... and with these people is so much bigger than Esperanza!
It began in the beginning of their existence. Even in the original history of this culture we can find traces of the gospel message, although it was not consummated until the original Christian missionaries arrived. We receive strength from their obedience and respect them greatly as we know that they have paved the way through their sacrifice and dedication. They truly were voices calling in the desert to make straight paths for the Lord.
What we now know as Esperanza was certainly not our idea. God has opened door after door here in Talamanca and we have simply walked through them.
It began with a “yes” in 2012 when Kimi and Raul Molina moved to Shiroles. That was the beginning of what is now the base, or the Casona. It slowly became a place of ministry for the whole community and relationships began to develop through soccer and daily life.
Esperanza continued to take shape through a “yes” to start construction on a home to be used for ministry. It deepened more as Shelby Feenick said “yes” to a three year commitment in Shiroles as a ministry partner. It began to take shape as young people began coming to the Lord through evangelism and the Alpha course, as Children of the Promise began and there was more intentionality and commitment to our little ones. Community members and other brothers and sisters in Christ from other areas of Costa Rica, the US, and Canada began to feel called to what they saw the Lord doing and they began to work right alongside us.
We are grateful that circumstances surrounding COVID here have greatly improved over the past several months to the point that we are able to cautiously reopen many areas of ministry and even expand to new areas. We have many areas and age groups of soccer ministry, and have also been working with local university students on helping pave the way for more people to pursue higher education. They have determined that the best way to do that is by teaching English and computer literacy classes for people in the community. There are several classes now throughout the week and the students are also working together to do different local fundraisers that will allow them to pool money for use as specific needs arise. We love seeing them work together in new and exciting ways.
Another exciting item is that we have been able to start Alpha, a course that gives a broad introduction to core Christian principles in a non-threatening environment. Lastly, I personally have loved getting myself and my future teachers some experience - they each have groups of students they have been working with over the past several months, trying to help avoid our neighbors from falling too far behind grade-level (there has basically been zero support from schools over the past year, only now are they starting to reopen), and I have a group of preschoolers that I am working with in a little treehouse in our backyard, and I adore seeing them learn and spending quality time investing in them so intentionally.
I wanted to give you an update on El Nispero Elementary School, to which you have contributed so generously. We have been blessed to continue to move forward with plans for construction because of the level of financial commitment from you and many others. Unfortunately here in Costa Rica the process for acquiring permits is quite cumbersome and time consuming, and the pandemic has made the process even slower! We are still awaiting the final permit to begin construction - however, we have made progress in the process over the past months and are closer than ever! Every day we are doing everything that we can to keep the process moving.
Kimi and Raul