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Second House of the Methodist Children's Home in Costa Rica Dedicated

05.19.14 | Outreach, Costa Rica | by Lauren Castle

Second House of the Methodist Children's Home in Costa Rica Dedicated

    Chris Tomlin's song "God's Great Dance Floor" resonated with Karla Nivens. The Highland Park United Methodist Church Worship and Choir Leader for the Cornerstone community believes the line "take me, this is all that I can bring," became her mission team's anthem.


    Nivens along with her 11-team members went to Costa Rica in April to finish the second home of the Methodist Children's Home in San José.

    The trip was a "spiritual awakening," said Nivens.

    HPUMC became involved with the Children's Home after HPUMC member David Michel asked his friend Ray Zirkel, a missionary, what his vision was for Costa Rica.

    Zirkel and his wife Lidia wanted to start a children's home for the many orphans in the Latin American country.

    "The Zirkels were newly aware of the big problem of overcrowded children homes," said Lisa Stewart, Director of Outreach Ministries.

    After hearing the Zirkel family's vision, Michel asked Rev. Mark Craig how HPUMC could provide support.

    Along with commissioning mission trips, in 2014, HPUMC provides around $250,000 in support according to Stewart.

    The Zirkel family hopes the Children's Home will contain five houses, a multi-purpose building, an open air chapel, a soccer field, a basketball court and playground.



    Mission teams completed the first house, "Casa Esperanza" in 2011.

    Each house will provide 10-15 children a safe home with two houseparents.

    Before dedicating the second home, "Casa de Fe," the HPUMC mission team had six days to complete many tasks including: painting the inside and outside of the house, yard work, decorating and cleaning.

    "You could just immediately see the difference you made," said Nivens.

    The team contained a lot of diversity from age to marital status. From the oldest team member Jerry Gilmore (age 80) to the youngest member Hillary Barnard (age 27).

    "It was cool to see people coming from all walks of life," said Barnard of HPUMC Outreach.

    While working, the team received help from some of the children. The children were eager to help with yard work. A child named Esther convinced the team to take breaks to play soccer with her.

    Not only did the trip include work, the team experienced the culture and sights of Costa Rica. The team spent time at a local waterfall and drank Costa Rican coffee. Also, two ladies cooked traditional Costa Rican lunch and dinner for the team every day.

    Each night, the team met together for devotional time. The devotions allowed members to self-examine themselves and let their guards down.

    "I think we were all honest and grew spiritually," said Nivens.

    The dedication ceremony for "Casa de Fe" was April 10, 2014.

    The ceremony was bi-lingual. HPUMC Senior Minister Rev. Paul Rasmussen led a prayer and the Bishop of Costa Rica Rev. Luis Fernando Palomo gave a sermon.

    The children sang three songs. They surprised everyone by singing "He's Got the Whole World in His Hands" and "Jesus Loves Me" in English.

    "It was so precious," said Nivens.

    The mission team formed a choir and sang "10,000 Reasons," "God's Great Dance Floor" and "Everlasting God."

    The team convinced team member John Simon, the drummer for the Cornerstone band, to use a water cooler as a drum.

    Team members saw God moving throughout the mission trip.

    "We saw significant life change in the participants," said Barnard.

    HPUMC plans to go to Costa Rica for more mission trips to support the Children's Home. There are two individual trips in June for families and high school students. Also, there is a trip in late September.

    Visit the HPUMC Mission Trip page for more information.

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