Growing Season

During the summer of 2017, we launched the SEED program with the support of Sawyer Products. Three teams of mixed sport student-athletes and coaches used their passion for sports to share the love of Christ around the world.

In May, our first trip launched to India with 12 student-athletes and three staff members to partner with Audio Scripture Ministries.

The other two teams traveled in August prior to the start of the school year.  Our team to Costa Rica partnered with Push the Rock and sent 11 student-athletes with three staff members, and the final team traveled to Zambia with 12 student-athletes and two staff members to work with Poetice.

Each team served alongside local churches and communities for a two-week period through sports clinics and Sawyer water filter distributions. These water filters attach to any size bucket and work with gravity. Because of their small size, we were able to give them to individual families. The best part of all is that these filters will provide clean water for a lifetime!

We are so grateful for the support of Sawyer as their generosity makes SEED trips possible and affordable to all Hope student-athletes. Our hope and prayer is that the SEED program continues to grow, providing student-athletes and coaches with opportunities to serve for years to come in different countries around the world.

Read how three student-athletes were transformed from their participation with SEED this summer:  

 

Frankie Buchanan – Costa Rica

Frankie with assistant women’s basketball coach Courtney Kust in Costa Rica.

Hola. That was the extent of my Spanish knowledge before going to Costa Rica this past summer with the Hope College SEED program. Though I lacked language skills, I had plenty of fears. Would I fit in with the other people on the trip? How would my knowledge, or rather lack thereof, affect relationship-building in Costa Rica? And how EXACTLY was I supposed to impact the lives of so many people who I felt needed me? I mean really impact their lives! As it turned out, lots of amazing things were done in the many villages and schools we visited. At each place we brought something new to the kids through sports. We brought water filters, too. And of course, we brought hearts to serve for Jesus.

The stories that I heard, and lives that I thought I was changing, helped change and grow me instead.

On our first day of training for SEED, we were asked what we wanted to get out of our trip. My mind instantly went to relationships.  I wanted a stronger relationship with God. I wanted close relationships with my fellow SEED travelers. And I wanted to grow in all of those relationships.  And I did…because of my new friends in Costa Rica. The stories that I heard, and lives that I thought I was changing, helped change and grow me instead. I saw this through the unconditional love that they showed us, the testimonies that they told us, and the joy that they expressed as we played game after game, laughed day after day, enjoying each other through it all.  

Now back at Hope, relationship-building with my fellow Hope-SEED travelers continues. We Snapchat daily; when we see one another on campus it’s a whole production of screams and hugs. We also have deep conversations and not afraid to talk about anything. It’s true that we blessed people in Costa Rica, but in the end, we found that the blessings came mostly from them.

 

Jager Haan – Zambia

Jager playing a game of tag in Zambia.

In any circumstance where God is present, an opportunity for a life-changing experience is possible, and God was present in Zambia. God worked through this SEED program, not only giving those from Hope opportunities to change lives but to have our lives changed as well. For me, God worked in my life through the relationships I developed while in Africa. The people I encountered made an effort to be a part of my life during my short stay there, speaking truth into my life.

Having interacted with the people of Zambia — people so on fire for developing great relationships centered in Christ — I am now fired up myself for Jesus.

While in Zambia, we worked with Poetice, and their staffs gave me an example of what it truly looks like to live for Christ. Through their stories, advice, and actions it was evident God was doing a big work through them. One person in particular, Joel Ng’ambi, encouraged me to embrace my story as well as share it with other people in my life. My time with Joel gave me a new perspective. He showed me how I should interact with others, be selfless to others, love, and see others with God’s eyes — as my brothers and sisters in Christ. These are all things that Christians know in our hearts to do but often, at least for me, I choose not to do them. Having interacted with the people of Zambia — people so on fire for developing great relationships centered in Christ — I am now fired up myself for Jesus.

Yes, the people of Zambia dramatically impacted my life. Now I hope that I impacted theirs. Yes, we shared our stories, played with the kids, and were fully present. Now I hope those memories stay with them as much as they stay with me. Specifically, I hope that I left an impact through my personal testimony. I had the opportunity to share my testimony with all the kids and staff, pushing me way out of my comfort zone. I hope that God used me to touch the one life, or maybe more, in Zambia. Lord knows, Zambia touched mine.

God is present in Zambia. Through the pouring out of His presence in that place lives were changed, mine being the first. It was and has been such a blessing. This small attempt to put a few things from the trip into words can’t do it all justice. I thank Hope, Poetice, and Sawyer for making this trip possible.

 

Sarah McCoy – India

Sarah with her soccer buddies in India.

When I arrived back to the United States, my heart was full of thanks and appreciation for the people of India who welcomed us into their country and for a SEED trip for allowing me to witness and experience God transforming lives and building relationships through us. I was exposed to the truest and purest form of God and I was reminded that nothing, not even a language barrier, can stand in the way of His love. Let me explain.

I was exposed to the truest and purest form of God and I was reminded that nothing, not even a language barrier, can stand in the way of His love.

One particular group of kids in the village stole my heart. Each day before camp began, we would pick out our teams with pointing and non-verbal agreements. On the surface, it seemed to be a normal game of small-sided soccer, but beneath, relationships were being built through sport and faith. To be able to communicate without actually knowing each other’s language was incredible.  I watched kids learn how to play American football for the first time, got my butt kicked in 4v4 soccer by some talented 10-years-olds, saw kids hysterically laugh during one huge game of “rhinos and monkeys” (aka, “sharks and minnows”), witnessed adults and children crying in the presence of the Lord, and felt how gracious and thankful they all were for our sports camp, water filters, and distribution of audio bibles (with help of Audio Scripture Ministries). God’s power touched the hearts of each person there and we were all simply united under His name.

Each of us have our own gifts and talents that the Lord calls us to use for His glory. Going on this trip was a reminder that we should carry His principles with us each day and love those around us unconditionally. The impact of a smile, genuine conversation, game of catch, or prayer is so powerful. I can’t imagine how different our Earth would be if we all treated each other like God intends us to. The SEED trip is an incredible opportunity to pursue God’s plan while simultaneously incorporating sport in the mission. I encourage all Hope athletes to do the same.

 

SEED India Highlights

 

Check out a short recap of our first SEED trip to India!  It was great to partner with Sawyer and Audio Scripture Ministries to share God’s love through clean water and sports camps.

SEED India Highlights – May 2017

Two additional SEED teams will launch in August – one to Costa Rica and one to Zambia. Stay tuned to learn more about their travel plans and how we will continue to share our passions with people around the world!

Home again!

The India team safely returned to the US on Tuesday night after a great week of serving through sport and clean water.

Stay tuned for picture and video highlights in the coming weeks! Thanks for all of your prayers and support of our SEED India team.

Be Strong, Be True, Let’s Go Hope!

Albino Tigers and Albino People

By Alli and Elizabeth

Today was our last day on the ground in Bangalore, and JP and the other leaders had a special surprise planned for us. We got up extra early and drove to the other side of the city where we visited the Tiger Reserve and Zoo. With a personal safari bus holding all of us, we drove erratically through the herbivore exhibit, stopping for pictures of the giant water buffalo, Indian reindeer and Asian elephants. We then crossed a series of gates to the carnivore portion of the safari, looking incredulously at the animals only feet from our bus. We saw Black sloth bears (who looked more like dogs), a series of sleeping lions, and Bengal tigers. The highlight of this portion though was seeing the rare and endangered Albino tiger (pictures to come we promise).

After finishing the Jungle safari, we decided to explore the zoo portion of the reserve, walking past a herd of turtles, some Indian crocodiles and a herd of zebras. We also got to see the infamous king cobra, which is astonishingly large. We decided that this is certainly an animal that we were glad to have not seen while in Assam (it’s natural territory).

We were also laughing because, for all the crowds at the zoo, we had a significant number of people ask to take pictures of or with us. We made the joke that were one of the main attractions at the zoo that day- The rare white people.

These things were great, but the best part of the zoo may have been the monkeys roaming around. We had a chance to get so close to them that they almost jumped on us. The monkeys were running around wild, and not even an exhibit in the zoo!

After a long car ride home, and yet another great experience of the crazy traffic in in Indian, we went back to our rooms to rest and begin to pack. Some of us had the chance to tour World Cassette Outreach headquarters even more, looking at the studio, different bibles in the languages they have recorded, and a big meeting and chapel space.

For our final dinner we ate at an Indian/American restaurant. Some of us ended the trip with Indian dishes, Paratas, while others had pasta, or chicken sandwiches. We also had our last debrief, beginning to think of how we would share our stories as we return home from this amazing experience. We were able to discuss how God has worked in and around us throughout this trip, and how important it is to always remember the emotions that this trip provided for us. We also discussed Joshua and the rock altar, creating our own memory of God’s miracles by taking an Indian rock with us. It was an amazing way to end such an incredible trip.

As always, thank you for your prayers and support. We look forward to seeing you back in America!

A Day in the City

By Ashley and Matt

On Sunday morning we were able to attend JP’s parents church in the slums. The church service was held on the third story of someone’s home. It was a small service led by JP’s dad and translated by JP himself. After the service, we mingled with the congregation and drank tea. It was really fun to observe JP translate for his dad, as several of us noticed their unplanned choreography of hand motions and facial expressions. The similarities between the two of them were very clear.

For lunch, we went to an Indian buffet restaurant called Chutney Changs. This was enjoyed by all of our group, as well JP’s parents and brother James. The food was great, and there was a wide selection of Indian dishes for us to try. We were also blessed by an interesting rendition of Happy Birthday, sung by the restaurant staff to Scott, who also got a cake and some smoking mint palate cleaners.

The rest of the day was pretty laid back. We went back to WCOI for some rest, and then traveled back to commercial street to shop and explore the area some more. Throughout this, JP gave some motorcycle rides to us to giver us a different view of the city and the traffic. This was awesome, and it was fun to see JP in his element. Commercial street was very busy, but we all had a great time shopping and wandering deeper into the city of Bangalore. After we were done there, we headed back to WCOI for some tea, snacks, and story time from JP and James’ parents. Learning their faith journeys and life stories was really eye-opening to us. They are a great example for us to follow in Christ.

During our nightly discussion we talked about the impact the trip had on us thus far. It was great to open our hearts once again about the impact God has had on us while in India. We shared many laughs and tears as stories were shared about the past week.

Exploring Bangalore


Saturday Update:

By Abby and Jacob

The day started with another early morning wake up call, which left us heading to Guwahati just after 3am. Between falling in and out of sleep, looking for various animals, and not having to deal with as much traffic made for a smooth ride. The flight was quick and we were back in Bangalore by noon. However the ride into the city was not as smooth…Mid-day Saturday traffic was bumper to bumper, and the lack of lane usage in India was made well aware to us as our bus driver was determined to fit between the two lanes of traffic!

JP grew up in Bangalore and for the next few days we will be staying in guest rooms at the WCOI ministry facility, where his brother and parents also live. We spent the rest of the day getting a personal tour around the city. We started with an ice cream shop that was SO refreshing! JP then walked us down commercial street, which is a busy street full of stores to shop in! It’s almost comparable to Time Square but less bright and more chaotic. Commercial street consists of one main strip along with several side streets. There were also many street venders selling drums…lots and lots of drums…And they were determined to get the random white people to purchase them! Thanks to JP they eventually let us be!

Dinner involved one of JPs favorite restaurants where we loaded up on nan and got to try different types of curry dipping sauces. He also wanted us all to try this “life changing” cauliflower, which ended up being one of the BEST things I have ever eaten!

This day made me realized how blessed our team is to have JP! His excitement for showing us around the city he grew up in was contagious, and he is allowing us to get a complete picture of India! He also puts up with our endless questions, which has helped the whole group learn more about the beauty of India..and never fails to make us laugh! His personality and passion for India has made this trip so much more meaningful, and I’m so grateful that we get to share India with him!

-Abby

Today was cool because we got to see the opposite end of the spectrum as far as India is concerned. In the early hours of the morning we left tribal India and by the late hours of the night we were sleeping in the heart of the fifth largest city in India. This city is pretty much text book India. What I mean by that is it’s everything you would expect it to be. There’s tons of people, tons of traffic, and tons of…interesting smells. But there’s so much more than just what get for face value. So many little great spots and things that you wouldn’t normally get if you weren’t with someone born and raised there like JP, like that insanely delicious cauliflower, or the “Death by Chocolate” sundae (which was really like “Minor Cold by Chocolate”, I could eat 4 of them). As JP took us around the heart of the city (which Abby explained quite well) you could see the joy on the mans face. For many of us, that’s what made this day special. Being able to experience a city with someone who is so eager to share it with you is something special. Overall, a great day of getting to know Bangalore and one another.

-Jacob

THE LAST HOORAH

Friday Update:

By Hannah and Ryan

In our final distribution of water filters this morning, we worked to fix human error in drilling and assembly that was causing leaks. The leaders of the church were helping us tinker with the problems so that they will be confident in their knowledge of the filters once we leave.

We drove to a nearby village to have lunch and then headed to a small shop that sells hand-woven materials. The shop employs only women and their products are sold through fair trade organizations around the world. We got to see some women spinning thread, stitching fabric, and using large wooden looms to weave the threads into intricate designs. We bought scarfs and sarees to wear tonight to celebrate the culture.

Today was our last day of sports camp. We split into groups for stations. The children were so eager to play the games that we hardly had to give instruction. Between each station, they rehydrated by drinking out of the Sawyer water filters. We ended with our favorite game, Monkeys and Rhinos, and our loud cheer. The children were running around saying “Be Strong, Be True, Let’s Go Hope” for the rest of the night.

As the evening progressed, plastic chairs were arranged outside filled with the people of the village. The families sat facing the staff who took care of us, including our cooks, drivers, and church leaders. As a demonstration of service to one another, we took time washing each other’s feet. It was a humbling experience.

The girls changed into the sarees we bought earlier today. It was special to have the women help us get dressed and share their region’s style with us. We had an outdoor service, packed with tribal dances, music and songs in Boro tongue, sermons from JP and James, and audio bible distribution. Along with the rest of us, JP was so impacted by the foot washing that he changed his sermon to remphasize the humility in serving others and allowing others to serve you.

Saying goodbye was the hardest part of the day. Caroline said it best when she spoke through a translator to the children, saying, “Even though we are leaving, God is not.”

THE ADVENTURE AND LOVE CONTINUES

Thursday Update:

By Sarah and Ashley

“We started our day bright and early (6am) with a  Wushu crashcourse. Wushu is a traditional military martial arts that we were exposed to on our first day in the village. Unfortunetly, our 30 minutes of attempts at self-defense were unable to be mastered seeing that it takes a minimum of 12 years. Nonetheless, our team was excited to learn and participate in an important part of the people’s culture. After breakfast, we adventured North to explore the tea gardens. The tea garden is the source for the tea of our many, many tea breaks through out the day. The garden spans as far as the eye can see to the foot of the Assam Himalayas. This trip was special because our team and the adults from the village mixed into groups and spent the day together. On our way back, we stopped at a river to cool off and relax. The sound of laughter filled the atmosphere as the Indian women splashed each other, took selfies with us, and fell into the water. When we returned, I quickly grabbed my squad of boys for our intense 4v4 soccer game we had been playing since day one. Although none of us can speak each other’s language, words like team, goal, pass, loser, and winner are simple components that connect our two cultures. By this day, me and the boys had learned eachother’s names and there was no way that Bool, Josaya, Ilfan & Acos were going to beat me, Richar, Sebusar, & Beejoy.   Our game was filled with laughter, arguing over handballs (none of which I could understand), and a winning goal scored by my boy, Richar. It is amazing to share something I am so passionate about with the children of this village. It is incredible to see a competitive game eliminate any type of barrier and form real relationships.”

-Sarah

“The relationships that were formed during Wednesday’s sport camp flourished into growing friendships today. The children played multiple games  ranging from an obstacle course, football, and volleyball. As each child rotated stations, large smiles appeared on their faces despite the growing heat. The girls loved learning how to throw a football. The boys thrived off of the organized soccer game. Mothers sat around the field watching the children and us play. Once the organized games with the children were wrapping up, we continued playing unstructured games. The playing never stopped. A volleyball game started with some of the men of the church. Though there was a language barrier between us, it was amazing to see how game flowed so smoothly. Later that night, we broke up into two separate groups and visited different churches. Those churches welcomed us in with open arms. Audible bibles were passed out to these congregations in their native language. It was incredible to see God at work.”

-Ashley

Village Life: Rhinos and Monkeys

Wednesday Update:

By Alli and Anders

“The organized chaos of Indian culture continued with a whirl today.  We started our day by having breakfast at one of the local’s houses, with traditional Boro dishes like til served alongside fresh omelettes.  We were shown the bio-sand water filters that many in the village use.  Although these filters provide mostly clean water, they still cause health problems for the villagers- including kidney stones and diarrhea from micro organisms.  Seeing what they used currently made our team even more excited to show them the Sawyer water filters we brought along.

The morning consisted of a martial arts demonstration (Wushu) and hanging out with the kids.  You could see members of our team starting to bond with kids, challenging them to a pull-up contest and monkeying around.  As the smiles got bigger and bigger, I sat on a bamboo log and grinned at the chaotic joy that I saw around me.  The love that we already felt for these kids was overwhelming, and a glimpse into what was to come.

As we began to assemble water filters for the village, each member of the team spent time hand-drilling holes into the buckets.  For me, this time in the center of the village was really special because it was a physical representation of the labor of love we wanted to provide for them. Drilling holes and spending time together as two cultures and one community was powerful, and something that I want to hold onto forever.  It was a small way that we could repay the labor and hospitality that the Boro people provided so generously for us.

We were able to demonstrate the assembly and use of the water filters in front of a large gathering from the village.  In actions and translation and gestures, we laid out the exact steps for filtering, backwash care and longevity.  We then gave buckets and the filtration systems to small clusters of people and helped them assemble them.  The villagers asked questions that we never would have thought of, and were insistent on going over the process multiple times so that they knew exactly what went into the assembly and functionality of the bucket system.  I was very encouraged by the engagement and responses of the people, as it was a display of their excitement and eagerness to care for the Sawyer systems.

In the somewhat overwhelming experience of village life, I was struck by the beauty of combined worship between two cultures.  We were instructed to pray out loud at the same time, and so you could hear the prayers of the Boro people, and our English prayers at one moment.  I truly felt God’s hand on our team, and the people we had gathered around us while we cried out hallelujah hallelujah in multiple languages.  Our God truly transcends the cultural and language barriers in unexpected ways.”

-Alli

 

“It was evident right away how excited the children were to be playing sports with us today. Before the camp even started all of us were sweaty from running around with them. Although we had a few translators to help us give directions to the children, it was still difficult to communicate with the children directly. There is something special in not being able to have what we consider to be a normal conversation in the United States with someone that speaks a different language, because you begin to learn how to connect with them at the most basic levels of human nature. The beautiful thing about sports is that you don’t need to know the same language to play together. You find ways to communicate like giving a thumbs up or a high-five. At the end of camp today we played Monkeys and Rhinos (we changed the name from Sharks and Minnows) as a joint group, because beforehand we split the children up into groups by age and gender for stations. It was fun to see the girls and the boys play together and interact.

Tonight we had a worship service at the church and we were honored as their guests on stage with scarfs being presented to us. This is a customary practice throughout India. The people here are all so loving, kind, and are extremely gracious hosts. It was hard at times to let them serve us in so many ways, because we are here to serve them. But the best thing that we can do to honor them is to let them graciously host us.

We have all been so thankful for our time here so far and have cherished all of your prayers!”

– Anders

AROUND THE WORLD AND EVEN FARTHER: Guwahati and Beyond

The group is back safely in Bangalore and we will be updating the blog over time with details of the past few days.

Tuesday Update:

By Hannah and Jacob

We woke at 2am to fly to Guwahati. When we got to the airport, there was close to a dozen lines for the men to get through security and only one line for the women. We were rattled by this norm because it is not something we have experienced before. In the United States, this experience would quickly be labeled sexist. Here in India, we came to discover, this separation was for the persevation of modesty (as only female officers worked in this section of the airport), which is an important and empowering aspect of the culture.

Upon arrival to Guwahati, we met Pastor Samuel, who always seems to be in a rush to do nothing. He rushed us from the church to different houses of the village to the ministry, and his urgency was softened with gentle English phrases, like “Please come, please come” and “kindly go, kindly go.” He would even ask us to not talk while we were eating so we would eat faster. His eagerness was energizing. In the times between our hustling, we got to share a lot of special time playing with the children.

-Hannah

After traveling to the direct opposite side of the planet and then traveling 6 more hours north, I discovered that Indian kids are in fact…kids. Upon our arrival to their small village of Uldagiri, the “language barrier” was pretty much shattered after the first juggle of a soccer ball. I didn’t juggle the ball cuz that’s just not what I do (extreme lack of foot-eye coordination), but by simply watching you could see that these kids wanted nothing more than to connect, and to have the opportunity to love and be loved. If the sweat stains on our shirts after the first half an hour of playing are any indication of our first sports camp set for tomorrow, it’s sure to be a blast (and wet). As we were packing up to leave for the day, “yellow T-shirt boy” (name to be discovered) tugged on my shirt, pointed sternly up at me, and said “Tomorrow. Come.” I will do just that my friend, I will do just that.

-Jacob