TWC students travel to Costa Rica for spring break mission trip

Posted on: April 4, 2013

For a group of Tennessee Wesleyan College students, faculty and staff members, this year's spring break meant leaving studying and work behind to travel to Costa Rica to perform mission work.

For a group of Tennessee Wesleyan College students, faculty and staff members, this year’s spring break meant leaving studying and work behind to travel to Costa Rica to perform mission work with missionaries Reverend Marion and Mary Woods at the Centro Rural Methodista Center in Ciudad Quesada. From March 4 to March 10, TWC students Meagen Akins, Alyssa Blackwood, Tara Bugg, Trey Clendenen, Justin Walker, and Sydney Varajon worked alongside TWC’s Reverend Dr. Chris Dover, Dr. Nancy Gregg, Dr. Scott Mashburn, and volunteer Duane Gregg.

“This trip provided many opportunities for growth, both personal and spiritual,” said Sydney Varajon, a TWC senior with an individualized major in pre-seminary and art. “Throughout the week, we were urged out of our comfort zones to better serve. Each member of the team was able to use their gifts, and many were even surprised to discover new talents they did not know they had.

“Whether it was doing repairs around the camp or teaching Vacation Bible School, we were able to share God’s love through fellowship within the community and also with each other.”

While in Costa Rica, the TWC team held Bible School activities for 300 students in Santa Rosa and Linda Vista public schools, in Colegio Methodista (a Methodist-related private school), and in the indigenous Maleku Village of Tonjibe. The students led music, stories, crafts, and games for children, teachers, and parents, developing close relationships with the Costa Rican natives that they encountered throughout their six day stay.

“Costa Rica was one of the greatest experiences of my life,” said Trey Clendenen, a TWC freshman majoring in secondary education with a concentration in history. “Seeing God’s love through smiles and laughter will be a memory that lasts forever.  I will always remember the little girl from Tonjibe that kissed me on the cheek.”

One of the most popular activities that the students led on their mission trip was soccer, or futboll, as it is called in Costa Rica. Donations of balls and equipment from TWC soccer coaches and community members enabled the TWC mission team to take equipment that was given to the schools for future use. Craft times were also a popular activity led by the mission team and were made possible by materials donated by TWC students and staff members. Parents and teachers participated in the craft projects with the children.

“We were all so blessed to work with the children and families we met,” said Alyssa Blackwood, a TWC freshman majoring in secondary education with a concentration in science.  “Their welcoming hearts made performing our Bible School activities with them much easier and I think at the end of the trip, we probably benefited more from the opportunity to spend time with them than they did with us. It was truly a learning experience and was completely life-changing.”

Mission work during fall and spring break trips has become an annual opportunity that Tennessee Wesleyan makes available to its students. Servant leadership and performing local and global community service are cornerstones of a TWC education.

“This was my first mission trip and my first time out of the United States, and it could not have been a better experience,” said Meagen Akins, a TWC senior majoring in business administration and professional accountancy and marketing. “Costa Rica is a beautiful place with beautiful people and I felt so welcome by everyone I met. I would encourage everyone to go out of the country at least once in a lifetime. The people you will meet and the experiences you have will help shape who you are.

 “I learned a lot about myself through this trip and also a lot about those in the group I travelled with. I am so grateful to Tennessee Wesleyan for encouraging its students to take part in mission work abroad.”

For more information on TWC mission trips and programs, contact Dr. Chris Dover by phone at 423-252-1110 or by email at cdover@twcnet.edu.

For more pictures, visit TWC's Facebook.