Mission trip opens eyes, hearts

By Emily M. Hobbs Staff Writer

March 17, 2014

Twelve senior from Harrells Christian Academy went to Costa Rica with the expectation that they were embarking on a typical mission trip, and their second day in the country proved to be more than just that.

Costa Rica, which is in Central America, is a poverty stricken area and Spanish is their primary tongue. Ruth Ann Parker supervised the students who traveled through the Joshua Expedition, which is a student mission trip organization.

The group attended church services, read Bible stories to the community, interacted with kids in Sunday school classes, worked on crafts, and played games. They shared music and snacks with the children as well.

Students embarked on their mission trip on Feb. 22 and returned on the 26th.

“The group of 12 seniors had six boys and six girls,” said Parker in a telephone interview earlier in the week. “We landed in Costa Rica and an interpreter met us (at the airport).” After landing in San Jose the group continued on to Guarari where the church had a fellowship lunch for the students.

On that first night, tragedy struck — eight houses, which comprised an area only 2,500 square feet, were burned and destroyed through an act of drug-related retaliation.

The second morning, the traveling students stepped up to help, and started with cleaning up the debris and rebuilding the community that was destroyed in the terrible tragedy.

“The tragedy was such a big deal that it was in the paper,” described Parker. She said that the students worked and witnessed while they helped clean and salvage what was left of the burned out houses, houses that were homes for around 20 children.

“That second day opened eyes, when those (houses) burned down,” said Emily Jones, one of the students on the trip.

“There were no barriers between friends and family,” she expressed. “I fell in love with the community.” She said that everyone came together to help with the tragedy, and that the community all shared in the hardship together.

“I went to Costa Rica to go help the local church,” student Amanda King said in a telephone interview. “I got to play with little kids and experience their worship style, and that was cool.” She said that it really opened her eyes to the differences in their community and back home, especially through the clean-up from the fire.

“I also enjoyed seeing all the beautiful things on the other side of the world,” she added. It was her first time traveling out of the country and also her first time flying as well.

Some of the students spoke Spanish while they were there.

“They were prepared with their Spanish, and it was wonderful (for them to) communicate,” Parker explained. “Even their interpreter was impressed.”

King added that this was her first trip with an language barrier like that, and it brought home the fact that body language was important. She said it was clear to her that “actions spoke better than words” and that it brought her more in tune with how ones actions could show as a Christian.

“We had a really fun time,” said Jones. “We played with the kids, and even though we were ‘gringos’ they latched on to us. We made a lot of friends with the little girls.”

“Even though we may never see each other on earth again, we will see each other in heaven one day,” Jones said fondly.

Emily M. Hobbs can be reached at 910-592-8137 ext. 122 or via email at