The island consists of about 42,000 inhabitants, with two "major" towns on the island, they are Altagracia and Moyogalpa. The islanders are called, Ometepinos, and are involved in fishing and agricultural industries; growing plantains, rice, tobacco, coffee, bananas, sesame seed and other crop species. Agriculture makes perfect sense, since the temperatures range between 24-32 Celsius (75-89 F).
Religiously, Roman Catholicism rules and reigns. But roots of ancestry animism are vividly displayed in the annual "Baile de Zompopo" (Dance of Leaf Cutter Ant). The celebration is rooted in animistic Chorotega Indian mythology, who sought to appease the Leaf Cutter Ants which prehistorically destroyed crop stands on the island. Other such "superstitions" include a well known legend about Charco Verde ... or the lake and ranch at Green Pool, which is watched over by the ghost of Chico Largo.
The history of the island includes many indian tribes migrating to the island from Mexico, the first of which are Los Mangues or Chorotegas, followed by the Nahuas, then the Mayas. The mixing of cultures led to one cohesive and meshed indigenous culture and religious system, characterized by the use of animal-like carving in totemism. They had rituals such as Quetalcoatl, Quiatoet, and "deities" such as Xochiquetzal, and sun god
The island was discovered by Spaniards in the early 1500's, and with discovery came mandated "religious reform" and evangelism. Franciscan monks arrived in the early 1600's teaching new customs, new language (Spanish), and new beliefs, and indigenous gods were replaced with Christian saints.
Thats the best brief history I can provide. I am sure there are gaping gaps in it, but its what I got. I hope you enjoy it.
My thoughts here are not going to be “so” profound, or far that matter real concise or logical. But, I just want to share a few thoughts in regards to how the Lord pours out blessings in our lives ... and specifically I want to share recent blessing from my own life.
Well, I have three such stories here ... I will go from least to most exciting!
First, this happened just yesterday. My team and I had been traveling home to the base from the coast during the afternoon. Just after merging onto the highway, our big white 15 passenger van started puttering up this hill, jolting and lunging as it seemed to be dying. We pulled over, which in Costa Rica means you are half-way in the lane of passing traffic, moving 80 kph give or take! Its a quite terrifying sight to see passing cars miss your own vehicle by inches! From there we managed to make it to the next exit, find a mechanic still open at 5:30 pm on a Saturday. The problem was our fuel filter. It was actually pretty disgusting, but more than that, they did not have the replacement one we needed - for our old modeled Dodge van! So, the rigged another one. We left, got back on the highway. About 5 km from exiting the highway ... it started again. The problem here is that we had to get from one side of San Jose to the other, and up to mountain sides before reaching home ... about 45 more minutes. Let me just tell you, the last several hillsides we climbed, I think all eight of us were praying that van to get home. I truly think the Lord was pushing us home, fully aware at our semi-laughable predicament. I mean ... it was sort of funny, but not very. On one note, if you could be praying for the finances for our base ... things are tight, and it seems the last thing we need in a broke down van. Please pray!
Second is from my hiking at Volcan Barva about a week ago. The hike itself was fine, and wonderful up to about 3000 mt. but getting there we had to get a taxi due to some unknown bus schedule problems. So, this taxi was an old Toyota Camry, typically a great car. NOT this one, plus it had five adults, backpacks the same and a baby, so it was a full load. But getting up the mountain side to the park was of the closet encounters I have had with death! After stalling on several of these huge, and steep climbs, the driver decided just to gun it the rest of the way ... including about 7 hairpin turns across bridges wide enough to have one car pass at a time! We all though we would die! Now, on the flip side of the day, we had hiked a lot and had to get 8 km downhill in 1 & 1/2 hours to catch the last bus that would get us home! It was 3:30. It took us about an hour to make it 4 km to a small town called Sacramento. We knew we were not going to make another 4 km in 30 minutes, no way! So, as it worked out, the Lord provided big time for us! First this guy offered to take us the 4 km to the bus stop ... which was far more than we would have asked! But by the time the rest of the guys riding with him were ready to go it was 10 'til 5, not enough time to even drive 4 km. We seemed to be doomed! But then after getting to know him some, we found out he lived in San Rafeal de Heredia ... where we live! He took us all the way home! I mean this was like a 20-30 minute drive! Further, he refused to let us pay him... his response, "Total tranquilo! ... Con mucho gusto!" Now, if it doesn't sound like a miracle, just consider that we would have either had to hike 18 km to Heredia to catch a bus back to San Rafael ... or caught some other ride to Heredia. There is no telling what time we would have gotten back, and we did have a 3 yr old with us! After eating dinner in San Rafael we had to catch the bus back to the base ... typically no problem. But, as it runs on the half hour, we saw that as we paid our bill it was 7:45 pm! No to catch a bus 10 minutes late is nothing new ... but to catch it 20 minutes late ... that miraculous! We jumped on our correctly routed bus at 7:50, and literally within 30 seconds of us getting on we left to go up the mountain!
Lastly, and this is mind boggling of just how great and totally sovereign God is! I had been in San Jose several weekends ago. The friends I was visiting offered to drive me back, instead of me taking the bus for an hour or so. I said yes. So, at this one particular street ... it dead ends, sort of. At the end you have to go left or right ... not straight. Going left or right, both lead to a typical 2 way street. Not a big deal, that is if unless you don't realize that the road you just turned onto is a 2 way street! Well, Mark didn't know! For a bit as the navigator & co-pilot, I thought he had simply adapted to driving like Ticos do ... as he was entirely in the left hand lane. As we approached a blind left hand corner, the words, "You know this is a 2 way .... ," were just barely getting out mouth ... and then it happened! We rounded the corner only to see another car rounding the corner directly at us! Ok, I have no idea how fast we were moving, but I would think at least 40 kph for both cars ... that 80 kph, or about 50 mph! I cannot even begin to do this justice, because it all happened in a split second! Mark, in remarkable reflex jerked the wheel to the right, the other car began to skid to a halt ... and we literally missed the car by no more than a foot ... maybe, very likely even less! And as if that is not enough ... we did not flip the SUV we were handling like an F! series race car!
So, what I have taken away from there experiences. First, God has more for me to do in this life (as well as Mark) or we would have been dead by hitting that oncoming car! Secondly, I have never studied any theology about angels, but I am convinced that at times we see them and at other times we do not. The guy who drove us back after our hike, I am thinking he served as an angel to us. However, the other two stories, I like to think that the Lord sent angels to protect us ... to see to that we made it to our destinations regardless of broke down vehicles or careless driving. I am convinced that there was an angel in front of our SUV that literally grabbed our car and tugged us to the side, while protecting the other driver too! As for the hulk of that van getting home... I am sure the Lord had angel pushing us! I mean, these things are all to unlikely without supernatural intervention. Nonetheless, God is good, and loves His children dearly, to take perfect care of us, even in the menial daily tasks!
But he wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?” In reply Jesus said: “A man was going down for Jerusalem to Jericho, when he fell into the hands of robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead. A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. He went to him, bandaged his wounds, pouring oil and wine. Then he put the man on his donkey, took him to an inn and took care of him. The next day he took out two silver coins and gave them to the innkeeper. ‘Look after him,’ he said, ‘and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.’ Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?”
The expert in the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him.”
Jesus replied, “Go and do likewise.”
I need to follow this Samaritan’s example. During these past weeks of training I have studied much in regards to what Christians are truly to be about in this world. Just a few weeks ago my answer to the question, “What is you purpose and goal in life?” would have sounded, in short, something like this: “To glorify God the Father in all I do.”