Costa Rica update #6 March 16, 2013

Buenos dias!

We just concluded our final day in Costa Rica. Hard to believe how quickly the time has flown by. We praise the Lord for a fantastic week of ministry here!

Today was a nice day to finish it out. We got up early (of course) and headed to the Hot Springs near the Arenal Volcano. It was about a 4-hour drive, but we made good use of the time studying Gideon and taking naps. We had a great time hopping from thermal pool to thermal pool (of varying degrees) and going down the water slides. Not sure how many of these slides would be legal in the US, but we certainly had a great time with them today. After lunch at Baldi we headed up to our Canopy Tour. What a tremendous experience! We ziplined through the trees and even enjoyed the Tarzan swing out over the jungle. The Lord provided us with a beautiful afternoon on the Canopy Tour, which gave us great visibility while whipping through the trees. In the words of one of the team members, “It was sooooo good.”

After the canopy tour we made our way home. We got home around 9:30, just in time for a late dinner. We were able to do our debriefing on the ride back. It was a bit unorthodox but it actually worked really well. It as great to share with each other about the experiences we had and how God worked through the team and through the ministry throughout the week.

We spent some time in Praise, Worship, and Prayer before packing up and getting ready for bed. We need to be leaving for the airport in 3 hours for the trip home, so should probably cut this off about now. We are grateful to you for praying for us! We saw God’s hand at work and it was awesome! Please pray for us as we travel home in the morning.

The volleyball team has a blog for the trip, so please free to check it out here.

Buenas noches!

Costa Rica update #5 March 15, 2013

Up and at ’em again today at 6:45. Tough to believe today was the last day of clinics. The week has flown by, but it has been a tremendous week of ministry. Today was a great way to end this part of the trip. We spent and hour and a half at a local prison where Push The Rock Costa Rica has been serving for the past 3 years. This ministry has proven to be one of the most effective and fulfilling. We praise the Lord for the opportunity to interact with the young men and women of this prison. We spent time with 8 ladies this morning, all ranging in age from 18-21. We spent the first hour playing volleyball, teaching them the basic skills and then putting them in game situations. The last 30 minutes we had together were 30 minutes that will not soon be forgotten. One of our coaches shared her testimony before 6 of the 8 girls stood up and shared bits and pieces from their lives. It was very encouraging to gain their trust as they shared openly and honestly about how they arrived at the prison, how long they needed to stay, and how difficult things have been. However, it was also heartbreaking to hear their stories. Praise the Lord they recognize their need for Him! They are each working through what that means, but at least they recognize their need for a Savior!

We had lunch at a park before arriving at our afternoon clinic destination. We had 45 kids in the gym together and it was what we would call “organized chaos.” Not a whole lot to move around, but plenty of opportunity to love on these kids at the after school volleyball club program. We partnered with another sports ministry that has been ministering at this school for 5 years. Volleyball, testimony, and snacks filled our afternoon with these kids. It was great to spend some time with them as it is amazing how connected you can get to kids in such a short amount of time.

There was still some shopping to be done, so we hit up the supermarket for coffee, candies, and other gifts to take home. Then it was back in the bus so we could get back to our place and get changed for dinner. Dinner was fantastic even though it was an hour away. The food was excellent as we enjoyed a very traditional “casado” (rice, beans, salad, meat, black beans, and plantains). Praise the Lord for the great food we have had on this trip!

It is midnight and we are headed up to Arenal to enjoy the Hot Springs and a Canopy Tour at 6 am. The team is looking forward to this time together, but we also know that our week has been made possible, in large part, to your faithful prayers. Thanks for praying and please keep it up! It is crucial we finish strong!

Buenas noches:)!

Costa Rica Update #4 March 14, 2013

Buenas noches!

Espero que todo vaya bien con Ud. Todo bien por este lado, gracias a Dios! We are indeed doing well and enjoying a great trip here! This morning we were at a school in a rough section of the city. The kids were great and enjoying learning some volleyball. The team has been fantastic investing in the kids all week. An added blessing at the morning clinic was the cloud cover and gentle breeze. It felt so great, especially on the sunburn:). We had more of an intimate group at this morning clinic because the kids were split up into two groups and there were a total of 40 kids in both groups.

Lunch was at a local park as we transitioned back to the school we were at Tuesday morning. It is in the same section of town, but this time we were returning to do a service project. We washed windows around the school and cleaned out the gutters throughout the school property. We had a great time together serving the Lord and serving this school through something other than volleyball. Plus, it was a great time of serving together!

We made the obligatory snack stop at the Musmanni bakery. Stopping there every day sounds fantastic, but not sure our bodies could handle that. Nonetheless, for a week, it is well worth it. From the bakery we headed to the University of Costa Rica, where we played a friendly match against the ladies. It was a fun and competitive match and the ladies played really well, pulling out a 3-1 victory.

The 3 team members who shared their testimonies today did a great job! It has been great how the Lord has lined up the testimonies to match perfectly with the respective clinics and matches. It has been great to hear the testimonies and observe what God is doing in the lives of each of the team members.

After the match we had the privilege of taking in parts of both the men’s and women’s team matches as a part of the Central American games. We really enjoyed being a part of Tico crowd! The men won their match but the ladies dropped their first set before we had to leave. When we got back home to our place we enjoyed a great dinner of fish, vegetables, mashed potatoes, and carrots. We have been eating quite well, for which we are very grateful.

Another late night and early morning, but thanks so much for praying! Tomorrow is our last day of clinics. We will be heading into one of the local prisons where Push The Rock Costa Rica has been involved for several years on a weekly basis. Thanks for praying for the team for partnering with us in ministry!

Costa Rica Update #3 March 13, 2013

Buenas noches!

It is Tuesday night and we are finishing up our second day of clinics and matches. The days have been a bit busy, but they have been great! On Monday we had eaten breakfast and were out of the house by 7:15 in order to get to the clinic on time. One of the things about serving in San Jose is that it takes about 45 – 75 minutes to get to where you need to go, regardless of whether it is across town or around the corner. Count on 45-75 minutes. So our mornings are early and our evenings are late as we traverse the city several times throughout the day.

We had about 130 kids in the first clinic and they were all so eager to learn volleyball and hang out. A bilingual elementary school, the students spoke good English and even shared several presentations for us. In the afternoon we ran a clinic at a high school for 36 kids. These kids were a little more “cool” than the elementary kids, but no less excited about playing some volleyball. Several team members shared their testimonies and did a fantastic job!

The Central American Games are being held in San Jose, which is great for sports, but terrible for traffic. Nonetheless, we thought it was worth the extra effort to catch a volleyball match at the National Gymnasium. We watched the Nicaragua and Guatemala National teams duke it out before heading to our match against the Bank of Costa Rica. We did win the match 3-1, but it so much more about the fun and the interaction together. Those last longer than wins and losses! One of our players shared her testimony and God’s redeeming work in her life.

We got home and had Team Time, studying the life of Jonathan and his role as a “Game Changer” for the Lord.

This morning we went through the same routine before heading out on the bus at 7:15. We were at a school this morning of 3,000 students. Nattie and the PTR Costa Rica volunteers invest a good deal of time at this school each week, training these kids in various sports and sharing God’s Truth from the Bible. It was great to be a small part of that today as we ran several clinics for 150 kids. We like to call it “organized chaos.” Either way, the kids always love hanging out and learning. They were so eager this morning to play volleyball and to listen to the testimony of one of our players.

In the afternoon we were up in the mountains at a small private school where we had 50 kids in a small covered gym. It was nice to be protected from the sun yet outside. Most of these kids are part of a weekly volleyball program that a partnering ministry puts on. It was great to be able to encourage this group in sharing Christ through volleyball.

After the clinic we headed to the church for a snack and to put our feet up for a few minutes before our match with “San Jose.” This team was a mix of adult players with players from the National Champion high school team in all of Costa Rica. It was a fun match and the ladies played very well. More than winning the match, we won respect. We enjoyed a great time of interacting with the players a bit after the match and were able to share two testimonies. God is good!

We returned home soon after to a great Costa Rican meal of rices, beans, platanos, grilled chicken, and pasta salad. We certainly had our fill before Team Time, where we studied Esther and her courage in approaching the king to protect her people.

Bed time as tomorrow will be here soon. Thank you so much for your investment in our lives as you pray for us and think about us as we serve the Lord here in Costa Rica. Muy buenas noches!

On a side note, we are all enjoying the morphing of our white winterized skin into something much more red and “summerized.” It feels great to be out in the heat right now!

Costa Rica Update #2 March 11, 2013

Buenas noches!

What a day! It was the perfect day to get acclimated and prepared for a busy week. We had a fantastic time worshiping the Lord with our brothers and sisters at CED. After a hearty breakfast of fresh fruit, sandwiches, and coffee, the team shared a song in the service … “Amazing Grace.” The worship band was great and the translator did a tremendous job of communicating God’s Word for our team.

After the service we went to lunch at a local mall. It is a wonderful tradition that the church has. Each Sunday whoever wants to go to lunch heads to the mall. There is a food court there with a combination of American and Costa Rican eateries. Our team probably went 50/50 in their choice of foods. We, of course, had plenty of time to hit up Pops and enjoy some ice cream. Seems to be a team favorite already:).

Well nourished, we went downtown to the outdoor Arts and Crafts Market to buy souvenirs. If nothing else, the team really got into the bartering that takes place when you and the shop owner do not agree on the price of your item. It was different to have our shopping day on the first day we were here, but it was the best way to fit it into the schedule. We spent a good 2 hours scouring the shops for the best items, and I think we are pretty confident that we found the best they had to offer.

We enjoyed a night back at our place of team devotions, testimonies, worship in song, and dinner. At the end of the night we spent a good deal of time in camp prep for tomorrow. It is getting late and we are up at 6:15 tomorrow. Hoping the Lord can make 6 hours feel like 8-10!

Thanks for praying for us! It is much appreciated. We are excited about what the Lord is going to do tomorrow through our two clinics and evening match. May the Lord be glorified in all we do and say!

Costa Rica update #1 March 10, 2013

We are safe, sound, and tired in Costa Rica. It was quite a long ride for the Messiah team as it took them about 5 hours to get from Messiah to the airport. One blessing in disguise was the trek through NYC. Normally we travel around the city to avoid the traffic and hubbub of the city, but not today. Saw the Statue of Liberty up close and wandered through Chinatown and past the 9/11 memorial before making our way to the airport. It was a glorious day for a drive the airport, if nothing else.

We got checked in and settled in with enough time to grab lunch before boarding. We were all under the impression that a movie was going to accompany the 4:45 minute ride to Costa Rica. The TVs were lowered and the magazine told us we were getting something, but it was all a ruse. Nonetheless, it gave the team more time for sleeping, reading, and interacting.

We were met by our PTR CR hosts and our driver, who drove us up the mountain to the place we are staying. This place sits up on the mountainside and overlooks the city. It is beautiful! We got settled in, grabbed a snack, and are now ready to hit the sack. Looking forward to a great night’s rest and a great day at church! Hope the 1 hour less in sleep does not cramp your style too much. We will be going from 1 to 2 hours behind you on the East Coast.

Thanks for praying for us and following along as we keep you updated here.

!Buenas noches!