Rebuilding Hope in a storm-stricken Costa Rican community – The Dickinson Press

Rebuilding Hope in a storm-stricken Costa Rican community – The Dickinson Press

LIMON, COSTA RICA — In the heart of Costa Rica, amidst communities still reeling from the recent devastating storms, Reverand Janel Kolar, a devoted leader of the First Congressional Church, United Church of Christ in Dickinson, embarked on a mission defined by compassion and solidarity. Joined by a diverse team of volunteers from across the United States, their collective purpose extended beyond the mere reconstruction of structures; it was about fostering understanding and shared humanity.

Harvest Tabrnacle Retaining Wall.jpg

Harvest Tabernacle retaining wall rebuild process.

Photos courtesy of Jesse Kolar

Kolar, along with her son Jesse, and a group of compassionate individuals from states as diverse as Pennsylvania and Kentucky, rallied around a common cause: to deliver much-needed relief and a glimmer of hope to those in dire need. Their journey underscored the power of collaboration, facilitated by local heroes Sally and Crosby Johnson, who, through their organization, “Helping Hands For Jesus,” served as the bridge between the volunteers and the welcoming embrace of the Limon community.

The team consisted of Anita Weiler, Jesse and Janel Kolar from Dickinson; Ken Adams of Wahpeton, ND; Keith Kuel from Henkinson, ND; Austin Chenault, Don Coho and Marsha Reiber from Pennsylvania; and Sue Crone from Kentucky.

“They know all the hurricane and earthquake proof building techniques down there when it comes to laying foundation and erecting walls,” Jesse Kolar said. “It’s just that they need a little help getting started, like when you have a project on your house that you keep putting off, if one of your neighbors offers to help you, your more likely to get it done.”

Mission trip backpacks and school supplies.jpg

New school Supplies and backpacks provided by the missionaries.

Dickinson Press File Photo.

Their mission encompassed a spectrum of activities that profoundly touched lives, transcending the physical restoration of the Harvest Tabernacle church. From the humble yet profound act of distributing school supplies to eager young minds to the arduous tasks of revitalizing the church to withstand the elements, each undertaking was imbued with the spirit of generosity and mutual respect.

“We provided the locals with the building materials,” Janel Kolar said. “As well as help with labor while we are down there.”

Guided by the Kolars, the team approached the church’s restoration with unwavering dedication, transforming it from a structure vulnerable to mold, rot and termite damage into a sanctuary renewed with both strength and beauty. Their efforts extended to the construction of a sturdy retaining wall, the application of a fresh coat of paint to the walls and the meticulous cleaning of the metal roof to ensure it stood as a beacon of hope and resilience in the community.

Reflecting on the essence of their mission, Jesse Kolar likened their assistance to the neighborly gesture of helping with a daunting project, igniting the spark of motivation to overcome challenges together. This philosophy underscored the broader vision of their endeavors in Costa Rica – to instill hope and inspire action within communities, demonstrating that with a little support, anything is possible.

repainting Harvest Tabernacle Interior.jpg

Harvest Tabernacle interior being repainted by missionaries on their trip

Photos courtesy of Jesse Kolar

These missions undertaken by churches extend beyond the realm of physical aid. They are a powerful testament to the enduring strength of hope and the profound impact of human connection in the processes of recovery and rebuilding lives. Through their unwavering dedication, Janel Kolar and her team have not only contributed to the physical restoration of storm-ravaged communities but have also sown the seeds of hope and resilience that will undoubtedly flourish for generations to come.

From the dirt roads of nowhere in Arizona, where I grew up on a family farm not a stone’s throw from the river, to the open plains of North Dakota, I hope to foster the small-town feel of Dickinson that I’ve already come to love. Whether it’s connecting with a rancher on their acreage outside of town or attending the latest community gathering, I am ecstatic to share updates on the happenings in our community. By doing so, I aim to become a valued member of the historic communities that adorn the beautiful land we call home.

Read More