As the pandemic continues and countries begin to open back up, our work in each base is looking different every week. However, we are blessed to continue finding ways to serve God in the communities to bring light and hope. Today’s story comes from Daniel Gamboa, one of our Sports Site leaders in Costa Rica.

At the beginning of the year, Willy, the other sports site leader, kept repeating his mantra, ‘This is going to be my year!’ We started a new soccer team, the teen bible study was taking its first steps, and it felt like God was opening new doors left and right. Just when we thought everything was running smoothly, COVID-19 came to Costa Rica. Everything shut down. Our momentum built up over these last two years came to a halt. COVID-19 hit the Sports Site particularly hard. It presented challenges that still exist because we depend on community fields, the sports complex, and direct contact.

Moving forward, we had no clue as to how we could practice with kids. Our first move was to transition our practices to a digital platform. The idea was to preserve the communication we had with the kids. But we had minimal success with this. Most kids that are part of our program don’t have cellphones, or if they do, they don’t have data or wifi. Around this time, God was convicting me about leaving everything in His hands and open my heart to follow His purpose for me in the Sports Site. Are God’s goals for His Kingdom in Desamparados just that I teach everyone how to be a rockstar soccer player? I believe that my calling’s greater purpose is to use my talents to share, disciple, and model the Good News of Jesus in these kids’ lives. Up until now, I’ve been able to do that through sports.

Because I am a coach, I have a relationship with numerous kids in the community that look up to me. That’s when we realized: soccer fields may be closed, our platform may be gone, but we can still utilize our relationships to preach the Gospel. We decided to seek out new contexts through which we can disciple youth. Because of the urgency for basic household needs, we’ve been able to get closer to our players’ families by bringing basic staples to their homes. Schools have yet to meet in person since the beginning of the pandemic. We’ve been able to fill an essential need in the community by printing out homework for our players and tutoring them. We have even been able to meet together and work on woodwork projects with the Creative Arts Site.

I can’t begin to express how good it feels to all be together again! Even if we’re not practicing soccer or other sports, I’m still able to be part of these kids’ lives. I’m not just a coach, but I’m also a teacher and family friend now. So maybe Willy was right after all. Perhaps this is our year.

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