Superman & Slides

This morning we had an early morning wake up call as we got on the road to head to the canopy tour at 6:30am. After a slight backtrack to get Jenna’s phone (oops), we ate buffet breakfast next door to the zip line place. There was a lot of nervous anticipation as we suited up in the harnesses and awaited the tour guides. After about 45 minutes, we began the hour and a half tour that consisted of about 10 different zip lines through the rain forest. The three favorites were: The Tarzan Swing, which was where hooked to a cord that swung you over a cliff with a river at the bottom and an incredible view of the forest, the Crazy Horse, which was a zip line lower to the ground where the cord bounce while you were zooming through the air, and finally, the Superman, which was the longest and highest line where you were strapped into a harness that carried you on your stomach, so you flew like superman way above the forest. The superman was the top favorite because of how breathtaking and indescribable the view was, even though it started raining. We are all very grateful to have experienced God’s beautiful creation in such a unique and exhilarating way. Shout out to our team for going out of their comfort zone and facing the heights.

Next, we headed to the hot springs at the bottom of the volcano for an afternoon of relaxation and, in some cases, more adrenaline from the water slides. We had a very nice lunch in the resort, and then we dispersed to the different pools. Each pool was heated from the volcano, and they progressively got hotter—ranging from 109 to 130 degrees. There were four different water slides, peaking at 27 miles per hour. These included a toilet bowl slide, where you shot down a tube into a big bowl where you slid around until you fell through a hole in the middle into a little pool. The other three were slides into a hot spring, one was a straightforward chill slide down, another was a longer and faster slide that curved more but still pretty chill, and the last one was very intense because of how fast you went down and the drop before shooting out of the tube (everyone got some air). Our time at the hot springs was a great last team bonding, and a relaxing way to end our last full day.

On the bus ride back to AMCA, we had the opportunity to debrief about the trip and share how each of us have uniquely impacted each other on the trip as encouragement for one another. We also had a five-minute reflection time, followed by sharing what God taught each of us individually and how we want to bring that into our lives once we get back to the states. Praise God for bringing this team together because it has been such a blast to get to know one another, grow together, and build lasting bonds.


Abby and Rachel

P.S. Prayers for safe travel tomorrow would be appreciated! See you soon!

Last Day of Service

This morning Reagan, Jack, and Emari awoke in their hammocks for the second morning in a row. They decided to stay the night in the new hammocks they bought instead of sleeping in the rustic huts that are now our dwellings. After a delicious breakfast of eggs, toast, and fruit, we departed for the school where we would spend the day.

Once again, we spent the first part of the day playing wonderful games with the children and showing them God’s love through sports, hair styling sessions, hugs, piggy back rides, and other forms of affection. These kids were simply amazing. Although we were in one of the most economically impoverished areas we had visited so far, the kids were overjoyed to see us and were another great example of how we are all God’s children and are equal in his eyes. This sight truly exemplified one of the concepts we have been talking about lately as a group.

We have been discussing how although the people we are visiting are “poorer” than we are, there are aspects of their lives that make them “richer”. We live in a society that in some ways takes community and communication for granted. These people down here are so happy because they are together, united without the technology that we use every day. So in this sense, they are richer than we are. We also live extremely busy, hectic lives. We seldom take the time to enjoy the day, live in the moment, and forget about packing in as much as we can into a 24-hour period. So when thinking about lifestyle, some would argue we are missing something and are “poorer” than our Costa Rican brothers and sisters.

Working in this area made that notion quite clear. When distributing water filters, the exterior perception of the families that lived here was that of a less wealthy community, considering the need for water filters and economic facts we have been given going into the community. However, the spiritual wealth was so present and seemed to overflow in our small area of the world. As Rachel explained the renewal of Jesus during the water filter demonstration, smiling faces of children and parents were surrounding us. Both the families and the Push the Rock team worked together to make the water filters, all one community from different parts of the world. We also give a big shout-out to Ronny, without whose powerful drill bit-twisting skills came quite in handy. Several hugs, smiles, and water filters later, we took to the road with the extra filters to spread the clean water and joy of the Lord.

Our love for God and for each other is growing with every moment. The significance and purposefulness of each member on the trip is evident. It’s hard to imagine this trip with any other group of people. God is using our unique abilities to bring His plan to fruition: from our Spanish-speaking abilities, to our varieties of leadership, to our ways of connecting with kids: from our sarcastic jabs, to our senses of humor, to our laughs-that-make-you laugh; from our struggles, to our wisdom, to our different walks of faith; God is using it all.

The reality of our trip coming to a close is starting to set in. This only makes each moment we get to spend together even more meaningful. Our days our limited to continue to push each other in our faiths, but we are living in and loving on every second!

Stay cool USA.


Gabbi, Jack, & Lauryn

Spotting God & Cats

Our day was eventful from the get-go as Megan had a great morning wake-up from our new friend Spot the stray cat who wandered into the girl’s room last night and decided to cuddle with her feet. Nothing gets eight college girls up faster than screaming after finding unexpected friends. On the bright side, all of the boys who slept outside in hammocks also survived the night without getting eaten alive by bugs or worse, las cucarachas. Breakfast at our new location was followed by another surprise: a local man stopped by the church we are staying at and asked for prayer as he is battling alcoholism and wants to begin a relationship with Christ. It was only 8am but we already had quite the day!

It was a general consensus that the school we visited today made the top 5 experiences of the trip. Here’s why: we got off the bus that our driver, Ronny, so skillfully maneuvered to get us to the school safely and were greeted by 90+ 1st-4th graders – talk about a welcome! Although they were the least socioeconomically wealthy school we have visited, they were rich with joy. While with them, we did relays and played futbol, dodge-ball, and fan-favorites, Pato-Pato-Gonzo (Duck-Duck-Goose) and Enfuego en la Jungla (Fire in the Jungle).

We found great joy in engaging with the kids who didn’t want to play the larger group game and playing games with those that wanted to play with them. After our hearts were filled, our stomachs were filled with fresh fruit from a neighboring farmer. We indulged in mango (with the skin still on), pineapple (with salt), and papaya. Our tasty snack was followed by a tour of the school, including a child’s dream playground, garden (that included pineapple, corn, cucumber, yucca, cabbage, and chili peppers to name a few) and a greenhouse. We ended the tour in the cafeteria were we enjoyed chicken in some creamy sauce, rice, beans, salad, and a fried condensed milk dessert that we either loved or didn’t.

Lunch was followed by the student’s families coming back for the water filter demonstration and our testimonies in which we shared the Gospel. Since this was our first demonstration, there were a few rookie mistakes but overall, it went well and we believe many of the families were impacted by our stories. One thing that motivated and gave us a new perspective was when Jon said, “Taking 5 minutes to drill a better hole will give these families clean water for over 10 years. You are changing the way these kids are growing up – that’s worth the extra time.”

After we finished up at the school, we held another demonstration at the church down the road which was equally impactful. God’s love was very evident through the smiles and laughter of the children and the appreciation the families showed us for the water filters. We have seen Him working in many ways, big and small, this week and cannot wait to see how He shows up at the clinic tomorrow and throughout the rest of our time here.

Dinner was prepared for us at our new home and was followed by team time, where we finished up hearing everyone’s testimonies and heard the Word from Jon. We wrapped up our night playing some of our favorite games where we learned a little more about each other.

Hope you all have a great day and can see God working in your lives back in the States. Stay tuned for our translators Jack and Lauryn and our amiga, Gabbi who will be updating you tomorrow!

See you soon America!

Megan and Jenna

It’s an “on” day!

It’s another one of those wonderful travel days! The day began around 8:30 a.m. and started off very normal. Like most days we headed off to Musmani, the local bakery. However, on the way, an elderly man stumbled across the street into the arms of the two nurses on the trip, our fearless leaders, Jon and Peyton. Very quickly, our “off” day turned into an “on” day. With experience and quick thinking, Jon and Peyton were able to assess the situation and get him the proper help he needed.

From there we ate our breakfast and headed to church. On our way, we were informed that their usual translator was sick and unable to attend the service, leaving us wondering how we would understand the sermon. The service began with powerful worship through song. The lyrics were in Spanish but the power of the Holy Spirit was evident. The language of God is universal, and for many of us this was our first time experiencing such thing. As we said earlier, this was our “off” day but this strange “on” day kept continuing. As many of us were pleasantly surprised when the pastor was accompanied on stage by a translator. It was apparent to all that God was moving in our lives today.

Church was followed by a brief visit to the AMCA house where we grabbed our bags and began our voyage up north. On our way to San Carlos, we stopped at a local mall to grab our lunch. The mall was very similar to our malls in the U.S. For those who are interested, Penny Lane Sports is just like Finish Line. The route to San Carlos was beautiful. Our wonderful bus driver, Ronny, brought us through a Costa Rican National Park where we got to see amazing views of the rainforest.

Following our arrival at San Carlos, we settled into our rooms. The women were situated “indoors” while the men were led to their room out back. After getting settled we had a little chance to relax we had the opportunity to play a few team games. We were called to the dinner table at six and began worship at seven. Team time started with powerful testimonies which were followed by our usual two songs. These two songs however, led to a night of belting worship where we needed jolly ranchers and refills of water to keep our vocal cords up to speed.

On a day where we were not scheduled for ministry, God showed up in indescribable and unforgettable ways.

With love from Costa Rica,

Emari, Madison, and Christian

It doesn’t end, come back tomorrow to hear from two of our finest; Jenna and Megan.

Zumba, Wal-Mart & A Haircut

As college students, we never thought we would be so excited to “sleep in” until 7:30 am… and yet that’s what we experienced as we had a later start to our first day without any clinics. After a delicious breakfast at the AMCA house, we went to a park called “Parque la Libertad” where we did multiple activities with each other and some locals. Many of us played disc golf around the park, while others joined in on a very challenging but fun Zumba class. During Zumba we saw God as we were able to talk with some of the locals and bond with them through our participation in the Zumba class. After both groups were done, we played a whiffle ball game, threw the football, and passed with the mini lacrosse sticks. We went back to the AMCA house for lunch (Reagan finally got his tacos that he had been talking about the whole trip), hung out for an hour, and then adventured to the Artisan Market. It was overwhelming, but ultimately an eye-opening experience that gave us a glimpse of Costa Rican culture (plus we all left with some goodies).

When Kim said we were going to a “supermarket” to get Costa Rican coffee, we all pictured a local grocery store—and then we pulled into a Wal-Mart. Jokes on us. Inside the Wal-Mart we got some tasty ice cream at a mini shop called Pops, and then we all dispersed to get our coffee and snacks. As we were waiting for everyone to check out, Madison keenly noted about Joaquin (Jack’s new name for those of you who don’t know), “I have never seen someone with their face engulfed so deep in a bag of coffee beans.” Let’s just say our bus smells really good now. After the supermarket, a.k.a. Wal-Mart, we had a Costa Rican dinner at a restaurant called “La Parodito de las Brujas” where we discovered which of us are the bravest as some ordered tongue and liver for their meal. Both Abby and I (Rachel) agree that the tongue is better than the liver. The liver tasted like a very dry and tough steak with a weird aftertaste, whereas the tongue tasted like it was straight out of a pot roast (also softer than we all anticipated). However, once we noticed the taste buds on the tongue, no one wanted to eat more of it.

We ended the evening with more team time of going through Philippians, as well as packing for our excursion up north for the next three days. Even though today was not focused on ministry, we all still saw God at different points throughout the day, such as playing whiffle ball and lacrosse with one of the locals named Stephanie. God was clearly shown through the smile that came from her experiencing these sports for the first time. Also God has really been helping us grow closer as a team, which was clearly shown through Jenna’s trust in Christian and Joaquin to cut her hair with an ordinary pair of scissors. We learned that they can’t cut in a straight line, but don’t worry Jenna, as Megan said “if you turn to your head to the right it doesn’t look as bad.” We eagerly look forward to what more He has for us up north. In conclusion, the next time you go to your local supermarket, a.k.a. Wal-Mart, we hope you’ll think of us and maybe even pretend like you’re in Costa Rica.

With love,

Rachel and Abby J

Come back tomorrow to hear about our day from Reagan, Christian, and Madison—an incredible trio.

Peace, Love & Futbol

Well, once again, we awoke to the sound of birds…well some of us did. We also had another delicious breakfast at the bakery down the street. After eating our fill of Costa Rican carbs, we had an another engaging bus ride to our first destination of the day: another prison. We went there to play a full 11 v 11 game of soccer against a team composed of the inmates. Knowing this, our minds naturally expected a full squad of Fifa professionals and that our grave defeat was inevitable. However, when we arrived, we learned that the prison was home to men that averaged around 65 years old. So, the game was slightly more fair than we expected. It was a hard fought game, ending 1-1, and we all had a blast competing but most importantly enjoyed connecting with the people we met there.

Post-game we really got to know the people there by listening to their stories and sharing a snack. The joy they had was inspiring despite their circumstances. Many of the men had been in prison for most of their lives, and some may very well spend the rest of their lives there. One of the most impactful parts of the visit was seeing the communal atmosphere created there. Dance lessons were taught, friendships were evident, and supporters came to watch the lively soccer match. This was a huge contrast to the other prison we visited.

So after a sweaty match of soccer, we went down the road to another prison. This one held another overlooked part of the population. The inmates were young adults who were mostly 18 to 25. Words to describe the young adults were dangerous and aggressive, but this was far from what we encountered. They were friendly and eager to interact with us. The feelings of anxiety from the brief description beforehand disappeared once we began to introduce sports. Our focus was to teach the guys some basketball skills, and spread God’s love through our testimonies and sports. Everyone was laughing and enjoying the time we shared with them. It was amazing to see the inmates how God sees them and not how society defines them to be.

After lunch at the AMCA house, we headed off to the second school we visited yesterday. We expecting two hours with third graders and to our surprise, the third graders were actually thirteen year olds. Thankfully we have a team that is able to adjust, and Rachel and Gabbie were able to lead them in some age appropriate games. Lacrosse was introduced to them for the first time, and it was fun to see their joy while experiencing a new athletic event. After that, we played our new favorite schoolyard game: dodgeball. The students took dodgeball strategy to a whole new level we did not think was possible until today. The heavy rain did not discourage us from having the best time playing games.

So a common prayer for our team is for the energy to bring our best selves to the clinics every day. Today we felt more exhausted than usual, but God continually provided for us throughout the day. People were fatigued from the soccer game and a shorter sleep the night before, but we were still able to pour into those we ministered to. He showed up for myself personally (Claire) in the second prison today because God challenged me to view the men with the same love that he has for his them as his children.

After a long spontaneous discussion about scars, injuries, and other unfortunate mishaps in our lives, we finished the day with another great “team time.” Peyton and Kasey talked us through more of Philippians and what it means to live with a submissive mind. Together we are challenging one another to deny ourselves of our personal agenda, our control, our natural tendencies, and our comfort. It’s amazing the way our team is growing together and it is truly evident that God has handpicked each and every one of us to be here together. We are really spurring each other on in our faith and encouraging vulnerability during discussions. We look forward to growing closer to God and closer to one another over the course of the next six days.

Peace, love, and futbol,

Jack and Claire

Listen in tomorrow to hear from Abby and Rachel about more great adventures

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 (Testemonies) 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 Testemonies 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.


Reagan, Gabbi and Megan

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

Roses, Thorns & Buds

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……. Reagan and Gabbi, and Megan will update you on our day tomorrow!!


Greetings from Costa Rica!

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!

SEED: Costa Rica Edition

Our first SEED team is safely home from the Dominican Republic after an amazing week of transformational experiences! And now, we’re gearing up to send out our second SEED team of the summer to Costa Rica on Tuesday, June 4.

The team in Costa Rica will serve alongside Push the Rock (PTR) to partner with local churches and ministries to share the love of Christ through sports clinics, water filter demonstrations, and relationship building.

This will be our third consecutive summer a SEED team has traveled to Costa Rica and we’re excited to build on the relationships we’ve formed in previous trips.

View the team calendar for a glimpse of how Hope College student-athletes will utilize their passion for sport to share the love of Christ with individuals in Costa Rica!

Check back over the next two weeks to read updates from the team to hear more about their experiences on the ground and how God is transforming lives in Costa Rica!

Costa Rica Team Calendar