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by Colleen Turlik Colleen was a member of the 3-Month Costa Rica IMMERSION team in the fall of 2017. This post was written toward the end of their time in the small indigenous mountain village of Shiroles.

It’s days like today that make the idea of leaving in a week so completely heartbreaking.

Previously, I've shared about some of the not so pretty parts of this trip. I needed to be honest with myself; to come to the realization that striving for more does not necessarily mean striving for perfection. That the life of a missionary is tough but the Lord is tougher. Nevertheless, I want you all to know something else: I really do not want this adventure to end.

When I was preparing to come on this journey so many months ago, I did my best to not have any expectations. I had no idea what life in San Jose and Shiroles would entail, and I tried to be as open-minded as possible. Of course, no matter how hard I tried, I still had a few pesky thoughts in my head about what I hoped might happen on this trip. But now, with just a week left to go, let me tell you, not one of my expectations were met, and I couldn’t be happier.

3-Month Mission Trip

I have laughed, cried, been stretched in my faith, have swum in waterfalls and rivers. I’ve hiked up volcanos and taken walks in the jungle. I’ve played fútbol in the pouring down rain and have ridden on the back of motorcycles and trucks. I’ve lived as an older sister to two little girls and as a roommate to a girl from Canada. I’ve been a judge in the annual Costa Rican Spelling Bee. I’ve painted a bakery, worked in plantain fields, and helped build a house for a lady named Elsa.

I’ve become addicted to café (3 cups a day should do the trick, though I hear 6 is recommended). I have made relationships and have formed friendships with people from all over the world. I’ve been told life stories, secrets, hopes, and dreams and have been a part of a team of people, who once were strangers yet have become family. I have lived life in another country.

3-Month Mission Trip

And yet, even after telling you all of this, all of these incredible, out of this world experiences—I can not even begin to tell you what has happened inside my heart over the past three months. The thought of going home again and trying to explain what I have felt, how I have grown, and how my heart has been changed is honestly, quite terrifying.

How can I possibly explain to my family and friends back home, why I have fallen in love with Costa Rica? How can I explain why it hurts so much to say goodbye to my friends here and why it feels as if a big piece of my heart will remain on the streets of Shiroles forever?

I will never be able to do justice to my time spent here. The memories I've made in this beautiful country are unexplainable, and only the people who I have experienced this adventure with can truly understand. It is so bittersweet, this feeling that has taken refuge in my heart. The excitement of returning to one home yet the sadness of saying goodbye to another.

Costa Rica, you have changed me for the better.

Thanks for letting me crash with you for the last three months and for helping me chase my adventure. You’ve played a bigger role in my life than I thought possible. Until next time! (And trust me, there will be a next time...)

3-Month Mission Trip

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