Aaron & Cassie Gortmaker

Executive Director/Admin. Assistant

Aaron and Cassie are both from Michigan and were raised in loving, Christian homes. Each accepted Christ as their Lord and Savior at a young age and met at Cornerstone University in Grand Rapids, MI. Married in 2002 their dream was that one day the Lord would lead them to serve in full-time camp and youth ministry. They love sharing stories about how deeply their lives were impacted by experiences they had at Christian camps while growing up.

Thirteen years and many adventures later, the Lord called them into full-time ministry. They were commissioned by United World Mission in 2015 and moved to Costa Rica in 2017 to begin Spanish language training and start building relationships with local churches. In 2018 they moved to Guanacaste to begin camps, classes, and conferences that would encourage and equip pastors to effectively care for their local communities. Currently, they teach classes, host, and facilitate events, and disciple individuals; however, through joining Árbol de Vida, God provided a way to resource local pastors in a central location, which will undoubtedly benefit many more families, churches, and communities. 

Aaron y Cassie tienen 5 hijos: Micah, Mia, Merry, Manna y Mercy y viven cerca de la segunda ciudad más grande de Costa Rica, llamada Liberia. Su pasión es servir al Señor y a la gente de Guanacaste...ver una generación de cristianos que cumplan la gran comisión. Ser un discípulo de Jesucristo no es sólo para los pastores o misioneros - es el llamado de Dios para que el cuerpo de creyentes lo haga en conjunto. El enfoque de Árbol de Vida es entrenar al pueblo de Dios PARA VIVIR COMO CRISTO, a la luz del evangelio, y vencer la oscuridad a través de la unidad de la Iglesia.

Arbol de vida family

Phil and Durley Hogan

Board Members

Hobe Sound, FL

Phil & Durley Hogan first moved to northern Costa Rica in the mid-70s to operate a farm & ranching business. During this time, the Lord planted a desire to start a ministry in the region. Years after moving back to the states, that dream became reality as the Lord affirmed their prayers with an opportunity to return to Costa Rica and launch the ministry of Árbol de Vida. Since 2005, they have hosted over 30 mission teams, evangelizing and supporting local communities and churches near the camp property in Guayabo de Bagaces, as well as on the Macarrón Island of Nicaragua. Phil and Durley believe this ministry fulfills the Great Commission of our Lord Jesus, found in Matthew 28. Their hope is 1) that Árbol de Vida would be a center for education, encouragement & growth in principles of Jesus Christ and 2) that God would reveal Himself in powerful ways through this ministry – even beyond their comprehension!

Marcia Mata

Board Member

Singer Island, FL

Marcia Mata has served with Árbol de Vida since 2014 alongside her husband, Lou Ritchie(Founder & Investor of Árbol de Vida). During her many trips to Costa Rica, she enjoys helping as a translator. Marcia sees the power of cross-cultural relationships in ministry, especially as she’s helped facilitate different seminars for pastors – one which welcomed 350 people. Originally from Brazil, Marcia remembers how special it was to host a large group of Brazilian pastors and connect them to the people of Costa Rica. Marcia believes the Lord has great plans to continue deeply transforming pastors, families and local communities through Árbol de Vida.

Josie Hardy

Board Member

Josie has served more than 8 years with the ministry of Arbol de Vida. She first became involved with missions through serving on trips to Honduras. By working alongside full-time missionaries, she saw how God could use part-time service to accomplish His will. Josie is a Florida born gal, who loves the Lord and the people of Latin America. She says she has been to Costa Rica more times now than she can count!  The “Hardy House” at Árbol de Vida is named in honor of her late husband, Ron Hardy.