Kimi Booher Molina
Where did you grow up?
I grew up in Lexington, KY and was a true child of the 90’s. I had a wonderful childhood, and my times of play really are what come to mind first. I truly believe that it takes a village because, though I did not have many experiences that really marked me as a child, there were so many people that marked me, especially within my church and schools; adults that really cared and that spoke words of encouragement that would give me a real sense of self, adults that took the time to listen, adults that saw potential in me. I think that is one reason why words mean so much to me, because they really defined me from a young age.
How did you get from there to Shiroles, Costa Rica?
The answer to that question is longer than most would care to read, but the answer that is the most easy and the most true is just one word: God. The longer answer is just one small step of obedience after another; the first was a mission trip to another region of Costa Rica as a sophomore in high school. I remember being so impacted by those five short days in a rural village called Aguas Claras, and knowing that I would have to return. I didn’t understand the what or the how or the when, I just knew there was more. The second step was a year, right after high school graduation. That year changed in the clearest of ways the entire course of my life. During college it was a constant quest for the next period of time, even if it was small, when I could fly back and visit those people that had impacted my life in the most profound ways. After college I did make the big move down to Costa Rica and shortly after that I met and married my husband Raul. We continued to serve in the slum where we sensed then we were to be. It wasn’t for a couple years that we both began to sense a call from the Lord to serve Him in the small and rural town of Shiroles. We moved there in 2012 and began what is now Esperanza.
How would you describe the mission you're called to?
I believe that the mission to which I have been called is incarnational ministry. Physical presence and proximity to where we serve is a huge thing for Raul and myself. The model of Jesus Christ when He, as Paul writes in Philippians, did not count equality with God as something to be grasped but EMPTIED Himself and He became a man, took on flesh. As Eugene Peterson paraphrased the great passage from John 1 on the incarnation, "He moved into our neighborhood."
My first real call to this was when I spent one year serving in Costa Rica, both in a slum and also serving in a center for teenage girls who had been addicted to drugs. The leaving at the end of the work day just didn't sit well with me, because I knew that when all the workers left for the day, real life happened. That was when neighbors came out to talk, when meals were shared, and also when the messy parts of life in a slum would take place. Those were the aspects of life that I wanted to be part of. And that really has not changed.
The first conversation Raul and I ever had was actually about incarnational ministry. It was a life that we both wanted to live for the Lord, one that we felt a deep calling to. It can be challenging. Boundaries of life and ministry are blurry. It can be exhausting, but for me it is live-giving. To have my home be a place of fellowship, a place of birthday parties and celebratory dinners and worship, of meaningful conversation and prayer, a home for many others that need stable family and love and support. That is my mission. Esperanza has really taken its shape around this idea of modeling the incarnation of Jesus Christ.
What are the biggest challenges you've faced along the way?
One of the biggest challenges that I face really day to day is making sacred space to meet with God. Just like most, the urgency of life can easily dictate how I spend my time, which doesn't always reflect what I truly value. When I do not make that sacred space, I can feel that affect every aspect of my life. It is a huge challenge and discipline to get up early and be with Him. But it is so worth it. It is a discipline to take several hours each week to retreat up the mountain and read, pray, reflect and be silent before Him. But it is so worth it.
Have there been temptations to turn back?
I cannot think of a time when I felt a temptation to turn away from this mission. I have always felt a very strong and clear call from the Lord to this place, these people, and this life. There is a deep commitment inside of me, such that turning back is not an option in my mind.
What keeps you going?
There are days when having our home open to our neighbors, and our hearts open to them as well, can be overwhelming. Something that keeps me going on those hard days is to pull up in my mind a Google Map of Shiroles and mentally delete our home from the place, delete every interaction with every person, and delete all of Esperanza from the reality of those we serve. This exercise reminds me how different the community would be without the support and love we are providing. So many elderly people with no one to pay them visits, women that would go weeks without leaving their homes, so many young adults who would follow in the footsteps of their parents, straight to being drunks passed out on the side of the road. Each time I do that, I am encouraged to keep going, to increase the impact as we are led to do so.
How can others support the work of Esperanza?
A great way to support the work of Esperanza is first and foremost, to pray for our community and the strongholds that exist here. Pray for our community of faith, that they may have their roots ever deeper embedded in the truth of God. Pray for the provision of human and economic resources. Pray for our staff and board, for clear guidance from the Lord on the big decisions and direction of the ministry. You can get a group together and come visit and broaden your understanding of who we are as a ministry. You can give financially. You can even simply follow us on social media, and let others know what is going on in our corner of the world!
I heard someone say once that the most successful people find the one thing they do better than anyone else and they focus all of their effort on that. What’s your one thing?
I think that for me that is hospitality. I have really realized through the beginnings of Esperanza the gift of hospitality, its value, and how to focus on really making all people, big and small, old and young, educated formally or not, feel at comfortable and welcome in my presence. Many times this is through the preparation of meals or baked goods, another passion of mine, but many times it Is by learning names, noticing the details, remembering and celebrating birthdays, taking time to greet with warmth and to listen with full attention.
What did you google last?
Definitely a recipe, I’m always looking up new recipes to try out!
Answer this question: what’s the worst that could happen?
I have nothing to fear so long as I walk by His side. Bad things will surely happen, but He promises to be sufficient through His grace. So I think the worst that I could fear is living a life of worldly success, but that has no eternal consequence.
Who else’s story must be told?
Anathi Jebasingh from The Friends of the Good Samaritan School (India)
Photography by Ryan Morris