New country, new culture, new food, new friends, new adventure! Mike went ahead of me by a week and the day I arrived there was a 6.5 earthquake! Mike was in the furnished condo we’ll be staying in until next March (we’ll be home for Christmas) when everything started shaking. He quickly grabbed the keys and ran down the 4 flights of stairs to get outside. Surprisingly there was no damage to the building or other buildings in the area. Everything rolled and swayed back and forth, he said he’d never felt anything like it before.
Our condo has a large ravine behind it which makes for a natural green space and lovely view right in the middle of the city. There is a pool and workout area too which I am trying to make good use of! We were surprised to see that there was no air-conditioning, but realized we didn’t need it as the temperature is pretty even all year round and doesn’t often go higher than 78 degrees. A very pleasant place! This is the view from our balcony. Not a bad place to be when it’s raining and cold back home in Canada!
Some facts about CR is that there is no army, yet it’s the most stable and prosperous nation in Latin America. It boasts to be the greenest country of any nation, is consistently in the top 5 as the happiest and has a literacy rate of 98%. It has the largest percentage of protected areas in the world (25%) and almost zero deforestation with the greatest density of species of anywhere else on earth. Pura Vida (pure life) as the Tico’s (Costa Ricans) say.
Gerson is an energetic businessman, has a permanent smile on his face and has served us from the minute we arrived. He also has an inspiring story. He was born in Nicaragua and ended up living on the street as a kid. Some men who were going to Costa Rica to work in the fields took him along. A Costa Rican woman who was cooking for these men had compassion on him, took him in and even adopted him. But he was unsettled and after only a few months went back to fending for himself – he was only 11 years old. In his early 20’s he bought a plane ticket to Canada. From there he hid under a freight train and made it into the U.S. where he stayed and worked for 6 years until he was caught and deported back to Costa Rica. With a strong desire to make something of himself he read books like Rich Dad, Poor Dad and then found John Maxwell Leadership on the internet and became a JM Coach. He dedicated his life, ambition and will to the Lord and hasn’t looked back since. A natural hard worker, he started his own business selling cell phone chips. He now has 120 people selling for him and a call center in Nicaragua. On the side he coaches clients from several Latin American countries.
We were invited to his birthday party where we met a few of his young salesmen. Most of these guys he hired from rough neighbourhoods in San Jose, they are the ones who work hard to make a better life for themselves. The conversation was around who had just bought their first car or who had almost saved up enough to buy one, a dream that seemed impossible for them before. They were full of life, excited and energetic. Gerson is mentoring these guys, meeting with them every morning for 30 min. before work. He is teaching them the lessons he’s learning from the JM organization. Mike asked the question, ‘if you could spend an hour over dinner with anyone, alive or dead, who would it be’? The answers from these young men surprised us. Napoleon Hill, Earl Nightingale, Benjamin Franklin, John Adams!
Their lives are changing, their minds are being expanded and enriched, they have goals and are achieving them and they are hungry. We felt humbled with the realization of the opportunities and privileges we’ve had in our life. What a job Gerson is doing! Not only employing people and making a living for himself, but passing on his passion and knowledge to these eager young men who would otherwise have little hope. Transformation has already begun for them.
We headed home for the holiday season to celebrate the birth of our Savior.
A very Merry Christmas to all!