Tag: Costa Rica

May 4 2011

CFCA staff worker honors colleagues in Costa Rica

Jessie Leader-Kirk works in the child services department at CFCA’s headquarters in Kansas City. She recently went on a mission awareness trip to Costa Rica.

I had the privilege of spending a week with the staff of CFCA in Costa Rica. I never thought I would gain as much as I did from this experience.

My first encounter with the staff was at the airport in Costa Rica. This was my first time traveling internationally, and I did not know what to expect.

Jessie in Costa Rica

From left are Santiago, Jessie Leader-Kirk and Vanessa during Jessie’s mission awareness trip to Costa Rica. Santiago and Vanessa are sponsored through CFCA.

When I walked out of the airport Javier and Emmanuel were there to greet me, and a huge weight was lifted off my shoulders. I felt safe!

The next morning I met the rest of the staff and started my adventure in Costa Rica.

I was impressed by the staff’s organization. Everyone had their role and knew it well.

The effort behind the scenes was amazing. We left to visit to a community where sponsored members live.

As we pulled into the community the sponsored members were there to meet us. Maureen and Jackeline did a wonderful job translating for the sponsors that did not speak Spanish.

As all the sponsors were greeted by the sponsored members, the staff was hustling to have everything set up for the sponsors. As the sponsors made it to their destination, Jean Carlo had a sound system set up and Ellie the translator was there to greet us.

Ellie from Costa Rica

Ellie the translator speaks to sponsors during the mission awareness trip.

As time went by, I met more and more staff members. Two staff members shared their personal experiences with me.

Luis, one of the social workers, shared that his life has been threatened on more than one occasion. Could you imagine working with the fear that your life could be taken at any moment?

Leticia, another social worker, said one day while she was walking to visit one of the sponsored members, a lady walked up to her and said, ìI like your shoes.î

Right after the lady said that, someone else walked up behind her and pressed something in her back.

Leticia said that she never turned around to see what it was, but just started praying and kept walking until the lady left her alone and she was safe.

After hearing these experiences I looked at the social workers in a different light. I admire their strength and dedication to the sponsored members.

The love for the children really stood out among all the staff. It was especially heartwarming to watch Rafael Villalobos, project coordinator in San Jose, and his interaction with the children.

You could tell that each child had a special relationship with the staff members in their area.

I was able to gain perspective on the great work CFCA does, and I was also able to gain an unspeakable amount of respect for the staff in Costa Rica.

The staff members in Costa Rica face many more challenges in their daily work life than I could ever imagine facing. I have never been around more inspiring people.

Words cannot express my gratitude and respect for my coworkers in the field. Thank you for the life-changing experience you gave me.

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Feb 9 2011

‘I never felt so loved and appreciated in my life': A sponsor’s trip to Costa Rica

Georgina Hartwell sent us this evaluation after she and her husband, Henry, went on a mission awareness trip to Costa Rica. While there they visited Steven, their sponsored friend. We are sharing this evaluation with their permission.

Steven's family

From left are Georgina; Steven, the Hartwells’ sponsored friend; Steven’s sister, Noelia; Steven’s mother, Jolane; and Henry.

Did you find that the orientation and information provided by the CFCA project staff during the trip adequately described the host country and CFCA’s work there?

Yes.

Would you recommend a CFCA mission awareness trip to others?

Yes.

Why or why not?

It was up close and personal. We saw our money at work.

Please describe your impressions of the trip and how the trip affected you personally.

I cried a lot. I never felt so loved and appreciated in my life (I’m 68). It was more than I expected. I guess I thought we would view much from afar. We did not. We were so very much “with the people.”

Also, on the trip we celebrated our 47th anniversary. The women of Desamparados surprised us with a beautiful, huge, delicious cake ñ enough to share with all!

Hartwells' anniversary cake

The Hartwells’ anniversary cake.

Any additional comments or suggestions?

The week was packed full of activities but I never felt pressured with a time schedule. Yes, there was a schedule but the staff and our wonderful driver, Carlos, always managed to be a bit flexible with a smile!

God bless all aspects and people of CFCA. With the five enclosed brochures you sent us, I will do my best to get five new sponsors.

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Jan 4 2011

A letter to the Walk2gether camper

Here is a tongue-in-cheek post from Rafael Villalobos, CFCA project coordinator in San Jose, Costa Rica. Rafa joined CFCA President and Co-founder Bob Hentzen on Walk2gether and made friends with the iconic Walk2gether camper, a vehicle that has accompanied Bob since the walk began. The camper is with Bob right now in Peru.

Hello, dear friend camper:

I remember the first time I saw your picture. You looked good. Don Roberto (Bob) told me, ìItís old, like me, but it still runs.î

Walk2gether camper

CFCA Walk2gether camper.

They told us your name: Walk2gether Camper.

We waited for you happily. I fondly remember March 1, when you arrived in Costa Rica together with the walkers. Everyone watched you with respect.

You came loaded with luggage, lots of water, tools, spare tire, food, kitchen supplies, clothes for the walkers, medicine, electric generator, etc.

You looked tired and beaten, but in your lights, I noticed an immense joy.

With your flashers, you animated the children and sang with us, ìWhile walking, borders disappear. We become of one land, one cry for justice, and we blend together like the land blends when we make footprints while we walk. We join dignity and hope in one flag Ö Latin America.î

You drove thousands of miles on your tires. The logos and banners you wore indicated you were not simply a camper. ì12,500 kilometers bringing hope.î

You were like Noahís Ark, crossing oceans to bring hope and blessings to all the villages.

I remember one rainy afternoon when you shared what it means to be part of CFCA: Read more about the Walk2gether camper

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Dec 30 2010

Family stands strong while mother is away

When Kenia was 14, her mother moved to Costa Rica with Keniaís oldest brother to find work and left Kenia and two brothers behind. For the past two years, Kenia has been raised by her brother, Juan Carlos. Kenia and Juan Carlos are sponsored through CFCAís Hope for a Family program. Kenia talks about how the separation has affected her and her family.

How did you feel when your mother and older brother left Nicaragua for Costa Rica?

It was very sad and very difficult. But because of the country’s economic situation, they were forced to leave.

How do you feel now?

I have had to get used to it since, even though she is far away from us, she calls us always and is always waiting for us to call. It is very difficult, but life is like that. One never thinks that these things could happen.

Raul, Juan Carlos, and Kenia

From left are Raul, Juan Carlos and Kenia.

Do you miss your mother?

Yes, because she has been a very good mother, a fighter, who in spite of all that has happened, has always fought for her children’s well-being.

I always imagine that the New Year or some other vacation period is coming so that she can return and we can be together again.

Do you have family to care for you, or only Juan Carlos?

Yes, thank God that besides my brothers, Raul and Carlos, some people will give me support and strength to carry on. They are not relatives but it is as though they were. They are always watching out for me, and I am very grateful. They are the couple who are pastors of the church that I attend.

How do you help your brother at home?

We will help each other, whether with household chores, which we divide among ourselves, or with our studies with which my brother Carlos helps me as I help my younger brother Raul. So we have learned that despite things that happen, love and the unifying element of family always prevail.

Where do you go to school?

I study at an institute about four blocks from my house. I am in the fourth year of secondary school, which is a little difficult for me, but with some effort I will make headway because our lives are like a race in which you have to struggle to win the prize.

What do you want to be in your life?

God willing, next year I will graduate from secondary school. At first I wanted to study to be a teacher, but also to be a nurse, and I have decided to study nursing.

What are your dreams and hopes?

To see myself fulfilled, to obtain a professional career, work and help my mother and little brother, since my mother has been that source of strength in those moments when I feel that I cannot continue. I remember what she does for me and I continue on.

Other wishes are to have the opportunity of knowing different countries, to mix well with people and to have new friends.

Read the story about Kenia’s brother, Juan Carlos.

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Dec 6 2010

Costa Rican community battles heavy rains

On Nov. 8, we posted this news story about a storm that caused flooding and landslides in Costa Rica. Rafael Villalobos, CFCA project coordinator in San Jose, Costa Rica, sent us this update. Please keep the CFCA families affected by the heavy rains in your prayers.

The Jazmin community is home to Nicaraguan immigrants and Costa Rican migrants from rural areas of the country.

This is an agricultural area settled by various families who arrived seeking better opportunities in life. Nevertheless, the vast majority do not have stable work.

They have constructed humble homes with wood and old tin cans. For water, they must walk to a community tap. A community meter supplies electricity for everyone. Each family has to pay about $50 a month for electricity.

House endangered by rain

A Costa Rican house is endangered by the erosion from heavy rains.

Because of heavy rains in the past weeks, the ground has eroded considerably to the point where these families are in great danger. Many of their homes have collapsed into the ravine. Due to the solidarity among neighbors, several families are living in the same house.

Six families are currently staying in the community center.

The downpours in recent days has washed out the ground to the point where the land is split in two, isolating the families.

DoÒa Rosa, the mother of sponsored children and a great supporter of CFCA, has lost a large part of her home.

ìThe only part that remains is the small room built with the help of CFCA. I donít know what will happen to us,” she said. “The officials have asked us to leave this place because it is very dangerous, because a landslide could occur at any moment. But where will we go?î

In the midst of this pain, she remains hopeful.

ìGod will not abandon us,î she said. ìHe is with us and he has sent his angels in the face of CFCA, who are with us giving us encouragement and hope.î

Seventy families with sponsored members live in Jazmin. Nearby is the community of Tejarcillos, which has also been affected by the heavy rains.

With Christmas approaching, these situations bring to mind the birth of the child Jesus in the midst of extreme circumstances, similar to what these families are experiencing.

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Oct 28 2010

Before and after: How sponsorship transformed one childís life

By Shanxi Omoniyi, CFCA web editor and writer

Milton and Lila Krainbill

Milton and Lila Krainbill

Many of us at the CFCA office in Kansas City know Milton and Lila Krainbill, and those who donít will learn pretty quickly.

Theyíre longtime sponsors and volunteers in Holton, Kan., who serve a delicious lunch to all the Kansas City staff once a year. With the employee head count at just over 130, thatís no easy feat.

But even more amazing are the Krainbillsí pictures showing the progress of their sponsored child, Heidy, in Costa Rica.

Milton and Lila took a vacation to Costa Rica in 2003, and they asked to tour the San Jose project there.

From the moment they met Heidy and her family, the Krainbills knew they couldnít lose contact with this little girl. She was one of eight children in a family struggling to overcome poverty.

The familyís galvanized tin house had gaping holes in the siding that let in rainwater. The children slept on pallets instead of beds.

ìWhen we saw the situation, we just couldnít walk away without taking on another sponsorship,î Lila said.

Seven years later, Milton and Lila returned to find a transformed family.

Read more about Heidy’s changed life

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Aug 25 2010

Peace through Costa Rica

Bob Hentzen and other Walk2gether participants walk through Costa Rica.

Update: This reflection is from Rafael “Rafa” Villalobos, San Jose project coordinator, written after Walk2gether passed through Costa Rica earlier this year. The walkers have entered Ecuador and expect to be there until Sept. 14.

“Peace is passing through Costa Rica”
A Costa Rican radio station gave this title to Walk2gether. We have been waiting for it with much faith, love and hope.

Day 1

At 6 a.m., 250 families, representing all sponsored families in Costa Rica, were waiting for Walk2getherís arrival. As we waited, songs were heard: ìCome, a new day is here and amidst challenges and happiness, CFCA is growing.î ìMy heart, your heart, become one when we walk.î School bands, flags from Latin America, big banners with messages, all awaited the moment.

The walkers crossed into Costa Rica three hours later to cheers, applause, songs, prayers and hugs. A sublime moment came when Bob (CFCA president and co-founder Bob Hentzen) and his wife, Cristina, knelt and kissed the land. This was a symbol of deep love for our country and our CFCA families. We are stepping on holy land, the land of the poor who are the face of God. This land is blessed.

Bob gave words of gratitude and reminded us of the meaning of Walk2gether: ìI want to be close to the families. We walk for the most in need.î Cristina offered her love to the families and encouraged them to continue despite daily burdens. There were 15 other walkers from Guatemala and the Philippines.

We walked five kilometers from the border, PeÒas Blancas, to the Las Vueltas River. In front of us a big banner said, ìCFCA, 12,500 kilometers, bringing hope.î

Day 2

We began at 4 a.m. with a prayer asking for blessings upon our route. The heat intensified, and we rested often. This was a great opportunity for teachable moments with Bob, to share our experiences, difficulties and achievements.

Brother Jorge, CFCA Hermano Pedro project coordinator in Guatemala, shared the meaning of the CFCA logo. Later, we heard the testimony of Jafet, a scholarship student. He thanked CFCA for the outreach he received from the Costa Rica team.

Day 3

We walked from the community of Santa Rosa to the community of Liberia. Bob spoke with the youth walking with us. The teens commented on their worry of drugs, violence and lack of job opportunities. Marvis, a CFCA social worker, shared about the importance of strengthening family values.

Families from the community of Liberia came to greet the pilgrims, singing and showing beautiful banners with messages of hope and gratitude for CFCA, Bob and Cristina.

Day 4

The route planned was to walk 40 kilometers from Liberia to the Bagaces community. At kilometer 10, we had breakfast at the community of Pijije. This community has donated a piece of land for a CFCA office. Bob and Cristina inaugurated the construction of a CFCA center for sponsored members and their families. A few trees were planted as signs that we are called to offer life, love and strength.

Later, we arrived at the gym of the community of Bagaces. Some 400 people welcomed the pilgrims.

We also blessed the house built for one of the CFCA families. It was built by a group of North American students from the Saint Anselmo school (St Anselm’s College from New Hampshire) and members of the CFCA team.

March 5

We rested near the Miravalles Volcano, surrounded by spectacular views and thermal waters. Bob and Cristinaís family, Jake and Cesar, their wives and grandchildren, as well as one sponsor, joined us today.

One song has tried to gather the spirit of this pilgrimage.

Walking we make borders disappear,
We all become one on earth
One voice where hunger, cold and fear unite
And your burdens become mine
And your loneliness becomes my pain

They mix like the soil and our steps
Dignity, hope become one flag for Latin America

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