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GENERAL INFORMATION FOR TEAMS AND GROUPS

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GENERAL INFORMATION FOR TEAMS AND GROUPS Powered By Docstoc
					    GENERAL INFORMATION FOR WORK TEAMS AND GROUPS

THE CHURCH

The Evangelical Methodist Church of Costa Rica was founded eighty-six years ago (April 26,
1917) by Methodist missionaries from the United States. Currently, there are fifty-eight
organized (officially recognized) congregations distributed throughout the country in seven
districts, which roughly correspond to the seven provinces of the country. In addition, there
are countless preaching points (campo blancos) throughout the country where new
congregations are being formed. The total membership of the Church is 8,000. The Church is
independent, with its own bishop and General Board, and is a member of the World
Methodist Council.

The Church has six major institutions: the Colegio Metodista or Methodist School (grades
pre-school through high school), which is located in Sabanilla de San Jose; the Centro Rural
Metodista or Methodist Rural Center, which is located in San Carlos; the Libreria Metodista
or Methodist Bookstore, which is located in Alajuela, the Universidad Metodista or Methodist
University, which is located in San Pedro de San Jose; the Seminario Metodista or Methodist
Seminary; and Centro Metodista or Methodist Center, which is located in Alajuela and houses
the Methodist Seminary.

The Evangelical Methodist Church of Costa Rica is very conservative and as its name implies
it is very evangelical. In most cases you will find that worship services are very lively and
reflect the influence of Pentecostalism, which is prevalent throughout Latin America. Praise
and worship types of music are very common in the worship services of most Methodist
churches. So come prepared to enjoy what we in the States would call a contemporary
worship service.

You will find that the Ticos (what Costa Ricans call themselves) have an absolute love affair
with North Americans. They emulate and copy much of our culture, especially clothing styles,
etc. They have great respect for our country and people. They look up to us because of the
position we have in the world. Add to this the fact that we of the United Methodist Church of
the United States represent mother church that eighty-five years ago founded the Methodist
Church here in Costa Rica. We are consequently afforded a very special status in the eyes of
the members of the Evangelical Methodist Church of Costa Rica (La Iglesia Evangelica
Metodista de Costa Rica).


PASSPORTS/VISAS

        It is no longer possible to enter/leave Costa Rica using a tourist card/visa. You must
have a passport. We have always recommended that each person obtain a passport instead of
the tourist card. While traveling in a foreign country, it’s always better to have a passport.
You should have each person make a photocopy of his or her passport for you to keep on file
while in the country. New immigration procedures require that all foreign visitors carry their
passport on their person at all times. In the past there have been some North Americans who
have thumbed their noses at the immigration laws and stayed in the country beyond the
ninety-day limit for tourists. Now the government is cracking down on these people and
deporting them. Unfortunately, some innocent people have been detained in local jails
because they didn’t have their passports on them when approached by immigration officials.



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CLOTHING

Since Costa Rica is located at 10 degrees latitude, the temperatures are generally warm to hot,
depending on the exact locale. In the Central Valley, for example, the elevation is 3500 feet,
which moderates the temperature so that at night it can be cool. If the team plans to take a
sightseeing trip to a volcano, a jacket or sweater would be in order because the temperatures
are much cooler in upper elevations. In the coastal and lowland areas of course it is always
hot and humid. Hence the clothing you bring should be comfortable. Be advised that the
Methodist Church, as well as all other evangelical churches (synonymous with Protestant) is
very conservative and consequently dress accordingly. Pastor’s wives, for example, will very
rarely wear anything but a dress or skirt. Work teams that come to Costa Rica most
commonly wear blue jeans and t-shirts. In areas where the weather is hot, it is perfectly
appropriate for team members, both men and women, to wear shorts. The Costa Ricans
would not be offended. A good high quality sunscreen would prove of benefit since the sun’s
rays are more direct here. A good pair of sunglasses will also be helpful as well as some kind
of hat or cap.

WEATHER

There are two distinct seasons here- wet and dry. The wet season is from May through
November while the dry season is from December through April. Typically it does not rain
all day every day during the wet season. However, during the six month wet season there will
be between 100 to 300 inches of rainfall depending on the locale. If you plan on coming
during the wet season, a collapsible umbrella would be a useful item.

LUGGAGE

Often team leaders will make the decision with regard to how much personal luggage each
team member can bring. In many cases, especially with construction teams, the second
suitcase is used for tools and supplies. Be advised that some airlines are giving
very low priority to U-Haul type boxes, so its best to check with the carrier before packing.
Many teams have started using plastic trunks, such as the Rubber Made Action Packer,
because they are considered regular luggage.

We recommend that each team member pack everything they will need for the first night and
the first day in their carry on bag. This is especially helpful in the event that luggage does not
arrive with the team or a piece of baggage is lost in transit. It also helps us here at the Center
upon your arrival in that we can simply store the other luggage in a safe area until the next
day when the team leaves for the work site.

We recommend that you tag each piece of luggage in some distinctive manner for easy
identification: a piece of yellow ribbon for example. Someone on the team should know
exactly how many pieces of luggage, including carry on, that the team has with
them. Each person should have a written description of their luggage (color, brand name,
size, etc.) and the contents of each bag. The need for this information will become apparent
in the event that a bag becomes lost or is left behind. Although it doesn’t happen all that
often, there have been occasions when the team arrives without their luggage. Each airline
has agents in the baggage claim area to handle such situations.




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IMMIGRATION/CUSTOMS

After leaving the plane, follow the signs that direct you to MIGRACION. There are lines just
for Costa Rican citizens and others for foreigners (estranjeros or turistas). Have your
passport ready. Generally speaking the process does not take long, depending upon the
number of back-to-back arrivals. In all probability an immigration agent will not ask you any
questions. If you do need to speak with one, they are all bilingual so don’t worry about not
being able to communicate. All they normally do is enter your information into their
computer system and stamp your passport with the date of entry.

After passing through Immigration, you should follow the signs that direct you to the baggage
claim area and customs. This not a long distance so you won’t be going very far to your next
stop. The baggage conveyer is to your left and there will be handlers removing the baggage
and placing it in designated areas on the floor. At times passengers can pull their own bag off
the conveyer. In any event, it would probably be a good idea to have several team members
get some luggage carts, which are free of charge and located near the customs area, on which
to load the luggage.

There is a system in effect to determine what line you go through in customs. Generally its
based on the number of pieces of luggage you have. But with groups, the agents often let
them pass through together without requesting that anything be opened. This is where having
distinctive colored T-shirts, hats, etc. comes in handy because the agents can readily see that
they are indeed dealing with a group. With the increased awareness of security, all luggage is
passed through new x-ray machines. If you are asked to open a box or piece of luggage,
please politely do without question. This means that all keys to locks should be readily
available. The agents are all bilingual although some are better English speakers than others.
Generally they don’t hassle North Americans, but
they do have the right to take items on which custom duties are to be paid. Therefore, if you
are bringing something special for someone here, such as something electronic, it is best to
take it out of the original box before packing it back home in the States. In any event, if an
agent takes something and says that you must pay duty, forget about it until at least the next
day. You cannot pay duty at the airport. The item would be taken to the aduana (custom
house) and stored until you go through the time consuming and costly process to reclaim it.

Once you have passed through the customs area, you are ready to exit the terminal.
Sometimes there are baggage handlers in the customs area with large carts to carry the
luggage outside. Please know that if you choose to use the smaller individual carts you
cannot exit the terminal with them. At the exit doors you will be stopped and requested to
unload your luggage from the small carts.

There are baggage handlers here as well who have access to carts. These fellows can take you
directly to the bus. They can also help with getting the baggage claim checks to the proper
agent prior to your departure from the terminal. Keep your baggage claim checks handy as
you pass through the customs area and make your way to the exit. Before being allowed to
take your luggage out the main doors someone will ask you for your claim checks. It will
save time if you still have them out instead of storing them away after passing through
customs.

There are two sets of baggage handles. One group has authority to work inside the terminal
and have access to luggage carts. The other group has permission to work outside the
terminal doors and can be of assistance if you need them. If you have a lot of luggage, try to
get one of the handlers who have access to a cart. Both groups of handlers wear distinctive

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colored shirts for easy identification. Never let anyone else help you with your luggage and
never let your luggage out of your sight.

If at any time during this aforementioned process you want to leave the terminal and come out
to consult with us, you may do so, but make sure you bring your passport, ticket, etc., in order
to re-enter the terminal. We are not allowed to enter the immigration and/or customs areas to
help you.

As you exit the terminal, look to your right and if you have made arrangements for us to meet
your team, you will be able to see Don holding a small white board with a message
welcoming your group. The buses are only allowed to wait a few minutes for groups before
the traffic police make the drivers move. Consequently, you may have to wait a few minutes
until your bus arrives. Be careful if you have to cross a street going to the bus because
pedestrians have no rights at all here.

MONEY

The colon is the name of the official medium of exchange, which is the Spanish word for
Columbus. The currency is named in honor of Christopher Columbus who discovered Costa
Rica on his third and last voyage to the new world. The current exchange rate (dollars to
colones) is 429 colones per dollar. When changing dollars to colones you multiply, when
changing colones to dollars you divide.

Be advised that most businesses do not like to exchange traveler’s checks and if they do
exchange them, it is always for a much lower rate. Most banks will exchange traveler’s
checks for colones but make sure you have your passport with you. Regular checks on U.S.
Banks are virtually impossible to exchange. The reason for the reluctance to deal in checks
and/or traveler’s checks is the fact that the person who deposits them in his bank account does
not have access to the funds for 42 days, so bring cash dollars. Here at the Center we will
accept payment in regular checks or traveler’s checks, however we too prefer cash dollars.

Most teams that come to work on construction projects normally bring from $2000 to $3000
for the purchase of construction materials. Once again, these should be cash dollars if
brought with the team. There are times when advance funds are necessary at the project sites
and teams can send checks made out to Centro Metodista for this purpose. We are able to
deposit these checks in our dollar account but once again the funds are frozen for 42 days.
Once cleared, we can get the money to the appropriate person. You should allow at least two
weeks in sending a check via regular mail. There are also courier services such as DHL that
can be used for this purpose but of course they are more expensive. If need be, funds can be
deposited in our missionary account in Norcross, Georgia, after which we can cash a personal
check with a financial institution in San Jose with which we have a long-standing relationship
and then get the money to the appropriate person for the purchase of the needed materials and
supplies.

We recommend that you exchange your dollars to colones at one of the local banks.
Moneychangers are no longer available at the airport nor do we have anyone who will come
to the Center for this purpose. Several of the local banks have ATM services available. Be
advised that exchanging colones back to dollars is very difficult because the moneychangers
don’t want to give up dollars. It they do, you always take a beating on the exchange rate.

There are many businesses and individuals who want your dollars and will gladly accept them
in payment for goods and services. This is especially true in the greater metro area of the

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Central Valley. Smaller businesses and areas away from the Central Valley tend to prefer
colones, although there are always exceptions. VISA and MasterCard are readily accepted
with VISA being the most commonly used credit card. Be advised that there is often a 10%
surcharge for purchases made outside the U.S.A., which only shows up when you get your
monthly statement.

Typically, Costa Ricans do not haggle over prices they charge; therefore under most
circumstances the price you see is the price you pay. It’s not a part of their culture to argue
about prices. Be advised that in most restaurants the bill will include tax and gratuity (10%
tax and 15% gratuity).

Tipping is acceptable but not always expected. The bus drivers who work for the company
that we use do not expect to be tipped for their services, but you can do so if you have
enjoyed and appreciated their work. The baggage handlers at the airport, on
the other hand, do expect to be tipped since this is primarily their only source of income.
Generally speaking $5.00 per handler is appropriate.

LAND TRANSPORTATION

When we are asked to coordinate land transportation for teams, we use the services of either
VIAJ-HERA or InterViajes, companies owned and operated by people we know and trust.
Their drivers are excellent and they always provide superior service. The rates charged
depend on the size of the vehicle; distances to be traveled and number of days the vehicles
will be needed. Normally teams only need transport to and from the airport and to and from
the work site. When sightseeing tours are a part of the schedule, bus transportation will
normally be needed.

WORK SITES

There are times when it is possible for teams to sleep at the work site using existing facilities.
At other times this is not possible or feasible. Many teams prefer to use local hotels for this
purpose. We can help with all the necessary arrangements should you wish us to do so in
your behalf. Hotel room rates will vary according to the locale.

Some teams prefer to eat all their meals at the work site while others prefer to eat at local
restaurants. Still others prefer a combination of the two. When the meals are to be eaten at
the work site, it is customary to hire a couple of the members of the congregation to prepare
the food. Some of the team members might want to oversee the food preparation process and
supervise the purchase of the food items from local markets. Since inflation is a constant
problem here, it would be difficult to quote you prices for food items because prices continue
to rise.

Many teams prefer to use a small portion of the project funds to hire a local member of the
community who has construction skills as a job foreman. The local pastors can always assist
in securing such persons. For as little as $2.00 per hour the services of a job foreman can be
obtained.

The male members of local congregations are not always available to help during the day
since they have the normal employment responsibilities. After regular working hours,
however, many come by the site to lend a helping hand. There are always lots of children that
visit the sites which makes vacation Bible school a natural activity.


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Many teams bring notebooks, crayons, pencils, pens, paste, glue, etc. in order to conduct
vacation Bible schools. Please be advised that such items are very expensive here and your
team could do much to help the parents of the local congregation by bringing additional
supplies for their school age children. Many teams also bring used clothing for both adults
and children. These items are very much appreciated by the local pastors, who should be the
one to actually assist in the distribution of the clothing. Care should be taken in screening the
clothing especially t-shirts since there have been occasions when such items have arrived with
inappropriate language, symbols, etc. on them.

Many teams like to bring personal gifts for the pastoral family. This is very appropriate and
very much appreciated. We can assist with this process as well. Also many teams like to
bring something for the congregation. Inexpensive communion sets are very difficult to
obtain here and serve as excellent gifts from the team to the local church. Always check with
us first, however, prior to the purchase of such items. Spanish language tracts, Bibles and
other literature in Spanish are also items that teams can bring with them to assist the local
pastors in their work.

Please know that the use of tobacco products and the drinking of alcoholic beverages are not
accepted practices within the church and team members can destroy their witness among the
members of the local church by engaging in same. Costa Ricans are very non-aggressive
people and they would never say anything to a team member that could possibly be
considered as critical. This is just part of their culture. Consequently
team members who smoke or drink would never know that they have offended their brothers
and sisters because no one will ever tell them.

Generally speaking, the water is safe to drink here in Costa Rica. There are areas, however,
where it is better to drink bottled water, which is readily available at most work sites. Team
members should exercise precaution with regard to ordering drinks with ice in areas where the
water is not clean since the ice is made from the same water. Once we know where your
work site is going to be we can better advise you with regard to the purity of the water.

Many teams need the services of a translator and we can also help in this regard as well. They
are in very short supply so we need lots of time to recruit one should your team have this
need. Typically, the fee for one week is $150.00 plus expenses. Many teams are surprised to
learn that many Ticos (what Costa Ricans call themselves) can understand and speak English.
English is a required subject in the schools but most Ticos are very shy about speaking our
language. They would rather that you massacre their language. They are very tolerant of
those of us who try to speak their language.

Team members should always exercise caution when they are approached by members of the
community who request them to take letters/packages back to the States to mail to family
members or friends. Generally speaking, it is a good practice to simply say that you are not
permitted to do so by the airline. Always consult with the local pastor regarding such matters.

At times we are able to furnish teams with photos and videos of the prospective work sites,
pastoral families, local communities, etc. Should you desire these items, please let us know
and we will try to get them for you.




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EXIT TAXES

Each person leaving Costa Rica must pay an exit tax. As tourists, the current rate would be
$26.00 per team member. The exit taxes can only be purchased inside the airport terminal
and only by individual passengers.

DEPARTURE

You will need to be at the airport three hours prior to your time of departure. Normally we
have the bus at the Center to pick you up at least one half hour prior to that time. It only takes
15 minutes to get to the airport from the Center. Although the airport terminal has been
recently renovated and modernized, the ticket area of the terminal is small and with so many
flights departing back to back, it can be a mass of humanity all wanting to go to the same
place at the same time.

Normally we recommend that teams leave their airline tickets with us for safe keeping upon
their arrival at the Center. As a courtesy we reconfirm your reservations, which is required by
all airlines. If you want this service, please place all tickets in order by the last name of the
passengers. An alphabetical list of all team members would also be helpful.

When checking at the airline ticket counter, which must be done individually, you must
present your ticket and passport. At present a $6.00 airport usage fee is being charged each
person as they leave the country, which is payable at the ticket counter. This has been in
effect long enough that some travel agents are able to include it in the rice of the ticket. Be
aware, however that many airports in the States are doing the same thing so it’s best to check
with your travel agent to be sure.

After checking in at the airline ticket counter you might be asked to open your luggage for an
inspection before being allowed to proceed through the immigrant check point, where your
travel documents will be inspected. From the immigration check point you pass through the
carry-on luggage X-ray area and then on to the waiting areas. Non-passengers are not allowed
to enter the terminal so goodbyes must be said outside.

BACK HOME AGAIN

The vast majority of people who come to this beautiful country to help the church are deeply
touched by their contact wit their brothers and sisters in Christ here in Costa Rica. Many
want to continue to help various individuals by sending them gifts that are needed items.
Please be advised that this is very appropriate, however, never send the
items through the regular postal service. All packages are automatically sent to the customs
house upon arrival in the country and the process to retrieve them is costly in both time and
money. Some form of customs duty will always have to be paid and at times it is 100 percent
of the value of the item. Never send such items to our mailing address. Instead, please
contact us and we will give you the name and phone number of a team leader who will be
bringing a team down. Most team leaders are more than willing to bring down such items
provided they have the available space and the item is not too large. Once the item is here at
the Center, we can get it to the appropriate person. Please do not assume, however, that we
know every member of the church and/or community. We need as much information as
possible in order to get the item to the right person.

Care should be taken with respect to offering to help Costa Ricans come to the States for
purposes of furthering their education, etc. North Americans are very compassionate people

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and we are often motivated to help those who are less fortunate than ourselves. Often times
this can be better accomplished by offering assistance here within the country. Once again,
we are more than willing to advise you regarding these types of situations.

U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE CONSULAR INFORMATION SHEET

You may find additional information about Costa Rica by accessing the U.S. Department of
State Bureau of consular Affairs web site at:

       http://www.travel.state.gov/costa_rica.html




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GENERAL INFORMATION ABOUT CENTRO METODISTA
HISTORY
The Methodist Center was established in the early 1950’s under the direction of the Board of
Missions of the Methodist Church in the United States. The Center is one of six institutions
operated by the Evangelical Methodist Church of Costa Rica. As a self-sustaining
organization of the Church at large, the Center relies totally on the fees of guests who use the
facilities and donations from friends of the Center for 100 percent of its income.
Additionally, the Center helps support the work of the church at large through the payment of
a monthly quota and subsidizes the Evangelical Methodist Seminary, which holds its classes
at the Center each month.

DIRECTORS
The current directors of the Center are Don and Jackie Craig, who are missionaries with the
Mission Society for United Methodists. Don and Jackie, who hail from the beautiful state of
Kentucky, have served as directors of the Center for nine years, although not all
consecutively. Our motto here at the Center is “Where Jesus Is Exalted” and everything we
try to do is with this motto in mind. Although the Center is not a hotel and consequently
room service is out of the question, we are here to serve you and our goal is to make you
experience as positive as possible, both here at the Center and within the country as well.

FACILITIES
       Miller Building – office, dining room, TV lounge, small conference room, one
       efficiency apartment, fifteen rooms on the second floor with a capacity for thirty
       persons (one room with a bunk bed and fourteen rooms with two twin beds each) and
       a large room downstairs behind the TV lounge with a capacity for six persons (two
       bunk beds and two twin beds);

       Ross Building – conference room (ping pong table), classroom, seminary library,
       seminary office, balcony and five dormitory rooms with a capacity for twenty-seven
       persons (eleven bunk beds and five twin beds);

       Crestwood Guest House – four large rooms with a capacity for sixteen (two bunk beds
       per room);

       Casa Blanca – seven large dormitory rooms with a capacity for thirty-six persons
       (fourteen bunk beds and 8 twin beds), two lounge areas, kitchen with gas stove and
       refrigerator;

       Chapel, swimming pool, picnic shelters and green areas with concrete tables and
       benches,

       Basketball/volleyball court and soccer field


As mentioned before, the Center is not a hotel but we will do everything in our power to make
your stay here as comfortable as possible. We operate the Center with a very limited number
of staff members. As a self-sustaining institution we must not only maintain the facilities and


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pay salaries, etc, we also support the work of the church at large as well. We appreciate you
care and consideration for the facilities and trust that you will enjoy your time with us.
Guests assume responsibility for all losses and breakage.

FEES
Lodging        $15.00 per person per night (Private room - $20.00 as space allows)
Breakfast      $5.00 per person
Lunch          $7.00 per person
Dinner         $8:00 per person
Complete day   $35.00 per person

We are proud of the meals we serve and we believe that our prices are lower than
most restaurants in the area Meals are served only when groups are here at the Center.
Unfortunately, we are not able to accept credit cards for payment of fees.

SCHEDULE

Our office hours are from 6:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. (5:00 p.m. when no guests are present). For
the protection of all guests, buildings will be closed and locked at 10:00 p.m.. We request
that all guests return to the Center by 9:45 p.m. unless special arrangements have been made
with Directors.

Meals are provided with advance reservations and are normally served at the following times:
Breakfast – 7:30 a.m., Lunch – 12:00 p.m., Dinner – 6:00 p.m. With advance notice,
mealtimes can be altered.

DRINKING WATER
Please only drink the water that we provide via the Cristal Water dispensers, which are
located throughout the campus. This would include using water to brush your teeth. The city
of Alajuela is one of the oldest in the country and its water supply system is subject to
contamination from time to time. Away from the Center, follow the directions of your team
leader, bus driver or guides with regard to which water is safe to drink.

TOILET FACILITIES
Most sanitary systems in the country are poor at best. The custom here is to deposit the soiled
toilet tissue in special receptacles in the stall. No not flush the soiled toilet paper down the
toilets. Anti bacterial liquid hand soap and paper towels are provided in all bathrooms for
your use. Good personal hygiene will go a long way towards keeping you healthy during
your stay here in Costa Rica.

SHOWER FACILITIES
With the exception of the Miller Building, all showers have “duchas” or widow-makers
attached to the pipe, which heats the water as it leaves. Although they may appear to look
dangerous be assured that they are safe and we have never lost anyone yet. These devices are
all grounded for your protection. In the Miller Building the water is heater by a solar
collector system on the roof of the building and by electric hat water heaters. The Miller



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Building is so equipped because of the need for hot water to operate our washing machines.
We do not provide bath soap and/or shampoo to our guests.

BATH TOWELS
Bath towels are provided for each guest and are generally distributed according to the number
of beds per room. After bathing simply place the soiled towel in the plastic basket
appropriated in your building. If you are staying more than one night the maids will place
clean towels on the designated table in your building according to the number of soiled towels
in the basket. We only provide washcloths upon request.

BED CLOTHING
Each bed is already made with sheets, blanket, pillow and bed spread. Please do not strip
your beds in the morning. Our staff will do that and wash the bed clothing after your
departure. If you are staying one week the bed clothing will be changed at an appropriate
time.

LAURDRY SERVICE
Unfortunately we are not equipped to provide laundry service for overnight guests. Those
guests who stay for extended periods of time may place their soiled laundry in a plastic
garbage bag that we will provide and bring it to the office area in the morning to leave. The
maids will wash, dry, fold, replace in the bag and bring it back to the dining room where it
can be picked up at the evening meal. The cost is $5.00 per bag, which is payable when you
leave the bag at the office.

TELEPHONE AND INTERNET SERVICE
There is a public telephone in the foyer of the Miller Building, however none of the cards that
you can obtain in the States can be used with this telephone. Costa Rica is a social democracy
and since 1947 the communications industry has been nationalized. The government
monopoly, I C E (Costa Rican Electrical Institute) has completely modernized the telephone
system but in doing so they put in place procedures that only allow the use of the I C E phone
cards. Almost all coin-operated telephones have been done away with, although there may
still be one in the International Mall of Alajuela. We sell the I C E phone cards for $3.00 each
or 1,000 colones, which will allow you about three minutes of conversation long distance to
the States. The other option is to call collect. The directions for using the public telephone
are posted on the bulletin board to the right of the telephone. Unfortunately, the public
telephone cannot receive incoming calls from outside the country.

We are always available to assist you should you need help in placing a call. The office
telephone is for official business only and we would appreciate your consideration of this
regulation. Should someone in the States need to contact you due to an emergency situation,
by all means have them call the office number, which is 506-441-6133. They would need to
dial 011 first to make the international connection.

We cannot allow our guests to have access to our computer and Internet connection. Internet
Cafes are very common here and there is one just one block up the street from the Center,
which is open until late at night. The fees are very reasonable. If family members and
friends want to send you email messages to our email address they may do so and we will


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download the message, print it out and post it on the bulletin board. Our email address is
cenmet@racsa.co.cr . Internet service is also a part of I C E.

MEALS
All meals are served in the dining room according to the following schedule: breakfast at 7:30
a.m., lunch at 12:00 p.m., and dinner at 6:00 p.m. Upon request, we can serve a continental
breakfast at an earlier hour of the morning. All meals are served cafeteria style and there will
always be plenty for everyone. On occasion we will serve buffet style or family style but only
when you have been notified. Please do not clear your table after the meal. Our kitchen staff
will take care of that after you leave the dining room. Please do not remove plates, glasses,
cups, silverware, etc. from the dining room. Please do not take food or drinks to your rooms.
Please do not use the dining room for team meetings after meals since the staff must clear the
tables and prepare for the next meal.

COFFEE AND TEA
Prior to breakfast coffee and tea are served from the table in the foyer of the Miller Building.
If we set the timer correctly and the power doesn’t go off, the coffee and tea will be ready by
5:00 a.m. or earlier if you team has an early departure. Please enjoy a cup or two before
breakfast. Remember that the foyer is a small area and not all our guests can congregate there
to get their coffee or tea and talk. Enjoy the beauty of the campus while you wait for
breakfast to be served. We do not sell snack foods or soft drinks.

BUSINESS CARDS
We recommend that each of our guests take one of our business cards and carry it with you
while you are in the country. The card is in Spanish on one side and English on the other
side. Across the bottom of the card are the directions on how to get to the Center in the event
you are lost and you want to show someone where you want to go. The Costa Ricans do not
use house numbers and street addresses as we do in the States. The Center’s mailing address,
telephone/FAX number and email address are also on the card.

ENTERING AND LEAVING THE CENTER
The main entrance to the Center has two gates both controlled electronically from the office.
To leave or enter the Center simply press the button next to the word
“OFFICINA” on the intercom on the column next to the small gate. Please press the button
one time and we will respond via the intercom to verify who you are and to open the
appropriate gate. You do not have to keep pressing the button to talk to us once the system
has been activated. There is also a security camera under the roof of the main gate, which is
also allows us not only to see you but to hear you as well.

SAFETY AND SECURITY
Normally we close and lock the main doors to the Miller Building at 10:00 p.m. sharp. We
operate the Center with a very small staff and at times we the only ones here at night. We
cannot stay up until all hours of the night and get up early in the morning to start the day’s
activities on a consistent basis without it taking its toll on our health. We ask that all our
guests be in their respective buildings by 10:00 p.m. as well. Special arrangements can be


                                               12
made in advance in the event that your team will be arriving on a late flight or returning to the
Center after 10:00 p.m.

Unfortunately, stringent security measurers are necessary and they include 24-hour a day
security guard service. You may see the guards from time to time as they make their rounds.
We try diligently to monitor who enters the campus but even so please do not lay cameras and
other personal items lying around on tables outside even though we take such precautionary
measures.

Your personal belongings are safe in your rooms. Our staff never enters your rooms unless
you or one of us is present. So that in the event that something does come up missing they
will not be the first ones to be blamed. We have complete confidence in our employees and
we literally trust them with our lives.

If you are staying with us for an extended period of time we can place your valuables in the
office strong box for safekeeping. Do not wear jewelry when in San Jose. There is a
generation of street children known as “Chapulines” or grasshoppers who are manipulated by
adult criminals. These young people are amoral and have no compunction about using
violence to get what they want.

In the city of Alajuela, where the Center is located, you should not have any concern about
your personal safety. Your biggest concern will be not to step into a hole or fall into an open
manhole. Remember that pedestrians do not have the right of way here.

ROOM KEYS
When appropriate, each guest is issued a room key. Please be sure to return you key prior to
your departure. The keys and tags are very expensive and there is a $5.00 fee for lost keys.

RESTRICTED AREAS
With permission you have access to all areas of the campus with the exception of the kitchen
and our private apartment, which is located beyond the office. If you want to use the chapel
while you are here please make reservations with us in advance. For security purposes, the
chapel is kept locked when not in use.

If you need one of us and you are unable to located us please press the small teacher bell on
the window ledge next to the public telephone one time and we will come to your service.
The office receptionist, Anabelle Alfaro Jimenez, is generally in the office from 8:00 a.m. to
12:00 p.m. and from 1:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. Anabelle can communicate in English but please
speak slowly when talking with her.

ELECTRICITY
Electrical current here is 110 just like back home in the States so all your electrical products
will function here without adaptors. Please turn off all lights when you don’t need them.
Electricity is very expensive here and even though the Center is a religious institution we still
have to pay a commercial rate.




                                               13
PASSPORTS AND PLANE TICKETS
As stated in other information we have provided you, we recommend that you keep your
passport on your person at all times. Remember that a stolen U. S. passport will is worth
about $1,500 on the black market. If your team is returning to the Center prior to your
departure from the country, we recommend that you allow us to keep your plane tickets here
with us for safe keeping and we will reconfirm your flight with the appropriate airline, which
all of them require at least 72 hours prior to the departure date. An alphabetical list of team
members would help us to facilitate this process.

SMOKING, DRINKING AND DRUG ABUSE
Smoking, drinking and the abuse of drugs are all prohibited here at the Center. Those who
need to smoke may do so across the street from the Center in the small corner park. You
should know that evangelical churches here in Costa Rica consider smoking and drinking to
be contrary to Biblical teaching. Whether or not you agree with this belief please remember
that you are a guest in their country and working in their church.

NEWSLETTER SIGN-UP SHEET
If you are interested in keeping informed about our ministry here and what goes on in the
church in general after your return home, please feel free to subscribe to our newsletter. The
sign up sheet is always on the table in the foyer of the Miller Building. Please print all
requested information on the sign-up sheet.

TOURIST INFORMATION
We have a limited supply of tourist guides, books and other information available upon
request.

MAP OF ALAJUELA
There are copies of a hand-drawn map of Alajuela on the ox cart in the foyer of the Miller
Building. There are free for the taking and have all the important places indicated – Pizza
Hut, McDonald’s, etc.

ITEMS FOR SALE
We have several handcraft/art items for sale if you are interested. These are usually displayed
on one of the tables in the dining room. Also in the foyer of the Miller Building there is a
display of the various types of wooden crosses we sell. We will gladly take you dollars. The
revenues from the sale of these items help to support local artisans and to provide funding for
various special projects here at the Center.

SUPPORT OF OUR MINISTRY
As stated previously, we are missionary with the Mission Society for United Methodists,
which is a faith ministry. We are responsible for raising 100 percent of the funds need to live
and work here in Costa Rica. We receive no salaries from the Center or the Evangelical
Methodist Church of Costa Rica. If you are interested in supporting our ministry here, there

                                              14
are Prayer/Pledge Cards on the ox cart in the foyer of the Miller Building. If you have
questions about our work or the Mission Society would welcome the opportunity to sit down
and talk with you. In any event, we covet your prayers in support of our work here.

PROBLEMS
Any problems or special needs should be reported to one of us. Please do not ask staff
members to do anything.




                                             15
                                    Centro Metodista
                                      Iglesia Evangélica Metodista de Costa Rica
                                               Phone/Fax (506) 441-61-33
                                            e-mail: cenmet@sol.racsa.co.cr
                                         website: www.centrometodista.com
                      Apartado 78-4050, Alajuela, Costa Rica, Central America
             (700 meters North of Alajuela’s Central Park, facing the Punto Rojo factory.)
        Information for groups who use the facilities of the Methodist Center
Reservations can be made by phone, fax, e-mail, or in person at the Center.


Prices: Lodging                       $15.00 (Private room - $20.00 as space allows)
        Breakfast                      $ 5.00 (Continental breakfast - $3.00)
        Lunch                          $ 7.00 (Sack lunch at worksites near the Center - $5.00)
        Dinner                         $ 8.00
              Complete                 $35.0
              day                          0

Schedule:
-Office hours are from 7:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. (5:00 p.m. when no guests are present).
-For the protection of all guests, buildings will be closed and locked at 10:00 p.m. We
request that all guests return to the Center by 9:45 p.m. unless special arrangements have
been made with the Director.
-Meals are provided with advance reservation and are normally served at the following times:
Breakfast - 7:30 a.m., Lunch - 12:00 p.m., Dinner - 5:30 p.m. With advance notice, mealtimes
can be altered.
Use of facilities:
-Guests assume responsibility for all losses and breakage.
-Guests may use the picnic shelter, basketball court, swimming pool, soccer field and the
grounds when not in use by daily rental groups. Use of the chapel is permitted with
permission of the Director.
-The dining room and bedrooms are for the use of those guests who have reserved these
facilities. Groups using the facilities for a day activity are responsible for cleaning the
areas that were used prior to their departure.
-For health and safety reasons, only employees have access to the kitchen.
-Please make any requests for extra services to the Director and not directly to the employees.

-Please observe the posted parking areas for cars and buses.

Restrictions:
The use of any type of alcoholic beverage, drugs or tobacco products is prohibited in all
areas of the Center.
Children may use the swimming pool only with adult supervision.
Guests may pick fruit after securing permission from the director.
The Center is unable to offer laundry service to our guests.

    We appreciate your understanding and support of these procedures. We hope you will enjoy your visit and will return again soon!



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