Hope Costa Rica Update 6.7.19

Juegas Baloncesto?

We wanted to update everyone on not only what the team has been doing at the schools and other locations, but also how the team has grown closer to each other and God, in 3 days.

If there were any moments where we forgot we were in Costa Rica, those were quickly forgotten thanks to the birds proudly chirping in the morning. Now, the birds are absolutely gorgeous in every way; you don’t get to see the variety and color of these birds every day in America. And we are truly blessed to be able to see them each and every day. But there is just something about them singing at 5:30am that just doesn’t seem to be the most pleasant wake-up call that we could ask for.

What does bring smiles to our faces however, are the High School and Middle School students we were able to visit today. We had a great time at the Colegico Ecologico Bilinguie San Martin school. The students were fluent in English, so it was easier to connect with them. After meeting them and sharing a little bit about who we are and our stories (Testimonies) and why we were there, we enjoyed some competitive rounds of dodgeball with and against the kids. Something that we have learned over the past couple days is to be flexible with our schedule and with the games and activities we do with the students themselves. We often see a handful of students who may not want to participate with the whole group. So for us, being willing to branch out and connect with them when they don’t want to engage in sports, is a way we have been flexible in our ministry. For example, the girls weren’t huge fans of dodgeball, so a lot of our female leaders would just step to the side and talk to them and get to know them or engage in a “sideline” game with a smaller group. That way they were still included, but in a way that we could reach them on a more personal level.

It’s fascinating to see how God works on all different levels. Whether it be a competitive game of dodgeball where the students faced off against the leaders (and somehow we lost), or just the quiet moments to reflect on what is going on, and appreciating the beauty of not only the scenery, but how he is working through us to reach the students.

After miraculously surviving a bus ride through a city that appears to lack any traffic laws, we arrived at an elementary school in a rougher part of San Jose. Our team was dragging from a long day of clinics at the high school, but our energy was immediately restored by the shouts of excitements, high fives, and hugs from the kids we encountered upon entering the school. We climbed some stairs up the side of a steep hill to reach the school’s basketball court that overlooked the mountains. The kids who followed were a group of 20 third graders with excitement levels on par with the Energizer Bunny™. We ran relay races and played a number of fun games with the kids. While this was occurring, Jack gained a sassy posse of third grade girls. When he asked one of the girls in Spanish, “Where do you live?” she replied, “Why do you want to know?” This group of third graders gave us so much joy and energy that we truly needed. It was amazing to have God teach us to be joyful in all circumstances through these young kids.

During one of the games, one of the boys isolated himself on the sidelines because he didn’t want to play. Reagan and I (Gabbi) approached him with a basketball and asked, “Juegas baloncesto?” (Do you play basketball?) He looked up from the ground and shyly nodded. We brought him over to a basketball hoop aside from the main game and encouraged him to dribble and shoot with us. His face lit up when he took his first shot. We played with him for a few more minutes, celebrating his few shots that made it up to the net-less rim. This was a meaningful moment, that showed how sport is a universal language. The few minutes with this young boy proved to be powerful evidence to show how God uses sport to bring together people of all nations.

Not to be forgotten however is the exciting moments that occur on the bus rides to and from the locations. One of the greatest parts of the trips is putting away our cell phones and spending more time playing games like Connect Four™ and games of cards instead of sitting on “google” all day. It isn’t rare for us to share a moment that brings one or two of us to tears because of how funny it is… or at least how funny it seems to us. For instance, it could be dead quiet in the bus ride after sitting in the sun and Madison may blurt out “I’d give anything for a 10-piece Chicken Nugget right now”, to which the whole bus erupts in laughter. The little moments like that along with special connections and the bonds we make and continue to grow on is what makes this trip so special. And being able to use that joy to share God’s word is pretty much indescribable.

Finally, finishing up the day with some awesome fish, veggies, mashed potatoes, and a Costa Rican custard dessert was the only way to slow down after a day of laughs and exhaustion. The only thing sweeter than the dessert was the love poured out during our “team time”, where group members share Testimonies to go along with some worship and another night studying Philippians and a small section of Colossians. Before we head to bed, there is always time for more games, and for Emari to talk trash about how good he is at Connect-Four™. Until tomorrow, Stay Classy and enjoy the terrific traffic laws, and public restrooms of the USA.

Love,

Reagan, Gabbi and Megan

Stay Tuned for Claire and Jack to give you nothing short of a masterpiece blog entry tomorrow!

 

Hope Costa Rica Update 6.5.19

Day One was a blast! God definitely showed his patience and strength by allowing us to get up at 5:20 am this morning. As we journeyed on the bus, we saw all of the mountains that were hidden in the dark the night we arrived. We traveled through the crowded streets to the Aruba school which lay on a hill.

Upon arrival, we traveled amongst the group of giddy school children to the sports area, a large concrete rectangle shadowed in the mountains of all the open tops of the building. From Blob Tag to Fire in the Jungle (a game very similar to Sharks and Minnows that is popular amongst the children in Costa Rica). Whether one of us was fluent in Spanish or simply knew “hola”, there was such a beautiful joy shown from the children we played with. God’s joy is so contagious when shared amongst us. Just being around these children, their innocence and sense of adventure, caused such a powerful flow of joy over all of us despite the language barriers. This truly showed how we are all God’s children, no matter where we come from or what language we.

God’s demonstration of equality amongst His children seemed to be the evident theme today when we went to the prison. Despite their situation they were super open and friendly. Going in we didn’t know what to expect, but once in the prison and seeing the inmates our perspectives were changed for the better. After a hard fought game of basketball with the inmates it was an eye opening experience. Seeing the joy filled within each of them was unique to see despite their situation. They were great players and showed a lot of sportsmanship throughout the game. At the end of our day we went from two separate teams to one big happy family and praying for one another.

We ended the day gathered as a group in the AMCA house going over our Roses, Thorns and Buds. The Rose as the highlight, the Thorn as an area where growth is needed, and the Bud as an area we are excited for in the future. As for the Rose, we discussed our excitement and joy being within the school and prison, two vastly different environments and groups of people, and seeing that joy and excitement reciprocated. Our Thorn was largely due to the language barrier. Not being able to communicate the love we wanted to spread made us realize how much we take our words for granted. But in spite of lack of communication, our Bud is for tomorrow’s clinic, where they speak English and our message may be told! Stay tuned!

Love your ~Jumping~ Juniors J

Emari and Lauryn

Next up on your daily blog……. Raegan and Gabbi, and Megan will update you on our day tomorrow!!

 

Hope Costa Rica Update 6.4.19

Greetings from Costa Rica!

We departed from Hope this morning and drove to Chicago. From there, we flew to Houston and then to our final destination of San Jose. We arrived at 8pm local time and it was pitch black so we’re not really sure what it looks like yet, but we made it to the AMCA house! It was a long day of travel but everything went smoothly and we are emocionado (we’re hoping this is excited in Spanish since we said this in the airport) for what is to come!

Our hosts picked us up from the airport and had food prepared for us when we arrived. Following sandwiches and Costa Rican cookies, we had our first team meeting in country. One thing we have already been learning is flexibility. In our original schedule, we were going to lead a sports clinic in the morning at one elementary school and another at a different school in the afternoon. However, there was a change of plans for the afternoon and we are no longer going to a different elementary school. Instead, we will be playing basketball at an all-male prison. Our basketball skills are subpar at best so wish us luck!

It’s only day one and we can already see God working in so many ways within our team! Thank you for the continued prayers and support! One specific prayer request is for the ability to lead and communicate effectively with the kids and inmates on our first day. We are unsure what to expect but are open and eager for all the experiences to come.

Sincerely your favorite ~rising~ seniors,

Christian and Jenna

P.S. stay tuned for Lauryn and Emari’s update tomorrow. And yes, it’s really hot here!