For some two dozen college students and other adults, spring break was spent cleaning trails, mowing and doing other physical labor, while offering spiritual support to individuals and families in Costa Rica.

The mission trip was organized through Ridgeview Bible Church. Burt Newman, the church’s director of student ministries, said the congregation works to have a global view of missions and finds ways to practice it in a hands-on fashion. When it came time to plan this trip, the church “wanted to go someplace where we had a connection,” Newman said.

Ridgeview Bible Church supports the mission organization Movida, which does a lot of work in Central America. In coordinating the mission trip, Movida suggested the group visit Costa Rica, as the agency is trying to establish a greater connection there.

The group visited Upala, Costa Rica, an area that suffered damage during Hurricane Otto in November 2016. Dr. Kristi Johnson joined the group, which also included her two daughters. They cleaned trails, mowed and completed other tasks at a Christian camp and did some basic exams during home visits. She wasn’t able to do any in-depth medical care because the mission trip was unable to find a Costa Rican doctor to accompany her.

Among the supplies the group took with them to Costa Rica were ostomy supplies donated by Chadron Community Hospital. The supplies were given to a local hospital, Dr. Johnson said, for which they seemed very grateful.

This was Dr. Johnson’s sixth mission trip – she’s been to Mexico and Jamaica multiple times – and she said her passion runs high for seeing college students realize just how fortunate they are.

“It makes a huge impact,” she said.

Hannah Andersen was one of those college students who took part in the mission trip. She shared her experiences with her social work classmates and the public last week. Despite the language barriers, she found a way to communicate with her host family and discovered the importance of music, food and family.

“The whole experience gave me a really different perspective,” she said.

Newman said it is great to see the kids immerse themselves into the culture and jump in to help others. Even though we are thousands of miles apart, it was apparent that we have the same goals in working toward Christ, he continued.

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“Christianity is not just an American thing.”

The group stayed with host families, visited schools, provided physical labor and prayed with families. Not many of those with whom they visited spoke English, and very few of the group spoke Spanish.

“But we still had the same view of Christ,” Newman said. “That was really cool to experience.”

He hopes the church is able to continue such trips and maybe someday even plant churches around the world.

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