Past Mission Team Experiences
The Methodist Rural Center coordinates many Volunteer-in-Mission (VIM) teams every year that are critical to the growth of the Methodist Church in Costa Rica. Missions teams may be assigned to projects supporting local church congregations or projects at the Methodist Rural Center Camp. Take a look at the recent Mission Team experiences highlighted below to get a glimpse of what to expect if you choose to be part of a Mission Team.
Sanlando United Methodist Church – Longwood, Florida
Served in San Isidro de Pena Blancas
Sanlando UMC has been doing mission trips to Costa Rica for 12 years. Their goal has been to build churches from the ground up. This year, 10 people traveled to San Isidro to work completing the church. The team slept in the church on air mattresses and the ladies of the church did an outstanding job cooking meals for the team. The team also conducted VBS for children and participated in the church service on Sunday.
“Working on the same churches all these years has enabled us to make lifelong friends in Christ with the people there”
—Lamar – Mission Trip Leader
First United Methodist Church – Athens, Georgia
Served at the Methodist Rural Center
FUMC Athens sent a team of 22 people (16 high school youth and 6 adults) who stayed at the Methodist Rural Center. The primary focus of the trip was building relationships and learning from the people in Costa Rica. The team helped with rebuilding the shed/garage as well as other work around the camp. The team also conducted Vacation Bible School for children at the church in El Mirador (two days) and at a local school. The experience gained serving others will help to inform the youth as they do mission work back home.
“The people who I served taught me that once you fix your eyes on Jesus instead of worldly possessions, you will be truly fulfilled. They were the happiest people I’ve ever met, and I felt Jesus’ love through every interaction with them! I will never forget how welcomed, loved, and cared for I felt by the people at the Methodist Rural Center during my stay in Costa Rica!”
—Mary – Youth member of the mission team
First United Methodist Church – Coppell, Texas
Served in La Fortuna and at the Methodist Rural Center
A team of 20 people from FUMC Coppell traveled to Costa Rica and worked at both the church in La Fortuna and at the Methodist Rural Center. The majority of the team did construction work at the La Fortuna church to remove dividing walls and expand the church’s fellowship hall to meet the needs of a growing church. The team also extended the decorative fencing that will enclose a new parking area for the church. And finally, the team repainted the church sanctuary.
The team working at the Methodist Rural Center worked to gather information to build a new website for the center to help promote interest in mission trips to Costa Rica. This effort included visiting many church’s in the area and documenting potential projects for future mission teams. The teams also enjoyed a fun day that included zip lining near the Arenal Volcano.
“Our trip leader said, ‘When your brother in Christ needs help, you don’t send money, you go help.’ Yes, we physically helped and did ‘stuff’, but the take away message I received was WE ARE ALL GODS CHILDREN AND THE SAME IN HIS EYES. You learn this, you hear this, you say this all your life; but I finally really, truly got it this time.”
—Kelly – experiencing her first Costa Rica mission trip
Fairview United Methodist Church – Maryville, Tennessee
Stayed at the Methodist Rural Center and served in Santa Rita, La Fortuna, Tonjibi, and a Nicaraguan refugee camp
A team of 26 people (4 adults and 22 students aged 13-18) from Fairview UMC conducted one-day Jesus Fiesta’s for 800+ children across 5 sites in Costa Rica that included a church, schools, and a refugee camp. The Jesus Fiesta’s included fun activities for the kids (inflatables, face painting, games, music, fingernail painting, crafts), refreshments, and a teaching about Jesus.
One of the highlights of the trip was an opportunity for the team to follow Jesus in baptism at Rio Celeste. A large number of the students chose to remember their baptism or be baptized for the first time. This was an amazing, memorable, and intense experience for the team.
“Life changing!, I’ll never the same again.”
— Lacey (18 years old)
“Who is this kid you brought back from Costa Rica!”
— Parent of a 17 year old boy
South Ashland United Methodist Church – Ashland, Kentucky
Served at the Methodist Rural Center
South Ashland UMC sent a team of 47(!) people who worked at the Methodist Rural Center completing several needed projects including repair work on the amphitheater, replacing the roof on the guest house, painting the roofs on several buildings, painting the windows and bars of the dining hall, electrical repair work on several building, and clearing the paths of the Meditation Trail that lead from the amphitheater down to the river. The team also held Vacation Bible School for children and ladies crafts/devotions in Bario Jardin and the churches in Pital, El Mirador and in Bario Jardin.
“Words cannot express what a blessing it has been for me to go and witness God’s love through his people. I enjoyed every moment, from devotions in the morning, working at the Methodist Rural Center, and fellowship with the other team members and the locals. My cup ran over with joy and gratitude towards the Lord and those who had chosen to come to reach my people for the Lord Jesus.”
—Marcela – 2nd Costa Rica Mission Trip, born in Costa Rica but moved to the U.S. 21 years ago
Grace United Methodist Church – Lewistown, Pennsylvania
Served in San Gerardo
A team of 10 people from Grace UMC worked at the church San Gerardo pouring the foundation and doing other concrete work for a new Sunday School building. The team stayed in Los Chilies and traveled to the project site in San Gerardo each morning. The team also conducted vacation bible school for the children of the churches in both San Gerardo and Los Chilies. The team developed a strong bond with the members of the San Gerardo congregation during the trip and committed to sponsor Saturday lunches for the children of San Gerardo throughout the coming year.
“What really stood out to me were the people. Meeting Mary and her team that work so hard to continue Marion’s mission. Helping the people of San Gerardo have a place to hold Sunday school by building a classroom for them to use. Also, the relationships that were built between the team and the community. And so many more unforgettable memories that drew us closer to God and inspired my own drive to serve.”
— Jessica – experiencing her first Costa Rica mission trip
Trinity United Methodist Church – Anderson, South Carolina
Served in San Gerardo
Trinity UMC sent a team of 16 people that continued work on the church in San Gerardo. The team put up walls for the new Sunday School Building, poured a new concrete walkway around the front and side of the church, and installed new ceiling fans. The team also conducted vacation bible school on multiple days for up to 80 children of the church and the surrounding in community. A women’s ministry / crafts program was also conducted by the team and attended by as many as 22 women of the church and the community.
“The people were more than welcoming, opening hearts and homes to all, excited for their church, serving the team in ways that touched each team member’s heart. It was a good week. God blessed everyone.”
—Excerpt from the mission team journal
Scranton/Wilkes-Barre District of the Susquehanna Conference – Pennsylvania
Served in Santa Rita de la Florencia
A team of 7 people from United Methodist Churches in the Scranton/ Wilkes-Barre District of the Susquehanna Conference worked at the church Santa Rita de la Florencia building a much-needed addition of bathrooms onto the church’s fellowship hall. The team also conducted 3 bible-themed craft sessions for the women and children of the church.
“Our Mission trip to Santa Rita de Florencia, Costa Rica, in January had so many special moments. The highlight for me was in church on Sunday morning when all the wonderful townfolks sang their hearts out, then welcomed us so warmly at the end of the service. You could feel the love of Jesus in our midst.”
—Brad – frequent mission trip participant, first mission trip to Costa Rica
Runville United Methodist Charge – Bellefonte, PA
Served in Santa Rosa de la Palmera
Six people from the three church Runville United Methodist charge constructed bathrooms at the home of a retiring Pastor. The work was on the bathroom / shower section of the house. Hopefully future mission teams will be able to complete expansion of the living quarters of the home.
“This was my first out-of-the-country mission trip and it blew me away. To have the opportunity to help others in a way I never thought possible, it not only touched their lives but mine as well. I was able to share the gifts the Lord gave me and that is something that I will carry with me for the rest of my life.”
—Jeremy – first Costa Rica Mission Trip