Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Semana Santa

Semana Santa (Holy Week) in Costa Rica is the most celebrated week of the year.  Because of the strong Catholic influence, there are celebrations throughout the week of all of the "events" leading up to the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus.  They have what are called procesiones (processionals) throughout the streets of each city where they act out each "event" of the week. Hundreds of people process through the streets (all roads are closed off), many dressed like Roman soldiers, Mary Magdalene, different saints, etc and they carry a statue of Jesus representing whatever event they are celebrating.  Because we live in the city right next to a large Catholic church we were able to witness the procesiones of Jesus carrying His cross, the crucifixion and burial of Jesus.  We also visited Cartago where the Basilica is located.  The Basilica is the largest Catholic church in Costa Rica and is the "symbol" of Catholicism for the country.  People crawl on their knees for miles to the Basilica all the way to the alter where they confess their sins before the alter and the statue of Mary.  There is also a pool of "holy water" on the property and people were bringing milk jugs to fill up with this water to take home so that it will last them all year.  (Many Costa Ricans visit this church once a year during holy week.)  Many were pouring the "holy water" over their children or dogs, believing that they will be blessed if they touch this water. 

Experiencing this week gave us even more of an understanding of the people that we are ministering to.  Please pray for those who have yet to experience the freedom in Christ that He so freely gives!!!          (Here are a few pictures below of La Basilica and the procesiones)    

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Youth Service Project

Saturday I (Daniel) was invited to tag along with the local International Youth Group on a community service project.  It sounded like fun hanging out with teenagers and we were going to help clean up a family's home.  We traveled to the foot of the mountains, about 15 minutes away, and when we arrived at the family's home I could not believe my eyes.  It was some of the worst living conditions that I have ever seen or smelled. The house was made of rotted wood boards and tin siding.  It had 2 small beds, a chair, a dirt floor kitchen and a pit toilet that had filled and spilled over into the kitchen.  Roberto, his wife, his daughter and 2 grandchildren live in the house.  It was devastating.   We worked all morning cleaning and removing trash from inside and around the house because $5,000 was raised by a missionary family to build them a new block house.  The family was so blessed by all of the work that was done in the name of Jesus.  I was so honored to be able to serve them with the love of Christ.  The youngest grandson was about Thomas's age and the Lord put it on my heart to go back in the near future with some of Thomas's clothes for him.  I also want to take Sarah and the boys back to minister to them as well.  I will take some pictures of their new home to share with you while we are there.  The Lord has given us such a desire to just serve those in need--whoever it is that God puts in our path.  Please join me in praying for this family and for the thousands more like them who so desperately need their physical and spiritual needs met in a mighty way.