Costa Rican Bible School
As I have written in previous articles, the Costa Ricans are very diligent in their preparations for the year-end Bible School, beginning months in advance to plan out the details. They try to involve as many as possible in the preparations. They always choose a theme for the event and try to tie all the activities into this theme, including the planned free-time activities.
Just for background, there are two Bible Schools in Central America, at the end of each year, one in Costa Rica and one in El Salvador. They are always planned for the last two weekends of the year, since a lot of people have holidays over the Christmas and New Year’s weekends. Each year, on an alternating basis, one of the two countries hosts a larger, international school, inviting brothers and sisters from neighboring countries to participate, while the other does a smaller school, mainly for the members of that country. This year, El Salvador was to hold the larger, international school, taking place over the New Year’s weekend. Therefore, Costa Rica held a smaller school, just for its own members. Because of this, the decision was made to rent a smaller locale just outside of Santa Bárbara de Heredia, the town where most of the members live.
The Costa Rican Bible School took place from Friday through Sunday, December 22-24, at the Rancho Los Querubines Sala de Eventos. It is a beautiful place, with a large meeting room that has a kitchen area at one end. The grounds include a large lawn surrounded by beautiful trees and vegetation, and a veranda which was used for some of the young people’s classes and the brothers’ class. Although the locale did not have facilities for sleeping, it was close to town, and so it was easy to go back to the houses at night to sleep. This worked out quite well and didn’t require members to pack. The location was perfect for the size of the group, and the beautiful trees were very appropriate considering the theme of the school, which was “Tejiendo Raices: Juntos Somos un Bosque.” This can be translated as “Weaving Roots: Together we are a forest.” It was a clever theme, with many spiritual applications and lessons.
This year, as was the case last year, I was asked to prepare and deliver the adult talks, including four main classes and a word of exhortation. As I meditated on how to address the theme, and how to divide it into five talks, I realized I could broaden the theme out to include not only spiritual lessons on roots and forests, but all types of spiritual lessons from trees. It was a fascinating study, and I decided to divide the topics into two classes on spiritual lessons from trees themselves, one class on roots, and one class on forests, looking to God’s Word for the spiritual significance of all of these. My exhortation was to be on the Tree of Life. Satisfied with these topics, I delved into the study, and learned many amazing facts and lessons from trees that can be applied very effectively to our spiritual lives. Trees are the most mentioned living organisms in the Bible apart from humans, showing us that God loves trees, and has used them to teach us many lessons. During the adult classes, teen classes were given by Bro. Alex Alfaro, with children’s classes given by Sis. Marisol Araya. The classes were recorded and made available online, and were also broadcast through Zoom, and so several brothers and sisters from other countries were able to join us virtually.
The weekend was well organized, with a schedule each day that included classes, time for fellowship, meals, and games and recreation. The first day began with an Inauguration Activity in which Sister Mariana Ureña gave a short talk about roots, and then divided us in three groups with the task of drawing a tree and finding key verses about trees and roots. The groups presented what they found to the ecclesia. We were each given a bean sprout kit and planted our beans as an object lesson for the weekend. (When I left, I decided to leave mine with 9-year-old Isaac, son of Bro. and Sis. Neftali and Zuelen Espinoza, with whom I stayed for the weekend. He’s a very friendly and spiritual young man, and I’m sure he is taking good care of it.)
Participation from the brothers and sisters was encouraged during the classes. Many good points were shared which enhanced the classes, so that that together, we were able to help each other grow in our knowledge and resolve to put the principles we discussed into practice. The exhortation focused on the Tree of Life throughout the scripture, culminating with the cross of Christ, and Christ himself, being the Tree of Life. In addition to the main classes, there was also a brothers’ class, given by Bro. Juan Diego Vargas, and a sisters’ class given by Sis. Mariana.
Another highlight of the weekend was the Teatro Ignis, a theatrical presentation consisting of a series of skits put together by the young people. Topics included our trust in the Lord Jesus, as well as the authenticity of our prayers. The group also did a skit just for fun which was very amusing. The young people are very talented at acting, and always do an interesting presentation each year. Afterwards, we all went out to the lawn where we had a bonfire, along with snacks and hot chocolate. At the end, those present were given the opportunity to express what they were thankful for, and to reflect on the previous year, as well as looking ahead to the coming year.
The weekend ended with a closing presentation: a short talk, a recognition of all who had participated and contributed to the school, and a slideshow of the weekend. It was a perfect ending to a wonderful weekend in which we strengthened the bonds of fellowship and reflected on our spiritual lives, helping us to reprioritize to put the things of God first in our lives.