We Forged Ahead Despite the Unknowns
Story by Nadelle Bertus and Stacy Blanzy
Leaving the country during a global pandemic might have seemed like a crazy idea, but, at the time, we didn’t have any idea how extensive the coronavirus pandemic would become when we—students and staff from the Mountain View Conference (MVC) schools—hopped on a plane for a mission trip to Monteverde in Costa Rica.
When we arrived, everything we had planned— evangelistic meetings, Vacation Bible School and more—was shut down. As a result, our work was limited to building a church. However, God opened a door to minister to the local children on the street near where we stayed. Each evening kids participated in Bible studies, crafts, games and singing.
Though the team members prayerfully decided to go to Costa Rica, it wasn’t until we heard Graciela’s testimony that assured us that we had made the right decision.
Nearly seven years ago, five worshippers in Monteverde grew to 50, and they started building a church on a piece of land in which they were making payments, said Graciela. Over time, community leaders turned against them, and a bulldozer erased every evidence of their church-building work. “We don’t want Adventists here!” the landowner said.
“We found out we didn’t really even own the land. Even though we had paid a lot of money ... the original owner kept the deed and eventually resold it right out from under us,” Graciela recounted. “We began praying and fasting. ... Then we started to collect funds again, but it seemed like we would never have enough.”
Years passed and the church continued to grow in number. But they still faced the reality of not owning a building, and also encountered opposition from a neighboring church of another denomination that went so far as to pray and fast against our progress. Finally, the church family saved enough money to purchase another plot of land and a few supplies. Our MVC mission team was a huge blessing to them.
Some of the most kindhearted people we had ever met gave up their homes for us to sleep and sacrificed time and money to feed us. Three times a day, a church member cooked us delicious Costa Rican meals from her home—the very same place where they hold weekly church services until the church building is completely built.
We ended up cutting the trip short to ensure we got home before travel became too difficult, but we believe God used us to bring encouragement and help to our new friends, and we surely received a blessing ourselves.