*This story uses initials in place of full names, for safety purposes for those abroad.

Sunday July 13, 2014 / Costa Rica short-term trip update

Good morning, church! I’m R and I have been attending Gulf Coast for about 2 years now. I have been serving with the youth at reGeneration, at the USF St. Pete campus, and the downtown community group. Two weeks ago, I had the privilege to visit the Day family in Pacayas, Costa Rica with 5 others who are part of GCCC’s campus ministry, called COMission. Gulf Coast has been a ministry partner with the Days and has been supporting them for over 13 years. We were the first team that Gulf Coast has sent to the Days, so to be honest, we were not sure what to expect. However, I can certainly tell you now that we weren’t expecting what we found.

The way that the entire family served the Lord and others daily was something that I had never experienced before. They opened their home to strangers with joyful hearts and treated us like family. Seeing the care that Mike and Noribette Day had for each other and their children, along with their complete reliance on the Lord, is something I will never forget. We were also able to spend time learning about and helping with their ministry. The Days oversee the training and administration of Awana in the entire country of Costa Rica. Awana is a child and youth program that teaches students the story of who God is and what He’s doing in a practical, fun way. It was awesome to hear testimonies of what the Lord is doing in children’s and family’s hearts in Costa Rica.

On our trip, we also got to take advantage of the relationships that the Days have built all over Pacayas that allows them to see where there are needs in the town. One of these needs is at the local clinic, where the people of Pacayas have to wait in lines stretching down the block to receive medical care, even if its only one tablet of Ibuprofen. Our large project for the week was to remove lots of dirt and grass from beside the clinic and mix and pour a concrete slab, which will then be used as a waiting area with benches for the patients. As we worked pouring concrete, we could see ways that doors were being opened for Mike and his family to share the gospel with the town and with the clinic employees. Seeing this, we were encouraged and looking for ways to weave the gospel into our conversations and actions when we were on the bus to the nearby city or shopping at the market.

The time with the Days drastically changed my views of what a cross cultural missionary looks like. I learned that being a missionary means having gospel intentionality everywhere you go. Our God is a missionary God, who sent Jesus to die on the cross and sent the Holy Spirit who lives in us, which sends us out into the world to be missionaries wherever we may be. Having time to speak about missions with Mike Day and his family was especially impactful to me. Months before the trip, my fiance K and I began to really have some serious conversations about where God was leading us regarding missions. Both of us have felt the call to missions, but we really needed direction and had committed to keep praying about these things. The many conversations with Mike gave me vision of what the next steps could be and encouraged K and I with future plans as missionaries. He gave us practical advice through speaking about how his life looked from the time he was called to missions to where he is on the mission field now. Our eyes were opened to the sacrifice and rewards that raising a family overseas brings. It was the best missions training that we could have ever received in a week’s time. Hearing story after story about how the Lord provided in a time of need or answered a prayer when nothing humanly possible could be done spurred us on, and now we are seeking God’s plan for our lives on the mission field more than ever.

It was a pleasure coming beside Mike and his family as they serve their community, and I want to personally thank the church for your prayers and support.