Macha Road Trip

After breakfast this morning we boarded 2 buses to head to a village called, Macha, which was a couple hours away. One of the buses carried our SEED team while the other bus carried the Armour’s soccer teams who were scheduled to play 2 teams from Macha. After arriving in Macha we helped serve alongside Messiah College who is partnering with a sports ministry program called, Push The Rock. Before the soccer games started, we helped run six different sports stations such as frisbee golf, relays and dodgeball with the Messiah College students. After the stations, we gathered with the kids and were able to watch CJ share some of his testimony with the children. Following this, it was time for the soccer games to begin. We had the opportunity to watch a lot of the Armour’s students we have been working with compete in the games. It was a great experience to see the joy they brought to the game, the skill and effort they showed, and the celebrations that ensued after a goal. During the games, we also got to play a variety of sports and games with the local kids who were there. Messiah brought some different sports equipment from us, so was great to do some things like lacrosse, and badminton.  To end our time in Macha, our SEED team played an intense volleyball match against the Messiah College team and some of their Zambian friends which was a lot of fun.

Today we had the opportunity to pour into the relationships we have already built and also meet a lot of new people. It was awesome to see another team of American college students doing the same type of sports ministry that we are doing. We were able to connect with these students as well and have a great time (Except when they beat us in a heartbreaking best of 5 volleyball series). Overall, this day was a great example of what being a Christian athlete should look like. Many of us had the opportunity to connect with individual children and even some of the students from Messiah on a deeper level by spending a lot of time with them, talking with them, and exchanging lots of questions. Despite being from different parts of the world it is clear that we all love the same God and that we are united as one body as followers of Christ!

Josh and Andrew

A Rich Faith

We arrived safely last night at 10:00PM in Entebbe and afterwards we took a short bus ride to our hotel in Kampala. This morning we were served breakfast with a few members of the Sports Outreach team. Following this, we headed to their facility just outside of Kampala to continue the rest of our day.

Upon arrival, the first thing we participated in was a devotional service with all of the members of the Sports Outreach community. This included prayer, worship songs, and a short homily from Leviticus, 2 Kings, and Mark covering the topic of leprosy. Simon Peter, one of the pastors at the compound, explained how each of us have something eating away at us, disconnecting us from God. The only way to be cleansed is through the grace and mercy of Christ in faith. After the service, we were able to tour the ministry to see the good works they have now and their plans for the future

Then we travelled as two groups to a number of homes to understand the stories of families in different communities and surround them in prayer. These visits revealed the authenticity and graciousness of Ugandan culture. It also was a clear indication of the strong faith that many individuals had in weak circumstances.

The team at Sports Outreach cooked us a delicious lunch and we then went to a community called Kawempe for more home visits and a Sawyer water filter demonstration. In introducing the water filters, we were able to connect the filtration of the dirty water, to the reconciliation of Christ’s death on the cross to make us clean and pure. Upon receiving the water filters, community members were more worried about sharing the precious gift of clean water with their neighbors rather than its use for their own families. A separate group went into the heart of the community during the demonstration to visit a few more homes. During this trip, the bond between families and individuals in the slum were unlike any relationship we had ever seen. The dependence and trust of people made the love of Christ evident and alive in the same way as during the water filter demonstration.

We returned to the hotel for a devotion and debrief where we could share how we saw God during our experiences today. The smiles of the Ugandan community touched us along with their authenticity and vulnerability during home visits. The graciousness of the people we came in contact with was telling of Christ’s love as well. Finally, we saw God in the faith-driven consistency of the actions and words of the Sports Outreach workers and people.

Tomorrow we embark on a 7-hour bus ride to Gulu for another aspect of Sports Outreach in Uganda. We ask for prayers for the people we will come in contact with, as well as those we shared fellowship with today. We want to continue to learn and understand how we can best teach and be taught in the communities we will serve.

Daniel, Olivia, and Hayden

Playing Sports and Growing Closer

Today was the first of three sport clinics with the Armour’s soccer teams (ages 10+). They eagerly flooded into the base for a day filled with training and learning new sports.  It also included education on health/nutrition and first aid, along with speed/agility and strength & conditioning. The Armour’s players were separated into their four teams (10 & 12U, 14U, girls team, and amateur team) and rotated through each station.

To split up the morning, all groups gathered in the worship center to receive a message from Poetice leaders and our coaches. The story of the Good Samaritan was shared and unpacked to help the kids understand how it is still relevant in our daily lives. The main point of this story was about giving selflessly, serving, and loving your neighbors. Our coaches connected this lesson to being a team member and how you can serve your neighbors (teammates and opponents) through encouragement.

In the afternoon, the teams had the opportunity to play ultimate frisbee, baseball/softball, volleyball, and dodgeball. It was amazing to watch how quickly each of the players could catch on to games. They are amazing athletes! After our fun afternoon, we all had time to come together as a large group once again and debrief about our day. We agreed encouragement was evident throughout the day. Whether it was a cheer, a high five, a simple smile, or holding someone’s hand, it was great to see them truly live into the lesson and supporting each other. It was awesome to hear how many remembered and understood what they learned in the morning stations and how the Good Samaritan story is applicable to our lives.

After a yummy traditional Zambian dish of Nshima, okra, and cabbage, we worshipped as a team. It was a powerful, uplifting time and continued to bond us closer. It is amazing how we have grown closer to God and to each other in these few days. God is good and we are excited to see what else He has in store for the rest of this trip!

With Love from Choma,

Alaina and Paige

Friends!!!

Welcome to the blog. We’re excited to share with you what life in Zambia was like today. This morning we spent time with the leaders at Poetice. They shared some of their testimonies and what Poetice is all about. In one statement, Poetice exists to equip the body of Christ to seek justice. Jesus is everything and that is true here in Zambia, in America, and in all of the world!

Starting in the afternoon, around 300 kids filed into Poetice’s base to play games and hear about Jesus. We engaged in some lively games of soccer, football, frisbee, volleyball, baseball, freeze tag and duck duck goose. After a few hours of playing, we divided the kids into age groups for lesson time. Some groups went over following Jesus on the narrow path and some went over the roles of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

As we reflected on our day, our teammates all expressed their excitement about being able to visit the kids’ communities, as some of us got to walk them home after Kids Club today. It was an honor to be welcomed in, and we look forward to visiting again soon.

I (Tucker) saw God today in the beautiful differences and similarities in cultures. I was amazed at the way we could interact so easily through sport with children who may not have spoken English and who were raised on the other side of the world from us. God’s creation is so vast and beyond our understanding, and I was reminded of that today in the interactions I had with the kids in Zambia.

Today served as a reminder to me (Victoria) that Jesus is the only foundation upon which we can build our lives. He changes everything and is the only one worthy of our all. This is true for every single person no matter our context. I saw this truth in playing with the kiddos here because amidst physical needs they may have, they are rich in Christ. I also saw my great spiritual poverty and the truth that every moment I am desperate for Christ, including being able to love these children well. Today was our first day with kiddos and it was a great privilege to become friends with them as we ministered to one another.

Thanks for reading!! We love you all.

For His glory,

Tucker, Vic & ZamFam (our team nickname)

Wheels Up to Uganda

Alarms went off and we boarded the Hope bus at 6:20 am for Chicago. We arrived in O’Hare Airport without any complications. Our group was overjoyed to finally start our journey after two days of anticipation. Prior to our departure we spent a majority of our layover collaborating in several games of Euchre. Though everybody claims to be victorious, it has been fun experiencing our teammates completive aspects aside from athletic competition. We are currently in the Detroit Airport awaiting our flight to Amsterdam. Our team is continually uplifted by those we come into contact with. Between conversations in terminals and on the aircraft, the new individuals God placed in our path continue to remind us that everything is perfectly crafted in his plan.

In the next 48 hours, we will be traveling to Amsterdam and then on to Uganda.  These legs of the journey will be new experiences for many members of the team.  As soon as we get to Uganda, we plan to hit the ground running and can’t wait to share our experiences. Thank you so much for your continuous support and prayers through these days of travel.

Noah, Erica, Ali & Maddie

God’s Time, Not Ours

Our trip did not get off to the start we expected. An overheated bus on the way to the airport prompted a change of transportation. Our hope of reaching our plane on time was a man named Tom and his white, unmarked, door slightly ajar van. Nonetheless, it was our last chance. We pulled up to O’Hare praying that the airline would wait for us at the gate, but we missed our window of opportunity by 15 minutes. At this point with not many available options, our leaders exhausted every connection that they had to get us to Uganda. Unfortunately, we were forced to push our flights back to Wednesday. However, this minor hiccup only brought our group closer together.

We drove back to Holland Sunday night and began to develop a plan for the borrowed time of the next few days. After meeting at Phelps for lunch on Monday, we were able to study the gospel of John as a team and watch Queen of Katwe, a movie based on the chess ministry of Sports Outreach in the suburbs of Kampala. Finally, we were blessed with the hospitality of the Droppers Family who opened up their house for us to have dinner and spend time on Lake Michigan.

Today, we spent more time off campus in the afternoon beginning with some time spent in the Word. The rest of the day we spent on the beach and enjoying time together as a group. We were disappointed that we missed our flight on Sunday, but God had others plans for this team. We were able to take advantage of the extra time we had in Michigan and spent it in meaningful fellowship. This time to bond as a team will serve us well as we make the trip to serve in Kampala and Gulu tomorrow.

We appreciate you checking in on our team. We ask for prayers for traveling mercies and a smooth transition for us into the mission field.

Colleen, Daniel, Hayden & Olivia

We Made It!

Last you all heard from us we were boarding an 11 hour flight to Johannesburg, the plane ride was very long but we’re super thankful that we made it smoothly and without complications. When we arrived in Johannesburg we were able to learn more about our team members by sharing our stories, which helped us continue to grow as a group.  The final flight to Livingstone, Zambia was only two hours, which was a nice break from the long hours spent on the plane the previous days. After passing customs and grabbing all of our luggage we made our way on a bus to Choma. The ride to Choma was very interesting for all of us as we hadn’t ever seen that type of countryside before. The bus ride was when it finally felt real to a lot of us, as we were finally in real life, and not in airports.

Our arrival to the Poetice base was one of the most uplifting arrivals any of us had felt before. Everyone welcomed us with open arms and shouts of joy! We were fortunate to meet multiple native Zambians upon our arrival and they were excited to welcome us to their home. The excitement of the Poetice staff reaffirmed our decision to step out of our comfort zone and onto Zambian soil.

We were then given a tour of the base and were fortunate enough to worship with the Poetice staff. This service was filled with native flair and was a powerful and meaningful beginning to this trip. We were able to worship the Lord in multiple languages! The joy and excitement from everyone involved was uplifting to us and helped pump us up for a week full of service. We ended our time with a powerful session of prayer and we felt that the Lord was with us in that space. It is such a unique experience to pray for and be prayed over by someone you just met that day, and on the other side of an ocean.

We ended the night with an amazing traditional Zambian dinner, including a new food to all of us called Nshima. This dish consists of a ground white corn mash that is actually used as a spoon, and was served with beans and a cabbage/peanut mix. This dish is eaten fully with your hands, which was pretty unusual but so fun for all of us. We were able to eat with all of the staff and just get to know them better and have fellowship and Christ centered conversations with them. We are so fired up to spend our first full day here tomorrow with our team, the Poetice staff, and 200 or so of our new friends.

Addy and Brant

A Day of Travel

As we boarded the plane we were all very excited to start the bulk of our travel with a flight from Chicago to London. Little did we know that this trip would start off with a 2 hour delay with us sitting on the plane waiting for the entertainment systems to work (something we didn’t really need). Eventually, the plane took off and most of us slept as much as we could during the 8 hour flight.

When we arrived, we grabbed a quick bite to eat and then found a place in the airport to hang out with one another and share some life stories. I think we can attest for everyone that sharing stories and listening to them has been an amazing way to build team camaraderie and trust with one another. We’ve only heard a few so far, but we are really excited to hear some more as we continue our travels!

Post story time, we stopped to have a team dinner at a sit-down restaurant in the airport. The entire dinner was filled with riddles and laughs being shared across the whole table.

As we type this, we sit at gate C65 in the London Airport waiting for our 11 hour flight to Johannesburg. Continued prayers for safe travels and good time spent with one another would be greatly appreciated. We are excited to get through the travel and get to Choma tomorrow! Chat soon.

Amanda & CJ

Making Lemonade

Due to a bus complication on the way to the airport on Sunday, our Uganda team was unable to make their flight. We are rescheduled to depart on Wednesday, August 15 to arrive in Uganda on Thursday, August 16. While our travel delay is disappointing, we’re choosing to make lemonade as we continue bonding as a team in Holland and preparing our hearts to serve.

We’ve been talking as a team that life as a Christian is a journey, but through all things, we know that God is in control and He is good. Our team remains expectant that God is going to do big and mighty things in and through us, and for that, we are grateful!

We Are Ready!

The Lord has prepared us for this trip in a variety of ways. The past two days of training have been incredibly beneficial for our team. We got our first experience assembling the water filters that we will be giving to members of the community. Seeing how effective and easy they are to set up was very encouraging. We also packed 4 extra bags (we’re not talking small bags) filled with sports equipment that we will be using during the week during the sports clinic days and then leaving for their use throughout the year. In addition to all of this, we have spent a lot of time bonding as a group and getting to know one another. Our group connected instantly and has shared a lot of laughter, as well as some deep conversations. We finished off our training with a dinner between the two teams (Zambia and Uganda), in which we made bracelets that signified what each individual member brings to the group.

Some common themes that we have taken away from this weekend are that this trip can seem overwhelming, and many of us had to confront those anxieties and emotions from the moment we stepped on campus. However, after sharing these fears and questions among the group, we have come to the consensus that God’s got us, and that one of our goals on this trip should be to make God greater and greater and us less and less. We also have come to the realization that although we are leaving our physical homes thousands of miles behind us, we are rooted in the love and comfort of Jesus.

Many international trips are not complete without a few bumps in the road. We were only an hour into our trip when the bus had a mechanical issue and we were forced to pull over. It would be another 2 hours before we got back on the road again, with a totally different bus. Despite this minor inconvenience, spirits remained high! We used that time to continue to grow closer as a group, sharing testimonies and a few more laughs. This experience challenged us as a group and had the potential to derail a lot of the progress we had made as a team over the past 2 days, but God is good. We have become stronger and more flexible as a group, which should be a tremendous asset going forward.

We are all so pumped for this trip! The plane just pulled into the terminal and oh my goodness gracious is it a big one! Pray for us as we embark on our first leg of this very long journey. Pray for patience and perseverance. Pray for continued growth of community and growth of faith. Thank you so much for all of your support. We can’t wait to continue to share our journey with you!

Josh & Morgann