El Viaje

"The Journey" by Emma Decker and Zach Carlson

After 4 solid hours of sleep, we woke up on Wednesday and had a delicious breakfast of eggs, ham, cheese, spicy hot chocolate, and the best pineapple ever. Next, we jumped on the bus and drove to the GO Ministries compound where we went to a bible study with a group of the local boys on the baseball team.

We joined in on Bible class with the GO ministries baseball players.

When we entered the study room, we got placed into separate groups and had to act out the scene with Jesus sleeping on the boat during the storm and the disciples panicking. We were amazed to see the amount of energy each group put into their play; and even though we could not understand a lot of their conversations, the boys still wanted to get us involved. After the plays, we got a tour of the campus, which had only recently been built, consisting of the classrooms, baseball fields, soccer fields and basketball courts. After that we went back to pack up our stuff for a night away from home base and had another amazing meal of chicken, rice and beans.

We started on the trek to a little village called Batey Nueve. Along the way we stopped along the side of the road in Bani (which is a town home to over 400 different kinds of mango) to get some mangoes for breakfast.

Roadside mango stand where we bought mangos for breakfast.

We observed the beautiful scenery through the Cibao valley and played many different games including umbrella, name games, and green glass doors. We made another stop a little ways down the road at a restaurant called Pollo Ray which had delicious fried chicken, fries and tostones (fried plantains). After about 5 hours we finally arrived  at our destination after driving down a dirt road in the middle of a sugar cane field. We unpacked and met with pastor Williams who introduced us to the town, himself and his ministry there. 

Uganda 2022 Day 3 5/26

Hi guys! Dom and Addi are on blog duty today and we get to tell you all about our first full day here in Uganda. We started our day on very little sleep but high spirits. After a wonderful breakfast we headed to Sports Outreach headquarters. After entering Kampala late the prior night, we had limited exposure to the beauty of this country as well as the downtown motorcycle mayhem. Upon arriving at Sports Outreach, we entered into a time of devotions and worship with the local Sports Outreach team. Let me tell you, they can really dance and sing. After the devotional, from Pastor Simon Peter, on adversity and trusting the Lord, we got to tour the headquarters and hear about all of the exciting plans for the future growth of the ministry.

After lunch it was time to meet about 200 kids from a nearby primary school. We split up into multiple teams comprised of Hope students and Sports Outreach coaches to teach the local children different sports including: volleyball, track, basketball, soccer, frisbee, and chess. We thoroughly enjoyed seeing the joy in the children’s faces as they learned their sport. After teaching the sports, each Hope student was given the opportunity to share the Gospel or a personal testimony to the kids in their group. After the stories were shared, with the help of translation from the coaches, the kids were given the chance to accept Jesus in their lives. In total 93 children decided to give their lives to Christ. We look forward to continuing to make an impact and see God at work in the mundane moments. Thanks for tuning in, until next time!!

Students learning chess from Sav and Jack
Our team at the start of the day
Dom, Addi, and Ty sharing to their soccer groups

Uganda 2022 Day 2 5/25

Row 41 – Ty, Julia, and Ella

Tired legs, sleep deprived bodies, and one late night fiasco capped off our first night here in the Pearl of Africa. Hello to everyone back home! It’s Ty and Julia with your update on our trip to Uganda thus far. Arriving at 11:00 pm local time at the Entebbe airport, our team was more than happy to touch solid ground after our over 30 hours of travel. After countless movies, subpar airplane food, and a glimpse of the future stars of the Rwandan national soccer team, we passed customs in no time only to be held up by a runaway bag.

local time 2:00 am, ready to depart the airport

After three hours of smooth talking the local authorities, our leader and trip guide from Uganda, Sam, came to the rescue. Shortly after departing Entebbe and packing our suitcases in the bus, we boarded our ride and took off to our hotel located in Kampala. As heavy as our eyes may have seemed, we could not take them off of the beautiful night scenes as we traversed through the capital of this gem of a country. Finally, after an hour of travel and countless speed bumps, we arrived at our destination, gladly unpacked our bags, and laid our heads on our net draped beds only to wake up 3 hours later and enjoy another eventful day filled with smiles and laughter. Despite our lack of sleep and one missing bag (sorry Ed), we are so thankful for this opportunity and look forward to seeing how God will work in both our lives and those of the Ugandan people over these next two weeks.

The future of Rwandan soccer right here ladies and gents

Uganda 2022 Day 1 5/24

Hello everyone! Emma and Brevin here reporting on our first day of travel. This morning we boarded a bus at 11am in DeVos parking lot. After a 2.5 hour trip we arrived at O’Hare Airport and successfully checked in for our flight. Upon arriving at the gate we met our Sports Outreach liaison, Ed, who will be coming alongside us during our time in Uganda. Our first flight consisted of chicken and mashed potatoes, movies, and 7 hours in the air. We began our flight with a glorious sunset and landed in Amsterdam to a beautiful sunrise. In Amsterdam we played spikeball, tried new McDonald’s items and tried to catch up on a few hours of sleep. At this moment the team is running off pure adrenaline as it is 2:30 AM Michigan time and we are preparing to board a 10.5 hour flight. We are filled with excitement as we wait to finally arrive in Uganda and eager to see what the coming days have in store for us.

Time Flies When You’re Having Fun!

By Jake Vance and Paulo Alcala

       Wow, who knew being stuck at the airport for 24 hours could be so much fun?! Our day began at 3:30 am and was off to a great start until we received word that our flight had been canceled. With discouragement in the air, we didn’t know what the next step entailed. Yet we needed no fear, Captain Chad Carlson came without fear, and informed our team members on the bus, “Let’s rock and roll, gang.” Although we wouldn’t be arriving in the Dominican Republic as early as we had anticipated, we were thankful to get plane tickets nonetheless. The original plan was to arrive at 1:20 pm, but now we will be there roughly around 1:45 am. Although it might seem like all hope was lost, that was not the case. Who knew what fun could arise when a bunch of college kids have so much free time for hours and hours on end.  

       The day was filled with card games, expensive airport food, and the best sleep one could ask for when flying through the air at 30,000 feet. Our circadian rhythms sure have been put to the test, as some among us are now going on hour 36 without sleep, yet we are all in very good spirits. We are now waiting for our flight from Newark to the Dominican Republic, so who knows what the rest of the night will entail. 

Signing off from team Dominican Republic this is Jake Vance and Paulo Alcala.  Good night from the great state of New Jersey!

SEED Program is Back!

After needing to press pause on international travel and the SEED program for the last two years, we’re excited for the opportunity to send four teams out this summer.

The first two teams return to campus for pre-trip training on May 23 before officially launching on May 24, 2022. At Hope College, we recoginze that sport provides an opportunity for athletes to have a significant platform from which to influence others and are excited to see how God uses the passion and talents of our student-athletes as they serve internationally.

One team will travel to the Dominican Republic to partner with GO Sports. GO Sports rallies around discipleship and relationships and “are a group of coaches and teachers who love Jesus, are passionate about sport, and want to see the next generation thrive.” This team will attend Bible and English classes with local athletes and help facilitate sports practices with their various teams.

The second team will head to Uganda where they will partner in the on-going work of Sports Outreach. While on the ground in Uganda, our student-athletes will run various sport clinics, attend local soccer matches, and connect with families in the community. The mission of Sports Outreach is, “to recruit, train, equip, and deploy committed Christian leaders in the effective use of sports ministry for the purposes of sharing the Gospel and alleviating human suffering.”

Both trips will also distribute Sawyer water filters and bring the gift of clean water to individuals around the world.

Take a look at the trip calendars below to follow along with our teams. And, be sure to check back in over the next two weeks for blog updates from student-athletes!

2022 Dominican Republic Prayer Calendar

2022 Uganda Prayer Calendar

Final Day!

Jake and Avery here to close out the final blog of our Zambian experience. We started the morning off with breakfast at a place called Zigzag.  Prior to our meal, we had our last debrief with the Poetice staff. We talked about reentry back into American culture and how to use what we learned throughout the trip to continue our faith back in the states.

After demolishing the stacks of flavor blasted pancakes, we traveled downtown to the Livingstone market. This is where we learned who was good at bartering and who was not. Myself and Ave had it nailed to a science, but can’t say the same for everyone else.  The hot commodities were chitenges, magnets, and wooden crafts.  Everyone spent the last of their kwacha and then we headed to the bus to start the marathon of a journey back home.

After our short 2 hour flight this morning, we are currently sitting in the Johannesburg Airport. Our next flight will be about twelve hours long, followed by a 9 hour flight to get us to Chicago. While we wait for the plane, we will be playing card games and eating our last dinner together.

Thank you for following along through our incredible trip. We love our fans and hope that you enjoyed the jokes of the day. See you soon back in the States!

One last thing, a special birthday shoutout to Coach Kopas!!!

Yesterday’s answer: Walking……J.K. Rowling

-Jake and Avery



See you later, not goodbye.

Hello friends, family, and followers! This is Courteney Barnes and Sean Gliebe coming at you from Livingstone and our last night in Zambia. L

This morning we woke up early for breakfast at 6:00AM and afterwards packed up the van with all of our bags. Once us and the bags were all packed into the van, we said our final goodbyes to Choma. We were headed to Livingstone to see Victoria Falls and do a game drive. After a 3 hour drive we got to stretch out our legs and explore the beautiful Victoria Falls. Even though the falls were pretty dry, it was still an incredible sight to see. We took many different paths that led to new views of the Falls. At each spot we tried to take a lot of pictures to remember the beauty that God brought to this place. There was a small market outside of the entrance to Victoria Falls and some people explored around there and got some souvenirs.

Next we headed back to move our stuff into the hotel for the night. We ate a quick lunch before we got picked up for our game drive. Two trucks came to pick us up at the hotel and drove us to the national park where the safari would take place. Right away, we saw a group of elephants swimming along the riverbank. We saw lots of impalas, giraffes, zebras, warthogs, buffalos, wildabeasts, baboons, birds, and hippos. After going through we headed to a designated area for white rhinos. We were able to get out of the trucks and escorted by armed guards to go up close to the rhinos. It was important that we stayed in a single file line and remain quiet so we did not startle any of the rhinos. Jake, Sam, and David were taking a picture when a rhino started to make its way towards us. We had to slowly back away and all was good, he just wanted to say hi! On our way back out, we saw most of the animals again.

We came back to the hotel and rested for a bit before heading to an Italian restaurant for dinner. Most people got pizza or pasta and it was SO good. We then went to get some gelato for dessert which topped off an awesome last day.

We finished the night with a debrief. We shared about how this trip has impacted our life and how God has influenced us. Everyone got to share their thoughts. Thank you Zambia, it has been amazing!!!!

Signing off,
Courteney and Sean

A: Great food but no atmosphere.
Q: What is Harry Potter’s favorite way of getting down a hill?

Final Day in Choma!

Hi this is Sam Vree and Jo Cook. This morning, several of the team members woke up for the sunrise. After watching the sunrise, the rest of the team joined for breakfast before the Poetice crew showed up. After breakfast, some of the team went to the prayer room for a time of individual prayer which was a great time to reflect on our week here at Poetice. After prayer and before church, John, one of the leaders at Poetice, led us around their property showing us their vision for the years to come.

Our service was amazing and unlike anything most of us have experienced. We spent time in worship to open the service. The songs we sang had us clapping, jumping and dancing around. I, Sam Vree, had to teach Jake how to clap on rhythm. After the opening songs, the service transitioned into a baby dedication. Parents from the church brought their kids to church, and several Poetice staff members spoke prayers over the families. After the dedication, we ended the service with a couple more songs and then transitioned into a church picnic.

The church picnic consisted of the members eating, playing sports and relaxing on the church base. The children were full of energy running around, getting their faces painted, a stickers table, nail painting, and playing different games. We had dodgeball, volleyball, soccer and basketball games going. After an hour of playing and relaxing, we ate together as a congregation and then continued in the festivities. John told us it was their first time having a day quite like this after church, and they were really happy with how it went.  It was really fun for all of us. The church day was perfectly balanced with times for worship and fellowship.

After the picnic, several of the mamas stuck around for water filter demonstrations. We gave away several more water filters, and showed them how to set them up on the Poetice base. We then followed the families into their community to their wells filled with unclean water. After demonstrating that we were willing to drink their dirty water after it passed through the filters, the mamas were amazed and appreciative.

On our way back through the community, we stopped at a soccer game. We supported two of the soccer teams that were at our camp, and seeing them in action was really great. While there, we had a giant dance circle with kids who were there to watch the game and several of our team members were called into the spotlight. The children on the sidelines were a blast to play with, and saying goodbye to all of them for the final time was heart-breaking.

Our final Zambian dinner was chicken and nshima. Poetice staff wanted to celebrate our last night being on the base and we had ice cream for dessert and a campfire as a place for worship. During our worship time at the campfire, people in the same sports split up and talked about worries or anxieties that might be holding us back from a true relationship with God. Many found this time to be important talking to team members. After worship, we went into debrief and all spent time together reflecting on our time in Choma and how it has impacted us before going back home.

Sam & Jo

Answer: A tomato
Question: What do people say about the restaurant on the moon?


Safari Adventure

What a lovely day it was. We began with some yummy pancakes (thanks Mya!) which fueled us for the three hour drive to Paraa Safari Lodge. Seriously Mom, look this place up! The drive was a bumpy one, but the change of scenery kept our hopes high. As we entered the gates to the safari district, Wilfred noticed that one of the tires was nearly flat. We had to turn around and went to the nearest town to get that fixed. We sat in the bus for an extra hour while they fixed the tire. Unfortunately that decreased the amount of time we had to check into our hotel, eat lunch, and catch the river cruise on the Nile River! Uh oh! However, as Connor likes to say, “a minor setback, is primed for major comeback!” The words rang true as we made it to the ferry with only seconds to spare! This added some excitement to our afternoon.

The River cruise was unlike anything any of us have ever experienced. It felt as though we were living our childhood dreams of seeing a multitude of African animals (Giraffes, Elephants, Wort hogs, water buffaloes, crocodiles, hippopotamus, monkeys, and more!). Don’t worry Mom we took plenty of pictures. The sounds of “The Circle of Life” from the Lion King were running through our heads the throughout the day. The cruise took close to two hours and dropped us off near two huge waterfalls.

After we were dropped off, we had a hour long hike along the river which led us to the top of the waterfalls. It was unbelievable witnessing these falls and how they portray the power of our God. Following our hike Wilfred had the bus ready for us at the end of the trail and we shuttled back to the lodge.

Today has definitely showed us a completely different side to Uganda. The tourist-y stuff we did today is completely different than the villages and slums we have been in this last week and it has been a cool opportunity to see both.

Quote of the day: “Did you hear about the hippopotamus that is being put on trial for murder?” “Right now he is in de-Nile!” – Ashleigh

Connor, Taylor and Natalie