The Team Life

So the teams season is coming soon. Sometimes I look at teams and think “Oh man, long food lines, backed up toilets, vehicles breaking down, finances, logistics, blah blah blah.” Yet every single time I am so pleasantly surprised by what they bring to us.

It was easy for me to be really critical of short term trips when I first came into missions, “They are spending $30,000 to bring this team of 25 down to Costa Rica, if they really wanted to make a difference they should have just sent that money down to build a safe house, or pay for a family so their children can study, or give it to an orphanage so they can build more rooms.” It’s true that it might be more “effective” to just send the money down, but that’s not the purpose of short term teams.

Short term teams bring people together, and God uses them to reveal the great hunger and desperation that exists in the world outside our comfortable suburban lives in the USA. Not only that, but it’s often a place that people decide to make a difference. It’s very different to see things firsthand, and I know from experience how real that is. I wouldn’t be here today if it wasn’t for a missions trip I took to Mexico when I was 13 years old to build a home for a family. I can vividly remember the house giving ceremony at the end of the week once the house was built. I was sitting on the dirt ground, overlooking the house we had just built and our leader was handing the keys over to the family. I remember tears rolling down my cheeks and thinking to myself “I want to do this for the rest of my life, this feeling right here, there is NOTHING better.”

Most people aren’t willing to commit to the next 6 months to a year of their life right off the bat. But once they have had a week long experience in missions abroad, it becomes something that is a little less scary. Not only that, but I know countless people whose lives, through short term missions trips, have been changed and have gone home to start non-profits that now reach hundreds and thousands of people every year. So to say that short term mission trips are a waste of time and money, is a bit shortsighted, because who knows what the long term repercussions of that will be. If you wanna read more about how we feel about short term teams check out this blog we wrote about a year ago: http://themacklemission.com/2014/06/15/the-truth-about-short-term-teams/

All that being said, we had the privilege this past week to host a team for the second year in a row. They are a team from Nicole’s old high school in Sunnyvale, “The Kings Academy.” The woman who started leading the trip, Debbie, is the mother of Nicole’s best friend and maid of honor Jessica.

Our time with them was impacting, not only for the 15 students and 5 staff that came, but also for us. We had the opportunity to do some things we hadn’t before, and we saw many people touched by the sweet love and kindess of our Father. Here are some pictures to better tell the story.

Freedom Street

The first night we went out and delivered iced tea and sandwiches to people prostituting in San Jose:

Standing on a street corner handing out some food and drinks to show people who prostitute that they are valued and loved!
Standing on a street corner handing out some food and drinks to show people who prostitute that they are valued and loved!

Homeless:

The next evening, after some labor projects at our local church/ministry center for Freedom Street, we went to give cookies and drinks to the homeless! While out there, we got to sing “Happy Birthday” to a man who was turning 63. He was so full of joy that he got to share his birthday evening drinking hot coffee, eating cookies, and praying with us.

A small group across the street giving out some warm coffee and talking with a homeless man.
A small group across the street giving out some warm coffee and talking with a homeless man.

Elderly Home

One of the days we we were pleasantly surprised to discover this elderly home by accident. We had originally planned to go to a special needs orphanage, but in the end God had a different plan because the orphanage was already too full of volunteers to receive us. They told us about a government run retirement home up the road. Once we got there we couldn’t believe what we had found, 56 old people living in a home, many of them had been abandoned by their families and found around the city, it was heartbreaking. But we were able to share time with them, listen to their stories, sing with them, and even color with them!

Spending time visiting with the elderly.
Spending time visiting with the elderly.
Doing some coloring with the old folks while listening to salsa music!
Doing some coloring with the old folks while listening to salsa music!
this woman was deaf and really enjoyed taking pictures with us. Here is a girl from the team just spending time with her.
This woman was deaf and really enjoyed taking pictures with us. Here is a girl from the team just spending time with her.
It was a cool oportunity to not only serve the elderly but to also hear their stories, they have seen costa rica change a lot over the past century. The elderly are the one of the greatest treasures a society has!
It was a cool opportunity to not only serve the elderly, but also hear their stories. They have seen Costa Rica change a lot over the past century. The elderly are one of the greatest treasures society has!

Casa De Pan

One of the afternoons we took the team to a children’s home. This is not an orphanage, even though the parents have 46 children adopted living here. This is a family, and the parents have been adopting abandoned children for the past 40 years. They have adopted and raised over 100 kids that no longer live in this house. That means they have almost 150 kids! Our visit here was to mainly play with the kids and give them a short presentation with a Bible story and songs. One of the coolest things for the team was to see that from a donation that they gave last year, this home is now using a fully-functional water well and saving significant amounts of money not having to pay a water bill!

Doing a children's program at a home for abandoned kids.
Doing a children’s program at a home for abandoned kids.
Some of the kids from the home playing with the team.
Some of the kids from the home playing with the team.
Nicole painting some faces
Nicole painting some faces.
One of the kids from Casa de Pan
One of the kids from Casa de Pan.

Soccer Ministry

We had the opportunity to rent out two indoor soccer fields to play futbol with kids from an at risk community where we build homes and do discipleship with the families. We were able to partner with our home building ministry by going to the homes of the people we had built for and bring their kids out for a night of soccer, ice cream, and McDonald’s! We did this on two different nights and it was so cool to treat the kids in this special way.

This is one of the two soccer fields we rented out.
This is one of the two soccer fields we rented out.
At Mcdonalds with the kids.
The kids were so excited to be treated to McDonalds after the futbol match!

Bible Distribution

We had the opportunity to take the team to distribute Bibles in a local neighborhood, they were impacted by the friendliness and openness of the Costa Ricans who we partner with from a local church, as well as those who were receiving the Bibles.

Some of the guys from the team hanging out after bible distribution.
Some of the guys from the team hanging out after Bible distribution.

Homeless Spa

Something Nicole and I have never done is put on a spa for the homeless. Well, on the last day of ministry we had the opportunity. We received about 70 homeless at a church and ministry run by a Pastor and his family who provide programs for the homeless almost every day of the week. After everyone was cleaned up, we served a typical meal of Arroz con Pollo (Rice with Chicken), Salad, Beans, Potatoes, and Jugo, and then we all prayed together. It was one of the most impactful times we had with the team and we can’t wait to do it again.

The room where we pampered the homeless.
The room where we pampered the homeless.
Station 1 was taking a shower, throwing away old clothes, and putting on new donated clothes.
Station 1 was taking a shower, throwing away old clothes, and putting on new donated clothes.
Station 2 was haircutting. We had 3 people buzzing and cutting hair for the homeless
Station 2 was haircutting. Three people from the team served by buzzing and cutting hair for the homeless.
Station 3 was foot washing along with beard shaving for the men.
Station 3 was foot washing along with beard shaving for the men. The students did an amazing job!
Station 4 was nail clipping
At station 4, some of the girls from the team clipped and painted nails.
Station 5 for the women was manicures and pedicures.
Station 5 for the women was manicures and pedicures.

Sinai Ministry

This is a very poor community full of violence, prostitution, and poverty. We came here to work with the kids one morning while the mothers continued in their program to learn and practice sewing as a way of providing for their families and staying off the streets.

Doing a children's program in the neighborhood of Sinai.
Doing a children’s program in the neighborhood of Sinai.
Doing face painting
The kids always go nuts when we bring out the paints!
Blowing Bubbles!
Blowing Bubbles!

Hosting this team was such a blast, we are totally wiped out after this week and will be enjoying a relaxing 3 day weekend for Easter. Thank you everyone for your prayers and support, we love you!

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2 thoughts on “The Team Life

  1. Omg So so cool Wish I was there for the pampering How amazing that must have been for them! Bless u

    Sent from my iPhone

    >

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