Costa Rica Volleyball – 5.29.14 Update

The team is back safe and sound in San Jose!  As I write this at 1:30 am, everyone on the team is still up.  At 3:00 we leave for the airport, so we decided to just pull an all-nighter.  We spent the day (Thursday) traveling back from Los Chiles.  As we traveled, the team stopped at different tourist attractions near Volcano Arenal.  We took a boat ride in the lake near the volcano, enjoyed the natural hot springs heated by Arenal, and soared through the rainforest in the canopy tour.  We arrived back in time for a late dinner and completed our final team time at 11:30.  We are passing the night by packing, listening to music, playing games, and eating lots of pancakes.  Thank you Jessica (our committed and selfless volunteer who was with us 24/7 this week!) for making them for us so late at night.  We love you!
Our time in Los Chiles was very different from our experiences in San Jose.   First of all it was very hot!  We were definitely not in the city anymore either!  Los Chiles is a very rural, poor area, but the countryside is gorgeous and we saw a toucan, monkeys, snakes, and an anteater.  We also had some wonderful days of ministry!
The first day was spent working on the farm that we were “camping” at.   We helped our hosts clear a field of trees, stumps, and shrubs with machetes and shovels.  It was very hard work and so hot, but the team never complained and we were able to accomplish a lot.  We were very thankful for our siesta (traditional nap time after lunch) and cafecito (coffee and snacks in the late afternoon)!
Wednesday was our last day of clinics.  We were very tired, but excited to have one last opportunity to teach volleyball and share the Gospel.  We went to a small elementary school in the morning and a soccer field in one of the local communities that afternoon.  The clinics reminded us of the movie Field of Dreams.  We “built”  (put up) the volleyball field and the kids came.  The coaches thoroughly enjoyed investing in kids’ lives who have very little in comparison to the families we know in the States.  What a blessing to be able to provide an opportunity that these little players have never had before.
When reflecting on the past 2 week, the team could not be more thankful for all that has taken place.  New friendships have been developed, the message of the Gospel spread, testimonies shared, and love displayed all through the sport of volleyball.  All the glory goes to God.  It was only through His Holy Spirit’s guidance, protection, and provision that we were able to accomplish anything in Costa Rica.
The team will have a 5 hour flight to Newark Airport today and are expected to arrive in the States around 1:30.  I am sure they will be exhausted, but they are excited to take back what they have learned and experienced  to share with their friends and families.  Thank you for all your prayers and support!  We could not have done it without you!

Costa Rica Volleyball – 5.25.14 Update

It is hard to believe that the volleyball team has been together now for 1 full week!  It is amazing how fast people bond when they come together for the specific purpose of ministry.  Many of the people we spend time with think we are all from the same place in the States and knew each other beforehand.  I praise God for this unity that is only possible through the working of the Holy Spirit in each of our lives.
We finally got to sleep in today!  It was much needed and the last time anyone will be sleeping past 7 until they return home.  We were blessed with the opportunity to attend the local church Push The Rock Costa Rica partners with.  It is always a unique experience to worship in another language.  The church provided a translator for the message which the team was very thankful for and we contributed to the service by singing Our God.
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After church we headed to the mall to eat with members of the congregation.   We then all played soccer for 2 hours.  It was fun to spend most of our day with brothers and sisters in Christ who have a completely different language and culture than our own!  We may not have been able to fully understand and speak with each other, but our love for Christ is all that we needed to connect and develop relationships.
Monday morning we have a clinic in a bilingual elementary school that Push The Rock Costa Rica teaches gym classes at one day a week.  The team is looking forward to the opportunity to work with kids that understand English!  At noon we leave for Los Chiles, a very poor area of Costa Rica where we will connect with some local churches to do clinics in their communities.   This will be a completely different experience than working in San Jose, a very westernized city.  Los Chiles is rural area near the Nicaraguan border.  After enjoying a typical Costa Rican restaurant and stopping to visit a special spot known for its beautiful iguanas, we hope to reach our final destination around 6:00.
We will be staying at a small farm in the country and not have internet access until we return to San Jose late Thursday night, so there will be no updates until Friday.  Please continue to pray for the team and ministry we are doing.  Prayers for safe travels, health, and energy are always appreciated, but even more importantly, please pray for those we are ministering to.  May their hearts be receptive to the message of hope and love we share.

Costa Rica – 5.23 and 24 Update 2014

Friday morning we returned to the men’s prison to play against the young inmates in a soccer match.  We were excited to return after having had the opportunity to connect with the boys the day before.  They were thrilled to have the opportunity to play their favorite sport. PTR CR provided them with official jerseys and cleats and we even had officials.  For not being in soccer shape or having played recently, our boys did very well … of course they had the help of 3 Tico men playing on their team, 1 of which scored 3 goals helping us come away with a 4-0 win.  The girls enjoyed cheering on the sidelines with the inmates who were waiting  their turn to play.  We are so thankful we were able to provide these young men with the opportunity to play.  They only play games on an actual soccer field 3 or 4 times a year.  Needless to say, they had been counting down the days for this!  We praise God that there were no problems and we had another chance to share a testimony of God’s grace, forgiveness, and redemption to those who so desperately need to hear it!

Friday afternoon we had both a women’s and men’s match against 2 of the best high school teams in the San Jose area.  These were very last minute scheduled games and the ladies were more than thrilled to have the opportunity to play another match.  The men helped the 3 girls from our team out by playing defense and setting while the girls hit.  Our opponents played very well for having to compete against a team with 3 men on it, but in the end Push The Rock came away with the win in the 5th game.

CR vball womens match

After having played a match late the night before, a soccer game in the morning, and helping the girls out right before their game, the men had to dig deep for energy and strength to play against this excellent high school team.  They did a phenomenal job and truly demonstrated sportsmanship and excellence in their playing.  Each game was fairly close, but our young opponents had a bit more stamina to pull away with the W.  It is a blessing to be able to share about God’s love in the public schools here.  Both teams joined us in prayer and listened to testimonies from our players.  They were very receptive to what we had to say and extremely grateful that we would travel so far from our homes to play volleyball with them.

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Saturday morning was our last men’s match against another club team of men in their 20’s and 30’s.  The boys were quite tired and lost the first 3 games, but they were determined to win their last game in Costa Rica and did so with a score of 25-20.

Following the game, we had a few hours to rest, eat, and share our longer testimonies with one another.  I love this part of the trip, because it causes much more intimacy and unity among the teammates, not to mention it is extremely encouraging in our own personal walks with God.  Afterwards we left for the Artisan’s Market to buy souvenirs.  Following this we headed for the church and joined in fellowship with their young adult group.   It was just a little taste of the service we will experience tomorrow morning.

Tomorrow is our first day to sleep in!  Church starts at 10:00 and afterwards we head the mall to eat and fellowship once again with the church members.  We will most likely play some laid-back soccer with members of the church in the afternoon.  The team is looking forward to a day of well-earned rest.   It is exactly what we need before starting clinics again on Monday!

Costa Rica Volleyball – 5.22.14 Update

Today was a full day!  It started off early and very late, but at the close of a long day, the team had only great things to say about all that took place!  We are truly thankful for the way our team has quickly bonded.  It is only day 2 and God is definitely moving in all of our different ministries.

We started the day at Costa Rica’s largest prison of 2,000-3,000 inmates.  PTR Costa Rica runs a soccer program 2 times a week with 2 sections of about 12 boys from the ages of 18-24 years-old.  This morning we held a volleyball clinic with each of the groups of young men.  Many had never played volleyball ever before and we were a bit nervous about getting them excited to participate.  They live to play soccer here.  Soccer is their religion.  All praise be to God that almost all got involved.  It was a wonderful sight to see people who have very difficult circumstances and lack little hope smile and laugh with us.  We are excited to return to the prison tomorrow to play them in their favorite sport … SOCCER!

In the late afternoon, the team held another clinic for a completely different group of participants.  The team worked with about 60 high school girls.  There were all different abilities among the girls and the large number of players in one gymnasium made the situation a little bit challenging, but the team adjusted well.  We are confident that the girls enjoyed their time with us because of the number of pictures we had to pose for afterwards.  They especially liked taking pictures with all the handsome men on our team!

Our day finished with the men’s first match.  Little did we know until we started that we were playing a club team that had 5 or so players from Costa Rica’s national team.  They had just returned from competing in Canada and placed 2nd in the tournament.  Needless to say, they were a very good team and won all 4 of our games, but the men played their hardest and enjoyed the experience of being able to compete with a team at that level.  For their first time playing together, they did very well and are now even more excited for the 2 remaining men’s games.

We are thankful for the opportunities the Lord has provided for us to serve here in Costa Rica.  With each different activity, we continue to be encouraged by the way God is leading and using us.  Thank you for praying!

CR vball mens 1st match

Costa Rica volleyball – 5.21.14 update

Our first full day in Costa Rica was spent together as a team preparing for the ministry that will take place in the next 9 days.   It was a full day of learning more about Costa Rica and the Latin culture as well as Push The Rock and the different types of ministry activities we will be doing.  We also spent some time outside practicing together as a team to prepare for our games.  We finished our training day with a trip to Pops, a must-do experience for each of our teams that come to Costa Rica.  Pops is a brand of ice cream that is only made and sold in Costa Rica … and it is delicious!

Wednesday was our first full day of ministry.   We started the morning off playing volleyball in Costa Rica’s largest women’s prison with about 100 inmates.  We taught some basic skills to start off our time there.  Later we divided the women up into teams, each team having 1 or 2 of the team members helping the ladies out.  It was a unique experience to watch our team of mostly men teach and play volleyball with these women.  They were true gentlemen, showing the inmates respect and love that many have never experienced by men before.  When it was time to go, they were asking us to come back again soon.  I am sure we would all love to return, but unfortunately there are many others here who also need to experience Christ’s love, like the foster home we visited in the afternoon.

After lunch the team traveled to a government-run foster home to hold a volleyball clinic.  There are about 80 kids from the ages of 2-18 living in the facility.  All of the children have either been abused or abandoned by their parents before the government placed them in the foster home.  Push The Rock Costa Rica runs a weekly sports program for the kids between the ages of 6-12 there.  It was extremely encouraging to have some of the older teenagers who normally do not want to participate with the younger kids, join us this afternoon.  We were also blessed that God answered our prayers in holding off the rain.  It poured before and a little after our clinic, but not during!  Gracias a Díos!

In the night we played our first match!  We played against 2 different co-ed teams from Costa Rica’s National Bank.  The 3 girls on the team were extremely thankful to have the opportunity to play since our next 2 matches will be just for the men.   After we had played both games, shared a testimony, prayed with the teams, and taken pictures, we assumed we were done for the night.  However both teams wanted to play another game with us.   We were more than happy to play more volleyball!  It made for a late night, but I am sure we would all agree that it was more than worth it!  One of our opponents who is a believer shared with the team how she understood how difficult traveling to another country and doing ministry can be, but that she was so thankful the team was willing to come to Costa Rica.  It is always encouraging to hear your work is appreciated!

We closed our day with a late dinner and a testimony from one of the team members.  Thursday we will be doing a volleyball clinic in the young men’s prison and an elementary school.  We will finish the day with a men’s match against a local club team.  We are so thankful for all your prayers and support and look forward to sharing what else God does through the team in the coming days!

Costa Rica Volleyball – 5.20.14 update

Praise the Lord the team arrived safely into San Jose last night! All of the bags arrived without incident and the team made it to their lodging by 10:30 pm. With the 2 hour time change it felt late, but the team was very excited to finally be in Costa Rica. The team will be training all day today and will be getting ready for the ministry through volleyball clinics and matches at schools, orphanages, and prisons.

Thank you in advance for praying for this team. We will try to get up as many updates as possible so you can closely following along with all that the Lord is doing!

!Pura Vida!

Eastern University Women’s Soccer team arrives in Zambia May 11, 2014

The EUWS program arrived safely in Zambia on Friday and has hit the ground running, working directly with our staff in Zambia.  To keep up with all that is happening there, please check for regular updates on the PTR Zambia page.  You can also visit the Eastern team’s blog as players will be writing their thoughts and reflections on each passing day.  That can be found by clicking here!

Thank you for praying!