Students take mission trip

Published 12:00 am Saturday, September 11, 1999

MEADVILLE – It’s one thing to believe that God works miracles. It’s another to see those miracles for yourself, said local teens who traveled on a mission trip to Costa Rica.

A group of eight teenagers and two chaperones from Praise Cathedral Church in&160;Meadville traveled to Costa Rica this July to bring a message of God’s love through a dramatic presentation called &uot;The Journey.&uot;

The group from Meadville was one of six youth teams participating in Teen Mania Ministries out of Garden Valley, Texas, run by a man named Ron Luce.

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The groups went to Garden Valley two days before the trip to prepare for the Costa Rican environment. Two days after their trip, they return to Garden Valley to &uot;debrief,&uot; or place their experiences into perspective.

&uot;They were very organized,&uot; said Paulette Anding, one of the two chaperones.

&uot;Teen Mania Ministries has sent 112,000 to more than 29 countries since 1986,&uot; Anding said.

The trip came together quickly for the group.

&uot;We just found out about it in February,&uot; Anding said. &uot;We had to raise $16,000 for the trip. We began fund raising in March,&uot; she said.

The group used some innovative fund-raising techniques.

&uot;We raffled a year-old bull donated from one of our church members,&uot; said Jason Forbus, Praise Cathedral’s youth pastor and chaperone for the trip.

&uot;We held a rock-a-thon and some spaghetti dinners,&uot; Anding said. &uot;We thought raising the money would be this big issue, but it came. That proved to us that the trip was meant to happen.&uot;

Teen Mania Ministries sponsors six trips a summer and one during Christmas break, Anding said.

One of the most touching stories from the trip involved a day that from the outset appeared to be a total waste.

&uot;On this one day we had no contact person,&uot; said Anding, explaining that every day the teams left their hotel in San Jose, they had a native &uot;contact,&uot; or guide as well as a team of translators.

&uot;So we decided we weren’t going to waste the day, and went out on our own in the bus looking for any place where there might be groups of people gathered,&uot; she said.

They ended up at a park in San Jose, where they performed their program. In the audience was a special listener. &uot;One of our translators told us that one man was going home to commit suicide and went by way of the park,&uot; Anding said.

&uot;He said he’d been asking the question, ‘Why am I here?’ He saw the kids and heard his one question not only asked but answered in our play. He accepted Christ that day.&uot;

Forbus said that experience reinforced everything they’d ever been taught about God’s miracles.

&uot;God does use ordinary people to do extraordinary things,&uot; he said.