The Minnicks are home after a years-long mission trip that led them to work with pregnant women in the poorest areas of Costa Rica.
Brandon and Jennifer Minnick have learned to trust that everything is done in the Lord’s timing. They are reacclimating to fast-paced life in the United States — and he has returned to the Winter Garden Fire Rescue Department — after spending two-and-one-half years as missionaries in Costa Rica.
The Minnicks, Winter Garden residents once again, packed their four children, ages 3 to 9, and went to share the Gospel as country directors of Centro Prenatal and its seven pregnancy centers in the fall of 2017. By the time they returned home, there were 11 centers.
“Going into it, we had an idea of what we thought would work best as far as foreign ministry was concerned, and that would be to empower the local people to run the ministry,” Brandon Minnick said. “The ministry is running smoothly by the people who live there.”
Although the Minnicks are no longer in Costa Rica, they have stayed in contact with the new director and to learn of the centers’ ongoing needs.
The family’s initial move was to Jaco, where they spent almost one-and-one-half years, becoming involved in the day-to-day operations, providing support where needed and organizing stateside donations such as clothing and diapers. That center served as home base, but they were in communication with all of the others.
For the last 11 months of their mission, they lived in Atenas, a city that was more centrally located to all of the centers.
“It was a great move for us as a family,” Brandon Minnick said. “I felt like it benefited the ministry a lot. It helped the places grow and become independent. And we were able to start a few more centers because we were in contact with new people and a new church. … Definitely, more networking opportunities were available because of our move.
“It was just all in the Lord’s timing, for sure,” he said.
Brandon Minnick was able to put his firefighting career to use, too, teaching CPR classes to moms and soon-to-be moms.
The centers are education- and resource-based only and do not offer healthcare.
“All the centers were aimed at showing them there was support for them and their children, … planned or unplanned pregnancies,” Brandon Minnick said.
Clients receive points for completing lessons and turning them in, and these points can be redeemed for donated items such as strollers and diapers.
“They would come for the perks, but we were also giving them Jesus,” Jennifer Minnick said.
Their children were part of the ministry, as well. The older girls, Kayden and Alaina, were homeschooled while the family was in Jaco — they helped with young families who visited the center and played with the babies. The two younger children, Ellie and Brantlee, attended a local school. All four attended school after the Minnicks moved to Atenas, and they assisted at after-hours events.
“Anytime they were available to do something, they were involved,” Brandon Minnick said. “And we were really excited anytime they were involved. Anytime we could serve as a family, we liked it.”
Mothers tend to worry, and Jennifer Minnick is no exception. She said she initially worried about her children living in a foreign country, but once they were there, they thrived, making many new friends and receiving love from the residents. The children — Brantlee, Ellie, Alaina and Kayden — are now 6 to 12 years old.
The time the family spent together was most precious to Brandon and Jennifer Minnick.
“I really loved our family time there,” she said. “We had a lot of good family time. That made us nervous about coming back. … Everything we did (there) was simple and intentional.
“We went there to bless the people, and they, in turn, blessed us,” she said.
The Minnicks created some family traditions while in Costa Rica, such as eating lunch on the side of the mountain on Sundays and having dinner together every night.
“We were really reliant on each other for a relationship,” Brandon Minnick said. “It was a good time to just grow in our relationship with one another. Some of that stuff, they miss now and then, but it’s easy to get wrapped up in the culture of America, where it’s fast-paced. That was one of our biggest things we wanted to bring back with us — that idea of slowing down and making family time intentional, making our church time intentional, being engaged in the community.”
He has returned to the Winter Garden Fire Rescue Department and is back in his former position as a firefighter/paramedic. When he’s off duty and at home with his family, however, the priority is to enjoy life together at a leisurely pace and be grateful for all of their blessings.
“I do think there’s a concept of Costa Rica as a beautiful tourist destination, and it is, but we got to get below that surface and see the real pain and poverty that’s there,” Brandon Minnick said. “But at the same time, I think that reminded us that that’s everywhere. There’s a beautiful surface that’s hiding a lot of pain. It was definitely a good reminder.”
Beautiful Feet International has started more than 35 pregnancy centers in 12 countries, each affiliated with a Bible-believing church. Clients receive discipleship during their pregnancy and the baby’s first year.