I love everybody. Wheaton College classmates – some of my favorite people in the world. The Chinese-American friends I grew up with – some of my favorite people in the world. Our friends from Chicago whom we did life with for 8 years – we love them. Even the fun-loving Spaniards that we know – they rank pretty highly. But over the past few years, the community that has sucked us in and made us so proud has been our International Teams family. We love the people of ITeams and their hearts for refugees, the poor, those enslaved in human trafficking, and those far from God. The projects the Lord enables our colleagues to be involved in amazes me, and we continue to be impressed by the intentionality, integrity, and vision of our leaders.
All of this ITeams love was reinforced last week when Nate and I attended the bi-annual ITeams leadership forum in Costa Rica. We had a great time connecting, hearing about how the Lord is working in other parts of the world, and – most importantly – receiving leadership training. Each day we had about 7 hours of sessions and workshops. We returned to Spain with a greater vision for how God’s hand is moving and for how we can better equip our young team.
Of course, we couldn’t forget that we were in beautiful Costa Rica. In between sessions, we got to experience the fun and novelty of being in an all-inclusive resort. All of us ate a ton, and we had a couple hours every afternoon to swim in the pool and hang out.
Here are some snapshots of our time. (Forgive the blurriness and smudges of the pictures – they didn’t turn out very well!)
The beach by the hotel:
Looking at these pictures makes you feel so relaxed, doesn’t it?
Attending Andrew C.’s leadership development workshop (Andrew’s in the blue):
This picture makes us smile – it totally captures Andrew’s teaching style:
Matt and Lina R. serving me by putting my spiral notebook back together while I sit there and gab (and take pictures of them):
Nate, me, Lina, and Matt. Matt and Nate are close friends from Wheaton, and we were thrilled to spend a week with them:
The hotel pool at night:
Nate and Paul W.:
Paul works in Scotland, and his favorite local Scottish soccer team is Partick Thistle. When Paul met Nate two years ago, Paul talked up Partick Thistle so much that he turned Nate into a fan. Nate had Paul bring over a jersey to Costa Rica for him, and they wanted to take a picture of them both wearing their Partick Thistle gear. I love this picture because they both look so boyish and happy. (And I just like the words “Partick Thistle.” I go around the house saying, “Partick Thistle…Partick Thistle…” It rolls off the tongue so well, like Voldemort’s “Harry Potter….”)
On our last day, we headed into the town of Puntarenas:
Cruise ships like to dock here:
The flea market:
Who knew Taiwan played a part in Costa Rica’s development?
Wherever we go, we meet up with Wheaton people. There were 11 of us at the conference: Mark, John, Nate, Silas, Scott, Matt, me, Kathy, and Rachel (missing from the picture were Tim and Becky O.):
We’re so thankful we had the privilege of attending this year’s ITeams leadership forum. It was full of deep conversations, fresh training, and good food. As the Costa Ricans say, it was a great time of pura vida.