Jairo is a young man on a mission… to combine the love of surfing and service and to disciple young people along the Costa Rican coast to be fishers of men. Before God called the Ulloa family to serve as missional staff with Communitas, they spent their summers visiting missionary friends in Costa Rica. Working in a small fishing village–one of so many along the coast–they watched local surf kids, including Jairo, grow in Christian discipleship from teens into young adults. And in 2014, they sensed God’s call to join the work full time.
Unfortunately, in Central America the passion for surfing and completing high school don’t go well together. The schools are a 45 minute bus ride away, so teens have to leave for school as the sun is rising and they don’t get home until the sun is setting. As a result, many kids drop out of school to follow their passion for surfing. They become fishermen or get jobs in the labor industry. Others have the ambition to be professional surfers and struggled in night school through their early 20’s to get a diploma.
Jairo was recognized by many as one of the few surfers with the skill and finesse to take him to the professional level. The only problem was that he didn’t like all the attention of a pro surfer, so he stayed to complete his diploma in night school and worked day labor to help support his family.
As the Ulloas moved to Costa Rica they started a food initiative and community garden called Vida Raiz, or “Life Root,” to reach those in physical and spiritual need. Jairo, now age 20, was hired to help with the project. They labored long and hard together through months of backbreaking work to create a community garden, with the purpose of sharing the love of Christ by giving food away.
They encouraged Jairo to consider college, but he wasn’t ready to leave his home town to live in the capital city of San Jose… where there is no ocean! Day by day they worked alongside Jairo, working in the soil, surfing together, sharing meals, and having long talks about spiritual things. Jairo’s knowledge in organic, sustainable agriculture grew. They soon took on another project in a neighboring town and Jairo agreed to take leadership of the first garden. He then invited the young boys in town to work together with him in the garden. Some even asked for his help to create their own home gardens. They talk about growing food and the mission of giving it away to those in need. These boys look up to him like a hero. They admire him, and Jairo is discipling the next generation of leaders, although they may not know it yet!
Recently, Jairo came to the Ulloas with the news that he had decided to go to college and study organic agriculture, with the hope to one day work with Vida Raiz to share the love of Christ. Currently, Jairo is completing his pre-requisites to start college in 2016. What a blessing it has been to watch Jairo’s life develop into a disciple-maker and to know that we are a part of a much greater story!