Sanlando UMC: Longwood, FL

'Sanlando UMC: Longwood, FL', '


The Sanlando United Methodist Church in Longwood, FL has been sending Volunteer in Mission (VIM) teams to Haiti, Jamaica, Columbia, Ecuador and other countries in the Americas for more than 30 years. This year Sanlando sent a team of 25 members to Costa Rica at the request of Marion Woods of the Costa Rican Methodist Rural Center. Our primary mission was to assist the Iglesia Evangelica Methodista Fuente de Vida Church in La Palma, Costa Rica. They needed assistance to comply with new Costa Rica regulations regarding accessibility, bathrooms and noise abatement. Other mission objectives for our team included providing sewing machines and instruction in quilting, conducting vacation Bible school for the children of the community, providing school supplies to the Pastor for distribution to the needy and providing additional financial resources to the Church. The funding is and was used to purchase needed supplies to meet noise abatement and bathroom requirements as well as supplies to widen the sidewalks to meet accessibility regulations.


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The Sanlando VIM team was led by Kent Powers a veteran of numerous mission trips and consisted of 12 men and 13 women with 15 members being adults and the balance being youth varying in age from 16 to 23. Our team was most fortunate to include the services of Pastor Enrique Sanchez from the Spanish speaking Iglesia Bautista De La Trinidad Church in Apopka, Florida and his wife Clara and two Spanish-speaking members of their congregation Al and Lupe Crispin. They greatly facilitated and assisted the team in meeting the mission objectives and their translation contributions were invaluable.

The team left Longwood on 1 August 2008 and flew to San Jose were they were met by Marion Woods who arranged for them to stay in the Centro

Methodista retreat center in San Jose. The next morning the team traveled by bus to La Palma where Pastora Lucy Araya Moya greeted them. The team was housed in the Church, at the Pastors house and in a local boarding house.

On Sunday we attended their Church service where local members greeted us and Pastor Sanchez provided the sermon. Pastor Sanchez agreed to conduct special evening services while we were in La Palma and the team also arranged to provide Bible school type activities for the children in the community. This was well received by the community and attendance grew each evening where attendance varied from 100 to almost 300 residents. One evening over 200 children were present. Pastor Sanchez was able to conduct these as bi-lingual services which enabled the English only speaking members of the team to participate in the services.

The largest mission effort was devoted to widening the existing sidewalks. The team installed framing and then mixed and poured 35 mixer loads of concrete that took almost 300 wheel barrel loads to transport. By the end of the week all sidewalks had been expanded and an access ramp was improved.

Approximately a dozen of the local women attended and participated in the quilting classes and were able to proudly show their handiwork during the Friday farewell service. The daytime vacation Bible school was hampered by the split school sessions but participation in the evening services was beyond expectations. The kids did crafts and quickly bonded with the youth on the VIM team. Participation by the children increased from about 50 during the first evening to over 200 on one occasion.

Church members were able to install noise abatement barriers in each of the Church’s gables and Pastor Lucy noted that with the additional funds that we had provided they would be able to complete the bathrooms after our departure. Early on the morning of 9 August the team said their goodbyes and departed for San Jose by bus where they caught their return flight to Florida.

In summary the team felt they had accomplished each of their objectives as well as the Church’s objectives. The team was not only impressed by the beauty of the Costa Rican countryside, but was equally impressed by the warmth of the people. Close rapport was quickly established by the Spanish speaking members of the team and even the English speaking only members quickly bonded while communicating with smiles, pointing, shrugs, and those universal facial expressions. It was also enlightening to see how enthusiastically the congregation participated in the service – they left no doubt that they were happy to be in their Church and enjoyed worshipping.

We learned that language is not a barrier to God’s love and Christian fellowship. In addition we learned that the nearest Methodist Church to the one in La Palma was 80 Km away or about 50 miles! With the growth in regulations being imposed on the local churches with their inherent costs, it was very apparent how important our continued financial support to Costa Rica has become. Our Church’s mission statement is "We make disciples by building bridges". Clearly our VIM team established a bridge between our church and the La Palma Methodist Church to assist in making disciples for His work.

~Phil Morrison