N.B. Most of this was written when I first returned from the trip in 1997, but I have added a few notes. Please forgive any inconsistency in verb tenses.
I first met Dr. Freeman in New Orleans when we had our pre-trip meeting. He talked about servanthood. He told us many things we would find useful on the trip. He said not to let anyone touch our bags at the airport or it would cost us $1.50. He said there was plenty of muscle in our group and we could get our bags to the counter just fine without paying twenty dollars to do it. He said they would tell us where the water was safe to drink and where it was not and don't eat the lettuce anywhere.
In the morning we went to the airport and carried our bags to the ticket counter. We lined the bags and boxes up in two straight lines and counted them. We got passports and tickets all in order and then had to wait for two and a half hours. Some of us went to get something to eat there in the airport.
We boarded the plane and we taxied out for take-off at 1:20. (I really didn't like take-off.) Once we got into the air, it was just like riding a train except for the lack of scenery. And you don't have stewardesses on Amtrak.
We flew to San Salvador, with a stop in Belize City. When we got to San Salvador we had a long lay-over. We boarded a different plane. The cabin lights went on and off several times at the gate and then again as we were taxiing. Several of us smelled wires burning. While we were sitting on the runway, the lights went out and the emergency lights came on. The pilot came over the speaker to tell us there was a light on the panel and they didn't know why so we were going back. We sat there for a little bit and then they told us we were going to change planes. They gave us a green card and sent us to another gate. At the other gate we sat for about ten minutes. Then we got on that plane and sat for about five minutes. The pilot announced that we would have to wait a few minutes for air traffic to clear over Central America. So we sat there and waited, and waited, and waited, for sixty-five minutes, before we took off again.
We landed in San Jose at 10:45 CDT. The Alejuela Methodist Center has bars on all the windows and around all the doors. This is ubiquitous in Costa Rica because appearently in Costa Rica there are those who will walk off with anything that is not nailed down.
The next morning I awoke to a tremor. We had changed our money at Alejuela. We had gotten 232 colones to the dollar. We got back on the bus and drove through the verdant countryside (muy verde) which was dotted with houses. We had to ride an extra two and a half hours up through Liberia because the ferry was broken.
Upon arriving in Santa Cruz we put our luggage in our rooms at the motel and then we walked out to the job site. We had a look around there and then we went back to the motel and had a team meeting. The meeting was to work out who would be working at Vacation Bible School and who would be working at the job site full-time. Then we were given an opportunity to go out and explore the town.
Dr. Freeman pointed out that many of the towns grew fruit trees in the park or town square, and that poor people could come and pick the fruit to eat. Most of the building was done with concrete and metal, because there are many termites in Costa Rica.
In the morning we went to the job site. The first day we had tracts to give out. Carlos, the foreman, was a local. He wasn't there because he was sick. So we couldn't get into the parsonage and had to sit around and wait half the morning. Some of us went down by the river and we saw some monkeys.
Our days began with breakfast at seven and then devotions. After devotions we were given a chance to brush our teeth and then we walked out to the job site. We would get there about eight o'clock and work until noon when lunch would be brought out to us. After lunch we would work until three or four o'clock, and then we would walk back to the motel, a distance of probably a mile or so. Then most of us would swim until dinner which was at six. After dinner we would gather in a bright corner of the motel on one of the walkways and have devotions and sing several songs. Then we were allowed to go out into the town until ten o'clock, when the teen-agers had to be in their rooms.
We did several things at the job site. While there we hung four interior door frames, four window frames, and the front door frame and door. We also hung and painted sheet rock ceiling. We put wooden facing on a beam and painted the roof. A couple of people used machetes to cut the weeds. We varnished the window and door frames. And at the end of every day we cleaned up the job site: sweeping floors, storing materials out of sight or taking them with us, cleaning brushes.
Every day at three o'clock, which was usually before we finished working, Bible School was held in the chapel.
Dr. Freeman told us that, when there were children on the work site, we should stop working and play with the children (the building could get built by the locals after we were gone and while the materials lasted, but relationships could be built only while we were there). We played pato, pato, ganzo (duck, duck, goose), and some of the children liked to get horseback rides by raising their hands and crying, caballo! caballo!. A few of the children liked to play with the tools and tap nails with a hammer.
For three days we worked at the site. On Sunday we went to the beach. Some of the people went swimming, and some of us went horse-back riding. Some went surfing. We ate two meals out there. Those of us who got supper had to take it on the bus with us. Our worship service took place on the bus. Ken Spivey, who is going to take over the leadership of future mission teams, preached and taught us a song.
On Monday we finished up the work we could. We ran out of supplies shortly after lunch. I went back to the motel. I didn't go back but there was Bible School that day.
Me and Dr. Freeman at Sarchi
On Tuesday we loaded our stuff on the bus and drove back to Sarchi. Sarchi is a shopping center and we hit every shop. Then we drove back to Alejuela to the Methodist Center. Then we took the suitcases off the bus. That night we had a chance to repack. Since I had left most of my clothes in Santa Cruz, I had plenty of space to pack the things I had bought in Sarchi. Than we all went out to eat.
On Wednesday most of the group went white water rafting. The rest of us went to the bird sanctuary and then shopping.
On Thursday morning we flew back to the States. The Destin UMC van was waiting for us and we were on our way home. We arrived in Destin around eight o'clock that evening.