Making a world of difference

Student takes humanitarian trip to Costa Rica

Agua Viva director Blake Davidson and junior Patrick Finster confirm a batch of cement has the correct proportions of sand and water.  Mixing cement was the job Finster enjoyed most at the work site.

photo by Gary Bogdon

Agua Viva director Blake Davidson and junior Patrick Finster confirm a batch of cement has the correct proportions of sand and water. Mixing cement was the job Finster enjoyed most at the work site.

Jeannie Williams, Managing Editor

Wheelbarrow after wheelbarrow of cement, a concrete floor slowly pieces together under a newly-built roof. This home-to-be is in Los Chiles, Costa Rica, a small town on the border of Nicaragua alongside the muddy Rio Frio, where junior Patrick Finster dedicates a week of his time for the second year in a row.

In the summers of 2014 and 2015, Finster traveled with his family and 15 other people to Los Chiles to take part in mission trips through First United Methodist Church of Winter Park. These mission trips were centered on digging wells for a community and building a house for a local family

Originally, Finster was convinced by his mother to go on a mission trip, but the tables turned when Finster returned from his first trip in 2014. He soon missed the new culture he had been exposed to and decided he wanted to return. With help from his father and brother, he got his mother on board for a second trip.

“We just liked the idea of helping people who are less fortunate and wanted to make a difference. It was a good experience before, so we wanted to go again,” Finster said.

In 2014, Finster spent a lot of time working on drilling a well, but this year the team he was with spent the week putting finishing touches on a house another team had started. The house was built for a woman who worked at the hotel where the team stayed and her children.

He’s a kid who is profoundly respectful of other people’s beliefs, and I saw that in a big way.”

Work included digging a hole and trench for a septic system, sealing the walls, electrically wiring the house and laying a cement floor. Only so many people at a time could work on each job. Finster preferred working at the cement mixer because he had a set task to do.

Finster does not consider himself religious and is not a member of the church he traveled with. Even though he did not share the religious beliefs of the group, Finster still worked hard to make a difference.

“He’s a kid who is profoundly respectful of other people’s beliefs, and I saw that in a big way,” team leader Richard Brelsford said, who also led Patrick’s first mission trip.

Apart from the hard work that goes into a mission trip, Finster also got to experience a new culture. There were several things in Los Chiles that stood out, like how dogs roam the streets freely and rice and beans are served with every meal.

At one point during the week, Finster rode out to a nearby town with other member of the team to check out a problem with another well. While he was there, he got to witness some local children putting on a presentation for the Annexation of Guanacaste Day, a day when Costa Rica celebrates the province of Guanacaste choosing to join Costa Rica over its neighboring country, Nicaragua. Witnessing this helped Finster realize the magnitude of another culture.

Another huge impact for Finster was attending a local church service with the team on Sunday morning.

“It impressed me last year, and it impressed me this year how faithful [the members of the church] are and how much religion is a part of their life,” Finster said. “It’s both cool and weird to see someone with such different views than you feel so passionate.”

Finster was partnered with the Agua Viva Ministry, which drills wells in the area. Finster hopes to return to Los Chiles in the future to drill more wells.

“We made an awesome difference, and we did a lot of work,” Finster said. “When I look back on it, I feel like I could have done so much more.”

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