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
Click here to see a list of Frequently Asked Questions.
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.
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 between 10 and 30 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.
Hotel room assignments are based on the makeup of the team. Typically, there are 2 to 4 people per hotel room – 3- and 4-person hotel rooms are larger than the 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.
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 professional and will be provided a form that needs to be completed and then signed by that individual. 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 $1600 and $2000. Payment is usually divided into 3 installments, with the last due about a month prior to departure.
Click the image to view the Mission In A Moment Video for this ministry