|Zack and Malinda Nichols, CRMP 2012|
Years before joining the UMVIM staff, I went through UMVIM team leader training and started to learn the difference between a “service project” and true, sustainable missions. We had some growing pains in those early years, engaging a couple times in projects that didn’t seem to have the healthy mission model we wanted our students to see and understand. It’s not about parachuting in with Chacos on our feet and fixing other people's problems, then kicking back in the Eno and congratulating ourselves on a job well done. Not even kinda. I’ll never forget the mission where we worked all week on a house while the homeowners sat there and watched us and never took any action to be part of the repairs themselves, though they were perfectly able to do so. No bueno.
We decided our youth’s first international mission journey (and our church’s first international mission journey at that) would be to Costa Rica to serve with Wil Bailey and Costa Rica Mission Projects, and it was a game-changer for the way we saw and understood Christian mission.
Additionally, Wil and the CRMP employees raise funds and hop on a plane every chance they get to come Stateside and serve here in America. In fact, the first time I met Wil, Hugo, Hugito, Catalina, Pedro, and Pastor William, they were here in Alabama after a series of tornadoes left more damage than a single community could manage alone. Healthy mission model? They’re doing it right.
|Catalina and me in 2012 and 2015, so grateful for this wonderful friend!|
Our most recent trip to the Zona Sur, in June of this year, had us working at the CRMP Missions & Ministry Center, a walled complex that serves a variety of needs. It’s the home base for visiting UMVIM teams, and I’ll tell you from personal experience that the food is great, the beds are comfy, and the showers are hot. Does the local pastor's wife make fresh donuts for you? Yeah, she does. Did I gain 4 pounds while we were there? Yeah, I did.
|Our 2015 Team|
Additionally, and even more importantly, we had the opportunity break bread with the people around us, go to church with them, pray with them, sing songs with their children, eat meals with them, and take communion with our brothers and sisters. CRMP emphasizes relationship-building, and being in a covenant partnership with them means that we are working on relationships with the people of the Zona Sur alongside Wil and the CRMP staff. They are always on our hearts and in our prayers, and our commitment is there beyond the weeks when we have a team physically in Costa Rica.
|Adding "Can sing Father Abraham in two languages" to our resumés.|
|Our students, they make me proud, and can clap cheer with the best of them.|
|Our church drummer Taylor, my husband Zack, and Wil during Sunday worship.|
|Final worship service with Wil, the CRMP staff, and all of the volunteers for the week.|
Malinda Nichols runs Communications for UMVIM, SEJ. Holler at her here if she can help you get more team members for your next mission journey, or if you need a good recipe for strawberry cupcakes.