Letters from abroad: Costa Rica

Students watch the sunrise from the top of Cerro del Muerte (Death Mountain) before a lecture on herpetology. Photo provided by Laura Mino.

By Laura Mino, Guest writer

The tropical sun shines on my face. I can hear the rush of the river gliding over rocks in the distance. A brilliant green and red bird with a two-foot-long tail flies overhead. It’s just another beautiful day in paradise.

It’s still hard to believe this is school. When your “classroom” is a moss-covered log facing a twenty-foot waterfall, it’s easy to forget that this is supposed to be work. 

We, the eight students of the Quetzal Education and Research Center (QERC) in Costa Rica, spend the mornings in lecture and the afternoons are busy with individual research. But the beauty of the place turns the stress of school into an unforgettable experience.

Four months away from family and friends, seeing exotic and colorful animals, learning and living a different culture… It’s the perfect opportunity to step away from the crazy busyness of the United States and learn about yourself.

There’s still plenty to get done, of course. We’re researching tree species and altitudinal shifts, water quality in the nearby Savegre River, climate change, human impact on and conservation of the breath-taking forest surrounding the village of San Gerardo de Dota.

Daily hikes into the forest have us catching frogs and lizards and listening to the symphony of unique bird calls. Anything science-related has a place here: biology, chemistry, or physics.

There are cultural trips to see the cracked churches of Managua, Nicaragua, shaken by a ferocious earthquake in 1972 but still exuding quiet majesty. Our service projects in dirt-poor pueblos change the lives of the farmers and families who are somehow content without the flashing glitz of the Internet and television.

The days are full and tiring, but the rewards are immeasurably valuable. Here it’s obvious what is truly yours and what are just the distractions of the world.

God does not stop when you cross the border into a new country. He does not wait for you to pick Him up again at the airport. He travels with you and He’s waiting to meet you at your destination.

God is not just in the United States of America; His love reaches across political borders. It took living 1600 miles away from home to make me fully realize the importance and comfort of God’s faithfulness.

Even when everything is different and nothing is familiar, our loving God stays the same.