This is what I kept repeating to myself on the plane ride back from Costa Rica.  All of the research, the input from wise leaders, the critique of my own experience in dealing with orphan works brought me to a set of principles that are actually at work in the Global Church.  Whether in the U.S., Costa Rica, Ukraine, Africa or anywhere else.  The principles are the same.  Each area is unique and we have to be flexible, but the general principles work.  And, the idea that it’s the Global Church’s responsibility to care for orphans is kind of like shoestrings.  When someone shines some light on the ways the Church can care for orphans, it’s almost like “that’s so obvious, how did we miss it?”  I wish I invented the shoestring or duck tape.  Wow, it’s going to be an exciting year with the other doors that are opening up for POP.

As I kind of sum up my time in Costa Rican orphanages, here are two more that we were involved in during our time there.

Lighthouse Children’s Home – In between orphanage and school

 It was a very interesting time here at Lighthouse.  They are caring for quite a few kids ranging from very young to mid-20’s.  They also care for those with special needs.  While we were meeting with the husband/wife directors, one of their kids had a seizure.  They calmly dismissed themselves and were back in about a minute.  I understood how they responded because of how we ended up responding with our own son when he would choke on his tongue up to 7X a day when he was an infant.  You just do what you have to do to remedy the situation.  Thank God for people who will look after a special needs orphan.

Former orphan returned home when we were leaving, quite exciting for all of her “siblings”!

 You can tell by now that we were very careful about taking pictures of the kids unless we just had full permission from the directors.  Our intention was not to show difficult pictures of orphans with sad faces or in difficult circumstances.  We simply want to highlight the work that is going on while being very sensitive to the heroes running the orphanages and of course to their kids.

Steve, Hubert & Melba (referred to her as the new Mother Theresa)

This was an orphanage in Cartago.  This was such a great place.  It was FULL of love and lots of caring hands.  The stories that were told here were life altering.  They told us of one of the little girls whose mother had tried to drown her and was caught by her sister.  That girl is one of the smiling little ones that was hanging out with us.  They also have children left at their doorstep.  Melba and her husband have dedicated their lives to these kids.  They don’t turn them away.  They make them part of their family.  And, what’s great is that one of Melba’s sons is a pastor nearby so they are very connected with a local church.  To hear her speak of how she gets the Gospel through to these kids was beyond inspiring.  She will admit she is no theologian, but she prays and asks God to open their eyes and to use her at the right moments to share truth.  Melba will be getting more help in the coming days because the Church is going to rise to the occassion.

Listening to the stories of the kids and watching them during crafts.  They had volunteers there from Sweden, NYC and beyond.

Making cookies, I think.  A lot of special needs and abused children here.

We ended up our day meeting up with a local church that is going to play a big role in partnering with our point church partner, El Camino, in caring for the orphans of Costa Rica.  The church was called Rey De Reyes Iglesia.  They have incredible vision too.  They took us to this place on top of a volcanoe where they want to start a children’s ministry.  They are looking to renovate this broken down shed to make it a place where they can begin meeting with the kids from this very difficult place.  We met with one of the families and I could not help but think, THERE is the CHURCH.  I’ve been asking “Where is the Church?”  Now, I am seeing the results of the CHURCH catching a heart for the poor and the orphan.  I hope you are able to view the short video to get a sense of the area we were in.

All in all, this was the best trip that could have happened to Patch Our Planet.  We learned from those who were further down the road.  We were able to see “eyes opened” and the Church respond.  We see great things coming out of this country that will probably serve as an example to the rest of the world.  Thank you El Camino for your heart and for taking on this task of caring for orphans in your part of the world.