Hola, mi nombre es Zack Burkhardt. I am currently sitting on the stage at our host church, Thursday night at 10:45, and I’m reading from my notes on Monday, New Years Eve.
This was easily the longest and most exhausting day of the trip. Most of the team was awake by 7 AM, with breakfast being served at 8. We ate this cool fried chicken sausage thing that looked like a fried hot dog with a long slice taken out of it. There were also hash browns, a little taste of our southern home, and the ever-present rice and beans. After enjoying our breakfast, we were split into two groups: one to clean the church where we are staying, and the other to clean a parking lot for the party that night.
I was on the team that stayed behind to clean the church, and proceeded to use some white paint to paint all of the trees on the parking lot. The paint is necessary to prevent the termites from burrowing into the trees, and a motley crew of Noah Strickland, Sydney Frie, Justin Brown, Erin Colley, Kate Blumenthal, and Laura Hergott completed the job. We then cleaned the green wall along the driveway, and headed over to a school to rip up weeds along the sidewalk.
We were fully gassed from this experience, and so we strolled over to a convenience store to grab some drinks and ice cream, and then headed back to the church. We swept, mopped, and set up the church for the party, and enjoyed a nice empanada as an afternoon snack, filled with rice and chicken.
People started arriving around 6(? Don’t remember the time) and we stood by the entrance to the church to meet newcomers. I sat down with a family that spoke no English, and tried and failed to pronounce all of their names. I had our translator Tiffany translate for me, and I had a cool conversation with the mom where we talked about our families and our churches. I got up to play with one of the boys sitting at the table (Matthias), and chased him around for a few minutes until another boy (Kracher) called me over to look at something on his phone. He was using Google translate to ask if he could join in and play with me, and he did just that.
We joined a few other kids in playing Duck Duck Goose, Simon Says, and Cat and Mouse. Around 11:30, the pastor called everyone around, and we began to pray for how the last year had gone, and how the new year would go. We all hugged each other, American missionaries with local Costa Ricans, and cheered in the New Year together. It was the 10thanniversary of the church, so we ate some cake and sang Happy Birthday. We cleaned up after everyone, hopped in the pool to wash off, and hit the hay around 2 for an early start the next day.
Not only was this an incredible day in its own right, but it really excited me for the VBS to follow in the next few days. We got to interact with so many kids, and saw their eyes light up when any of us tried to speak Spanish with them. Knowing we would be able to spend more time with them, and interact even more personally, was an awesome realization and really excited me for the next few days.
This may have been the most impactful day of the trip, seeing both cultures unite in remembering the past year and embracing and praying for the new one.