[…] to gain all while you give;

to roam the roads

of lands remote;

to travel is to live.

— goodtravelplaces

Hello everyone! As you can see from the title, in this post we’ll be talking about Betty and Daisy’s trip to Costa Rica and Bolivia. Their trip started at the beginning of September and will extend until the end of December. That’s right, they’ll be gone for 4 months or, if you want to put it into perspective, 1/3 of a year! While we miss them, we are very happy for them. They are making goals reality. But don’t think that they just jumped into it! If your goal is also to serve where the need is great, we encourage you to check out our Needgreater Tips section. For now, we’ll interview them to see how and why they decided to leave their home, friends, and family to go to a place they’ve never been to.

A- So, Betty, Daisy, what made you decide to go to Costa Rica?

B- I had been wanting to serve elsewhere, not necessarily another country, but somewhere where there is more need. My friend invited me to join her on her trip to Costa Rica because she had friends who had been there before and they had told her it’s a very safe and pretty country where there’s need.

D- I had heard that Costa Rica is a beautiful place with warm, welcoming people. Of course there was an added bonus of not having to struggle with the language barrier since I already speak Spanish. But the destination of this trip was mostly decided by a friend who had been in touch with a C.O. who recommended this area of Costa Rica due to the different types of field ministry we would be able to participate in and the great need in the area. All of it combined encouraged me to make the leap.

A- That’s true. From what I’ve heard you’ve been able to participate in field ministry by boat, bicycle, and on foot. Before we move on though, let’s clarify, what is a needgreater?

B- A needgreater is somebody who goes to help where the need is great or decides to help preach somewhere.

D- I’d say it’s someone who has a desire to do more in their service for Jehovah and so they look for places where the need of publishers is greater than where they currently serve. Then they take a trip or ask for an assignment to serve in that field.

A- Have you ever been to Costa Rica before?

B- I have.

A- What was that trip like?

B- It was very different from what I’m used to. We had to either rely heavily on public transportation or walk if we didn’t have a vehicle, which most brothers didn’t. It was a little more tiring since we were in the mountains where the streets were steeply inclined. But the weather was very agreeable or enjoyable in the mountains. Overall, it was a very encouraging, eye-opening experience to see the struggle that the brothers have to go through just to go to the meetings or go to service.

A- What are the differences between your previous trip to Costa Rica and the current one?

B- Obviously, they are different places within Costa Rica, but the main difference is that this time around we didn’t stay with brothers. Before, the family we stayed with had a vehicle so that was how we moved around, but here we have to rely a lot more on public transportation like buses. The congregation is very hospitable so they’ve invited us a lot to eat at their homes or hang out. The weather is also different. It’s humid since we’re closer to a river and the beach. Now, it’s a lot warmer. We also have to buy our own groceries and necessities here since we are renting a place of our own. The good thing is that the brother we are renting this cabin from lets us use a kitchen area so we can cook our own food. We’re a lot more independent here.

A- What culture shock have you experienced so far (things that surprise you, things you didn’t know and have learned about it, etc.)?

B- Actually, for me, there was literally no culture shock.

D- One thing I didn’t expect was the difference in colloquial speech, that is, the vocabulary and slang used here in Costa Rica. Costa Ricans often use words I’m not familiar with for many of the same things we have back home. I have to pay close attention to the context of the conversation so as to know to what they are referring. This has taken me by surprise because I assumed I wouldn’t struggle with the language since I’ve spoken Spanish since I was 3 years old. However, being immersed in the culture and language here has made me realize how my mind is geared more towards English. At times it can be difficult to understand what the locals are saying when they speak rapidly with accents I’m unaccustomed to and using unique slang.
Also, the road etiquette and the way Costa Ricans drive has required an adjustment of mindset and I have to be cautious. It’s very common for people to swerve from lane to lane or stop in the middle of the road to chat or pick someone up. Riding a bicycle around town, for example, means I have to be very careful with cars coming from both directions because at any given moment, they might move into each other’s lane. At the same time, I have to resist the impulse to move out of the vehicle’s way because they usually swerve to avoid cyclists and pedestrians. I might block their path completely if I move to avoid them and they move to avoid me at the same time.

A- I understand. Having visited a few different countries, I have to agree. They know how to get around those on foot and smaller modes of transportation. Remember that rules of traffic change from place to place. What’s the weather like?

B- In San Marcos, we went in what they consider the start of winter which supposedly just means it rains a lot, but it didn’t rain that much while we were there. It’s usually sunny during the day and from 12-2, it starts to rain.

D- The weather here is actually quite similar to back home because where I’m from it’s hot and it is humid. We have a lake and we have rivers nearby. Sierpe, where we are now, is a coastal town and there are many rivers and sources of water nearby so it’s very humid. It is quite hot. The big difference, I would say it’s that the sun is stronger here because we are closer to the equator. The good thing is that, here, they get a lot more winds so even with the heat and humidity is not so bad because you have a cool breeze.

A- Nice. When did your preparations for this trip start?

B- We decided to take this trip since November of last year, but I had been saving since before then. It helped.

A- What preparations did you make?

B- The main thing was saving and deciding where to go, but with the contact we had, the brother was able to recommend an area for us to serve in.

A- What steps did you take?

B- We prayed when deciding where to go and, of course, began to save up as much as we could being thrifty by not going out to eat or things like that. We also made sure to get clothing appropriate to the weather of the place we were going to. We also kept an eye on the flight prices to get the best bargain we could and, finally, I let my boss know that I was leaving.

A- How did you feel when it was time to actually do it? Have you experienced any homesickness?

B- Honestly, no, no homesickness.

A- What do you miss the most?

B- The thing I miss the most is probably the food because since we try to buy cheap, bulk items to last the week, we have a limited budget. It’s mostly been rice, fried bananas, or occasionally tuna or something with vegetables. On the very rare occasion, we get a bit of meat.

A- How do you deal with missing friends/family back home?

D- I make it a matter of prayer. Personally, I do enjoy some semblance of routine and normalcy, which means I miss my family and activities back home quite a bit. However, I keep in mind that my trip is only for a limited period of time. I do my best to focus on enjoying the moment and the company of the friends wherever it is I’m visiting. Home is not going anywhere, so to speak, and I appreciate the opportunity Jehovah has given me to visit and go serve in these places. And of course, something that helps is the fact that modern technology usually makes it possible for me to call or message friends and family back home at some point while I’m away. Also, I think that if they could see how I’m enjoying my time here and the opportunities I have here, I think they’d want me to enjoy them. I know they’re happy and excited that I’ve reached my long-term goal.

A- Makes sense! Prayer is key. Though what you said about home not going anywhere is true, I also recommend keeping in mind that things do change while you are away. Kids grow, people move, jobs change, cities grow. So just mentally prepare yourself for things not being exactly the way you left them.

A- Why is it worth the effort?

D- Simplest answer: Jehovah. From the very beginning, even setting this goal of going of going to serve where the need is greater comes from a place of love. I have a comfortable life. I have opportunities to serve back home as well- and I do. But I think it’s kind of knowing that you can do more. And that love that you have for Jehovah just really motivates you to take to take the steps and make the sacrifices necessary because you know that it’s the best thing you can do. Meditating on the blessings that Jehovah has already given you in your current service and how you can respond in kind. Knowing that Jehovah will support and bless the greater sacrifices you are making to serve him moves you to action.

A- What practical advice do you have for others?

D- Save your money. If you can avoid going out to eat as often or spending money on things you don’t really need, that’d be for the best. Every time I was kind of like, “Ugh… I don’t feel like cooking. I want to go out and just like get a burger and fries and be done with it,” I would think, “Okay, here it’s going to cost me maybe like seven dollars for the meal and I’ll enjoy it for the moment, but that’s like seven dollars that I can stretch and they might be a day’s worth of meals where I’m going to serve”. So, just think about it as a long-term investment. If you save money while you’re back home and working and you have that at your disposal, then it’s an investment in your time staying somewhere else. It could help you live a little more comfortably, not skimping out on groceries or things you may find yourself needing, like a new pair of shoes or a hat for the sun. Basically, it will be one less worry.

A- Alright. Betty, Daisy, thanks for answering those questions for us. I’ll invite any readers to ask their questions for you guys in the comments section.

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