From San Jose – Away Home

Today was bitter-sweet as we said our goodbye’s in San Jose. Last night I stayed up until dawn, writing letters and wrapping small gifts of chocolate for each member of the family – I didn’t mind one bit. The Martinez family has been above and beyond generous, as they are not paid much at all in the first place for taking in students from other countries – we were even told that the expenses for caring for and feeding us is essentially out of their generosity and goodwill, and I can now attest to that.

Carolynne and I both prepared a small letter and gifts for James, who seemed to change dramatically during our stay, from being fairly close-minded and with walls to being so open, accepting, attentive and like a brother! I gave him a note, about 8 or 9 Salvation Bracelets (what he called, “Jesus bracelets”) and a chocolate bar.

Carolynne gave him a note and a Spanish/English New Testament Bible with special book marks deliberately placed in sections with key scriptures, such as John 3:16 (which he did not know about until he met us), and others. Last night we had asked him to wake us up at 6am today, before he was to leave for his white water rafting trip with some other students, so we could say goodbye. He woke us up and we both gave him a hug and said God bless, and Adios.

In the morning, Mr. and Mrs. Martinez drove us to the Institute, where we waited for our bus to take us to the airport. Gradually, all the other students from UNC Charlotte were dropped off by their tico family members – brothers, sisters, parents, mothers, fathers and aunts. Once again, bittersweet.

Carolynne and I had to part ways before the bus arrived, due to her having a different flight from the group flight I was on, and which left two hours before mine. Therefore, Mr. and Mrs. Martinez generously drove Carolynne the 30-45 minutes to the airport, so she wouldn’t miss her flight.

When the bus arrived, it was almost surreal stepping onto it after living here for a month. It felt like the adventure had just begun. I honestly didn’t want to leave, but as usual I was excited to again see my family and my horse. :)

On the ride, I asked, for the first time (and afterward I thought to myself, “Why haven’t I done this all along?!?!?!!!?”), if I could sit up front on the empty seat to the right of Marcos, the bus driver. He said “Si,” and I sat there, at the very front, enjoying the amazing scenery from the giant window which made up the front face of the bus.

For the entire ride to the airport, Marcos and I talked in Spanish, laughing and sharing stories and experiences and lessons learned. We talked about God and Jesus, church, traveling, languages, dancing and even survival in a foreign country who’s language is different from one’s own. It was awesome, and it was like a big, fantastic last dose of the beautiful language of Spanish, spoken by a local, before I left. Once again, I wondered to myself, “Man, why haven’t I been doing this all the time, on all of our morning excursions?” Oh well! :D

The flight home was fun and relaxing, and beautiful, as always. I wish I had taken pictures of the cottony clouds from above, as the sun was setting and casting brilliant hues of purple, yellow, pink and orange on them, but I decided just to sit back and enjoy, thanking God for His handiwork.

I sat at a window seat (woo hooo!), next to Irene, one of the students, and also watched Pocahontas and The Little Mermaid with her on her ipad. When we landed, she generously let me use her cell phone to call Mom and let her know I had landed. Before landing, I wondered if Michael Fertitta was going to be there to greet me and also welcome me home (he usually always is!).

After getting my back pack from the baggage claim, I headed out to my US Airways drive-by door, and waited for Mom. Eventually I borrowed a teenager’s cell phone and called Mom, telling her where I was at the time, and minutes later she arrived. Mike and Michael Fertitta were there,also! Oh, what joy! I laughed and gave them all hugs, and we rejoiced together. :)

Once again, I don’t know how to thank God enough for this entire experience — thank You, God!!! I also want to thank each and every person who prayed for me and who supported me in order to send me to this beautiful country, to meet new people, to enjoy His creation in amazing and unforgettable ways (horseback riding near a volcano to a huge waterfall, surfing, visiting a butterfly farm, etc.), to improve my Spanish significantly and to bring others to Christ, by His grace, furthering His Kingdom on this earth.

To all of you who supported me, whether in their prayers or financially, thank you, and know that you, too, will share in the reward: “For as his share is who goes down to the battle, so shall his share be who stays by the baggage; they shall share alike.” 1 Samuel 30:24.

Thank you for following me in my Costa Rica writings, and I look forward to sharing with you all during my next travels and missions, prayerfully this year.

With much love and encouragement in Christ, our Magnificent Lord, Savior and King,

Caitlyn Jensen

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