Sometimes love looks like an abandoned child nestled in your arms, or a mission team hearing the Lord’s voice in a new timbre. Sometimes love looks like a list of conjugated verbs and definite articles to help bridge the gap between hearts. Our family is on the ascent to those vistas, but our first 10 days here in Costa Rica were colored by some of love’s other hues: lots of elbow grease applied to clean spaces and organize our things, a heavy duty extension cord delivered in the rain after some of the house’s wiring self-destructed, meals from scratch, and laughter with new friends. Click on a photo in the gallery below to take a tour of our Tico beginning.
Our journey to Costa Rica on Monday started out innocently enough. The small miracle of a favorite song played twice on the car radio in 20 minutes, chorusing the benediction “Let the future begin.” A laughter-through-tears farewell at the airport. Two low-key flights sandwiching a leisurely layover and McDonalds fries. We were given a shortcut through the immigration line (may have been the squirrelly kids or the soccer jerseys we wore), hugged the ministry founders, Tim and Dena, rejoiced that they had ferried all of our stuff in good condition from Hogar de Vida, met our wonderful Big Sisters from language school, and loaded our baggage into the van rented to drive us to our house.
I was admiring the city lights as we drove down the highway, eagerly tuning into the conversation about something Costa Rican when Matt said it, veiled urgency in his voice:
We don’t have our backpacks.
A quick call to Tim and Dena confirmed it. They didn’t have them in their vehicle either. The bags stuffed with all of the things too important to let out of our sight were in fact still sitting on a bench outside of the San Jose airport in the traffic of new arrivals and taxi drivers. In the relief of long anticipated greetings and hugs, the unsuccessful scramble to find working seat belts in the van for the children, and the busy loading of 50 lb. bags, we had let our guard down and simply forgotten to take a count. Total rookie mistake. We had driven around 20 minutes away, and the return trip seemed to last an eternity. Praying with everything that an overtaxed me could muster, I called down God’s goodness over us, His plan for our time in Costa Rica, His angels over our bags hiding them from the sight of anyone on the prowl for theft. I knew the odds were impossible. This was San Jose, where a bag left on the seat of a locked car is an embossed invitation, and even backpacks being worn aren’t impervious.
My mind took inventory of the stakes: our passports, our laptops, the immigration paperwork, our phones, about $2,000 of cash for rent payments, and my wallet topped the list. I pushed back the nausea and kept praying. The city lights were an agony passing by in reverse. Finally we entered the drop zone and saw what we had hoped and prayed for–the most beautiful lineup of colorful backpacks sitting on the bench. We burst out of the van and collected them like prodigal children, praising God every step. Searching through the various compartments, we found everything exactly where it was supposed to be. Relief washed over us, with a cream rinse of exhaustion.
What do you do in the wake of a miracle like that, where God has shown Himself so big, where disaster was averted only by His grace? Is there a thank you note magnificent enough? All we have to give Him is ourselves. So we open our hearts on a deeper level and lean more fully into this plan He has for our family to walk out His love in Costa Rica.
Bring on the cockroaches.
Then your light will break forth like the dawn, and your healing will quickly appear; then your righteousness will go before you, and the glory of the LORD will be your rear guard. Isaiah 58:8