“The children were running through sewage rivers and dirty streets and they didn’t have even half the clothes they needed,” Elise smiles as she retells scenes from memories of Costa Rica. “But, they were still so happy to just be together and to be with us.” She freely shares about a place that seemingly holds her heart, remembering the impact her family was able to make through Christ.

Elise Wutka lived in Hartland, Connecticut, until 2014, when her family was called to serve as missionaries in Costa Rica. Through a church family camp, Elise’s parents had the opportunity to go on a brief mission trip to Costa Rica, and when they returned they felt that God was calling them back to the island to serve for an extended amount of time. They packed up their belongings and moved into a condo in the middle of a city surrounded by ocean sounds, soon beginning to volunteer and do mission work around the city.

Their mission work mainly consisted of setting up and running feeding centers, but they spent a lot of their time in some of the more dangerous parts of the city- the parts that even the police wouldn’t go to. In her time there, Elise noted that some of her family enjoyed the experience, while some didn’t. Elise loved Costa Rica. But, after two years, they moved back to Elise's childhood home in Hartland, Connecticut.

When they returned to Hartland, Elise and her siblings went to public school. Even though she noted that her public school experience wasn’t bad, she admitted that “I could feel myself straying from my relationship with God and I didn’t want that.” So, after expressing this to her family,  Elise applied to attend Hillcrest in the upcoming year. Her involvement in the worship team and experiencing specific events like prayer day and backyard worship nights there has been a blossoming in her expression of her faith. The consistent Bible training is making an eternal impact, drawing her closer to the Lord as she develops intellectually.

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