Jeff Bean completes mission trip to Costa Rica

Jeff traveled to Costa Rica with a team to help build a center for abused women and children.

Our very own Jeff Bean just came back from a one-week mission trip to Esparza, Costa Rica, to help build a center for abused women and children at a local church.

A former home builder, Jeff was persuaded by his friend, Wayne Harris, to bring his construction know-how to the project. Jeff was among the 24-member team commissioned by the Weddington United Methodist Church to build the walls of the new center. The trip was from Jan. 8 to 15.

Here’s what Jeff said about his mission trip:

Q: Why did you want to go?

A: I’ve always wanted to go on a mission trip. Everyone feels like they need to answer, what am I doing for God? I thought that I may like to help and do God’s work.  When Wayne—he is one of the friends I respect the most in the world – extended me the invitation, I thought it was the right time. Wayne has been going for 10 years.

Q: What was a typical day for you in Costa Rica?

Progress! The group spent the week constructing the walls of the center.

A: We would wake up in the morning, go to devotion that lasted an hour. The devotions were mostly testimonies so you learn about everyone there. I did my testimony. Then we would eat rice and beans for breakfast. For lunch, we had beans and rice. The women of the church prepared our lunch and breakfast. We would walk down to the job and pray before we began our work. We worked until the women hollered for lunch, at like 1:00. Same thing in the afternoon until 5 or 5:30. Then everyone showered – no hot water. We would go out to eat somewhere, then have another devotion hour. It was 11:00 before we went to bed. I slept on an air mattress – it was so hot and I was eaten alive by bugs. There’s 50 chickens running around that block and roosters and dog. I got no rest.

Q: What hurdles did you face on the job?

A: None of the permits were ready when we got there, half the material wasn’t there and the cement mixer wouldn’t work. We got over half way on the walls. The second crew topped it out. The last day and a half, I fixed things in the church. This stuff needed to be done now – fridge, switches, light fixtures …

Q: How did you get the nickname “MacGyver” (pronounced “MacGeever” by the locals)?

A: That was when I used my personal 4-inch fan (that I use to sleep at night) to repair the fridge. Parts are not readily available there so I had to make do.

Q: What was the church service like?

A: It was over three hours. The preacher had a lot of energy. After three hours, I started to pick up on the language. Nothing sounded like our service except that God is “senor.” After awhile, you realize they are talking about the same God as we talk about.

Q: Who is Esteban?

Jeff shows Esteban how to use a cordless drill.

A: Esteban (Spanish for Stephen) was the pastor’s son. He is 8, and he was always there. I love being around kids. I thought it was great. Wayne taught him how to make water balloons. He loved the cordless drill. We taught him the knuckle bump. He would come up to me and spit out a big long story. I didn’t understand a word he said. He would put the mortar on the blocks for me.

Q: Are you glad you went on the trip? Would you go again?

A: Yes, and I would go again. The first days we were there, I was so upset over the project. Wayne would say to me, “Jeff, it’s not about the work.” It took me three days to understand that.

It wasn’t at all what I expected. I thought I was going there to help someone else. But it ended up doing more for me.  It helped me with my faith. It helped me focus on what’s important. It helped me appreciate what we have and to wonder if we had too much.

Even though the food was bad, the heat was awful, the bugs sucked the life out of me, I loved it and had a great time. And I plan to go again.

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