Awe. Probably the best word I can use to describe the feeling when arriving in Costa Rica. I honestly couldn’t believe that after 6 years of waiting, I was finally there. I was finally experiencing what could hardly be put into words by previous graduates.
San Jose was exactly what I expected: busy. Everything was all hustle and bustle, but still as, and oddly, peaceful as could be. Everyone seemed so connected to one another, like one big family. We spent the first two days as regular tourists: going to the market, exploring a coffee plantation, ziplining, hiking (dragging one another along the path) up to the volcano Poás, and eating some of the best food I’ve ever had. Then, on Tuesday, we began our work with the children of La Carpio.
Driving into the town and seeing the conditions they lived in was rather eye-opening. As we neared our drop-off destination, I could feel the nerves growing in my stomach. The chatter on the bus was growing louder as it really began to set in: This was happening. We walked off of the bus and started off down the streets of La Carpio. We watched as dogs trotted by, small children peeked curiously out of their houses, wanting to get a glimpse of the strange-looking people walking their streets. After a few touch-and-go moments, we made it to the church. It was really an amazing building. I fell in love with it as soon as we walked in. We set up our materials, and just started playing around in anticipation of the kids. About an hour or so later, kids began walking in.
I remember these kids just walking up to us and sitting on our laps, not even afraid of the unfamiliarity we brought with us. A native tongue was one of the most nerve-wracking things for most of us. I personally believe that God called me on that trip to show me I knew a lot more than I thought I did. He guided my tongue and allowed me to communicate with the children.
A few kids who really impacted me? Nadia, my favorite little bandita. Lucy, the little girl who seemed shy, but cracked a smile every time we turned our head. Andres, AKA Pedro, who was the one of the cutest little boys I’ve ever seen. Watching these kids learn, forming relationships with them so quickly, everything about it. The hardest part was saying goodbye. We all cried. I don’t know if some of the kids will remember us, but they changed our lives, for the better.
In a few months, we will all be graduating. I watched as bonds grew on this trip. We all experienced these things together, we grew together, we laughed together, we cried, we danced, and now, we’re about to depart. I am so grateful for the opportunity to share this experience with my friends. Thanks to this trip, we’re the family that we’ve dreamt about being for years. We are now young men and women, about to go out into the world, and we have been thoroughly prepared by this journey and this school. As much as we may deny it, we all will miss this school. I’m going to miss the classrooms. The teachers, the laughs, I’m even going to miss seeing my annoying little sister (who I love to death) in the hallways every day. Just thinking about the unknown, it kinda scares me. But I know I have perfect peace. This trip has given me even more of an incentive to go into everything with a willing heart, to always laugh at the funny things, cry at the sad things, and reminisce over the bittersweet.
I’m going to miss this school. I will. I’ve grown up in this school, and now I’m leaving my childhood behind. We’ve been shown how to live for God, and how to continue on His path in the world. I can only pray that my fellow classmates will follow the path, and that we would stay in touch, stay a family, and spread the love of God wherever we go. God bless Liberty Christian School. I’ll always wear my sweatshirt proudly.
Judah Lyles, Class of ‘16