Gracias Señor

In Costa Rica, every time someone would pray, they would start out by saying, “Gracias Señor.”  And I always loved hearing those words.  Partly, because they were two of the very few Spanish words that I actually knew.  But mostly because I thought that gratitude was a beautiful way to begin a conversation with God.

Sitting here at my desk, back in New York and thinking back on the past ten days of our Missions Trip, the overwhelming feeling that I have would be just that.  Gratitude.  Thankfulness for our team and for God’s protection all throughout the trip.  Thankfulness for seeing old friends and for making new ones.  Thankfulness for all of the serving and loving and helping that we were able to do.  There are so many things that I have to be thankful to God for and it makes my heart so incredibly full.

All that being said, I just wanted to share some pictures from our trip.  These are ones that I took on a simple point and shoot, but in many ways, they captured a great overall view of the things that we did and the ways that we served.  I’ll add a few words, here and there to share a bit more of our story.  Thank you to everyone who prayed and supported and followed our journey!

Our team.  Our family, Gina and Zack Skarka and then twelve students, eight returning and four new.


Ellee had a blast.  Most of her little friends only spoke Spanish, but that didn’t seem to stop anyone from having fun.


On Friday, we walked throughout the neighborhood, passing out invitations for Kids Club.





Saturday, we took an excursion to an incredible beach resort.  On the way home, we stopped by this amazing fruit stand and bought some delicious treats.



One of the jobs that we did to help out the church was to clean.  Parents of our team members should know that your children can adequately clean out a bathroom.



We were delighted to be able to spend the week with the Wellskopf family from Dallas, Texas.  They were an incredible addition to our team and a wonderful family that we loved.


Ice Cream at Pops.  Always a delicious tradition.


One thing that we love to do is hang out with the Costa Rican Youth Group.  One afternoon, they took us Roller Skating, and it was so much fun.



Kids Games.  Registration was on Monday and then the program ran Tuesday through Friday, from 9:00am-12:00noon.



More cleaning.


Manual Labor.  It was my favorite part of the work projects that we did.  There is something so empowering about digging and shoveling and smashing things with a pick ax.


We loved hanging out with and spending time with our friend Jonathan who was down in Costa Rica helping out at another Kids Games.

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On Monday night, Alonzo and Silvia (the Pastor of the church and his wife) invited us over to their home for a barbecue. It was a wonderful night, with great food and great memories all around.


While we were at the barbecue, Ellee ran up to me and said, “Mom!  Remember how I always told you that I wanted to fly?”  Then she pulled me over to the trampoline and showed me this.  She is such a funny girl.


A few rounds of Concentration.  This happened just before a few rounds of another game called “Electricity.”  All I can say is, I’m pretty sure you can’t find it in the U.S. and probably for a good reason.


During Kids Games, our students put together Cultural Connection presentations.  This was the day that we taught the Costa Ricans about our Fourth of July.


Painting was another one of our work projects.



It was a bit more rainy this time around.  Thankfully, it didn’t seem to get in the way of what we were doing.  This was probably the heaviest storm that we got and it somehow made these silly girls want to go and dance in it.  So they did.


On Thursday, we took a trip into San Jose.  It was a great time to hang out, shop and eat fun food.




Ellee stayed with her friend Sofia the day that we went to San Jose, so we had to borrow Victoria for our family picture.



Gina, Zack and I opted to find some fun, authentic food in San Jose.  We were so happy with our meal and it was delicious.


At Kids Games, our team led a variety of crafts and sports workshops.



My sweet friend Fiorella.  She gave me chocolate and taught me how to speak Spanish.


On the last day of Kids Games, the fire truck came and this happened.





I’m biased.  But this man is amazing.  He led another incredible Missions Trip and I am so thankful for him.  This morning, he got up at 7 and left with another group for a week up at NTS camp.  If you think of it, please pray for him and for that group and their upcoming week.


It was always my dream to take our kids on a Missions Trip.  I have to say that I am so thankful that they were able to come with us.  Overall, they both were incredible and I’m so happy that they got to have such a wonderful opportunity.


And finally.  All good things have to come to an end.  It was hard to say goodbye to our friends.


All in all, I could not be more thankful for all that God did this past week and a half.  Again, thanks for following our story, for your comments, prayers and support.  There are so many more stories to share and I pray that God will continue to use this trip in the lives of everyone that went with us.


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I love Jesus, my Youth Pastor Husband and our two beautiful children. I'm a professional photographer and I love people, especially kids. My best days include time with my family, Hot Yoga and a Mint Chocolate Chip ice cream cone.

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