Roll with it
    October 7 2014 by Rick Houston, Guest Column

    The announcement that the doors of the plane had been closed and secured brought me up short. There was no turning back now. It was Saturday, Aug. 2, and I was headed to Costa Rica for an eight-day mission trip with a group of Methodists from churches in the Houston, Texas, area.
    Serving in the international mission field had always seemed like a good idea, but only in theory. What did I have to offer? I’m just a lowly writer that doesn’t speak a foreign language. I’m not a doctor, carpenter, brick mason, electrician, mechanic, plumber or any of the things I’d thought a missionary would need to be in order to contribute anything of significance. I had all kinds of excuses for not going.
    Whatever happened now, I would just have to roll with it.
    The seed was there, but what was I going to do? It was an e-mail from former astronaut Jerry Ross that changed everything. Jerry attends Friendswood United Methodist Church outside Houston, and he was just returning from a mission trip to Cuba. When I replied that it must have been an amazing experience, and I had always wanted to do something similar myself, Jerry took me at my word.
    By the end of the day, he had tracked down contact information for groups headed to Kenya, Alaska and Costa Rica. Jerry would never actually say such a thing, but the message was crystal clear. It was time to either put up or shut up. Money for the trips to Kenya and Alaska were due within a matter of weeks, but Costa Rica?
    That I could manage, with the help of a chili supper fundraiser at the church where I’m a member, Maplewood Baptist in Yadkinville. I was going to be part of a team that would continue construction on the second floor of an educational building at Iglesia Evangelica Metodista Peniel in the town of Nicoya. My wife, Jeanie, and our twin sons Jesse and Adam, were nervous about my journey. I’d heard of Costa Rica before, but could I have found it on a map? Probably not. I discovered that the South American country’s government was stable, and it had not had a standing army since 1948.
    The bottom line was this. I was scared about what the next few days held. Yet in my fear, I began to see signs of Jesus’ presence at virtually every turn.
    After landing at Daniel Oduber Quiros International Airport in Costa Rica, I saw Jesus in the smiling faces of my teammates.
    The following day, I saw and heard Jesus during a two-and-a-half hour worship service at Peniel church.
    I saw Jesus outside a restaurant as team member Mike Llamas and our driver, Wilson Lopez, struggled to repair a broken belt on the bus in a rainstorm.
    I saw Jesus all around Nicoya. The more I got used to my surroundings, the more the town began to remind me of my own home in Yadkinville. There was even a Burger King!
    I saw Jesus in the women who prepared three meals a day as we worked, and then walked home in the dark. I saw Jesus in the laughter of their children, as they played for hours on end with the beach balls members of the team brought with them as gifts.
    The work was hot and tiring, and there was plenty of it to go around.
    When I was finished cutting all the metal studs I could possibly cut, I helped hang sheetrock. And then I helped unload concrete blocks and cement mix, thanking the Lord for the boot camp and strength training classes I’d been taking at my local YMCA in Yadkinville. I shoveled gravel for the cement, and moved load after load over to a deep pit where a septic tank was being built. On our last day in Nicoya, I saw Jesus in the mud, mire and muck of the construction site. In the midst of it all, was a beautiful sheet of paper, which had obviously been colored in by a child.
    I saw Jesus in Jose Torres, a Costa Rican gentleman, who was so much like a handful of older spiritual titans I know at Maplewood. I rejoiced when he called me “Mr. Rick,” and I cried when he hugged me goodbye. He held the embrace, and whispered something in my ear.
    Although I speak little-to-no Spanish, I understood that it was more than just a farewell. It was a blessing. I didn’t know what to expect of the trip, and I came away with one amazing surprise after another. I’m on the mountaintop right now, and I want to stay here. Baptist Men on Mission? International Mission Board? North American Mission Board? Disaster relief?
    Here I am. Send me.
    (EDITOR’S NOTE – Rick Houston is a freelance writer living in Yadkinville. He has covered NASCAR extensively and written books on NASCAR and the Space Shuttle program.)

    10/7/2014 9:54:48 AM by Rick Houston, Guest Column | with 1 comments
    Filed under: international missions, testimony

Jerry Ross
Rick, I am so glad you answered the call and were willing to be God's hands and feet, and smile in Nicoya, Costa Rica. God's blessings
10/15/2014 11:24:08 AM