my North American standard of thinking, always wanting a routine. But there's so much joy you can find in the most random moments. And for me, the only way I can experience random moments is when I don't expect them coming.

You see, I have always lived in a comfortable pattern of knowing and being sure of what I know. At home, I know that I'm a university student, I know when my classes begin and end, I know how much time I have between classes to either run to the caf for food, or back to my dorm to hang out or to run to the library to do homework. But here, I'm not living in a set routine, nor do I have a title.

I'm just a girl living in the wilderness of Costa Rica.

And as that sentence slowly began to sweep it's way into my mind, at first it was a little scary, but then I saw the remarkable goodness in the substance of that sentence. What a simple yet profound statement. It has taught me to simply be present, to love the best I can because I have no distractions, and to be patient because I am living in such a slow-paced community.

So, I do not have a routine here that I can explain but I can praise the Lord because through this unstructured time I can see the Lord working in leaps and bounds, primarily through the relationships I have built. Now with just 2 weeks left in this precious village, I am working on sustaining those relationships and encouraging my family and friends as much as I can. Please pray that I may have the help of the Holy Spirit to speak words of wisdom and love to all the locals. I will be a "resounding gong" unless I have love, so I pray, "Let me have love traced through my words, Jesus."

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