I was riding home from band practice tonight with my friend Doug, and we were talking about my upcoming trip to Costa Rica. It’s only 52 days away, and I am so excited that I can hardly contain it! But Doug asked me a question tonight that really got me thinking. He said, “Why do you like Costa Rica so much? What makes it different than anywhere else? And what gets you excited to go back?”
I was about to shoot back an answer, something like “Well, because of the people, of course!” But then I was stopped short by a new thought: I love my friends in the USA just as much as I love my Costa Rica friends. So what’s the difference? So, instead of answering right away, I thought about it for a while before speaking.
It certainly does have much to do with the people, don’t get me wrong. I love them like brothers and sisters. And I think about them always. But also, I think it has a lot to do with the laid-back atmosphere in Costa Rica. If you pass a friend on the street, he’s never to busy to stop and talk to you. If you need help with something, you’ve got a whole army of people ready and willing to step in. If you want to play a game, you just jump right in–nobody gets excluded or left out. If you want to talk to someone, someone’s always there to listen, despite the language barrier.
I also think it has to do with their ability and desire to lose themselves in the presence of the Lord. (Some of them. Others don’t know the Lord, which is the whole reason that I go on mission there in the first place.) They’ll fall to their knees, or lie on the ground, and bask in God’s presence. I admire that. They seem so open to what God is telling them. They seem so willing to worship Him in every way that they can. They love him with all their hearts, and that love carries over to those around them.
And maybe, possibly, it has to do with the language barrier. They speak Spanish, I speak English, and very few people speak both. That is very hard to deal with and it can be frustrating, but it also presents a challenge. It makes me strive to achieve fluency in both languages. It makes it so that I have to weigh every word I say when I speak to them–I can’t just say everything that comes into my mind; rather, I have to decide what I want to say and then decide the best way to say it. It also allows us to communicate through love, and love doesn’t always require words.
It definitely has a lot to do with the fact that people are so friendly! They’ll walk right up to you and start a conversation, without even knowing you. They’re not afraid to put themselves out there and be friendly. It makes me feel welcome, loved, and appreciated.
I also love going to Costa Rica because I can leave behind the stresses of everyday life. I can focus on God, and on the lost people around me, rather than focusing on school or projects or anything that so often gets in the way of what really matters. Leaving my home behind and going to a place like Costa is always just what I need to get my heart back where it should be. To refresh my relationship with God, and to get my heart and mind where they should be. It’s like detoxification for the mind and spirit.
So that is how I answered Doug’s question. I thought hard about it for a short moment, and that is what I came up with. At least, that’s the best way to explain the answer. I’m pretty sure that the real answer to the question is quite abstract. I doubt that there is a word to describe the real answer, the way I really feel. But I did the best I could.