The following is Maya Thurston’s account of her recent adventures during the 2015 annual 8th Grade LCS Costa Rica Mission Trip.
I’ve been going to LCS for more than eight years. I’ve been working towards this trip for a long time. Learning as much Spanish and the Gospel as possible. God has clearly watched me get ready over the years. By His grace and mercy, God has given me this opportunity. We as a group hope to empower the people of Costa Rica and send them the message of God. For all people are to be given the gift and the knowledge of this story of Christ. Although it has been very challenging to prepare for this trip, I am very much looking forward to it. I’m hoping this trip will impact my life and start a new chapter and phase for me. I'm very much going into this trip with a new outlook on life.
February 14, 2015
Although a flight delay was announced, the delay was misleading and the flights were fine. The view from the plane was gorgeous. We got to follow the map of what we were over, such as Cuba, Miami, and the Florida coastline. The day was easier than I thought. We arrived and went straight to the hotel to unpack. I roomed with the lovely Ballahs and my mom. I knew from the jump it was gonna be a breathtaking trip.
The volcano and lagoon were fun, so many interesting things to see on the walk up and down. I walked the whole way up, along with a couple of other students and parents. However, this walk was nothing compared to the zip lines. With a total of 12 zip lines situated more than two miles high in the air, I experienced the Costa Rica rainforest, soil and agriculture. I would personally say the view was incredible and every bit worth the long trip.
February 16, 2015
First Ministry Day
Today we started our ministry days. The morning was hard. I had to walk through a community of families who weren’t as fortunate as I am. I began the day working at our English school. I’ve never seen 11-year-old kids so happy to learn. As a gift, the church provided lunch for us every day. My classmates and I looked at each other… was that spaghetti on the tables!? The women of the church were amazing. They thought of the best “American” food possible each day, along with rice and beans.
February 16-19, 2015
Siesta Baby and Me
The first afternoon, I helped at Vacation Bible School. My classmate Mark and I met this little girl. She was adorably cute, coloring in the corner. Mark scared the poor girl away. She was tired from where she had just come from. This little girl fell asleep right in front of us. That’s how she got her nickname, Siesta Baby. That is all she did that afternoon.
The next afternoon, I began my mission. Siesta Baby came into the classroom somewhat awake. She wasn’t very eager to play, though. My classmate, Xavier, tried his hardest to entertain her. Then, we finally got out the bubbles. They were a big hit, every kid in the room was drawn to them. Siesta Baby cracked a smile, popping bubbles with a friend of hers.
Siesta Baby colored away the following day. I finally found out this beautiful girl was named Jayla. I called her by her name. Smiles filled her face as we continued to play her favorite activities. Bubbles, Hide and Seek, and Dance Moves helped to keep this little girl in a good mood. My mom would say “She has a lot of attitude for a one-year-old girl.”
It took a long going run of energy to keep her happy. Then it was the end of that day and we sat in the back of the classroom. There we were, sitting and watching a Veggie Tale story, but it didn't entertain her very long. I took her shoe, hoping to get a laugh out of her. I got a lot more than a laugh, though. I would say this new little trip of excitement led to a happy Jayla. I took her shoe again and hid it behind my back. Silence. Was this little girl upset? No! She smiled giggled and found her shoe. This game went on for the rest of the afternoon.
Then came the day I had to say goodbye to this brilliant little girl. I had fallen in love with her. She was the happiest little thing. Inside her little body, her heart beat strongly.
My class and I were fortunate enough to go to Tortuga Island. We got to enjoy ourselves and relax by swimming, playing volleyball, getting on banana boats, and snorkeling. As a class, we had a blast. Many memories were created, including this day and the trip within itself. I enjoyed meeting people from other places and making new friends. The boat ride itself was incredible. The breeze and view of the water and other islands were amazing, not to mention the mini pool and drink bar on ship. That experience was a key to helping me draw closer with many classmates.
Wow! It's crazy how fast the trip went by. I loved this experience. I've grown closer with my classmates, my teachers, and God himself. This trip helped me understand how thankful I should be. I appreciated the support from everyone back home, and look forward to hearing all about next year's trip!