I know a very cool family in west Michigan—with 4 beautiful daughters. We taught Sunday School together, Sue became my hairdresser, the girls made me bracelets and they invited me to family nights. From the moment I was accepted by Christ For the City as a missionary in Costa Rica, this family was cheering me on and praying for me regularly.
Two years later, these friends added financial giving to their prayer and encouragement. They are not a family with a lot of extra income, and I never specifically asked them, but one day they quietly began to give money to support my ministry in La Carpio.
Five years of monthly support have gone by, and to my surprise, one of the 4 girls (now in college) contacted me about volunteering in Costa Rica. I gave her some information and asked her to think and pray about it for a time. (To be honest, I didn’t want to get my hopes up.)
Before I knew it, Dani was here to work one month in La Carpio as a Christ For the City volunteer. I certainly have received a lot of short-term CFCI volunteers in my eight years as a missionary, but none have been personal friends. So this was a big first for me–the first individual to hear about CFCI/Costa Rica through my visits and emails, who then chose to come work alongside me in La Carpio.
It was the most fantastic month! Dani not only experienced Carpio and my kiddos, but my everyday life: teaching English, singing and playing silly games, reading Bible stories to the kids, preparing crafts, supervising volunteers, spending time at home and running errands in San José. She saw me when I was fresh in the morning, when I struggled to accomplish things on time, when I beamed with pride at students who improved their grades in school, when I was too tired to speak, when I blocked out the pain to give the kids my all, and when I limped through the city streets on my way home from morning classes.
And through it all, she loved me. No matter what I looked like, spoke or did, she loved me: an unconditional, joy-filled, intentional love. She saw the world through my eyes and gave me the exact words of encouragement I needed. She gave me dark chocolate, a button bracelet and a calla lily made from duct tape–all favorite things of mine. We talked about the profound and the ordinary, and sometimes we just laughed and laughed. She hugged me every single day–several times a day, and coaxed smiles out of me when I didn’t think I had any. For that, and so much more—I am grateful beyond words.