Costa Rica 2020 La Fortuna Report
Thank you for your kind support and prayers for the Costa Rica 2020 work. Your efforts made the work this year successful. I am grateful for the personal messages, questions, and interest shown regarding this trip. Your interactions with me help to make every trip the best it can be. In this report, it is my aim to provide an overview of the work as well as present information which will strengthen the reader in their daily walk. While your feet may not have been on the ground with us on foreign soil, you are none-the-less laborers for the Lord and responsible for this work being possible. We are brothers and sisters working together to encourage the saints and reach the lost around the world. This particular report I have themed with the ideas of: Cooperation, Communication, and Prayer. These concepts are central to the success of mission work and were particularly poignant to me in this year’s work.
To begin, let’s get the least exciting details out of the way. The combined budgeted cost for April and I to travel to Costa Rica and work for 10 days was $4360. We were able to raise $4160. We were able to come in under budget and spent only $3857 on planned expenditures. An additional $243 was spent on benevolence for the saints and the needs of the ministers in Costa Rica ($220) as well as 3 Bibles for those without ($23). The left over funds ($60) are in Cost Rican money and will be used for next year. Our scheduled time to arrive at the airport to leave to Costa Rica was 4 am. Therefore, we stayed the night before at a hotel and parked our car at the airport for the 10 days we planned to be gone (approx. $200). These expenses we covered personally, I include them so folks get a better idea of a total cost if they are entertaining doing this type of a work. While in Costa Rica, April and I conducted 14 bible studies. Most studies were longer than an hour if not two hours. We visited many other homes and left tracts and invitations to evening meetings at the church in La Fortuna. I taught the Monday evening lesson as well as the Sunday morning class (which comes after the worship service and lesson, unlike the American tradition of class first). The topics were “How to strengthen the Church” and “The Meaning of the Cross”. April taught a Sunday afternoon women’s class entitled “Beautiful Feet” as well as two children’s classes during the week. As a group, over 60 Bible Studies were conducted, there were 3 baptisms, and there are a number of follow up studies that will be engaged. The meetings each night were attended fairly well, but there was one evening the rains limited attendance somewhat. And yes… the sky opened up and it poured! (Note: Much of the transportation in Costa Rica is by foot or by motorcycle. If a person lives way out in the country, they may have no transportation into town unless someone goes to get them.) As far as the topics covered in the Bible studies, here is an approximate list of what was touched on: Original sin, living together before marriage, marriage, infant baptism, water baptism, faith, repentance, confession, belief, apologetics, Hades, Heaven, Catholicism, Singing vs. Instruments, giving, the Evangelical religion, obedience, Biblical authority, and the origination of Christ’s one Church.
1 Corinthians 3:8-9 – “He who plants and he who waters are one, and each will receive his wages according to his labor. For we are God’s fellow workers. You are God’s field, God’s building.”
Endeavors upon the mission field require that brothers and sisters work together. There is much coordination of effort from both those within the United States and the brothers and sisters in Costa Rica. However, other countries are involved as well. Frequently our interpreters must come from out of country to aid the work (Past countries that I know of: Panama, Honduras, Nicaragua). It is difficult to find brothers in Christ who can accurately interpret and have the time and inclination to do so. It is no doubt difficult also to assume a role of interpreting when perhaps the interpreter may have an idea how he would like to teach a Bible study that is different from the one conducting the study. I believe it is much like a class setting in America where everyone has an opinion and wants to share a comment, but respects the role of the speaker and therefore assumes the role of listening. It is an issue of humility and I think our interpreters display it well. This is not a new problem, but one like the 1st century era of the miraculous when many no doubt wanted to speak (I Corinthians 14:26-33). I greatly appreciate the coordination of both the visiting brothers and the interpreters in regard to this evangelistic effort. It is important also for those leading studies to appreciate the abilities of their interpreters. I have been blessed with a combination of interpreters who have had a solid array of religious experience, Bible knowledge, and pleasant interpersonal skills. It is wise to recognize moments where you relinquish control in areas where your interpreting brother may be more effective. This type of coordination increases as the team comes to know one another over time (I Corinthians 12, Galatians 5:13). We serve one another, to serve God and save souls.
Ephesians 3:4 – “Whereby, when ye read, ye may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ”
Paul shared the gospel that mankind might understand the salvation offered by God. Peter didn’t deny that what Paul preached was understandable, but did convey some of it was hard to understand (2 Peter 3:15-16). Communication could be hard even when the speaker was inspired. Communication can be hard when you speak the same language, but when you don’t, things can go south quickly. Though I will not retell the adventure in this report, I have already written of a communication issue which occurred this year in Costa Rica. You can see it here: http://churchofchristarticles.com/blog/administrator/preachers-fishing-for-sinners/. Sometimes, communication issues are ones of translation. For example we see this in the Bible via words transliterated such as “baptism”. It is funny to listen to a lesson in English being presented in Costa Rica and then have the same English word repeated in Spanish because there is no word for it. Communication can also be hindered by a lack of understanding of customs or practices. There are many attempts at humor that I have seen that have not translated from English to Spanish. The audience didn’t comprehend. I suggest, do not try humor for those that do not speak your language. There are also other moments when you are trying to communicate in another language and you try a word you aren’t certain of, but think it may be correct. For instance, some years ago I attempted to greet a Spanish speaking sister with a term of endearment. The term little grandmother is “abuelita”. The sister was motherly, not grandmotherly, so I used the word “Mamacita”. Fortunately, the sister had a good sense of humor and understanding that I had no clue what I was saying. “Mamacita” is a term certainly not used for sisters in Christ. Nuff said on that. There is nothing more important on this earth than conveying the message of Christ correctly so that others can embrace and obey our Savior (I Corinthians 1:21). Coordinate how you want to convey the message of Christ with those whom you are working. Communicate in the clearest way possible. To your best ability, make certain what you are communicating to your interpreter is what the audience is receiving.
I Thessalonians 5:17 – “Pray without ceasing.”
Communication with God is vital in the Christians life. It enables to us to petition God, praise Him, share our sorrows and fears, and to express our gratitude. God has commanded us to “Go” and preach all creation (Mark 16:15). Praying that opportunity will be there is definitely something we should do. God has promised and when God promises, we can count Him faithful to open the door for evangelism (Matthew 7:7). Mission work requires the Christian to know he is not alone, but that God is there and He desires your success. In this last example, I want to combine the concepts of coordination, communication, and prayer together. There was a difficulty this year in Costa Rica that was puzzling. A situation had arisen where an impediment to effectively evangelizing arose. The specifics do not matter. The effect of the impediment does. The effect was a failure in coordinating the work of brothers together which further resulted in a loss of harmony to the individuals involved, the Church as a whole, the glory of God, and the recipients of the gospel. Issues such as this arose even in the first century (Acts 15:39). In this circumstance, the solution first and foremost was prayer to God by good hearts that the impediment be removed. Secondly, communication followed as to how to manage/correct the issue which had arisen. When you have troubles, rely upon your brothers and sisters in Christ (Titus 2). Our group is particularly blessed in that we have five preachers and elders from two different congregations. The lives of the elders exemplify spiritual wisdom (I Timothy 3). With the help of the group, a proper course of action was suggested. This again was followed up with prayer. The result was that the problem was resolved and harmony in Christ resulted. Those involved in the work coordinated their hearts, minds, and actions toward for the glory of the Kingdom of God.
We identified a couple of needs this year that I would like to address now. We are going to need Spanish Bibles to give out while we are in Costa Rica. If I had had them, I could have given out at least 20. I will be trying to obtain the Reina-Valera 1960 translation. I noticed the paperback was selling for approximately $5 in Costa Rica, but they only had 2 in supply (which I purchased). Additionally, I have a need for Bible Tracts in Spanish as well as Bible studies. I would appreciate any information folks can provide as to where I might find a sound source to purchase these. I plan on writing a few of my own, but will need to have them translated.
Costa Rica 2021
This was my fifth year in Costa Rica. I truly enjoy the people and the work. While April studied Spanish nearly every day in preparation for this trip, my Spanish practice was not as diligent. However, I am noticing little improvements as the years have gone by. The greater blessing finds April and I continuing to grow spiritually. This is enabling us to be more effective in the Kingdom and for this we are grateful. We are grateful for your financial and spiritual support. We are thankful to God that we have the opportunity to share the gospel and encourage the saints. This coming year we will travel to Cañas, Costa Rica to share the gospel. I ask that you pray for us in this endeavor. We plan on starting our fundraising in May this year so we will be a little less harried at the end. If any desire to provide support prior to that time, support can be sent to: Travis Main PO BOX 772 Steelville, MO 65565.
For those interested in past reports of our trips to Costa Rica, they may be found in the following locations: