The razorwire seperating our house from the neighbor.

The razorwire separating our house from the neighbor.

I hate to admit this, because there are so many things I love about being in Costa Rica.  I love the challenge of learning a new language (on my good days).  I love the weather, the beauty, and the friendliness of the people.  Yet there is a problem here, and that problem is sin.  We have the same problem in the US where it seems to manifest in moral decay, perversion, and greed.  In Costa Rica it manifests itself in poverty.  And this poverty leads to desperation as people will allow their moral character to relax as they justify actions based on needs.  We all protect ourselves against this desperation by being careful with our goods, having double or triple locks on doors, razorwire on our fences, and security guards walking the streets at night.  However, it creates a level of tension that never goes away as you consistently have these reminders that you need to be careful.  And when you are a “gringo”, and you struggle with the language and understanding the cultural clues, it makes it more difficult so that the tension increases.  Within the first month we were here I took the family to one of the more well known beaches here in Costa Rica.  The purpose was to relax and allow ourselves a little respite from the culture shock we were all feeling (me probably most of all).  We were on the beach by ourselves, and we had pulled our chairs down closer to the water.  We had kicked off our sandals, and we were all standing in the waves.  I was standing with my back to the ocean, looking back at our “camp”.  I noticed a young Tico man walk by our stuff, nonchalantly bend down and pick up my sandals and start walking off.  He did it so smoothly that for a moment I doubted he had picked up my shoes and not his own.  I quickly went after him, intercepting him about 50 meters from our chairs, and he gave me my sandals back.  It colored negatively the way I felt about our time on the beach, and it has stuck with me since.  Today, a friend of ours was robbed at gunpoint on his way home from the bank.  He was with his young daughter who hid behind him as he carefully gave them his money.  You can read about his experience here.  So we live with this tension of being robbed, and the people rob because they are poor, and they are poor because of corruption and greed, and the root of all of this is sin.  God please be with us so that we will love others even when we feel the tension of questioning their motives.  God change us so that we learn to trust that our security is always from you and not from our own ability to provide for ourselves or protect ourselves.  Help us to be willing to be wronged for the sake of the gospel.  Please be with the poor, and please show them the kingdom of heaven.  Please forgive us of our sin.

4 thoughts on “Tension

  1. Beautifully written and transparently displayed. It’s human to want to seclude and protect ourselves from this desperation, but the making disciples requires us to go into the world being led by the Holy Spirit and NOT led by our self-protecting sinful selves. Thanks for the sobering reminder.


    • Thanks Rhonda, and thanks for reading. I am a terrible disciple maker, but I do want to be used by God, and I know that being used rarely means being safe. I am glad God is with us.


    • Cathy, thanks so much. We have been wanting to do this for a long time, so of course in many ways it has been a joy. However, I miss home, family, friends, and the US. There is a lot to get used to, but it is all worth it. I hope my Spanish gets better before I have to actually practice medicine in Peru. I hope your work is going well. The first couple years in practice are a lot of fun, but also can be an adjustment from residency. God bless you and keep in touch.


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