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The Importance of Community

The Importance of Community

¿Qué es esto? (What is this?) This phrase has quickly become my “catchphrase” since arriving in Costa Rica two and a half weeks ago. Learning, living, and growing in a new culture and country has reminded me of my childhood. Here, I am experiencing everything for the first time. I am trying new foods. I am visiting new places. I am learning new facts about history.

Getting to know my neighborhood and community better by going to different events in town like the feria (farmer’s market).

The Feria – farmer’s market

I am experiencing new customs and sayings. Some days seem like they are filled with information overload. With so much to constantly take in, I often feel like there is so much that my brain can’t absorb.

I have always been an independent person and have liked being able to solve problems out on my own. Studying abroad has been a humbling experience in that regard, because I have to learn how to do little things that used to be insignificant to me all over again.

 I need to learn how to use the shower, how to take public transportation, and how to function in a different language. In all aspects of living right now, I feel like a child completely dependent on those around me. I’ve needed to learn how to ask for help. It has been through these experiences that I have come to see more clearly the definition of selfless love. In my confusion and in my doubts, my host family has been there to help me through all of it.

My host parents are patient, kind, and understanding when I am unsure of how to do something. They are willing to listen to the stories that I have to tell about the information I am learning in my new classes.

Host Family

Host Family

They are excited to share the culture of this beautiful country with me and all of its new and lively tastes, sights, and sounds.

In my search for independence in my first couple weeks of being in Costa Rica, I have been blessed with the gift of something even better… community. Intentional community is an essential part of the culture of Costa Rica. People intentionally sit down with one another once or twice a day to drink coffee and catch up on how each person is doing. They sit down with one another for meals and talk about how their day has gone. The men and women here do not run by a rigid time table like the United States that can be sometimes be constricting or limiting. They are intentional with one another and are more interested in knowing the person in front of them than knowing how many hours have passed by.

Drinking pipa de agua (coconut water) for the first time with my host dad.

Drinking pipa de agua (coconut water)

Instead of trying to figure out how to do things on my own, I have found a new sense of freedom through the community that surrounds me. I have made new friends and relationships that fill me with joy and love. If I have a question about something, I can freely go to my new friends and family and ask them for help. In the middle of all of the newness, my community has been a beautiful reminder that I am not alone and that I am loved and cared for. Romans 12:4-5 states, “For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others.” It has been a wonderful, beautiful, and liberating experience to interact with more of God’s children on this earth and come to know a little more clearly what the body of Christ represents… community, family, and love.


– Erin Brown


24 March 2017


Erin Brown