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Team Members L-R: Jason Maddox, Shawn Horan, Laurie Wible, Mark Wible (leader), Sarah Ellingson, Kate Pruett, Grace Kim & Joey Sauser.
Friday, March 10
This is the report from Friday, given by both Mark and Shawn.
Today was great! They started the day off with another great breakfast of eggs, fried or scrambled, with salsa. Joey did a great job sharing with the team this morning. He talked about the injustices they’ve seen this week and reminded them in whom they trust. They are to be confident in what will be accomplished through them this one last day with the kids.
Before camp they visited the school where most of the current campers attend. A teacher from the school, who grew up in the same area, walked them through some of the communities where the students live. It literally is across the street from the 2nd largest dump in the Western Hemisphere, built on top of the former dump. The people who live there started out as squatters. They are now organized into Colonias (neighborhoods) with about 300-400 people living in them. There are no bathrooms. No running water. They get their water from 55 gallon barrels in the neighborhood square. Flies were abounding. Tin houses with bed sheets for doors. It was sobering.
They began camp a little late but with a fresh attitude of loving on the kids. The kids did much better today than yesterday afternoon; getting some rest seemed to help them a lot. They had a lot of fun with shooting competitions and last second hero. Sarah led mass ball handling and did a great job. Shawn took over from there and ran the rest of camp, again doing a great job.
The closing ceremony was wonderful as these kids won medals, got certificates and balls, and just shared smiles and hugs as they said their goodbyes. One little girl was so precious when her name was called as a medal winner. She could not believe it. Her mouth dropped open and she sat in stunned silence for about 10 seconds before it registered she was supposed to come up and get her medal. She later told her coach Kate that before this camp she never thought she could do sports or anything else right but because of the encouragement to work hard and believe she received at camp, she now believes she can do anything!
Thursday, March 9
Breakfast of eggs, chorizo, pancakes and fruit, got the team out the door and on the way to the third camp. This is a new area for host and his team and just a short distance from where the other camps had been held. These kids were younger, ranging in age from 8-14, with maybe one 16 year old.
When the team arrived, these kids were waiting. They are younger than those in the earlier camps but were so excited to be a part of the camp. Basketball was fairly new to them, so the coaches adapted what they expected the kids to do. They stopped often for a juice and water break. These kids generally get one meal a day, and that’s dinner. So they had not eaten anything and were giving it all they had. You’ll see a pic of Joey’s team of boys all laying on the court during team time. They had no energy.
When the team returned for the afternoon camp, there were several young men on the court playing soccer. Julio asked them to let the kids come back to the court but they said no. So mass ball handing started on the nearby court… in the hot sun. Thankfully after about 20 minutes, the soccer players left the covered court and our group returned.
Keeping the energy level of the kids up got harder and harder as the day wore on. Finally it was the end of a long day for little kids who eat one meal a day, and leave camp to go to work looking for recyclable material. Some girls had to leave after the morning camp to go make tortillas, but made sure their coaches knew they would be back in the morning. They want their basketball!
Shawn ran the camp entirely today, both the morning session with 43 and the afternoon session with 46. He did a great job, even though it was at times chaotic. He’s a school teacher, so I expect he knows chaotic!
The coaches and fellow teammates are all heartbroken over the tragic loss of life in the orphanage fire yesterday in Guatemala City, about 45 minutes away from where they are.
Wednesday, March 8
The team was awakened, not to the sound of a beep on an alarm, but to firecrackers going off. It’s the way the Guatemalan people celebrate birthdays and the sound can be heard for a few seconds each day, between 6:00-6:30A. Rise and shine!
The breakfast menu was eggs or fruit, granola, hash browns, sweet bread, and plantains. It was again delicious.
The camps went smoothly on this beautiful day. Competitions started the camp, and while the coaches were tallying scores to determine who would get the first place, second place, and coach’s awards, the translators took the kids through some shooting competitions. The energy level was high and full of excitement. The last basketball play they do on the court is Last Second Hero, and when a basket is made, the coaches and kids go wild to celebrate the win! It’s always one of the most favorite things they do on the court.
After lunch of chicken or pork chop, rice, mashed potatoes, and fruit, the team headed to the site of the second camp. The head of a local non-profit organization based in Guatemala City, shared with the team about their work in the city.
The afternoon camp structure was the same as the morning camp. This time in Last Second Hero, the girls outscored the boys, which was sweet! In closing, it’s so rewarding to see the faces light up when their names are called to receive an award or be presented with their certificates. The kids cheered for each other, which was precious to see.
Jason led both the morning and afternoon camps today, doing a great job. Yesterday, Shawn led the morning camp, and Sarah the afternoon one. Mark appreciates being able to entrust the whistle to these future leaders, giving him a break.
The principal of the school thanked the team, as did the teachers and helpers. There were lots of farewell hugs from the girls and guys, making today a good closing day of camps.
Julio plans to get into the schools to start teams, ultimately forming leagues. He’d like to call the league Hoops For Hope! He is thrilled with the progress he’s seen this week partnering with us to bring hope to the community.
The team was heading off to St. Martin Restaurant, a local favorite. Then it’s back to prepare for a new camp to begin tomorrow; airing balls, preparing paperwork, etc.
Tuesday, March 7
Today was another delightful day for our Guatemala Team.
After a hearty breakfast of egg burritos, rice & beans, and pancakes, Kate challenged the team to be encouraging to one another and to build each other up, which has the power to transform lives. Anyone who knows Kate knows she is a powerful encourager!
Julio’s child was sick today, so one of the afternoon translators stood in for him in the morning camp.
The kids had really improved today and were more confident and engaged. There were many hellos, hugs and I Love You’s as the kids interacted with the coaches, plus it gave them a chance to practice their English. The coaches are having a powerful impact.
The kids knew more of what to expect from a day of camp so things went more smoothly. Coach Mark added more cross court drills and relay races, and the kids loved it!
Today’s topic was the PLAN for our lives. Mark shared a story about a builder who just did what he felt like in building a gym and described a myriad of mistakes he made in its design, simply because he wasn’t following the plan. The campers listened intently to the story. Then they shared 6 pictures of design flaws with each kid and asked them to identify the problem. They enjoyed figuring out what was wrong with each one.
Coaches walked the kids back to their school a couple of blocks away. Camps definitely ended on a high note today.
There were 50 kids in the morning camp, an even split of 3 girls’ teams and 3 boys’ teams. This is a first. There were 54 kids in the afternoon camp, plus the PE teacher, and today the teachers sat in the bleachers and watched. Kids are learning so quickly, and in the afternoon camp, it was gratifying to see campers encourage each other.
The translators are bonding well with the coaches, and the coaches are bonding well as a team. There’s lots of laughter and good times. Tonight after dinner, the team sat outside and enjoyed the beautiful cool weather while they shared stories of their other international trips. Again, lots of laughs.
The food has been very good. Each meal has been delicious. For lunch they had a choice of lasagna or beef with vegetables. Dinner was pita with chicken, carrot/raisin/pineapple salad with chips.
Monday, March 6
The day started with a delicious and hearty breakfast of chicken empanadas, beans, scrambled eggs, fried plantains, and chocolate rice drink. The drink was lumpy like oatmeal but it tasted good.
Shawn challenged the team to be there for each other, a solid reminder as they started the week.
Normally, the first day of camps is a little hectic since the kids have to learn how camp is run and become comfortable with their coaches. But today, camps were peaceful. Nothing could have prepared the team for these kids. They are brought to the schools where the camps are run. Their typical routine is to go to work sorting through recycled items to raise money for their families after school. So when they arrived for camp instead, they were absolutely thrilled. Mark’s word for the day was SMILES. The coaches were touched by the genuine smiles on the faces of those young kids. They were orderly, listened well, and had a blast. There was great interaction with the coaches and translators and the kids caught on quickly.
The coaches did a great job relating to the kids and keeping a high energy level. The translators were awesome too! They are fully knowledgeable about sports and what we hope to accomplish in the camps each day. Even though the kids’ skill level is low, the translators motivated with high energy and stayed involved with the kids.
The camps went so well that they ended a little earlier than normal, probably a first. The kids doubled up on contests which was a lot of fun, but it also saved some time.
Today’s focus was our purpose. The kids listened intently, but were not used to sharing. However, some asked their coaches great questions.
The schools there have had these kids for 13-14 years (some kids were 20 years old). Leadership is convinced that if the schools were not there, the kids would get no education at all. So our work there is to tell the kids just how special they are, and to solidify the work that’s already in place. It’s also good to see the translators get loved on so much.
The principal of the school where the morning camp was held wanted to show the team around .By the time they got back to the seminary for lunch, there was a long line. So once they finished their lunch of beef steak & rice with a salad, they took off to the site of the afternoon camp, which was delayed by 30 minutes. But the kids didn’t mind. They were patiently standing in line.
After a delicious dinner of ham & cheese lasagna, tortilla soup, salad and a powdered brownie for dessert, everyone headed off to bed to rest their tired bodies. Even the translators were tired, commenting that they were not used to doing 2 camps in one day.
There were 49 kids in the morning camp, and 53 kids plus 1 PE teacher in the afternoon camp. It was a great, peaceful, first day.
They are grateful for the beautiful weather; cold enough for a jacket in the morning, and reaching the low 80’s in the afternoon.
Sunday, March 5
The team arrived safely last night in Guatemala at 11:00P and were checked into their lodging with all their luggage a little after midnight. We are grateful for their safe journey.
After a good night’s rest, and hot showers this morning, (except for the boys who had no hot water) the team met for breakfast of 2 eggs sunny-side up, rice & beans with hamburger, pancakes, bread, corn flakes and fruit juice. It felt good to be there with Julio, our host, and his team.
Sarah challenged the team to have a heart of compassion, which must be foremost in their minds as they interact with the kids and work closely together this coming week.
Julio’s community of friends and family has moved around a good bit trying to find a place of their own when they were offered a warehouse to purchase, which they gladly did. They’ve been there for 4 months and have been working hard at settling in. They’ve added bathrooms and a children’s section and will continue to make it their own.
The team traveled to the local cemetery, an interesting site. Instead of being buried 6 feet under as is our custom, their departed are buried in caskets stacked one on top of another. These cemetery blocks are hundreds of yards long and maybe 10 yards wide.
The cemetery backs up to the dump, where until recently, three and four generations of families have lived. Because of serious health hazards, the occupants of the dump have been banned to living on the sides of it. They see dump trucks coming into the 24-football-sized fields to unload and kids quickly start digging through the debris with their sticks for utensils, dolls, food, anything of value. The country is divided by extreme poverty and extreme wealth. When the wealthy throw out their trash, there is likely something of value to claim. The stench is just as bad as you would expect. There were hundreds of buzzards feeding on death.
A local group takes the kids out of the dump to the country and fresh air once a month. After being away from the dump for a couple of hours, the kids ask where the flies are. Flies are such a part of their daily lives. What a sobering experience.
The team then traveled to the 7-story Oakland Mall to walk around for a while. They ate lunch at a local Guatemalan restaurant, enjoying an array of meals like quesadillas, enchiladas, tacos, nachos. Yum. The sauces offered ranged from 1-10, with 1 labeled for wimps, and 10 labeled why did you do that to me. It was great to get to know Julio and the team they will work with next week.
When they returned to their lodging, they watched a documentary about the people of the dump, which gave them insight into the kids who will come to camps this week. This would help prepare them emotionally.
After sandwiches for dinner, the team prepared practically for camp by airing balls and getting all supplies ready. They will travel to 2 sites tomorrow for camps, starting at 9:00 in the morning.
The team is tired, but feeling good. They are excited about meeting their campers in both the morning and afternoon camps and look forward to making quick connections.
Saturday, March 4
We are excited the team is ready to fly out of Houston to Guatemala City in just a little. They will work with a local organization to hold basketball camps there next week. We are asking for safe travel, for all their luggage to arrive, for good health, and a great connection with the kids early on.