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

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Friday, November 30, 2012

Hasta luego Scott

Hi everyone,

Scott here, your friendly neighborhood program assistant. I have some unpopular news to share. I have completed my two year commitment serving with Strong Missions, and have decided to not renew my time serving in this placement. It was not an easy decision to make, and I feel very blessed to have so many people tell me they disagree with it and want to kidnap me—nothing makes me feel more loved than being kidnapped (as those who celebrated my 21st birthday with me can attest...but I digress)!  However, I managed to escape all kidnap attempts and am now back in the US.

I do want to take this chance to offer thanks to:
  • God, who by some mysterious grace and flow of circumstances put me in this beautiful place to serve and grow, at just the right time in my life. And who also gave me wisdom, strength, and joy along the way. Let me always remember Your faithfulness.
  • The staff at Strong Missions. It has been a great place to work, because you are great people to work with. It has been fun getting to know everyone, and figuring out how we can all function as a team (like, figuring out how to function in an office with 4 very different personalities, or on a worksite with 3 different construction workers giving instructions). I am also very grateful for the way the staff has welcomed me and made me part of the family.
  • The volunteers who have come to serve during my time here. I have often said that getting to know you all (or, as Charlie would say, y'all), has been one of the best parts of my work. I may not have gotten to know deeply each of the hundreds of people who I have worked with in the last two years, but at least some of you have become friends I hope to keep. I've been very impressed with just about everyone who has served with us; nothing that we do can happen without you.
  • The community of folks in Costa Rica, especially in Carrillos. I have felt very honored by the Evangelical Methodist and Pentecostal churches that have welcomed me and made me part of their church families, and by the actual families that have opened up their homes and hearts to welcome this weird gringo.
  • Friends and family in the US, who have supported me during my time abroad. Thanks for letting me go, and for letting me come back! Dad, thanks for always saying, “I'm not going to tell you what to do. You're going to do whatever you want anyway. And do what you want, because if you won't, you won't be happy.” (Yes, that is Andrews-speak for “I trust you and I want you to be happy.” I think.)  Also, thanks to the folks at FUMC-Waukesha for keeping me in your thoughts and prayers, and even coming down to serve.
I'm really tempted to give a shout out to some of my favorite people and experiences during my time here, but the list would be too long, and this blog post is already long enough. My heart is too full for all of that. I will say that of all the people I've encountered in the last year, I feel very blessed by my coworker Rebecca. We've had to really esforzarnos to understand each other sometimes, but the resulting friendship has been so well worth it. Gracias Rebe!

I realize my departure may come as a surprise to some of you reading this, and I apologize for that. If you'd like to get in touch, I'd be happy to hear from you at or on Facebook.

Following Christmas my position as program assistant will be filled by an outstanding gentleman, who is also from Wisconsin, and who you will get to meet on this blog soon. Please welcome him with the same warmth and joy you have shown me.

Scott Andrews  (aka Escot, Escotito, el Flakito)

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Wilberth´s house....holy cow!

For those of you that don´t have facebook, you can go to the link below to see more pictures that Alvaro just took of Wilberth´s house. It´s amazing the progress! l=72a66d8b17

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

Monday, November 5, 2012

Looking for summer interns......

Yes, I know it's November.

Do you speak Spanish? Do you know someone who does? Would you like to spend time in Costa Rica serving the Lord by serving teams coming to work and serve with Strong Missions? Apply to be a summer intern ASAP! If interested, email Rebecca at to receive an application. Applications due Feb. 1st.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Strong Missions Children's Park

After years of work and many hands helping, the Parque Infantil Strong Missions is open for playing!  Yesterday I stumbled upon some photos from the beginning of this year, and I was struck by how much it has changed in the last year.  While most of the heavy labor was done in 2010-2011, it is this year that the park has really started looking like a park.  Each group that added a mural to the wall this year made it more welcoming, and the local municipality also kept their promise to provide the landscaping and some of the playground equipment.  The children are enjoying it a lot, and now they don't have to play in the streets.  Thank you very much!  Please enjoy this video!

Monday, October 22, 2012

We're in the midst of our end-of-year fundraising campaign!  We need $20,000 to fully fund our feeding and education programs through February of 2013, and we don't want to cut any of these valuable programs.  Please contact us if you, your church, school, or family, would like to partner with us in this effort.  Here is our Christmas flier, please contact us for additional materials.  For larger donations, it is preferred if possible to donate by sending a check (made out to Strong Missions Inc) to our Texas address, which will reach us more quickly:
Strong Missions Inc.
11608 Prince Phillip Way
Manor, TX 78653-3773
Thank you to all of you!  Your support makes our ministry possible!

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Yorleny's house is all done!

Many of you have worked on the construction of the house we built this year for Yorleny and her family.  As you can see in the pictures below, it turned out great, and the family is really enjoying their new home.  Here is a note from Yorleny to all of you:
"Hola and blessings!  I want to give thanks from my whole heart to all of you, starting with Strong Missions.  That God touched your hearts so that this beautiful miracle could become reality.  Today I am sincerely very grateful for all of you.  If in me there there is something I can do for you and it is within my ability I won't think twice about extending my hand as you have done for me and others today.
May God prosper each one of your homes and bring you each day success and triumphs from all the good that you have done with families that have been blessed by all of you.  Today I can't find words to thank you for what you have done with my family; I
will always pray to God for this big family that is all of you.
I say goodbye thanking you for everything that you have done for me.  It was more than I had hoped for.  But I know God touched your hearts and took control so that it would be this way.  Thank you with all my heart.
The doors of my house will be open for anyone from Strong Missions, just as they were from the beginning of construction until it was finished.

Even though Yorleny says she has trouble finding the words, she says it better than I can.  Thanks to all of your for the blessing you have been to this family and this community!

 Brian and Alicia helped put the finishing touches on the house, painting the gate and moving the rocks and rubble from out front.

Yorleny, Jordan, Josue, Priscila, Sharon y Matthias in front of their old home. 

Friday, October 12, 2012

La Carpio ministry

We are beginning a ministry partnership in La Carpio.
La Carpio is the largest precario (slum) in Costa Rica, with 40,000 people and close to 30,000 kids live in an area of 296 square kilometers, surrounded on 2 sides by rivers and another by a landfill which receives over 700 tons of waste daily.  Over half of the population lives below the poverty line, compared with 22% of the national population.   In addition to poverty, the people face struggles with drugs, violence, gangs and crime.

There's a new Evangelical Methodist Church organizing there, and they are already starting to feed children (about 45) 1 meal a day one day of week with the little resources they have. We would like to increase their frequency of their feeding program, but cannot do this without your help.  We are excited to be partnering with them and helping them to minister to their community.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Pentecostal Church Work

Today I want to share with you about the progress we've made on construction at the Pentecostal church this year.  The plan is to add a second story to the back part of the building to give the church more space for its feeding program.  They've been feeding 50-60 kids in the Costa Rican summer months when kids aren't in school, but estimate the need to feed about 100.  This project gives them the space to do that.  Last year we dug and poured footers for the support columns.  This year we welded the first part of the column up, demolished the stage in back, resurfaced and poured the floor, and installed a concrete counter top.  It's about all we can do until the rain stops for the year and we can remove the roof for the second story.  Thank you to all of you who have been a part of this project!  I know the people of the Iglesia Nuevo Pacto are very grateful to have this new space for ministry.
 Some strong women attacking the old stage.
 The Pentecostal church has a very active children's ministry and loves it when teams do activities with the kids.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Methodist Church construction 2012

We've wrapped up our busy season, and it has been a busy season indeed.  Just getting caught up on project posts now.  Today I want to feature the work at the Evangelical Methodist church of Carrillos, where we've been working since 2010.  This expansion will be for a feeding program for 100 kids on the ground floor, and a parsonage on the second floor.  Over the last several months we've put up the rest of the walls (all the way up to the second story), roofs, concrete floors, and septic system.  Those who worked on the septic system know how much work went into that, even though it's all underground and invisible now.  Thank you for everyone who has come and worked on this project!

Also notice the new wall and sidewalk.

Interior of the dining room/kitchen.

Friday, July 6, 2012

House Project

Yorleni and family

Digging foundation holes (first days)

There's walls!

There's walls on the inside too!

Wow! It's starting to look like a real house...yeah!
As we do every year, Strong Missions volunteers and staff are building a house this year.  It has gone up quickly in just the last 4 weeks!  This house is for local resident Yorleni and her family, 6 total.  It has been a blessing to serve this wonderful family, who is very grateful to see their new home coming together.

*****Yorleni says it best in her note to the teams who worked on her new house:  "I want to thank you with all my heart for the blessing you have given my family.  You all have taught me that big dreams don't need big wings to lift them but rather they need a train to ground them until they are achieved.  Every one of you has left a mark on us that is impossible to erase.  Thank you to all of you who have made this dream a reality.  You all are very special.  May God bless you always."

Thank you to all the teams that have worked on the house this year/ donated funds by coming and working with us to make this dream a reality. Prayers for the teams yet to come and finish the house.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Community Park Update

The park project is advancing by leaps and bounds this year!  Each team that has contributed a mural in the last few months has added to the beauty and joy in this place.  And, perhaps most visibly, the city government has installed the landscaping as promised, and the rainy season is helping the grass grow nice and strong.  In a couple weeks the park will officially open its doors to the community (we've been waiting for the grass to take root before letting it get used).

The Carrillos park project was started in 2010 as a joint effort between the city government (who provided the land and landscaping) and Strong Missions (who provided the materials and labor through volunteers like you).  The neighbors, and especially the children, are thrilled that there is now a safe place to play so they don't need to play out in the streets, and can't wait for it to open its doors.

Please enjoy the photos below.

The slide and teeter totter were donated and installed by the municipal government.

A couple of the murals which were not seen in the pictures above.
Many thanks to all of you who have been part of this project!

Monday, July 2, 2012

What do the interns have to say?????

Though I only arrived in Costa Rica four weeks ago, I already feel as though I am home here at Strong Mission.  Scott and Rebecca packed our heads with information during orientation week, and it was a great introduction to the people and programs that we work with.  Working here is an amazing opportunity to share Christ’s love with the people of Costa Rica, but the part that I love is helping others have the experience of serving as Christ’s hands and feet.  I love to watch people come in and experience another culture while learning more about God’s love for them.  Learning about and sharing God’s love simultaneously is one of the most amazing experiences I have had! 

Well, it's approaching that half way point and I cannot believe it! God has been so good to all of us here and I find myself experiencing such immense joy and fulfillment in every single day. The groups come and go, we build relationships, we laugh, we serve together, and we eventually say goodbye. It is an interesting cycle of life that can make one weary, but with a great staff and several days of rest we are still going strong. I am making beautiful connections with many people and strengthening my relationship with our patient and all loving God. Now I have to get off this computer and go enjoy this beautiful country! Please keep the staff and the mission in your prayers, and may God continue to bless you and hold you wherever you are.


Time here in Costa Rica has seemingly morphed into some odd combination of going the speed of light mixed in with slow motion. In some ways it feels that I have been here forever, and yet it still seems like only a few days ago that I was arriving to this country for the very first time. Simply being in a Latin American country again just feels so good to me. I am surrounded by a different language and a different way of life, but yet I have peace and for this reason I know that I am in the right place this summer. I am blessed to be here at Strong Missions, serving the people in this community and those teams who come to work here as well, and I am moved by the work we are doing here. For many years, I have been discovering and growing my passions and interests in serving and caring for communities, specifically in looking for ways to end poverty and hunger, fight against the presence of drugs and gangs, and also promoting fair and equal housing. I am happy to be a part of this organization that is so dedicated to justice and the well-being of this community and even more so for the very small role I get to play in it. There are certainly big things happening here this summer. 

Things are going very smoothly here in Costa Rica and i love all the work I am doing to help the Ticos and to help the Gringos that come to work. Charlie said something the other day that really struck me. He reminded us of the story of Jesus feeding the multitudes (for anyone who doesn't know this story you can read Matthew Chapter 14.) In this passage there are many needy people gathered around Jesus and they begin to disperse for lack of food. And Jesus said to his disciples "They need not go away. You give them something to eat." This really struck me because i was reminded that we are all disciples of Jesus in our own ways and Jesus tells us to go and feed the hungry, or support the poor, or whatever it is you  are called to do and this is a clear reminder of exactly why we are here doing the work that we do for the people we do it for.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Nicole Crouch- Intern 5/5

Hola Todos!
My name is Nicole Crouch, and I, too, am an intern this summer at Strong Missions. I hail from Erie, Pennsylvania and recently graduated from college with a Bachelor's of the Arts in Spanish and a minor in Urban Studies.  Two of my passions in life include seeing people who are in need receive a hand to help them get their feet on the ground and using the Spanish language.  I have had other opportunities to work with underprivileged families through mission trips and an internship at McDowell Mission in WV as well as serving in a food pantry while in college.  Working to give people a chance in life is something I plan to do with my life following this summer.  I am not sure exactly what that will look like throughout the years, but I am excited about this summer and know it will help prepare me for whatever lies ahead.

Nick Varrell- Intern 4/5

Hi All,
My name is Nick Varrell and I’ll be spending the summer here at Strong Missions as an intern. I’m 19 and will be going into my sophomore year at Roanoke College in Virginia. I am a double major in Criminal Justice and Spanish. I’ve been studying Spanish since kindergarten and in the last few years through thought prayer and an awesome internship during high school I discovered my passion for Criminal Justice and law enforcement. During the year I work at the Outdoor Adventures Center at school as a guide as well as playing on the ultimate Frisbee team, a few other intramural sports, and I am heavily involved in Intervaristy, a Christian fellowship group on campus. This summer I hope to grow in my faith and my Spanish abilities. ¡Pura Vida!

Monday, June 11, 2012

All you folks who have partnered with us in our work here at Strong Missions, know that we're having a "raise a house" party all September and October to build a house for Wilberth Mora, our job foreman for the last 8 years. I know that he has touched the lives of so many that have collaborated with us over the years, and so all individuals, couples, and teams are welcome with us during that time to show appreciation for this special man of God.  Please contact us if you, your family, church, or school would like to help construct a home for Wilberth and his family!  Thanks and peace.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Hello from Costa Rica,
My name is Elena Brubaker and I am a 2012 summer intern at Strong Missions, from Lowell, Michigan. Don't recognize the name? Well it's a small rural town near Grand Rapids. I am currently studying Secondary Education and Spanish with a minor in Bilingual education and Latin American studies at Calvin College in Grand Rapids. My personal passions are traveling, soccer, and reading. I am a strong advocate for social justice work and a proud member of the United Merthodist Church. I guess from this whole description you can see I am excited about this summer and how all of my passions collide in this one beautiful country. Here I find myself constatly reminded of life's great joy through the many smiles, laughter, and even tears. This is a great place to grow in faith and love. Please keep the staff, interns, and mission groups in your prayers as we all gear up for an amazing summer. Many blessings to you wherever you are.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Jenny Lee- Intern 2/5

I, Jenny Lee, am extremely excited about my summer of serving with Strong Mission.  I have participated in many short term mission trips throughout high school and college and fell in love with serving God in this way.  A summer internship at a mission in West Virginia following my graduation from The University of Evansville turned into eight and a half years of long term mission work.  Along with assisting in the youth and family ministries, my main responsibility included scheduling and hosting mission teams.  Each team held something unique and shared something special.  Through God’s leading, that chapter of my life came to a close about 2 years ago.  I have missed working with mission teams and am excited to have a summer full of them!  There is no experience quite like serving as God’s hands and feet and facilitating others in doing the same.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Ryan Zanardi- Intern 1/5

¡Hola de Costa Rica! Hello from Costa Rica! My name is Ryan Zanardi, and I’m currently working as an intern for Strong Missions.  I am from Greensboro, NC and am a sophomore studying Human Biology at North Carolina State University (Go Pack!) with the dreams of becoming a trauma surgeon one day. I arrived to Costa Rica on May 15th to begin my two and a half month internship, and I’ve never been more excited. I have been here twice already with my church youth group and loved it, and the idea of being here for longer than a week is awesome. At first, I was almost overwhelmed… diving into a country headfirst and being thrown into the culture/language is a scary experience. But now that I have settled in, I can say that I’m very excited about what this summer will have to offer! I look forward to sharing more as the summer progresses, but until then, ¡Pura Vida!

Monday, March 26, 2012

Waukesha pictures

Hi all,

We've got pictures up from my home church of First UMC of Waukesha (with special guests from El Buen Samaritano UMC in Waukesha and Our Lord's UMC in New Berlin, WI)! Here are a couple; to see more please check out our facebook page. The team completed two walls which will become the bathroom at the Methodist church here in Carrillos. It was great working with some familiar faces from home!

Mural in the park.

Mixing mortar and laying block.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Pictures of Wesley UMC & WIU Wesley Foundation January 2012 Trip

Hey everyone!

Check out the pics on facebook. If you don't have facebook, here is the link:

Have a great day!!!!

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

A blast from the past.....more 2011 pictures

Hey everyone!

Check out the pictures from Fuquay- Varina UMC (North Carolina)- November, and the Stipp family (Charlotte, NC)- December on the Strong Missions Facebook page.

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Strong Missions Child Protection Policy

Hi everyone,

Here is the link to our child protection policy in English. The Spanish version will follow soon.
We ask that all teams and individuals read it, sign it and comply with it. Help us protect children in Costa Rica.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Children's park

Hi everyone!

The work on the children's park has continued thanks to volunteers from the Mauston VIM team. Teams are welcome to do a mural. If you have not contacted us about this and are interested, please let us know.

Check out the park pictures on the Strong Missions facebook page. If you don't have access the links are below.