Members of a Brampton church learn lessons about love and life in Costa Rica (July 24, 2015)

Written by Radhika Panjwani

Published by Brampton Guardian on Friday, July 24, 2015

They went on a humanitarian mission to Costa Rica to serve the underprivileged, but instead they ended up learning about gratitude and love from the people they served.

Some 10 members from the Bramalea Baptist Church and their pastor, Patrick Timney,  visited the Central American country as part of Samaritan’s Purse Canada’s Operation Christmas Child recently.

As part of their mission, the members distributed hundreds of shoeboxes filled with presents for the children there.  

“One of the highlights of the trip was watching the joy on the faces of children when they received the gift,” Timney said, who was on his third trip to Costa Rica. “In the areas we visited, people lived in poverty, yet their absolute joy and generosity and willingness to share whatever they had (with us) was humbling.”

Lorraine McLaren, who accompanied Timney and the others admitted to being simply amazed and overwhelmed at the resilience and attitude of the residents who celebrated life despite lacking basic amenities and comforts that many Canadians take for granted.

“The shoeboxes had stuff kids here won’t even probably look twice at, but the children there went wild with excitement,” she said. “I learned that we have so many much but we do so little whereas they have so little yet they do so much with it.”

Samaritan’s Purse Canada, a Christian relief and development organization, distributes gifts, school supplies, toys, and hygiene items donated through its initiative Operation Christmas Child.

The Bramalea Baptist Church (with partner churches John Knox and Peel Pentecostal Tabernacle) to act as the regional collection centre for Operation Christmas Child. Last year, Bramalea Baptist Church congregation members helped fill some 1,500 shoeboxes, said Timney.

On the recent visit, when Timney and others were delivering gifts, the mother of a three-year-old told them she was praying that her daughter would receive a dress. Timney was in a spot because contents of the boxes vary. Some hold school supplies while others have toys. Yet, when the child opened her gift, nestled inside it was a beautiful dress, a hat and shoes.

“This incident hit home for me the mysterious ways in which God works,” he said. “For many of the children, this is the only gift they will receive and that’s why we say: it’s not just a shoebox, it’s a box filled with hope.”

McLaren said the visit was life changing and since her return to Brampton, she has been busy mobilizing friends and family to support the initiative.

“The visit has made me become more intentional,” she said. “It has made me change my focus from things to people.”

For more information on Operation Christmas Child, visit  here.

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