Be Strong Be True

By Ashish, Ted and Grace H.

Today was our first day leading the camp with the local youth in Zambia! We started the day off with worship. Worship in Zambia is very different from the worship we experience in the states due to plentiful dancing and a ton of joy. During this time the kids were very encouraging and made us come out of our comfort zones by inviting us to dance with them. After worship was done, we split up into four groups: flag football, softball, health and wellness and strength and agility. Many of the kids were unfamiliar with these activities but were able to jump into them quickly when presented the opportunity. They were ecstatic to participate and interact with each other and with the team. After completing drills, we headed to lunch. We were able to talk to and learn more about the campers and their backgrounds while we ate. After lunch, the girls played softball and netball, a popular Zambian game that the Hope girls were able to learn. The boys played volleyball and flag football.

When the games were done, the boys walked into the communities with the boy campers and talked with their families. After dropping the campers off at their homes, the Hope guys went to Brad’s house, a permanent Poetice staff member from Hudsonville, MI. There, the boys got to play basketball, eat, and talk around the fire. While the Hope guys were away from camp, the girls, including the campers, were able to connect over dinner and other activities. The Hope girls learned many knew Zambian cheers and fun little games for around the fire. As we are writing this blog at 10 pm, the girl campers are still out and about having fun and spending the night on base.

We have a similar day planned for tomorrow and can’t wait to share!

Hello from Choma!

Today was our first full day in Africa! We started our day with breakfast which was yummy. After breakfast we headed over to praise our lord during worship. Worship in a different language is incredible. It is cool to step into a new environment, and to see how the Zambians say YES to the lord by dancing joyfully. After we finished worship, we started prepping for the sports camp we are running tomorrow. Once we were done preparing for camp the women in our team changed into our long skirts and we started our walk into a local community “Mwapona.” Before heading into the community, we spent some time in an orientation where the Poetice leadership gave a talk about cultural differences. They explained some things about the Zambian lifestyle that are vastly incongruous to the US. They really stressed that their style of living is not “bad” or “less than” it is just different. They did not have the same material things as us, but their joy was plentiful. It reminded us of how rich they still are. We had the opportunities to walk through local markets and saw so many smiling kids. Once again, we had a great meal! It was Taco Tuesday!! We finished the day with more moving worship and as a team we started sharing our personal stories and testimonies. Sharing our stories brought us closer as a team and speaks to the power of God and just how good he is! Tomorrow, we ask for prayers for energy and excitement as we welcome local youth to the Poetice base.

Stay tuned!

Signing off,

Maddie and Haley:)

Hello from Zambia!

By Sydney & Seth

We have finally arrived in Zambia! After an overnight flight and a short layover we flew into the Livingstone airport and were greeted by a few of the Poetice staff. Thankfully all of our luggage also made the trip which we were told may not be 100 percent guaranteed. We then packed into a bus and took a two and a half hour drive to the Poetice base in Choma, Zambia. When we arrived we were greeted by more staff with shouts of joy, open arms and some snacks. It felt wonderful to greeted so enthusiastically after a long journey over the past few days. After we were welcomed, we talked with the staff and got to know some of the amazing people we will get to work with in the next few days. We then moved our stuff into the bunkhouses and headed over to the worship center for some music and praise. The first worship song brought out the joy and energy that all the staff has for Jesus and even with our exhausted bodies we were able to share that joy. After worship we were blessed with our first traditional Zambian meal of nshima. It is eaten with your hands and consists of a mashed potato like base made of maze which is then rolled into a ball and used to scoop the vegetables and meat made with it. Some of us were better at making our nshima balls than others, but it was delicious anyways. After dinner we got to spend more time talking with the staff on base and are super excited for what the upcoming week has in store. We ask for prayers for a restful night of sleep for all of us so that we can be rejuvenated for our first day of training and prepping for the sports camps later this week.

More adventures to come this week!

Guten tag from Frankfurt, Germany!

Our first flight landed this afternoon in Frankfurt, Germany around 8 am EST. We were served a delicious pasta dinner around 1:00 am last night on the plane and then breakfast six hours later.  Sleep was rough, but the flight was smooth. We are currently wrapping up an eight-hour layover in Germany. During our time here, we went through customs to get McDonald’s and KFC. Many of us got our passports stamped for the first time! While at these restaurants, the team experienced a language barrier for the first time. With the help of some new friends, we were able to order and get our food. German McDonalds is mostly the same as the ones in America, but also have sausage and other local foods on the menu (and the McRib!) After getting back through customs, we sat down to have a meaningful conversation as a group about our lives up until college. The team is loving getting to know each other better. To pass the time, we’ve been playing lots of card games, such as Euchre. We’re planning on a Euchre tournament sometime soon. We are hoping to be well rested when we land in Johannesburg, South Africa tomorrow morning. We can’t wait!

Auf Wiedersehen,

Ryan & Ari

And so it begins…

By Kyra and Grace V.

Hello friends and families,

Our trip started with a day and a half of training. Everyone came in with a mix of emotions, but it feels great to finally be together as one big group and we are so excited to start this journey! Throughout training we treated our clothes, practiced installing water filters, covered team expectations, and had some time to reflect on our own. We were able to hear from several different Hope staff that have traveled to Zambia in the past and ask any questions to ease our uncertainty. We departed Hope this afternoon and headed to Chicago for our first flight. Of course, we had to take a pit stop at Portillo’s on the way! Getting to our gate went smoothly, and we even got some stretching in before our flight. Thank you for following along and we appreciate your continued prayers and support. We are grateful for this opportunity and excited to get going!

Off to Zambia!

For the fourth year, the SEED program is excited to send 14 student-athletes and four administrators to Zambia to partner with Poetice International.

It is their mission, “to see people encounter the radical love of God, be restored into His family, walk in their true identity, & pursue justice in their communities.”

The team returns to campus on Friday, August 5 and will depart for Zambia on Saturday, August 6.

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 below 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.

2022 Zambia Prayer Calendar

DAY 10: TIME FLIES AND SO DO WE

BY: Dut (Emma), Tigger (Allison), Megatron (Meg)

After a great last night of reflection, we woke up for the airport this morning at 5:00am. When we got to airport, we cleared security and ate our last Costa Rican breakfast. We sat around and chatted over breakfast and reminisced on the great trip we had.

We had an uneventful flight back to the United States and many of us slept or watched some movies to help pass the time. We landed in Houston and once again cleared customs and security (phew). We passed the time in the Houston airport with countless walks, shopping, and playing a last couple rounds of “The Mind,” a favorite game on this trip. We then boarded our second to last leg of the trip and flew to Chicago Midway. We are currently on our way back to Hope. We have enjoyed our time together and are sad to see this trip end.

As we reflected on our trip throughout the last 24 hours, we are thankful for the amazing memories, great friends, and life lessons that were created on this trip. We have truly come to appreciate all the beauties of our world. We realized how fortunate we are to have clean water at our fingertips. The kids and adults we were surrounded by filled us with so much joy and although communicating was hard we were able to use sport to develop relationships and lifegiving experiences. God has worked in and through each one of us and we are excited to take this excitement home wherever that might be.

Thank you for your thoughts and prayers throughout our trip. We can’t wait to share all our amazing stories. The Lord is moving in powerful ways in each of our lives and we pray it continues into the rest of our summer and school year.

Signing off from Costa Rica,

Dut (Emma), Tigger (Allison), and Megatron (Meg)

DAY 9: HUMBLING, LIFE-GIVING, JOYFUL, GROWTH, GOOFY, OVERWHELMING, MEANINGFUL, ADVENTUROUS, REFRESHING, BOUNDARY-LESS

BY: EZ (Eli S), Doorman (Griffin), and Kit-Kat (Kate)

After a chilly night’s rest (the boys’ room set at a mere 62 degrees), we all were so grateful for Nattie, Josué, and Randall the Bus Driver for preparing a delicious breakfast this morning. Our meal consisted of cereal, yogurt, toast, eggs, and a Costa Rican favorite, fruit – Mangoes are a delicacy amongst the group! Once dishes were cleaned and floors were swept, the two-hour trip to Jaco went by muy rápido thanks to Catch Phrase and some great conversation…Congratulations to Groupa (Eli K) for securing his first Catch Phrase win!

Our trip to Marina Bellena yesterday was a stark contrast to today’s adventure. Tranquility was traded for unforgiving waves that swept everyone off their feet. There is nothing better than a good rush of saltwater up the nose! Josué provided us tips and tricks to avoid getting consumed by the waves while Doorman participated in photoshoot number two in his beloved hammock with Queen Nattie behind the camera.

Following our memorable time spent at the beach, the group walked through the streets of Jaco, many deciding to spend the remainder of their colones (Costa Rican money). Group favorites included açaí bowls, pastries, and Britt Coffee – T Vines’ second coffee within a span of 20 minutes. To fill up before the trek back to AMCA, we stopped at a roadside buffet for a quick lunch that included the go-to of the week, rice and beans!

“It is so good to be home!” someone cheered as we pulled into AMCA. With sadness, we said goodbye to our beloved new friends, Nattie, Josué, and Benjamin. We grouped up for our final discussion of the trip which started by sharing the things we appreciated about each other throughout the week. Each of us fit so perfectly into the puzzle of our group – Doorman with his adventurous spirit, Megatron’s joyful presence, and Tigger with her willingness to be all in, all the time. As the night went on, the conversation grew deeper (when asked for a word to describe the trip, look to the title of today’s blog for Costa Crew’s answers). The group reminisced over our favorite memories of the trip and discussed how best to bring our takeaways from this wonderful experience back to Michigan. To encompass such an experience, we had the opportunity to write letters to our future selves, reminding us of the joys of Costa Rica and its people, and the ways God is working in our everyday lives that LB will send to us in a few months.

The Costa Crew would like to thank each one of you who have supported us along this journey. If you are reading this, it means you hold a special place in each of our lives. Whether a family member or friend, you have made a significant impact on who we are and who we are becoming, and this trip would not be possible without you.

With grateful hearts,

EZ, Doorman, and Kit-Kat (Eli S, Griffin, & Kate)

DAY 8: COCONUT, CRABS, AND CHANCE

BY: Double A (Alaina), Magma (Jenna), and T Vines (Taylor)

After waking up very early the last couple of days, we were grateful to have a slower start to the morning. We were excited to wake up to roosters crowing and Doorman (Griffin) letting us know he got the best picture in his hammock. We ended our time on the Reserve Gauymi with a breakfast of pancakes, toast, eggs, bacon, empanadas, and fruit. Before getting back on the road, we thanked the pastor and his family for their hospitality and generosity in hosting us and we were able to leave sports equipment for them to distribute to their schools.

During our three-hour drive to the west coast, Chance (Ben) brought out his speaker and played songs that everyone took turns queuing up. A few of the favorites were “Dancing in the Moonlight” and “Danger Zone”. The views to the west coast continued to leave us amazed by God’s creation.

Our drive landed us at the Ballena National Marine Park at the Pacific Ocean. The beach was gorgeous surrounded by mountains, palm trees, islands, and large waves. There is a part in the ocean that parts ways to create the shape of a whale tail, which we attempted to walk, but the tide was too high. While we were swimming instead, it started to rain. We cracked open coconuts, trying fresh coconut water and the coconut as well. We also found some wildlife, including crabs that pinched Josué (a favorite new addition to our team for the journey south), lizards, and squid. We swam, tossed a tennis ball around, floated in the warm water, and looked for LB’s red shorts to come back with lunch. It wouldn’t be a day in Costa Rica without the daily afternoon rainstorm, but we powered through, still grateful to be together in the beauty surrounding us.

We all crammed unto the bus, soaking wet and covered in sand to arrive at our Airbnb. We ate lunch together outside, including homemade sandwiches, various chips, and apples. We played various card games and took some time to reflect before dinner. We were treated to Pizza Time, a local restaurant in Osa, Costa Rica. After our delicious dinner, we stopped at the supermarket to pick up breakfast for tomorrow morning and convinced LB to let us get ice cream.

We finished the night with learning more about each other and the importance of remembering scripture.

As we start to close out our trip, we thank you once again for continuing to follow along in seeing how we grow.

“Peace and Love”,
Double A, Magma, & T Vines (Alaina, Jenna & Taylor)

DAY 7: CALL SIGNS AND CHRIST

BY: ACE (Grace), Chance (Ben) & Groupa (Eli K)

This morning we woke up to fresh fruit, plantains, eggs, sausage and cheese.

We also finalized our Top Gun call signs, after talking about all the nicknames we’ve ever had the night before, and we came up with:

Jason “J-Bird” Gomory
Grace “ACE” Connelly
Alaina “Double A” Adams
Eli “EZ” Schoonveld
Ben “Chance” Bush
Jenna “Magma” Core
Allison “Tigger” Schram
Coach “Mur” V
Eli “Groupa” Kane
Griffin “Doorman” Doran
Emma “Dut” Dutmers
Meg “Megatron” Morehouse
Kate “Kit Kat” Majerus
Taylor “T Vines” Vines
Leader “LB” Ben

The pup, Stacy, was extra active this morning and wanted to go with us to the schools. We jumped in the back of two trucks and took off. We drove off roading through the mountains, and while driving we saw a bunch of indigenous fruits, flowers, and animals…including a toucan.

The students at the first school were more reserved than any of our previous schools. This gave us the opportunity to witness the incredible power sports have when trying to connect with others. The participation was more cautious from the kids since fewer people visit their school due to its remote location. But we figured out which games worked. The best games we played included, “cabeza y manos” with the boys and bubbles for the girls. After playing we took a hike up the mountain to see the indigenous structure which was recently uncovered from excavation in the area.

We loaded up the trucks and headed deeper into the mountains to the next school. There we played red light/green light, sharks and minnows, soccer and we taught the kids how to hit a wiffle ball. After the kids left, our group played a quick game of softball. EZ and Groupa (the two Eli’s) wanted the smoke, so Double A and ACE (Alaina & Grace) brought their best softball pitches. The rest of the squad joined in on the fun as well. Once again, we provided water filters for both schools, explaining to them that the unfiltered water is like life before Christ and the filtered water represents new life through Christ. We hope that these water filters change their lives just as Jesus has changed ours.

We loved our time playing games with students!

The scenery up the mountain and during our game was incredible. The atmosphere has created a sense of peace with the sounds of the river and the rain and waking up to the mountains every morning. The afternoon was relaxing as we were able to have some downtime playing games and having conversations with arroz con leche, and fried cheese sticks as snacks.

Dinner, debrief and devotion were the highlights of the night. Dinner consisted of pork, rice, beans, vegetables, and yuca. During debrief we discussed how incredible our time has been here and how our last day of ministry went. Our devotion focused on 1 John 3:11-20 where we talked about how at times it can be difficult to love others as Jesus loves us.

Thank you for your continued prayers and support. This week has been incredible, and we are so thankful for the opportunity to grow in our relationship with each other and with Christ.

“You can be my wingman anytime”,
ACE, Groupa, & Chance (Grace, Eli K, & Ben)

%d bloggers like this: