First thing today, the team split up: Half of us went to deliver food (rice, beans, salt, sugar, spaghetti, etc) to a family in Jasmine the rest of us went to deliver food to two families in Juan Pablo. After that, we headed down to Aurora to visit Jose Antonio (the little boy with mental disabilities). He continues to do so much better!! This boy (who is 6 years old) couldn’t walk 9 months ago, and now he is walking and on the verge of speaking!!
While at Jose Antonio’s house, the neighbor’s across the alley (a little old lady) asked me if we were there to pray. When I told her “yes”, she asked me if we could come pray in her house as well! Talk about a testament to what she has seen prayer do in her neighbors lives! It turns out that the lady had just had an operation on her eyes and her husband was bed-ridden from a leg injury about four years ago. Thus, we prayed over them and their house and then one of the doctors taught the old man a couple of exercises that he could do to undo the atrophy in his leg and increase the blood flow to his foot.
On our way out of the neighborhood, we stopped by Maria’s house (who used to be a witch, but has now given her life to Christ) and we delivered our last load of food. While there, a young boy asked me for the cross I wear around my wrist… I gave it do him, of course. This is the third cross someone has asked for off of my wrist… Two here in Costa Rica, and one waitress in Florida.
Now, on to the “gun shots and hot dogs”…
After lunch, we took the team to the houses (shanti’s) down by the river. This is probably the roughest neighborhood we go into, even though we’ve never had anything bad happen. So, we headed down to the dead end street where we go with almost every team and handed out over 100 hot dogs, cookies, chips, pencils, tracts, and bubbles. We also had a great time jumping rope with the kids and adults alike. Even the local drug dealers came by and got a bite.
Once it was time to go, I rolled up the jump rope, we handed out the last of the bubbles and pencils, and began to walk out. As we were about half down the dead end street, a couple of the women came running after us…
“Wait, wait… There are some guys waiting for you at the end of the street! My husband heard them saying that they were going to be waiting for your group so that they could assault you!”
As I’m always bringing up the rear of the group, I quickly called the group back. As soon as I explained the situation, the woman said that her husband went ahead of us to be our escort. Two seconds later, “Bang! Bang!” Two gunshots rang out ahead of us down the street.
At that point, the crowd of women and children surrounding us said that the “coast was clear” and that we should continue on down the street. Not knowing what to do and aware that there was only one way in and out of this neighborhood, I simply told the group “start praying, we gotta go”. And so, escorted by a short portly woman and a gay man as our body guards, we headed out of the neighborhood.
It turns out that the gunshots came from the woman’s husband in an attempt to scare off the hoodlums who were planning to mug us. Nonetheless, the woman (with a rock in each hand, hidden behind her back) and the gay guy (with a couple of rocks in a grocery bag) escorted us out of the neighborhood all the way to the main street and the bus stop… No harm, no foul, though we were all a bit shaken up. On our way out, one of the hoodlums yelled at the team: “We want your money, you son-of-a-b#&*h!” One of the young boys who was walking with us remarked to me “Some people have no respect.”
What really amazed me today was how the community came together and actually stood up and surrounded us in this situation. What was the most ironic and humbling though was the action of the gay gentlemen who led us out of the neighborhood… In the Church today, I think that the gay population is the most shunned and persecuted demographic of all. Yet, when we were between a rock and a hard place, it was this man who stood up for the group of Christians. He could have very easily turned his back on us and allowed us to fend for ourselves, but he didn’t. And that, my friends, is the most accurate immitation of Jesus Christ and His love that I have seen all week. Jesus Christ shows up in different forms everyday in our lives; today, he was embodied as a gay man with a grocery bag full of rocks. For that, I am so very grateful.