ignorance is bliss

thanks for digging into hard stuff with me during my last post. if you are like me, than you too might fall into the category of one who is tempted to live a life of “ignorance is bliss”. unfortunately, living there is not really living…its just pretending. so as hard as it is to hear and “see” the reality of such dark places like the Hotel Del Rey, i believe its what leads to real “life.” its an opportunity to see reality…what we’ve done to our world, and how desperately we need the Good King to come make it right again.

since in my last post i overwhelmed you with writing…
this post i’ll overwhelm you instead with photos!
(some of which are from my IPhone, but i had to include, cause i’m just having way too much fun with Instagram these days!!)

so i’m just gonna post about the rest of my time in Costa Rica by simply showing you!

we spent a lot of mornings and afternoons with sweet “Tiko” kiddos. we’d basically pull up into a village street and get out toys and crafts…

and we never had a shortage of kids wanting to play!

i think i blend in :)

we got to teach English a few times. on this particular morning, we went into a local school, and worked with some upper elementary school kids.

(disregard my freakishly hyperextended elbow. almost the reason that i didn’t make the cheerleading squad in 6th grade! but i think they took pity on me and my elbow and put me on the squad anyway, since i had tried out for every single other sport my school had to offer and didn’t make a single one!!)

these kids were SO respectful, so sweet, and were crazy smart! they caught on pretty quickly, and seemed to enjoy every second of our time with them!

we spent an afternoon in a small village with a ministry that operates a feeding center there each week.

as soon as the people see the truck coming down the dirt road, they grab their bowls and cups and line up to get their meal:

and then the whole community sits around like a family and all eats together.

we spent the next few hours playing in the village. “lets see how many people can jump rope at the same time” was the activity of choice! quite impressive!

this little girl must’ve jump-roped for an hour straight. its all she wanted to do! her spunk and sass reminded me of my Bug…she was my “Tiko Bella” (Costa Rican Bella)!

don’t be fooled by this next picture…we didn’t build any houses or do any manual labor on this trip…but…

we did go fabric shopping!!

so we could teach some women some new crafts!

they were speedy crafters, and before we knew it, we were surrounded by handmade headbands!

they whipped up so many in such a short amount of time that i lost count!

i think they enjoyed getting to relax and have fun while tapping into their creative sides. it amazes me to watch how some women, no matter their life story, where they live, etc…truly come alive when they are given the opportunity to be creative. i think there is something about a woman’s heart that mirrors God’s when we are using our creativity. LOVE getting to watch that happen all over the globe!!

each of these women has a story…stories that include prostitution and drug addiction. they live together in this Women’s Shelter as they are escaping from the hard places where life has taken them. we got to hear of Jesus doing amazing things within their hearts as they are on the path to healing and restoration. they are beautiful!

we took a long hike the next day through the rainforest, up mountains, over streams…

until we came to the perfect spot to watch the baptism ceremonies of a handful of Tiko youth from the church:

and a special Tiko man, who’s story in full would knock my socks off, i’m sure. the bits and pieces i did hear were enough to know that his new life in Jesus is a miracle…much like my own!! Joyous Celebration for what God has done in a heart that was FAR FAR from Him…

being up high on the mountain gave way to the most magnificent views of the San Jose Valley:

we spotted these boys riding in front of us on our way to church:

after church, we set up for a Thrift Shop that they run once a month. people lined the street hours before we opened the doors:

waiting to get a peek at the massive amounts of donated clothing for sale. all the proceeds from the Thrift Shop pay the local youth pastor’s salary. i’d say its a worthwhile cause!!!

we headed over to the coast of Costa Rica for a few days, to a place called Jaco, for a tiny little vacation.

we ate at this awesome patio restaurant that had swings instead of bar stools. i’m thinking our beach here in Florida could use a place like this!Jaco is a known surf spot in Costa Rica, so a few peeps rented some boards:

and made their way out to brave the waves of the Pacific.

while others of us stayed close to shore! actually, we all played in the ocean a fair amount. the waves were the biggest i’ve personally ever seen, and the strongest current i’ve ever felt, making for the easiest surfing (in the white water only for me, thank you!!!) and full on boogie boarding i’ve ever experienced. but then again, i haven’t been to that many places!!

we watched the beginning of the sunset over Jaco:

before venturing out the next morning to see what kind of wildlife Costa Rica had to offer. we just so happened upon this creature…and about 20 of his friends. i’m not even sure what they are, but they were B-I-G!

but not quite as big as the next creatures we went on a hunt for:

we took a croc tour down the river, which basically consisted of us sitting in a very low-to-the-water boat, in search of the biggest and best crocs we could find:

we were not disappointed, to say the least! this picture is not zoomed in ONE STINKIN’ BIT!! that’s how close we were to these massive monsters.


quite a comparison to the cutesy, itsy, bitsy mouse went spent the week trying to locate and catch!

after our croc escapades, we ziplined through the rainforest:

glad to have that one crossed off my “to-do” list, but would be thrilled to never go again!

i wish i could tell you that this following picture is me, but i’m definitely not as brave as my cool friend, Courtney…not even close! i held onto my line for dear life!! i will live vicariously through her, though!

my breakfast plate…nothing like fresh local fruit!
the party got really wild when two friends pulled the trigger and got their noses pierced. i came home with no surprises for Jake this time around, but would you believe me if i told you that i was tempted?? although not for a nose piercing…but an eyebrow piercing! i know…i know what ya’ll are thinking…i can hear it now. i’m well aware that i could never pull it off!! But i did think about it for a millisecond!! i’m dying over the cuteness of these little nose rings…

and we spent a few nights playing some rounds of Texas Hold ’em, just for fun. lets just say…its not my best game! i lost all $2.00 that i started with (as well as a few bucks that i was generously lent!), but it was well worth it for the fun and laughter involved.

we capped off our time in Jaco at this amazing ampitheater that overlooked the rainforest and the Pacific Ocean:

the whole crew:

we watched the sun set over the ocean.

a theme for our trip that seems to have presented itself amongst us since being home is this idea of “From a Brothel to an Ampitheater.” basically, we began our week in the darkest of dark places, heavy and heartbroken, and ended it overlooking one of the most magnificent sites of true, pure, unadulterated beauty and creation. it was a stark contrast. as one friend put it as we watched the sunset…the beauty from the ampitheater was what life is meant to be…the Hotel Del Rey is what we’ve done to life in our sinful states.

its easy to want to live at the “ampitheater,” to only desire the beauty and safety and comfort that our world has to offer. remember that whole “ignorance is bliss” stuff from the start of this post? that’s how i want to live. enjoying the view from the ampitheater, not wanting to think about the brothel.

But i think life is found by stepping into the “brothels” of this world, the dark places. its where we see reality. its where we see how much our sin has affected this planet. its where we see our desperation. its where we came from. its where we see Jesus.

1 Peter 2:9 says,
“But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His wonderful light.”

going into the dark places is the call we’ve been given, as those who have been loved deeply by the Great Rescuer, who have been called out of the darkness ourselves and into the light.

we go into the dark places, just as we went into the Brothel that night, because we are a people who personally know dark places. its where we’ve come from. its where we were rescued out of. so we step out of the ampitheater, out of the comfort and safety and beauty, because we carry a light that our world is desperate for. a light that i’m desperate to be reminded of. there’s something about the “brothels” of this world that show me Light in a way that is different, in a way that is needed. my own heart is so so prone to forget where i’ve come from.

and so we love, because we first have been loved. and that perfect love drives out any fear we might have of leaving our comfortable “ignorance is bliss” ampitheaters.

cause life moves fast around these parts, i’ll be switching gears pretty quickly here as i come back with a back to school recipe that you might enjoy making for your special little ones…or big ones, for that matter!