Costa Rica Mission Trip

“… his faith and his actions were working together, and his faith was made complete by what he did. “ - James 2:22

Information meetings for the 2019 Costa Rica Mission Trip, which is July 6-13, are scheduled for Sunday, January 20, at 10:40 am and Sunday, January 27, at 12:10 pm.  Both meetings will be in room M-1 and the same information will be presented at both.  If you are at all interested, please plan to attend.  Contact:  Jan Griffin, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

The Christ UMC (CUMC) Costa Rica Mission Team travels to Costa Rica every year during the summer to help one of the rural communities in the country.

The next Costa Rica Mission Trip is scheduled for July 6-13, 2019.   On these trips, the team works alongside the Costa Rican people building worship centers for their use.  In addition to working at a construction site, the team also leads Vacation Bible School (VBS) for children at local churches.

Point of Contact

Please prayerfully consider joining this team and sharing in the experience on the next trip.  If you are interested, please contact Jan Griffin, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Click here to see a list of Frequently Asked Question.

History
In 2005, church leaders recognized that CUMC did not have an organized or publicized program to offer church members an experience serving in mission activities overseas.  While several church members had taken mission trips sponsored by other churches or church organizations, at the time CUMC was not offering any of these opportunities.

Interested church members discussed options, searching for a location to which a team could travel that would offer a great “first step” into international missions.  The goal was a destination that was relatively safe, not terribly expensive, and well-organized.  After researching several options, the group focused on working with the Methodist Church in Costa Rica, with Ray Zirkel being the point of contact.  Other churches in the Chattanooga area had successfully worked with Ray before, resulting in very rewarding experiences. 

Being led by “informed blind faith”, the first CUMC international mission team traveled to Costa Rica in June, 2007.

Click here to access information on activities of the Methodist Church in Costa Rica.

Mission Team Composition
The Costa Rica mission teams have averaged around 12 members.  
 
The members have ranged from 15 to over 70 years of age.  
 
Because there is a wide variety of activities performed by the team which require varying degrees of skill, there is a place for almost anyone on the team.  Carpentry or construction skills are not a pre-requisite for participating.  The key requirement is that you be willing to work hard for the Lord and to be open to stepping outside your comfort zone.
 
Mission Team Construction Projects
From 2007-2010, the CUMC mission teams worked with the Iglesia Agape in Puerto Viejo de Sarapiquí, a small town to the north of San Jose, the capital of Costa Rica.  The project was focused on building a worship and education center.  During that four-year period, the teams worked on wall foundations; dug a water line trench; poured foundation concrete; laid concrete block; plastered, sanded and painted walls; laid and grouted ceramic floor tile; and installed suspended ceilings.  The Iglesia Agape worship center was dedicated in 2011.
From 2011-2016, the mission teams worked with the Methodist church in Pocora, a rural community about 2 hours northeast of San Jose.  In 2011, the team worked on a Sunday School building, constructing rebar cages for support columns and pouring the concrete for those columns.  During the trips from 2012-2016, the teams worked on construction of the worship building.  They poured wall foundation concrete; built rebar cages for the walls and support columns; laid concrete block walls; poured concrete for the floors and raised altar area; installed ceiling tile; and painted interior and exterior walls.  The worship building in Pocora was completed the fall of 2016.
In 2017 and 2018, the mission team worked on construction of a new worship building for the Methodist church in Guapiles, another community located about 2 hours northeast of San Jose.  The work activities have centered around building rebar cages, bending rebar forms for the future walls and support columns, and pouring foundation.
Click each of the following links for details of recent trips:
 

2014 Costa Rica Mission Trip, July 19-26, 2014

2013 Costa Rica Mission Trip, June 8-15, 2013

Vacation Bible School (VBS)

In addition to performing construction work, the team also leads VBS while on the mission trip.  This is an important part of the trip and some team members find it even more rewarding than the construction.

The same VBS activities are led at 3 or 4 churches in the area around the construction site.  A church could be 30-45 minutes from the construction site; its location determines how late the team works each day before getting cleaned up prior to VBS.

As part of the trip preparation, the team chooses a VBS theme and identifies the activities that will make up VBS that year.  Activities include games, songs, and crafts, as well as a short, Biblically-based story.  A portion of the trip fees is used to purchase the VBS supplies that are needed.  These supplies are transported by the team to Costa Rica.  Any supplies that are not used are left with the local churches to support their ministries.

The number of children at each church varies from 20 to 100.  Ages can range from 2 to 16, and there are usually a few babies as well.  Many of the children are learning English in school and do not hesitate to practice, which can be a big help.

Although there may be a language barrier that inhibits verbal communication, sharing God’s love through song, games, crafts, laughter and hugs knows no boundaries.

Past VBS themes have included the Walls of Jericho (complete with kazoos), Noah’s Ark, Jonah & the Whale, the Creation Story, the Loaves & Fishes, and Becoming Fishers of Men.

Accommodations and Meals

If the team works at a construction site outside of San Jose, it stays at a local hotel that is around 30-40 minutes from the worksite.  The hotels have nice accommodations, including air conditioning.   While working on the churches in Pocora and Guapiles, the team has stayed at the Hotel Suerre in Guapiles (www.suerre.com).

If the construction site is at the Methodist Children’s Home close to San Jose, the team stays at the John Wesley Center in San Jose.

Room assignments are based on the makeup of the team.  Typically there are 2 to 4 people per room – 4-person rooms are larger than 2-person rooms.

Breakfast is served buffet-style at the hotel.  Dinner is eaten at either the hotel or at the churches where VBS is held.

On work days, lunch is prepared and served at the worksite.  One or two team members help set the menu, shop for, prepare, and serve the meal.  This experience is one of the highlights of the trip for the team members that serve in this way.

Benefits of Being Part of the Team

Each member of the CUMC Costa Rica Mission Team has his/her own reasons for going on the trip, some of which might be quite personal.  It can generally be said that the team members sign up because they are committed to helping others.

However, at the conclusion of a trip, it is universally acknowledged by the team members that they have received far more than they have given.

The benefits of having been part of a CUMC Costa Rica Mission Team can also be quite personal.  Some of these include:

  • Helping build a church;
  • Working alongside other Christians for the glory of God;
  • Sharing your faith;
  • Experiencing a different culture;
  • Re-prioritization of what is important;
  • Getting to know other church members;
  • Eating wonderful food;
  • Learning that the Christian faith is not limited by language or culture;
  • Experiencing a growth in faith;
  • Seeing the sights in Costa Rica;
  • Learning that worship has no limits;
  • Getting away from an over-abundance of technology;
  • Feeling a tremendous satisfaction over how much you can accomplish without a lot of motorized tools;
  • Experiencing the love of God through smiles and laughter shared while coloring and while filling wheelbarrows.

And it is the Christian fellowship that is experienced with the Costa Ricans and the common commitment to doing God’s work that compel some individuals to continue their team participation year after year.

Participation Requirements

Each team member must have a current passport.

The minimum age for a team member is 14 and individuals less than 18 must be accompanied by a parent or guardian.

Each team member is required to have a physical performed by a medical doctor and will be provided a form that needs to be completed and then signed by the doctor.  You will have to have a current tetanus shot and hepatitis A vaccination.  You will need to discuss with your doctor the need for malaria preventive medication and/or a typhoid vaccine.

Each team member must complete and sign a covenant form and a liability release form, copies of which will be provided.

Each team member is responsible for paying his/her team fees, which are usually between $1500 and $1800.  Payment is usually divided into 3 installments, with the last due about a month prior to departure.