A Triple Blessing by Chris
Karen and I always say that if a really great idea that blesses everybody just pops into our heads....it must be from the Lord! Well, that is exactly what happened with a ministry that is a triple blessing! Let me explain...when we first arrived in Costa Rica, we met with the parish priest, Fr. Geison (Jason) about ministry ideas and he plugged us into what is called the Pastoral Social. We have mentioned this before in other blog posts and newsletters but a quick summary is that it is a system to help people with either a short-term or longer-term need where someone is ill, there is a sudden death in the family or a widow that does not have any family to help support her. We jumped right in and it has been a great way to serve the community and has helped us get to know a lot of folks here in Santa Rosa. What is nice about it is that the people ask the church for help and then a team of people go and visit to check out the situation for themselves to access the needs and then the names are passed onto our family. Back in December, we visited a young widow named Sonia and her 5 kids for the first time. She had just recently lost her husband to Covid and the family was struggling to make ends meet. They used to milk cows, raise chickens, bake and sell bread together as well as many other things as a way to make money for their family. Sonia was not able to finish school and is not able to read or write so the situation seemed rather bleak. We would stop by to bring her what is called a "diario" (daily) here, which are all of the very basic staples of rice, beans, oil, wheat flour, corn flour, salt, sugar, coffee, soap, detergent, toothpaste, toilet paper, tuna, and noodles.
Karen and I kept praying and wondering how we could help Sonia to raise some money on her own. At this time, we had also become aware of a local drug and alcohol rehabilitation center in our town called Luz y Amor (Light & Love). One of our other FMC community members had recently helped a young man in their town with a drug problem get checked in there. It is a very intense 9-month in-patient program that aids in their recovery with a lot of time of prayer and time with the Word of God. As I have come to believe, I get in my own way of what God wants to do with me and my life. When I get out of His way and "hand over the reigns" to Him, great things happen. The key point here is our free will, we have to choose it, we have to want it. It is the same with this recovery program, the place is for men-only and they have the capacity for about 50+ men and they require that the men entering really want to change their life. As you can imagine, feeding over 50 men, 3 meals a day, plus the workers is a big task. They go through a lot of rice and beans. We have come to learn and enjoy the Costa Rican afternoon tradition (which is much like many other parts of the world) where people take a late afternoon break to have coffee and a small snack (bread, crackers, cookies, etc). This coffee and bread is usually between 3 and 4 o'clock and holds people over until dinner which is usually a little later like 7pm. The guys at the rehab place only were getting crackers with their coffee and not bread.
One day, while I was praying, I got the idea that what if Sonia got back into making bread and she made the bread for the guys at the Light & Love rehab center. Wow, it seemed perfect...thank you Holy Spirit! When I talked to Sonia about it she was a little apprehensive as she used to make bread with her husband and he was gone and she just wasn't sure. During our visit, she decided that she would give it a try. When we told the guys at Light & Love, they were ecstatic. It only got better, when Sonia actually made the bread and we delivered it, they all said it was the best bread they have ever had. It was funny, some people thought that Karen and I made it and that we were bakers from Europe that had moved here and so they thought, yeah, that makes sense. When we told them, no, a local lady makes it in her house, they were blown away. So, to me, the coolest part is that Sonia and her family are now praying for the guys at Light & Love and the guys there are praying for her and her family. If all of you that read this can stop and take a minute to pray for all of the guys at Light & Love and for Sonia and her family I would really appreciate it. So, the triple blessing is that this ministry blesses Sonia, the guys at Luz y Amor, and our family as well. I will end, as I usually do, with some photos of Sonia making bread and the Light & Amor facility.
|Karen and Sonia with an oven full of delicious bread|
|Karen helps to count the bread while Michael plays with her youngest boy|
|The bread gets put into their containers when we arrive|
|This is what the place looks like from the road, it is rather large to house 50+ men|
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