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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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!
One year ago, we launched a SEED team to Zambia to partner and serve alongside Poetice. Lives were transformed as Hope College student-athletes held sports clinics, taught leadership lessons, and provided clean water through Sawyer products.
It is with great excitement that we are preparing to return to their ministry base in a few days to connect new student-athletes with our old friends and build into new relationships.
Read reflections from last summer from head softball coach Mary VandeHoef as evidence that sport changes lives.
We’re excited to send out a SEED team on Sunday, August 12 to Zambia to serve alongside Poetice. “They exist to empower the church to fight for justice. Through transformational development, Poetice pursues physical and spiritual restoration for the widowed, the orphaned, the vulnerable, the exploited, the sick and the poor.”
While on the ground, the team will also partner with Sawyer to distribute water filters to local families and communities connected with Poetice.
View the team calendar for a glimpse of how Hope College student-athletes will utilize their passion for sport to share the love of Christ with individuals around the world!
Check back over the next two weeks to read updates from the team to hear more about their experiences on the ground and how God is on the move in Zambia.