What do you get when you put 18 woman together that love Jesus, believe in miracles, are prayer warriors and come to Costa Rica to put on a woman's conference?  You see God do above and beyond what you could even imagine, you see miracles before your very eyes, you see the unthinkable, your heart jumps for joy and burns with compassion!  This is the power of God and the power that God gives us as we unite our hearts with a common bond!

Today was our "Heart to Heart" Conference!  With excitement and anticipation we prepared the last minute details and headed for Celebration Church with great anticipation!  The woman and children began to arrive and registration began.  The church was decorated with hearts and beautiful flowers!  The children were brought to the soccer field for VBS as they arrived.  We lined the children up as they held on to a jump rope and we went in single file to the soccer field where part of our team was waiting for the children.  The children's eyes lit up when they saw that they were able to play on a real enclosed soccer field! 
 106 woman and 35 children showed up for the first woman's conference at Celebration Church!  Above and beyond 
all that we could have expected!  Praise God! The church was full!  All the woman we visited from the Woman's rehab center in Alejuelita showed up and four woman from Rehab Foundation showed up with their children!  I saw laughter, joy, tears and precious woman longing for their Savior, worshipping and bringing the heart of our creator God to the hearts of the woman!  I saw woman who were hopeless, unloved, broken, hurting, poor, prostitutes, alcoholics, drug addicts, mothers, grandmothers, and daughters who were all there for the same reason - to run towards their King - coming to fill the hole in their hearts with the love that they so desperately desire - the love that can only be made complete through Jesus Christ - it was a glorious day!  
Today we were blessed to be able to visit Rehab Foundation and learn more about what they are doing to rescue and embrace woman who have fallen into prostitution and/or human trafficking.  We all hopped on a bus and went into San Jose where we walked to Rehab.  What a beautiful facility that God has blessed them with!  Rehab is a daily place where the woman can go to get training, counseling, encouragement, love and support to sustain them and keep them out of prostitution.  Many woman enter prostitution here just to feed their children or pay their electric bill.  This is a place that embraces those that "want out" but don't have the means to sustain themselves.  They have a big computer room(lots of computers that were donated), sewing room to learn how to make purses, quilts, etc., and kitchen so the woman can learn how to cook.  God has blessed volunteers to build a beautiful playground and a mural for the children outside - and provides a daycare for the woman when they come.  It is a beautiful casa in the middle of a busy and caotic city!  Many stories were told of rescue, and Karlene(on our team) told her story of rescue after a life of sexual assault and rape by her father and brothers.  God, her creator, is restoring and healing her and showing her that she is dearly loved and that it was the sin of others that left her hopeless and that she doesn't have to live in guilt or shame anymore!  Many woman had common stories and their hearts were softened as they heard Karlene's testimony.  The woman(cooks) at Rehab fixed us a beautiful lunch and we worshipped together and invited them to the woman's conference on Wednesday!  Before we left we handed each woman a handmade glass bead bracelet with cross, some good bags and some chocolate!  We hugged and loved on the woman and our hearts were united as one, one that has endured, perservered, and trusted in the cross!  We offered to pay for the bus fares for the ladies if they wanted to come to Alejualita for the conference........we hope and pray they come!
   The first night we were here, one of the men from 6:8 Ministries talked about how they want to take us out of our comfort zone this week. So far, that hasn't been a problem! :) I think I speak for all the ladies on the team when I say that the Lord has been A-C-T-I-V-E already in the two full days we've been here in Alajuelita.
   Today, I was privileged to witness the powerful conversion of a beautiful lady at the women's rehab center. I happen to be uncomfortable with things that I don't understand. It seems to me that many of the women on the team understand the spiritual world better than I do. I wrestled some with unbelief that the Lord could change a woman like I witnessed with my own eyes. You see, my experience has been very different. Mine has been such a process. But I saw someone who just let God be God and rescue her from a place where she knew she was trapped and couldn't get out without someone powerful to help. However, despite the fact that I was uncomfortable, and wasn't sure I believed what I saw, the fact remains that I saw - I SAW - the difference in this woman's face after we prayed with her and for her. She forgave her family members for wrongs done to her that had been drowning her in hatred and fear. No one should have to experience what she has experienced. But tonight, for the first time, she is going to sleep with the peace and joy that Jesus invariably brings to those who receive His love, forgiveness, and grace. She was so ready to be free. The Lord saw fit to put us in that place at that moment to love her to Jesus. The neatest thing - no, I can't say "neatest" because there were so many powerful healing moments for her. One of the neatest things was that she didn't hear what Janeth was saying to her when she accepted Jesus. She heard JESUS say something to her about how she could trust Him. Praise Jesus, that He is so personal and that it was so clearly Him, not us. 
     That event kind of overshadowed the rest of my day. Not surprising, since Jesus just rescued another one into His kingdom!! Whew! I did, however, meet other precious people today. I sat next to Angie, a 19-year old at the rehab center. I hope we get to go back so I can talk with her more. Since I'll be helping with the VBS, I won't get to see her at the women's conference. She was glad, I think, to see someone her own age. And I am wowed by the fact that God  put me in the seat next to her just so we could meet. I also met Alexandra, an 11-year old, who was very patient as I continued to try my Spanish skills in conversation with her. Ironically, some people have started asking me to translate . . . ha. That sometimes works. :)
     Part of our team also got to see the facility for the VBS. They were so excited!! As Kecelyn said, we were asking for crumbs, and the Lord gave us a feast. The facility is wonderful, safe, clean, and just what we need for our activities. I'm praying that a little girl I met yesterday will be able to come - as well as bunches more!
     Tomorrow, we have another full day. The Lord will again orchestrate everything in "conformity with the purpose of his will"  (Eph. 1:11) and we will again be so thankful, humbled, and blessed by our gracious King. But for now, He's given me the grace for this moment, which is writing this as I head to bed. Gracious, Senor, para este dia. Eres muy bueno y fiel a nosotros. 
Heaven invaded earth before our very eyes today.  God graciously extended an invitation to our ministry group to  partner with Him as He rescued one of His beloved daughters. Rosario, from darkness to light,  from despair to hope, from death to life.  God planned, in a way only He can do, to bring together the testimonies of women from three different states in the U.S. and those of the women at the Alajueita center; testimonies declaring His goodness in each of our lives as He turned what was meant for our harm to our good and His glory.  As each woman shared her testimony, the presence of the Holy Spirit intensified.  Our time at the center had come to an end, but Kathy had discerned to keep going.  And finally, we came to Rosario, and it was this life, that the Lord chose on this day, to show us the reach of His love and redemption.  

Rosario told a life story of every abuse imaginable- sold for sexual favors to her uncle by a mother who told her that she would have rather have given birth to a dog.  Living on the streets, alone, she tried any drug she could to block the pain in her life.  She was rejected as a street prostitute because she "smelled".  When she turned to a hospital for help, the doctor chose to send her out with these words, "She is rotten on the inside."  But, God spoke to Rosario on this day and said, "I choose you."  Our team member, Janeth, ministered to Rosario in Spanish and translated for us,  although words were not needed to see how the Lord was touching Rosario.  An amazing breakthrough came when Rosario spoke forgiveness to her mother and asked the Lord for forgiveness for herself as well.  When Rosario began blessing her mother and all those who cursed her and mistreated her, I immediately began blessing all I could think of.  How could we withhold blessing and forgiveness from anyone after hearing Rosario forgive so much?  

As Rosario received ministry and a mother's blessing from Janeth, her countenance change dramatically.  She was glowing, beaming with the love she had received.  I'll never forget what I witnessed.  

Right before Rosario shared her story, the Lord had told me that someone would want my ring.  I thought that sometime during the week someone would admire my ring and I would give it to them.  As Rosario was speaking, the Lord said to me, "Not that ring, Donna."  The Lord had His eye on a different finger, the one that wore the ring engraved with the Hebrew words, I am my Beloved's and He is mine.  The Lord was asking for my ring.  He wanted to give it to Rosario.  I was honored that the Lord asked me to do something so special for Him.


We saw deeper into the heart of God yesterday. God has compassion for the lost and the brokenhearted. He wants to release those held captive in their sin and from the sins of others. Started the day hearing from a founder of 6:8 Ministries his heart broken for the people of Alajuelita as they are held captive in their alcoholism, addictions and prostitution. How God's heart longs for the release of His people and called us here to bring them the message - 18 ordinary women confident that the Spirit of God has brought them here to minister life and freedom and love and that He most surely arrived long before our trip was conceived in response to the cry of hearts - theirs and ours. We saw His heart of deliverance as we prayed love and hope and understanding into a woman we will call Eileen. We saw God move in her heart!

We continued on to a park inviting women to our women's conference to be held this week. We saw God's heart in our Spanish speaking teammates as we invited the women we passed to the conference. How God pursues our hearts and finds us where we are. We continued on to a church and feeding center and saw some crying out for the presence of God in worship and then saw the feeding of many - a simple meal of rice and beans provided in love. How God knows our needs to connect with Him in worship and our physical needs for a meal. He knows us, meets us where we find ourselves and is ready with nourishment of body, soul, mind and spirit. 

On our walk back an extremely intoxicated man came to us and even in his condition, his spirit was calling out for help - for deliverance from his condition - for prayer. We saw God's heart desiring to rescue him as we prayed and sought his deliverance. Yet we also saw the bondage refusing to let him go and yet God never giving up on us no matter how deep we fall into the pits. God touches those He ministers to also as some on the team also have lived with family members ensnared in the trap of alcoholism.

After a late lunch, we headed into San Jose. In the Hotel del Ray, our hearts were broken as we saw young women entrapped in prostitution and the foul smell of lust and poverty of spirit filled the air. How God's heart is broken.

We wedged in shopping in the market (remember we are women and an hour is way to short for shopping!) and then headed to dinner downtown. Delicious fare of burro in a local restaurant. We then returned home in the dark - watching each other even more closely than in the light of day. We are told never to go alone and to be especially careful at night.  We feel the protection from our God bringing us back on the backs of prayers sent out way from our supporters and friends.  We end with team sharing - each seeing an aspect of God's heart for the people and for us. What a faithful and pursuing Father we have.

A day not to be forgotten . . . peering deeper into God's heart.
We left Christian Light Foundation and came to 6:8 Ministries.  We hopped in the van with Anton, Collin and Becca and headed to Terrazzo(not the right spelling) to start a new feeding for the first time.  We showed up(love that) with rice and beans and picadillo and served around 120 children a meal!  City after city, town after town, neighborhood after neighborhood I see the same need!  The bare necessities, food, water, and clothing and the want to be loved!  We played the hokie pokey with the children, duck duck goose and they showed us some of their games!  The team is arriving from Indiana now!  Gotta go say Hi - till later!  
Mark took us to Iglesia Neuvo Vida (New Life Church) where they are building a huge feeding center.  The church and feeding center are on a big piece of property.  There are several houses(made of tin with no sewage system) at the top of the hill where you enter the property.  The feeding center and church are at the lower end of the property, so they have had to build trenches and cement walls so when it rains the water will have somewhere to go.  Since these houses are above the church and feeding center the sewage could also cause a problem.  The church has told the people that they would help them re-direct and fix the sewage problems in their homes so that it would not cause a problem on their property.  Most have graciously accepted the free offer to help alleviate the problem, but a few home owners(squatters) don't want any help, thus, probably don't have the desire to fix the problem.  PRAY that hearts will be softened and that the "light and love of Jesus" will prevail!  Mark took us to a yummy Costa Rican lunch and we thoroughly enjoyed it - soup, rice & beans, chicken, salad, and my favorite-plaintains!  And then they brought out raspberry ice cream over chocolate cake - yup - my cup o tea!  Bring it on!  Oh, forgot to tell you about the pineapple drink - smashing!

We went into San Jose to the market and walked around in the afternoon.  Mark had to pick his wife and children up at the airport, as they are coming home from a mission trip to Nicaragua.  We will be meeting up with them later for pizza!  YUM!  In San Jose, I was talking to God, in my spirit, and told him if there was anyone we needed to meet to let us know.......just then Susan said, "Isn't that the guy that live in Alejualita......it sure was!  It was Luis in his wheelchair strolling in downtown San Jose!   We greeted him, talked for a while and told him we would see him at church on Sunday!  It's a small world - but we have a BIG GOD!  He never ceases to amaze me!  
On our way to Costa Rica!  What would life be if there were not a few bumps along the way?  Arriving at the Orlando Airport, we were greeted at the ticket counter by two gentleman who asked for my itinerary and told us that our flights had been cancelled.  My heart sputtered as I thought the man(Jorge) was playing a joke on us and just wanted to see our reaction!  No, it was true!  
OK.......sorry I left you hanging, but we had to get on the plane!  Yes, we got on the plane!  A friend of mine was supposed to go on this trip but had to cancel last minute and through communication barriers all the flights that we booked at the same time were cancelled!  We flew COPA Airlines (and hats off to them!).  They were so gracious and the manager and Jorge helped us to get back on the plane (no charge!  That never happens!)  Susan and I looked at each other and knew in an instant that God was with us!  He was fighting for us!   I asked Jorge if I could pray for him and he said, "Yes", so the "favor of the Lord was upon us"!  I can't tell you how excited I get when I see God show up and we can't explain it any other way!

On the plane I sat next to a gentleman name Ricardo. He was 67 years old.  He is originally from El-Salvador and now living in Canada.  He was on his way to El-Salvador and asked us where we were going.  I told him Costa Rica and that we were on a mission trip and he was excited and said that his people needed us to come to El Salvador too!  I asked him if he knew Jesus and he shook his head "yes" and began to tell me a story about a crippled man he came across last time he visited El Salvador.  This man was on the street and Ricardo stopped because he had deep compassion for the man(we know where that came from).  The man told him he could not work because he could not get around, so Ricardo took him to a place he heard about called Castillo of the King, whereby, many American woman came to greet them and Ricardo told them that this man needed crutches.  The woman told the man that he didn't need crutches because he could tall(he was very tall and crippled) so they got him a rolling walker.  Ricardo was willing to pay for this man's walker and the woman would not take any money.  Ricardo was so moved and very eager to visit the man again on his visit to El Salvador.  He told me he was going to send me a picture if he found the man!
He also told me a story about a vehicle that he owns(from El Salvador) called a Samba.  Everywhere he goes people like his car and ask if they can purchase it because they have never seen a car like this before.  He ended up selling it to a gentleman and he felt like God had given him this idea(peace) to go back to El Salvador and drive another vehicle to the states(4000 miles) and everywhere he stopped people would leave notes on the car or the door to his hotel that they wanted to purchase these cars.  Ricardo actually showed me all the little pieces of paper in his wallet with numbers and notes on them.  I told him that he could make some money for his retirement and he said that he just wanted to make a little and not be greedy as he knows that this is a gift from God!  He even told me that he went to the border to the U.S. and that the border patrol was so interested in the car that they didn't even stamp his passport, that he believe's he received favor as he didn't even get a flat tire or have any vehicle problems on his 4000 miles journey.  He was praising God for all he had done!  Susan, Ricardo and I prayed together and I know that God was smiling on us as we praised His name!

We arrived at Christian Light Foundation.  What a beautiful place!  I am looking forward to learning about what they do and how we can be a part of their ministry.  They are on the front lines of ministry and evangelism so I guess God has me in the right place!