A number of years ago, a congregation in Litchfield began a mission in Costa Rica. That church, the home church of Ann Tiffany of Redwood Falls, provided her with the opportunity to travel to the Central American nation to serve the people.
This past March, Tiffany made her fifth trip to Costa Rica. She brought her husband Bruce along.
“I went for the first time in 2011,” said Tiffany.
Along the way, others have heard about Tiffany’s experiences, and in 2018 a group of 12 individuals from the Redwood Falls area made a trip to Costa Rica to serve at the mission site of the Roblealto Bible Home.
The group, which included Tiffany, Lee and Diane Davis, Jill Deinken, Rick and Fran Hauge, Laura Hulterstrum, Sue Jones, Chad and Virginia Larsen, Marlys Mathiowetz and Jan Swoboda, left for Costa Rica July 28 and returned Aug. 5.
The idea of taking a team to Costa Rica was two years in the making, as Tiffany worked with Pastor Scott Prouty of First Presbyterian Church, Pastor Bryant Kaden of Gloria Dei Lutheran Church and Swoboda to put the mission trip together.
Roblealto Bible Home, which is located just outside of San Jose – Costa Rica’s capital city – is part of the Roblealto Child Care Association, which is a Christian, non-profit, non-governmental organization that works with children ages five to 12 and their families.
The children come from socially at-risk backgrounds. The children also come facing a variety of issues from poverty, abuse, and lack of education. Some have a parent who is in jail, while others may face physical or mental health issues.
The dysfunctional family environments these children come from produce serious emotional and behavioral challenges that the Roblealto Bible Home are working to help them address.
Jan Swoboda said she initially heard about taking a trip to Costa Rica in 2015, but at first determined it just was not something for her. As she thought about it and then heard a sermon about being a humble servant she said really spoke to her, Swoboda ultimately agreed to go.
Like others who have been on short-term missions trips, Swoboda said it was one of the best experiences of her life.
While the group performed a variety of physical tasks, such as painting, sanding and doing some minor repairs, the group also had the chance to interact with the students and in some cases see their home life. That was an eye opening experience, said Swoboda.
Roblealto has been providing a safe, secure and temporary home for children, as well as offering an education, health services as well as a foundation in the Christian faith.
Roblealto also provides services through four day care centers and a follow-up program for teenagers. It also offers training for adults, such as parenting skills as well as guidance related to job training, in an effort to help create more stable families. Anywhere from 80-100 students live at the Bible home at any given time. No, the children are not orphans, but they are referred to Roblealto.
Tiffany said while each visit means accomplishing many tasks there is always something more to do. With that in mind, there have been discussions about the possibility of taking a local group again in 2020.
One can learn more about Roblealto on its Web site at www.roblealto.org.