Today we visited a large busy public school named Pablo Alvarado. The school was named after the land owner who had, thirty years earlier, generously donated the land to the school. Our mission this morning was to provide Tom’s shoes to some of the children most in need from among 400 children ranging in age from 4-14 years old. Tom’s shoes has a one-for-one program and donates one pair of shoes for every pair sold.
As a team, our journey began the night before by loading the bus with many boxes of shoes we would need at the school. In the morning after praying as a team we left for the school; we were made aware that some of the children may have old, poor fitting, or dirty shoes and may be self conscious and shy.
We organized ourselves into smaller teams arranged by shoe size, and following a short play time with the children, welcomed the first classes, accompanied by their teachers. Some of the team fitted and sized the shoes for the children, while others sorted and loaded the shoes to ensure each child was looked after. The children are bright, beautiful, polite, and very respectful; quite timid and unsure of the process. As we continued we soon recognized that, as with the Operation Christmas Child shoe boxes and our very limited Spanish, we were able to love these children best by simply mirroring the love our Saviour has for us—unconditional, constant, pure, and tender. As much as we could, we reminded the children that God loves them, and they are loved. The smiles of the children as they left reminded us once more that something as simple as fitting new shoes could show God’s love, and in the process, we ourselves would be greatly humbled and blessed.
The afternoon was spent in a church just around the corner from the school where we had the chance to do another distribution of shoe boxes. With only 40 kids present we had the chance to sit on the floor with kids, hear the gospel presented, and watch the smiles as the boxes were opened.
The words of the local pastor, Don Carlos, spoken at yesterday’s church service resonated again strongly with me this evening. During the service he had made a special point of reminding the congregation of 2 Timothy 2:15, which reads, “Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth.”
Here in rural Costa Rica, we find ourselves as workmen, loving God and loving others. The work continues tomorrow!