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

Warm Welcome!

Hello everyone! This is Jo Cook, (junior/softball) and Mackenzie Ralston, (junior/swimmer) writing today. We finally made it to Zambia after two long travel days. From London, we had an eleven hour plane ride to Johannesburg and then a three hour layover there before a short two hour flight to Livingstone. Once in Livingstone, we realized some of the bags were missing so those will hopefully be here tomorrow. John, a Poetice leader, met us at the airport to take us on a two hour bus ride to Choma. Even though we were all tired from all the travel we still managed to play games and bond as a team on the bus ride.

When we arrived to the base where we will be staying, we were welcomed by a swarm of team members and students. They greeted us with hugs, smiles, and so much excitement. Regardless of how exhausted our whole team was feeling, the warm welcome rejuvenated all of us and we are all excited for this week.

After unloading our bags and being shown to our homes for the week, we met back with everyone for snacks. We had popcorn, cookies, coffee, and tea with everyone and just got to know the people from Poetice we will be working alongside this week. We played a couple get-to-know you games that allowed us to find similarities between all of us and we even found some people have the same birthday.

After the snack break we were lead to the worship center where our team introduced ourselves and we got introduced to each team member who works at Poetice. We also got to meet some students who are joining us for the week who just participated for the last 3 months in Poetice’s School for Justice and Mission which trains and equips students from all over the world (6 different countries) for lives of mission. We were all then able to have a short session of worship all together. Team members prayed over us individually and for what the upcoming week will hold for us.  Most of us found this to be very powerful. We all saw God working today when we heard people we met an hour ago pray for our specific worries and thoughts going into this trip. It was personal to where we were at, and it was incredible for some of us to see God speak to us through the staff members who prayed.

We finished the night with dinner and team debrief. We did a short devotion on Mark 4, the parable of the sower, and each member of our group had some time to think about where our hearts are at in responding to Jesus in our own lives.  And we all discussed moments when we saw God working and got to talk about highlights of the day. We ended our meeting with prayer. Overall, it was an amazing first day here and we are all looking forward to tomorrow.

Jo and Mackenzie

Joke of the day:
Answer from yesterday: Plane chocolate

Today’s joke: Why can’t a bicycle stand up?

Sunday Funday

This morning we got to experience a service at a local church! The church was the Nateete Praise Church in the Nateete area of Kampala. We think we can speak for everyone when we say that at first, we were totally out of our comfort zone. The dancing and singing were unlike anything we had ever participated in. They were super welcoming and very willing to teach us some of their dance moves, so if you see students breaking out some killer moves…it’s probably us. Connor, Carly, and I (Anna) got a chance to share our testimonies and some words from scripture. It was so powerful being able to witness these two very different groups worshiping the same God through the universal language of dance. After church we came back to the hotel for lunch and got to try some traditional Ugandan food!

After lunch we went back to the church and split into a group to do the water filter demonstration and to get a tour of their school. They called the school the “Catch-Up School” because kids from ages 3-12 would come to learn the basics. Some of the older kids had never gone to school before due to the lack of finances in their family, so they had to catch-up on what they had missed out on. Becky was the woman who gave us our tour and was one of the volunteer teachers at the school. She was so passionate about sharing education with the kids and instilling the love of God within them. Although they are currently located in a temporary shack with little school equipment, they are making the best out of their situation and even start exams tomorrow!

The first water filter demonstration went smoothly. Kirk talked through a demonstration with a crowd in the church, while Chris, Terrell, Hailey, Connor, and I (Ashleigh) drilled holes in buckets to help get the people get started on building their own filtration system. The water filter consists of any large bucket, and then a small filter provided by Sawyer is attached to the drilled hole. We filled a bucket with water gathered from a local source and added some dirt to it for dramatic effect. Seeing the excitement on everyone’s face when Kirk drank the newly filtered and clear water was humbling.

After this, we came back together to go on some home visits. We met three inspiring, single mothers making many sacrifices to give their children meals, a home, and an education. One of the mothers had just given birth to twins, a boy and a girl (named Joshua and Ruth), and she let all of us take turns holding the babies. She shared her inspiring story of her difficult time giving birth and how she overcame it to bring both of her babies home healthy. We were all touched by all of the mothers’ vulnerability and strength, and thankful for the opportunity to be welcomed into their homes.

We think every one of us got to hold our fair share of children’s hands today. It was a day filled with smiles and love. We miss you Mom!

Anna and Ashleigh

Don’t Worry Mom

Throughout the past three days we have been preparing mentally and physically for the amazing opportunity to travel to Uganda. We spent some of the preparation on Hope’s campus, but we are now on our way.

Our group of twelve individuals have become a team as we bonded together and have started to create new friendships.  Part of this process happened as we shared our personal testimonies with each other.

We are excited about the opportunities to partner with Sports Outreach and engage with them in their sports and chess ministries. We also have been busy practicing and learning chess, awaiting the opportunity to play with the people we will meet in Uganda.

Late Friday morning we departed for Chicago.  After a long eight-hour flight, we safely arrived to the Amsterdam Airport, and are anxiously awaiting our flight to Entebbe. Once we arrive tonight, we will hopefully have a good night’s sleep before we attend church and begin our time with our new friends in the morning.  We are excited to see God work through us in the coming weeks, and are very appreciative for all the prayers we are receiving.

P.S. Don’t worry Mom, I took my malaria medication today!

Carly and Chris

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