Youth, College, Adult and Family Mission Trips to Costa Rica

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Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Urgent Plea for donations:

This is an appeal for donations for our feeding and education programs.  We are eternally grateful for all the gifts and prayers, but must let you know that we are running short on money for this month to continue giving a meal to children in need and money to pay our professors in our education program, which by the way has grown so much that the 7th grade group is crammed into the same room like sardines. These programs run year round, however many times we are running only on faith, and lacking funds. Please prayerfully consider giving, so that these efforts can continue.  We can´t do everything, but we can do something and together we can do great things. 

Thanks you for your prayers and support. 

Thursday, July 3, 2014

My name is Katie Wig and from late May through the end of June, I was blessed to serve as an intern with the Strong Missions team. Now, as I look back on my month in Carrillos, I am certain that it was the most incredible experience of my life. Growing up in a big family in a small town, my life was enjoyable, safe, and comfortable. While a part of me longed for adventure and to try something new, I had always subscribed to the belief that I wasn’t brave enough or strong enough for a real adventure, especially a long-term one. Then I found Strong Missions.
After studying Spanish for six years (four in high school, and two in college), I finally went on my first-ever mission trip in January of this year. I went with my uncle’s church for a week and a half, and was the youngest and least experienced person on the team. Though I was very nervous to go so far from home, especially with a group of people I didn’t know well, it hardly took any time for me to forget the fears that I was clinging on to. Over the course of the week and a half, I was so blessed to get to know an abundance of incredible people, both in my group and in the community. The children of Carrillos, especially, are such caring and beautiful souls who I came to love dearly. I very quickly knew that God was calling me to return to this place.
On May 25th I returned to Carrillos for my internship. Though the first week was hard, with a great deal of homesickness and anxiety, over the course of the following four weeks, I grew emotionally and spiritually in a way I didn’t know was possible. The work we did through Strong Missions gave me the opportunity to test my own “limits,” motivated by the fuel of a great purpose. Before Strong Missions, I never would have thought I’d be able to lead large groups of people without being paralyzed with nervousness, or that I would be physically strong enough to help assemble steel bleachers or mix concrete with a shovel. Most importantly, I had no idea just how much the sharing of one’s own Light can ignite the souls of so many others.
The smiles of the children of Carrillos, La Carpio, and Los Guido were the most beautiful thing I have ever seen. Through their positivity, warmth, and unhesitant love, every group that came through felt the unshakable strength of God’s Love. Because of this Great Love, this incredible sense of purpose we all felt, any physical or emotional weakness felt insignificant compared to the strength and determination we felt through the Holy Spirit. Because we knew we were working for the Kingdom, God gave us all the strength we needed.
Today I am back home, looking out at the sunset on the lake, and I can’t help but miss the beauty of the land and the people of Costa Rica. I cannot emphasize enough what an incredible blessing this past month has been in my life. Though I was skeptical at the beginning, I know now that God’s Love moves each one of us in every moment of every day. We are all designed to serve and love one another, and when we do that, the true capacity of our strength is made known. Through God, we are capable of truly amazing things.

Monday, June 9, 2014

Summer Interns- Lanier

My name is Lanier McClain. I am from Greensboro, NC and am blessed to be serving with Strong Missions another year as an intern. I am super ecstatic to meet all the hard working groups coming our way and kick off the summer here in Costa Rica! It has always been a pleasure to work alongside such amazing individuals and groups that serve with us, as well as serving the people of this beautiful place. I cannot thank God enough for providing me with such a rewarding opportunity yet again. God Bless and hope to be seeing you real soon!

Lanier McClain

Friday, May 16, 2014

Hunger has a face, and a beautiful smile!

This is reposted with permission from Katy, the Youth Director at Sunbury UMC in Ohio, who visited with a team in April this year.

This evening I have been working on the video for the Costa Rica mission trip, and as such have been thinking about the children we met at La Carpio.

 There was one moment on this trip that really broke my heart.  We were at La Carpio and I was serving juice.  Each kid received one glass of juice, and after we finished pouring the last glass, a little boy came up and asked for more.  I asked the woman if I could give him more, and she said no because there was not enough for everyone to have more.  All he wanted was more juice.  Something we all take for granted.  Another kid wanted more food.  And the same answer.  There was only enough for one bowl per kid.  This was probably the only meal these kids would have all day.  70-80 children who get one bowl of food a day.

The Wednesday after we got back from Costa Rica, I was at Be 5:6 (SUMC's 5th and 6th grade ministry). There was plenty of food and drink for everyone to have as much as they wanted.  And I found myself thinking back to that moment of the little boy asking for more and being told no.

Hunger is a very real problem in the world.  In poor areas like La Carpio, and right in our back yards.  When we took all that food to Big Walnut Friends Who Share from the Upwards food drive, they told us it would last 2-3 weeks.  It can be easy to forget when we have plenty to eat every day.  When we can afford to spend money on junk food just because we want it.  Every time the teens did the 30-hour famine I always tried to bring the point home that even though we were not eating for 30 hours, we still knew when our next meal was coming, and that there would be plenty.  That is not true from those dealing with real hunger.

The problem is that for most of us this hunger doesn't have a face. When it's boiled down to numbers, it doesn't seem as important to do something about it.  The personal connection is what makes it really click in us.  My time in La Carpio reminded me that hunger does have a face. It's the face of the little boy asking for more.  It's a little boy asking for water and it's a simple request that you can't fill.  When you experience these moments, you realize how much it matters. Because it really, really matters.

And it's not just about filling their bellies.  Because while these children are the faces of hunger, they are so much more.  If you look at these pictures, especially the one below (which is my favorite), you see true joy. They melt my heart.  Even with the challenges that life has dealt with them, these kids are still just that - kids. They know how to smile and laugh and dance and love. And it was truly my honor and joy to help serve them and to dance and draw and play with them for just one day.  These children will be forever in my heart. They changed my life, and I will be forever grateful.

  P.S. If you ever have the chance to experience anything like this, do it!  It is worth whatever time and money it costs you.  You will never be the same.

View the original post here.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Loaves and Fishes Update From Our New Program Assistant

Hello Strong Missions Community!

My little friend and his kitten!
My name is Brooke and I joined the Strong Missions Team in January this year. I am originally from Kansas, but San Diego, California is my most recent home and I am a member of First United Methodist Church of San Diego. I was called by God to service 2 years ago, and as of June 2013, I was able to realize God’s will for my life by becoming a full-time missioner. I have been serving with the Individual Volunteer Program of the United Methodist General Board of Global Ministries and spent last year placed with Agua Viva Serves in Los Chiles, Costa Rica near the Nicaragua border. When that placement ended, I was looking for another place to serve here with the amazing people of Costa Rica, and Strong Missions invited me to join the team. I look forward to working with all of the incredible volunteers that help make our work possible!
The Loaves and Fishes program is growing and it is time to have someone devoted to full-time administration so Rebecca will be transitioning into that role and I am transitioning into her Program Assistant role working with the teams. We are still feeding year-round, 5 days a week, at the La Carpio Evangelical Methodist Church and the Los Guido Evangelical Methodist Church. La Carpio has recently expanded their ministry to include a neighboring community on the edge of the river called Cuervo Sapo (Toad’s Cave) which Pastor James says has even more need then the area immediately around the church. That has brought their numbers up and they are now serving around 70 kids daily. Los Guido is serving about 50 children daily and we are working to expand there as well with the help of Pastor Humberto. Our goal, God-willing, is by 2018 to be feeding 100 children twice daily in both of these locations.
Pastor James & Pastora Kristina with the children of
La Carpio as they begin to arrive and line up for lunch!
During the Christmas (summer) break here in Carrillos, we were feeding approximately 50 children 5 days a week at the Evangelical Methodist Church and approximately 70 children 5 days a week at the Pentecostal Church. This year, with the help of our amazing volunteers who will number over 600 people coming in over 40 teams, we expect to be able to complete the facilities at the Carrillos Evangelical Methodist and Pentecostal churches which will allow us to expand these programs to feed year-round. Our goal by 2018 is to increase to feeding 100 children once daily year-round at both of these churches in Carrillos.
Team from Oakwood UMC in Iowa working on leveling the ground
in front of the Carrillos Pentecostal Church
and digging a trench for the foundation of a front gate for security
There is also an Evangelical Methodist church in Tuetal, which is about halfway between Carrillos and Alajuela, that is working to finish a new kitchen facility thanks to the help of some other organizations and volunteers. They have approached Strong Missions for help utilizing their kitchen to begin a feeding program and we hope to be able to add them as an additional location soon!

Glory to God for allowing us to help these churches realize their missions reaching out to their communities!
This week begins our first push of the season as Spring Break hits the states. We are indeed blessed over these 3 weeks to host 99 volunteers from 6 different groups and families. We are going to be working at the Pentecostal Church, at an elementary school in San Isidro, the home of one of our cooks, Ana, as well as other projects. over the next few weeks to take advantage of the dry season with outdoor projects. 

Thanks in advance to all who will be serving with us in-country throughout the year, supporting us financially, and also those who will be praying for us from near and far. Every one of you is in mission with us and we could not do this without you!

I look forward to working with all of you!
Peace and Blessings,

Please LIKE us on Facebook for other updates and photos!

Monday, March 10, 2014

As March commences, Strong Missions is already in full swing. With the help of teams in January and February from Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Indiana (all very happy to leave the polar vortex behind!) we have installed the ceiling in the Iglesia Metodista here in Carrillos, leveled the tomato patch and planted a fresh crop, added a covering in the Carrillos Park for some much needed shade, begun leveling the ground in front of the Iglesia Pentecostal in Carrillos for a new parking area, painted a classroom and built lockers at the Carrillos school, packaged up school supplies for children in La Carpio and Los Guido, sewn new aprons for the cooks, and most importantly... shined Christ's light on the communities in which we serve!
Can't wait to see what all God has in store this year!

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Due Feb. 1st!!!!

Hey everyone!
Don´t forget that intern applications are due Feb. 1st!