DAY 10: TIME FLIES AND SO DO WE

BY: Dut (Emma), Tigger (Allison), Megatron (Meg)

After a great last night of reflection, we woke up for the airport this morning at 5:00am. When we got to airport, we cleared security and ate our last Costa Rican breakfast. We sat around and chatted over breakfast and reminisced on the great trip we had.

We had an uneventful flight back to the United States and many of us slept or watched some movies to help pass the time. We landed in Houston and once again cleared customs and security (phew). We passed the time in the Houston airport with countless walks, shopping, and playing a last couple rounds of “The Mind,” a favorite game on this trip. We then boarded our second to last leg of the trip and flew to Chicago Midway. We are currently on our way back to Hope. We have enjoyed our time together and are sad to see this trip end.

As we reflected on our trip throughout the last 24 hours, we are thankful for the amazing memories, great friends, and life lessons that were created on this trip. We have truly come to appreciate all the beauties of our world. We realized how fortunate we are to have clean water at our fingertips. The kids and adults we were surrounded by filled us with so much joy and although communicating was hard we were able to use sport to develop relationships and lifegiving experiences. God has worked in and through each one of us and we are excited to take this excitement home wherever that might be.

Thank you for your thoughts and prayers throughout our trip. We can’t wait to share all our amazing stories. The Lord is moving in powerful ways in each of our lives and we pray it continues into the rest of our summer and school year.

Signing off from Costa Rica,

Dut (Emma), Tigger (Allison), and Megatron (Meg)

DAY 9: HUMBLING, LIFE-GIVING, JOYFUL, GROWTH, GOOFY, OVERWHELMING, MEANINGFUL, ADVENTUROUS, REFRESHING, BOUNDARY-LESS

BY: EZ (Eli S), Doorman (Griffin), and Kit-Kat (Kate)

After a chilly night’s rest (the boys’ room set at a mere 62 degrees), we all were so grateful for Nattie, Josué, and Randall the Bus Driver for preparing a delicious breakfast this morning. Our meal consisted of cereal, yogurt, toast, eggs, and a Costa Rican favorite, fruit – Mangoes are a delicacy amongst the group! Once dishes were cleaned and floors were swept, the two-hour trip to Jaco went by muy rápido thanks to Catch Phrase and some great conversation…Congratulations to Groupa (Eli K) for securing his first Catch Phrase win!

Our trip to Marina Bellena yesterday was a stark contrast to today’s adventure. Tranquility was traded for unforgiving waves that swept everyone off their feet. There is nothing better than a good rush of saltwater up the nose! Josué provided us tips and tricks to avoid getting consumed by the waves while Doorman participated in photoshoot number two in his beloved hammock with Queen Nattie behind the camera.

Following our memorable time spent at the beach, the group walked through the streets of Jaco, many deciding to spend the remainder of their colones (Costa Rican money). Group favorites included açaí bowls, pastries, and Britt Coffee – T Vines’ second coffee within a span of 20 minutes. To fill up before the trek back to AMCA, we stopped at a roadside buffet for a quick lunch that included the go-to of the week, rice and beans!

“It is so good to be home!” someone cheered as we pulled into AMCA. With sadness, we said goodbye to our beloved new friends, Nattie, Josué, and Benjamin. We grouped up for our final discussion of the trip which started by sharing the things we appreciated about each other throughout the week. Each of us fit so perfectly into the puzzle of our group – Doorman with his adventurous spirit, Megatron’s joyful presence, and Tigger with her willingness to be all in, all the time. As the night went on, the conversation grew deeper (when asked for a word to describe the trip, look to the title of today’s blog for Costa Crew’s answers). The group reminisced over our favorite memories of the trip and discussed how best to bring our takeaways from this wonderful experience back to Michigan. To encompass such an experience, we had the opportunity to write letters to our future selves, reminding us of the joys of Costa Rica and its people, and the ways God is working in our everyday lives that LB will send to us in a few months.

The Costa Crew would like to thank each one of you who have supported us along this journey. If you are reading this, it means you hold a special place in each of our lives. Whether a family member or friend, you have made a significant impact on who we are and who we are becoming, and this trip would not be possible without you.

With grateful hearts,

EZ, Doorman, and Kit-Kat (Eli S, Griffin, & Kate)

DAY 8: COCONUT, CRABS, AND CHANCE

BY: Double A (Alaina), Magma (Jenna), and T Vines (Taylor)

After waking up very early the last couple of days, we were grateful to have a slower start to the morning. We were excited to wake up to roosters crowing and Doorman (Griffin) letting us know he got the best picture in his hammock. We ended our time on the Reserve Gauymi with a breakfast of pancakes, toast, eggs, bacon, empanadas, and fruit. Before getting back on the road, we thanked the pastor and his family for their hospitality and generosity in hosting us and we were able to leave sports equipment for them to distribute to their schools.

During our three-hour drive to the west coast, Chance (Ben) brought out his speaker and played songs that everyone took turns queuing up. A few of the favorites were “Dancing in the Moonlight” and “Danger Zone”. The views to the west coast continued to leave us amazed by God’s creation.

Our drive landed us at the Ballena National Marine Park at the Pacific Ocean. The beach was gorgeous surrounded by mountains, palm trees, islands, and large waves. There is a part in the ocean that parts ways to create the shape of a whale tail, which we attempted to walk, but the tide was too high. While we were swimming instead, it started to rain. We cracked open coconuts, trying fresh coconut water and the coconut as well. We also found some wildlife, including crabs that pinched Josué (a favorite new addition to our team for the journey south), lizards, and squid. We swam, tossed a tennis ball around, floated in the warm water, and looked for LB’s red shorts to come back with lunch. It wouldn’t be a day in Costa Rica without the daily afternoon rainstorm, but we powered through, still grateful to be together in the beauty surrounding us.

We all crammed unto the bus, soaking wet and covered in sand to arrive at our Airbnb. We ate lunch together outside, including homemade sandwiches, various chips, and apples. We played various card games and took some time to reflect before dinner. We were treated to Pizza Time, a local restaurant in Osa, Costa Rica. After our delicious dinner, we stopped at the supermarket to pick up breakfast for tomorrow morning and convinced LB to let us get ice cream.

We finished the night with learning more about each other and the importance of remembering scripture.

As we start to close out our trip, we thank you once again for continuing to follow along in seeing how we grow.

“Peace and Love”,
Double A, Magma, & T Vines (Alaina, Jenna & Taylor)

DAY 7: CALL SIGNS AND CHRIST

BY: ACE (Grace), Chance (Ben) & Groupa (Eli K)

This morning we woke up to fresh fruit, plantains, eggs, sausage and cheese.

We also finalized our Top Gun call signs, after talking about all the nicknames we’ve ever had the night before, and we came up with:

Jason “J-Bird” Gomory
Grace “ACE” Connelly
Alaina “Double A” Adams
Eli “EZ” Schoonveld
Ben “Chance” Bush
Jenna “Magma” Core
Allison “Tigger” Schram
Coach “Mur” V
Eli “Groupa” Kane
Griffin “Doorman” Doran
Emma “Dut” Dutmers
Meg “Megatron” Morehouse
Kate “Kit Kat” Majerus
Taylor “T Vines” Vines
Leader “LB” Ben

The pup, Stacy, was extra active this morning and wanted to go with us to the schools. We jumped in the back of two trucks and took off. We drove off roading through the mountains, and while driving we saw a bunch of indigenous fruits, flowers, and animals…including a toucan.

The students at the first school were more reserved than any of our previous schools. This gave us the opportunity to witness the incredible power sports have when trying to connect with others. The participation was more cautious from the kids since fewer people visit their school due to its remote location. But we figured out which games worked. The best games we played included, “cabeza y manos” with the boys and bubbles for the girls. After playing we took a hike up the mountain to see the indigenous structure which was recently uncovered from excavation in the area.

We loaded up the trucks and headed deeper into the mountains to the next school. There we played red light/green light, sharks and minnows, soccer and we taught the kids how to hit a wiffle ball. After the kids left, our group played a quick game of softball. EZ and Groupa (the two Eli’s) wanted the smoke, so Double A and ACE (Alaina & Grace) brought their best softball pitches. The rest of the squad joined in on the fun as well. Once again, we provided water filters for both schools, explaining to them that the unfiltered water is like life before Christ and the filtered water represents new life through Christ. We hope that these water filters change their lives just as Jesus has changed ours.

We loved our time playing games with students!

The scenery up the mountain and during our game was incredible. The atmosphere has created a sense of peace with the sounds of the river and the rain and waking up to the mountains every morning. The afternoon was relaxing as we were able to have some downtime playing games and having conversations with arroz con leche, and fried cheese sticks as snacks.

Dinner, debrief and devotion were the highlights of the night. Dinner consisted of pork, rice, beans, vegetables, and yuca. During debrief we discussed how incredible our time has been here and how our last day of ministry went. Our devotion focused on 1 John 3:11-20 where we talked about how at times it can be difficult to love others as Jesus loves us.

Thank you for your continued prayers and support. This week has been incredible, and we are so thankful for the opportunity to grow in our relationship with each other and with Christ.

“You can be my wingman anytime”,
ACE, Groupa, & Chance (Grace, Eli K, & Ben)

DAY 6: TOGETHERNESS AND TACOS

BY: Shoe Dog (Title of Kate Majerus’ current book) and Dut (Emma Dutmers)

If the early bird catches the worm, then these birds are completely full! Our morning began with a 4:00 am departure from The AMCA House, when we headed south towards Reserve Gauymi. Breaking up our 6-hour drive, we played car games, asked deep questions, and enjoyed a tasty breakfast buffet. Along the way, the group woke up to three pale ghosts…oh wait, it was just Jenna, Meg, and Emma indulging in some self-care face masks.

Upon our arrival to Reserve Gauymi, we were warmly greeted by Chito, the local pastor and owner of the home we will be staying in for the next few nights. The boys were provided a room full of bunk beds. Griffin’s adventurous spirit is leading him to utilize his newly purchased hammock for a night under the stars! And the nine girls are looking forward to having a slumber party in the open-air loft.

After getting settled, we drove to a nearby school where half of the group stayed indoors and played “pato, pato, ganzo” (which is “duck, duck, goose” in English). The other half of the group was knee deep in mud and water playing soccer and baseball in a field just outside the school. Griffin was more than willing to get down and dirty for a bit of soccer. After wearing down the kids a bit, we headed inside for a demonstration of the tap water filters. Emma and Meg took the lead and showed the group how to properly set-up and use the filter, and drank the water to show that the filtered water from Sawyer is safe.

Our team and all the students from the school.

Our quick lunch back at the pastor’s house consisted of rice, beans, chicken, and salad. After getting fueled up, we trekked a muddy mile to a different school on the reservation. 50 smiling faces greeted us, eager to play. The schoolchildren were hitting dingers off Kate’s wiffleball pitches. Tay and Grace were going bonkers for bubbles. Allison’s kind demeanor drew in a large group of children to kick around a soccer ball. Eli S was slicing and dicing in sharks and minnows. Alaina was hitting “nukes” off 10-year-olds. The slick field we were playing in was unkind to Jenna, as she ended up in the mud most of the afternoon. On our way out we demonstrated the water filters to the adults of the school. It was sad to say goodbye to our new pals, and we were not expecting a torrential down pour on our way home but were very grateful after such a humid day.

Back at the house we warmed up with coffee, tea, and the family’s specialty tamal de elote — we will be asking for the recipe! While the language barrier was still present when speaking with the members of the house, we loved playing cards, dominoes, and puzzles with the kids, and it filled us with joy to connect with God’s people from a different nation and tongue.

To wrap up the night, the Costa Crew smacked a taco or two…or three. The fresh ingredients were unlike anything we’ve had back in the States – a few of us spotted Chito grabbing cilantro and habanero peppers from their backyard garden. Stacy and Kevin, their family dogs, (names coined by Meg and Emma) made an appearance at dinner, pawing at our feet, patiently waiting for any food scraps to hit the ground.

There is something special about sitting together in this unfamiliar space that feels so right. Being surrounded by the rainforest and hearing the roaring of the river as we sleep brings about a feeling of serenity and closeness to Him. We continue to be grateful for the new experiences and discomforts that we do not encounter in our everyday lives back in Michigan. Another early morning awaits, Shoe Dog and Dut out.

DAY 5: RESTING IN GOD

BY: GRIFFIN DORAN AND MEG MOREHOUSE

We started off the morning by taking a short walk to a local bakery called “Musmanni”. Our mouths started watering before we had even entered the store. Some of our favorites included, carne empanadas, apple strudel, guava pastries, and Costa Rican beverages (the juice is AMAZING!).

Shortly after our bakery trip we got on the bus and drove to church, “CED”. The congregation was very excited to have us there and reserved the first three rows of the church for our team. We began with praise and worship in Spanish. Many of which were songs we often sing in our own churches and at chapel including, 10,000 Reasons, Waymaker, Do it Again, and You are Good.  

Their pastor preached with an accompanied translator. He spoke about the importance of identity and how to be a child of God. He emphasized that without identity direction in life is lost. We were asked deep questions like, “where are we going”, “what will guide us?”, and “how do I confront difficult circumstances?”. He talked about how a person’s identity leads their actions whether they know it or not. Finally, he challenged us to get up and cross the river.

This idea reflected the scripture Joshua 1:1-19. He reassured us that God is with us each day and we continue to look to Him for guidance. After the service, we chatted with members of the congregation before heading to the mall to eat lunch with the Pastor’s family and a few other members of the church. Sadly, we didn’t get any photos of us at church; however, you can take our word for it, we looked good!

Not us at church. (This was a brief stop yesterday on our way to Sarapiquí.)

We went to the local mall for lunch and were surprised to see how similar it was to our mall in the United States. I [Griffin] bonded with another church member over the upcoming soccer game. We saw the mall filled with jerseys and could tell this was a greatly anticipated match for them. Most of us tried local food court and avoided options we could get back home, much of it contained rice beans and chicken. After this we were given free time to wander about the mall. Many of us were excited to see a Starbucks and were happy for a caffeine boost.

When we arrived back at the AMCA house we had team time, did laundry, and watched the soccer game as a team. We continued to bond closer hearing each other’s stories and gained new perspectives. The restful day left us energized and prepared for the second half of our trip.

Thank you for your continued thoughts and prayers. As we continue our trip please pray for energy and safety in our upcoming travels. We will update you as soon as we can.

**Just a heads up to you fellow followers, we will be heading south to a reservation and will be there from Monday to Wednesday. We do not to expect cell service or WiFi and most likely will not be able to post our daily blog posts.**

DAY 4: GROWING OUR ROOTS

BY JENNA CORE AND ALLISON SCHRAM

What an early morning! The alarms started going off around 4:30 am, we got dressed and boarded the bus by 5 am, and we’re on our way for a day of ministry. Surprisingly, the bus was very chatty for that early in the morning. The front of the bus had meaningful conversations, while the back of the bus played some early morning Catch Phrase.

Today’s agenda included traveling north to Sarapiquí, a banana, plantain, and pineapple farm community. We got to drive through the mountains for the first time after seeing them from afar. We were treated to some pretty amazing views. After about an hour drive, we stopped at a breakfast spot that resembled an outdoor cafeteria. They had a wide variety of foods, and we all were pushed out of our comfort zones when deciding what to eat.

After breakfast, we had another hour drive to the community where more deep conversations were had. While driving, the group learned that pineapples do not grow on trees but from the ground. We were also reminded that bananas grow upside down on the trees.

We arrived at the church and passed time before the community arrived by playing some hacky sack. After only two days of playing together the teams skills are coming together nicely.

As the kids started arriving, we began introducing them to hacky sack and tossing a ball around. Once the rest of the community arrived, we did a team favorite of sitting together and learning everyone’s names. We then moved on to play a couple of games invented by Coach V.

We then broke up into 3 different age groups and played the lookup game, “pato, pato, ganso”, and keepaway. The writers of today’s blog were both in the group with kids 10 and older, and we were impressed with the kids attention span to these games, especially “pato, pato, ganso.”

After a little while in the smaller groups, we split into two larger groups where the guys did some dribbling skills with the soccer ball and the girls had their nails painted! The nail painters then had some time to talk to the girls and got to know them better. A couple of our team members had the privilege to get their nails done in return by some of the kids.

We then got to use the filter training we did. Eli K., Kate, and Grace showed them how to put together the bucket filter, and Eli (with the help of Ben) got a round of applause for their drilling skills. Allison showed them how to use the tap filter and once they received them, they were so thankful. We also used the filter as an analogy for Jesus’ work in our life.

Eli, Kate, and Grace demonstrate how to use the Sawyer bucket filter.
Allison teaches the group how to use the Sawyer faucet filter.

Before the community left, lots of pictures were taken and thanks were given. The pastor shared with the team that their prayers for clean water in the community were answered. We were then invited into the pastor’s home for an amazing lunch of rice, chicken, beans, and plantain chips. Here the team shared more fellowship with each other and a few members of the community. We were very grateful for them inviting us to share a meal with them and all their hospitality.

We then boarded the bus and began our trek back to the AMCA house. Once again, the bus was filled with meaningful conversations and laughter. These conversations allowed us to get to know each other better and deepen our friendships. Everything from what you want in a spouse to things that we find overrated. We were lucky to get to experience a popular ice cream shop in San Jose, Pops. We all tried something different and enjoyed what we got.

When we returned to the AMCA House we had a few hours to rest and collect our thoughts on what happened during the morning. We then enjoyed debriefing our morning and learning about the next half of the trip.

It was almost time for dinner and Ben, Eli K., and Eli S. were placing bets on what dinner would be… Italian hamburger, burritos, or tacos. Eli S. was correct but with some innovation it was shown that everyone was able to enjoy what they predicted. After dinner, we heard the faith stories of Allison and Alaina and spent the time dissecting 1st John 2:12-17. We also had some time to pray with each other. Looking back on the day, we are very grateful for the conversations that led to deeper relationships.

Thank you for prayers and support! We are excited to see how God continues to work in us in the coming days and watching the relationships between our team members develop even more.

DAY 3: MARKETS, MINNOS, and MEMORIES

BY GRACE CONNELLY AND ELI SCHOONVELD

This morning we started our day by sleeping in a little bit later and having breakfast and devotions at the AMCA house before leaving for the market. Our breakfast consisted of pancakes, bacon, pineapple, mango, cinnamon bread, and fruit juice.

Our Bus Ride to the Municipal of Artisan’s Market

We traveled through San Jose arriving at the Municipal of Artisan’s Market. At the market, all our different personalities came to life. Some were nervous about asking the prices in Spanish, whereas others like Ben thrived with the bargaining. We were there for about an hour, and after we left, it had seemed as if everyone had found something. After the market, we went to the authentic Costa Rican store, Walmart, where we bought a variety of different souvenirs such as candy, coffee, and sports equipment.

When we arrived back at the AMCA house, the staff had prepared lunch which was fresh vegetables, fried tilapia, cornbread, and cheesy mashed potatoes. After our lunch we took a half hour bus ride to the Linda Vista school where we hung out with first, second, and third graders playing red light green light, sharks and minnows, soccer, hackie sack, and “pato, pato, ganzo” (which is “duck, duck, goose” in English). The children were full of so much joy, and despite the language barrier and not who we were. They greeted us with smiles, high fives and hugs, and we became fast friends.

Kate sharing with the group a Bible verse that is special to her.
Luz Roja, Luz Verde (Red Light, Green Light)!

The bus ride back was incredible. We played the game would you rather and the writers of tonight’s blog were the only individuals who prefer Qdoba to Chipotle, what an outrage.
After we returned to the AMCA house, the three hours remaining was used for personal time such as resting, playing games, and journaling. Our team dinner consisted of spaghetti, garlic bread, and passionfruit juice that tasted like a ray of sunshine, according to Meg.

Following dinner, we had a time of reflection of how the week has been, what we struggle with, and how the team can pray for us individually. Emma, Eli K, and Griffin boldly shared their faith stories with the group, creating a deeper level of trust and vulnerability.

Following the faith stories, we dove deeper into 1 John 1:5-10, where we continued to focus on fellowship, saying the hard things out loud and bringing them into the light, and finding the people who we are comfortable enough with to share some of those hard things in our lives.

Thank you for your continued prayers and support. This week has been off to a great start as we continue to grow in our relationship with Christ and each other.

DAY 2: COAST TO COSTA

BY TAYLOR VINES AND BENJAMIN BUSH

This morning, we woke up early and had a nice breakfast at the AMCA house before we left for the day. We traveled through San Jose to La Reforma, a local prison. We expected to be playing a casual pick-up game of basketball with the inmates. Instead, we walked outside to be greeted with an applause by an opposing team in full uniform and about 100 inmates in the audience. After warming up and getting our nerves out, we were ready to play. We played a total of 48 minutes, and some highlights of the game were…

  1. Shooters Kate and Meg’s multiple three pointers
  2. Eli S.’ dunks and the reactions from his new fans
  3. Alaina drove coast to coast AND made the shot

Although we did win the game, that was the least important thing we did while we were there. Afterwards, an inmate that served as our referee for the game repeatedly thanked us for coming and believing in them. He mentioned how they are not able to see or talk to their family and friends, so they saw us as their daughters, sons, and friends in God. They saw us as individuals that believed in the value of their second chances. We exchanged testimonies and prayed for each other while serving them lunch and getting to experience different perspectives. The desire to connect and believe in each other was greater than the language barrier dividing us.

After lunch, we traveled to Project Abraham, an after school church program that partners with Push the Rock. We played soccer, dodgeball, and shared more testimonies with elementary students. There was so much energy and genuine excitement to spend the afternoon with one another. While they did not quite understand dodgeball rules in the same way that we did, the pure joy was evident in all of our faces.

Dodgeball Strategizing
Live Action Dodgeball

After dinner our team randomly took on the Skittle challenge, which entails blindly eating a Skittle and guessing the color. Thankfully, Griffin came in clutch with a handy bag of Skittles, where he said, “this is way better than me eating my Skittles by myself”. Not many of us could correctly guess any color, but one of the writers of today’s blog was the only one to guess every color correctly and won the Skittle challenge!

Following the intense competition, we dove into 1 John as a group and talked about the purpose of the book and analyzed the first four verses of chapter one. Our main takeaway is that fellowship is crucial to Christian life, focusing on vulnerability, intentionality, and commitment. To focus on fellowship, we got to break down walls between team members that are not broken down in a typical college journey.

Thank you for your continued prayers!! Although this is our first day, we have been blessed to see God working in miraculous ways and a lot of that comes from your dedication to our journey.

DAY 1: TRAVEL

BY ALAINA ADAMS AND ELI KANE

To begin our SEED experience, we had training on campus. We met Leader Ben and learned about Push the Rock, which is the sports ministry organization we are partnering with. We met Megan Bigelow, the Sawyer representative, to learn about the water filters. We each practiced assembling the water filters and we sprayed our clothes with Sawyer bug repellant to ensure the mosquitoes and ticks would stay away this week. In addition, we grew closer as a group. We enjoyed 45-second hot seat and other team time activities to begin to deepen relationships. To end the first day, we also made bracelets together as a symbol of unity. Each person was given a different color string and was asked to describe what they would bring to the team over these next 10 days. We now have the bracelets to remind us of the roles we have committed to within the group.

Leaving from DeVos

Today, June 15th, we spent all day traveling. We began at the crack of dawn taking a Hope bus to Midway Airport where we ate a quick lunch and continued to grow closer as a group. While we waited to board the plane, we all shared our backgrounds, our family, high school experiences, and what brought us to Hope. We then flew to Houston and quickly boarded the plane to Costa Rica. Once we arrived in Costa Rica, we made it through immigration and quickly found out the Costa Rican national men’s soccer team would be arriving soon after us. People were lined up in the airport to get signatures and see the team who had just qualified for the World Cup…and here we thought they were here to greet our 3 team members from Hope’s women’s basketball team who won a National Championship this winter. Once we walked outside, we found the streets were lined for miles with fans waving flags and honking horns. We finally arrived at our guest house called AMCA and we enjoyed a nice meal before setting up shop in our new rooms. We are excited to get going tomorrow!!! Thanks to all who were praying for our safe travels today!

At the Costa Rica Airport
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