Training and Traveling

Hello everyone! This is Arinn, (sophomore/softball); Emma, (junior/swimmer); and Andrew and Sean (seniors/Men’s Lacrosse). First off we want to thank you for your prayers as we’ve been training and preparing. Our team appreciates it so so much! When we first arrived for training on Wednesday, we each shared a word that captured how we were feeling, and there was a wide range of emotions as we are heading out for something totally new and different for some of us.  Wednesday/Thursday/Friday we had training which included some Bible study time, team bonding, learning about entering new cultures, organizing our sports camp plans, sharing meals together, learning about the Sawyer water filters we will be bringing, spraying our clothes with Sawyer repellant, and most importantly…getting to know the members of the team on a deeper level. We also packed FOUR large bags of all sports equipment that we will be brining with us for this wonderful adventure to Zambia! Friday morning we got to pray in a large group with the team going to Uganda as they left a little earlier than we did. Before our team went to lunch we sat down together and got to share our testimonies and life journeys to one another. We finished this up on the first part of the bus ride to Chicago. This was really great for our team to start to get to know each other and see the unique stories of everyone’s lives. By the time we left campus, we shared another word to check in, and many of the anxious, nervous feelings had turned to eagerness and excitement. We are so excited to get there and get started, and the travel is already underway.

We got to Chicago and got some food before our flight took off. The first flight was about 7-8 hours which, some of us were able to sleep, some weren’t…so the movies were a nice perk for those who couldn’t sleep. We arrived in London this morning about 10:30am local time, and have a long layover here before the long flight to Johannesburg. After going through security we found an open gate and many of us tried to catch up on some sleep while others played cards or read. Our flight tonight is around 7pm London time, so we will be playing lots of games as a team and getting dinner together tonight. Thanks again for all your support and prayers!

Emma/Sean/Arinn/Andrew – 4 of the 14 members of Z Squad.

Shout out to our teammates and friends from Team Z & Zam Fam…the first 2 SEED teams to go to Zambia in the summers of 2017 and 2018.  Several of us are here because of the powerful stories they shared of their SEED experiences!

Joke of the day: What kind of chocolate do they sell at the airport?
Answer: Revealed tomorrow!

Ready to Go!!!!!

We made it to O’hare, checked in, got through security, students are getting dinner, and we will be boarding our flight to London soon!  Emma and Andrew are up for today’s blog, but we won’t have time to get it posted before we need to board.  With the long layover we have in London tomorrow, they’ll join forces with Arinn and Sean to give a recap of our pre-trip training on campus at Hope, and our first day of travel!  Wanted to let parents and loved ones know things are going smoothly, share a team picture from our training on installing the Sawyer water filters, and let you know we plan to get something posted tomorrow!  It’s been a great two days with this group, Coach Kopas and I are excited to lead this crew, and the team is eagerly anticipating what the next 13 days has in store for us!!

Coach V

Zambia Here We Come!

For the third consecutive year, the SEED program is excited to send 12 student-athletes and two coaches to Zambia to partner with Poetice International.

It is their mission, “to empower the church to fight for justice. Through transformational development, Poetice pursues physical and spiritual restoration for the widowed, the orphaned, the vulnerable, the exploited, the sick and the poor.”

The team returns to campus on Wednesday, August 7 and will depart for Zambia on Friday, August 9.

While on the ground in Zambia, our student-athletes will host sports clinics and connect with youth in the community. The team will also partner with Sawyer to distribute water filters to local families.

View the team calendar for a glimpse of how Hope College students will utilize their passion for sport to share the love of Christ with individuals around the world!

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 on the move in Zambia.

2019 Zambia Team Calendar

Uganda 2019

It’s coming! On Friday, August 9, we launch our SEED team to Uganda and we can’t wait to watch our student-athletes learn and grow.

While in Uganda, the group will partner in the on-going work of Sports Outreach and distribute Sawyer water filters.

The mission of Sports Outreach is, “to recruit, train, equip and deploy committed Christian leaders in the effective use of sports ministry for the purposes of sharing the Gospel and alleviating human suffering.”

We recognize that sport provides and opportunity for athletes to have a significant platform from which to influence others and we’re excited to see how God uses the passion and talents of our Hope College student-athletes as we serve with Sports Outreach.

Take a look at the trip calendar to follow along with our team and check back in for blog updates from the team!

2019 Uganda Prayer Calendar

Pura Vida!

After a long evening of games and laughter from the night before, we woke up this morning slightly tired but with full hearts. We packed our last few things and got organized for the long day of travel ahead of us. Everyone was very sad to be leaving the AMCA house. This place feels like home, and our team feels like family. It is a hard thing to walk away from. Fortunately, we had Musmani (the bakery up the street) to look forward to. It was incredible as always, and we enjoyed our last morning in the country. Heading off the airport, we departed from Nattie, Patri, and Gabriel. Goodbyes are challenging for all of us, so we weren’t thriving in those moments. On the ride to airport, Jack played DJ in the bus and Ronny (our trusty bus driver) finally wore the hat at the front of the bus we have been wanting him to wear all week. Jack played songs to match the mood and some of us partook in some cheesy dance moves and hairbrush singing. We wanted to make the most of our last Costa Rican ride.

The airports were peaceful themselves. Outside of the fact that our connecting flight was late, which meant we had to rush to reach the flight to Chicago. It was weird being back in the states. After living in a shack with only the sound of the animals at night. As well as a bustling town for so long. The peacefulness (and cleanliness) was a welcomes sight. But it was clear that people were sad to leave. Everyone was just trying to soak in the last few moments together, and enjoy the community we formed. As we fly over the United States and stare at the gorgeous sunset on the horizon while playing cards or reading a book, We want to spend our last few words in this blog to reflect on a question we asked ourselves before signing up; And it may be something you asked your child, relative, friend, or whomever told you they were heading to Costa Rica.

Why a Missions Trip?

For some of us it was an opportunity to escape out of the cycle that we call our everyday lives. For others it was a chance to step out of the comfort zone. For many, it was the opportunity to see God in a way that we’ve never seen him before. And for everyone, it was an opportunity of a lifetime.

So here’s to those moments of exhaustion in the heat as we spread smiles and a wealth of joy to the children who never seemed to run out of energy themselves. To the crazy games of Dodgeball where high school kids tried to tear our heads off. The Basketball and Soccer games in the prison where our hearts were opened to how kind and loving the people seen as outcasts truly were. To the wide eyes of community members as we showed how God can change our lives as crystal clear water poured out of a bucket full of dirty water. The multitude of inside jokes and laughs and tears of joy that ensued on nearly every bus ride around town. The nights of cards and games of “ultimate werewolf” were we convinced ourselves that sleep wasn’t necessary. Weekends spent going to church and playing disc golf, Zumba, and wiffleball.  Here’s to the thoughts and discussion during team time, and the vulnerability of everyone’s testimony.

And while it may seem like you were able to go on this journey with us through the blog. We were truly only able to get to the surface of how incredible this trip was, and what it meant to all of us. So when you see your trip goer, say one thing… “tell me about the trip”. I can guarantee what they will tell you, and what you will come find, is that everything that happened on a small country in Central America is nothing short of God at work.

With all that being said.

Here’s to the Smiles. The Laugher. The Tears. The Friendship and Fellowship. The Risks. The Conversations. The Inside Jokes. The Leaders. The Support. And Every Life we changed.

Here’s to The Costa Rica Seed trip of Summer 2019.

Signing off With Love,

Reagan, Claire, Madison, and the Entire Missions Team

Pura Vida

God bless

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.

Love,

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.

Love,

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.

%d bloggers like this: