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.

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