I once thought missionaries who live on the beach in tropical countries had a pretty easy life. Then I became one.
I lived with Lisa for almost two years during the transition when Casafe was starting. I found out during that time what I didn’t understand before. Living in a different country, far away from your family, often too busy serving to be in good communication with those from home, in a completely different culture, where you are a foreigner, and of course treated as one, truly surrendering most everything you have to live for Christ, is not so easy. When you could have a full-time job but are called to minister to people all day who cannot afford to pay you instead, nearly everything you have is given to you from others. Additionally, as you get to know families and individuals, you get to know their trauma, which can be absolutely heartbreaking. It is so humbling and so touching how God miraculously provides abundantly more than you can ask or imagine, in any form of need, for yourself and others.
After being back in Casafe to stay as a visitor with my husband and two brother in laws, I am reminded how the life of full-time ministry is and am so encouraged and inspired by Lisa. From the time she wakes up to the time she goes to sleep, her phone is buzzing or people are at her gate asking her for some sort of help. In the meantime, her house is full with those who need a healthy environment to stay, whether it is for a few hours, a few days, or a few months. She intentionally takes time to spend time with her visitors, which is considered extremely important in the Costa Rica culture.
In a place that seems hopeless otherwise, Lisa is a source of hope and help, especially to the youth. Most of these youth have gone to schools where they show up when they want (or when their teacher decides to show up), can go to bed when they want, eat whatever they want, play in the streets of their drug-infested neighbourhoods at midnight, etc, etc. The majority of them have experienced sexual, physical, or emotional abuse, if not all three. In their own homes, they see things and hear things nobody should have to experience. Not only does Lisa provide a home with structure and safety, but also opportunities to learn of their self worth and a possibility to live a restored life.
I often think, “Lisa is the perfect person for this place, thank you Lord!” She can handle these youth with genuine care for them, and at the same time enforce necessary boundaries over and over, which is energy draining and extremely frustrating to any normal human being. She maintains this perfect combination of generosity, compassion and understanding, and when necessary, tough love. This is exactly what her adopted “kiddos” (some which are 22 years old) need for personal development and a new understanding of healthy living.
They have a constant example and reminders through Lisa – how to use positive words, why not to start physical fights, how to show respect to others, politely ask for things, clean up after yourself, for example, and most importantly, what it looks like to have a personal relationship with the Lord. Otherwise, most of them have no clue, because they live in a society where chaos, abuse, and disrespect are normal.
On top of everything else she was managing the last two weeks, Lisa had us four extra guests 24-7 in her home and she made us feel like we could stay there forever! (We really would have liked to ;)) Incredible! She hosted us with so much enthusiasm, making jokes and sharing everything she had, including her time and joy with such a generous spirit. It is just not normal.
This must come out of an overflow from the Lord in her. While living with her for two years, she was example for me how she spent time studying God’s words. She genuinely loves the Lord and is a light wherever she goes. You should see her on her bike riding down the streets, people waving, honking, or yelling, “Lisa! Lisa!” every minute or two! People know the love of the Lord through her and open up to her as she has a way of relating to them.
Thank you for supporting my dear friend, Lisa, for praying for her and for the youth in Jacó.
(I wanted to write this for Lisa voluntarily to give you an inside perspective of Lisa’s life. It is hard to understand otherwise, at least it was for me.
Thanks so much for posting this, Lisa, and letting me share some truths that you might not share about yourself!)