Men on a mission: Trio of local Methodists serve in Costa RicaWORTHINGTON — While Worthington residents shivered and slipped their way through frigid February, three local men sweated and served in sunny Costa Rica on behalf of a Christian mission project.
By: Jane Turpin Moore, Worthington Daily Globe
WORTHINGTON — While Worthington residents shivered and slipped their way through frigid February, three local men sweated and served in sunny Costa Rica on behalf of a Christian mission project.
“It was hot down there, over 85 degrees for sure and, in the heat of the day, maybe close to 100,” revealed the Rev. Gordon Orde, minister of Worthington’s First United Methodist and Emmanuel Methodist churches. “The humidity was always very high, but I poured on the sunscreen and sought out the shade whenever I could.”
Orde was joined by First United Methodist youth director Kyle Galle and congregant Clyde Scheevel on a Volunteers in Missions (VIM) trip to Carrillos (a suburb of San Jose, Costa Rica) from Feb. 10-24.
The three were part of a 60-member VIM contingent representing 28 different churches — most of them United Methodist—from Minnesota, Iowa and Nebraska. The 60 participants were divided into two smaller teams; former Worthington residents Jim and Bonnie Hvistendahl, now of Cannon Falls, also happened to be on the Worthington trio’s team of 31.
“This was my ninth mission trip,” noted Orde, “with the first eight being in Jamaica working with Operation Classroom Ministries (OCM).”
Scheevel was with Orde on six of those OCM endeavors, but this happened to be Galle’s first such trip, as well as his first time outside of the United States. Making things more interesting was that none of the three speaks Spanish.
“There were several interpreters to help us, so we didn’t miss anything important, but we were limited in language,” admitted Orde. “It took a smile and a little laugh to get you through a conversation.”
“One of my next projects might be to take a Spanish class or make some other effort to learn more Spanish,” mentioned Scheevel. “I’d like to be able to ask a few questions and talk to the people more about their lives, especially the kids.”
Scheevel, who used vacation time from his job as a program technician with the Nobles County Farm Services Agency to go on this mission as well as the previous ones, is motivated by the opportunities to experience international travel, cultural differences and service for needy youths.
“It’s totally different from my job, though it’s nice to observe different agricultural products and processes, and on the earlier trips to Jamaica, I really enjoyed going into the classrooms and talking to the kids,” explained Scheevel, a longtime youth and Sunday School volunteer at First United Methodist.
In Carrillos, Orde, Galle and Scheevel’s principal job was to assist in laying the groundwork for a community playground on the site of a primary school.
“We were on a schedule working from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. for two days, then with a day off,” detailed Orde.
“We mixed cement by hand because they don’t have the same types of equipment we have here,” added Scheevel. “Then we’d bucket it and pour it where we needed it.”
“There were local people working with us, too, and we had to use their special formula for making Costa Rican cement,” quipped Orde.
On one of their days off from the construction project, the three traveled to Los Guidos, a town northwest of San Jose, to help with a feeding program for youths.
“We served 60 kids that day, though they said when school isn’t in session they typically serve about 100,” said Orde. “The kids received a small portion of rice, beans and a salad, plus a small glass of juice, and the program director said it cost $34 to feed each child breakfast and lunch for a month.”
The volunteers found the Costa Rican food tasty and fresh.
“They do have rice at every meal, or at least once a day,” explained Scheevel. “Overall, it was great food. The fruit and vegetables are fresher and taste a lot better there. We had watermelon, cantaloupe, mango, tomatoes and lettuce every day.”
During their downtime, the VIM team had the chance to visit the Monteverde cloud forest, view a volcano, spot monkeys and even a sleeping sloth in the rain forest, and see a butterfly museum and hummingbird exhibit.
One other notable event was a two-hour horseback ride in which Scheevel and Galle participated.
“My horse was pretty crazy,” laughed Galle. “He was strong-headed, and that along with the high cliffs and steep slope made for a little more exciting horse ride than you’d find in Minnesota.”
Galle kept in touch with his wife, Corrine, and 6-month-old daughter Melody, by e-mail, and he maintained a daily blog during his absence so they and his youth group students could monitor his activities from afar.
“You go on a trip like this with the intent of doing work, and I did work my tail off for two weeks, but you never anticipate that you will learn and gain so much more than you put in,” volunteered Galle. “I gained a greater global perspective, and I think I have a better understanding of where our local, first-generation immigrants are coming from in terms of language barriers and cultural adaptation.”
For all three men, the trip was made possible by a few funding sources: a scholarship from the Minnesota Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church, individual donations, First United Methodist’s foundation and contributions from the church’s United Methodist Women and United Methodist Men’s organizations.
“We have a mission-oriented church that supports missions both locally and worldwide,” confirmed Orde.
Orde, Galle and Scheevel agree they would recommend similar mission trips to others.
“It’s spiritually uplifting to be in worship with others in their culture, to see their unrestrained enthusiasm for praising God in a sanctuary setting most here would think of as very humble,” shared Orde. “In my eyes, they make it a temple with their vibrant, energetic worship.”
Affirmed Scheevel, “The feelings of accomplishment come from knowing that children are using the facilities you helped create, whether that is classrooms in Jamaica or playgrounds in Costa Rica.
“Seeing the smiles on the kids’ faces makes you realize you can help someone — it doesn’t have to be in a big way — but you can give of your time and talent to help someone who needs something," Scheevel continued. “That’s what hooked me.”