Costa Rica

2020 Costa Rica Trip plans are underway!

Would you be interested in working on continuing projects at the children’s home in Costa Rica at Hogar Metodista near San Jose for one to two weeks next February? Find out about the 2020 trip at an informational meeting on Thu., Sep. 5 at 6:30pm at West Side UMC (900 S. Seventh St.) This meeting is for new people who are considering going and for past participants as well. If you have been on this mission trip before, this is the perfect opportunity to invite someone new who may have expressed an interest.

The 2020 Mission trip is planned for February 1-15, 2020, with a one- or two-week option. The target group size for each week is 18. As in the past, the mission team will include people from other churches. Your prayers are appreciated!

With questions please contact:
Pat Carson, plpmcarson@comast.net
Mary Danforth, m19danforth44@gmail.com, or
Tom Jeppson, tomjeppson@comcast.net

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Project Charter for Methodist Children’s Home in San Jose, Costa Rica

Purpose:  The project we are involved with is the development of the Methodist Children’s Home in San Jose, Costa Rica.  The purpose of the Home is to provide a safe, nurturing environment for children who have been declared legally abandoned. The project’s aim is to provide loving homes for children who have moved through the child welfare system in Costa Rica, yet have not been adopted. There is an emphasis on receiving sibling groups.   More detail on the history of the project can be viewed athttp://www.fairclothcostarica.com under the Children’s Home tab.  This is the web site of Will and Ella Faircloth, missionaries in Costa Rica, who share in the leadership of this project under the direction of the Costa Rican Methodist Church.

Our Role:  One of the main ways of getting the Home built is to have teams from the United States come and help the local workers with the construction work.  The homes are made of cement and everything we do is related to cement, from shoveling gravel and sand into buckets to go into the cement mixer, to wheelbarrowing cement from the mixer to the site, to stuccoing, sanding, and painting cement.  There are additional opportunities to lead mini-VBS’s in the afternoons for children at local Methodist churches in the area.

This project aligns well with the FUMC Mission to “Know God.  Love Others.  Serve the World”, especially the part about “Serve the World”.  The team also builds relationships with the workers, the VBS children, the local Methodist Church staff and with each other.  We are here in service to God.

This is a project of the Costa Rican Methodist Church.  The Costa Rican Methodist Church became autonomous in 1973.  It was started as a mission of the Methodist Episcopal Church in the United States in 1917.

The first house of five is complete.  It takes about 2 years to build a house.  There are many other churches that come.

Since the first house opened in March of 2011, there have been 74 applicants, but there is only room for 12 in each home.  So the need is there.  The current alternative for the ‘legally abandoned’ children is to be moved from foster home to foster home because most of them are ‘unadoptable’, primarily due to their age or the fact that they are part of a sibling group.

Team Leaders:  Jim and Mary Danforth will lead the teams unless someone else is interested.  The structure of the trips is extremely well documented by Will and Ella Faircloth.  The scheduling, the room and board, the transportation, and the training are all spelled out in the manual provided.

There have  been 3 teams that have gone to Costa Rica under the FUMC Ann Arbor leadership.  The connection with the Birmingham church is strong and members from both churches have gone on each other’s teams.  We have made connections with 2 other Ann Arbor churches also – West Side Methodist and Westminster Presbyterian.  The minimum team size is 10.  The absolute maximum is 25.  The skill sets needed range from being strong (wheelbarrowing cement) to being willing to do what you are asked to do (rebar work, painting, climbing ladders, playing with children, participating in VBS).  The construction expertise and direction is provided by the ‘ticos’ – native Costa Ricans.

We send the money for food, housing, transportation and supplies by wire to the Costa Rican Methodist Church through FUMC Ann Arbor.  When we are there, we help with the purchase of the supplies.  If we want to see how the money is spent, I’m sure we could review their books for this project.  Each individual makes his/her flight arrangements so FUMC never handles this money.  There are a few extra items handled by the team leaders (e.g., departure taxes, special group dinners).  These are reported with receipts against the reserved fund for this trip.

Relationship with Costa Rican team leaders

Will and Ella Faircloth are the Costa Rican team leaders with whom we coordinate everything.  Will or Ella (or both) are always on site with us and facilitate translations and help plan each day.

Support from FUMC

The cost per person ranges from $1000 to $1500 depending on air fare.  Each person contributes about $300 for supplies. Publicity and pastoral support are important.  There is also a need to coordinate scheduling.

Risk Factors

Health:  The water is safe to drink in Costa Rica.  In spite of that, jugs of water are supplied at the dormitory where we stay.  This water can be taken to the work site in personal water bottles.  The food is safe to eat – we have fresh fruits and vegetables every day.  The food is delicious, but people can refrain from eating anything they want to.  We always bring a first aid kit and often a nurse, but public health care is also available.

Crime:  We, along with almost everyone else in Costa Rica, are inside a gated area at the worksite and at the dormitory.  It is safe to go out on the streets as long as you are with at least one other person.  We almost never go out at night.  People feel safe going to the mall (a popular opportunity for most team members), traveling in taxis, and checking out the neighborhood.

Comfort: We share rooms (4-5 to a room).  Sometimes there are bunk beds.  Bedding and towels are provided.  Daily hot showers are encouraged.  The food tends to be somewhat Americanized, but still there are items some people don’t like/expect (beans for breakfast?).  There is only a 1-2 hour time zone difference (2 when we are on daylight savings time).

Devotions/Church: Everyone is asked to prepare a devotion (possibly with one other person).  This makes new people uncomfortable, but it has always worked out.  We attend church on Sunday but the service lasts a very long time (3-4 hours) and almost everything is in Spanish.  But, there is lots of singing and sometimes dancing.