In our Vanessa Cerda – An ROTC Army Strong Latina article Venessa was preparing for a humanitarian project trip to Costa Rica. I asked her to provide us with an update. Here , in her owns words, is her account of that great trip.
It truly amazes me how awesome God isand the wonders He is doing in my life. This summer I was extremely blessed to
spend a month in Costa Rica on a humanitarian project through Cross Culture Solutions sponsored by Army ROTC. Subsequently, I spent the following month at Fort Lewis, Washington at LDAC (Leadership Development Assessment Course); a four week training event required by Army ROTC during the summer between junior and senior year in order to commission as a second lieutenant in the Army upon graduation.My trip to Costa Rica was more than I could imagine. It wasn’t until the trip that I understood the concept of “Heaven on Earth”. It couldn’t have been any more obvious that God had sent me to learn about such a remarkable culture. Not only did I learn about the Costa Rican culture, but I also learned a lot more about the American culture.
I was sent to Costa Rica along with six other cadets, as well as one cadre member. Oddly enough, I was the only cadet from
California which was shocking to me because I learned that even though we are all living in the same country, our lives and experiences are completely different. I couldn’t have been luckier to have been placed with such responsible, respectful, young leaders. My cadre member, MAJ Jackson was also from California, which was nice because I was able to relate to him a lot as well. I strongly believe that God placed MAJ Jackson as our cadre leader because God knew that MAJ Jackson was able to show us the trip of a lifetime; MAJ Jackson is a Tico (how Costa Rican’s refer to themselves) which enabled him to show us the best of Costa Rica where as a non-Tico wouldn’t have even knew that the places we had gone had even existed.We had two specific missions to accomplish while we were there. The first being working at a nursing home. The time we spent there was mostly transforming the backyard into a more stable land which included moving tons of rocks and dirt with only shovels and wheelbarrows. Let me tell you, it was hard work! However, it was such a wonderful experience. During our breaks we were able to interact with the residents which mostly included dancing, conversing, and assisting with day to day tasks. The residents were extremely sweet and had a Pura Vida (Pure Life) attitude; much different from us Americans.
The second mission was working at an orphanage. We spent most of our time chipping paint off of the homes, it was a dirty job. Each day we left with a headful of chipped paint but that was incomparable to the time we were able to spend with the children. The children were unbelievable and very playful. I will always remember one child in particular named Kathleen, she referred to me as “Ticalinda” which meant pretty Costa Rican, but I think she just called me that because I was the only Hispanic cadet in my group, but I enjoyed the compliment.During our spare time, we attended Zumba classes, Spanish classes, and cooking classes. We visited various places such as volcanoes, churches, shops, and the rain forest. We even went white water rafting, zip lining, snorkeling and sailing.I had a life changing experience in Costa Rica, I love everything that Costa Rica culture has to offer and I cannot wait to return one day!
Little did I know, that was just the beginning of an awesome summer!Three weeks after I arrived back to my hometown in Rialto, Ca I left for LDAC, which I was honestly dreading. I didn’t know if LDAC was going to be like boot camp, if I was going to struggle, If I would make friends, I was really doubting myself. I spent those three weeks at home preparing for the worst and worrying myself….for nothing. Although LDAC was a challenge I had a great time. I had a great platoon, my land navigation skills as well as my leadership skills improved substantially. Luckily, I found a great group of cadets who loved the Lord as much as I do and I couldn’t have gotten through LDAC without their spiritual encouragement. However, I was definitely glad when those four weeks were over. Being away from my fiancé (Yes, I am getting married!) was amongst the many challenges of getting through LDAC.
Currently, I am in the middle of the first semester of my senior year in college just finishing up with a few more classes, preparing for graduation, commissioning, hosting a bible study (for the first time) and marriage (which will all take place this upcoming May) May is going to be a busy and exciting month! I give all the Glory to God, and I am excited to see what God has in store for the rest of my life!
More photos –