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Though I went to Costa Rica to teach, loving my family became my new goal.

Just over a year ago, I had the opportunity to be a Student Missionary in Costa Rica. I became a teacher to 25 noisy, energetic youngsters. Beyond that, I had the good fortune to be placed with a local family who spoke only Spanish. I was not only going to earn teaching experience, but I was also going to finally become a fluent Spanish speaker!

My first four months were perfection. Of course I had ups and downs, spells of homesickness and times of sheer exhaustion, but those hardships were always fleeting. The students and I worked hard and found our way to graduation. Vacation was nearly upon us. In addition, I was living with a family who loved me and who loved each other, or so it seemed.

On New Year’s Eve, the father of my Costa Rican family came back from a party, staggering. He could barely stand and his breath and speech were alcoholic. He had apparently drunk his way from party to party. In a mere 3 hours, he had left himself incapacitated. After a too brief respite, he got up and demanded the car keys. He was clearly in incapable of driving; he was liable to kill himself or a pedestrian. My Costa Rican mom wisely insisted that she drive him home to rest, but he fiercely rejected her offer. As the disagreement continued, it quickly escalated into a violent struggle. We called the police and they arrested him shortly thereafter. I never saw him again.

I later learned that a similar situation had occurred 4 years before. He also admitted to straying from his marriage. This was his last offense. Divorce papers were signed within a month. My family's seeming normality was devastated in a matter of hours.

That night, I slept fitfully. I cried to God to save the family. I pleaded with God to spare the two young girls (4 and 9 years old) the sadness of a broken home. As I prayed, I suddenly realized that, with or without a divorce, this was already a broken home. I instead began to pray that God would deliver them peace and keep them from further harm.

The next day, as I shared the situation with my family back home, they asked what it meant for me. Would I remain with the remnant family or would I move out and live with a new family? I realized that I didn’t want to move. I love my Costa Rican family with all my heart. Even though I couldn't mend the marriage or erase the betrayal, I could do everything in my power to make sure that life moved forward. Things as simple as doing the laundry, washing the dishes, and cleaning the house could make a world of difference for a single, hard-working mother. I could make sure she got a break when she came home from work by playing with the girls or even just watching a movie with them.

Armed with zeal, I dove into my new assignment without hesitation. I was not only able to be a help to my Costa Rican family, but I was also able to really become a part of the family. They knew I was helping out of love and not out of duty. Though I went to Costa Rica to teach, loving my family became my new goal. Looking back, I am convinced that being there for my family was God’s plan all along.


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