By Kaleigh Bone as told to Amy Bode
“Por favor?” the little girl pleaded, stretching her arms up.
Excited to have a gringa friend, she begged me to walk her home. It was our last day at a local church in Costa Rica were I’d been serving with the Timothy Christian School Renew Program. Timothy students had spent the week painting and making repairs to a local church. But in the afternoon, we traded in our hammers and paintbrushes for guitars and crafts. We had nearly 75 neighborhood kids join us for Vacation Bible School every day.
All week, as we did skits, and sang songs, and told them Bible stories, we prayed that they would experience Christ’s love through us. And now it was time to say goodbye.
So I hoisted the little girl up on my hip and followed our guide. As we wound our way through the neighborhood, the little girl bounced in my arms, chattering in Spanish. Some words I understood, and some I didn’t. But we did not need to speak the same language for me to see she was full of joy.
And it was a type of joy that can’t really be explained. She was only four years old, but felt too small and frail. Like so many other kids I’d seen that week, I wondered if she ate three meals a day. She was one of three sisters who came to our VBS every day. The oldest, who was only 10, was mostly blind. The church where we’d been serving had raised enough money for her cornea surgery, but the surgery had failed.
When we arrived at her house, she skipped through the front door, excited to show me where she lived.
But her house took my breath away. She lived in a rundown shack.
This little girl had absolutely nothing the world would value—yet she had joy.
When I had first signed up for the Costa Rica Renew trip, I expected a week of sunshine, lush jungles, beautiful beaches, and exotic wildlife. And that is all here in Costa Rica. It’s a huge tourist draw. But the neighborhoods where we worked were tucked away, out of tourists’ sight. We were serving far from any beach or shops or restaurants. The natural beauty of the island was overshadowed by extreme poverty.
I had seen poverty like this before. As a junior I also went abroad with the Renew Program, serving in an orphanage in Honduras. It was there, while working with orphans, that I knew I was called to serve others.
As we said goodbye to our new friends in Costa Rica, I prayed the kids we met would remember the songs, Bible stories, and verses we had taught them over the week. I knew those little girls who lived in a shack, were just three among millions of kids—all over the world-- who needed someone to love them and show them who Jesus is.
As a Christian, I’m not meant to just sit in a classroom and talk about serving others. I’ve seen people in desperate need. I hope to major in health sciences or nursing next year at High Point University in North Carolina. It’s my dream to get my degree, then go to a third world country to help take care of people. I’ve learned through Timothy’s Renew Program that I’m supposed to go. Go love. Go serve. Go show Christ.