I didn’t want to let go, Jefferson’s little arms around my neck squeezing tightly felt like they were supposed to be there. So, I continued to hug until he let go. As I hugged my host family, I thought back to precious memories from the trip.
I closed my eyes and reminisced about the first night in San Luis, how nervous and unsure of my Spanish I was. Today was a black and white difference. No pretending to be busy or standing awkwardly at the edge of the crowd, we really got to enter into the lives of our host families for the duration of the trip.
I thought back to last weekend when my host mom and I spent the morning together on the porch. We sat and talked about everything from commercialism in the United States to her childhood Christmas traditions. Some monkeys came to say hi from the forest in our backyard. Yolanda disappeared into the house for a moment and returned with one of her bracelets in her hand. She gave it to me with a smile and said that she had enjoyed the time we have spent together. Leave it to me to break it within one minute in my hands, but other than that it was a precious moment.
I thought back to visiting my grandma’s house this week. Yolanda’s father passed away last week, and the Catholic tradition is that the whole family gathers every evening after the death of a loved one leading up to their funeral. It is a time for prayer, hymns, repeating of phrases, and food. I got to see a different side of their culture in that little house. With their eyes closed and hands griping either their rosary or their kids, I could see the strength of their family ties. Both nights I went we shared food together, each family bringing their own contribution. It was beautiful to see so many generations in one room, noting who was related to whom by the freckles on their face or by how their skin creases when they smile; it was like living in a family album book.
I thought back to one of the nights when it was just Yolanda, Jefferson, Stephanie and I at home. Eylin was at his grandma’s house watching her for the night (him and his brothers and sisters take turns spending the night with her each day of the week). All was quiet in the house, watching our favorite Costa Rican TV show “La Pensión” when all of a sudden the sound of a cheap blender began in the kitchen. The sound grew, and before I knew it a black thing, the size of a bat, flew in. It’s a bird, it’s a plane, it’s… A COCKROACH!!! So the game of cucaracha vs. Fuentes family began. I was dubbed the cheerleader who encouraged from the sidelines (with my binder turned into a head-tent). The valiant Stephanie, with the broom, showed that cucaracha whose house it was. Needless to say the next morning I found a toad in the shower… Oh I love this place.
Jefferson gave me one last squeeze and I opened my eyes. Sigh, what a rush of emotions. I looked at my little Costa Rican family, and thanked the Lord that He put me in this program in this little town with these precious people. The verse from Esther came to mind “And who knows whether you have not attained royalty for such a time as this”. For such a time as this, the Lord created me to experience these moments. And the amazing thing is that He is not finished with me yet!
You know you’re in the cloud forest when you’re above the rainbow!