Mission Trip – 2022
April 23, 2022
Hawthorne Lane Friends,
I am not sure the process or the forum to communicate our mission trip to each of you and I hope you find some value with us sharing updates from our mission trip. I wanted to involve you into our journey into the unknown or abyss.
First of all. Thank you. Thank you to each of you who helped guide our church towards this important mission. Thank you to each of you who gave positive encouragement to Violet during her fundraising drive. (She did it!). Thank you to the church who made a donation to the mission in Costa Rica. Thank you to all the unsung heros who helped put this together.
As first timers on a mission. We have no idea what will happen this week, how god will reach each of us and how our mission will impact the lives of the children in Costa Rica. At the moment, everyone speaks English and we understand what we need to do. But in about 3 hrs we enter a foreign country and a different world. We are completely blind to the journey we are on. But our heart tells us to press forward anyway.
So from what we know at the moment. We will be in San Jose visiting churches, having a chance to visit with the sponser family and a chance to go to local markets this weekend. We will be staying at the Iglesia Evangelica Metodista Centro Juan Wesley and our mission is to help build another house at a local Methodist orphanage. After a week of building a house in a rainforest (oh yeah – it’s raining all week!) we get to get some R&R at a lodge on the side of a volcano. Which may involve a couple much needed naps / floating in a pool.
I hope that we can chronicle our journey. You can find inspiration in our journey. And you can walk in a path with us in the future.
April 24, 2022
Hawthorne Lane Church Members and Friends,
First of all, Costa Rica is an amazing country. The majority of its country is a nationally protected rain forest. It permanently abolished its army in 1949, becoming one of only a few sovereign nations without a standing army. The budget previously dedicated to the military is now dedicated to providing health care services and education. Costa Rica’s has a very high life expectancy which is second highest in the America, and higher than the United States. The country also experienced well-being higher than many richer nations and a per capita ecological footprint one-third the size of the United States. Pura-Vida!!
So much of yesterday was a travel day. And while you can take the Americans out of America, it’s hard to take out the American. After landing at the airport, and mistakenly not eating a healthy breakfast before our 5 hours of flight. Our first stop was a wal mart to pickup supplies for our children and ourselves. I found Violet and I share the same love for snacks. Passing by some amazing fruit to find the American isle full of Takis, Pringles and American Pistachios. We loaded up on soccer balls, towels and knick knacks we will share with our children. We spent some time visiting in our lodge we are staying at meeting some amazing missionaries from St James Church in Atlanta. Then we found a wonderful ice cream shop which will come in handy later in the week when the real work begins.
We did have a chance to meet with Ray Zirkel yesterday. In case you are not aware of the mission in Costa Rica, you can learn more at his website here. http://www.zirkelministrycostarica.com/. Ray is an incredible person who runs the mission in San Jose area for the past 30 years. He raised his family at the mission and caring for over 28 youth from ages of 6 months all the way to 16 years old.
We also had a nightly devotion as a group. The topic was why we came down and everyone had a chance to share. A common theme would be a lightswitch type of moment. They realized that they have a good life in the states, wanted to do gods work in a different way and find so much grace in being in this mission. Much like a light switch, this helped to turn everything on for them. I can’t tell you how proud I am of Violet. She gave up so much to come. She worked on a play for months that happened at the same time of this mission trip. You could tell this was a big sacrifice she had to make. She felt more compelled to do something for someone else. That’s why she came and joined. Truly Amazing! So if your light switch is turned off, you are finding reasons to keep it off or are nervous to jump in. Think of our 12 year old church member Violets story!
It’s 5:55 am Costa Rican time. From what I hear, the bakeries outside the compound are amazing. So i am going to venture out a bit this morning and explore. And while I am not a coffee drinker, I hear this is the epicenter of amazing coffee. Speaking of which, if you want coffee and support this mission. Check out https://seriouslygoodcoffee.com/. 100% of the proceeds help to support this mission and you get good coffee! Rest of day will be spent in the local artisans market, church and then dinner with The Zilkers. Trying to get as much rest before the honest work starts tomorrow.
April 25, 2022
HLUMC and Friends,
What an awesome Sunday in Costa Rica yesterday. We spent the morning walking around our area in San Jose in the morning. Woken up by parrots outside, the weather was amazing. In morning, every street corner we turned around and were immersed with the beautiful mountains. And the bakeries. Oh my gosh y’all. The bakeries. Let’s just say that I fully support removing the bakeries isles in Grocery Stores and encourage everyone to wake up every morning to get fresh bread. We found the most amazing fresh pastries on the street corner. My plan is to finish up this update with y’all, buy bread for the group today and make the greatest peanut butter and jelly known to mankind for lunch today!
For some of you who may know my wife, her favorite band is Grateful Dead. Pigpen is a bluesy everything man in the band. I always remember Grateful Dead’s rendition of Bobby Blands “Turn on your love light”. The verse goes Turn on your lights let it shine on me, Turn on your love light let it shine on me, Let it shine, let it shine, let it shine. Except that pigpen takes this and stretches it out for into a 3 minutes bluesy jam on several late 60’s versions. You heard me yesterday reference turning on the switch. A metaphor I use to reference that part of you that exists in each of us to really become gods light in this world. Yesterday we enjoyed a wonderful service where the preacher talks about a light house. The purpose of the light house is to help guide people out of the darkness and into safety. That there needs to be you deciding to shine your light into this world. That we need to go into the darkness and help minister the word of god to everyone. Now I would add that not everyone’s light needs to shine the same. Some may be like a night light. Important and in the background and on. Some may be a lighthouse, ever steady, can be seen for miles and in the face of danger. But the need is for all of us to go into the world, in some fashion, and shine light into darkness. Where ever it may be. Let it shine, let it shine, let it shine!
I did want to add that the service was wonderful. Ray went up and helped translate a service for us. Considering that the extent of my Spanish involves hola, cervesa and bien (which works great at an all inclusive Mexican resort). It was very impressive watching Ray listen to a preacher, enunciate his points and not break up the flow of his sermon. I think on day two this is a great analogy for what Sunday was. Things are definitely getting more real. People are here to help us understand what is going on, but it is now happening and we have to understand… even if we don’t know exactly what someone is saying. We start the mission work in 3 hrs!
Also – thank you to everyone who gave us encouraging emails, pastor Tom who wrote us a nice letter that we enjoyed at breakfast yesterday (and Gina as well!) and everyone who sends wishes our way. We will use that encouragement to give great effort during our week this week!
Well everyone. Today is Monday morning. That means get the kids to school, run to work, answer more emails then you know what to do with and maybe grab lunch if you are lucky. And if the day is to let your light shine just a little bit today if you can. See the opportunity…turn on that switch!
April 26, 2022
Ok, so I don’t speak Spanish. But you do start to pick up Spanish out of necessity and just to relate to ofhers. I took tremendous sympathy to the person who works at the mission. His job was to help us understand tasks to do and give instructions with what he needed and try to communicate to us. We started to pick up rhythm later in the day as pointing and google translate was a wonderful thing. I would have been in a better spot had my Spanish teacher, who was one of the most unique individuals and probably my worst teacher, hadn’t played Telenova / Spanish soap opera as our lesson plans in Spanish.
So for the most amazing news of the week. We made it to the orphanage yesterday for the first time. And for anyone that went with us that have been before, it was the first time seeing the new building. (More on that in a second). I was truly impressed with the dedication to the children and the organization put towards it. The story starts like this. Ray and Lidia were doing mission work in the mid 90’s. During one of the trips to the city, they were seeing abandoned children eating out of dumpsters in the streets. They had two daughters who were three and five who asked the Ray and Lydia what can they do to help them. Feeling gods call they purchased a farm on top of the mountains. That’s how it started. To see it now you wouldn’t believe that a volunteer based organization was able to accomplish what they accomplished.
Which leads to the most impressive part. In 7 years and through use of missionaries work, by concrete block construction and through Covid. They build this amazing impressive constructed youth center. It is complete with individual classrooms. It has an amazing gymnasium. It is two stories tall. Did I mention they built it out of concrete block and use of mission volunteers (people who had little experience building block construction). And it is amazingly impressive. What is helpful is they believe they can fill spots in classrooms with other children from the neighborhoods and acclimate them with the children at the orphanage. And as they build more homes, expand even further. I feel like there is a great organization here doing gods work and would love for y’all to get more involved here! Plus it sits on top of this amazing mountain with this tremendous view of the city.
So I think Jesus would be a pretty awesome guy. From what I understand he; wears sandles, had a great beard and was a carpenter. (He also helped saved the world from sin, performed amazing deeds and showed us a path that we all aspire to lead every day). Now some of those things I can do. One of which is being a carpenter. My guess is Jesus was a much better carpenter. But if you give me 5 beds, a 120 grit sandpaper, wood filler and 3 wonderful volunteers. We will setup a quasi wood working shop and get to work. The childrens beds were in pretty rough shape and our job was to refinish the beds. I was genuinely impressed with our groups ability to get scratch, bite and drawings out of the beds. I realize compared to walking on water, feeding 1000s of people and rising from the dead that refinishing 5 beds is negligible work. Still happy we could do gods work and create nice beds for the kids again.
Ok, time to bounce. It’s 6:30 and that means it’s bread time. What a wonderful place and time in our life.
April 27, 2022
The only way I can describe today is “beautiful”. We started the day with our usual walk to the local panderias (bakeries) and purchased stuffed breads for the team’s lunch. Y’all , the quality and freshness of these baked goods is beyond compare, and we fed our whole team for less than 20 USD and supported these local business owners. Upon our arrival to Hogar Metodista, we presented our team’s gifts to the children’s home director, new bath towel and washcloth sets for all the children that we purchased at a local Walmart. She was very happy to receive them!We were blessed with beautiful weather for our workday and managed to escape the usual afternoon rainstorms. I was moved from the indoor painting team to help Brandon with furniture refinishing outside since there are so many pieces to finish. One of the things I enjoyed most was seeing the drawings and scratches that the kids had done on their wardrobes. Even though it damaged the furniture and our job was to “fix” it, it just made me think about the things these children had chosen to “memorialize”, drawings of trucks and inscriptions of their names…reminders of the things that were important enough to the kids who have lived here, to etch into furniture. After our usual workday came my favorite part – our first day of VBS!! While painting, sanding, and staining is usually out of my wheelhouse, ministering to kids is my gift. Due to the pandemic, we are the first mission team to arrive here in almost 3 years. As a children’s group leader, I sometimes worry how the things I plan will be received by the kids. This planning was especially hard due to the large age range (18 months to 16 years old) and the language barrier. I was nervous as the kids showed up and I explained through a translator that we were going to play “Pato, Pato, Ganzo” (Duck, Duck, Goose) to start. After a couple rounds of “figuring it out” these kids jumped in 100%. It was so fun watching them run and laugh – the big boys racing each other, the tiny little girl running her heart out to catch her big sister, the reaction when a boy played a trick and ran across the circle instead of around it. They were still going strong, but we finally had to stop the games and move on to the lesson! As we sang our songs, learned dance moves, and worked on “all about me” posters, the thing that struck me most was how “all in” every one of these kids was. From the littlest child to the oldest boy who is almost ready to age out of the home, they all listened, participated and generally seemed to be having fun the whole time. I don’t know if this is the norm or not, but these kids haven’t really been out much or had mission teams come in with programming since 2019, and they definitely seemed happy for the excitement of it all. Time-wise, most of what I will do here is work with my hands, but I am most grateful for these days with the children when I get to do the work of my heart.It was a beautiful day!
April 28, 2022
Today we worked at Hogar Metodista. We painted and cleaned the cottages the children live in. I played with the kids and they showed me their toys. Since they speak Spanish it is hard for me to know what they are asking. But we all know what hugs mean. They are always sitting in my lap and talking to me and playing.. these kids know that we are different in a lot of ways but they learned a way to communicate. They are so sweet and kind. They all are family and that is something I learned today.
April 29, 2022
Time. It’s the one thing that is equitable across most people. How we spend time, is really what defines us as we look back on our lives.
I often speak to older people who say they wish they would have spent time differently. They rarely sit back and reflect about the business deal they didn’t make on the second Thursday of the fifth month of the 17th year of their career or how they wished they would have gotten a 3.7% merit increase vs a 1.2% merit increase. These are fleeting moments that rarely are important over time. They often say I wish I would have walked the Appalachian, regret missing their childrens rehearsal or taken more time giving to others. It feel thats why a lot of people I am on the trip with are successful business people. One said this week they would rather give whatever time they have left to helping missions than work their job for a bit longer. The person who runs the Hogar mission left the states, moved their family from Texas, bought a farm, built 2 houses and a gymnasium out of blocks themselves.
Time isn’t the same for everyone. In fact, time has a great inequality or unfairness to it. Some people are born without a support system. They have no identity and are sent into the abyss to fend for themselves. I wonder if they ever worry about that 3:00 conference call, what their personnel development plan is or which options they will get on there next luxury SUV. They don’t have the same shot you do. It’s just not possible without support from others.
I have learned over the last week that the Hogar Mission is doing gods work to give these children a better chance at quality time. 72 children have been adopted into families. 28 children are getting the benefit of a free education, safe living environment and have the benefit of a learned experience that they would never put another person through in their personal lives. (Sometimes iron sharpens iron). Can you imagine the butterfly effect of the work being done here?
But if we are completely honest with ourselves. We have to realize that each of us on this email is born with an unfair gift in comparison to the children we visited this week. I am completely satisfied with the impact that we made on the people who came. Especially Violet. Even the people we visited with. To see the joy in the kids faces when Krista led them in a simple game of pato, pato, ganzo (duck, duck, goose) was pure joy.
But if we put this against the test of time. It was 3 people in a congregation of several hundred, one week in 52 and a small budget line item in a congregation with much more that can be offered to these children and this mission. There are long term needs here that is really important to consider. The mission has to take government donations to continue to operate through Covid (Catholicism is the official religion in CR) they need to build 2 more buildings without financial assistance to do so and they need people to volunteer (6 less volunteer weeks than prior years). Leaves an void that we should help to fill. Can we do more?
Do you have the ability to help with your time or resources change the lives of these children? Is what you did this week really that important that can’t be put off to the other 51 weeks? Can people who are so blessed return blessings to others. These are important questions to understand today and as a congregation going forward.
If instead of taking this as a one week challenge to put together a mission coming out of covid, we planned out this for next year. I am hopeful that more people will be interested in going. If we were able to go during a more convenient time, that may help as well. But the question really comes down to each of you. Are you willing to cross the line, turn on your light switch and use your greatest resource to help others who are on the clock?
The St James group is fantastic and we have learned a lot about how to be involved with a great mission trip. Cynthia / Ted are fantastic leaders who have held 3 spots for us next year in the first week of June. If we can gather together enough people to fill 18 spots, then we could gather our own team (something desperately needed next year). I can speak for myself, I leave this trip content with the work done and a feeing there is more work to do. I would love the opportunity to share our experience and gauge your interest in joining in 2023.
Thank you to each of you who bought a cup of hot chocolate from Violet, made a donation to helping them come or wrote kind letters of encouragement as we were on your mission. We are incredibly blessed to be representing each of you. This trip was an amazing experience.