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Cheesecakes help youth member join mission in Costa Rica

Isaac Lopez bakes cheesecakes to raise money to join next week's mission team to Costa Rica.

GATLINBURG, Tenn. (Oct. 2, 2019) -- The boy who baked cheesecakes to raise money for a mission trip to Costa Rica will finally realize his dream.

Next week, Isaac López, age 12, will join about 40 United Methodists from Holston Conference who will help organize the first-ever Resurrection spiritual weekend in La Fortuna, Costa Rica.

“I want to see the love of God shared with more people,” López said, explaining why he has a passion to go to Costa Rica.

On Oct. 11-13, the first-ever Resurrection in Costa Rica spiritual event is expected to be attended by hundreds of youth and young adults. The weekend is modeled on and inspired by Resurrection, the 34-year-old annual winter event organized by Holston Conference and attended by about 10,000 youth and leaders.

“Everything is coming together,” said the Rev. Jason Roe, Resurrection Design Team chair. “We have a facility that holds 1,000. We had over 800 registered two weeks ago.”

When Isaac López learned Holston Conference would be taking a team to Costa Rica, he really wanted to go. He started looking for a way to raise the $1,550 required fee to join the team.

The idea for a fundraiser came after he baked a cheesecake for a celebration of his church’s seventh anniversary.

López is the oldest child of the Rev. Elizabeth López and the Rev. Marvin López, pastors at Primera Iglesia Metodista Unida de Gatlinburg. That’s the Hispanic congregation located at First United Methodist Church in Gatlinburg, Tennessee.

“Everyone commented on how good the cheesecake was, and one of his friends said, ‘Isaac, why don’t you sell cheesecake to raise money for your mission trip?’” Elizabeth López said.

Isaac set out to bake at least 112 cheesecakes at $12 each, including delivery. (He earned some money earlier in the summer by working at a construction site.) His parents helped with the cost of some of the ingredients and with delivery.

The orders came rolling in through his church and through Facebook. The youth member got up at 7 a.m. to bake every weekend. His hard work and the recipe were featured in The Call to Cook blog.

By the time López sold his first 45 cakes, the church council at First United Methodist took notice.

“The Lópezes are beloved in our community for their dedication, faithfulness, and kindheartedness,” said the Rev. Barbara Clark, pastor at First United Methodist Church in Gatlinburg. “The church members were impressed with Isaac’s diligence in working so hard to raise the money for such an important mission trip.”

Isaac received donations from church members and the church council totaling $1,225. In the end, he baked 54 cheesecakes to raise $648, his mother said.

“That gives him a total of $1,873. His goal was $1,550, leaving him $323 for the trip and spending money while in Costa Rica,” Elizabeth López said.

Isaac said he was nervous when invited to stand before the English-speaking and Spanish-speaking congregations to accept the gift, but he wanted to express his gratitude and to make a point.

“I’m so happy that they pitched in to help,” he said. “I told them they would be part of this trip with me. They are part of this mission, too, by caring about other people going."