Costa Rica update…7.29.15

IMG_1389We spent the majority of our day at CED Church. During the morning we led the small group of preschoolers to a nearby park where we played some of the same group games as yesterday, but this time with the girls leading and calling out the instructions. After the games, one of the team members shared a testimony about God’s faithfulness to always help us. We then had a little free time, which turned into all of the kids practicing their penalty kicks. So we decided to get a game going and divided into two teams. The soccer game ended in a 0-0 tie. We brought the kids back to the church, had lunch, and then started in on a few service projects. Two girls stayed inside and cleaned all sorts of toys including Legos, puzzles, action figures, and a pink Barbie convertible. Another team member and I did some yard work outside the church. We cut up some palm fronds and bagged the leaves. We also washed the windows outside of the preschool classroom. Much of the afternoon was filled with recalling and singing Disney songs. We were treated to some delicious empanadas after we finished our work and then returned to our home, AMCA. We had our Team Time devotions and heard the local Push The Rock director’s testimony of how she came to work with and serve as a leader in the ministry here. Next we went to another church member’s house for dinner, where the girls discovered a new television show that they found particularly amusing. We are attempting to get to bed reasonably early because we have a very early day tomorrow. Thank you for your prayers! Pura vida!

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Ready, aim, FIRE!
Ready, aim, FIRE!

Costa Rica update…7.28.15

The girls heading to the preschool.
The girls heading to the preschool.

After a delicious home-cooked meal in one of the church member’s homes, and a good night’s sleep, we woke up refreshed. We first visited a preschool where we worked with two groups of children. We played some well-known favorites (duck, duck, goose and “Simón dice”) in the small outdoor space with the two-four year old group. Next we played a running game called “banana split” and a tag game with the four-six year old group. All of the kids listened well, were very cooperative, and participated actively in the games. With each group I shared a short testimony followed by a message from the local Push The Rock director about the creation story and a reminder that God made us in His image. The girls jumped right in playing with the kids, encouraging them in the games, and always offering to help with whatever they could. We went to the church for lunch before heading out to the foster home. This was mentioned by all of the girls as one of the highlights of their day. We started with some free time to play with the kids as they gathered at the outdoor court. Dodge balls, soccer balls, and a basketball flew back and forth, bouncing off the roof of one of the homes in the complex. Then we divided the group into two teams for a game of kickball. After the game one of the girls shared a testimony. Her description of meeting a friend who loved her so much that he died for her intrigued one of the boys and he asked if it was true. The director elaborated, presenting the gospel to the group. It was amazing for me to see how much these kids have grown in a year and that a few even recognized me from last summer when I first came to the homes. We are all glad that we will have the chance to go back next Tuesday as well. We took the long way back to avoid traffic, were home long enough a quick dinner, and then went back to the church for Bible study. Finally we wrapped up the night with our Team Time devotions. We had a wonderful first day! Pura vida!

Some of the views from our drives around San José.
Some of the views from our drives around San José.

Costa Rica update…7.27.15

It has been a long day, and its only 4:00 pm (local time). Waking up at 2:30 am to leave for the airport at 3:15 am (in the rain), plus a two-hour time difference likely all contribute to that. It was a nice direct flight down to Costa Rica – the first flight ever for one of our team members. Some of us took advantage of catching a few naps on board, which were interspersed with many discussions of books and movies. Our flight arrived early; we were met and picked up by local Push The Rock staff at the airport in San José, and then drove back to our new home. After briefly settling in, we were called down to eat a delicious homemade meal, but it felt like it should be dinner, not lunch. Conversation at the lunch table was a mix of Spanish, English, some confused faces, and lots of laughs. After lunch we made a quick trip to the nearby AM-PM grocery store to pick up some breakfast items and snacks. Thankfully today is an easy day with a lot of time built in to relax, play card games, and prepare for the coming week and a half. When we returned from our errands, we sat down for a little planning time, discussing the school and foster home we are headed to tomorrow and planning age-appropriate games and activities. We decided to meet for our Team Time devotions before dinner, since we did not think we would have the energy or focus to meet afterward. It is still very surreal for all of us to be here – and especially for me to return, but we’re all looking forward to jumping in and getting started with the kids tomorrow!

Thanks for your prayers! Pura Vida!

Liz

Zambia update…last day here! July 24, 2015

Well, it was our last full day in Zambia, so we made the most of it by spending the day in Botswana(neighboring country), where we visited Chobe National Park to view animals in their natural habitat as the Lord placed them!  It was amazing,  words won’t do it justice.  The first few hours of our time was spent cruising the Chobe River, seeing lots of water fowl, hippo, crocodile, elephants and more.

After a delicious lunch, the team was driven through the park for several more hours, seeing even more elephants, various antelope, warthogs, giraffe and more.  Suffice to say, we had an amazing time and it was a fitting way to end our time in this beautiful country.

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We are so grateful for this opportunity, thank you all for your prayers and support.  We have enjoyed safety and health each and every day!  Thank you in advance for praying for our safe return to our various homes back in the USA.

Tomorrow morning we fly out of Zambia, have a 6 hour layover in Johannesburg(South Africa), and then we are due to land at JFK in New York early Sunday morning.  We will see you soon!  Tuyobonana!

Zambia update…7.23.15

We were excited to come to Livingstone, and Livingstone had a lot in store for us, so we’ll do our best to share it accurately!

After failing to see the sun rise above the horizon despite our best attempt(don’t ask), we piled into the bus at 7AM for our 3.5ish hour trip back south to Livingstone, the ‘tourist capital’ of Zambia.  Mostly the team slept…while not rockin’ to the sweet music that was playing!

We unloaded our bags and checked into our rooms at the backpackers’ lodge where we are staying, and then headed for lunch and to Victoria Falls.  If you didn’t know, Victoria Falls is one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World…and now we understand why!  Pictures don’t really do it justice, but here are a couple just to try.

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Breathtaking to say the least.

After wandering around for a while, we began the half mile hike to the bottom where you can sit on big rocks by the surging water and take it all in from a different perspective.  And this is when the fun really began…

You see, there were baboons…a lot of them, on the walk down.  They are used to humans, so they just walk behind you, in front of you, or just sit and stare at you as you pass a few inches away.  We found it fun, scary, hilarious…all of the above!  Some of us decided it was a good idea to carry a stick just in case.  Needless to say, we made it down without any incidents other than one of our team almost having her lollipop grabbed from her mouth!(Don’t worry, all was fine).

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At the bottom we simply took it all in and relaxed, staring up at bungee jumpers plummeting off the bridge that connects Zambia and Zimbabwe.  We found a rock big enough for all of us, where we sat for a bit together.  A few of the team members thought it’d be fun to hike a bit farther so they dropped their bags behind us and off they went.

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Meanwhile, those of us on the rock still, watched them from a distance and continued gazing at the river and would be jumpers…until we heard a man yelling.

The man was trying to get our attention because at some point, a baboon had wondered over a few feet behind us, and was rummaging in the back packs we had set behind us.  When we shouted at it, it grabbed one of our bags and took off!  We weren’t sure if there was a passport in it or not, but we were not going to let this guy just get away…so we through rocks and chased it up the rocks until it sat down again with the bag.  One of the group grabbed a stick and as that happened, the baboon decided he’d done enough and dropped the bag, hopping up into a tree.

So after a few moments of excitement, the bag was now back in our possession, thankful for just having a good story and not having lost anything!  At that point we decided it was best to head back up to the top.  Tired and a bit sweaty, we returned to our vehicle and headed to do some shopping for some curios to take home.

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After a couple hours of bartering…and laughing…all were satisfied with their deals and we headed for showers and supper.  As an appetizer we experienced a local delicacy, fried mopane worms(which some of us enjoyed more than others), as well as some crocodile sausage(which tasted like turkey sausage and was quite good actually!).  The popular choice for supper was a burger, and we were all happy with our choices…of course leaving room for dessert.  Fortunately for us, there is a gelato stand on the walk back to where we are staying, so we had to stop there.  Andddd, probably definitely will again tomorrow night!

We ended the night as a team in one of the rooms, discussing our time together, encouraging each other, and closing our time in prayer .  It has been an amazing trip, and today was an awesome way to wind up our time here, experiencing the beauty of His creation, together.  Speaking of the beauty of God’s creation, tomorrow is our safari, and we cannot wait for that!  So off to bed.

Dreaming of lions…

The team

Zambia update…7.22.15

Our last day in Macha was a good one!

For the first half of the day, some of the team went to the school we had been working at last week to help work on some child sponsorship programs, and the rest went back to the local dam to test out a new water filtration system. There is another team coming to visit Push The Rock Zambia in August, and part of their mission is to provide simple but effective water filters to people who need them.  So, in order to do some advance preparation, the Zambia team wanted to do some ‘research,’ and we were happy to be along to help and see how it all worked!  The filter really was simple and easy to set up, and it turned the very dirty water from the dam into potable water within minutes.  Most of us enjoyed a refreshing drink from the now clean water.  It would be interesting to be here in August when there is more done with this program, but for now we were just happy to be part of the preparation.

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After lunch we all piled into the two Push The Rock Zambia vehicles to head to Kalisowe for our final game.  It was about a 15-20 minute drive into the bush, but it was sure worth it.  By the end of the game, there were a couple hundred men, women, and children there.  They were busy laughing, clapping, cheering…just enjoying the game!  They also stormed the field each when we scored, which was lots of fun.  We won 2-0, but it was just a neat experience for all of us, not something we will ever experience in the USA to say the least!

After the game, Boyd shared a bit in Tonga with all those who were there, and we closed in prayer.  Of course we had to take a photo with the other team too.  One really cool thing was after the game, an older gentleman wanted to share something with us.  He mostly wanted to thank us for coming to play against them, but also to thank the ladies on our team for proving that girls and women can indeed play soccer!  Nice job ladies on our team 🙂

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Back home for the night and after supper, we put together a camp fire and ate s’mores, teaching our Zambian contingent all the key aspects of how to make one just right!  They loved them too.  We enjoyed multiple rounds of Mafia as we sat around the fire, but then decided tomorrow will be an early start, especially for those planning to see the sunrise before leaving Macha at 7am.

Hard to believe our time in Macha has come to an end.  It has been a great time, but we also look forward to doing some sightseeing in Livingstone.  Thank you all for praying and following our journey!  We’ll see you soon back in the USA, but first, Victoria Falls and a safari!

The Team

Zambia update…7.21.15

This morning we did some touring and sightseeing around Macha.  We learned a little about the malaria research facility that we are staying at, visited the local dam, and also saw where Push The Rock Zambia is clearing bush to install their own full size soccer field.  There are a lot of thorn bushes and small trees in the way, but the goal is by October to be done and for them to have a fully functioning soccer field.  If we come back next year, we’ll get to use it!

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After lunch we enjoyed our last afternoon at the rec center(tomorrow we have our last game).  The team enjoyed training with the girls and boys, some played Uno and Connect Four…whatever the children were doing, we were doing.  Even in the short amount of time we’ve been here, we’ve been able to learn some names and get to know some of these children at least a little.  We’ll miss them, and will miss the time we’ve been spending with them.  Thankfully at least we are able to take pictures home to help us remember them.

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I think the highlight for most of us today came after supper, which was stellar itself.  Our host prepared taco’s for us, and we even had the special treat of drinking a Coke or orange Fanta to accompany the meal.  Talk about special!  Anyway, the highlight was hearing the testimonies of our last USA born teammate and one from our new Zambian brother as well.  When it comes to the nature of the Lord, upbringing, race, education, etc has no effect…His ways are always the same, and hearing tonight’s testimonies was further confirmation of that.

 

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There was no Dutch Blitz tonight, we are all quite tired and need rest so we can maximize our last day in Macha tomorrow!  Good night all!

The Team

Zambia trip…7.20.15

a1After a group workout of abs, legs and arms(and breakfast), we were off to the rec center for some serious organizing!  Push The Rock Zambia has received a lot of gifts in the last few months, but there has been no room to organize and inventory just exactly what has been given.  So today, our task was simple:  Unpack all the ‘goods,’ take inventory of it and put it back in some kind of order that makes sense.  aIt was kind of like a big puzzle which we attacked with lots of energy, and by lunch time, we had succeeded.  It was a huge help to our friends working here, and we were privileged to help.

 

After lunch we had our next soccer game, and according to local reports, it would be our toughest during our time here.  It was!  We played against the local nursing school’s team which consisted of all men between the ages of 20-25(it seemed), who apparently have been playing a lot of soccer in their lives!  All that being said, we did start off with a 1-0 lead, which was cut to 1-1 by half.  They made some second half changes and scored 2 quick goals, which proved to be enough to win 3-1.  But the game was so fun.  We all enjoyed playing a good team on a nicer field, regardless of the score.  Our effort was not the problem as we played well as a team, we were just beaten by a good team!  As the game ended and the sun set, our opponents thanked us heartily, and asked for another match. Unfortunately, we told them, a rematch will have to wait until 2016 when the next Push The Rock team is here!  But it as fun for all of us, and it was great to play a game with a lot of our new young friends watching, as we got to practice what we’ve been preaching…even in a losing effort!

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Dinner tasted extra good tonight, Team Time continued in James 3 and 4, and then we heard from another team member.  Tomorrow we’ll have heard from everyone…and then it is almost time to leave.  Where is the time going!

Looking forward to spending some time seeing some things around the community tomorrow as we haven’t done much in the way of ‘sightseeing’ up till this point.

Off to bed…after having played a little more Dutch Blitz of course:)

Team Zambia

Zambia update…7.19.15

We were excited to attend the church that Boyd and Arold(our new Push The Rock Zambia friends) attend.  We were told to be there at 9:30am, and so we were.  And we were the first ones there!  Here one can never be sure if a time given is an actual time, or a rough estimate of time, but either way we were ready for the day and enjoyed the cool breeze and warm sunshine until people started arriving withing 30 or 40 minutes, including Boyd and his son Brian.

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The pastor pulled us aside on his arrival to welcome us, adding an apology that the church is doing some ‘renovations,’ including the seating, meaning there were two benches, and other than that, bricks to sit on.  Of course, being the visitors, they graciously allowed our team to sit on the only benches in the church.  Humbling to say the least!

Sunday school started, all in Tonga, and by 11:00 or so, the main service started.  Thankfully, the lay pastor was able and willing to translate into English for those of us not yet fluent in the local language!  We enjoyed some beautiful singing(and drumming!), and the sermon was from I Timothy 6:1-10.  We were encouraged to look at our lives, not our friends’ lives, but our lives, and see what the Lord is telling us.  He also talked about prayer, and how without it, we will miss many of the blessings that the Lord has for us.

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After the service, we shook hands with each of the congregants upon their exit.  Following a little time of talking, we met Boyd and Arold’s children and wives, which was special after spending the entire week playing and working together.  We were also treated to another Zambian favorite, ibbwatu, which is a drink made from maize, water, and a particular root.  To say it is an acquired taste may be accurate, but all of the team at least made an effort to drink it!

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Back home for lunch and some Sabbath day rest.  We played cards, volleyball, and then some more cards.  It was a refreshing day after a busy week.  We are looking forward to doing some inventory work tomorrow for our hosts, as there is a lot of equipment that needs to be organized and sorted.

We are so thankful to be here, and thankful for our new Zambian friends who have made us feel welcome in this past week.  Hard to believe we are leaving in only a few more days.  Thank you for praying for us!  We have had 100% health, and no serious injuries, which is a real blessing for sure.

Team Zambia