Thursday, June 21, 2018

Buenos Aires 6/20

From Faustina Richardson BD:

Hey everyone!

Today is our last day in Costa Rica! We left Buenos Aires to come back to San Isidro for our last night here. This experience has definitely made a huge impact on how I see people. Although the language barrier may have separated me from being able to communicate to those I really wanted to, I learned through this experience that God’s love is truly spoken in all languages and is the primary connection between everyone. I also learned that the phrase “you don’t truly know what you have until it’s gone” is not necessarily completely true. We all know the materialistic items that we have and the friends and family that are there for us, but we really can’t appreciate those to their fullest until they are no longer within our reach. This was such an amazing opportunity and I wish I could stay longer but, I am also beginning to miss home and and am ready to share my experience with those back home.

See you soon!

Buenos Aires 6/19

Victoria Braden from BL:

Hello everyone! Today was our last day at our Volcán worksite which is where some of us have been working for the past week. So there has been a Student Leader from the youth group coming to talk and paint and get to know us and his name is Isaac. He has told us how he hopes to study music at the university and hopes to pursue a music career. Today, he brought his guitar with him to show us a couple of songs he wanted to show us. He played us a tune he had just learned, then he played us the most beautiful and  most moving song I had ever heard in my Life. It was in Spanish so I did not understand all of it at first, then Mrs. Fierro translated and was so beautiful and full of pain and how he learned from it all. This was the point when I started crying, hard. Then as if to add to our emotions he shared a heartwarming story about his friend who died, and after of course I start sobbing. Finally, as a cherry on top of this emotional rollercoaster, he tells us he has a beautiful song about God he wants to play and sing with us. He continues to play “Fisher of men”. This is the song we have been singing in mass, when I volunteered to sing in the choir. This song touched me in church because I never sing in public because I believe I cannot sing whatsoever, but I was praised and I adored singing to and about God. Of course, when Isaac was playing this song, I completely lost it and bawled my eyes out. To me this was as if God was saying “haha You thought it was over. Nope I have more in store for you”. This was so emotional and pure  for me and I am so glad I got to share it with the people who surrounded, embraced, and cried with me. I gave my cross to him to show him how much he touched me. It was a prefect day in the beautiful Buenos Aires and I will miss it, although I miss you all more! See you soon!! :)) -Vic

Blog # 15 Marcelo Garcia from Cistercian:

Hey everyone, after the Volcan group and Buenos Aires group met up we all went to the market and went shopping in separate groups. We ended up buying a bunch of junk food and coffee from a nearby supermarket. We then said goodbye to a big part of our group who are traveling back to San Isidro. We ended our day with circle time and a huge snack party that made us all sick to our stomachs because of all the sugar we ate. It was just another eventful day full of fun.

Monday, June 18, 2018

A few pictures from San Isidro

The Hortensia worksite didn't have work on Saturday due to the workers needing to do some family time. So we did some alternate work! We went to the Cathedral and got a tour by the security guard where we got to go up on the first floor roof!

Then in the afternoon we helped in the kitchen and helped Flor and Theresa prepare food for  the next day! We learned to make tamales and got to go cut banana leaves in the Bishop's garden! So fun!!

San Isidro Updates

The opportunity to chip plaster off walls, dig a ditch, make cement, and saturate your skin with dirt and sweat is usually not something a sane person would voluntarily take up. However, I find myself in Costa Rica with clothes caked with mud and a body sore from a long week of work. This mission, although challenging, has been one of great joy and peace. We wake up with the Mass, work hard during the day for the glory of God, and then go to sleep after sharing our thoughts and experiences from our time with the people. Our life here, although simple and somewhat ascetic, is full of purpose. At home, it is easy to get caught up in the worries of daily life; but here, we are reminded of the gravity of the simple things: faith, love, friendship, family. Mission is a blessing that few people get to experience, so I thank my lovely family, Cistercian, and the Church for letting me embark on this trip the second year in a row. Under the light of a beautiful crescent moon, I would like to wish my father and all the fathers of my fellow missionaries a happy Father’s Day and a peaceful night.

With much love,
Matthew Sawtelle

Hi Mom and Dad and Lauren and all other families. You have probably heard about the daily routine at both Hortensia and Bambu from the other missionaries, maybe even heard about my buddy Rigo from Anna, so I’ll talk about today which was different. We started with reuniting with the Buenos Aires group for mass at the beautiful San Isidro cathedral with the bishop, whose homily I understood (surprise!) even before he gave his English summary. Then we departed for a trip to the Nauyaca Cataratas, which you can either google or wait for Robert’s masterpieces which I’m sure will capture them better. We swam in the pool below them, and I can’t remember the last time I’ve been surrounded by such natural beauty. Then we went back to our camp and all had a retreat together with Fr. Ambrose and Fr. Augustine. We finished the day with reading your letters. I’ve already written one back, but thank you very much for those!
I’m sure you’ve heard this many times, but this trip has far surpassed anything we could have imagined by every measure possible. I can’t wait to tell you about everything in more detail. Until then, I hope you all are safe and well (we are here, too), and happy Father’s Day!

Tom Worth

Hello, Kayla here to give you the low down on what we did today! First, we met up with the Buenos Aires group and I got to see Alex after six whole days apart. Then, we travelled to the most beautiful waterfalls ever and ate the tamales we made yesterday, while admiring the view. After that, we got to go in the pools below the waterfalls and got loads of adorable pictures! After the long bus ride back to the campsite, we had a dance party and learned a traditional Costa Rican dance and ate a traditional Costa Rican meal (it tasted like ribs). Then, the chaperones surprised us with the amazing letters you wrote us, thank you so much!!
To my family, I miss you so much and I can’t wait to come home, but this trip has been so amazing already and I can’t wait to see what else it has in store for us. Also, happy Father’s Day, Dad I love you so much and can’t wait to celebrate with everyone when I get back, and of course get brunch together! <3

Kayla Wilkerson
John Paul II

Buenos Aires #13

From Isabella Franco JPII:

Feliz Día de los Padres!

This trip has honestly been amazing. Everyday we (Buenos Aires) have mass around 6:00 PM but today was very different as it was our reunion/excursion day. This meant that we were able to reunite with our loved ones that were at San Isidro and have a resting day.

As I woke up this morning I heard the lovely singing of one of our chaperones as we started the day early to take a bus to San Isidro, which is around 45 minutes away. As we arrived to San Isidro we had an early 8:00 AM mass at the Cathedral with the people of Costa Rica. Our masses have been very different because they’re in Spanish, which has honestly taught me a lot. I have learned how to say some of the mass prayers and songs in Spanish.

We then headed over to Nauyaca Waterfall, which was absolutely gorgeous. The drive there consisted of the beautiful clear outline of the mountains and green jungle. As we got closer to the waterfall we heard the noise of the water as the peaceful nature relaxed us. We later swam in the waterfall as a group and it was super cold, but refreshing. We of course took many pictures and I can’t wait to show them too y’all. We ended our day back at San Isidro as we were surprised with a Fiesta that was thrown by the local diocese. They made us home made chocaron which lead us to dancing to the marimba and learning a traditional Costa Rican dance. I met many new friends as I dance and was also taught how to salsa by one of the Cistercian boys. As this super fun interaction with both the people of Costa Rica and our group had just began it was time for Buenos Aires to leave and come back. As we came back we were then surprised by letters of our loved ones which inspired me to write tonight.

Mom and Dad,

I just wanted to thank you so much for sacrificing and allowing me to go on this trip. I have learned more about my faith and have had the opportunity to meet many new people. The people of Costa Rica have been so welcoming and have allowed me to learn that we need to service more people in this world and become a more kind and care country.

Much love,
Isabella Franco

Sunday, June 17, 2018


The Buenos Aires work group welcomed to Volcan for afternoon Mass and dinner.

A few more pics

These are from Nurse Barton. I think they are Buenos Aires, but not sure which site(s). Enjoy!

Volcan Pics


The Mayor of Volcan!

We were visited by mayor of Volcan.  He is from one of the 8 indigenous communities here in Costa Rica and he is the first mayor from an indigenous community in the history of Costa Rica.

Buenos Aires #12

From Theo Uhrik BL:

Hey Mom, Dad, and brothers!

From the first day of going up through the mountains, I have already met some amazing friends from every school. I never thought I would click so fast with the other missionaries. The mountains look so much talleres different than the Rockies! Doña Carmen and Max, our cooks fix great/plentiful food everyday. I am staying in Buenos Aires and was lucky to enjoy experience both the work sites of Volcan and Buenos Aires, which are both unique along with the local people I have talked with and the environment. Thank you so much for sacrificing to be able to send me on this trip!

Buenos Aires #11

From Brandon Zimmer, Cistercian:

Hey, Mom and Dad. I’ve been having an amazing time here in Costa Rica.  Some how I don’t feel as if I’m in a new country, but that’s only because It’s so similar to California. The mountains, the Spanish, the food, the people all remind me of my time in Fillmore (except for all the rain), and I feel at home.  I’ve been getting at lot better at Spanish so I’ll be ready to speak to you only in Spanish when we get back.  We’ve been mostly painting the community center in a small town not far from Buenos Aires.   Right next to that building is a field where we play soccer with the kids from the town. The rumor is that that field is actually the training center for Navas, a professional goalie. The town actually assembled the best players they had and challenged us. We beat them 3-0.  I’ve made some friends with some of the locals and have tried my best to learn their stories. It’s humbling to hear the hardships they had to go through.  The chaperones have done an amazing job at making the trip a great spiritual experience. At first the days seemed to go on forever (in a good way) but now seem to go by fast. I don’t want to forget any minute of it.


Buenos Aires #10

From Alex Osborn JPII:

Hi Mom and dad!! I miss you both so much. I’m having the best time here and I’m so glad that I am here. Kate, if you see this have fun at pine cove tomorrow and happy early Father’s Day Dad. Today we spent time with the local children and I met the two sweetest girls Rachel and Nicole. They reminded me of you guys. For lunch we walked a mile to go get pizza at Giovanni’s pizza and it was the first meal without rice but also the first time we could put ice in our water!!! Im learning so much and I love it here. I have made great friends with the other missionaries and with the locals. We have painting a nearby church and tomorrow we are going to meet up with the other group in San Isidro and go to the cathedral and explore Costa Rica more! Kayla and I are in separarte sites so I’ll get to see her tomorrow too. I can’t even describe the growth in my faith and the love everyone here has shown me. I love you both with all my heart and I’ll see you in a few days.

Buenos Aires #9

Quick post from Garrett Lancaster BL saying Happy Birthday to his dad:
Dear Dad,
Love you and Happy Birthday and Father’s Day!!!

Buenos Aires #8

From Yara Rodriguez BD:
Hey guys,
   Today is the seventh day and my experience so far has been truly a blessing to say the least. I have grown so close to many people through this trip, specifically to one girl named Maripaz, through her story I have developed a greater appreciation for life and I will forever hold a special place for her in my heart. Through the endless amount of soccer games and painting the fence I’ve grown to love the people of Costa Rica and their stories. I will forever be thankful for the opportunity I’ve been given to attend this mission trip and to have met such amazing people.

Buenos Aires #7

From Mariah Burdette BD:

Hi everyone!
I’m 6 days into my first mission trip and to say I’m having an amazing experience would be a definite understatement. I came to Costa Rica with a goal and what we have accomplished in the past six days has exceeded any expectations I had in mind.  I’ve fallen in love so quickly with this beautiful environment and these kind and loving people. I’ve not only been able to share my knowledge, but I’ve gained wisdom from the people around me, both the students and chaperones on the mission trip as well the citizens of Costa Rica. The activities, games, and tasks we’ve completed here as well as the visits the have given me a new outlook on how we should treat our fellow man. The respect, charity, and kindness I’ve witnessed being shared from one person to another here have truly warmed my heart. I can’t wait to see what else is in store.

Buenos Aires #6

From Lauren Youngblood from
This morning I woke up an hour early to the roosters outside the windows of the girls’ room, and I stayed up and reflected on the past few days at Buenos Aires which have been amazing. Once everyone was awake, we went to breakfast where Dona Carmen made eggs, rice and beans, plantains with crema, and we also had the sweet bread Mrs. Fierro got us from the store. We split up into our work site groups, where I stayed at Buenos Aires and our group met up with our painter Arturo to work on painting the fence around the church. We went over the gray from yesterday and did the first coat of gray on a new wall. Then we went over to the Pre-K-6th grade school across the street to visit with the kids who were having a “Transferring of Powers” Ceremony. The kids were told we were international delegates who understand the importance of democracy and want to see their celebration of democracy. Once we walked in, I realized this celebration was honoring the inductees of what is essentially the Costa Rican version of Student Council. Last night we talked about solidarity, and I felt like I didn’t really have a moment that spoke to me in that regard; however, seeing the young girl being sworn in as Student Council President was most definitely that solidarity moment for me because Student Council is so important to me back home, and I will be sworn into that same office in a few weeks. It was even more special because the outgoing officer swore in the new officer and passed down his or her sash that read their position on it. That portion of the ceremony gave me the sense of community they have here in Buenos Aires. I got the chance to meet with the “graduating” officers as well as the newly inducted officers after the ceremony, talked with them and congratulated them. Mr. Brandt from Bishop Dunne helped translate for me, and it was such a beautiful moment. I got the chance to take a picture with the former and current Student Council Presidents as Mr. Brandt was shouting “¡¡TRES PRESIDENTES!!” Overall, the school was beautiful, and I realized how much we have in common with people who live in a country that is so different from ours. After lunch, we met up with the group at Volcán to spend the afternoon and evening there. We played soccer at first, but after halftime, most of the girls stayed on the sidelines with the young girls in the community. We taught a few of the girls how to do cartwheels on the sidelines of the game which was so much fun and they were such cute girls. Then, Alex, Elizabeth, Mariana, Isabella, Nikka, and I got to interact with a 14 year-old girl named Tatiana who went to the school across from the soccer field in Volcán. She was still wearing the top of her dance outfit from their own Transfer of Powers Ceremony, and we told her it was beautiful and the Volcán missionaries told her how much they loved the dance in the ceremony. Shortly after, she ran home and came back with the beautiful dance skirt that went with the top she had on and let us all try it on. She taught each of us part of the dance and took pictures with us. We asked her what the colors represented and a little bit more of her story, and the colors represented the colors of the Costa Rican flag. That moment was so special for the rest of the girls and me because we all came on this Mission Trip expecting to give so much and share our stories, but in that moment, she was sharing such a big part of her life with us through teaching us dancing and letting us wear her special costume. Tonight during Circle Time, we discussed a moment when we saw God’s Face today and all of the girls who were there for that moment agreed that Tatiana was the person we saw God’s face in today because of the pure joy that came with sharing her talents and skirt with us. We had Mass in Spanish at Volcán after our afternoon of playing with the kids in the community.  We made a choir of Missionaries led by Mr. Brandt and Mr. Broussard, and it was amazing especially after only 20 minutes of practice. Overall, today was such a special day that was filled with lots of interaction with the people and children of the community. I absolutely love it here, but I definitely do miss and love my family and friends back home in Dallas.

Saturday, June 16, 2018

Pictures from San Isidro-Hortensia

These pictures were taken by Robert Harwerth.

Pictures from San Isidro-Bambu

These pictures were all taken by Lexie Dunn at the Bambu worksite!

San Isidro Updates!

Hey everyone! I’m Anna Murphy from BL!

I am at the site Hortensia and I absolutely LOVE it!! Today, I went to work scraping cement off the walls with some of my new friends. I tend to use the ‘Big Boy’ which is a huge metal pipe with a scraper on the end. It’s really fun to use. We started to work on the back wall and got so much work done. For lunch, we had rice, beans, and lettuce with pico and it was all really tasty. After lunch, it started raining and all of the missionaries went to play with all the kids that were at the school by the Church we work at. We played in an overhang for awhile to avoid the rain, but then decided to just move outside. We played  tag for a really long time and it was so muddy that we kept slipping and sliding. The kids decided it was a good idea to jump into a mud puddle from a mini hill, so we all decided to join in. It’s easy to say that we were all dripping and completely covered in mud afterwards. Omar is the man that heads the site that we work at and he started spraying us all with the hose and had a huge smile on his face. It warmed my heart to see how happy everyone was. The little kids loved to play with us, as we did them.
We have all become extremely close with the kids and our fellow missionaries and I can only imagine how much closer we will become within the next week.

Mom, Mary Grace, Claudia, and Greta- I can’t wait to see you all and tell you all about my trip! I love you guys so much and I have so much more to say. Love you all!!

Dear Mom and Dad,
I know you are probably freaking out and missing me like crazy because you haven’t seen me in a while. If you’re not, then it’s fine. I’m missing you! By the way, don’t worry. I am alive and enjoying my time in Costa Rica. Today, we had mass at 6:30 a.m. Shocking right? I woke up that early and didn’t have a problem. Then, we ate some sandwiches with rice and beans on the side. After breakfast, we went off to our worksites and helped mix and pour cement. While we were working, the cooks made us snacks, and it was so good! It was tortillas with butter on top. Then, we had lunch at 12:00, which was spaghetti, rice, and vegetables. Although I am sometimes a picky eater, everything I have eaten has been so delicious. Can we please move here?!?!?! Anyways, I love it here, and I am making a bunch of new friends. Even though the showers are freezing, I still enjoy taking them because they are so refreshing. I’ll have to continue these cold showers when I get home. Tell JP and Jasmine that I miss them, and keep thinking about them all the time. I wish they could have come as well. JP, I miss you and can’t wait to see you again, bud. I love you even though I give you such a hard time. Sister, sorry I left before I could say bye to you. Although I also give you a hard time as well, know that I love you and am praying for you all the time. Also, Thunder, please be a good dog and try not to cry too much while I am gone.  I love and miss all of  you.
Melody Ortega J
Ursuline Academy

Hello Mom and Dad,
                How is everything at home? I miss y’all so much, but I’m having so much fun here! Today we woke up at 6:00 for 6:30 mass, and then we went to breakfast. We had sandwiches, cereal, and of course, rice and beans. After breakfast we went off to our worksite, Hortencia, where we are painting/renovating a church. Today, I continued scraping paint off of the outside walls, and I painted the crown of the walls on the inside. The ladies fed us lunch which was rice, beans, salad, and a meat patty. The food here is insanely good! After lunch, the kids came to play, so we played soccer until we lost the ball over the cliff. Then we played tag and frisbee. I let one little girl play with my camera and she took some really fun pictures of the other kids! Another one even made me a friendship bracelet out of caution tape. Also, family, if you’re reading this please buy me ice cream for when I get home;) Around 3:45ish we went back to our camp, and I took one of the best cold showers of my life. Some of my other friends and I are making friendship bracelets before dinner. I love you guys so much, and will see you soon!!
Maggie Campbell
Bishop Lynch

Hello, C,C,M,M, and W,
It’s E here(: (Emily Dierks)  Things are going very well down here in Costa Rica.  I’m working at a site called Hortenzia where I’m scraping paint/cement off of a church. We will probably start painting more and covering the walls with a new cement mixture, but right now, it’s more just taking off the old to make room for the new. There are a lot of little kids that go to school for the first half of the day while we work, and then we usually get to play with them after lunch.  We usually play soccer, various versions of tag, or play with a frisbee. Today (Friday), I spoke a good amount of Spanish with the local people which was really fun for me to test out my knowledge of the language from middle school.  I surprisingly remember a lot of it and was able to hold conversations.  I was even able to grow close with two six-old-girls named Camilla and Wendy (I think that’s how their names are spelled). I’ve also been able to meet a lot of the people who are here on the mission trip with me.  I absolutely love how there are no electronics because it makes it so easy to develop truly authentic, genuine friendships with people.  A little about my daily schedule:  After we all wake up at 6:00am, we attend a chapel service, eat breakfast, go to the working site, lunch, play/work, come back to the dormitory and then take showers, hang out, eat dinner, and then have circle time before going to bed. We’re combining with the other site on Sunday which I’m really excited about!  On a little more of a serious note, leaving home has been tough for me.  I really miss my daily piano playing and dad telling me that “I’m special, and I’m beautiful” before I go to bed. Overall, I’ve adjusted well, though. I’ve gotten to sing in chapel services with some other people, and a guy named Chris brought his guitar and another guy named Tom brought his ukulele.  It’s been nice to hear music throughout the day.  It’s rained a lot too which helped me feel comfortable here and adjust to Costa Rica life.  To wrap things up… Mere, I hope you had an awesome birthday and that things are going well with regards to preparing for your big test!  Meg, I can’t wait to come back home and see you.  C&C, thank you for giving me the opportunity to go on this mission trip. I love it here, but I’m really looking forward to seeing you all again!!  I can’t wait to see you all, and I love you all so so much.

Gratefully and lovingly,
Emily Dierks
John Paul II High School

To whom it may concern,

The trip has been great and we’re doing very fulfilling work here in Costa Rica. I’m staying in San Isidro with Fr. Ambrose. Making friends with the other missionaries happened quicker than I expected. Everyone here is genuinely a good person. It honestly feels like we’re a family. I also have a great worksite at Hortensia, which is literally in the clouds. We’re renovating a church and bonding with kids at the school there. The progress that has been made is amazing and the local people were working with are amazing as well. The kids are always excited to see us when we arrive in the morning. I also love doing work on the church, whether it’s digging a trench or scraping paint off the walls, because I always get a sense a fulfillment after I’m done.  I miss my family, however, and long to pet a dog again. But there’s no need to worry as this has already been one the best experiences I’ve had in my life.

Jack Corrigan

Friday, June 15, 2018