I am not really sure where to start the blog for today, so much happened.  

First we started with our final VBS at the last church.  We arrived at 8:30am so that Brent would have enough time to head out into the community with our van and pick up kids that live in the outlying neighborhoods.  Samantha and Ashley each took turns riding with Brent and Joselin (one of the girls from the church) to pick up the kids.  Several of our kids did the same thing on other days.  This was an opportunity for them to see the communities and homes that the kids live. 

On the last day of VBS we work to tie all the points together of what we have been sharing over the last 3 days and give the children an opportunity to accept Jesus into their hearts.  With our upper age group (12 years of age and older) we pretended that I was lost.  I stepped out while Karissa was speaking and then a few minutes later Brent asked Karissa where I was.  He began to frantically look for me and grew louder and louder.  Until he finally ran out of the church looking for me.  He found me just outside and dragged me back in cheering that I had been found, and getting the kids to cheer as well.  It was our attempt to provide an illustration for the kids of how excited God is when one of his lost sheep come home.  It definitely impacted them because they too were cheering and laughing at the same time.

With the older kids it is not always easy to see what impact you are having.  They are quiet and are slow to answer questions being asked, and there are some kids that come across as “too cool” to participate.  But we were able to see some of the impact we had at the close of the VBS.  As we concluded the kids hung around to continue to play with us (soccer, football, jump rope, etc…) and asked us to write a note in the journals we had given them.  And even the kids that seemed to hang in the wings wanted an encouraging note or picture.  It was a great time for our group to continue to connect and spend time with the kids.

Several of our group went on a walk with two of the young men from the church, heading down to the nearby river and then their homes.  They live across the road from each other.  Their mothers welcomed our youth in and had such great hospitality wanting to feed our kids and make sure they were comfortable.  It was a great opportunity for our kids to see how much more they have and how much of it they don’t need.  

We had brought a guitar for our team worship times and for worship with the kids at the VBS with the intention of leaving it with someone here in Costa Rica.  There was a young man named Josue at the first church that we had our VBS in the town of Santa Rosa.  He connected with Nick, the worship leader of our team, and they spent some time playing the guitar and sharing about their love of music.  Even though they were not fluent in each other’s languages they were able to connect over their love of Jesus and love of music.  This afternoon we were able to drive over to the church and deliver the guitar to him.  He was very shocked and extremely excited and played worship songs for us in Spanish.  It was great to be able to see the blessing that it had on him.       

We are at the toughest part of our trip the time the kids have to say goodbye.  Some of them may come back next year and some of them may not.  They have all been touched by their time here.  We are preparing for a 3 hour bus ride to San Jose prior to our flight back to The States.  In past years this has been a time for reflection and sadness as they are already missing the kids that have made such a big impact on their lives.

-Joseph Portale