Costa Rica ~ January 2007
On January 13, 2007 the largest and perhaps most diverse group to date, left for Alajuelita, Costa Rica to continue the work begun at CCA. Twelve men and seven women ages 17-67 settled in and were raring to get to work. As in past trips, Sunday was spent at the CCA service and visiting the various ministries of the church. Pastor Alberto of CCA stressed to each team member that this trip wasn’t about the work we would do, but it was about working at relationships. He challenged us to get to know the people we were working for so that when we returned home we weren’t just carrying an experience with us, but we were carrying a connection. To help us with this process, Ed provided the group with a daily challenge. For some of us, the challenges opened up opportunities to take risks that we normally wouldn’t have taken. For others, it highlighted the need to study Spanish!
On Monday, a portion of the group arrived at the job site with an ambitious plan to aid the local workmen in completing the second floor of the 7th and 8th grade school building, grade the floor for the new gym, put in the plumbing for additional bathrooms and showers in the gym, and do some upgrading of the septic system installed during the last trip. Once again, men from the rehab center were present to help with the work and provided some much needed English-Spanish translation. As the week progressed, the work became secondary to the time spent with the men and women in the CCA programs. We were able to connect on a personal level and hear their stories. We shared our lives and common experiences. We all realized just how connected we are as human beings.
Some of the women in the group had the opportunity to work with the women’s rehab center and at the children’s feeding center. Their experiences led to a discussion of how Traveling Tradesmen was expanding beyond the actual building projects. It became apparent that as the diversity of the groups traveling increases, so too the opportunities to expand our reach with CCA. As a result of the experiences shared on this trip, Passion for People was born.
The week concluded with some much needed R&R on the beautiful Costa Rican coast. While some of the group spent time “hanging ten”; others enjoyed the warm water, black sand beaches, and opportunity to share a laugh or two. On the last evening together, the group had an opportunity to share some insights into what the trip had meant on a personal level. One of the feelings shared by everyone in the group was the fact that in our daily lives back home, most of us would never have the opportunity to socialize or work alongside each other. Yet, through this experience, an assistant school principal, an owner of a large construction company, a high school senior, a college freshman, a grandmother, a single mom, and a construction worker, to name a few, were able to form a bond through a shared purpose and grew to appreciate each other. Some of the group will be returning on an upcoming trip, others will be supporting the work from home, but all of us come away changed. As Pastor Alberto said on our last night in Alajuelita, “It is not what you have done here that matters. What matters is what you will do once you get home because of what you have seen and learned here.”
For more about CCA visit 'Our Links' page.
Costa Rica ~ October 2006
Our second trip was back to Alajuelita, Costa Rica to again work with Cento Christano De Alarvanta (CCA). Before we set off on our journey we were not 100% sure what we would be doing when we got there, but there is lots to do so we weren't too worried.
Again we arrived on Saturday and after we dropped off our supplies we were off to visit some different ministries the church supports. We visited the men's drug rehab center. Men, who are in physical, emotional and spiritual need come to the center to find hope and an escape from drugs and the streets. The first few days they are at the center they basically sleep and go through the process of withdrawal. After that they receive counseling to help them break their destructive additions. When they are ready they are allowed to go out into the community to work. All this is done with spiritual and emotional support from CCA (Cento Christano De Alarvanta) workers and volunteers.
Next we stopped by the Women's Rehab center. Much the same happens there as at the men's center. When we come to CCA we not only bring our desire to work but we bring old cloths and craft supplies. At the Women's Center we were able to see those items put to good use. The women sort and determine if the clothes will be used by one of the participants of the many ministries of CCA or be sold to raise money. They also put the the craft supplies to good use by making items that they in turn sell to help support the ministry.
Then we were off to the homeless facility for the elderly. We met some men who were obviously very grateful for CCA, one man had been at the facility for over 12 years. I was struck by their willingness to welcome us into their home and share their stories with us. The men we spoke to realized that they became homeless because of their own bad choices through life, but they had found hope, and a home, through the outreach of CCA in their community.
Sunday we worshiped with the folks at CCA and listened to a message on Mark 2:1-12. Pastor Alberto left us with the question "What roof do YOU need to cut a hole through".
Monday was the start of our work week. By the end of our work week we had constructed and installed a new septic system for the Medical Clinic/Gymnasium building that is in the process of being built and constructed a 40' x 60' basket ball court. To do all that we mixed and poured 30 yards of concrete without the luxury of modern day equipment. It's the way things are done here, money is spent on supplies, not equipment.
As with our last trip, there were many memorable moments, like material showing up just as we were running out, and the rain staying away when we needed it too. One thing we didn't know was that October was the start of the rainy season in Costa Rica. It had poured everyday for a week before we arrived and we were told that October 2005 was the rainiest month in the country's history. During our work days we had no rain with the exception of our first workday, a 45 minute shower that happened during lunch break. God is good.
Again we worked into the night to finish a septic system, we got the job done and on our last work day we were able to get the excavation done to get it covered. We also finished the basketball court, sweep off skirted it with stone. We still had some energy left so we moved about 500 concrete blocks, then the few the few with extra stamina got them up on the roof of one of the school buildings too help the local men who were adding on a second floor for more classrooms. The work there just keeps on going…
Then it was off for a few days of R&R. The ocean was beautiful and the surf was a force to be reckoned with. While a few of us tried not to drown some others took the opportunity to surf (or try to surf anyway). There were shopping excursions and a canopy tour (can you say Tarzan). A great time was had by all and we were gifted with three glorious days of sun and beautiful scenery on our trip to and from the resort.
For more about CCA visit 'Our Links' page.
Costa Rica ~ January 2006
This first trip was a perfect start to 2006! A dream team of contractors and skilled laborers from the Boston area partnered with a church in Alajuelita, Costa Rica to finish a school building project.
The team arrived on Saturday and was eager to work right away! However, Pastor Alberto Castro had other plans. We spent a day and a half getting to know the different ministries of the church. We visited both the men and women's drug rehabilitation centers, the homeless facility for the elderly, the childrens feeding center and became acquainted with the private school at the church. Instead of just going in and doing work, we were forced to stop and take a look around to see not just the projects but the people. We had the opportunity to see the faces, meet the people and hear the stories of the people that we were serving. If we would have jumped right into laying tile or pouring cement we would have worked hard. However, with this moving experience, we were able to see our participation in this project in new light. There was more of an emotional 'buy in' that motivated us that much more as we tacked the project before us.
Once the team started work, we laid over a thousand square feet of tile, primed and painted much of the school as well as built and plumbed an entire septic system. There were many memorable moments; one being the night we worked past dark, using light from the team van to finish pouring the tank. One group reinforced the walls of the tank below as the rest of the team made and wheel barreled cement, pouring it into the form.
Our reward for all of our hard work was a day and a half at the beach. Most of the team played as hard as they worked. Half of the team surfed until they could barely drag themselves out of the ocean and the other half took a canopy tour, soaring over a hundred and fifty feet above the forest floor. It was great! The whole week and experience was amazing; the community and team unity that was built, the work that was accomplished, the lives that were impacted and the ongoing ministry that will take place as a result of our time in Costa Rica is immeasurable.