Polly, Genevieve and I took the craziest journey we have had to make during our itineration this past Wednesday. The first leg was a 1h50m drive to Falmouth, MA where we parked our car. The second leg was a 15m shuttle bus ride to Woods Hole. The third leg was a 45m ferry ride across Vineyard Sound to Martha's Vineyard (or as we locals call it, the Vineyard). The last leg was a 10m ride in the pastor's car to the dinner and ultimately the church. We arrived at the Vineyard just in time too as the remaining ferries for the night were canceled due to the high winds. This was my first glimpse into the reality of life on the island.
Having grown up in Massachusetts, I have always been familiar with the existence of the Vineyard. I knew that it was not a cheap place to live and that it was a popular vacationing spot for presidents. I also knew that it was full of beaches. In my world, it was the quintessential vacationing spot...one we would never visit. And this fantastical (and common) viewpoint of the Vineyard was completely fine with me...I never cared to think any deeper on the matter. Then we sat down for dinner with Pastor Joseph Dockter and my perspective was completely shattered.
Of course he had heard it from other pastors...you know, the exact types of things you would expect, like: "Wow, pastoring on the Vineyard...there's a tough job, huh?" or "How'd you get a gig this sweet?" or other things along the same line. If I was being completely honest, I would say that the same thoughts had crossed through my mind. But reality is a funny thing...when it's discovered, the fantasy is ruined. So the more Pastor Joseph spoke, the more my childhood thoughts were destroyed.
Did you know that the Vineyard has 15,000 residents in the winter months, but 120,000 during the summer? Did you know that the Vineyard does have the highest cost of living in Massachusetts but the lowest median income? Did you know that there's not really a whole lot to do on the island...especially in the winter? Facts like these have seemingly brought about high numbers of depression and suicide. And did you know that every time the church wants to attend a function on the mainland, there's a lot of extra planning involved that most pastors don't have to deal with? The women missed part of last year's Women's Convention because high winds put the island on lock-down for 2 days...no ferries in or out. Pastor Joseph mentioned an occasion he had heard of but had not experienced himself when the ferries were shut down for 2 weeks! Pastor Joseph and his family have to travel back and forth every day as the children go to a school on the mainland. This can get pricey and probably old pretty quick. Due to high winds yesterday, he almost missed a special event at his kids' school (we got off just in time as the ferry before and next couple ferries following were canceled). And, of course, in over 3 years, Pastor Joseph has only been to the beach of couple of times. Vacation spots aren't vacation spots for the people who live there!
So, why am I sharing all of this? What does it have to do with Costa Rica? Well, because I think people have similar thoughts when they hear that we're going to be serving as Missionary Associates in Costa Rica. Believe me, I've already heard it: "Tough place, huh?" "Ministry to the Beach People?" This is why I was more amazed that I made the same err in my mind with the Dockters and the church on the Vineyard.
Will we go to the beach while we're in Costa Rica? Sure we will. But we won't be living at the beach. We will be in a city of nearly 2.5 million people and will be getting our hands dirty with ministry. It's not going to be all work, but it's not going to be all play either. Perspective is a funny, funny thing. And I'm thankful that Pastor Joseph gave me some yesterday. And I ask that you please keep this in mind when you're praying for or thinking about us too...we're not going to Costa Rica for vacation, we're going to serve. We're going with a purpose...we will be bringing the good news of who Jesus is that it may be cold water to thirsty souls (see Proverbs 25:25).