The Catholic University of America

June 7, 2012

Students Travel to Belize and Costa Rica to Serve

  Mission Trip Costa Rica

Joe Hubbard with some of the children he met in Costa Rica.

Twenty-two students began their summer by traveling to Belize and Costa Rica on mission trips sponsored by the Office of Campus Ministry.

The students spent two weeks in those countries in May completing a variety of tasks, such as working on construction projects and visiting with local residents.

“International mission trips give students an opportunity to have a relationship with the poor and therefore have a relationship with Christ,” explains Emmjolee Mendoza Waters, associate director of campus ministry, who went with 12 students to Belize.

Joe Hubbard, a rising senior politics major, served as the student leader on the Costa Rica trip. This was his second mission trip to Costa Rica.

“I applied for a mission trip in my sophomore year because I wanted to serve others while also immersing myself in a foreign country, culture, and language,” he explains. “I was selected to go to Costa Rica and had an amazing experience during those two weeks which left me with a desire for more. I was lucky enough to be asked to return this year. I am so glad that I went back, because I had another great experience with an excellent team, and learned a lot more about Costa Rica.”

The 10 students in Costa Rica spent a week in the capital city of San Jose helping build a church for a poor urban neighborhood, a project that students on CUA’s spring break mission trip earlier this year also worked on. They also visited a nursing home, distributed hot lunches at a homeless community, and visited a school where they learned about the career goals of the students and joined them in a game of soccer.

The students spent the second week in the rural community of Puerto Jimenez, where they painted a chapel, visited a school, and helped with catechesis in the local parish.

Working as a team with other students and meeting local residents were the highlights of the trip for Hubbard. “The people in Costa Rica were very welcoming and worked with us on the projects,” he says. “They are great people and great witnesses to the happiness to be found in faith.”

Mission Trip Belize  
Kathleen Lavoie joins children in a game of soccer in Belize.

Kathleen Lavoie, a rising senior nursing student, said she wanted to go on the mission trip to Belize to “take advantage of the opportunity to participate in fulfilling group prayer and group reflection to help strengthen and develop a deeper relationship with God, with my peers, and with the people of Belize.”

In Belize, the students worked on improvements to schools and a church and spent most of their time in the town of Punta Gorda. Lavoie describes working on a church in Punta Gorda as “‘Extreme Makeover Church Edition.’ We completely revamped the front of the church by pulling all the weeds, repainting the bell tower, the entire front of the church, and the statue of St. Michael.”

The CUA students also got a chance to tutor and play with the children at one of the local schools. Lavoie says working with the kids was a rewarding experience.

“One little action can make such a huge difference in someone’s life,” she explains. “Something as little as playing tag, or ‘catch’ as they would call it, with the students brought them so much laughter and joy. It was the little things, like running around for 30 minutes with the kids or reading them a story in the library that made the biggest difference.”

Lavoie says she learned a lesson in community from the people of Belize as well.

“While I was living in Punta Gorda for those two weeks, the people of Belize would constantly come up to me, ask me how my day was going, and genuinely listen,” she explains. “These people were not simply being polite. They were asking because they genuinely wanted to know how my day was going. I learned from this trip to be more sincere in my greetings with others and to spend more time trying to form stronger a community among my peers at CUA.”



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