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By Doug Casey
A mid-winter trip to Costa Rica usually means snorkeling and excursions to the lush rainforests. Those activities didn’t make the list for a team from Valley Brook Community Church that recently travelled to the capital city of San Jose and the countryside to serve some of the country’s most desperate residents.
More than a dozen members of the church took part in 10 days of intense but rewarding service alongside their hosts, 6:8 Ministries. Just hours after arriving in the capital city of San Jose, the team spent time caring for residents in a senior center as well as an orphanage for special needs Nicaraguan children. The kids genuinely appreciated the American team’s visit. Valley Brook, in turn, had the benefit of spending time with incredibly resilient and inspirational kids. Team member Carolyn Rogers bonded with one little boy who had not opened up with even the daily caretakers. Despite some language gaps, Rogers was reminded that “love is an international language” connecting people from different backgrounds.
Though he did not intend to use his skills as a physical therapist, Marc Cutler helped several children who lack the level of care available in the United States. “I was able to reposition children who needed it, stretch young limbs that hadn’t been stretched, and move those who hadn’t been moved,” Cutler remarked. “How ironic that I travelled several thousand miles to find that these children were in so many ways no different than mine, and the tools I would use to make the greatest difference were those I use Monday through Friday in a building 10 minutes from my home. God does indeed have a lively sense of humor.”
While on the ground, the team worked under the careful watch and protection of two men, Mauricio and Victor, locals once heavily involved in gangs but whose faith had changed their attitudes and behavior. As team member, Genna Perry, describes the team’s escorts, “their lives are changed because they found Jesus. They have so much love for their wives and kids and are so hard working.”
From San Jose, the team travelled several hours through the mountainous rainforest to Horquetas, where they worked on the 17-acre property where 6:8 Ministries is building an orphanage. Over the next several days, the volunteers hauled stone, poured concrete, and raised the girder frame of a chapel and the first of 10 orphan houses. Rob Wutka, a former Granby resident who moved with his family to run the 6:8 Ministries site, appreciated the hard work and financial donations to help offset the cost of building materials. He also noted the less obvious fruit of these efforts, “like the sparking eye of a child who materially has nothing but has the joy of the Lord while playing with a stranger from the USA.”
Many of the Valley Brook team members reflected on the long-term impact that the orphanage would have on the community as well as individual lives. The trip also changed their lives, as teenager Teddy Cutler noted, “The trip really took me out of my comfort zone and put me in situations that you can’t experience in America.”
Valley Brook Community Church worships on Sundays at 160 Granville Road (Route 189) in North Granby. Services are held at 9:15 and 11 a.m.; there is a nursery for infants through age two, and classes for children and youth. For more information, visit valleybrook.cc. For information about 6:8 Ministries, go to 68ministries.org.