Changing lives at the Methodist Children’s Home in Costa Rica
Want to go on a Costa Rica mission trip?
April 18 – 24 or October 3 – 10 | Costa Rica Children’s Home
For 24 years, Ray and Lidia Zirkel have been missionaries in Costa Rica, with HPUMC as a proud partner since 2006. The Zirkels opened the Methodist Children's Home of Costa Rica in 2011, providing a loving environment to 24 children who otherwise would live in terrible conditions. Want to get involved in this amazing ministry? Join us on a mission trip this April or October!
Ray and Lidia Zirkel have lived in Costa Rica as missionaries for 24 years. On a Sunday in 2005, Lidia was walking with her daughters to church in the city of San Jose when she noticed some homeless children — just a few of the 1,500 — who were living and sleeping on the streets.
“My girls were about three and five at the time and they just asked, ‘Mama, where are their mamas? Who is going to take care of them?’” Lidia Zirkel remembers.
Their daughter’s simple question, born out of compassion, sparked something in the Zirkels and changed their lives forever. Two months later, plans were approved for the Methodist Children’s Home.
Today, the home sits on a seven-acre campus and houses 24 children. The campus features two homes, one for boys and one for girls, a playground, basketball court, soccer field, garden, and an administrative building. By 2022, the Zirkels hope to finish construction on the last of five homes, allowing them to house up to 60 children.
For many of these children, life at the home is initially all about a return to the basics. They often have to learn practices that most of us take for granted, such as how to eat with utensils and not their hands, put clothes away in a closet instead of tossing them on the floor, and use a trash can rather than just discarding things on the ground.
Six months to a year spent at the Methodist Children’s Home is all that’s needed to see a complete transformation in most of the children.
Adoption is the hope for each child, and all of them will live at home until they are either adopted or turn eighteen. Aging out of the system, however, is a real fear for many children, especially in government care.
“They have no family, so where are they going to go?” Lidia Zirkel says. “If they do not have someone to help them find a job or plugin somewhere, they are going to end up back on the streets.”
At the Methodist Children’s Home, the Zirkels came up with a plan to make sure that did not happen. The last home will serve as a transition house, where teens can learn a trade or get help getting into college. For some of these children, finding a well-paying job would not only help them support themselves, but also their siblings.
To this day, a total of 13 children have been adopted through the Methodist Children’s Home in Costa Rica. The Zirkels say they owe a big part of the home’s success to the many ministries who have partnered with them over the years.
“We can’t begin to say thank you enough for the support, the continued prayers for us, and all the groups who have come down to be with us,” says Ray Zirkel.
“They are changing the lives of these kids in miraculous ways,” Lidia Zirkel adds. “I just pray they will get to see not only the changes in the facility, but the changes in these kids as well.”