Mas Niños

When we woke up this morning, we were lucky enough to wake up to the sound of the water truck, and soon after the smell of pancakes and bacon.  After we had finished eating breakfast, we circled up as a group to work through day two of the Revision devotional that we’re working through this week. The purpose of today’s devotional was centralized around the concept of the cruciality of forgiveness for others and more importantly for oneself in the context of a Christian life.  Ultimately, God’s forgiveness towards us is unmatchable, unrepayable and unending.  We talked about a few stories in the book of Matthew where often times human beings fail to grant forgiveness and mercy towards others and towards ourselves.  This draws into context how truly undeserving we are of the forgiveness we receive from our heavenly father, at a level far beyond what we can ever experience in human life.

We started the day continuing with our service project working with Go Ministries baseball players on their batting cages.  We picked up where we left off the day before, sifting and mixing sand that could be spread on the floor of the cages.  Similar to yesterday, we were working alongside some of the Go Ministry baseball players and staff, many of whom we met and talked to in English class the day before.  Throughout our time working, we had the opportunity to strengthen the relationships that were formed the previous day through working, conversation, and challenging them with their understanding and ability to speak the English they have been learning.

After working for a few hours on the batting cages project, we headed back to dorm building to enjoy lunch our incredible cooks had prepared for us.  After eating, a few of us did the dishes, and spent the next couple of hours bonding as a team, playing games, and resting up for the activities to come in the afternoon.  Most of us joined in a collective game of cards, which further allowed for conversation and relationship building within our team.

Around 2:30pm, we made our way over to the Go Ministries basketball court before practice, intending to get there early enough to play with each other and get warmed up in preparation for the kids to join.  However, several players were already shooting around when we got there, so we jumped straight in before the official start of practice.  When the coaches arrived, we were divided up into three groups in combination with the kids to progress through three different stations.  Let’s just say this was one of the hardest practices any of us have experienced, which is saying a lot considering that we are all college athletes. J These three stations were composed of ladder footwork drills, a dribbling station and a jump shot/shooting station.  We finished with a game of lightning (or knockout depending on where you’re from) where the true athleticism and competitiveness of our group combined with the players to make the game extremely entertaining.  Following practice, we circled up with the boys, and Bryce shared a part of his testimony with the group.  We then closed with prayer led by one of the players.

After about an hour with the boys at practice, we proceeded with a practice with the Go Ministry girls’ team.  A few of our team members were given the task of putting together a few drills and games to get the girls excited about practice.  We were pretty dedicated to bringing the energy, and a few of us might have some issues with our voices tomorrow from cheering so loud.  We then finished practice with another game of lightning where a few of boys who had lingered around after practice once again joined in.  This was a great opportunity for us to be able to interact with some of the young girls that Go Ministries has built a foundation to make an impact on their lives.  To close practice, we again circled up for a time of sharing and prayer, where two of our group members, Hannah and Mekenna shared a few things with the girls.  One of the girls then closed in prayer before we had to rush off to serve dinner at the nutrition center established by one of the churches associated with Go Ministries.

As soon as we got to the church, we were immediately greeted by smiling children who didn’t hesitate to say hello and jump all over us.  We played with the kids for a while before serving them dinner.  We gave them piggy-back rides, ran around with them and threw them in the air.  Soon after we were all called inside, and after prayer lead by one of the children, proceeded to serve them dinner.  After dinner, we circled up outside of the church to have the opportunity for Kyle, one of the leaders of Go Ministries, to share about the history and current state of the church in what is a very impoverished area.  We heard from the current pastor of this church who provided a very inspiring insight into the work that God currently and will continue to do in this area.  We then continued to play and run around with the kids for a while, putting them on our shoulders, playing tag and being surrounded by screams and laughter. Rylee, one of our football players, continued with what will become an infamous exclamation ‘Mas Niños’ which means ‘More Kids,’ while proceeding to be jumped on while carrying three children at a time.   Needless to say, the kids were sad to see us go, but we all left with smiles and were so glad we had this opportunity.

After, headed back to our building for dinner of authentic pork chops, pashed potatoes, peas, and ‘squeaky cheese’ a classic Dominican food.  We had the opportunity to hear the testimonies of Brett, Kyle and Dariana, the primitive leaders of Go, and how God has called them to where they are.  Their stories were especially moving, and it was inspiring to see how God’s plan is carried out in each of us, whether that aligns with our initial plans or not. We closed the day with a quick debrief, journaling and team bonding before heading to bed, looking forward to a busy day tomorrow.

Peace and Blessings,

Baller Bryce, Rose aka ‘SUPAGIRL’ and DJ Paula

Where’s the Water?

We woke up this morning and yup, it was already hot. Met up in our little bungalow for breakfast and were pleasantly surprised with a steamy pot of hot chocolate. Yum. After hanging around the breakfast table for a bit we circled up for some Devo time. Brett lead us this morning as we jumped around Genesis and the idea of sin and how it separates us from His Kingdom. One thing that really stood out to us was in Genesis 6:6, “The Lord regretted that he had made human beings on earth, and his heart was deeply troubled.” This is completely opposite to the God we see through Jesus, and as the week progresses, we are encouraged to see how the Lord is inviting us into a relationship with him, and not regretting having made us as we continue to glorify Him.

Post-devo time is when the day really got going. We loaded up vans and ventured back to the Academy (LDR). After meeting some incredible staff members, we were put to work. Mixing, digging, hacking, moving, smoothing, and sifting dirt to lay a new foundation/floor for the batting cages. What was so cool during this was our opportunity to interact with the baseball players. They got to help build the facility they will use on a daily basis. And, some of their stories were incredible. One young man in particular could speak English as good as any of us it seemed, and we later found out that he had only started taking lessons a year ago. He pursues learning the language on his own, and shows us how willing these students are to work for their dreams, and work for the Lord. Crazy.

We then transitioned inside and got to sit in on a beginner English class with the baseball students. Sra. Almonte arrived and started playing music as an introduction to class, it threw us off, but we were jamming. Right from the get go, we could tell just how passionate she was about making sure all the students were engaged and truly learning. Her patience seemed unlimited. She got us involved by pairing up students with us “Americanos” and talking about different furniture you could find in various rooms of the house. We walked through each room and identified seemingly every piece of furniture you could think of. It was kind of nuts how excited we all got when someone would say refrigerator correctly. At the end of class, we all got to have a one-on-one conversation and get to know a student on a deeper level.

Tummies grumbling after a lot of hard work and studying, we came back to our home base for some lunch. The meal was an authentic Dominican dish comprising of chicken, rice, beans, pickled broccoli, and the ripest pineapple on this earth. After a short siesta time, we headed back to the Academy for soccer practice. Of course, Jordan and I were thrilled because we love soccer. Before training, the coach spoke some really amazing truths over the group. He talked about the importance of having Jesus at the center of your life. Sports will end, we can win, but God’s love for us is limitless and forever. The coach then led us in a warmup that put most of us out of breath. We divided into four teams and mixed our group with the academy players. This was another super cool way to interact and get to know more kids.

Got back home and found out the water was out after a long day of sweating and being gross. But don’t worry, there’s buckets of water graciously awaiting us in the shower to throw on us with little plastic cups. Dinner was scrumptious as usual, and we were pumped when we found out we were going to Dominican Walmart. After picking out some snacks and munching on some churros, we finally got back home and debriefed.

It is crazy just how easy it is for all of us to witness God in every aspect of what’s going on here. In the leaders, in the students, in the teachers, in the weather, in the team itself, and in the mountains that surround us, it’s just all too easy to see Him. As you think about us, we ask that you pray for good health, continued energy, strength, and some water – both to drink and to bathe in, or you might be in for a great surprise when we get home 🙂

Peace and Blessings,
Hannah and Jordan

Ready… Set… Go!!

Our day started at 8:00 this morning. After we ate, we changed and went to a Bible study at one of the missionary’s homes with other missionaries and the volleyball team from Wheaton College. We discussed Luke chapters 11 and 12. If you are interested in hearing some of the topics we talked about, you can check out the podcast “Gringlish Fellowship” on iTunes. After Bible study, we attended a local church service. We worshipped with the Dominicans to the tune of some pretty lively music, including “Oceans” in Spanish. We participated in communion and attempted to understand the sermon spoken in Spanish.

We returned for lunch and were able to rest up for the big day ahead of us. We headed to Go Ministries Leadership Development Complex, which is about 15 minutes away from where we are staying. While driving there, we were able to see the community surrounding it. We passed a cigar factory, and learned that this region produces 75% of the world’s cigars and employs most of the city.  We were also treated to a beautiful view of God’s green Earth. We saw mountains, palm trees, and plenty of sunshine.

Upon arrival, we were greeted by about a hundred kids, eager to play with us. We took out the sports equipment that we brought along with us, and dove in. Everywhere we looked, the kids were engaged and having a really good time. We played football, volleyball, soccer, had relay races, and even had a water balloon fight. One of the biggest challenges for our group was a language barrier. Although most of the group does not speak Spanish, we were still able to communicate through our sports and keep the kids involved. Despite our differences, we all had fun just the same.

After the kids took the bus home, Kyle and Brett took us on a tour of the facility. Currently the Leadership Development Complex is located on a 24-acre plot of land, and contains basketball courts, a baseball field, batting cages, and an educational facility used for English and Bible classes. They shared with us their vision for the next five years, which includes building four more baseball fields, a volleyball complex, another education building, a multipurpose facility, a cafeteria, soccer fields, a seminary building, and a missionary building.

The educational facilities will also someday serve as dorms, and will be able to house up to 48 students each. Brett and Kyle shared with us that some of their biggest challenges include funding and staffing enough coaches and teachers for the growing programs, but they are already doing amazing work for the kids in the community.

One cool thing about our hosts is their desire to show us as much of the community and the culture as possible. They brought us to an empanada restaurant, where we were able to try various types of the delicious Dominican dish. After dinner, we returned to our dorm for a time of debriefing and reflection. We discussed ways that we saw God’s influence today and moments that opened our eyes and stretched us out of our comfort zones.

We learned a lot today about the culture of the Dominican Republic and observed similarities in the way that people praise God all over the world. We were able to witness His love for the people during the church service and through the way that Go Ministries has been blessed to make an impact on the community here. One prayer request for today is to ask that Go Ministries continues to find funding and loving people to join their team and serve God.

From the Dominican with love,

Keon, Sally, and Joey

Our 19 ½ Hour Day

Hey bloggerz!!! Good news—we made it. We started the morning off by meeting at DeVos at 3:30am and landed in the DR at 1:45pm. Yes, we’re very tired, but still thriving. At the airport Go Ministries picked us up and took us in vans to our home for the week. When we got here, we were served sandwiches and delicious pineapple then had siesta time.

After a good nap, we explored the local streets of DR. We realized quickly that they like their music loud and don’t necessarily watch out for you walking down the street, particularly the people driving motorcycles. The driving age isn’t quite like it is in the US as we saw what looked like to be 10-year old’s driving motorcycles. Needless to say, we stay close to the side of the road.

We met our first couple friends hanging out outside their homes. We brought plenty of energy and sports equipment to supply them with an hour of fun. Soon enough our couple friends grew, as many local kids quickly realized what was going on. Through frisbee tossing, football throwing, and bubble blowing, we all became connected through sport. Although none of the kids spoke English, we found our own ways to communicate and quickly felt God’s presence. Even though we played with these kids for just an hour, they were already asking “Manana?” and giving us big hugs as we left. The joy they received from us messing around with them for just an hour was super fulfilling.

We grouped up for dinner and met our cooks for the week. The nice ladies prepared us rice, ground beef, chips, avocados, and pineapple. As dinner was finishing up, the power went out. The cooks then insisted on washing our dishes for us because us Americans would use too much drinking water to do it. As everything got cleaned up we hopped in vans and drove to go get ice cream from a local ice cream shop. The shop had many flavors such as birthday cake, café, and rum raisin (still wondering why Jordan got that). Brett and Kyle, our Go Ministry leaders, paid the bill and continue to show us what it means to serve. Kyle has been in the DR for 10 years serving with Go Ministries and Brett has been with Go Ministries for a couple of months. Fun fact, our home for the week is placed on the street where Go Ministries all started.

Our home is a three-story place used for mission workers like ourselves to help in the local communities. There are bunkbeds three beds high for both boys and girls, and then an upstairs kitchen and gathering area to eat and hangout that is all outside.

As the night winded down we came together to express how we saw God throughout our day today. There was everything from reducing anxiety on the way here to seeing smiles on the faces of kids who in our eyes don’t have a lot. We’ve come to realize the locals here might not be rich in materials but are rich in love, and happiness.

Overall, we had no complications traveling and are blessed to have made it here safely. We still have many questions going into tomorrow, but are continuing to keep an open mind. Thanks for checking in J.

Audrey and Brady

P.S. Check out Go Sports on Facebook for some additional pictures and updates from the week!

SEED: Summer 2019

 

In a few short days, the SEED Program for summer 2019 kicks off. We’re excited for another year of learning, growing, and discipling through sport and look forward to the lessons we’ll learn about our faith and the ways in which God has called us to serve.

Our first team will depart for the Dominican Republic on Saturday, May 18 to partner with the on-going work of GO Ministries.

GO Ministries, “seeks to empower passionate, local leaders serving inside their own cultures to Redeem people, Renew communities, and Restore creation by developing dynamic international, mutually transformational partnerships.”

While on the ground, our team will have the opportunity to connect with their sports academies to host field days and clinics, help with English classes, and serve in the community. Additionally, we’ll train local staff, coaches, and athletes with Sawyer water filters to provide access to clean water.

At Hope College, 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 student-athletes as we serve with GO Ministries.

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

Dominican Republic Team Calendar

Lions to the Left!

The morning began with an unexpected surprise from our leaders. The night before we received instruction to be down in the lobby at 6:30am ready to get on the bus. When we all arrived, Caroline told us that we were going on a safari game tour! The safari consisted of seeing animals like water buffalos, giraffes, lions, elephants and so much more. Our trusty tour guide Frances did an amazing job of pointing out animals while getting us where we needed to go in a very timely matter. It was a great way to end the trip. We then departed back to Kampala.

When we first arrived, we were treated to some pizza in a modern food court type of area. After eating we hopped in the bus and headed to one of the downtown markets to shop. Prior to getting off the bus Sam let us in on the tricks of the trade in the realm of African bargain shopping. After we felt confident in how to get the best deals, our team headed to the sidewalk shops. In the hour we had to shop our purchases consisted of chess boards, soccer jerseys, many animal figurines, patterned clothing, jewelry and sandals. Some went to a cool coffee shop after the market and bought coffee beans. All of our hearts are very full when reminiscing on memories from our trip over the past week. It was hard to say our final goodbyes to two people who have had a big impact on our trip, Sam, a member of the Sports Outreach team, and Wilfred, our bus driver. As we sit in the airport it is bittersweet to be leaving, but we find comfort knowing that the two of them and all of the other people we have encountered during this trip will remain in our hearts.

We ask for your continued prayers as we begin our travels home, may God bless.

Sincerely, Maddie & Olivia.

A Goodbye Haiku

Flight one of three home is complete and we are currently in Johannesburg airport. We are en route to London, then Chicago and then the long days of travel will be over. We started out our day with a great breakfast at a local restaurant in Livingstone. The restaurant was very homey, and the people were very kind. At the restaurant we had a final debrief with a few staff members from Poetice. We talked about what it looks like to come home, and how our lives have been changed. We also talked about how to make this change become our new constant in our lives at home. Throughout the week we were reminded that our relationship with God can have a lot of hills and valleys, but we were also encouraged to solidify the “hills”. This means that with perseverance we will continuously be able to live our lives closer to Jesus. We are very thankful for everything Poetice has taught us and how much we were able to experience Jesus together.

Today we were also able to take a trip to the Livingstone market. This was an overwhelming but very exciting experience.  The shops contained handmade jewelry, trinkets, paintings, clothing, and other unique items.  It was nice to be able to buy some items for friends and family back home, and then headed to the airport.  With the last few hugs goodbye, we began our journey home. We are all feeling a wide variety of emotions.  We are ready for the new future in store for us back at Hope, but not ready to leave our new friends and family in Choma. We are so blessed to have formed such great relationships that make saying goodbye so tough. But we are so excited to share our experiences with others at home and tell them about the amazing ways that Poetice is impacting the communities around them.

We want to end our post with a Haiku from one of our very own team members*:

Bittersweet leaving
Excited to share God’s love
Thank you Poetice

~~Addy and Alaina

*Haiku by Brant Kym

Dry Clothes Are Irr–Elephant!

We started the day off with breakfast and saying goodbye to the Poetice staff, as well as a few of the kids we met this week who stopped by to say goodbye. It was bittersweet to see them one last time as they shared with us how much they were going to miss us, and we shared the same with them.

This was followed by a two hour bus ride to Livingstone to visit Victoria Falls, one of the seven natural wonders of the world. We hiked down to the Boiling Pot of the falls to enjoy the view of the rapids as they moved downstream. We explored making our way around the rocks closest to the river and taking pictures of the amazing scenery. After a while we hiked back up the path to find a family of baboons along the way. It was a new experience to seem them up so close. We then walked along the overlook to get a view of the water cascading down the falls. The power of the falls created an amazing mist which rained down on us, soaking our clothes. Despite this, it was breathtaking to see the beauty of God’s creation.

After leaving the falls, we stopped at a roadside park to eat lunch. We had Hungry Lion, which is like the KFC of Zambia. We then drove to our home for the night to drop off our bags and relax for a bit before heading out to the safari. The team piled into two vehicles, and we took off into the national park. Within the first five minutes, we saw six elephants, including one only thirty feet away. As we continued driving, we saw impalas, giraffes, Cape buffalo, baboons, warthogs, zebras, and hippos. Midway through the ride, we were able to pull over and walk into the Zambezi River, the largest east flowing river in Africa. We were amazed at how quiet and peaceful it was after seeing Victoria Falls earlier in the day.  Another part of the safari included getting out of the vehicles to walk into the territory of a family of white rhinos. Our guide led us, and we stood fairly close to the rhinos as he informed us about their behavior and history.

The safari lasted around two hours, after which we were dropped off at our hotel shortly before we walked to the restaurant. For our last dinner in Zambia, we had pizza and gelato, which was a nice treat.  Our night ended with our final debrief, where the team got to read letters we wrote to ourselves in the spring about the trip (addressed to our post-Zambia selves). We all got to share something meaningful about our letters and then moved on to questions about our week.  We shared lessons we learned and don’t want to forget upon returning home.  We also discussed how we felt God’s presence in the last week, along with what gifts and passions we think He has equipped us to use back home.  We shared what we learned about the global church, and ended with a word that represents this week in our lives and that can serve as a challenge moving forward.  It was great to hear all of the ways God has been moving in each of us. We could not have asked for a better ending to our trip. We’re sad to leave, but looking forward to being home soon and seeing all of you. Prayers for safe travels tomorrow!

Love,
Tucker and Amanda

Smile, It’s the Nile!!

Today we said goodbye to the Sports Outreach Ministry in Gulu, Uganda.  We drove three hours to Paraa Safari, our home for the last night before our long journey back to the U.S.  After arriving at the gate, we had our passports checked like we were entering a new country, and proceeded to journey 45 minutes through the African plains to the lodge along the Nile River.  We got to witness antelopes, baboons, monkeys, warthogs, water buffalo, giraffes, and elephants on the drive alone.  In the afternoon we were treated with a river boat safari up the Nile where we got up close with some hippos, crocodiles, giraffes, water buffalo, snake birds, and eagles.  We traveled two hours by boat, until the river’s current was fighting all of our two 100-horsepower Yamaha outboards.  We docked short of Murchison Falls, a magnificent waterfall that is roughly 300 feet tall.  We hiked two miles along the river and a few risky members of the group tasted the Nile for the first time with the help of our Sawyer water filters (Daniel, Hayden, Noah).  Near the end of the hike, we ascended to the top of the falls where we could look out across the plains and along the Nile, in awe of God’s creation.  We were met by our faithful driver, Wilfred, and made the trip back to the lodge for dinner and team time to debrief the trip.  It has been such an impactful trip to each member, and hearing the stories continued to show us that God was using each and every one of us for his plan.

We ask that you pray for our safe journey back to Kampala tomorrow and our long departure home.  Please continue to keep the people of Uganda in your prayers, as well.  As much as we love it here in Uganda, we can’t wait to come back and tell you more about our amazing and eventful week here!

Your trusty Bloggers,
Noah and Colleen

Water we up to?

The doors to Poetice base were opened at 8am for Armour’s sport teams for the last day of camp. While we waited for everyone to arrive, those present participated in some competitive dodgeball matches. Once everyone arrived, the youth were separated into their four age groups for learning and sport stations. The first set of stations this morning consisted of speed & agility, strength & conditioning, yoga, and a question & answer session. We took a break before lunch to hear a lesson from 2 Timothy 1:7 given by Coach V and Coach T, which focused on power, love and self-discipline. In the afternoon, the second set of stations consisted of kickball, volleyball, softball, and track events. The Armour’s players continued to impress us throughout the day with their athleticism, their willingness to work hard, and their eagerness to learn. We watched in awe as 10 year olds were holding 6 minute planks and doing front flips over 4 foot rope hurdles.  At the conclusion of the stations, we had another opportunity to do a water filter demonstration and send them home with these life-changing devices. Shortly after came the time to make our final goodbyes as we are leaving Choma tomorrow. It is clear that we both made an impact on each other as it was hard for us to think about leaving this group tomorrow, and they were extremely thankful that we could share some new sports and build relationships with them.

Late afternoon, our team walked to a nearby market where we had the opportunity to experience more of the Zambian culture. There were hundreds of small vendors selling goods such as food, clothing, and household necessities. Most of our team bought chitenges, which are a popular Zambian clothing item.

During dinner, the Poetice team surprised us with ice-cream and a highlight slideshow to recap our memories from this week. We have been blessed to work alongside an amazing organization that has been such an encouragement to us.  Their incredibly strong leaders have played a significant role in helping us grow in our faith. These leaders led us in a time of worship to close our night and our time in Choma, Zambia. We are excited about the mission Poetice has for the communities in Choma, and we look forward to praying for them and hearing about their impactful work. Thank you Poetice!

Paige and Andrew

 

 

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