Chino and his daughter, Bianca.
In 2013, Jerry, Philip, and I traveled to Costa Rica on a family vacation. Little did we realize how this was going to completely change the direction of our lives.
We arrived on a misty afternoon during the rainy season in late June. We rented a house for three weeks so that we could experience the culture by shopping and cooking and interacting with the locals. Then we traveled to the coast for a week so Phil could have some fun at the beach.
While at the Playa del Coco, we met the manager of Papagayo’s when he came to visit and see how we were enjoying ourselves. We spoke some and found that he had moved from Wales, in the British Isles. He came over and talked some more out in front as we left the restaurant. He shared that he used to drink and smoke and since marrying his wife, who was a strong Christian, he had stopped all of that. He mentioned though that he really didn’t understand much about God and the church, since he was still learning Spanish.
I encouraged him to read his Bible and to pray and ask Holy Spirit to teach him. As I finished that statement, all of a sudden I felt the presence of God fall on all of us, right there on that sidewalk. People were walking all around, but we were experiencing something quite wonderful. I felt sensations going up and down my neck and I asked him if he was experiencing anything different as well. He agreed that he was and had never had this happen before.
We told him that God loved him and was with him all of the time. Sometimes though, when He wanted to, He would show up in ways like this to give us tangible evidence that He was in our presence. This and another encounter with Eddie, Shelly, and their new son, Marley made us aware that God was speaking to us about more than a nice vacation destination.
Each of us took the time to ponder these things during the rest of our trip. We each knew God was talking about coming to Costa Rica to minister as missionaries, but we did not bring it up in conversation or begin to discuss our impressions until after our return to the USA.
We returned in October of 2013 for a week to find out more about residency requirements, to get the process started and to open up a bank account. We providentially met Chino, our driver for the week, who has become like family to us since then. We spent our week eating and riding and getting acquainted. Chino kept telling us that we reminded him of this couple he knows. He was so excited to introduce us and said he was cooking fish for them Saturday night.
Chino kept telling us that we reminded him of this couple he knows. He was so excited to introduce us and said he was cooking fish for them Saturday night.
We could not believe that we were headed over to eat with Connie and Toby who we had never met before, but we connected heart to heart right away.
They invited us to come back the next day and Jerry bought ingredients to make his famous beef stew which is to die for. We met Diego and Betsy who are now dear friends as well to us.
We spent all afternoon talking non-stop. The fellowship was rich. Afterward, we kept in touch by phone since we had many questions about living in Costa Rica.
One evening, several months later, when Toby and Jerry were talking about us working under an organization, Toby told him that they had talked it over and offered to include us as missionaries under the umbrella of their organization, Victory World Missions International Ministry.
The next January in 2014, we returned again to meet with an attorney and get all of our official documents into the system for residency. Jerry also got some serious dental work done during our three-week trip. The second week, we met a couple from Canada and invited them to come with us to a local Bible Church we had discovered. They were quite touched and we had many good conversations.
Early in May 2014, Jerry drove our Ford Expedition down from Texas through Mexico and Central America to Costa Rica so we would have a vehicle down there. Then Jerry and I came back alone to finalize the truck registration and pay the marchamo (car insurance) for the year.
We stayed for three weeks so that I could write some chapters for my book. We prayed and sought God for his vision here in Costa Rica.
Jerry also worked on his Spanish and daily ran errands to get all of the paperwork completed. He had many opportunities to minister to a Nicaraguan who was an immigrant to Costa Rica during our stay.
One Sunday, we invited the pastor of the local church we attended over for dinner along with another couple from the USA. Pastor Oldemar brought his son to interpret and he shared some of his trials, he shared about his angelic visitation and miraculous healing, and he shared a dream with us. There was a genuine kinship felt that day. This began our relationship with Oldemar and his wife Maritza from Iglesia Biblica in Atenas.
I taught some English lessons and learned more about him through my language survey as well as our lessons. Jerry shared with him that he would like to teach evangelism classes at his church sometime and Pastor Oldemar agreed that he would enjoy having him do this the next summer.
And this was the beginning of blessed friendships and God encounters for us in Costa Rica.