by Norma Gunter
I returned from Costa Rica, 2/5/15, after spending 2 weeks at CEDCAS with Lillian Solt and two work teams from Pa. I’ve know Lillian since l994 and this was my 6th visit there. The last was in 2003 when Lonnie and I went down for the opening celebration of CEDCAS. I wanted to celebrate my 80th birthday there so my sister and I decided we weren’t too old to travel and made plans to go. PTL it all worked out great.
We worked at a Baptist Church, St. Thomas, about 45 min. from CEDCAS. We ate most of our lunches there. The food was prepared by the women of the church. It was delicious. Three days we helped with Bible School for about 80 children. The kids are beautiful and the people were very friendly. Electric work, building, painting and clean-up work was also done at the church. We saw rainbows about every day on our way back to the clinic. The second week the sky was lit up with the full moon. We also saw beautiful flowers and birds everywhere. The weather was in the middle 70’s with a constant breeze.
We ate most of our breakfast meals at CEDCAS. They were very good also. We ate in three local restaurants. One chicken, one Chinese and one Costa Rican. We made two Sat. day trips to see Lillian’s work with the children and one trip to the squatter community of Guarari where the team the week before us had given away shoes. We spent our first Sat. 1/24 with a bus load of children, from the squatters community, at a church camp in the mountains. We played games, did crafts, gave them refreshments, backpacks with school supplies and a bag of candy for over 50 children. Different organizations try to help these children who are refugees from other Central American countries like Nicaragua, Honduras, etc. The local Catholic church helped CEDCAS with a Christmas party for 400 of the children from Guarari.
These children live in huts made of scrap tin, lumber, plastic and whatever they can find. On Sun. 2/1, we visited the town which is located in a ravine near Heredia where CEDCAS is located.
There is no running water, no electricity or sewage facilities for the community. One lady, who Lillian helps, invited us to enter her home. An experience I’ll never forget. There was two makeshift beds for a family of 6, clothes piled everywhere in the one dark room. The rest of the home was outside with no kitchen and no bathroom. Sewer water ran down a ditch in front of the houses. Heavy rains are washing out the big ditch which runs through the town. It is washing out the bridge to the house where Lillian was using for programs for the people. The bridge has been condemned so they are unable to uses the bridge which is the only way to the house. Since it is condemned they would be liable if someone was injured. They are raising money to buy another home nearby for their programs.
We visited the second area, Harquestes, on Sat. 1/31 to visit the church and spend the day with the children. Lillian told us they have given away over 600 cows. The people were unable to feed the large animals so they started a program 14 years ago of giving away baby chickens instead. The team played games, did several crafts, fed them hot dogs and gave away backpacks with school supplies and bags of candy. There were over 100 children there. It is a very poor section of the country with frequent floods and no jobs. The pastor’s young daughter was recently killed in a motor cycle accident. The town is 2 hrs away over the mountains through the rain forest. What beautiful scenery.
In our daily devotions one of the men said when someone asks, why don’t you send the money you spend instead of going there yourself? Tell them “God didn’t send a check.” The people know you care enough for them to come and help in person. I think I received more hugs in two weeks than I did all last year. If you ever get a chance to go on a mission trip—go.
More about CEDCAS and my visits with Susan Hegarty, our own American Baptist Missionary in Costa Rica, next month. For now our ABW is getting ready to roll bandages for our Overseas White Cross Handwork quota and send a Walmart gift card for our Overland White Cross quota. We also have a White Cross Purchase Plan Request for South Africa & Burundi. Women of First Baptist come join us in helping people around the world. We need your help.