Tuesday: Costa Rica Day 4

Tuesday went by so fast it was almost a blur. We did everything this day that we had on Monday, except we had 65 kids this time around! Some kids didn’t come back, some new kids came, but either way, there were LOTS of them!

Another cool way that God worked in me was by simply using the kids! I like kids, but I’ve never really been one to jump at the opportunity to volunteer in the nursery or lead sunday school. I like kids, but it’s just not really my area. But God blessed me so much through them. Seeing their joy, simplicity, and love radically changed my attitude. I never truly understood this verse until I was able to play with the kids in Costa Rica; “Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.”

It’s so humbling to have a little girl run up to you and hold your hand. That’s what Krystal did. I hadn’t seen her around or noticed her at all. But she came straight up to me, grabbed my hand, and smiled. Her love for others was so evident just in her smile. It was the kind of smile you can’t ignore, because it makes you smile in return. She didn’t just hold my hand the rest of the day. But she also came up and wanted hugs, piggyback rides, and to simply be held. What a gift! I loved feeling her tiny arms clutching my neck, and her little giggles as we jumped around. It didn’t matter that we were sweaty, looked gross, and had empty stomachs; we simply enjoyed what we were doing and who we were doing it with. She didn’t care much about perfecting her skills or her team’s scrimage, she just wanted to enjoy our company and be with us.

Being with kids for a week was such a good reminder of where my attitude has been and where it should be. Did I really need to worry about what to wear that day? Should I really be concerned if their nametags are falling off? Of course not! The tiny details don’t matter! It’s all about knowing God’s love, and giving it out to others. And the more I was around kids, the more I realized that they knew this fact, a lot better than me. 🙂

Monday: Day 3

A shot at mid-kick.

Ahhhh. The first day of Soccer Camp! I woke up that morning anxious. I was anxious to get out there and do the work of God! But I was also anxious about a question I had; How am I going to be useful? I hadn’t played soccer in YEARS. So how was I supposed to coach these kids on skills I didn’t even have? But God kept reminding me. Have I not been faithful to you? Have I not provided for you? God is always faithful, and He reassured me that He will use me in some way.

So there’s about 15 of us, and as we drive up to La Cancha (the field) there are 2 kids. At first we’re okay with it, we were 45 minutes early. So we set up registration, water bottles, blow up balls, etc. After a while, we’re ready to start, but there’s only 2 kids still. Our team circles up for prayer and we all just look around like, you’ve gotta be kidding me. Two kids? So we pray. Lord, if these are the only kids you want us to impact today, then let us do that for your glory. But we do ask that you draw kids in to come so we can impact so many more lives today. Thank you Jesus. Amen.

So I sat in a chair, ready to register, hopefully, more kids. And after we prayed, it was like the flood gates broke. We had 45 kids that day! Man, what a reminder of who our God is. When it looked like the camp was useless, that I was useless, God had a different plan! I’m in no way good at soccer, but I could do the drills with the kids. I could encourage. I could give piggyback rides. I could make pb&j sandwiches. And I keep saying I, but God kept reminding me that He was the one opening the doors to do these things. God provided the peanut butter, jelly, bread, and the hands that prepared it. God provided people who gave me piggybacks when I was little so that one day, I could give them to someone else. To a little boy who got hit in the head with a soccer ball, but by the end of his ride he was laughing.

Over and over again I was reminded that God will use you, Hannah. When it seems like there’s no where you’ll fit, I have a spot for you. It was a blessing to play soccer. To shoot goals… and miss. To hold Jenifer’s hand. To give Krystal a hug. To tickle Leo to the ground. To pass out nametags. To spread peanut butter. To shout “Bien!” To dribble with Iris. To laugh with Jorge. And on and on I could go with the little blessings that filled me with joy. Little ways that God whispered in my ear, “I told you I would use you. Now enjoy!”

Day 1 of soccer camp was a blast. I had some awesome talks with Max, Nicole, Alicia, and Tatiana. Just to name a few! And to top off the day, we had an evening service. The Lord kept reminding me to love unconditionally. With no end. With nothing expected in return. Don’t stop loving a kid if they ignore your rules. Or throw the rubber pellets at you. Don’t let any little daily annoyance get in your way of loving the kids. I love you even though you sin daily. So love these kids as much as Jesus loves you. Because that’s why you’re here, and even if they don’t know it, that’s why they’re here. Love. The greatest command.

Pictures from Jaco

Here are some pictures from Jaco. There’s some with my teammates, sports camp, and scenery. Enjoy!

Sunday: Day 2

Morning Devos and breakfast, then off to church! CC Jaco has church at la cancha, which was cool because that’s where our soccer camp would be the next day! They do church in a bilingual service, so they sang, preached, and greeted us in english and spanish. It was really neat to unite and worship with other Christians and feel God’s presence, even if I didn’t know what I was singing in Spanish. I knew that I was praising God, and I couldn’t help but think that maybe that’s what Heaven will be like. Everyone singing their own language to God, uniting to bring Him praise.

After church some of us went into town and ate at “Bubba’s,” a place known for their fish tacos. After lunch a smaller group of us went to the beach. It was my first time to touch the pacific ocean water, and I liked it! Melanie, Brittany, and I jumped waves. And let me tell you, they don’t get baby waves in CR, they get big waves! It was a great afternoon to relax before the big week we had ahead of us.

On our way back from the beach, we stopped at some shops, and this is my favorite memory from that day. I didn’t have any money with me that day, so I just wandered around looking at things. But at one store I felt an almost physical push to go up and talk to the store owner. One of my teammates was checking out so I went and stood by them. I asked the store owner if he went to church anywhere and he told me a catholic church down the street. I told him that was good, and I thought more people in Costa Rica need to find a church like he had. He simple agreed and went back to counting cash. I asked him if he liked his church and he said yes again, so I went a little further and said “That’s awesome! Have you ever heard of Calver Chapel? They meet at la canch.” He said no, so I told him that it was an awesome church that I had just gone to that morning. He wasn’t too talkative so I wrapped up the conversation saying, “I’m glad you’ve got a church to go to, I wish more people in Jaco had a relationship with Jesus like we do.” He had a faint questioning on his face, almost like my remark had puzzled him. But he said pura vida (pure life, it’s their slogan) and I left the store. We were walking past the next shop when I heard him yell, “Miss! Miss!” so I turned around and he was running towards me. He held out a bracelet with a cross dangling from it. He said, “I want you to have this. It’s made of coconut, and… I want you to take it.” I was floored! I just had a conversation about Jesus with this man and he didn’t seem interested at all, but something must have clicked. I told him thank you, gave him a hug, and said God bless. He walked away smiling. And that made me smile. 🙂

Saturday: Day 1

This was our first full day in Jaco, Costa Rica. We did our morning devos and ate the usual breakfast of rice, beans, fruit, juice, and the best coffee my lips have ever tasted. Then we split into teams. We grouped up and it was the first time I met our sports team. Here’s the breakdown of who was in Sports Outreach and where they’re from:

Daniel (Pastor at Calvery Chapel Jaco)

Gabe (Translator for Calvery Chapel Jaco)

Alicia (The summer intern at Calvery Chapel)

Pastor John (He pastors a Calvery Chapel church in San Juan, CA)

Jake, his son. (CA)

Chris (CA)

Ryan (CA)

Tim (CA)

Jerry (CA)

Jonathon (Goes to Believers World Church in OK)

Alex (Goes to Believers World Church in OK)

Tatiana (CA)

Alicia (CA)

Nicole (CA)

and Me (KY <- obviously)

Also in the picture were two of our translators, Max (in yellow) and Randall a.k.a. Ran Man to the left in red&blue. On this day we went out to the neighborhoods and handed out flyers about soccer and surf camp. Then we all met up at la cancha (the synthetic soccer field) and played a quick game of soccer. It rained in Costa Rica every day sometime between 3pm and the next morning. So on this day, Chris, Melanie, Drew, and I had a mud fight from the rain. It was glorious.