About the Team

picture of Enrique

Enrique Mejia

Founder and Director

Enrique was born on the south side of San José, Costa Rica in a poor, high crime area. He lived in a broken home largely due to his father's alcoholism. His mother did her best to raise him along with his older brother and sister. Enrique saw how alcohol was not only destroying his father's life but made life miserable for all of the family. To make matters worse, Enrique's older brother also turned to drugs and alcohol at a young age. While feeling the pressure to become the bread winner of the family, Enrique also knew he wanted something different in his life.

At the age of twelve, recognizing his family's financial need, Enrique decided to get a job. Enrique moved to Guanacaste, four hours from San José, for the opportunity to work in property surveying and rainforest topography. This time in Enrique's life was a great learning experience. It was also very hard work for little pay with most being sent home to his family. After living in Guanacaste for over a year, Enrique had completely withdrawn from schooling giving himself fulltime to his work. He knew things were becoming too difficult at home for his mother who could not keep up with the bills.

Wanting his younger sister to be able to stay in school, Enrique moved back home and took a job cleaning and washing windows at a store in downtown San José. During this time Enrique's boss was a man named Fernando who became like a father to him. Enrique credits this man for instilling in him a strong work ethic. Because of Enrique's willingness to work hard eagerness to learn, it became easy for Enrique to find other labor positions around San José. The financial support Enrique could provide meant his sister's continued schooling and food on the family's diner table.

One day Enrique's mother, Ana , had an unusual request of him. Ana had developed a close friendship with a young lady named Charlyn who had moved to San José from the United States to learn Spanish and work with poor and abandoned children. Ana and Charlyn had begun feeding and playing with about 100 children in a San José precario (a squatter's camp of scrap material homes), teaching the bible and performing skits. For their next skit at the precario, Charlyn and Ana needed a male to play the role of Joseph and wear the coat of many colors. When Ana asked Enrique if he would be willing to come with them to the precario and act for the role of Joseph he gladly agreed.

When the skit was over, the children lined up for prayer. One little girl just wanted a blanket to keep her warm at night. Hearing all of the prayer requests broke Enrique's heart. God began to work in Enrique and he could not forget all the little faces he had seen at the precario.

Later that night, at a bar with some of his friends, the Lord spoke to Enrique in what seemed to him a very clear voice, asking him if he thought he would find his wife in a bar. He asked Enrique if he wanted something different. Enrique looked around the bar and knew he had to leave. Making his very best friend aggravated, Enrique left and walked home. Enrique knew he had to make some big changes. That night he called Charlyn and told her what happened. Soon after, he received a bible from Charlyn and they began to read and study together. Enrique gave his heart to the Lord 100% and never looked back. He knew he had found what he was looking for. Through God's grace, Enrique would have his relationship restored with his father and help him turn from alcoholism. He would become a co-founder of Hidden Treasures with Charlyn and persevere to obtain his GED equivalency. Today Enrique's passion is extending fatherhood to the community and those in Hidden Treasure's care.

(See Hidden Treasures' History for more of Enrique's journey)

photo of Charlyn

Charlyn Simpson Mejia

Founder and Director

Originally from Mobile, Alabama, Charlyn is the daughter of well-known Bible Teacher and Minister, Charles Simpson and his wife Carolyn. Throughout her upbringing, Charlyn gained exposure to mission efforts in developing nations, often traveling abroad with her family as her father ministered. In the 1970s, Charlyn became acquainted with Costa Rica during several childhood visits her family made to support the ministry work of Pastor Hugo Zelaya .

After high school graduation, Charlyn pursued a career in fashion design. She enrolled at the O’More College of Design in Franklin, Tennessee and later at the University of South Alabama in Mobile, AL. In the early 1990s Charlyn's focus was dramatically changed when she participated in a series of short term mission trips to Guatemala. It was then that she became aware of her calling to the people of Latin America.

In 1992, not knowing Spanish, Charlyn moved to San José, Costa Rica. There she would to attend and graduate from Instituto de la Lengua Espanola in order to learn Spanish and prepare for mission work. Following this, Charlyn decided to spend the next summer working in an orphanage in Guatemala. It would prove to be another pivotal time in her life. While learning and serving in practical child care, Charlyn saw that government orphanages in Latin America are predominantly lacking in caregivers with little to no male involvement. Sadly, these facilities were also overcrowded with children. It was during this time that the Lord impressed upon Charlyn the importance of family and the need every child has for a mother and a father.

Charlyn returned to Costa Rica to volunteer in several orphanages and teach English as a second language to children and adults. She knew God was leading her into a deeper work with orphaned and abandoned children and, at the same time, He was also opening up an amazing new friendship with a lady named Ana.

Ana and Charlyn were introduced through Charlyn's Spanish tutor, Marcos who thought it would be good for Charlyn practice her Spanish with native speakers in a non class setting. He also believed Charlyn could be an encouragement to his friend Ana. Because Ana lived in a dangerous area, Charlyn was hesitant. Marcos, however, was persuasive and Charlyn began reading the bible over coffee with Ana. Very quickly, Ana and Charlyn formed a wonderful friendship. Ana helped Charlyn further her Spanish proficiency and Charlyn loved and encouraged Ana through some very hard times in her life. When Charlyn started working in a precaurio, Ana wanted to help too. Ana, known for her good cooking, prepared chicken and rice for more than 100 kids at the precario where they fed and played with them each weekend, teaching them the bible and doing skits.

One weekend Charlyn and Ana needed someone for their skit to play Joseph from the bible and wear the coat of many colors. Ana suggested they ask her son Enrique who was happy to help. That day at the precario, Charlyn saw Enrique's compassion for the children as he engaged them. To Charlyn's surprise, Enrique called her later that night to talk about how the Lord was calling him into a different life. Soon after, Charlyn gave Enrique a bible and they began reading and studying together. One of Charlyn's greatest joys was to see Enrique, her future husband, commit his life to the Lord and to go on with him to co-found Hidden Treasures.

(See Hidden Treasures' History for more of Charlyn's journey)

photo of Ana

Ana Bermudez Flores

Home and child care support

Ana grew up on a large farm in Puriscal, Costa Rica about an hour from San José. Her family, including nine brothers and sisters raised fruit, vegetables and cattle. Hard work came at an early age where she learned to garden and cook and take care of those younger than her.

When Ana was older she moved to the San José area where she met Enrique Mejia and the two were married. Ana realized her life was going to be very different from what she had planned when Enrique began drinking. By the time she had three children things had gotten worse. Ana suffered in silence; living with Enrique's emotional abuse and out of control mood swings. The bills and needs overwhelmed Ana but she could not go back to the farm and break her parent's hearts.

A bright spot in Ana's life was the children that always filled her home. Neices, nephews and kids from the neighborhood along with her own three kids loved Ana dearly, not knowing her pain. Ana was an encourager and loved to serve others but quietly she cried out to the Lord that her life would change. Making matters worse, her oldest son turned to drugs and began fighting Enrique in the home and disappearing for days at a time.

Finally, Ana met a man named Marcos who wanted to help her son through a home he started for recovering drug addicts. Ana confided in Marcos about her troubles at home and began attending his weekly worship and bible study. Marcos saw what a wonderful woman Ana was in the midst of her suffering. He prayed God would send her a friend.

Marcos was also a Spanish tutor to foreign students and missionaries in particular. One of his students, Charlyn, had formed a close friendship with his family. Marcos sensed the Lord speaking to him that Charlyn could be a friend to Ana. He brought it up many times to Charlyn but she was intimidated to go into Ana's rough neighborhood alone. At Marcos' urging they went to Ana's together and Charlyn discovered that Marcos was right. Ana was truly a special lady and could also help her in her Spanish.

Charlyn and Ana would talk and read the bible often; sometimes Ana's husband would sit and listen too. Ana confided in Charlyn about her situation. With many hours spent together, Charlyn noticed a change in Ana. Ana taught Charlyn many practical things about Costa Rican culture including cooking typical Costa Rican dishes. Together they began working in the precario, teaching and feeding over a hundred children each weekend. Every Saturday Ana was up early making "Arroz con Pollo" for the kids she loved at the precario.

Today Ana says "the family she'd always dreamed of came together." Little did she know that her son also named Enrique would eventually marry Charlyn and together they would start Hidden Treasures. Ana was right there when the first five children were received into Hidden Treasure's care. All of the kids call her "Abuela" (Grandma) and love her dearly. She loves to cook and make coffee in the afternoons and talk with children, laughing and giving grandmotherly advice when needed. Now Ana has helped to care for more than fifteen children and they all still look to her as their "Abuela."

Ana was able to move from her old neighborhood where she lived for so many years and now lives close to Enrique and Charlyn where she is an instrumental part of the children's care. Although Ana no longer lives with her husband, there has been healing in their relationship. Ana gives honor to the Lord for her family and the great blessings in her life.

photo of Lourdes

Lourdes Marin Badilla

Home and child care support

Honesty and hard work were instilled in Lourdes early through her large hardworking family that lived in the mountains of Escazú. At fourteen, Lourdes held her first job away from home cleaning and cooking for other families. From there, Lourdes went on to cook and clean for a school while enjoying the surroundings of children. At the end of each day, Lourdes still managed to care for her own home, husband, and children.

After time off from the birth of her third child, Lourdes decided it was time to find another job. When she learned of a nearby family needing housecleaning and caregiver help Lourdes was interested. Enrique and Charlyn had nine children living in their home at that time and were praying for someone with patience and a kind heart that was not afraid to work hard. Living in an environment of open windows and doors (because of no air conditioners) meant daily dust and dirt cleanup around the house; furthermore, four children under the age of four meant lots of picking up, potty training and care. From past experience, Enrique and Charlyn also knew the most important qualifiers were honesty and a good example for the children in their care. When Lourdes came for an interview they believed they had their match.

Everyday Lourdes helped in whatever was needed; demonstrating her loyalty with effort beyond the call of duty. Soon she became part of the family and a part of Hidden Treasures Team. When the family had to move two years later, Lourdes was no longer in walking distance from the house. Lourdes decision to keep working with the family she loved, meant she would travel by bus 90 min each way each day. Today she continues to help carry the load and care for so many. Her own children are like siblings with those at Hidden Treasures. For eleven years Hidden Treasures has appreciated her friendship and loyalty. Lourdes will always be part of Hidden Treasure's family.