Wednesday, July 10, 2013

The End of our Costa Rican Adventure

Wednesday morning we ate our last breakfast at El Palmar, folded up sleeping bags, sorted out work clothes or other items that we didn't want to take back with us and added them to the pile for George.  Most of our unwanted items can be reused. We all made a line and circled through the kitchen area saying our goodbyes to the ladies who had cooked for us all week. There were some tears and many hugs and then it was time to go.

We piled into Eduardo's van, while another vehicle was loaded with our luggage.  Our destination was a hot springs resort.  After we arrived we walked through a forested trail to get to the warm water. Besides a main open-sided building that had a small restaurant there were several pools of water with underwater ledges around the inside of the pool for sitting on. Each body of water had a sign telling it's temperature. Some were much hotter than others. The warm water felt good on first contact, but I felt more comfortable sitting on the top edges of a pool, with just my legs and feet in the water. It was very relaxing and we soaked in the enjoyment of doing nothing at all.

Our next treat was eating at the hotel's buffet lunch. Rice, salads, several kinds of meat and various drinks were all very pleasing to look at and very tasty. Again we had free WiFi. We felt very pampered.

From there we headed for Grecia.  We stopped briefly in the town of Zarcero and enjoyed the central park which had some unique shrub formations.

Because Grecia is in the mountains, our trip was a winding, sometimes steep climb on busy roads. The scenery was awesome even though the day was a bit hazy and the clouds hung low.  As we pulled into George's drive we were looking forward to a couple nights of some comforts we had been without, like warm showers and some American food.

Anita had sloppy joes for supper with potato chips and chocolate cake for dessert. I had a good visit with Anita before heading to bed. The house was a buzz with our presence. The Borbons are wonderful hosts and have a house with a grand view from any direction.

View from the back yard

The next morning after pancakes for breakfast, we gathered on the back porch for our devotional time. George shared his history with us.  He has a very interesting story and shows the awesome power of our God to deliver those he calls out of darkness.  God has used George to start many churches in Central America and he has a passion to preach the good news.

On tap for Thursday was shopping for souvenirs.  A Walmart store was the best place to buy local coffee and Kevin and I stocked up for family and friends. Next we visited the town of Sarchi and bought wooden crafted items that were made there. Some of the items were hand painted . We took a tour of the factory behind the store. The machines are run by the force of a huge water wheel.  The section of the work shop we were in made ox cart wheels.

We stopped for lunch at George's house and Anita had another wonderful meal for us.  We had a brief rest and then went to the downtown market which mostly had food items for sale.  Steve wanted to buy a special coffee here that is more rare and more expensive. We had to try some also; the price was still better there than buying it on line or at a specialty shop in the States. From the market place we walked to the central park and spent some time viewing the Catholic church on the edge of the square and taking group pictures.

The Borbons were disappointed that our schedule did not include a time to visit their church in Grecia.  I was glad we stopped there to see the building.
Inside the Grecia church

Our last stop of the day was the mall. It was small by our standards, but the stores were very Americanized. The food court was our main attraction as we spread out and made our choices for supper from KFC, Pizza Hut, or Taco Bell. Kevin and I had a chicken wrap at KFC and finished up with frozen yogurt.

That night we sat around the dining room table at the Borbons and listened to the last three devotionals from our group members.  It was also interesting to listen to the CD of the words of prophecy that had been prayed over the group the Sunday morning before we left.  We could see how God had been working according to his word. We would leave the next morning with mixed feelings and each of us being changed for the better because of our experiences in Costa Rica.

Cold cereal was set out for breakfast in the morning, and we finished packing suitcases in preparation for leaving.  Kevin and I had finished our packing the night before, and I grabbed a cup of coffee to take with me to the upstairs balcony. Anita came and joined me, and I so enjoyed our time of sharing. She is a kindred spirit and we had a lot to catch up on. When the word came to load up the van to go, we ended our conversation and scurried outside to merge into the group picture being taken in the back yard. Anita was driving their SUV with some of the team's luggage. George suggested I ride to the airport with her, so we had a few more moments together.

While we waited for our flight many of us made last minute purchases at the souvenir store in the airport. For those who had not exchanged their colonies back to dollars, it was the last chance to make good on their money.

The flight to Houston was uneventful, but we only had a two hour layover before boarding our flight to Chicago.
Matt by a welcome sign in the Houston airport
After landing we waited almost an hour in the customs line, then had to pick up our checked in luggage, wheel it to another area where it was reloaded to our Chicago flight, and then go through security once again. Joel, Lance, Kevin and I got into the slowest line and we waited nervously as we watched the minutes counting down to our departure flight. The rest of the team went on ahead while Steve waited on the other side of security for us. Once through we made a mad dash for our gate and found they were just starting to board the first group. Steve decided to try and find some food for us as there would not be a meal served on this flight and with the time change it was now somewhere between lunch and supper. Kevin went with him.  The group waited together until last to board, watching the hallway for the food gatherers to appear. I explained our situation to the gate attendant and waited to the side hoping they would arrive soon. The others all boarded. Only the standbys were left. Steve and Kevin made it with sacks of food and we boarded without incident. We each had a half a wrap to eat which would hold us over until we reached Chicago. Whew!  No one would have wanted a round two at La Quinta; no matter had nice it had been seven days ago!

We landed in Chicago around 9:30. We would eat our last meal at the same place we had eaten our first meal of the journey--good ole' McDonalds! McDonalds does know how to do FAST and can herd a group through pretty efficiently.  We waited to eat until we had gathered luggage from the bagging carousel and were out of the airport, curbside. Our drivers for the ride home, hovered nearby and were notified that they could come and pick us up. We were headed home!

Here is what Amanda, Auron, and Elika had on our counter as a welcome back! Thank you!!

Father, thank you for providing this trip for Kevin and me. How faithful you have been! Keep our hearts poised to learn even more lessons as we process the experience in the days ahead.  Bless the work for your kingdom in Costa Rica. Bless the new friends we have made. Thank you that we are all one in You and will be forever.


  1. What wonderful times and memories. Anita shared a bit with me by email that you two had some special sharing times! It's great to follow Jesus. I'm also very grateful to have had our trip. I think you had a lot more spiritual input...probably due to your spiritual preparation and hardships endured on the trip!!!

  2. What a treat to read of your trip. Memories to last a lifetime, I'm sure. Isn't serving Jesus such a privilege filled with blessing after blessing?

  3. What a wonderful and interesting place costa Rica sounds to be. I would like to visit there one day.


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