Our Dwelling Place missions team arrived home safely late last Friday night. All healthy, in one piece and spiritually restored after a precious week at Refugio Solté. For those who were praying, thank you so much for your prayers. Travel went smoothly, we delighted in loving on the kids from gang-run barrios in San Jose, and each person on the trip had moments drawing closer to the Father's love.
Surprisingly, not speaking Spanish wasn't as much of a problem as we thought it would be because Jason and Sarah Smith are fluent in both Spanish and English and were able to translate the teaching portions. Apart from that, lots of loving eye contact, smiles, and laughter were shared over our four days together. During free time, most kids ran to the nine square game made for the event. Competition is apparently multilingual! We were so thankful for this way to easily engage with the group.
The students were some of the sweetest I've known. All were very kind, and it was a blessing to see how much they looked after one another. For instance, one of the camp hits was a tire swing. Boys patiently took turns assisting their friends getting on, pushing them to get super high and making sure they didn't hit the tree. Our team noted that, at home, kids will often only push when it means assisting a friend to purposefully hit a tree!
Adventure began as soon as the kids arrived. We fed them lunch and took them straight away on a hike through the jungle down a dry riverbed (rainy season hasn't come quite yet). When I say down, I mean pretty much straight down. It's wild how steep the mountains are in Costa Rica. The next day we took them to the beach. San Jose is in the middle of the country, so very few, if any, of the kids have ever seen a beach before. When one kid was halfway into the ocean with his towel still around his neck, I realized that experience is a great teacher. Much wisdom is gained just by experiencing life. Without it, we can seem ridiculous.
My most memorable time occurred after the kids left. On our last morning, I felt led to get up early and I am so thankful that I did. I sat for 2.5 hours on my porch resting in God's presence. Delighting in the birds’ songs as I journaled about the trip, I found great joy in being still. For those who know me well, they are probably quite aware that stillness is basically not ever my MO! More than five minutes of quiet and I often get anxious. Yet, in the extended solitude, I enjoyed a wondrous tranquility.
The Lord rewarded my stillness with a monkey sighting about 1.5 hours in. When his friend joined him, I felt abundantly blessed. Then I became wholly captivated by His love as a third little monkey also sauntered in. The icing on my private little God wink was seeing them each recklessly flail from one tree to the next as they went back on their way to the jungle interior. I am hoping to take this practice of stillness home and enjoy many delights God has for me there if I will just allow myself time to be.
One last word to encourage you - a snippet from a question I briefly answered at camp for the kids. The kids asked, "How can we get closer with God?" You may be in a dry season with the Lord. Maybe you wonder why you don't experience Him more. We can't control when the Spirit does and doesn't move, but we can put ourselves in the flow of the river so that when the Spirit does move, we are ready to be filled by His goodness.
Denise is an Office Manager at May Chiropractic, a family owned and operated practice in Salem, VA that began in 1985 and continues to provide genuine professional care to their patients in the hands of the second generation of chiropractors. Her husband, Troy, is one of those chiropractors, and they are not only business owners and entrepreneurs, but also community builders, proud parents of their son Tiger, and proud soon to be grandparents. Life is crazy running a business, but they find respite on their land, spending time with family, and engaging in church community.