Road Trip to Macha!

Hello! This is David and Mallory! Today we changed things up a bit from the normal routine and journeyed to Macha, Zambia. It was about an hour and a half drive and it was a great way to see the African landscape during their winter season. In Macha, we partnered with the organization Push the Rock. Messiah College, who has a program similar to SEED called Aroma, had just arrived yesterday and was spending their first day running a sports clinic similar to ours. It was fun to meet another group of college athletes that are also passionate about sports, kids, and faith. Seeing them on their first day reminded us of our first days and how far we have come in just a week.

After we arrived, we ran sport stations with the Messiah students such as soccer, badminton, basketball, lacrosse, etc. Then we came together and students from both schools shared their stories (David & Sam crushed it).  And then unlike our camp, the kids left before lunch. Lunch was a good time to connect even more with Messiah and Push the Rock. After lunch, everyone assembled for the 3rd annual Poetice versus Push the Rock volleyball game, and we found a way to win in four games! (with grace). It was a blast to play together as a team in such a competitive game.  The time spent in Macha was a reminder that God is at work in Zambia in many ways.

For dinner, we had chicken and chips (fried chicken and fries). It offered a taste of home just like the flavor-blasted goldfish, granola bars, and candy we pass around at night.

We are looking forward to church tomorrow with Poetice, and they are doing a family fun day, as well. It is slowly dawning on us that we only have a couple days left and our time together is dwindling down quickly. Since we have been feeling this way, we want to soak in everything we can, so some of us have been rising at 6am for the awesome sunrises as a reminder of how great God is and how beautiful his creation is.

David and Mallory

A: Attire
Q: What is red and goes up and down in an elevator?

 

Field Day!

Today was our last day doing sports camp here at Poetice. Today instead of doing sports stations, we had a field day set up. The kids competed at 11 different stations ranging from throwing a frisbee to a balance test. It was so fun to see the kids compete and be competitive with each other. In the morning the kids rotated to each of the stations and then after lunch the best in each age group competed in a few of them in the final showcase: the 50m dash, Frisbee golf, soccer juggling, and softball throw. We then did an awards ceremony for the winners of each age group and the showcase.  We also presented each coach of the 4 teams with a Bible in Tonga (along with a printout of the scripture that was shared with them this week), a team picture we had taken that day, and 2 new soccer balls.  It was really hard to say goodbye to all of the kids today. Everyone here has made connections with different kids so it was sad to say goodbye. As all the kids were leaving we were able to pass out candy and stickers to all the kids. It’s awesome to know that Hope College will forever be a part of this community.  Poetice opens their gates for their youth (age 13-17) on Friday afternoons, and we heard at debrief that a few who hadn’t ever come before came today because they now know who Poetice is through the sports camp from this week.

After the sports camp ended we walked into the market in Mawpona with some of their youth (who had also participated in the camp this week) and students from Poetice’s School for Justice and Mission who have stuck around this week to help us. Afterwards we walked to a local soccer practice of one of the teams from this week and watched them scrimmage as the sun set in the background of the field. Dinner was a delicious meal of tacos without the shells and included rice, beef, sauce, and vegetables.

We then had debrief, and played cards and games together.  We have all been really enjoying getting to know each other this week. Everyone has been open with each other and we have all grown close. We are all looking forward to doing things together this year at school.

Andrew & Mackenzie

Joke answer: It was exhausted
Joke today: What’s the difference between a well-dressed person on unicycle and a poorly dressed person on a bicycle?

Brick by Brick

Breakfast was great.

We followed breakfast with a devotional with the young women from Christine’s House and Vocational School. Terrell and Chris each had a brief speech to add to the devotional. Unknowingly, Chris’ devotion about the Prodigal Son matched the scripture that was currently being studied with the school.

After, the team did some work on the farm helping stack bricks for a new dining enclosure and pulling weeds in the green pepper beds. James is the lead farmer on staff and he encourages us to find God in everything we do, including pulling weeds and passing bricks. He challenged us to find God and Biblical principles within tasks that we wouldn’t usually consider.

This was followed by a visit to Christine’s House of Empowerment where we had the opportunity to meet with the young women and hear the mission of the house. This is an amazing place that supports young girls and women who have been victims abuse. While the women’s stories were not shared, the strength in each of them was evident in how they spoke and how they acted.

Lunch was great.

After lunch we went to distribute water filters to families and we met three amazing families. We had the opportunity to meet Francis, a 25-year-old man with a severe disability. Francis and his grandmother radiated God’s love and showed courage which touched us all.

After a trip back to Koro Farm and a quick regroup, we headed out to the soccer field at the farm to have a sports camp with children. We split into four groups, taught them volleyball, dodgeball, and softball while getting our butts kicked in soccer. After the sports session, we had the opportunity to share life lessons that we each took from our sport.

Dinner was great.

After dinner several members of the staff shared their testimony and how Sports Outreach has impacted their lives.

We ended by discussing the day and encouraging each other to continue to bring energy and positivity to each moment.

Peace and love,

Whitney, Taylor, Chris

Camp Day 3 and Filters!

Mwabuka buti!

This is Emma and Arinn and we first want to thank you again for all of your thoughts and prayers for this trip. We are truly witnessing God work in amazing ways, both in our lives and in this community of people.

Today was the third day of sports camps. We are making lots of wonderful connections with the children that are coming and participating. Today Mallory shared part of her story to the kids, and was able to show and share God’s power. In the afternoon sports camps our patience was tested by the incredible wind that lasted all day and made several of the sports much more interesting, but they went really well in the end!

This afternoon we had the opportunity to break up into small groups and go into the community bringing Sawyer water filters, and sharing God’s word through them. It was an eye-opening experience to see the families look at the unclean water in the bucket and then the clean filtered water in the glass, and realize that they could now actually drink the water from the shallow wells in their communities (that are unsafe to drink as is). We also were able to see their homes, and some of their daily routines, like how food is prepared, how laundry is washed, and where they sleep at night. The kids at each home were filled with so much joy at the sight of the clean water, and the fact that they can now drink the same water that they previously only used for baths and dishes.

Through the demonstrations we were able to explain how the filter represents Jesus.  That once we truly know Him and accept Him into our lives, we go from being unclean and sinful, to a new creation.  Forgiven.  While sharing the gospel we noticed large groups around the demonstrations listening to God’s word and how the water would change things. Each group visited multiple homes in the community to hand out the filters, and it was a great part of our day.

We had some time for some team bonding before dinner, and we were able to have a lot of fun being together. Our group has grown very close and it is crazy to think that we came together a week ago.  It has been really amazing to see the vulnerability of the group and the willingness for people to open up and share about their life and faith journey.

We had another amazing worship session tonight that was able to speak to a lot of students and continue to let them see how awesome God truly is.

We realized today we never gave the final report on the lost luggage…but it was found and returned to its original owners!  So all is good on that front.  Thanks again for following along on our journey.

Emma & Arinn

A: Bi-son
Q: Why didn’t the car start?

Kids, Kids, and More Kids

Hello everyone!! This is Courteney (Junior/Women’s Basketball) and Jake (Junior/Men’s Basketball). Today was our second day of sports camp and it was so awesome to welcome the kids from the day before. We have developed relationships with them and even made some sweet secret handshakes. On the first day, kids slowly trickled in throughout the morning, but today, several children were there right when the gates opened for registration at 8am and immediately the first dodgeballs were starting to be thrown. There were kids playing soccer, volleyball, and practicing their basketball skills before the camp officially started. Before the kids arrived it was calm and we had just finished our morning devotion.  The quietness of the early mornings here on the base is a stark contrast to the fun and laughter had by hundreds of kids when camp is in session.  This base has been here for over 10 years and has grown to heights bigger than imagined. Matthew 13:31-32 is an accurate description of Poetice.

“The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed planted in a field. It is the smallest of all the seeds, but it becomes the largest of garden plants; it grows into a tree, and the birds of the air come and perch in its branches.”

In the morning, we started with the core and stretching, strength and conditioning, speed and agility and education stations. The education station has been a favorite of the kids both days. Today they learned about first aid: concussions, sprained ankles, and how to care for cuts and scrapes.

Following the morning stations was time in the worship center. David got to share his story with everyone, and we would like to thank him for having the courage to step up on short notice to talk in front of 100 kids. After David spoke, Coach Kopas shared Philippians 3:8-14 with the group and Coach V shared how the verses apply to our lives and also correlate to sports. A life of following Jesus is greater than anything else in this world, and may call for sacrifices along the way that we have to press through.  Then, we headed to lunch!

We had the privilege of teaching basketball today.  We got to cover everything from ball handling to lay-up lines.  The enthusiasm on the concrete where we played was so great and was one of the favorite sports stations. Even though the kids don’t have much experience with the sport of basketball, their energy and eagerness to learn were evident.

Once the sports stations were done, we had to get ready for the Poetice Kids and Youth, their Wednesday ministry for the communities that surround them.  Approximately 500 kids were at Poetice late this afternoon!  Our team split up half with the kids (infants-12) and youth (13-17) and each group talked about a certain sermon. The kids lesson was about the story of Abraham and Sarah and it was super interactive. The youth lesson was on marriage and relationships and what the Bible says about both. The youths ideas were expressed in small groups. Witnessing the power of God shine through these kids as they learned about the Bible was memorable. Their faith is incredible.

We wrapped up this day with some team time and our daily debrief. Our team has grown significantly both individually and as a team and we are able to share many more things now during our debriefs and morning devotions than we did when we shared our stories in Holland.  It’s amazing how fast these friendships have formed.  We cannot wait to see how God moves in all of our lives the rest of the week!

Courteney & Jake

A: Because they are shellfish.
Q: What did the buffalo say when his son went to college?

 

Wheels Rollin

The bus pulled out of our hotel in Kampala at 9:00 am sharp!  We had a 7 hour drive to Koro Farm in Gulu.  As always, Wilfred did a wonderful job safely navigating us to our destination- even with all the crazy traffic!  We were eager to experience this new city and area, because last night we learned about how it is still recovering from a long civil war.  We are all excited to continue to see God working through us and those of the Sports Outreach ministry!  On the bus we shared many laughs, went over many speed bumps and saw some of God’s beautiful creations.  The landscape in northern Uganda is much different than what we have previously experienced.  Here there is more lush vegetation and it is less populated.  About an hour before we arrived in Gulu, we saw our first baboon on the side of the road; everyone was excited to see its bright red bottom!  As we continued down the road, we saw the most amazing sight as we crossed the Nile River!  Whitney shared about how she sees so much beauty in Gods creations like this, and the rest of us agreed!  Unfortunately, due to Ugandan laws, we could not take any pictures as we crossed the bridge.  For a stretch of road after the river, there were baboons everywhere!  We all took many pictures of them- especially the baby baboons!

Once we arrived to Koro Farm we were warmly greeted by a staff member who gave us all hugs and attempted to physically and emotionally lift us off the ground in excitement. After settling in, we began our tour of the farm beginning with a meeting of the girls and women who live on the farm and partake in their programs. They have a vocational school where the girls learn tailoring and other skills to help create a vocation once they leave the programs at the farm. These women cheered and clapped when they saw us and the girls danced and sang. Of course, we tried to dance with them, but like most Ugandans when they see our dancing, they laughed. We were able to play an ice breaker game and learn more about the girls before continuing our tour. They showed us the school and told us they have 3 teachers for 145 kindergarten students! We saw the room where the vocational students complete their program and got a sneak peek at the items in their store. It’s amazing to see what these women can learn and create in only a year!

After we looked at the store we ventured over to the agricultural side of the property. We were guided to the farm animals first, where we saw goats, chickens and a pig sty. We learned yesterday from Robert that pigs were the foundation of this sports outreach program in Gulu, as 3 pigs traveled the same journey that we did today (Kampala >> Gulu) when the program was just beginning. We also saw a beautiful field of sunflowers and a TONS of corn. After the tour we had a delicious dinner with Moureen, who gave us the back story of Sports Outreach in Gulu and shared about what we will be experiencing in our next days here. We are all very excited to be in a new place and meet more incredible people.

Thanks for tuning in!

Love,

Natalie, Anna, and Carly

P.S, Mom… promise we didn’t get out of the van to pet the baboons! 😉

Fried or Over Easy?

Blog for Tuesday, August 13th

We started the morning with an early 7:30 wakeup, but it wasn’t nearly as painful since Sam, our outreach coordinator/fearless leader/best friend, showed us that we could order any type of eggs we wanted from the kitchen: a revolutionary discovery.

After that, we headed to Sports Outreach Ministries again for another beautiful morning of worship and devotion. Worship was done in the simplest of forms, yet was so lively and fulfilling. Only voices, no instruments, and amazing acoustics that filled our hearts. We then moved to the field to have a warmup game of dodgeball with the Good News Team (Sports Outreach’s soccer team). We got to teach them how to play, and it didn’t take long for them to completely destroy us. Afterwards, we all debriefed the game and made connections between dodgeball and our walk with the Lord, in hopes to be able to share this game and these lessons with the kids they work with.

At the home visit, the other group met with “Jaja,” a grandmother who lives in a village in Kampala. She told us her story, sharing with us that one of her sons has passed away and the other one is missing, and as a result she is now taking care of her two grandsons. They were so welcoming and excited by our presence, and they even told their friends and neighbors about our arrival and they came and visited us as well.  Their neighbor had a small farm and chopped down four stalks of sugarcane for us to take back and share with everyone else.

After the soccer training and home visit, we had a fun lunch with the Sports Outreach coaches. We headed to Katwe, a slum in Kampala, where the organization’s chess outreach program began, and also the infamous location of Disney’s Queen of Katwe. We did a water filter demonstration and were able to pass out around 20 water filters to the members of the community. As we handed out the filters, their appreciation could be seen through their loving smiles and big hugs.

Afterwards, Robert Katende, the executive director of Sports Outreach Ministry in Kampalagave us a tour of Katwe, pointing out various locations where scenes were shot in the film. Afterwards we headed back to our hotel for dinner, and got to spend more time with Robert, who shared about his multi-year history with the organization, their programs and plans for the future.

Taylor, Hailey, & Natalie

Sports Camp Day 1!

Hello!!  This is Mallory (Junior/Women’s Basketball) and Sam (Junior/Men’s Basketball). Today was our first day of sports camp! We were so overjoyed and elated to finally be able to work with the children we have been so eagerly waiting to meet. In the morning, John, one of Poetice’s leaders, shared a message with us that resonated for our group of athletes. He compared the difference in levels of commitment between our sports and our faith. This challenged us to reflect on how often we overcommit to earthly things, and under commit to growing in our faith. By the time we were done with our devotions, the children were already starting to arrive.

As the children trickled in, we had some free time to play with the kids, joining in on games of dodgeball, volleyball and soccer. Once all the children had arrived, we took them to the worship room where we introduced our plans and our goals for the week. Following some introductions, Emma Schaefer bravely shared her story with everyone at camp. Her story was very relatable and empowering and started the camp off on a good note. After her speech, our leaders Coach V and Coach Kopas shared with the group from 1 Corinthians 12: 12-27. This passage discussed the body of Christ, and that like the different parts of the human body, we all make up the kingdom of God despite our differences.  It’s a great passage for teams, especially as this year the camp has 4 different local soccer teams participating, and the teams are competitors in the same league

After the sermon, the children were split up into four different groups, and each group rotated through different stations such as core and stretching, strength and conditioning, speed and agility and education (today’s topic was nutrition). It was awesome to both teach them and work alongside them, while seeing their smiles. It was obvious that they were learning and trying new things, and they did it with enthusiasm and open minds. Following the stations, all the campers and students broke for lunch.

In the afternoon, the children were split into four groups again, and they engaged in basketball, kickball, ultimate frisbee and volleyball. This portion of the day seemed to be the favorite among the kids, and us students. Learning new sports and playing them helped create a connection between the campers and us. Despite the language barrier and some of the sports being new and different to the kids, the day was filled with so much fun and God’s presence was evident.

After our time playing sports, we met back in the worship room to close the day, and ½ of our group did Sawyer water filters while the other ½ continued playing with the kids a while after the camp. Poetice staff explained to us how these filters from previous SEED trips are already making a difference in the surrounding communities and what an unbelievable gift these are to these families.  It was remarkable to be able to provide more help.  The kids were amazed during the demonstration to see the water come through the filter completely clean, and it was a chance to share the gospel message of Jesus with them. We guided the children in making their own bucket water filters, which they were able to take home to their families.

When all the kids left for home, we had some free time to spend as a team, followed by dinner and some time of worship. Singing some familiar songs and some new songs alongside each other and the Poetice staff was moving and there could not have been a better end to our day.  We wrapped this awesome day up with debrief and a time to connect about what God is doing in us this week.  We are excited to get back at it tomorrow!

Mallory & Sam

A: It got mugged.

Q: Why don’t crabs give to charity?

 

Rained on, but not Drained out

This Monday we began with an hour-long journey to the Sports Outreach headquarters in Kampala. Once we had arrived, we were greeted by Pastor Benjamin and his delightful staff. We had the pleasure to participate in their morning devotion, which consisted of prayer, worship (singing and dancing), and a message from one of the leaders. Jessica, one of the most talented singers/dancers we have met, challenged us (Terrell and Whitney) to a dance-off during worship! This energy that our new friends possess in their worship is truly a blessing each and every day. The topic of the devotion was over the concept of obedience. While this topic may seem simple, there was plenty of scripture and examples to exemplify the importance of obedience towards God in our own lives.

Following devotion, Pastor Benjamin gave us a special tour of the Sports Outreach facilities. These facilities include: a chess academy, boys and girls shelter, a chapel/dining hall, a well-kept soccer field, and a blacktop basketball court. Beyond learning the layout of the headquarters, Benjamin also thoroughly enjoyed quizzing us on the various types of plant life, which included coffee beans, jackfruit, papaya, mango, and even avocado! Once the tour had ended, we piled into the bus and headed to a nearby slum for two house visits. The first visit was with two women dealing with HIV and the stigma associated with having this disease within the community. This conversation was difficult to hear, but it was the second visit, that rocked us all emotionally. This story was about a single mother of eight children, who tragically lost her eight-year-old son to a tragic accident. Additionally, she had financial problems that she struggled with over the course of several years, all while rearing all eight children.

Following these house visits, we travelled back to the Sports Outreach headquarters for lunch. The meal was nothing short of delicious, and we were blessed with wonderful conversation with the staff as well as visitors from Liberia. Conversations ranged from occupational goals, sports, school, and even politics.

The plan was to spend the entire afternoon with the local kids, teaching them about sports through various stations, such as softball (Whitney and Taylor), dodgeball (Terrell and Carly), basketball (Connor and Ashleigh), soccer (Chris and Anna), and jump-rope (Sidney, Hailey, and Natalie). Dodgeball became the main attraction amongst us all. Unfortunately, after an hour of fun-filled play, rainy conditions did not allow us to continue our sports stations. We then packed up and drove the hour journey once more.

Anna’s encouraging quote of the day, “God does not call the qualified, He qualifies the called.”

Love/Regards/Best Wishes,

Connor, Whitney, and Terrell