Organizers of Resurrection, Holston Conference's 34-year-old youth ministry, realized their dream of expanding the annual spiritual weekend when a new event was launched Oct. 11-13 in La Fortuna, Costa Rica.
After you read the main story, "Resurrection changes lives in Costa Rica," here is more you should know about the inaugural Resurrection event in a new country.
Resurrection in Costa Rica was held in La Fortuna, which means “the fortune” in English. Located at the base of Arenal volcano, the small city (population: 15,300) has several restaurants, hotels and tourist attractions. Resurrection was scheduled during a time when La Fortuna has fewer visitors, just as Resurrection in the U.S. is scheduled in January during the slow season in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee.
Bilingual members from Holston Conference were assets in interpreting Spanish and English throughout the trip. The mission team included bilingual children of Holston Hispanic pastors (Rueben Castillo, Vanessa Lopez, Isaac Lopez) as well as seasoned missionaries and clergy (Jerry Russell, Roger Murphy, Susana Lopez) who speak both languages.
Using the same transmitter system and headphones used at Resurrection in the United States, Holston’s Kacye Castenir showed Costa Ricans how to provide interpretation at sessions in La Fortuna. Holston members who speak English only, but wanted to understand the preachers and musicians, wore headphones during the sessions. It was a switch from Resurrection and Annual Conference in Holston, when Spanish-speakers rely on headphones to understand what is said in English.
Some participants in the Costa Rica version of Resurrection were older than in the U.S. version because the definition of “youth” in Latino cultures is broader, the Rev. Jason Roe said. Costa Ricans don’t separate “young adults” into another age group, but define them as “youth” into their 20s and 30s, generally until they are married.
Resurrection was held in a nondenominational church, Iglesia Rompienda Limites (Breaking Limits Church), because it could accommodate 1,000. The church was in desperate need of more restrooms, however. “After we committed to putting down a deposit on the space, they were able to construct more restrooms in time for Resurrection,” Roe said. The investment will help the church grow their own ministry, he said.
Expanding the mission
Prior to Resurrection, the U.S. mission team together with Costa Rican Methodists offered vacation Bible school (VBS) in five areas: Tonjibe, Monterrey, Rio Quarto, Zona Fluca, and a Nicaraguan refugee village. Three of the sessions were held in schools, which suspended classes so students could enjoy a drama, Bible lesson, crafts, painting, snacks, and a bounce house. “We probably interacted with 900 to 1,000 kids" in economically deprived areas, said the Rev. Chris Luper, coordinator of the VBS mission.
During their visit, the U.S. mission team slept in church camps: the Methodist Rural Center in Ciudad Quesada and Campamento Casi Cielo (Almost Heaven Camp) in La Fortuna. Most meals were simple and shared together at camp or the Catholic dining hall, including local staples such as rice, beans, fresh fruit and vegetables. Although it rained frequently, the climate was hot and humid. Americans looked forward to the air conditioning available at Iglesia Rompiendo Limites.
Resurrection participants gave an offering totaling $300, to be invested in the Holston Foundation and used for Costa Rican missions, said the Rev. Jerry Russell, director of Samaritan Hands.
Free and fun
Participants delighted in numerous rounds of door-prize giveaways, emceed with humor by Roger Murphy, a team leader and former youth pastor at Fairview United Methodist. In addition to the shirts, laptops, bacon, candy and sunglasses given as door prizes, organizers thrilled the crowd by tossing out free T-shirts. “It took me back to the first time I ever went to Resurrection, to see that energy and excitement,” Luper said.
Leaders repeatedly told volunteers not to expect Resurrection in Costa Rica to replicate the longstanding event in the U.S. “We’ve never had Resurrection here so whatever happens, it’s the first time. Don’t measure this against the experience you had in Tennessee,” Russell said.
Organizers distributed tickets to local churches, inviting them to attend the Saturday-evening concert session free of charge. Attendance reached 1,000 and included families with young children, many sitting on their fathers’ shoulders. At every session, more than half of participants left their seats and moved to the aisles and near the stage where they had more freedom to dance and sing.
Methodists in the C.R.
Costa Rica has a population of 5 million. Most Costa Ricans identify as Roman Catholic. In 2018, the Methodist Evangelical Church in Costa Rica had 90 local churches and 45 preaching points, with an attendance of about 12,500, according to the World Methodist Council.
Flying on faith
A special guest was the Rev. Diego Chicoj Ramos, pastor of a Methodist church in Chontolá, Quiche, Guatemala. He brought woven pocketbooks, wallets, jewelry, and other crafts from the Ruth Y Nohemi Cooperative. The cooperative sprung from tragic events in the 1980s, when the civil-war murder of the village men left widows and orphans desperate for income to care for themselves. The pastor told team members he flew to La Fortuna on faith he would sell enough handiwork to pay for transportation back to Guatemala.
The U.S. mission team included several youth and young adults from Holston Conference, who worked hard throughout the week while growing close to each other as well as Costa Rican volunteers. One of the U.S. team members was Alejandro Ramirez, age 18, a Holston Home for Children resident, now in the independent living program in Greeneville, Tennessee. "I didn't know anybody except for Vanessa [Lopez]," he said, "and now we are like a big family."
Bishop Taylor preaches
When local church leaders heard the resident bishop of Holston Conference was present, they invited her to preach. Bishop Dindy Taylor preached at Trinidad Methodist Church in Ciudad Quesada on the evening of Oct. 13. “We have felt his presence with us,” Taylor said, reporting on the Resurrection weekend. “We have experienced his long acceptance of us. We have experienced his grace.”
More photos on Resurrection-CR Facebook page.
Annette Spence is editor of The Call, the Holston Conference newsletter.
En español The first Resurrection spiritual weekend in Costa Rica was in its final hour when the people who worked hard to make it happen could no longer hold back their emotions. They cried and embraced as they watched hundreds of young people go ...
En español PIGEON FORGE, Tenn. (Jan. 30, 2019) -- There are a lot of songs at Resurrection, but one song in particular seemed to seal the deal to take Holston Conference’s 34-year-old annual youth weekend to a new level. When Yarieth Arias Chacón ...