Redefining the Classroom

Students travel to Costa Rica between semesters

Posted: January 21st, 2014

SAULT STE. MARIE, Mich. -- Twenty seven Lake Superior State University students who are members of His House Christian Fellowship recently returned from a week-long trip to San Ramon, Costa Rica, where they provided service to the community.

The team consisted primarily of LSSU students who spent the week embracing the Costa Rican culture while helping with construction projects and participating in outreach events, one of which was organized by Sault Ste. Marie native Margaret Weir, who has been living San Jose, Costa Rica, for many years.

“The students were able to provide a vacation bible school and recreational opportunities for over 150 children in six different neighborhoods throughout the week,” said John Griffioen, a senior biology major from Kalamazoo. “Most of the children live in broken homes and poverty, and many are refugees from neighboring Nicaragua.”

Griffioen said the students sponsored a construction project for a local family that provided a roof for the family's shack and a concrete foundation for an indoor bathroom. He said several of the students who went on the trip are also planning to sponsor children through Pura Vida Missions to provide school uniforms, school supplies, and emergency food and medical care.

LSSU members of His House with Laker flag in Costa Rica.

“We were able to assist with a Christmas program that involved more than 180 students,” Griffioen said, adding that 11 students traveled to Alajuela to participate in the outreach event initiated by Weir.

“The trip offered incredible opportunities for Lake State students to challenge their perspectives,” Griffioen said. “Undoubtedly, no one left Costa Rica the same person as when he or she arrived. Surrounded by the tremendous beauty of tropical mountains and the incredible joy of the local people, we were changed and humbled by this experience.”

The team extended its appreciation to the people and organizations who supported their mission, including First Church of Christ and the LSSU President's Council.

Griffioen said many members of His House have participated in mission trips in the past. In 2013, students traveled to Philadelphia during spring break and during this year's break, teams will be heading to Beach Reach in Florida and to Newark, New Jersey for homeless outreach.

For more information about the trip, contact Griffioen at For more information about His House, contact LSSU campus minister Matt Monroe,

CONTACT: Tom Pink, 906-635-2315,; John Shibley, 635-2314,; John Griffioen,