Heredia, Costa Rica STM trip 2016

The Venture CC STM team left for Costa Rica this past Tuesday. They reported of heartbreaking stories but a the same time they heard and witnessed how God was working to save the youth in the poorest areas of Costa Rica. Here is the first report from them:

Tuesday we arrived at night and we were welcomed by a member of Vida Abundante at the airport and he took us to Hotel Cibeles. Wednesday we went to Smiles with Hope to see the condition of the bridge and it was determined that it needed to be replaced, not just repaired. When I asked how was the bridge still in place, they answered "God is holding it". They are right. Smile with Hope is truly the hope for the Guarari's families. We met Patrona, a mother of 6, she lived a miserable life with an abusive husband, unable to find the strength to do something about it. She was poor, had 6 children and was illiterate. She had never read the bible until Smiles with Hope gave her the New Testament on audio. As she heard God's truth she gain His strength and was able to leave the abusive relationship. Three years later she can read the bible by herself, she was able to find a job and she knows she is a daughter of a King. Life is not easy for her but she trusts in God. You could see her smile of hope. That same evening after visiting Patrona I sat next to a pregnant 18 year old, she was terrified even to think about child birth but after teaching her about the labor process she was less nervous about it. It is amazing what Smiles with Hope bring to Guarari. They have painting, English, sewing, art classes, etc but most of all they learn about Jesus and how much He cares for them. Thursday I would call it a day of praise. Early in the morning we joined the Women's prayer meeting and we heard incredible stories about God's answer to prayers. What impacted me the most was a mother that prayed for her son to stop doing drugs, another that left the drug world and another praying in hope for her son's liberation from drugs. The amazing thing was that later on when we went to Smiles with hope to see their teen's club, I met a 21year old pregnant girl that praised God for keeping her clean from drugs for 8 months. She said that she had tried to stop doing drugs but she would do it again until she found her strength in God. She thanks Smiles with hope because they provide a safe environment for her. She take all the classes she can take there. The teen's club had opportunity to play and after that they listened to a session about values. That night we went to Jholy and as the youth was practicing the play a youth from the streets came into the theater and asked if he could participate because he is going through a very difficult time and thinks he is loosing his mind and needs to do "something". That is exactly what Jholy is, an opportunity for the youth to have clean fun, develop relationships with Christian friends and hear from God. The days are going by so fast but God is allowing us to share His love. Thank you Ivonne