Grace Baptist Church members Carol Suber (left) and her daughter Lauren Suber pack trunks with medical supplies and toys June 24 in Evans for their mission trip to Costa Rica in July. The church's mission team consists of about fifty people who travel around the world on mission trips.
Photo by Jim Blaylock
Dr. Kiki Stincer and his wife, Holly, are making preparations for their annual trek overseas, but they will not have time to leisurely admire the scenery or tour the country side.
Instead, the Stincers and about 40 other volunteers will provide free health care to about 2,000 Costa Ricans in need during their annual medical mission sponsored by Grace Baptist Church of Evans.
The team will travel to San Jose in mid-July, spending three days in Cartago and two days in the small village of Cot "halfway up the side of a volcano," said Dr. Stincer, an internal medicine physician.
The Costa Ricans will begin lining up in the early morning hours and stand in line all day just to get a chance at needed medical advice and medicine, said Mrs. Stincer, a nurse.
The couple began their medical missions in 1993 in Venezuela. They chose a Hispanic country because Dr. Stincer is fluent in Spanish. After that first time, "We got the mission bug," he said.
Since then, they have gone to Mexico, Romania, Honduras and Costa Rica. The team is comprised of a variety of volunteers, including medical experts in the fields of general medicine, podiatry and dentistry.
Pediatrician Jeannie May takes inventory of the contents of a crate full of supplies for the mission trip she will make to Costa Rica.
Photo by Jim Blaylock
The work was featured recently in the June issue of Delta's in-flight magazine Sky.
Pastor Bill Hilley said the volunteers receive a new appreciation of life while getting the chance to help others.
"It provides a way for our people to be involved in a tangible, practical way with people who are less fortunate," he said.
The volunteers include young people from the church who help with a Vacation Bible School type ministry that includes games and Bible stories.
"I'm excited about going. I'll get to work with the kids, so that will be good experience," said Maggie May, 14, who wants to be a youth minister.
Each year, one of the Stincers' three sons is also among the young volunteers.
The Costa Rican children enjoy getting to know the young Americans and playing games, mission organizers said.
One popular game is baseball using a tennis ball. The tennis balls are considered prized possessions, and the team is still collecting donations of tennis balls for the Costa Rican children.
Another satisfying area of the mission is the eyeglass ministry. Everyone receives instant gratification when a donated pair of eyeglasses helps an individual see clearly.
Mrs. Stincer recalled a young boy, about 6, who had such bad eyesight he was bumping into walls.
The prescription he needed was very strong, rare and different for both eyes. The team was overwhelmed when their search through the donated glasses turned up a match.
"God is God, and we had them (the glasses)," Mrs. Stincer said. They have monitored the boy's yearly progress as he attends school, reading and getting an education because he can now see clearly.
Overwhelming moments during the mission week are a regular event, and the Stincers have a collection of such accounts they call "Miracle Stories."
The stories include simple moments such as an old man seeing his beloved mountains for the first time in years, and a more complex story of a huge pharmacy bill that was mysteriously paid.
On one mission, the team's store of medicine was confiscated at the border, but they continued on, pooling their personal funds to buy medicine and opening a charge account at a local pharmacy.
They checked on the bill before leaving town, and the pharmacist said the bill had been paid. Assuming their pastor had wired the money, they returned to Evans to discover the payment had not come from their church.
"The stuff that happens in the field - that's when you know there is a God," Mrs. Stincer said.
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