I was keenly aware that I had just taken my first steps on foreign land. I’d watched as the plane circled around the city of San Jose, Costa Rica, rugged mountains in the distance, casting a shadow on a sea of burnt red roofs that grew bigger as we came in to land.
In my ears there echoed a hundred voices, but I could not recognize a single word. In my passport a lonely stamp marked my first international flight. And there I was, standing just outside the airport on Costa Rican ground.
How will we ever find our ride?
If I had been traveling alone I might have panicked. But The Professor was not worried, and his confidence – and a brief and desperate prayer – gave me an inner peace.
And they were there – just a few feet away. Standing in a crowd of dozens of people, were our translator (The Professor’s colleague) and his traveling companion. And a stranger, with dark skin, and dark eyes, and a ready smile – the stranger in who’s home I was about to spend the next seven days of my life.
We drove for an hour and I caught my first glimpses of life in suburban San Jose. Iron bars on the doors and windows. Concrete buildings that seemed to go on for blocks, housing both homes and store fronts, pharmacies and auto mechanics. Tall concrete walls, or iron fencing, with razor wire secured on top, surround every home, many businesses, and even some of the churches.
There is so much color. I observed as the stranger navigated the busy, crowded streets. Buildings painted every color of the rainbow, foliage boasting its near-tropical blooms and deep green trees. So much beautiful color.
The streets were busy and crowded and noisy. The lanes were not clearly marked, and being filled with buses, trucks, cars, people, dogs, bicycles, motorcycles, and only God knows what else, made the journey seem incredibly dangerous. I could never drive here. I thought to myself, which was more a reflection of my dislike for driving in general than it was a testament to the streets of San Jose.
As we made our way to the stranger’s home, I couldn’t help but wonder where in the world we would be spending the next week. Would it be safe? Would it be clean? Would it be comfortable? I was making a hasty judgment, based on everything my eyes were seeing.
When we arrived at his house, the stranger’s wife greeted us with a smile. Her skin is lighter than his, and she has freckles scattered across her cheeks and nose, a divine dusting of color and charm. Her hair is dark – almost black – a striking contrast against her fair skin.
This woman, she welcomed us into her home. We were strangers to her, and she opened her doors and her home and her heart.
Her home is beautiful, comfortable, and immaculately clean. There are no bars on the windows or doors. The Professor and I stayed in a room upstairs, with a large, east-facing window that stayed open – wide open – the entire time we were there. The immediate view outside our window was the home (from the outside identical to the home in which we were staying) across the street. But beyond that – beyond the power lines and the community gate and a dirty, busy street – were mountains.
the view outside our window
The stranger’s wife does not speak English. And I do not speak Spanish. But the two of us, we learned each other. We learned to understand. We learned to communicate. And when we didn’t understand, we learned to laugh and shrug our shoulders. Because sometimes it’s okay to not understand.
And late that first evening in Costa Rica, after the sun had disappeared, leaving behind a thick veil of blackness, and a chill in the air that left us shivering, The Stranger and his wife took us up into the mountains to look down on the city.
It was there, looking out over miles and miles of city lights illuminating the black of night that I knew God was at work in my heart. Letting me see the Stranger and his wife as He sees them: a bright and shining light in a dark and dying world.
And I knew then that they were no longer strangers to me. They were family, bonded together by the blood of Christ.
Blogging & Family Q&A with Growing Up A Thomas
ARD: Is your family supportive of your blog? How do you use your blog to bless your family and strengthen the family relationship?
GUAT: Yes, thankfully! I think it’s great that my family supports and reads my blog on a daily basis. Not only is it my “scrapbook” of our family but it also lets them connect with me on a different level. We may not have the time to talk in length about something on my heart, nor would I ever be able to articulate it so well verbally, so this lets them see a side of me they normally wouldn’t. Which often leads to deeper dialogue when we are together!