International Ministries

Playground Fiasco, or Faith? April 2014

April 27, 2014 Journal
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News from Ruth Mooney, April 2014
Playground Fiasco, or Faith?

Dear Ruth,


From an outsider's view, it was a fiasco

A U.S. church had prepared to send playground equipment to their sister church in Costa Rica. Everything that could go wrong, did. The receiving company in Costa Rica was without internet for a week, provoking a decision from the U.S. to find another company. An officious customs agent insisted on holding up the shipment to count every screw. A local strike prevented the equipment from arriving from the port to the capital. Meanwhile, the group arrived as scheduled, eager to assemble the playground, but had nothing to do but wait. The expert who knew how to put it together had to leave before the equipment arrived. Finally, on Friday afternoon, the truck arrived and the group worked through the night to have it ready for the installation service the following afternoon.


From the experience of faith, this event looks quite different.
"All things work together for good to those who love God and are called according to his purpose."


Mylinda, Xinia, and Cindy 

For a number of years, the church in La Guácima had been longing to respond to the needs of the children in town. They started a day care program and a hot lunch program, linked to parenting classes. One day, their neighbor approached Pastor Xinia, offering to sell his land adjoining the church. This would make it possible for the church to provide a playground for children, one of their dreams, but she turned him down because the church had no money to buy it. He insisted, and kept lowering the price, until finally the church realized that God was behind this. One of the members had been planning to buy a new car, but decided to contribute that money toward the down payment on the land instead. That encouraged everyone to begin sacrificial giving and fundraising projects.


Tables with greetings from U.S. children

Meanwhile, their sister church in Woodbury, Minnesota had been building a relationship with them, visiting back and forth, praying for one another, learning to respect and love one another, and sharing their vision for a ministry with the children in the neighborhood. They heard about a program that refurbishes playground equipment to send to other countries, and wondered if they could participate. At the same time that the La Guácima church was deciding to buy the property, Woodbury asked them if they would be interested in playground equipment. This was a powerful confirmation to them of the direction they were moving.


Meanwhile, other people were catching the vision of this play center for showing God's love to the children of La Guácima: two women who had lost a child, one in Costa Rica and one in the US, contributed to the project, and the park became a memorial. Individuals and churches in the States and in Costa Rica gave their support through IM special projects.


The supposed "wasted week" of waiting became a valuable time of relationship building between the two church groups, building bonds of friendship through the frustrations, tears and laughter that accompanied them in that week. The "all-nighter" will never be forgotten by any of them. They were overwhelmed by the sense of God guiding and blessing this ministry, creating a sense of deep commitment. The 4-hour celebration the next day was a litany of God's presence and guidance throughout the process.


Time to dance and celebrate! 


Everything is perspective: how you see and interpret events. From God's perspective, anything can be transformed into blessing for those who have faith.

Together with you in ministry,
Ruth Mooney
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