Costa Rica Mission Trip
Katie Bliss

High in the mountains of Costa Rica, I eyed a chasm over which I soon would hurtle, supported by my harness, a cable, and a mix of fear, nausea, and excitement. It struck me that this challenge mirrored the mission trip: nine zip lines/nine days, emotional/physical highs and lows, the realization that we are not in control, and that God works through our weakness to bring Himself glory.

Something stirred when I first heard about this mission trip to aid a church in Cartago, Costa Rica put on a High Power soccer camp. I had never been on a mission trip before. This one sounded ideal not just for me, but also for me to bring my firstborn, Ash (10 years old). As the time neared, the mere thought of getting on an airplane, and traveling to Central America for nine days (leaving behind three kids with my husband), made my stomach lurch. I could only take each day one at a time, much like those looming zip lines. It was intimidating, but I knew God had a plan.

Pastor Jay challenged each of us to look for how God was working, not just in the camp, but in ourselves. Overwhelmingly, I saw that God answers prayer – in His own way. There were 160 kids registered. Four out of five days, the weather was so rainy and windy that we had to hold camp inside the gym. Only 50 kids showed up on day one. However, each day the number of kids in attendance increased.

I started the week discouraged that on my own team of 5 to 6-year-olds we only had four kids, and I was unable to understand my group discussion in Spanish about the concepts learned each day (heaven, sin, Jesus’ blood, cleansing/belief, and growth). Yet, as the week progressed, God showed me His work in other ways. One boy, Brandon, began the week refusing to join us due to fear (he knew a boy who had been hit in the face with a soccer ball and killed), but by the end had flung himself fully into all the drills and group time, giggling uncontrollably while I repeatedly stole his ball. Jose, a deaf boy, showed amazing exuberance during each part of the camp, paid better attention than most, and dominated during soccer time. By the end, my group had more than doubled in size, showing God’s faithfulness yet again.

Standing with clammy hands, waiting for my turn on the zip line, my heart warmed as I watched my usually fearful, stand-offish son step up to go first. I was convinced he would back down but instead, with much less trepidation than I, he conquered all the zip lines.

This week proved to me that God infuses us with grace, energy, and strength when we need it. He uses the weak, He loves His people, and He gives and shows us joy in every circumstance. To God be the glory!