Lawson writes . . . sharing thoughts and memories

May 20, 2015

Our New Home Town?

Filed under: Uncategorized — lawsonjolly @ 5:00 am

Over forty years ago we visited the site of what was to be our new home.  We would complete language school and move to our field of service. It was Limon, Costa Rica.  We were anxious to survey the place where we would live.  Our residency would be in Limon, but we would serve the surrounding bush country. So, soon after beginning language school we made a journey to the city of our future.

Limon had never had a resident missionary, although there was evangelical work in the area and travelling missionaries would give assistance to the developing work.  We had felt compelled to serve in this isolated and challenging place.

We  traveled from San Jose by way of a small gauge railroad.  The journey of 90 miles, as the crow flies,  would take approximately 9 hours.  It is a beautiful and unusual ride over the Continental Divide, down into the valleys,  along rivers, and through tunnels.  The railroad was out much of the time, however, because of landslides and flooding.  There was no road into Limon. It was a city isolated  from the rest of the country.

It was an exciting trip, but reality was faced when we got off the train.  Walking from the train station to the only hotel in town gave us a first impression.  Without a verbal word where the children would hear, I know that Judy and I  were saying, “This is our new home town?”  There was nothing that would draw someone to this place, except the will of God in your life.

The hotel was unpainted, needing repairs, and lacking in sanitation.  There were only 12 rooms, and you wondered who would ever use this hotel.  Limon was a port city and mariners from all over the world would stop here to load bananas and cacao (chocolate bean).  Thus, some of the men from the ships would use it from time to time.

Our room was on the beautiful Caribbean Sea.  There was no glass window, but simply shutters to close when it rained, and it rained 300 days out of 365 each year, at some part of the day!  The temperature was always over 100 degrees during the day.  There was no air-conditioning, obviously!  The water in the city was turned off at 5 p.m. each evening, even though we were advised not to drink it.  We brought water to  drink and brush our teeth.  Caution had to be used when eating, even though the hotel did serve meals with the room.

There were no locks on the doors.  As advised, we pushed the bed against the door for protection.  The linens were not fresh.  They stayed on the bed until they reached a condition where the hotel had no choice but to change them.  You can understand how we began to make adjustments in caring for two small children.  Our introduction to this city was not necessarily a beautiful fairy tale, or “Welcome to paradise!”

The next day as we walked around to acquaint ourselves with the city, and where we might find potential housing, we were confronted with the real plight of the city.  Horses and mules walked freely in the streets, meat was placed on the sidewalk by the vendors, with iguanas being the most prevalent.  There would be large sea turtles lying on their backs.  They were kept alive this way until it was time to slaughter them for the meat.

Degradation and poverty abounded.  Safety was a concern at night, especially weekends.  The men from the ships would spend their time around the city square.  Gambling tables were set up in the streets, and there was an openness of immorality everywhere!  There were fights, many times deadly.  Again, one begins to ask if this is a place to live and raise your children.  The inward response is that if God calls you here, He will sustain and protect you.

With all the negatives, there was still a peace and joy that we could live and serve here.  Changes began to come to the city.  A new hotel, called the New American Hotel, was built. Much of its purpose was to help draw tourists.  Plane flights began to come into the city daily, landing on the beach, and a new highway was built.  Much of the city changed–obviously for the good!

I believe every believer must follow the leadership of God, no matter where it takes you or requires of you.  As a young man, a quote from Lolete Dotson, long time missionary, has remained in my heart.  “The will of God will never lead you where the grace of God cannot keep you.”  That is a fitting theme for all of us, no matter what we do in our service to God or where we live!  Only following Him will we have peace and contentment in this life!  And we can be confident of His presence and care.

” . . . my grace is sufficient for you . . . .”  (2 Corinthians 12:9)  “Teach me to do your will, for you are my God.”  (Psalm 143:10)  “I desire to do your will, O my God.”  (Psalm 40:8)

Lawson

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