Mission: Demonstrate Christ’s love for Roblealto’s foster children and those who serve them. Work can include anything from construction, arts & crafts with house mothers, general repair and remodel work on older houses, cooking assistance with staff, and sports coaching time children.
Mission Location: The foothills of San Jose Costa Rica at Robleatlo’s Bible Home, a 150 acre farm and foster home for children at risk in San Jose.
Roblealto Childcare Association
The Roblealto Childcare Association is a Christian child advocacy ministry that provides social services for approximately 650 children and adolescents between 9 months and 12 years of age who have insufficient economic resources and who may face physical and mental health problems or an abusive home life. Roblealto runs three day care centers and a Bible home (foster care), a school for kindergarten through 6th grade, and an alumni group for children
For more information, read about the Costa Rica – Roblealto History
Serving for a week in Roblealto means helping with construction, arts & crafts, general repair and remodel work, cooking or coaching children’s sports activities. But it’s only the tip of the iceberg. The Roblealto experience can be summed up in three words: empowerment, hope and longing.
Empowerment comes from team members becoming aware that what we have to give is more than we realize; our efforts and abilities can make such a big impact in the lives of others – with what we take for granted, and what we don’t think of as very much. God empowers us with what we need to serve.
Hope derives, not only from our financial gifts, but from the authentic response we get from the staff, house parents, teachers, and missionaries who are already serving at Roblealto. These are people who are willing to give their precious time to be the very hands and feet of God to these children by showing them beyond words, with their very lives, that living the life of a servant is how Jesus reaches out to turn around even some of the most tragic circumstances faced by these children. We bring hope with us as a team because we are sharing in this burden, even if it’s only for a short window of time.
We leave with a sense of longing, realizing that God’s work at Roblealto is ongoing, that it’s a process, not a project. It will never be completed. The demand for supporting and nurturing programs like Roblealto in poverty stricken places like central Costa Rica will continue to outstrip the supply of resources and people willing and available to help. As short term mission team members we can expect to see lives touched, but perhaps the biggest surprise is the profound effect it will have on us and our spiritual walk with Jesus.
Frequently Asked Questions
- What is the purpose of the mission?
- Tell me about Costa Rica.
- Why is Costa Rica chosen as the mission destination?
- Can you tell me something about Roblealto Child Care Association?
- What are the qualifications to serve and do I need to speak Spanish?
- Where do we stay during this mission trip?
- What should we expect at the Bible Home, its people and weather?
- What about food, drinks and other creature-comfort items?
- What is our schedule for the week?
- What discretionary expenses should I budget for?
- How do I get there?
- What about spiritual and practical preparation?
- How much does this trip cost?
- Who do I get in touch with?
Q: What is the purpose of the mission?
A: Walnut Creek Presbyterian Church has had a relationship with Roblealto Child Care Association since the 1970’s and renewed our acquaintance with it in 2004 when Mark and Cindy Tilton spent a week at the Bible Home with the purpose of working with them and evaluating the suitability of this project for a WCPC short term mission site. We have had a working relationship with them ever since, sending a construction and service team and funds for building materials.
We spend time with the children in play; work hard by building new homes for the children to live in and demonstrate to the children, house parents and staff that someone actually cares about them. It says a lot that people have traveled thousands of miles from the US to work with kids that, in many cases, have lost hope.
We hope to demonstrate Christ’s love to the foster children living at the Bible Home through play, hard work and demonstration of what a loving family can look like. It takes many things to make beautiful children of those who have known so much bitterness and suffering. Many have come from crippling backgrounds that would have left weaker hearts destroyed. Some are still ambivalent – not knowing whether they want to hide or be found, to remember or make new memories, to live or die. But with the Lord’s help, these children are prospering, are overcoming, and are finding a way to live.
Q: Tell me about Costa Rica.
A: Costa Rica is a mountainous nation located in Central America between Nicaragua and Panama. Generally speaking, Costa Ricans are ethnically Spanish and or mixed Meztizo. However, approximately 3% of the population is of black African origin— mostly English-speaking descendants of 19th-century Jamaican immigrant workers.
Spanish is the official language. 85% of Costa Ricans belong to the Roman Catholic Church. Protestants account for approximately 14%. Although still a largely agricultural country (coffee, banana, sugar, cocoa exports), electronics manufacturing and tourism are rapidly expanding industries.
High literacy rates, relatively low unemployment, and widespread land ownership have produced a relatively high standard of living for many Costa Ricans. That said, there are large areas of poverty where most of the children cared for at Roblealto come from.
One of the most stable democracies in Latin America, Costa Rica escaped much of the violence and political turmoil that has plagued other Latin American governments. Since the late 19th century, only two brief periods of violence have marred its democratic development. Costa Rica abolished its army in 1948.
Q: Why is Costa Rica chosen as the mission destination?
A: WCPC has a rich history with Roblealto and with Latin American Missions, the mission’s agency that founded them in 1932. When asked in 2004 to consider sending teams to work alongside them in Costa Rica, we couldn’t say no. The need is great, the ministry is effective and our partnership has proven to be sustainable. See the linked document; Roblealto Child Care Association, “Tall Oak” for an interesting article on their history and with WCPC.
Q: Can you tell me something about Roblealto Child Care Association?
A: Costa Rica is a small country with approximately 4.5 million people. Over 34% of these are children living in poverty. Roblealto Child Care Association is a Christian organization that for the past 79 years has dedicated themselves to caring for these children. They minister to over 650 children in three day care centers in the inner city of San Jose. They also operate a farm in the foothills surrounding San Jose, called Hogar Biblico (bible Home), housing up to 80 children who have been rescued off the streets or taken out of unsafe home environments. They provide these children with a safe and loving place to live while giving them an education and any medical and psychological care they may need. Roblealto also works with the parents to address their particular circumstances with the ultimate goal of bringing the family back together again – a goal that can often take several years. Roblealto’s success rate in doing this in 98%, by the grace of God!
The houses at the Bible Home in which the children are living are falling apart due to their age and the weather conditions of the area. WCPC has partnered with Roblealto to help build new homes and new lives for these precious children. In 2015 we will participate in building and remodel projects in the homes on the farm.
Q: What are the qualifications to serve and do I need to speak Spanish?
A: If you have a servant’s heart, you qualify. If you speak Spanish, that’s a plus, but if you don’t, you are not alone. Robealto has English speaking staff that helps us with translation as necessary and we usually have at least a couple of people on the team that speak Spanish enough to help. Your cost to join is intentionally affordable ($360/person/all in) so all can attend. This is a Christian mission trip, but we are open to non-Christians, as long as they are willing to participate in all functions including our daily devotions and church on Sunday. This is a trip for those that sense a call to step out in faith to serve someone who is less fortunate than us. You will work hard, but we will teach you what you need to know to be a productive member of the team. We also have a variety of projects for different skill levels from construction to sewing to helping in the kitchen serving meals for the children, staff and volunteers. You will be amazed at what you can actually do together as a team.
Q: Where do we stay during this mission trip?
A: We stay at the Bible Home, a 150 acre farm nestled in the foothills of San Jose Costa Rica. It’s a beautiful place, fresh air at 5,000 feet elevation, fresh drinkable spring water and lots of kids around eager for your attention. The farm has 10 homes, one of which is used to house volunteer teams. It has 3 bathrooms with flush toilets, many bedrooms that are set up as dorms and a group kitchen that we use for breakfast and snacks at night. We eat lunch in the community cafeteria after the children have been fed and we eat dinner with the children in their homes with their foster house parents. After dinner we spend a couple of hours with the children playing games, participating in their nightly devotions and hanging out with them.
Q: What should we expect at the Bible Home, its people and weather?
A: You should expect to be blessed and amazed! This is a busy place, starting in the mornings around 6:00 AM. The people are friendly and appreciative that we are there, the children are fun and inquisitive about us strangers, and the weather is most often beautiful. Because we are at 5,000 feet elevation, the weather is very much like it is in Northern CA, with temps in the 75-80 degrees mid day, very little humidity. Sometimes, we might see a shower in the late afternoon, typical of the rain forest. We rise early, eat breakfast, have our morning devotion and try to be at work by 8 AM. We have a mid morning coffee break with some unbelievably good Cost Rican coffee, lunch at noon and we break around 3:30 PM to play with the children. The Bible Home has organized sports for the children in the afternoon and we are encouraged to participate…soccer, basketball, baseball, dance and cricket. It’s a privilege for the children to be able to play, requiring that they have good behavior during the day and have their schoolwork done. It’s a blast and yes, you may be tired from working, but you will see this as a privilege as well. Dinner is at 6 PM with the children and we return to our team house at around 8 PM for our team meeting, debriefing on how things are going and typically in bed by 10 PM. A full but great day!
Q: What about food, drinks and other creature-comfort items?
A: The food is great, with Costa Rican staples of rice and beans, lots of salads, protein (mostly chicken) and fruit. The water is safe to drink but we always have other fresh juice or fruit mixture that is always wonderful. We live in our own team house and will stop at the store the weekend of our arrival so we have plenty of snacks, sodas and really anything that you want for the house. Roblealto also keeps the kitchen stocked with breakfast foods and fresh eggs from the farm as well. You will not go home hungry.
Q: What is our schedule for the week?
A: We typically depart from SFO on a Friday night at midnight and arrive in Costa Rica, through San Salvador on Saturday morning. We meet our host at the airport, pack our bags on a bus and go to lunch in San Jose before heading to the Bible Home (farm). We have a short welcome briefing at the farm, settle into the volunteer home and get some rest from our overnight flight. Saturday night, we will have dinner together in the volunteer house. Sunday, we go to church in San Jose at a great church, have lunch, and do some souvenir and grocery shopping before heading back to the farm in the afternoon. Sunday night we have dinner with the children at our assigned house. Each team member will be assigned a house to eat dinner each night and to spend time with the children. Monday work starts and we are up early. We work until 3:30 PM and, if you are able, play with the children in the afternoon. Dinner is at 6 PM with the children in their homes, and we spend time with them until 8 PM when we return to the volunteer house. We have a quick meeting, check in with everyone on their day; some folks play cards or games, and we are usually in bed around 10 PM. It’s a full but blessed day!
Q: What discretionary expenses should I budget for?
A: There is a $360 fee that each team member pays when registering for the trip. All team members are expected to participate in fundraising to help raise funds to cover the actual cost of the trip plus our contribution to the project (building supplies etc.). If you buy groceries or souvenirs on Sunday, those are, of course, your expense. You may also want to bring some extra cash for food and drinks at the airport. A couple of hundred dollars US is probably more than enough. Costa Rican stores all take US dollars, so there’s no need to worry about exchanging money. However, change is generally given in Colones, Costa Rica currency, so bring small bills, $1,5, 10, 20’s so you don’t come home with lots of Colones that you can’t use at home. A good reason to come back again next yearJ.
Q: How do I get there?
A: We fly out of SFO, through San Salvador to San Jose Costa Rica. All your travel arrangements are coordinated and paid for through the funds that you and the team raises. The team leaders arrange drivers to take our team to and from SFO departing from WCPC and returning to WCPC. Team members are responsible for getting themselves to the church the night of departure and to make arrangements to be picked up from the church when we return.
Q: What about spiritual and practical preparation?
A: All team members participate in a series of training meetings before we leave. The purpose of the meetings is to prepare us for the work on the field in Costa Rica. The meetings are well structured, relevant and important for a successful mission trip. We cover Costa Rican culture, spiritual preparation, team building, conflict resolution, what to expect on the field and from your team leaders and more. We have had no issues on the prior trips and most team members equate that to excellent pre-trip training and planning.
Q: How much does this trip cost?
A: $360 plus your agreement to help with fundraising. We send letters to team member family and friends encouraging their support you in pray and finances along with a great Crab Feed dinner that we have at WCPC prior to the trip. We have sample letters for you to customize to your style so you are not starting from scratch. Our combined work, by the grace of God, has provided for each trips complete expenses plus money for the construction and other projects we do on the field. We typically raise $50,000 plus dollars each year.
Q: Who do I get in touch with?
A: Mark and Cindy Tilton at 925-934-6084 or email firstname.lastname@example.org new email.