Costa Rica Intern Preparations | Emily Rypkema
¡Hola! Bienvenido, vámonos a un viaje juntos…
In just a short time I will arrive to Costa Rica so my Costa Rica intern preparations are starting to speed up. I could try and impress you by saying that I took four years of Spanish honors in high school, but I would have to stop there: 1) that was four years ago and 2) the only thing I actually remember is “Como se dice…” (“How do you say…”) and I would finish the sentence in English. In high school, we spent more time learning about Spanish culture (i.e. eating Spanish food) than the language.
So here we are, I barely know any Spanish and I’m moving to Costa Rica. I may not be great at speaking or understanding Spanish any time soon, but I’m starting small, preparing the best I can. For the past few months I’ve been working on just getting accustomed to hearing it.
I changed my phone to Spanish mode, which has helped me see and hear everyday vocabulary–even if it stresses me out more than occasionally when I’m getting directions while driving. I’ve also been using the Duolingo app which has helped me a ton with pronunciation. If this doesn’t help, I’m just telling myself that my confused face will let everyone know I’m clueless.
God’s ultimately bringing me to Costa Rica
Along with working on my Spanish, I’ve been studying Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis. Going through this book I have begun to love how it explains godly relationships, forgiveness, hope, and morality in a more profound yet understandable way.
A piece that has stuck with me so far is about forgiveness and what it means to “love your neighbor as yourself.” I love myself, even when I am not fond of myself. I may hate that I’m greedy and selfish but I don’t ever truly hate myself; this is how I should love my neighbor, I can hate their sins without hating them.
The most important lesson I’m learning (in a new way everyday) is to trust. God’s ultimately bringing me to Costa Rica. I’m preparing, but He’ll provide everything I need and will open doors and close others.
I’m still getting overwhelmed with the logistics sometimes. Finishing school brings a lot of anxiety and a fear of the unknown. Recently, many tears have fallen over grades and finances. During these times I have to be reminded to stop and remember His promise to care for me. Most of the time I have to try this, then try it again because it’s still hard.
I would love your encouragement and prayers throughout this journey, and if you have any tips on learning another language or book suggestions comment below!
If you want to see and hear more about the internship I am doing click here to watch a short video describing the Oceans Edge Internships
Passport Program | Ocean’s Edge Lifestyle
By Melissa New | Ocean’s Edge Intern. When I arrived in Jaco, around mid-January, I was given my first official assignment: to join a three-month “Passport Program” mission team. The team of 16, as well as their two leaders, would be moving onto The Edge mission base just five days later and we would be serving God in Jaco together under the Ocean’s Edge Ministry program. I didn’t really know what to expect from my internship with Horizon Church. I had never done anything like this before, but I was up for the adventure ahead.
God’s Way or Bust
I could hardly believe what I was hearing for two reasons.
First, I was about to have an instant community of Christian friends who were my own age. Praise God! Secondly, only a few months prior I had had my heart set on a different Passport Program trip, as it fit “my plan” perfectly. I also had heard really good things about the World Race Mission Trip, and the Passport Program is sent from the same sending agency, Adventures in Missions. Unfortunately, I was told I was ineligible to go on a Passport Program trip because I was not within the 18-22-years-old age limit. I had even emailed the director and requested an exception, but the answer was still no.
Even when it seems impossible, God can make anything happen to accomplish his purpose. I remember praying that he would open a door to allow me on a trip and look what happened. God has proven himself faithful time after time when he has worked things out in a way better than I could have even imagined. Writing this post has reminded me that God has a good plan for my life. He is not going to forget me nor leave me empty handed.
By Melissa New | Ocean’s Edge Intern. It was 2:25am and we were all outside, saying goodbye. Half of us had stayed up the entire night so we could hang out one last time. The team was leaving Jaco at 2:30am for their 8am flight. I didn’t think I was going to cry, but as the two white shuttle vans pulled into the property, reality finally set in. The community I had lived with for the last 90 days was about to leave. I looked around and saw the people who had become my family here in Costa Rica. After saying goodbye and giving everyone a hug, I watched as the vans pulled out of the driveway. All I could do was walk back up to my apartment and cry deep, gut-wrenching cries into my pillow.
The next morning when I woke up, I didn’t realize how hard the day was about to be for me. When I stepped outside I looked around the property, I realized how empty it felt. The grief was beginning to set in. I spent the rest of the day sorting through the donation pile from the team and cleaning the rooms. For every living space I walked into, I was reminded of who used to lived there. The tears came once again. It was a painful process, but in cleaning each room, I was letting go and saying goodbye to the former inhabitants.
Hope in Jesus
I was talking to a friend yesterday about the grieving process and it struck me how difficult it would be if I didn’t know the Lord through Jesus. Even though the team is gone and things are going to look and feel a lot different, I know God’s got everything worked out for my good. His word promises He has something amazing in store for my life and that’s far better than anything here on earth.
Emily Rypkema | The Journey Begins
My name is Emily Rypkema and I’m going to Costa Rica! No, I can’t believe it either. But it’s true. In June I’ll be taking six month internship with Ocean’s Edge Internship Program in Jaco, Costa Rica and it couldn’t have come at a better time.
I woke up on a dreary, Monday morning in January feeling uncertain (yet again) about the future. I was finishing up my last fall semester of college and these past four years had been planned out strategically to increase my chances of being accepted into a Physician’s Assistant program. This plan shattered. I was rejected and felt lost. I was nowhere near having an idea of “what I would do the rest of my life”.
So Why Costa Rica?
Well Daniel and Sarah Barrett moved from Lexington, SC to Jaco when I was in high school. Daniel was my youth pastor and Sarah, my small group leader. They both taught me about being a Godly woman, a leader, and having flexibility while serving; things that still impact me to this day.
During my Junior year of college I became very interested in visiting them in Costa Rica and serving with them, however, I continued to pursue PA school. I told myself that “if I didn’t get into school this was what I was going to do”. I was terrified of being denied and even more terrified of telling people of this rejection.
And Then It Happened.
I was heartbroken and lost. And so I began paying about what should be next, asking a lot of questions: would I ever go to PA school? Did I even want that? Or did I just decide on that because it would be a good fit?
One thing was certain; I would apply to the internship in Costa Rica. This was when I had to trust God and relearn what trusting Him meant; I was vulnerable again because I was facing rejection, I have never been more uncertain of my place and purpose and after what felt like months, my phone rang and the red badge appeared over my inbox.
This email would change my outlook of my future tremendously; this email was confirmation of my acceptance to the Ocean’s Edge Jaco Internship Program in Jaco, Costa Rica.
I was elated, nervous, but also relieved; It may not be the rest of my life, but it was six months where I knew I would be and what I would be doing. My excitement grew while reading about my responsibilities but most importantly I was joyously overwhelmed with how this program will mentor, disciple, and encourage me towards a healthy Christ-centered lifestyle.
Ocean’s Edge Jaco beach | Internship
Ocean’s Edge works hand in hand with local churches by providing and housing staff to serve in the community. They are partnered with Horizon Church, the church Daniel and Sarah planted which is where I will be. I will be involved serving on their worship team, with the youth, and the children’s ministry, I will host the short term missions teams that come to Jaco, along with various responsibilities that may come up while I’m there.
As I prepare for this next chapter, I sometimes get lost in the logistics: practicing Spanish, reading books, writing letters but it’s when I feel buried with my “to do” list is when I remember that my priority should be spending time in God’s Word and praying for God to take control and open my heart to everything He wants me to learn during my time in Costa Rica.
Today, I still wrestle with these uncertainties but I am excited for the opportunity I have to serve God and love others while using my abilities, talents, and gifts I have been given.
I would like to invite you to join me on this journey as I write about the preparation and the experience. Your prayers and support mean the world to me. – Emily Rypkema
by Kelsey Vormbrock | AIM Passport Short-Term Missionary | It is all about a Love Remembered
About a Love Remembered
Have you ever thought about how people will remember you when you’re gone? What would you want them to say about you? Most of us, of course, want to be remembered as a good person and someone who lived their life to the fullest, but is that all that matters? Here’s an even tougher question for you readers: how would you want God to remember your life?
When asked this question my first thought was, “I want God to remember how kind I was.” Pretty general, right? I took the next week to really think about and reflect on this question. God used this as an opportunity to pour into me how he wants to be able to describe my life. This is what he spoke into me:
“This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” –John 15:12-13
God’s Dream for My Life | My Legacy
God loves us, his children, so much he sacrificed his only Son so that we may be saved. Can you imagine a love so strong, a love so deep; you would be willing to give your life to save someone else’s? God calls us to love one another whole heartedly. With that being said, we are first called to love Him. We cannot love one another as God loves us before we know and love Him unconditionally. During my time here in Jaco, God has been teaching me just that. I have learned to love God in a deeper way than I ever could have imagined and through that love I am now able to show His love to the people of Jaco.
I have been blessed with a heart for children. I have a gift to connect with them in such a way it could only come from God, and I am determined to share that gifting. With every child I meet I am overcome by the innocence about them and their ability to take in everything going on around them. They have not yet been corrupted by the world we live in and therefor are in a perfect place to be molded into the people God calls us to be.
Who Are We to Love Any Differently?
The children of Jaco have captured my heart completely and have provided me with a perfect opportunity to show them God’s love. I strive to ensure every child feels safe and experiences a love remembered as pure and overflowing. I instill in them the importance of having manners, being polite and being giving of our worldly possessions. I encourage them to be the best person they can be and to never give up. I do not scold them when at first they do not succeed. I put their well-being before my own; I am selfless with them. Most importantly, I teach them what it means to love God so they may love others as He does.
These are all characteristics of God’s love. He keeps us safe, never abandoning us and always encouraging us. If at first we fail, God doesn’t get angry or frustrated. Instead, he picks us up, dusts us off, and tells us to try again. He is a patient and understanding Father. If God can love us in this way then who are we to love any differently?
We are called to love one another. First, seek God and what it means to love him whole heartedly. Then, share His love with everyone you meet. It doesn’t matter what you do, or how you live, if you do not do everything in love.
“If I speak in the tongues of mortals and of angels, but do not have love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing.” –1 Corinthians 13:1-2
Perspective and Focus
That is how I want God to say I lived! I want Him and everyone else to look back on my life and say “WOW! Kelsey truly loved everybody she met just as God calls us to.” So now it’s your turn to answer. What would God say about you now and what do you want Him to say about you when your life is over? Go out and Love the Lord our God by loving all of His people and by fulfilling everything else he calls you to. God bless with a love remembered!
Rediscovering Relationships in Costa Rica and Beyond
by Ashley Labella| AIM Passport Short-Term Missionary | Rediscovering Relationships
“When you are in the final days of your life, what will you want? Will you hug that college degree in the walnut frame? Will you be asked to be taken to the garage so you can sit in your car? Will you find comfort in rereading your financial statement? Of course not. What will matter most then are people. If relationships will matter most then. Shouldn’t they matter most now?” -Max Lucado
My team and I are quickly rolling past our half way point here with Oceans Edge in Jacó. In this time we have been blessed with the opportunity to “step back into reality”, away from distraction, overwhelming busyness and other typical comforts of home. We are loving and growing in a culture where relationships take reign as most important again.
We are all incredibly grateful to be living and learning in such connection, knowing that it is not always the easiest to attain in our home cultures, where we are not living constantly with 17 other human beings. Because of these living conditions, we must shake ourselves awake daily, to be in a constant state of “others-focused” awareness. But wow, what a blessing that is. To have a reminder every single morning as you wake up next to five others, that relationships are the priority, not just on the mission field, but always.
Time Spent Rediscovering Relationships
Time spent out in the community has offered us this same reminder, as we attempt broken Spanglish conversations with locals, watching their eyes light up with authentic joy, all just because we remembered their name… and better yet, how to pronounce it.
Our time spent with the locals reminds us of how painfully easy it is to show someone how deeply loved they are. Whether that means buying a sun-soaked security guard a cold soda or sitting next to a homeless woman to remind her that she is seen.
Whether on our property as a team or out in the community, we are learning to fall in love with people again, and are being blessed with the simple, yet fulfilling feeling of joy that comes as a result.
Our ministry base, Oceans Edge has been challenging us in our relationship-focused service, knowing that regardless of where we are living, whether on a mission trip or at home, we all face the same temptation: to be complacent and comfortable. Oceans Edge, while they teach us the value in resting, also teaches the danger in growing accustomed.
Being accustomed can appear as small, seemingly unharmful changes, but that can form patterns that are lasting and hard to break. Once tear-filled, grateful prayers can slowly become routine rituals to check off and get done. Relationships get put on the back burner simply because they can..because they have no pressing deadline. Because they can always be pushed off to later. We over time, suddenly have “no time” to marvel anymore, becoming suddenly unimpressed by the bright red and orange hued sunset right beyond our window shade.
So Accustomed That We Forget How Extremely Temporary Life Is
This week, to remind us of this temporary and beautiful life in front of us, Oceans Edge posed several questions to us all, that are beneficial to everyone, regardless of their walk of life. The questions are designed to help us look right at the face of time, to envision the day when that time runs out, and to then return back to our current lives with the most powerful intention to live. Almost as if we had already seen our entire life pass before our eyes and faced each of the potential regrets stuck on our hearts.
The questions posed were:
- What legacy do you want to leave on that last day? What do you want others to speak of you?
- Imagine it was your last day. What would you advise your current self now of?
- What do you need to prioritize in order to live out that advise to your current self? What goals can you set to get there?
- Are there any excuses you find yourself making that are preventing you from prioritizing and living out that call? Combat those excuses with truth.
Now Live It Out
Live in such a way that on that hard-to-imagine last day, there is not one regret left weighing our hearts. Not one relationship left unreached. Not one “I love you” or “Thank you” gone unsaid.
“If relationships will matter most then, shouldn’t they matter most now?” Rediscovering Relationships starts today.
My Soil | Dirt to Gardens
By Jordan Harrington | AIM Passport Short-Term Missionary. When I first came to Jacó, I remember the Lord speaking this truth into me so clearly. God spoke to me, “Allow Me to pour into you and from your gardens, I will flow.”
For twenty years, the Lord has poured into this garden of mine in a multitude of ways. I began as a land of dirt: Anyone would look upon me and see hopelessness as a result of my sin. But know that God pursues our dirt-stained hearts and transforms them. He cleanses us with a heavenly rain and makes us new. All because He saw in us what the world had not.
A Beautiful Oasis
Each species of flowers is a result of different seeds planted by others. God’s hand has guided these people, showing them which seeds go where and how to plant them. Colors in this garden that I had never before seen arose through experiences, both endearing and heart-wrenching. Everything that comes in my path is the root to each beautiful detail that makes up this beautiful oasis. His stems hold us up and carry us through the wind, and let us know that through Him we will not be shaken.
Jacó has already poured so much into this garden, creating in it an abundance of love and growth. Through the locals, sweet testimonies, and the love of our Father, this town has given me new paths to walk upon and new eyes to see what the Lord is doing here. What keeps this garden alive is the light of our Father and the waters from His Spirit. Jesus uproots the weeds that I tend to hold on to and He gently shows me that I am much more beautiful without them.
As God uses Jacó to pour into these gardens, He uses the waters that arise to flow from us and into others. This river called Jacó is both on the giving and the receiving end. Our job is to hand out the roses of the agape love that He has grown in us.
Through my experience in Costa Rica, God has introduced me to a new field that I had never before known. He has taught me to dance in the freedom of who I am and to find joy in the thorns. He has used the locals to illustrate this field through their smiles and their stories. They grab my hands, and they twirl with me. The Son shines on their faces and releases an atmosphere of peace. The Holy Spirit dances with us and teaches us new things about Himself- no matter what positions we are in.
As I get to know the hearts of the locals, I see more of what God is doing inside of them and in Jacó. You see, God is a God who attains a spirit of relentless pursuit. He knows us so well and how to rid us of the dirt that lies within; He longs to see an abundance of love rise within us and pour out into others; He chases after us every day, though we may not notice it. Every person experiences this, even if it goes unnoticed. Many of the locals that I have met are in this process right now, where God is sowing small glimpses of His Spirit into their hearts- whether they choose to see them or not.
When I hear of the growth of Jaco Beach over the past decade, I can’t help but thank God for His pursuit and vision for Jacó. His plans for the garden of Jacó are much greater than we can dream of. He longs to see the river that He is pouring in to Jacó to overflow into surrounding communities.
Though this is only our first month at Ocean’s Edge ministries, the Lord has shown me how to truly walk amongst those rivers and allow them to run through me, as well. He has given me a confidence in Him like no other and is continually pouring His heart into me. My comfort zones have been shaken and my gardens have been flooded with love.
God, indeed, has both poured in and out of these gardens of mine- just as He has promised. For this, I am so thankful.
Jaco Kid’s Club | Horizon Church
By Melissa New | Ocean’s Edge Intern. Jaco Kid’s Club is a ministry outreach put on by Horizon Church every Saturday morning. At 10am, as many as 40 Children (and sometimes their mothers) meet us at a park where we play a game, read a bible story and do a paper craft. At the very end, each child receives a bag of beans and rice to take home to their family. Jaco Kid’s Club is just one of the ways we have been able to make and maintain relationships with a lot of the local Tico youth. It’s an interesting concept that once we get the “in” with one kid, we can easily find favor with the rest of their crew.
Costa Rica Ministry Outreach
A few Friday nights ago, Kyle, Jordan and I went to Iglesia Radical (a Spanish-speaking church) with a few local 16-year-olds that we befriended and had been spending time with. One of the 16 year olds, *Isabella, invited us to meet her family afterwards and we readily accepted the offer.
As we approached her house on our bikes, a ton of kids came running out of their homes, eager to meet the random Gringos in their street. It was so cool to see the trust these kids gave us as they all begged to ride on our handlebars and the back of our bikes. 10-year-old Daniella* (Isabella’s younger sister) and 9-year-old Sara* were two of these kids and now whenever I see them at the Jaco Kid’s Club, they sprint towards me and temporarily attach themselves to some part of my body and my heart melts.
Jaco Kid’s Club | Opening Doors
As a result of the relationships I’ve built in Jaco Kid’s Club, I’ve had been blessed with so many new friendships and opportunities. Last Saturday I invited Sara to come to Iglesia Radical with us, and she excitedly accepted the invitation. Her older sister Isabella wasn’t too happy about it, as she doesn’t want her “annoying” little sister to come with, but hopefully in time she will enjoy bringing her along.
Departure To Jaco From Arizona
I board my plane destined for the San Jose International Airport, and sit next to Costarican local (aka a “Tico”) Jeffery. He is flying home after a three-week-long business trip in Scottsdale, and raves about the desert beauty. We chat a bit throughout the flight and he gives me the scoop on what I should expect upon my Jaco arrival. He helps me with my bags at baggage claim and gives me his contact information if I ever need anything. They say Costaricans are extremely kind people and I can see why.
Melissa New’s Jaco Arrival
After I get through customs, which was surprisingly quick and easy, Amanda and Jair, pick me up from the Airport. Amanda is from the United States and has been working with Ocean’s edge ministry for about a year. Jair is a Jaco native and if he is not surfing professionally, he is either teaching surfing lessons or hanging out with kids in Christian surfers. Both of them go to Horizon Church and involve themselves in different ministries around Jaco.
Upon my Jaco arrival, Carli, Ocean’s-Edge-Ministry (“The Edge” for short) property manager, greets me at The Edge front gate. Carli first visited Jaco a few years ago when she was on a mission trip called the “World Race”. We have a mutual friend, Natalie, who was actually my supervisor at TbarM this past summer as well as Carli’s teammate on the world race. Carli gives me a tour of the property and shows me the place where I will be residing over the next 6 months.
My studio apartment, otherwise called “the castle”, is so cute. When I walked in I couldn’t believe I would be spending the next six months in the cutest little apartment. I’m can’t wait to have my own little living space and to decorate!