One Summer I was a part of mission team in Costa Rica (with Experience Mission). We were there teaching a spanish Vacation Bible School and building a bridge in the middle of a remote jungle. The River that passes by the village had recently taken the lives of a few children who were on their way to school when the river was raging in all its glory. So, we came in to build a bridge to better the community and build relationships with the people.
It was definitely the most unique mission trip I had been on yet. We flew to Coasta Rica, took a bus for about an hour ride to another town, took some taxis to a river where we all traveled in boats up the river to a drop off point where we walked a couple more miles to the “village” that we were staying in.
The trip was filled with fun and intense times, but there was specifically one time that sticks out in my mind as one that just reminded me of being ALIVE.
About five days into the trip our water “saber” batteries died and we started having to use the good old fashioned “water pump purifier.” Our only water came from the river that we also washed and bathed in. It was a pretty spectacular time living so much in nature.
One afternoon after a long day of working on the bridge, my friend Sarah and I decided to collect everyone’s water bottles and fill them up for them. We headed to the river with about 11 bottles in hand along with our pump. We had walked “up river” a ways and while we were walking I noticed these really cool squiggly drawing on the shore of the river. I kept looking really hard, trying to figure out if the squiggles were cursive or pictures, but I ended up just deciding it must have been a small child just playing around.
We waded just above our knees, and set up a system of holding bottles and pumping the fresh clean water into the bottles (opening, holding, filling, and closing 11 bottles with only 4 hands of use is a little more difficult then you may think).
About four bottles into the filling process my friend and I noticed that it started sprinkling a bit… which wouldn’t seem like that big of a deal, but two minutes later… it was. The sprinkling turned into torrential rain coming down in sheets (remember were in the jungle of costa rica standing in the middle of the river).
After bottle 8 we started talking about “going in,” but after a small speech about how we will someday look back on the day of “filling water bottles in a river during a terrential rain storm in the middle of jungle Costa Rica,” we decided it was worth a story to just finish filling the bottles. I mean, we were already wet…
Satisfaction began to fill our hearts as we filled the last of the bottles to the brim and twisted on the lid. We carefully arranged the carrying of the bottles and the “keeping clean” of the pump and started to make our way to the shore.
When all of a sudden my friend, who had been leading the way back to camp was instantly behind me running in the other direction (down the river) and screaming. It happened so fast it took me a couple seconds to make sense what was going on. Then I deciphered what she was saying… at the top of her lungs in the most deep throated and serious scream she as yelling: “SSSSSNNNNAAAAAKKKEEE!!!!!!”
I looked on the shore to see more writing in the sand pointing directly to a coiled up two foot pile of yellow and white with diamond shapes snake. It really intrigued me for a second, but when I saw it’s tail and head staring angrily at me with its flickering tongue… I quickly turned and followed my friend down the side of the river into the bushy grass all the way down to where we were building the bridge…
As I trailed behind Sarah I found her breathlessly explaining to the guys in our group about the snake that we had run into.
All I could do was laugh.
I was filled with excitement and adrenaline and life.
The guys never found the snake when they went back to see what it looked like… but I will never again mistake the writing in the sand 🙂
I was ALIVE and I knew it, and I loved it.
That trip was filled with many many more excited and thrilling times during the weeks we were there. Including tarantulas, wall-less holes with planks a.k.a. toilets, severe illnesses, good times, Spanish music, amazing worship, new foods, a new bridge, new friends… including one that stayed with a couple of us for a couple more months known as parasites, and best of all: New Believers.
By the end… I had never felt more alive.
I was living, with purpose, with passion, and I felt so close to my Creator. It was so good. He was so good.
I want this. I want to live life to the FULL.
It was things like this that made me fall in love with serving my Lord.