Costa Rica Volunteers Returning The Favor - - The News for South Mississippi

Costa Rica Volunteers Returning The Favor

They're helping repair storm damage some two thousand miles from home.

A group of Costa Rica volunteers is working through the United Methodist Church on a Hurricane Katrina relief project in South Mississippi.

Pastor Rodrigo Godinez and six of his church members see this project as a tangible means of saying thank you for the past support of visiting American mission teams.

Wil Bailey is an American missionary to Costa Rica.

"We've never done anything like this before. The missions we usually do are bringing teams from the United States down to Costa Rica to help. So, this is completely, we've kind of turned it on its head and it seems to be working," Bailey explained.

They call it a "reverse mission project."  The Costa Rica volunteers will spent the week repairing homes in Jackson County. Despite the distance, this faith-based group is happy for the opportunity.

Speaking through an interpreter, Pastor Rodrigo Godinez, said his Costa Rican team is pleased for the opportunity to share God's love.

"Distance, it's just distance. But even though we are a long way away from our homes and families, we also have families here. We are here as part of the body of Christ and with people who love the Lord and are serving the Lord," he said.

This "reverse" mission trip is truly an international, multi city, multi church project. Rocky Mount, North Carolina is the home church to the American missionary to Costa Rica who's a part of this team. The trip was underwritten by First United Methodist of Blue Springs, Missouri, with assistance from other Methodist churches in Florida, Georgia and Mississippi.

The visiting volunteers come from a church that is usually on receiving end of mission work. That's why this Katrina relief project is so special.

Team member, Linda Aguero, says the visiting volunteers are like family.

"We are so, the whole group, we are very, very happy. And also we enjoy seeing that we can do, it's just a little bit, but we can do something for these people," she said.

After spending the week repairing storm damaged homes, the visitors will have a little time for relaxing this weekend.  They're planning a visit to Six Flags before their flight leaves from Atlanta.

By Steve Phillips

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