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