Yes, Maine, there are still flowers and ferns. Blue skies, intense sun, low humidity, a breeze – I could be writing an alluring travel brochure. That was Sunday’s weather. Today and tomorrow (Monday/Tuesday) will take us on a four-hour bus ride for an overnight stay in the hot and humid Guanacaste area. Today the first of us will meet our sponsored friends.
On Sunday, we explored the history and evolving future of Unbound. It was 1981 when four Catholic siblings and one of their friends had the courage to act on a dream. They were a housewife, a lawyer, a banker, and two long-time missionaries…each with talents to bring.
The Christian Foundation for Children and Aging, as the organization was called then, had their first office in Bob Hentzen’s basement. The five sent their first letter soliciting sponsors to the people on their Christmas card lists. All five are gone now, but we are blessed to have Bob’s wife Cristina (top left below) as part of our group for the whole week.
Unbound’s work is personalized to the needs of each country. Here in Costa Rica, the framework for achieving change within communities is found within the Circles of Hope, parent groups who focus on fellowship, building self-esteem and starting local businesses. Mothers organize the letter writing, and even track finances. In a monumental change, parents have been given the authority to spend their benefits themselves, although spending by category is little changed as a result.
Below…four mothers brought their coffee-roasting business to us for the day, showing us the process from beans toasting in an iron pot over a fire to the finished packaged product. They buy high-altitude coffee beans and go from there, producing as many as 100 small bags in a day. At the end, we tried the freshly brewed café with tamal asado, a local dense, moist bread reminiscent of flan or corn pudding.
The evening brought a travel serendipity that all began when my hand shot up of its own accord, volunteering to be a reader at mass. Never mind that I am not Catholic and even all my new Catholic friends weren’t sure what worship here would be like.
Hours later I was processing in through the arch below, with incense and altar boys, berobed priests and a friendly woman who I was to follow in reading a responsive psalm. It was strange and wonderful and, if I survived without messing up, it was going to be a fabulous memory. Soon, I was standing inches from the priest as clouds of incense engulfed us and I peered over his shoulder at a beautifully decorated Bible.
The best part, though, was to kneel and say a prayer for Dixie.