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Far from home but closer to God

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Building a future in Costa Rica

By Becca Owsley

By BECCA OWSLEY

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bowsley@thenewsenterprise.com

ELIZABETHTOWN — Twenty-five minutes from San Jose, Costa Rica, is the town of Villas de Ayarco — destination for a group from Grace Heartland Church for mission work July 19-26.

The group will be doing construction work at The Abraham Project, founded to provide homes for abandoned children by missionaries Stephen and Georgiana Thomas and Pastor Jorge Gomez.

For Kurt Voight, the work has a double meaning.

“It may sound strange, but the Lord blesses those that help just as much as the project that they are helping,” Voight said. “In some ways, we gain as much if not more by growing stronger in our faith and with my wife going with me I feel we will grow stronger as a couple.”

This is the couple’s first mission trip outside of the United States and they see it as a great opportunity to help others.

“No interruptions from work or our daily lives, just the project, our friends and Christ. My wife and I are very excited about the trip, we enjoy meeting new people and learning about cultural differences.

“It seems that in our fast paced life, even in Elizabethtown we get so caught up in our own little problems and day-to-day tasks that we forget that there are others that do not have similar advantages and are in need of help,” Voight said.

When finished, The Abraham Project will include three children’s homes, a daycare center, a cafeteria and a multi-purpose center. More than 100 children will be served by the daycare facility and the multipurpose center can be used for many events throughout the week.

A local Costa Rican company has donated large amounts of wood for the group to use as recycled building materials, said Greg Bolton, media minister at Grace Heartland. The wood comes from crates used to transport large sheets of glass. The crates are disassembled to create the boards that are treated, planed, sanded and prepared for lumber.

Youth from the church have participated in the project for many years, but this year an all adult group will make the trip. Those going include Greg and Pam Bolton, Scott and Joanie Turner, Kurt and Krista Voight, Butch Russell, Chastity Yates and Carl Stoltzfus. Last year 34 church members went to the site.

This is a return trip for the Boltons.

“At The Abraham Project I experienced a beautiful example of what the church can be,” Greg Bolton said. “I saw people helping people by providing shelter, clothing, food, education, medicine, training, love and the gospel message in an area nowhere near as fortunate as our homeland.

“It is an inspiration to see how God is working miracles from a vision that began with a few folks who wanted to improve the lives of neglected and abandoned children and from that vision ... a ministry affecting an entire community. It has changed my life to be a small part of it,” he said.

Stoltzfus also has worked on the project before.

“I enjoy the country of Costa Rica which is a very green country with nearly a fourth of the country a national forest,” Stoltzfus said. “Costa Rica has a lot to teach the world about how to maintain the environment.”

He enjoys working with missionary Stephen Thomas, who has a connection to the group because he has family in Elizabethtown. Stoltzfus also enjoys working with children while they help build the facilities.

The Abraham Project is a group home situation with about eight children in each home with a set of house parents. The project also helps educate the parents in the area to help them with job security skills.

The Costa Rican people are very warm and have a vibrancy for life, Stoltzfus said. He and his wife have traveled to 50 countries and enjoy being in different cultures. On each mission trip the group always takes one day to explore the culture.

“I enjoy going and helping people,” Stoltzfus said. “I go as often as I can.”

Although Voight admits opening up to others to share his faith has been challenging, he hopes this trip not only will benefit the mission there but also help him grow as a Christian.

“I’ve always wanted to help others in the same way that the Lord has helped me and be able to spread the word of Christ,” he said.

Becca Owsley can be reached at (270) 505-1741.