A Long, Rewarding Day

After miles of rough, red roads, today’s first stop was a small village of clay huts just outside of Tamale. As our vans pulled up to the village school, kids ran in excitement to wave out the windows and greet us. We toured each classroom, which were split up by ages, and high-fived and sang with the kids. After waving goodbye to their precious smiles, we walked through the village to the chief’s palace. There were many goats and chickens along the way, and a horse inside the palace. We were all given permission to enter to greet the chief and received cola nuts (an important part of the Ghanaian culture) as a gift for visiting.

After leaving the village, we were looking forward to our sixth meal of chicken and rice to fuel us up before a camp with some local children. Again, we were greeted with smiles and high-fives, and the kids grabbed our hands to go play as soon as we stepped out of the vans. The coaches led us all in some games that we had taught them at the clinic yesterday and then split us into stations. Some of our team worked with the little kids and Ben (a leader of Sports Friends) talked with the kids about God, while the rest of us ran frisbee, baseball, soccer, and football stations. After they finished the stations, all of the kids played sharks and minnows with our team. We then taught them a Hope cheer and prayed with them before heading back to Tamale.

Before making it back to the compound, we stopped at a local church to join in on a Bible study. The pastor led us through Daniel 9 and the members of the Bible study had many questions that lead to an intense debate. It was cool to see how people from such a different culture had many of the same questions and thoughts about the Word as us.

We came back to the compound to a dinner of beef and rice already prepared for us. We ended the day as a team discussing how we saw God today. Many of us were touched by the connections we felt with the children at the camp and the ways the people of the villages welcomed us so willingly into their community. We are in awe of the way the children have served and taught us so many lessons and can’t wait for the ways in which God will work throughout the coming week.

With love,
Adair and Nicole

Tuesday Travels to Toasty Tamale (tah-ma-lay)

We got off to a good start today with everyone making it to breakfast on time and ready to go. After breakfast we had some time to be with the Word and reflect on the trip so far. Some people spent this time in the heat on the deck and others chose to stay in their rooms and enjoy the air conditioning for a little bit longer. After this time, we gathered all of our belongings and piled into the vans to head to the airport to head up north to Tamale for a sports camp. The domestic airport in Ghana is very different from what we are used to in the US. It is small with minimum security and a short bus ride to drop us off right outside the plane. The flight was very quick, about 1 hour, but we still got juice and snacks. Once we landed, it was just a short wait for our luggage and then we headed outside into the very dry heat (34ºC) to drive to our next destination.

The drive went a lot more smoothly than the previous trips in Accra. We all kept our eyes peeled to see different wild life, and although we joked about lions and elephants, we only saw goats and cows. The landscape in Tamale is much different than the city and more of what we expected to see. It is very dry and hot here, which is different from the humid air in Accra near the ocean. On our way from the airport we stopped at a restaurant for lunch outside where we all enjoyed very large portions of rice, chicken, and pizza, along with the heat. With full stomachs we piled into the vans one last time to head to where we would be staying for the night.

Right when we arrived at the compound we were greeted by the local coaches who were all eager to meet us and learn what we had to share about sports. We started the clinic for the coaches right away and taught them about four different aspects of sport that we thought were important for all sports. We split in groups and took turns explaining and demonstrating servant leadership, team bonding, a dynamic warm up, and sportsmanship. During sportsmanship, the group got the coaches engaged with a game of rock, tree, and bridge. This activity exemplified encouraging teammates, being a humble winner, and still being positive if you lose. Through all of these activities, the coaches learned new skills and tools to use with their own teams here in Ghana. This was impactful for each of us on the trip because we were able to share experiences and suggestions from our own teams at Hope.

After the sports clinic we moved into the water filter demonstrations. We showed the coaches how to set up their own buckets for filtration. Once we got the filter all set up we filled the bucket with water and showed the coaches how the dirty water was transformed into clean water. The coaches were in awe and kept coming up to look at the dirty water. They could not believe that the clean water that came out was safe to drink. After demonstration, we gave each coach their own water filter to take back to their own village along with a t-shirt. They were very excited to receive the filter to be able to take back and share with their communities. It was an amazing experience to be able to hand them the shirts and filters ourselves and to see the looks of pure joy and gratefulness that they were feeling. We ended the session with a group picture with all of the coaches in their new t-shirts. When we took the picture all of the coaches happily said “CHEESE”, filling us all with laughter and joy.

Then we walked over to a cafeteria building where there was rice, chicken, vegetables, and a hot fish sauce prepared for us. We also had water that was packaged out of a bag and you bit the corner to drink it. We ate and chatted with different coaches at our tables. The portions were very large and many of us couldn’t quite finish, but some of the other Ghanaian coaches helped us finish everything, even the chicken bones. After talking with the coaches and learning a little bit about their lives we headed back to our rooms for a debriefing, sharing of God sightings, and games.

Today was long and filled with travel but rewarding but we would all do it over again in an instant. We are looking forward to tomorrow and more chances to learn and serve with the coaches here in Tamale.

With love,
Jacinda & Emily

Off to Tamale!

The team is off to Tamale this morning (Tuesday), a city in the northern part of the country to run a day camp and connect with local coaches and churches.

Internet might be limited while we are away from Accra, so we will do our best to post to the blog and keep everyone updated as we are able.

Thanks for your support!

Piggybacks and Unplanned Acts of God

Today marked our first full day since touching down in Accra and wow it was a good one! We began the day like any other and enjoyed breakfast at 8:30 followed by the rallying of all 20 of us back into the two vans.

From there, a quick ride took us to the SIM Ghana main office where we had the pleasure of meeting the former director of SIM Ghana and his wife who gave us a quick rundown on the system and mission of SIM and some important health reminders. For those who do not know, Sports Friends works under SIM along with multiple other branches to learn and spread the word of God throughout the entire country and world, so it was neat to be able to meet and speak with the individuals that orchestrated this trip. They also provided cookies, of which were passed around the table at least four times as we each grabbed another. That meeting took about two hours which led us right into lunch time.

Ben and Josiah guided us to a quaint little spot along the road called Urban Taste. This is where the adventurous eaters were tested as one of the specialties was a dish called Banku and Tilapia. We all know what Tilapia is, however, the plate included the entire fish with eyeballs and everything. Banku is a fermented corn-type dough side dish that was entirely eaten using your hands after Josiah had made a point of not using any utensils. Others simply enjoyed a dish of chicken or fried rice and enjoyed the opportunity to get to know everyone a bit better and jumped out of our comfort zones by learning many new cultural norms.

When lunch was over, we jumped back into the vans and left for a small village, about 45 minutes outside of Accra. Once we arrived, we were hesitant and unsure of what the game plan was but all the while these adorable children kept passing by and waving from afar. During this time, we waited around a bit and met a few Sports Friends coaches which was awesome to see God’s system in action!

We had packed along a handful of water filters for a demonstration only to discover the packs were missing the drill bit used to make the perfect hole in the buckets. Luckily, we were able to find a knife and Ben was successful in making a hole to provide this family with clean water. Meanwhile, others like Joey were busy entertaining a majority of the timid children by allowing them to chase and grab onto him. Adair, myself (Anna) and Megan were able to get the other girls in the village to play some games.

After some hanging around we had quite the crowd and walked across the street to the field. The field is not what you would picture, rather some bamboo soccer posts and a patch of dirt. The joy that the children displayed was so encouraging and in the short amount of time we were there we all experienced or saw God through their endless smiles. The excitement of the children involved us in so many aspects as Adair did flips off two stacked bricks along with the other children, Joey was giving endless piggyback rides, and everyone else was mingling or playing games.

When it was time to wrap up, we got to see the coaches teach by gathering all the kids up and prompting them with questions like “what is love?,” “how do we show love?,” “what is forgiveness?.” Each child was engaged and giving thoughtful answers as the “Madame” was introducing the character of Jacob and each child wanted to share that they knew who his twelve sons were. Closing in prayer, we began to load the vans where the children started shouted “do not go” as Joey had to literally get kids pulled off his sweaty back.

After a rough road trip back, we had dinner and reflected on our day where we saw the presence of God. Personally (Anna), I loved getting to know one of the little girls, Rachel, who was quiet and timid but when we circled up to pray she was asked to pray and did so with confidence and grace for the entire group. It was so cool to see her be a leader and example at such a young age for the other children. I (Scott), personally saw God working through the kids as they started off so timid and opened up and were so crazy by the time we had to leave. The joy that each of these kids showed was a true reflection of God and the work He is doing in Ghana through Sports Friends. With that, this first full day was more than we could have ever expected and we were all exhausted. After a cold shower we are all exited to get a good night’s sleep to see what God has in store for us in the coming days!

With Love, Anna & Scott <3

We’re Here!

After an *exhausting* 7-hour red eye flight from Chicago, the team landed in London all safe and sound. Since we were divided into three different flights, we regrouped at the airport shortly after landing. We napped and snacked for several hours in the Heathrow airport before boarding our next flight to Accra. This time, our team was united on a British Airline double decker plane. The flight passed much more quickly, as this time we were all grouped together J (I – Ryann- made friends with a lovely passenger from London, as I was seated by myself).

Landing in Accra around 8:30 p.m., we were welcomed by our leaders at Sports Friends (Kyle, Bryan, Josiah and Ben) – and a balmy heat wave. Soon we were all sweating, experiencing our first encounters with mosquitoes, and loving every minute of it. As we worked our way through customs, we listened to a live airport duet perform “Time after Time,” time and time again! Honestly, they were pretty amazing for only playing this song and an instrumental rendition of “Killing Me Softly.” Luggage arrived smoothly, and assistants from the airport then loaded our luggage and split the team into two vans. First one to the second van, Joey (writing in third person here) encountered his first experience as a rookie traveler. An official-looking employee instructed Joey to tip the luggage loaders. Hesitantly, Joey asked “How much?” while trying to make eye contact with the leaders outside the van. Moving to block his view, the “employee” stated 20 dollars would be fine, and they would take any currency. Joey (still third person) may be new to this, but he wasn’t completely lost in this game. After stating he was just going to check with his leaders, the man told Joey not to check with the leaders, to sit down and not worry about it. After Joey’s first lesson, the crew continued to the place they were staying, which was just a short drive from the airport.

The house we’re staying at is pretty cool, but not in regards to temperature (until you turn on the AC !!). There’s enough beds, fans and pizza for everyone, so we can bare the heat!! There are also some frogs that have not been visually identified, but their croaks have been heard from the second we got out of the vans. I (Ryann) think that we are all pleasantly surprised at how well everything is coming together as Bryan, Kyle & the gang is providing for us, especially since we had no idea what to expect from the living arrangements without having seen pictures before arriving. Currently, we’re sitting in the conference room, eating pizza and just sitting around talking. Kind of funny that all we want to do is sit after SITTING ALL DAY, but that’s just how it is sometimes!! Since the first day we all gathered together, we have each shared our “one-word description” on how we feel at that current moment – with what we’ve dealt with so far, it’s ranged from initial excitement and jitters to exhaustion and disbelief (at the flight cancellation). Today, some of these words were mentioned, but I think Jacinda put it perfectly in hers: “Finally.”

Shoutout to all of our moms for letting us go on this amazing trip- Happy Mother’s Day to you, we love you all!!

Peace, Joy and Tailwinds,
Joey & Ryann

Delayed but Determined

After months of training and preparation, today was finally the day to begin our journey.  We began the morning with more meetings to get to know each other and practice telling our stories.  We finished meetings and headed out for a brief break.  While on this break we learned that our flight from Chicago to London had been cancelled.  Caroline decided the best course of action was to leave as soon as possible to get to Chicago to hopefully find another flight.  We cut our break an hour and a half short to get going.  For those of us who hadn’t packed yet this was quite a shock.  We took a bus from Hope to Chicago.  We waited in line at the British Airline station for what felt like forever until it was officially confirmed that we had no other options and must wait until tomorrow to fly out.  It was definitely a twist in plans but patience is a virtue and today we were tested.

After several hours of waiting and snacking and waiting, we took a shuttle bus to our hotel for the evening.  Sixteen hungry souls were very eager to eat and relax. We spent the evening at the hotel playing pick-up basketball and volleyball, just preparing for our week spent playing games with kids. Although God threw a wrench in our plans we had a lot of quality time spent with each other and learned a few interesting things. First, James Ellis does not like water or the texture of blackberries. Jacinda really really likes cheesecake. Joey not only is a track star but also broke Coach Mitch’s ankles in basketball. Anna Bremmer took the lead in getting us back to the hotel. While the rest of us ate dinner, poor Emily and Abbey only got their food in time for a late-night snack. OHHH and we cannot forget the two pet parrots we have been hanging out with at the hotel. Excited to spend the day learning more and more things before heading to the airport to finally catch our flights to London. Ghana we are ready to meet you!!

Love, Drew and Megan

One Week To Go!

The semester is wrapping up and as we make the transition to summer, we can’t wait to launch our first SEED team of 2018 next Friday, May 11!

While in Ghana, the group will partner in the on-going work of Sports Friends and distribute Sawyer water filters.

Sports Friends believes, “Sports serve as a powerful and effective tool for building relationships and sharing the gospel. Through relationships first built on the sports field, Sports Friends-trained coaches from the local Church are bringing hope to youth and their families. Much more than a sports coach, these ‘life coaches’ are mentoring and loving young people, leading them to Christ and helping them walk as mature disciples of Jesus. By God’s grace, lives are being transformed, new churches established, and entire communities strengthened!”

We recognize that sport provides an opportunity for athletes to have a significant platform from which to influence others and we can’t wait to see how God uses the passion and talents of our Hope College student-athletes as we serve with Sports Friends.

Take a look at the trip calendar to follow along with our team!

Ghana Team Calendar

Apply Now for Summer 2018!

Applications are now open for summer of 2018!  

“Regardless of where you are in your faith journey, this experience is one of the most transformative and eye-opening experiences that you can get involved with as an athlete.”

– SEED Zambia Team Member, 2017

To apply, visit travel.hope.edu and search “SEED” program.

Please submit an application to your first trip preference, but recognize that you are applying to the SEED program and selected applicants will be placed on a team according to trip preferences.

As part of your application, you will be asked to rank your level of interest in SEED trips in order of preference.

Interested student-athletes need to only submit one application for summer of 2018.

 

2018 Trips

Ghana with Sports Friends, May 2018

  • We will serve with their sports teams in various cities and villages that consist of boys and/or girls who are 14 years and younger. These teams are led by a coach who has been trained by Sports Friends to use sports as a tool for evangelism and discipleship. Water filter demonstrations to local families connected with Sports Friends will also take place throughout the week.

 

Costa Rica with Push the Rock, May 2018

  • The team will split time between ministry opportunities with Push the Rock. Part of the trip will be dedicated to running sports clinics and water filter demonstrations for boys in the Juvenile Prison where PTR staff has been serving on a weekly basis since 2010. The remainder of the time together will be spent serving with the PTR Regional Program where the team will run various sports clinics.

 

Zambia with Poetice, August 2018

  • Team members that participate in this trip will have the opportunity to use sport to seek transformation in the community. Through various clinics, you will practice, play and pray together. You will share your love of the game, teach about teamwork and introduce new sports. You will spend time building relationships with the athletes, and have a chance to share your life and your story to encourage one-another. Water filters will be distributed to local families.

 

Uganda with Sports Outreach, August 2018

  • We will serve with their soccer training program and sports programs in local schools. Our team will also have the opportunity to partner with their various slum projects in Kampala which include a feeding program, chess program, discipleship, and sports activities.  Water filter demonstrations will take place throughout the week to local families connected with Sports Outreach.