February 2, 2011

The Universal Magic of Paints and Play-dough.

Hinton,-Becky-colorBy Becky Lee Hinton
Director of Marketing
The Fountains Senior Living Community

Look at these beautiful smiling children. What do you see? Do you see their unmistakable youthful enthusiasm and zest for life? Do you see hungry young minds eager to learn new things from new people brave enough to venture into their neighborhood, the poorest squatter community in all of Costa Rica? Do you notice their arms that one minute swing to the fast-paced music and the next minute embrace these strangers from thousands of miles north? Look at these beautiful smiling children. They are the reason I travel to Costa Rica each year, and they are the reason I plan to go back next year.

Beautiful girls & best friends

These children live in Guarari, a squatter community in the capitol city of San Jose. It is estimated that 3000 people, 1200 of which are children, live in a six square block area. Even after visiting Guarari twice, I still can’t seem to wrap my mind around that number of people in that small of a space.

Becky helping a young girl paint.

Our mission team spent a day in Guarari conducting a vacation Bible school experience for 100 children. These children were issued tickets admitting them as a reward for attending school and church. Each child was issued a coloring book with lessons from our Bible school themed “God’s Backyard Bugs.” Each lesson was taught by an example from the insect kingdom. My daughter Sydney and I taught our change of heart lesson by painting sun-catchers in the form of a butterfly. Many of the children, and even their mothers, wanted to paint more than one butterfly. Each one was a unique work of art that I would be proud to display in my home or office. My daughter Maggie and her friend Christian taught of God’s immeasurable love by creating an inchworm out of home-made play-dough. The children’s creativity proved to be immense as they created many creatures and scenes all within the theme of that lesson. The lesson of industry was taught by the example of a hard-working honey bee. We gave each child a taste of honey, and it was unbelievable to me that most of them had never tasted honey before. At the end of the morning the 100 children were fed a hotdog lunch, perhaps their only meal of the day.

The squatter community of Guarari. We guessed that this photo shows homes for 35 to 40 families. The yellow building in the far background is a luxury mall.

Most Americans have never witnessed such abject poverty as this. I feel fortunate to have had the opportunity to touch their lives. I feel thankful to live in America, the land of opportunity and the land of plenty.

Look at these beautiful smiling children. Would you like to go meet them next year?

Becky Lee Hinton is the Director of Marketing at The Fountains Senior Living Community in Bettendorf. For more information about The Fountains or about the Quad City’s Mission Team 2012 Costa Rica trip, call Becky at (563) 332-5775.