The Heart of Costa Rica

July 19, 2018

Galilee sent thirteen intrepid travelers to Central America as part of our long-standing relationship with the Palabra Viva Methodist Church in Carillos, Costa Rica. We’ve watched this Costa Rican congregation grow, we’ve worshipped alongside them, and we’ve helped them build their church.

For our latest trip, which ran June 30 ā€“ July 7, we were happy to send along two newcomers.

Ryan and Helga at Palabra Viva church. Their project (a retaining wall) is seen in the distance.

Ryan McDonnell and Helga Ishikawa were married by Pastor Jason a year and a half ago. That’s when they began attending our church together with their son, Hunter. Ryan grew up locally, but Helga grew up in Peru and speaks Spanish (quite helpful in Central America). They’ve traveled internationally and enjoy hiking and camping, so a trip to Costa Rica’s tropical landscape didn’t sound daunting.

Still, to go on a mission trip while so new to the church…they must have felt a strong call from God, right?

That’s Ryan, under the dust.

“To be honest, the God part of the trip was a surprise,” says Helga, “Our team leaders, Jen Shah and Michael Butler, told us the trip would be fulfilling, but I still didn’t expect such a life-changing experience. I was thinking it would be a simple working trip. Well, I was proved wrong! We were energized in spite of the heavy work thanks to prayers with our teammates, I believe, and from the congregation. So thank you for keeping us in your prayers!”

Ryan described the construction project as building a retaining wall to protect the site of Palabra Viva’s future sanctuary. “We put cinder blocks in place, fabricated rebar structures, and formed and poured concrete pillars,” he explained. “It took some doing.”

Helga shaping steel reinforcement bars.

“The work was hard, but our spirits were high. What amazed me was how kind and patient everyone was. The openness of our hosts was remarkable. They were generous, friendly, and laid back. We noticed how everything moved at a slower pace in Costa Rica. Road conditions were rough and the people live a humble life. Working for and with the Ticos was inspiring, just to witness how grateful our hosts were for our help and our time spent together.”

It wasn’t all work, of course. The team couldn’t go all the way to Costa Rica without some sightseeing.

The team at play, experiencing the rainforest from a high zip-line.

“We spent time zip-lining in La Paz and enjoying the rainforest,” says Ryan. “We visited hot springs, and also went to town in nearby Alajuela. We visited an old church and a market. The downtown area was beautiful.”

Ryan and Helga recommend this mission trip to everyone at Galilee, especially young people. Helga says, “It was refreshing to see our youth eager to work hard and efficiently. They’ve begun to serve God at such young age.” Ryan agrees: “Young people from our area can experience how the rest of the world lives, and learn that contentment doesn’t come from stuff. In fact, despite struggles, it can come with very limited resources.”

Ryan, Helga, and Hunter at Galilee in February 2017.

Galilee thanks Ryan and Helga for bringing their family to our church and for being the hands and feet of Christ in Costa Rica this summer. Helga will be speaking about her experiences on the trip this Sunday, so make sure to attend either our 9 or 11am service or watch us online.

We’ll be headed back to Costa Rica next year, so talk to Ryan or Helga or any of the team about going along. God will be traveling with you, and we’ll tell you that, but you won’t understand what we mean until you go.


Exclusive video by Ryan McDonnell! Check it out: