Tuesday night our family sat down to Thanksgiving dinner.  Thursday we would not all be together, as that is the day that Raul would hike up to the remote village where Esperanza ministers.  


Though Thanksgiving is not a Costa Rican holiday, and the foods that we eat on this day in the US are largely, sometimes completely, unknown to Costa Ricans (especially in the indigenous regions), it has become a very special day in our home.  Everyone pitches in for a traditional Thanksgiving meal, complete with the turkey, gravy, cranberry sauce, sweet potatoes, rolls, and the list goes on.  


Also a part of our meal on this special day is a time where each one gives thanks to God.  We ask them to put a little extra thought on what they will say beforehand.  It is always a day of immense gratitude for me, and when I hear the words spoken by each of the [no longer] “children” that are our family, I am overwhelmed.  There are seven young people that have been a part of our family for the last many years, and they are to us like children of our own.  It is often hard for them to give voice to the deepest truths in their lives, especially coming from a place where self-expression is a challenge for most people. The common thread between each of them was gratitude for this family unified not by blood or by law, but by choice, by love.  


It has been a strange year for us, and my piece of gratitude is that God has sustained us so faithfully during this time.  As you may know, I was not as much a part of the ministry of Esperanza during 2018 because of some personal health reasons related to my pregnancy.  I was absent for nearly the whole year.  As I have returned home, I have been completely overwhelmed at how much bigger God’s plans are than our own.  He is good, and His faithfulness endures forever.  I was warmly welcomed, receiving visitors from near and far on these first days.  The children that I love so much rushing to our house for a big hug, something I will treasure.  


I am so much more aware now than ever, that Esperanza is the Lord’s ministry; not Raul’s or mine.  He has grown it this year in ways that we could not even dream, and being back home has certainly opened my eyes to this fact. That is my gratitude.  My thanksgiving is that I can even be a small part of the work of God in this world, through the ministry of Esperanza. 


I am amazed to return home to Shrioles and see my absence filled in many ways.  Many people have stepped up to fill in those gaps.  I look at the ministry of the Children of the Promise and see how first Dina and now Reiny have stepped in to love these children and invest in their lives.  I am encouraged to see Maria, a leader in the sewing ministry, also to have taken up a Bible study three nights each week.  The teens that are a part of it refer to themselves lovingly as Maria’s disciples. 


I see even the absence of our four missionaries to Thailand being filled in many ways.  I am amazed that we have been able to send them, though I must admit that I was concerned about their being gone, as they have played huge roles in the leadership of the ministry.  But even so, God is good, and when we give Him our best, He returns it a hundred fold.  No one can out-give God.  He is pleased to give good gifts to His children, and in Him, no sacrifice is ever lost.   


I am encouraged to see Melina, who has grown our women’s craft ministry, and with another one of our leaders, Tita, is reaching out to women and families in need even beyond the community of Shiroles.  I am proud to see our “son” Luis, 15, emerge as a leader among his friends and organizing single-handedly a soccer tournament for his age group.  He boldly is reaching out to his friends and sharing Christ with them.  I am encouraged to see so much growth in our relationship in Alto Coen, and since I was home we have hosted dozens of friends from this area.  They made a day-long journey to our dental clinic, and to welcome me back, and I am eager for the opportunity to continue to build those relationships as they come to us.  We can return the hospitality that they have shown us.  I see how much trust has been built between the “Alto Coen family”, as they refer to themselves, and Esperanza.  That is absolutely the work of the Holy Spirit.  


Thank you to so many who are a part of the work God is doing here in Costa Rica.  


With love,    Kimi