SEED Costa Rica

Our first two SEED teams of summer 2022 are safely home from the Dominican Republic and Uganda after some amazing transformational experiences! And now, we’re gearing up to send out our third SEED team of the summer to Costa Rica on Wednesday, June 15.

The team in Costa Rica will serve alongside Push the Rock to partner with local schools and ministries to share the love of Christ through sports clinics, water filter demonstrations, and relationship building. They will also have the opportunity to distribute Sawyer water filters to bring clean water to the communities.

This will be our fourth SEED trip to Costa Rica and we’re excited to build on the relationships we’ve formed in previous years.

View the team calendar below 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 Prayer Calendar

Uganda Day 11 6/4 LAST DAY BABYYYYY :((

Dommy Boy here and Natty Nat. WE are here to update you. We are so grateful that you have chosen to follow along with us on this transformational journey across this world. God has been moving in and through us, and we can’t wait to share those experiences with you when we arrive back in the states.

We woke up this morning with JOY! We were so excited to be back in Kampala in a hotel and city that was not as foreign as it first was. After a late night of cards and a long week and a half, this morning was the slowest our team has had yet. Nevertheless, we rallied as we had to go get COVID tested and praise the Lord our tests all came back negative, that was so positive…lol. Our team is so thankful that we are all able to travel together.

Upon leaving the center, we arrived in Kawempe, a slum that totals over 1 million people. We met at church in a sector of the slum. The church was filled with children of the community playing basketball and community leaders. We started our presentation and the leaders were the most questioning we had dealt with. The director of the community was very protective of his residents and he wanted to make sure he fully understood the filter. Eventually, with help from Sports Outreach team members and a Dave Jolly world class teaching moment, the director became assured that the filters were safe and would be extremely beneficial. As we had done before, we shared the gospel and praised God that a community member began a relationship with Christ. The team enjoyed hanging out with some of the kids before we left, but it was too soon, we were a little nostalgic about doing our last filter presentation together.

Brevin and Wilfred became best of buds throughout the trip 🙂

After a smashing lunch, full of peanut butter beans, fried fish, and fresh avocado, we packed up and got ready to leave the hotel, hanging out in the lobby waiting for our test results. After much anticipation we received the exciting news that we were NEGATIVE for Covid.

We hopped, skipped, jumped, and dove our way into our bus that has become our second home. Wilfred, our fearless leader in transportation once again led us through the other worldly traffic that floods the streets of Kampala. He weaves in and out so effortlessly, slowing down for each speed bump in order to ease our “African massage” (as referenced by the locals). He does it with a smile on his face and candy in his hand/mouth. We are going to miss his quiet strength and watchdog mentality. We visited the market which was full of millions of goodies, literally. Earrings, baskets, spoons, paintings, blankets, S&P shakers, bowls, jerseys, shirts, bottle openers, rugs, plaid suits, globes, hats, bags, and much much more. Stay tuned to see what we brought home. We had pay in schillings and we learned from Sam how to “bar-gain” with the locals. We bought lots!!

Dom and Ian, an eight year old future footballing star

After a narrow escape from the parking lot, our fearless transportation leader, Wilfred, guided us to safety once again and delivered us to the airport. We were full of mixed emotions as we left Sam and Wilfred, and the BuS. We are grateful that for the beautiful people we have interacted with, we are humbled by our expanded world view, and we are encouraged by the ways we have seen God do immeasurably more than we could have ever asked for or imagined.

We are writing this from Gate 4 of 4 in hour 4 of 4 waiting for our flight in the Entebbe airport. We have full stomachs from the first American meal we have had since leaving. Burgers, fries, chicken alfredo, fried fish, chicken noodles, and one chicken burger. We also had our last Novita pineapple and Miranda green soda drinks. We pray for safe flights and travels back to Holland as we are all growing weary and in need of more sleep. Some might say we are running on fumes and caffeine.

Praise God for the beautiful experience this trip has been; we are forever changed.

Dommy Boy and Natty Nat — out until next time

Uganda Day 11 6/3

In the early hours of the morning, we were off on a safari! It was extremely early (the sun wasn’t even up) but it was cool to be able to experience Uganda in a different way. We saw many different animals, including elephants, giraffes, hyenas, and lions! We started in two separate Jeep’s but towards the end, one of them began to continuously stall, so we ended up squishing all 18 of us in one of the Jeep’s. It was a bumpy ride and we were packed like sardines, but we laughed and enjoyed one of our last days together on the Ugandan safari!

Ella, Sav, and Dom enjoying the safari

When we arrived back to the hotel, we quickly ate breakfast and began our 7 hour drive to Kampala. We past the time by sleeping a lot, playing games, and getting some of our last glimpses of Uganda. 

We are extremely grateful for today and seeing the beauty of God’s creation in the pearl of Africa. We hope to continue soaking in all of Uganda before we leave tomorrow. 

Uganda Day 10, 6/2/22

We had a sad morning saying goodbye to all of our friends at SOM Gulu. We packed up our bags and after lots of hugs we got on the road. The drive to the Paraa Safari Lodge was about 4 hours with nearly half of the ride on a road with countless bumps. However, we made the best of the drive by singing lots of songs, from Disney to Broadway. Upon arriving at the lodge, we had an introduction to some of the amazing wildlife in this national park. We saw giraffes, elephants, warthogs, gazelles, baboons, etc. Next was a delicious lunch followed by a boat ride on the Nile River. The boat ride was about 3 hours long with endless scenery and some more incredible wildlife. We saw a lot of the same animals from before and a bunch of hippos, which is fitting because Paraa (the name of the lodge) means hippos in the local language. The cruise ended with a powerful waterfall where we turned around to head back. After the cruise, some people swam and others enjoyed a moment of down time before dinner. Our day ended after dinner so we could get some sleep before our early adventure tomorrow.

Selfie of Jack, Keegan, Nat, Emma, Anneliese, and Ty before the road trip to Paraa
Some of the beautiful elephants we saw from the boat cruise

The last day(s!)

By Maddie McCreery, Elisa Melville and Dan Romano

Once we got back from the resort Monday night, we waited for dinner by playing Mafia, a fun group game but always causes light-hearted feuding amongst our competitive group. Jean Carlos and Alguiris, two GO students and members of the baseball team on the complex, joined us for Mafia and dinner. After dinner, we hopped on the van and went to the supermarket we visited earlier in the week for more ice cream, then made our way to the Monument to the Peace of Trujillo. Jean Carlos and Alguiris explained its meaning to us: set on the highest point of Santiago, the monument was built originally as a dictator’s house, but when he was overthrown the people took it back as a way to symbolize peace for the Dominican Republic. Our Dominican friends pranked us by saying the statue at the top of the monument moved its arms every 15 minutes, causing us all to look up and watch for a while before they told us they were just kidding and the statue doesn’t move at all- this was a funny moment. 

The group, along with our GO Ministries friends, at the Monument to the Peace of Trujillo.

After the monument we headed back to home base, where the leaders shared their stories and we reflected as a group. Then, our leaders had a lovely surprise for us. Setting up chairs in front of the church’s stage, they announced the beginning of the first annual “Roosty Awards!” They pulled various trinkets out of a bag as awards with meanings connected to them: Eric got a little green bucket award because he filled everyone’s buckets this week and Paulo got the battery award because he was full of energy the whole trip, to name a few of the awards. We all whooped and cheered as everyone received their awards, and it was a blast to see our leaders’ creativity as we celebrated what gifts each of us brought to this trip. 

The “Roosty” award winners!

After a good night’s rest, we woke up for our last day in the DR. After breakfast, we headed to the COVID testing center where we all got tested so we could travel back to the States safely. We spent the whole time at the center trying to guess Dan’s middle name – unsuccessfully. We then got to tour GO’s medical center in Santiago. They have many services there including a dentist, and allow patients to come in for a very low cost to receive quality medical care. We were able to see a beautiful view of Santiago from the roof of the center. 

The group on the roof top at the GO Medical Center.

Eating lunch and heading off to the airport, we were feeling bittersweet about leaving but were ready for an easy trip back home after our chaos of arriving in the DR, but you will not believe our luck. We had a great start, saying goodbye to those from GO Ministries and making it through customs. Some of us even had a few extra minutes to grab a favorite Dominican treat, an empanada. Our first flight made it off the ground with only a little bit of turbulence and a few announcements from the pilot to “REMAIN IN YOUR SEATS, PLEASE.” Many of us took naps for the four hours, journaled about our adventures in the DR, or read new books. We even arrived 50 minutes early to Newark. Our luck quickly ran out once we could not reach our gate for over an hour and a half due to another airplane parking poorly… We were not able to deplane until well after 7pm; however, we were all hopeful and a little bit stressed about making our 8pm flight. Most of us were in the far back of the plane and we started sprinting through the airport in order to make it to customs and baggage claim in time to board our next flight. Unfortunately, our luck was completely diminished and our bags came too late. The airline was not able to hold the plane for us, and we were tasked with figuring out new flights and places to stay in good ‘ole Newark, NJ. But don’t worry, Jake’s coconut did make it through customs, so we knew we wouldn’t starve. Lindsey was a trooper as was the agent at United Airlines who got us rebooked and was able to get us a hotel for the night, so our next task was getting to the shuttle. We waited about another hour outside the airport for our shuttle, but we filled the time playing more games and getting to know each other better.

We made it to the hotel and thankfully pizza was there waiting for us. After a much needed dinner around 11:30pm in the lobby of the hotel, we made our way to our rooms for the night. The boys tried to watch Miracle, after hearing almost every line quoted from Jake of the course of the trip, but unfortunately there wasn’t a smart TV in the room so we weren’t able to connect to it. We woke for an 8:15am breakfast and got our bags ready so we could get on the shuttle to the airport. Thankfully we were able to get through checking our bags and security to make it to our gate on time. We were fortunate to not run into any more flight problems as we are currently writing this on the plane home to Grand Rapids. This has been an absolutely incredible trip and the positive attitudes from everyone throughout our traveling debacles has been amazing. This is an extraordinary group of people and our friendship through this trip will definitely last a lifetime. Thank you for following along our journey! 

After (finally) arriving back in Grand Rapids, we grabbed one last meal.

Uganda Day 9- 6/1/22

Good evening from Julia and Jack! We had such a fulfilling and full day and we are so excited to share!

We woke up this morning and ate breakfast at 7:30. At 8:30 we walked over to the daily devotional in the Church on the Sports Outreach campus. It was our third time experiencing this in just as many days and still just as exciting. After the energizing morning, we headed over to the vocational school. Here, the students welcomed us into their classroom and gave us the opportunity to listen to their testimonies. We were all deeply moved and grateful for their willingness to share a part of their life with us.

The next destination was Christine’s house, a haven for abused teenage women (many of whom are either pregnant or mothers) just a short walk away from the school. They greeted us with the familiar “You are most welcome”(a common phrase over the last few days) and with singing and dancing. They also shared some of their life experiences with us and we are fortunate to have been able to hear them. After hearing these stories, we prayed for them as a team for God to have His hand over their life in everything they do.

Some of the team’s girls getting their hair done by the girls at Christine’s house

The water filter distributions were done today at a local primary school (1st-2nd grade) with about 600 kids and teachers in attendance. The teachers and kids responded with much gratitude and excitement for the filters. Our team then set up a sports clinic for 2 hours where all the kids participated in a range of activities (soccer, tag, frisbee, etc.).

The school children testing out the filtered water after the demonstration

Our final night in Gulu was spent with the people who originally welcomed us here. Local kids and adults from the surrounding community came to hang out with us for one last time. A night filled with laughs, tears, and final goodbyes for our time here in Gulu left our team feeling a broad range of emotions. We are so thankful for the conversations, laughs, lessons, and relationships formed during our time here. We are off and headed to the Paraa Safari Lodge tomorrow morning for some relaxing fun before heading back to the States. Thanks for following along and stay tuned for the exotic animals we encounter along the way.

Uganda Day 8 5/31

This morning we woke up and went over to the chapel for our second day of worship. We were welcomed with loud songs and lots of dancing. This morning was very hot and the dancing tired all of us out quite quickly. We were covered in sweat as Matt began to give a message to us and the rest of the Sports Outreach staff. During his talk he gave encouragement to all of us to trust that God will use us all in special ways. That no matter who you are, you are a masterpiece made in the image of God.

After devotions, we traveled to a nearby preschool where they were waiting for us to help serve porridge. This school had 75 students divided between three classrooms consisting of K1, K2, and K3. After serving them their breakfast, we were able to play games with the little kids as we waited for the bus to return from refueling. We taught them red light green light, and then they taught us a game called fire on the mountain. Then we split into two groups to distribute the water filters. One group traveled in the bus to a nearby village where we distributed 4 filters. To get to this village, we had to drive down a road that was approximately half the width of the bus. However, Wilfred once again managed to get us there quickly and safely. After we finished the filter demonstration, one of the staff members asked the community members if there were any prayer requests. Multiple women raised their hands to asked for prayers regarding their children’s health, personal health, and division within their family. It was very moving to engage in a time of prayer in unison with the community members. The other team traveled in a van to five different locations where they distributed ten water filters.

Ty interacting with the preschoolers at the school where we served porridge.

Then we headed back for lunch and had a little bit of time to relax before we left for the local Catholic school. When we arrived at the school there were 800 middle school students sitting in the yard waiting for us. As we walked towards them, they all joined in on songs and clapping to welcome us to their school. At the school we built ten water filters in front of all of the students and staff. The students loved the demonstration and got the dirtiest water they could find in order to test the filter.

Dom and Ella demonstrating the water filter to the middle schoolers at the Catholic school.

When we got back from the Catholic school, we walked over to the vocational school where we bought purses, bags, and skirts. They were all made by hand by girls that are involved in Sports Outreach’s training program for young girls. The other skill they teach is hair dressing and we had a few team members get their hair braided. To wrap up the day, we had another sports clinic with community members. We played all kinds of games and had lots of fun. A few of us played with the teenage girls and had an awesome time playing their games and dancing. They laughed at our dance moves, but I (Ella) think I was pretty good! Dinner was delicious as always, with good discussion at the table. We are thankful for another beautiful day in Gulu!

A day of rest.

By Ali DeWeerd, Brady Swinehart, Zac Carlson

We got to worship at a church in the Hole on the Dominican Mother’s Day.

Sunday morning, we had the amazing opportunity to attend a church service at the church we visited in The Hole the day before.  It was a super unique experience to get to see how that church worships, and be in community with everyone during the service. This Sunday was also Mother’s Day in the Dominican Republic, so we got to celebrate with their mothers and hear an amazing sermon about Moms.  After church we talked with some members and kids of the church and then started to drive to a resort in Puerto Plata, where we would spend the day relaxing and sleep there preparing for re-entry back to the US. 

It was hard to say goodbye to our friends from the Hole after being there two days in a row.

When we arrived to the resort we enjoyed a lunch buffet and got right to soaking up the sun.  There was a beautiful pool and beach to enjoy.  We spent the afternoon tanning, swimming, playing water volleyball, and overall relaxing. After that beautiful day spent in the sun, we enjoyed hot showers and another buffet meal. Following dinner, we made our way out to the beach to just catch the sunset over the beautiful horizon of the ocean and mountains, another reminder of God’s beautiful creation and power. As the sun finished setting we all sat on the beach and had a time of sharing and reflecting on our time in the Dominican Republic, all the things we learned, and the things we want to take back home with us.  It was a true testament of God’s faithfulness and the work He has been doing in all of our hearts.  

Sunset in Puerto Plata.

To finish off the night we all hung around the resort playing ping pong, pool, and most importantly preparing for the karaoke night that we were all going to participate in.  We each assigned random partners and were given songs we did not know until we got up on stage.  There were some amazing performances, like Brady and Chad singing “Perfect” by Ed Sheeran, and Jake and Dan singing “Someone Like You” by Adele, just to name a few. There were many standing ovations and talented voices discovered. 

All of the resort was singing along and had many laughs.  After karaoke we finished up a fun day with Brady sharing very kind letters and words of affirmation with everyone in the group and it brought our team together even more. To end, a few of us went down to the beach and enjoyed each others company while watching the stars and listening to the crashing waves. It was a beautiful ending to a beautiful day.  

Brady and Chad gave an amazing performance at karaoke night.

After a good night’s rest, we began our final few hours at the resort Monday morning, a few people got up and watched the sunrise, while the rest of us enjoyed the lovely resort beds and a late breakfast.  After breakfast we went out to the beach as a group and had another opportunity for Ali, Zac, and Emma to share their stories.  It was another amazing moment of honesty and opportunity for us all to learn more about one another. These conversations helped wrap up our time at the resort, as we had just over an hour to relax on the beach and in the sun, and then it was time for us to leave, and head back to GO Ministries in Santiago.  Spending time at the Gran Ventana Resort provided us some much needed relaxation as well as a time of reflection on some of the incredible work we have done this week, and as usual we had so much fun spending more quality time with one another.  

Uganda 2022 Day 7 5/30

Happy Memorial Day everyone! It’s half of the team’s ginger clan (Keegan and Emma) coming at you with today’s update. We started our day bright and early at 7:30 AM. After a simple breakfast, we headed over to the chapel for our daily devotion. Little did we know, this devotion was going to be an all out dance party. We arrived to the singing, dancing and echoing of the Ugandan women who live on the Sports Outreach complex. During our introduction, we each showed off our favorite dance move (even Dave Jolly despite his injured knee).

Members of a village that water filters were distributed to.

Following devotion, we headed over to the Sports Outreach preschool where we handed out porridge and listened to two adorable rhymes performed by the children. We took a little trip to the vocational school where the young women who live on the compound showed us their beautiful work that ranged from skirts, to purses, to backpacks and so much more. The women took a liking to braiding Natalie’s, Anneliese’s and even Ty’s hair. Soon after, we put on our dirty shoes, slipped on some gloves and went to work planting eggplant, cabbage and tomatoes at the farm on the complex.

Smiling faces as the team walks from a village back to the complex.

Before lunch, we had an hour and a half break which consisted of journaling, Spikeball and chess. Jack was finally able to show off his chess skills, beating his Ugandan opponent not once, but twice. Lunch consisted of the highly anticipated rolex, a classic Ugandan street food that is composed of an omelet wrapped in a chapati (similar to a tortilla).

Bonding over braiding at the vocational school.

After lunch, we traveled to four different places nearby and distributed approximately 35 water filters. As in our previous experiences, the people were extremely welcoming and engaged. We returned to the complex and prepared for a sports clinic. The sports clinic consisted of soccer and ultimate frisbee, ending with a full field soccer match. Our night ended with a delicious dinner and a team debrief that continued the deepening of relationships among the team.

Precious children at the preschool!

Uganda Day 6 – 5/29

Hallelujah…amen! Hallelujah…amen!! We stole this greeting from Moses who we sadly had to say farewell to yesterday. We were sad to say goodbye to the Sports Outreach team in Kampala, but we were looking forward to the new experiences in Gulu. It’s Sav and Natalie here to update you on what today looked like!

Today looked a little different from the past few days as we spent 6 hours on the bus relocating to the Sports Outreach facility in Gulu! The bus ride was filled with lots of story times with Jolly, trivia games, many meaningful conversations, a few naps here and there, and lots of laughter and smiles.

The gangs all ready to go!! Try to spot the baboon food hidden in the photo:)

The drive went along smoothly and the views were absolutely beautiful! Towards the end of our trip, we were able to see the Nile River. Everyone was absolutely amazed at the power and force of the water as we drove over the bridge and the view was absolutely breathtaking! Also, alongside the road were multiple baboons just roaming around and playing with each other. Even little baby ones were sitting alongside the bridge as we crossed and we all shared a good laugh watching them! Sadly, we didn’t get the chance to feed them any bananas.

The view of the Nile River before we crossed…we wish you could see it in person, pictures don’t do it justice!

Arriving to the campus was such an amazing experience. The campus itself was beautiful, but the people were what made it so special. The minute we stepped off the bus we had a large group of young girls come up to us singing, dancing, smiling, and welcoming us to the campus! They were so happy and excited and it rejuvenated our souls and refreshed us with excitement and hope after a long bus ride.

After putting away our things we headed our to go play some soccer! We were blown away by how many people were there. There were two teams warming up and ready to go; The Good News team from Gulu and The Super Eagles from the local community. They invited us to join in on the game so a few of us split up between the two teams! We learned a lot from the way they played and were amazed by their speed and talent. Even our very own Matt Margaron joined in on the fun and gave it a spin!! The difference in the level of play provided many laughs to both our team and the locals. Although many people were gathered around watching the main soccer game, there were multiple other activities going on.

The starting line up for the big game, featuring Jack, Annelise, Emma, Keegan, Addi, and Julia from left to right. Subs cheering from the sideline.

On the other fields, there was another smaller soccer game going on, some spikeball, ultimate frisbee, tag, and fruitful conversations all taking place. Every member of our team found their way to be involved and interact with our new friends! Ed immediately drew some kids in and taught them how to play ultimate frisbee and the kids loved it!! On the smaller field, Ty welcomed the younger players in, the field was quickly filled with competitive laughter. Emma had a little group of girls that started out playing spikeball, and ended up just playing with the spikeball ball! I (Sav) being unable to participate in many of the physical sports, found my place on the sideline holding a beautiful little baby! In our group debrief, every team member kept highlighting the joy they each individually felt through all these special moments from the day.

After these activities wrapped up, we had the opportunity to share the gospel with all the community members. We are looking forward to continuing these relationships throughout the next few days. During one of the most delicious meals we have had so far, we shared lots of stories and laughter together. Afterwards, the laughter continued as we debriefed as a team enjoying funny moments during the conversation.

Hey, that’s all. We gotta run… off to play some moonball, spikeball, and cards! Stay tuned for some more exciting updates to come, and pray the community members will continue to be receptive to the gospel!

%d bloggers like this: