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.”