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Costa Rica Mission 2017

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Youth Costa Rica Mission Trip (March 12-18, 2017)




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LIFE, LESSONS, AND LAYOVERS - Update from Pastor Justin

We're back with stories and lessons and we're ready to report back to you friends and family. But first I want to say "thank you" for partnering with us in ministry. Knowing that you were supporting us gave us tremendous confidence in our purpose and sustained our faith. While I know you want to read a 1000 page update, i'm just going to give you a 3-point highlight for your reading sanity.


#1: LUIS & LA RANCH


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I'm not sure if you know how this trip was started but it simply a testimony of God's sovereignty. Sometimes words like "fate" or "serendipity" are used to describe things that just so happen when things work out to your favor unexpectedly. Sure you can use those words but sovereignty points back to a God who knows and orchestrates all things and that was exactly what happened.

One day I needed someone to come and fix my security cameras at home and this handsome-looking technician shows up at my door and was like "Hello, I'm here to fix your cameras...is your father home?" After explaining that I was the homeowner and trying to prove my age, he began to work and we naturally started to talk. I asked him what he did and he looked at me like I was stupid. Right. And then he asked me what I did and at first I wanted to say "life-coach for teenagers" (which is what I normally do when I'm not sure how receptive youth pastor will be) but I went ahead and said I worked for the church. With that response, he lit up and started to talk about how he was recently building his retirement home in Costa Rica, but after talking with his pastor, he decided to turn it into a place for mission teams and use it as a training facility.

Few things came out of that initial conversation that I've learned. One was that every single opportunity is an opportunity to learn and listen. Again, this was a "random" afternoon where a "random" guy came to fix something for me and we had a "random" conversation. But of course God was doing something bigger than that conversation. I had also learned that he normally doesn't take service calls in my part of town and for whatever reason that day he just decides to do it.

I shared with my team while we were in Costa Rica with Luis listening in that God is always doing something. It is whether we are paying attention and joining him in his story that we get to see and experience what He's doing.



#2: THE TEAM


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You want to know what stresses out a pastor? Take a team of 32 people out of the country during Spring Break. Our team had 11 adults and 21 students. The age range was from 7th grade to past 7th grade. Many of these attendees had never been on an international missions trip much less out of the country. Many of our students were coming without their parents and needed other adults to step in as their legal guardians.

I knew from the start that one of the biggest challenges to this trip was going to come from the internal community. Our team had loud and soft personalities. We had parents, admin., and leaders. I knew from the year that we had people on our team that had a hard time communicating with each other and would naturally avoid each other. I knew that there was going to be conflict. It was inevitable.

It was inevitable. We had times, when especially we were tired or it was late, that tempers would fly and patience would be tested. But this is what I was looking forward to as a pastor. Not that I wanted people to fight or there to be drama, but that I was able to walk through this with our people. Why? Because this is what community really is. It is a group of people doing life together and that life includes that good and the bad, yet we covenant with each other to see it through and accomplish our mission. This team was a small picture of what we're trying to do as CBC Youth day in and day out. We're trying to show the world that no, we don't always get along but yes, there is a love that supersedes even our own wants and our own preferences. It is the love given to us by Christ that not only binds us together but sets us on a path together to accomplish our mission.

If you see it like that, then yes, our team was perfect.



#3. DEVELOPING DISCIPLERS


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Want to know what is one of my favorite things to witness as a youth pastor? Students stepping in to do something they didn't even know they could do.

There were multiple times on this trip where I had asked our juniors and seniors to step up and lead and without hesitation or reservation they met and exceeded expectation. We had them lead work projects, devotionals, come with us to train local youth pastors in the slums, and disciple their own youth.

I don't even know if they know this but I saw a lot of their former training come out. They knew how to articulate theology, implement leadership responsibilities, and do what they have been trained to do. If you're a leader who works with youth, I always want to encourage you that what you're investing in is never in vain. While it may be frustrating on the day to day level, continue to be faithful for you don't know when and in what context the student you're investing in will turn around and disciple others. In the meantime, give them opportunities to lead, resources to digest, and shower them with love that binds all of this together. These youth are NOT the future of the church, they are the CHURCH and it is our responsibility to "equip the saints for the work of the ministry."




  • CONTINUE TO SUPPORT

































Our work with local churches and mission organizations are never over. While this was an amazing trip, it just exposed the need that is out there. Please continue to support this youth group in their effort to reach the lost and equip the saints.




NEXT STEPS


We've easily met all of our expectations on this trip (vision casting, building local and internal community, partnering with local churches, and meeting real physical/spiritual needs). Our next step now is to pray through how we're going to continue to support Luis and this organization.

If you are a team leader, parent, or anyone who is interested in a very practical trip please talk to me or any of our team members who went on this trip and we've love to tell you more. Blessings















#CBCYouthCR2017 - Blog by Andrew

This past week, I was blessed with the opportunity to go to Costa Rica with my church youth group on a mission trip with 32 others. Our vision was three-fold: (1) to build partnership with the global church, (2) to meet the needs of our brothers and sisters in Christ, (3) to develop community within our Chinese Baptist Church (CBC) church body. I believe we were able to see these points met, and we got to have some fun along the way (bonus!).

I'll try to briefly describe my experience from this past week as an "adult leader" (weird to think about). Here are seven thoughts that came to mind:


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  • PARTNERSHIP WITH THOSE IN COSTA RICA

    This point is most easily broken down into two partnerships: one with L.A. Ranch and one with Colegio Pángola, the local school at which we served.

    We worked with our youth pastor's friend named Luis, who hosted us and set up most of what we did. As the owner of L.A. Ranch, he shared with us his vision to reach out to the local communities by meeting physical needs such as day care and providing school supplies but doing so in relationship with a local church network. We were able to continue planting seeds to see this vision become reality. Our team took a leap of faith to partner with Luis, but after this week, we saw partnership developed and the potential to see how L.A. Ranch can use its resources to equip the local churches to reach the surrounding areas. We also saw partnership developed with the global church by training local (youth) pastors. The upperclassmen and young adult leaders joined a Wednesday night church gathering to share encouragement and resources (workshops on games/engagement and how to prepare a Bible study).

    Additionally, we developed relationship with Colegio Pángola. Despite the language barrier for most, it was incredible to see people from our youth group develop relationships with the Costa Rican students and teachers. We began by helping them with their newly acquired iPads and sharing lunch together, but that quickly progressed into teaching games, dances, and playing sports together.


  • GROWTH AS A COMMUNITY

    CBC Youth Group is developing a reputation of being hard workers. Coming into the trip, I hoped the reputation would continue despite the difference in youth since I was a youth. I was not disappointed. Luis wanted us to complete 2 projects (painting a dual soccer/volleyball court and planting seeds in a greenhouse). I am very pleased to say that in addition to those projects, we also re-painted their kitchen/cafeteria (no easy feat due to timing around lunch prep and meal time on top of a difficult area to paint). It was encouraging to see our community grow through service together.

    I saw our youth and leaders grow by giving them a seemingly large task and space to grow. In other words, Justin pushed us with opportunities to get outside of our comfort zone and step up as leaders. I saw this growth played out most clearly in the high schoolers, where underclassmen led devotionals for our group and upperclassman shared the Gospel message to their peers at the school we were serving.


  • JESUS SAVES IN WAYS WE DON'T ALWAYS EXPECT

    With regard to serving the community, we also went to the "slums" to meet physical needs and pray for families. One family we talked to was (and probably still is) in a season of grieving the loss of a mother/grandmother who recently lost her battle with cancer. We gave the family some school supplies and food, as well as prayed for the family. It was powerful to see how the Gospel has not only changed our hearts, but how it can impact others' hearts despite language barriers. The one person on our team who spoke the least amount of English was able to comfort the family with love and a hug. One of the ladies in the family, after praying for her and her family, decided she wanted to accept Christ into her life!!! I was blessed with the opportunity to pray with her after this decision!


  • students (156K) macaw (215K) friend1 (102K)



  • RELATIONSHIP DEVELOPMENT

    Ministry is about relationships, which I need to be reminded of constantly. I easily get caught up with tasks and finishing things on a check list, and I forget to build relationships with people. I am very glad Luis continued to remind me that relationship building was the goal. Unfortunately, being a team lead for a project yielded little time for me to directly interact with the students, mainly during lunchtime. Once our projects were done, however, I really enjoyed being able to play sports with the students - playing soccer in particular had a great way of bonding with the Costa Rican students!

    Another great way we were able to build relationships with these students was by serving them in the kitchen by doing anything except for cooking - we served food, cleaned up, and washed dishes.


  • COSTA RICA IS A BEAUTIFUL COUNTRY

    Our trip to Costa Rica also included a little sight-seeing. Tourist attractions aside, the views we had driving around were definitely sights to see. These views were the most beautiful views I've ever seen in my life (sooooo much green, foliage, mountains and clear skies). Luis definitely spoiled us by taking us to La Paz waterfall, allowing us to feed macaws and showing us a volcano. Oh, how could I forget: the food is also delicious! (Lots of rice and beans, yucca, plantains and local fruits served with a meat).


  • MY SPANISH WAS NOT COMPLETELY LOST

    As many of you know, I decided to minor in Spanish after having a great study abroad experience (where I called myself "proficient" by the end). It has been almost 3 years since studying abroad. At the beginning of the trip, I was speaking Spanish timidly to the locals, but by the end of the week, I was a translator for some of our team, and once again I felt very comfortable speaking Spanish. I was able to lead a workshop on preparing a Bible study in Spanish and carry out conversation with a local who only spoke Spanish throughout a three to four hour trip.


  • FRIENDSHIPS CAN BE RETAINED AFTER 10+ YEARS

    I have a friend from elementary school who moved to Costa Rica by the time we finished elementary. Thank God for Facebook and its ability to help us keep in touch loosely through the years. It was great to see ya and catch up in person after all these years!


  • MISSING A FLIGHT CAN CAUSE A HUGE PAIN

    My youngest brother was chosen for a random security check during a 1.5 hour layover between flights where we had to pick up our bags, go through customs, recheck-in our bags, and go through security again. Fortunately, the other 31 people in our group made it, but my brother and I missed the flight by a few minutes (5 max). We returned safely home about 10 hours later than the rest of the team did, which was not bad given the situation.

    I shot a good amount of video using a GoPro this past week, and one of the members of our team wanted to compile a video to show our experience. It should be up soon-ish!

    This trip was the first time I have been to Costa Rica, but I surely hope it will not be my last!