Athletes Take Service Trip to Costa Rica

The break between semesters was more than a hiatus from studies and a time spent with family for members of the track and field and women’s volleyball teams. These student-athletes spent one week on a service trip to Costa Rica, where they partnered with Going the Distance Adventure Ministries in serving a local community in hurricane relief efforts and in sharing the gospel.

Upon arriving in Costa Rica, the group of 43 saw first-hand the devastation left when Hurricane Otto swept through the country in late November. The team members dedicated themselves to helping those affected by the hurricane, as well as ministering to the community in other ways.  Teaming up with a local church, the athletes split into work groups to take on various tasks.

“From the moment we got there we felt extremely welcomed,” said track athlete Alex Clark ‘17.  The community in Costa Rica is very loving and we could see the joy on their faces that we were there to help them.”

A couple of the work sites for the week were construction projects. The athletes helped relocate and build a new home for one local man whose house was flooded by the hurricane. They also salvaged through the mud and debris of his former residence for usable items.  Another work crew constructed a one-room apartment for gentleman who had vision problems.  Built as an addition to a friend’s house, his new living space provided him with the help he needed as well as his independence.

Another project involved sorting through and organizing thousands of pieces of donated clothing. The athletes went through bags upon bags of clothes, sorted them by gender and size, folded them, and arranged them into piles at a distribution center where community members could come to get needed clothing.

Other athletes helped out at a community park where they painted soccer goal posts, fencing, benches, and dugouts.

In addition to working in the community, the teams held a couple of events that allowed them to interact with the local people.  As families came to the distribution center, the athletes conducted a carnival where they performed Bible story skits and played games with the children.  On another occasion they hosted a community-wide sports night that involved a variety of games such as volleyball, soccer, kickball, and frisbee.

“The community events really brought everyone together,” said Clark. “Despite the language barrier, we could still communicate and have fun together. That experience, as well as attending church services with the locals, really showed me how amazing God is. Although we speak different languages we still serve the same God and we could feel their passion for Christ.”

The team members also experienced the local culture through fun outings. They had the opportunity to zip-line through the rain forest, visit natural hot springs heated by geothermal energy from a volcano, go to the beach, and do some shopping.  They visited a woman’s house where they were shown the process of making coffee and they took an interactive tour of local petroglyphs.  

A highlight of the interaction with the Costa Rican people was the opportunity to worship with them. The Trinity students joined the locals in a couple of church services. On their final evening of the trip, the athletes came together with church members for a time of reflecting on their work, expressing their thanks, and in prayer and praise.

“On the final night I could definitely feel God’s presence as we mixed with the community people to sing ‘How Great Is Our God’ and then pray with whoever was right next to you,” said volleyball player Danielle Oeverman ‘18. “It was such a powerful experience and a great way to end the trip.”

“It was inspiring to see how much the church people loved the Lord and were devoted to their faith even after the destruction by the hurricane,” reflected Rachel Verhage ’17, a volleyball team member. “I was impacted by how warmly they welcomed us with open arms and prayed and worshipped with us who were strangers.”

Through the experiences of the trip and in times of personal and group devotions, the athletes were challenged to grow in many ways. Each morning started with devotions centered on a theme of “Planting Seeds” and evenings included praise and worship, sharing highlights and testimonies, as well as an Impact Point message. As a result the athletes developed a deeper faith, closer friendships with teammates and other athletes, a stronger bond as a family of God, and a greater appreciation for the diversity and riches of God’s people and creation.