In Costa Rica, we were blown away by the kindness of the people there. There first two Ticos (that's what you call a person from Costa Rica) we met were Ricardo, our guide, and Ernesto, our driver. We spent three days with them as they took us around to some amazing places in their country.
Kirby and I were too old to sit in the back of the bus and were placed at the front with the other family. Everyone joked for the rest of the trip about my love affair with Ricardo. I always retorted, "It was love at first fact." Ricardo was passionate about what he did. Praise the Lord he was gifted with an outgoing personality, because it went perfectly with his passion for God's creation (he was a biologist). It was confirmed later thru our other encounters with tour guides that Ricardo was a rare breed. He didn't read from scripts or give us cheesy trivia. He knew everything he told us by heart. He would go on as far as he had your interest about how the ecosystem worked. It sounds boring, but through the lens of God's hand in it, it was fascinating. I asked Ricardo one time, after one of his more charismatic sermons, that if he could describe creation in one word (preferably) or a short phrase what he would say. He immediately responded, "Perfect."
Ernesto was less educated and fluent in English, but was quite and interesting and nice guy. He and Ricardo lugged around close to 900 lbs. of luggage and a loud group of 12 former highschool seniors for 24hr/day for three days. I have worked at summer camps and slept among some loud kids in my days and I can't believe they never strayed from their big smiles.
Our first two and a half days were pleasure focused and not quite business. We stayed at a nice lodge in the mountains. The first morning we headed out to an adventure camp and went cascade repelling. Repelling is like the second half of mountain climbing. We didn't climb up anything, but are trucked to the top and then we shoot down on a rope. Where it gets interesting is the cascades. We went down 5 different drops--the highest was 165 ft. high--through waterfalls!! By now you wondering if pregnant Kirby went, and the answer is an emphatic "Yes!" She's awesome--you should have seen her work the rest of the trip--what a girl! The doctor cleared her for pretty much everything we did on the trip and the setup for repelling pulls most of the tension and discomfort away from the belly making it a pleasing, exhillarating ride for both her and Baby. In fact, she had a HUGE milstone on one of the falls--she felt the baby move for the first time!! It was amazing. Our baby is either afraid of heights or an extreme sports athlete. Only time will tell.
Ricardo had stuck around Kirby and I during the adventure. We talked in between jumps. I don't remember exactly how we got into it, but Kirby and I were speaking with him on the difference between going to church and being religious and truly knowing God and following Him. Ricardo had made a comment about the religiosity of some of the country earlier and was now quite into our thoughts on the matter. We briefly gave him the Matt. 7 idea Jesus warned about as they called him up to take the plunge. As he was walking away, he asked, "So what does it take to be saved? I mean, do you have to be apart of a specific religion, or something?" And then ZIP, he was gone. I think both of our mouths were wide open. We knew God was there and working on him. How sweet. This is the point of the trip that I knew we were suppose to be here for sure. There never was this great time to stop and talk more, but we spoke again briefly and I wrote him a letter more carefully explaining his two questions. I have never seen anyone so grateful.
On another somewhat related note, when we got back from Costa Rica, we were blessed to have a sweet girl from Germany stay with us. Many of you met her. Her name was Anna. She was an exchange student three years ago at Consol and ended up being one of Kirby's Young LIfe girls. On both of her visits to the USA she stayed with less than hospitable families. For 8 days we kidnnapped her and tried to show her that all Americans were not rude and inconsiderate. I was frequently reminded of the hospitality we were shown in CR and how we were suppose to be the most hospitable people as God's children. Abraham ran in and cooked the 3 strangers bread and food. Lot took the angels in to stay with him and would have sacrificed his own daughters at their expense (this was not right, but think of what he was willing to do for strangers). And we're told in Romans 12:13 to "Practice hospitality". I'm sure there will be more on all these people to come.