Since our trip to the boys’ orphanage was cancelled, we spent the afternoon hanging out with our Costa Rica friends. There were guys playing the guitar and worshipping in one room, ladies cooking in the kitchen and several of us just gathered in various spots, sharing our lives with each other. The camaraderie in this house was awesome! Only Jesus could put people together from all over the world, literally, and have them feeling like they had been best friends forever in such a short period of time.
I set up my laptop in the desk area off the kitchen and spent some time updating my facebook and checking emails. Michelle, Selene and I made a video, asking for prayer for the Gran Fiesta, for hearts to be turned towards Jesus. I was eager to see what God was going to do at this event. The people of Puntarenas had been preparing for this event for several weeks and I was sure it was going to be something to behold!
The event was to start about 5:00 pm, and we were all excited when the bus arrived to pick us up. We piled in, all dressed up and ready to go. Cal and Wilmer were both dressed in white and they looked dashing as we pulled out of the driveway. The excitement in the bus was contagious and we all started singing our favorite song, Yo Quiero Mas, I want you more!
As we neared the grounds where the Gran Fiesta was being held, you could see people everywhere. This was a big deal and the entire town was coming to this event. There were four popular music groups on the schedule for that night and they were definitely drawing a crowd. It was going to be a great night; I could feel it in my spirit!
At the entrance of the event, five little boys were in orange parking vests, directing traffic. The road was narrow and as a car went by us, I was sure one of the boys was going to get his toes run over. And although they were only inches from the other car, they were safe; God was protecting all his children for this event. I was thinking how an event like this in Naples would be covered, pretty sure the parking attendants wouldn’t be seven to ten year old children, but in Puntarenas, everyone took part in the event! All were put to work and the excitement in these boys’ faces filled me with joy!
We piled out of the bus and headed to the center stage to our seats. As we walked across the narrow, rickety bridge to get to the field, again my mind registered how different this place was, yet, what was lacking in affluence was made up in excitement, the atmosphere was electrifying. We were flanked by men in black as we walked through the crowd. It was so sweet how well we were treated by our Costa Rican friends. The mayor was talking when we arrived and then he prayed for the event and the first musicians began to sing. We were given front row seats as we watched the members of the local churches perform their flag and veil presentations. It was breath defying seeing the hundreds of performers, all in Unisom with their colorful outfits and flags. I have truly never seen anything like it. And everywhere you looked, were people piling into be a part of this event.
At one point, I wondered over to the edge of the crowd to take a couple of pictures of some children playing. As I headed back to our group, Daniel, my translator friend, scolded me for walking away from the group without telling him. Apparently that was a no-no. We were to be with our group at all times, unless one of the guys was with us. I apologized, explaining the children had caught my eye and back to the team I went.
When one of the most popular singers, Alex Rodriguez, began singing people crowded in to get close to him. We had been a bit sheltered from the crowd, but at this point, we were in the midst of everyone. Our ‘bodyguards’ got some crowd control tape and taped off an area for us, moving the crowds back a bit. It was really sweet to be treated with such respect. We came to this country to be a blessing, in the process we continued to be blessed.
At one point during Alex’s performance, our group was encouraged to go up on stage, to be introduced to the crowd. Part of our team’s mission of this trip was to put on this party and the local pastors wanted to thank us for our part in allowing this event to occur. It seemed a bit surreal to be on stage in front of several thousand (probably around seven thousand) people while this local celebrity gave an invitation to receive Jesus. When he finished, hundreds of people swarmed towards the front of the stage. It was amazing to watch and to be a part of.
Cal asked me to stay up on stage, the rest of the group filed down to pray for the people who had come forward. Others from the local churches were a part of this, and contact information was being taken for follow-up. The purpose of the event was to bring people to Jesus and the spirit was moving heavily in this place. It was so cool to be a part of such a special movement for His Kingdom.
I was off to the side, watching the activities and marveling at what God was doing when I heard Cal say something in English about a man in a hospital room. Then he came over and asked me to share the testimony of the fellow who had been healed at the hospital with the crowd. I didn’t have time to be nervous, I simply stepped up and shared with Jesus had done.
But I was so excited to be sharing this story, I forgot where I was for a minute, and I was talking very quickly in English. This was great if I would have been at home, but in this place, very few understood English and I forgot to let Cal translate for me. After a couple of minutes, I realized I needed to let Cal catch up with me, and together we shared the story of the healing in the hospital. The crowd cheered as we declared all that Jesus had done and it was so sweet. My heart soared as they gave glory to our King!
After I shared this story, I went back to the side of the stage to watch the rest of the festivities, but soon there was a group of people on my side of the stage, asking me to pray for them. And for the rest of the evening, I did just that: praying for God to heal hearts, bodies and minds. One young mother brought her baby over for me to pray for, such a sweet little thing, only a few months old. She had two older children and the three of us ended up playing and jumping and singing while the mother went off with another child for a trip to the bathrooms.
Then there were more people to pray for … more petitions for healing, more hugs, and more smiles. It seemed like the night lasted a very long time. I didn’t get a chance to sit and listen to the music, but it was okay. I wasn’t there to soak in; I was there to give out. I was there to be a blessing and in the process I was being blessed.
I think the party ended about 10:00 pm … and we headed back to our bus. We were all soaked; the night was hot and humid. But inside our hearts were soaring. What a wonderful time of sharing the love of Jesus, with so many! A lot of work went into making this night a reality, but I believe God was well pleased with the results. There had been music and testimonies and all of it pointing to the ONE! It was all because of Jesus!
We were all wired up when we got home, and several of us stood in the kitchen and shared stories. After our pow-wow in the kitchen, Henriette and Stephanie came into Nancy’s and I’s room and we shared more stories until none of us could keep our eyes open another minute. We said our good nights and all fell asleep with God’ love flowing mightily! It was a great ending to an amazing day and I loved my teammates and my newfound friends even more.
Cal had prayed that we share the AGAPE love of Jesus with this city, a week before at our prayer time before we left Naples, and that prayer was being fulfilled right before my very eyes. I was seeing unconditional love in action and it felt good; it was good and I was so grateful to be a part of the flow of God’s spirit in this place.
When we start to understand the depth of God’s love for us, we can then begin to share that love with others. In a world that is lost and hurting, love is the universal language. Words may not express love … but our actions can resonate God’s love.
But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.
Yes, God’s great love for us has saved us, when we didn’t deserve to be saved, not through anything we did, but through His grace towards us. I love this portion of scripture. Nothing we did caused God to have mercy on us; we can never be good enough, on our own. Yet, because of Jesus, God has a plan and a purpose for us, and we can walk in that plan. He knew this group of people would be coming to Puntarenas, Costa Rica, for this particular mission beforehand. And he knew it would be good. And it is!
Thank you Jesus for allowing me to be a part of your good works. I am in awe that you would choose me, but I am so very thankful. To be a part of this trip has been the most amazing thing. I was in awe at the movement of your spirit in this place. You are so big and mighty and awesome, and I am humbled by your power. I love you Jesus.
In your name I pray,
God’s Blessings Upon You!