Student mission team serves in Costa Rica


The mission team served at at what is now a home to more than 40 children, all adopted. The team made bracelets, did pace painting, sports and more.

Zariana Bickham, Staff Reporter

During Spring Break this past Mar. 30 to April 5, Northlake teachers, faculty, parents and seventeen students took a mission trip to Costa Rica through Tilhereturns ministry. While the goal of the trip was to serve, those who were on the mission team were also benefited through the trip opening eyes of how life is for others in less privileged countries.

For many students who attended, this was their first time out of the country. According to some team members, they chose to go on this trip because they had a desire to help people and see a change in people’s hearts.

“I wanted to go on the mission trip because I have a love for different cultures and helping people. I believe that no matter where you go, people always need help. My expectations were to just go and love people,” said sophomore Katherine Bilac.

Others have experienced a mission trip before and loved it, which led them to wanting to participate again.

“I wanted to go on a mission trip because I went on one to Guatemala when I was in 8th grade and it was amazing. I expected that we were gonna see new things and there was gonna be change in people’s hearts because that’s what happens on mission trips,” sophomore Natalie Newberry said.

Tilhereturns is an organization led by Micah and Melissa Mixon. Northlake is connected to this ministry because Melissa Mixon previously taught Spanish at Northlake before moving to Costa Rica with her husband.

“Our vision & mission is: IMPACT. RESTORE. DISCIPLE. REPEAT. So short term trips help us to impact the communities where we work and bring more people into our programs. Also they help with teaching workshops so that our participants can continue to learn skills that can bring them out of poverty (job skills, life skills, parenting, etc). Teams also teach workshops to children (sports/crafts) which keep kids in a safe environment while allowing us to work with their parents,” said Melissa Mixon.

The Northlake team contributed to these programas while there. Some specific outreaches the team was involved with included children ministry, ladies painting workshops, dance workshops and more.

Team members Jessie Rhodes and Caroline Ellzey led a dance workshop at Raw Studio in Costa Rica.

“It was an amazing experience, a very powerful time to see a part of the world that a lot of American kids don’t really get a chance to know about- the Slums and the challenges- but the wonderful thing is to see how God is at work in the lives of so many people that have so much less than we do,” teacher Trip Holloway said.

The slums that the team visited were filled with small deteriorated homes where many impoverished individuals lived. Despite the physical decrepit housing, the community was filled with the presence of God.

One slum the team visited held a church, which was a significant area of worship for many, but not all people, living there. According to the students on the team, this showed them how people could obtain less materialistic items, but still remain happy.

“I think the thing that stood out to me the most is when we went to the slums and we prayed over people. The people there were just so thankful for all the little things they had and they were thankful that we were there for them which was really amazing,” sophomore Natalie Newberry said. “There was one lady who told us that she knew God had a plan because she didn’t go to work that day and she really needed prayer that day.”

The churches and community centers in these slums were run by pastors who had a heart for the residents in their community.

“What stood out the most was the love shown through the pastors. They loved every single person in their neighborhood including the gang members,” says Katherine Bilac.

The trip allowed students to look at life from a different perspective. Many acknowledged that it helped them see how simple it is to love one another.

“I learned that we take everything for granted and we are extremely blessed and don’t even realize it. I’d love to go back,” said Newberry.

“From the trip I learned that love has no bounds, no judgement, and no requirements. It just requires an open heart and a listening ear. And I think that is one of the most valuable lessons I’ve ever learned,” said Bilac.

Faculty and chaperones on the trip acknowledged the great attitude and willingness to serve that the students had on the trip. Despite setbacks and obstacles, the team served faithfully.

Teacher Trip Holloway leads a message in a park in Costa Rica to homeless.

“In terms of my impression of the students that went- they were absolutely amazing. I was so proud of them, just seeing how they just stepped right in and met every need that needed to be met. No one complained, nobody fussed. They were in very difficult conditions sometimes and they just kept on doing their beautiful jobs,” Holloway said. “I’m hoping that next year we could do the same thing and go back; hopefully a lot of the guys that went this year will return and I’m looking forward to doing it again.”

As of now, Northlake is hoping to send another team next Mardi Gras break. Apart from returning to nourish relationships made this Spring, the team also continued the ministry after returning home  by hosting a celebration dinner on Sunday, April 15 in the Slim Gym. During this dinner, the team and their family members gave money to send to Tilhereturns ministry so they can continue with their ministry in Costa Rica.

“We did the team/family dinner to celebrate the trip and give the team an opportunity to share their testimonies with their families,’’ said Upper School Principal Jenni Vega who also helped lead the trip. “We also raised money so we could donate back to the people we meet in Costa Rica.”

For more information about Tilhereturns ministry and what they are doing in Costa Rica now visit

Ladies of Costa Rica take part in a painting workshop led by team members.