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PERU

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CLICK HERE for the photo album.

Team members are: Paul Thomas, Leader, Luke Anton, Ruby Anton, Matt Caskey, JT Froese, Tim Hammond, Lynnsay Macey, Jason Maks, Becky Maks, Dillon Maks, Keith Rollins, Sarah Rollins, Kendall Rollins, Reece Rollins, Taylor Schupbach, and Logan Zwerneman.

Thursday, June 8

Day Four Camp

Waking up this morning the team found ourselves wondering how we were already on Day Four. We also found ourselves with bittersweet thoughts around it being the last day of camp, but the day of celebration. So to start us off on the right foot, Reese and Logan led the challenge this morning. The subject was perseverance. They started by providing the definition of perseverance to the team. According to Merriam-Webster online, perseverance is a “continued effort to do or achieve something despite difficulties, failure, or opposition.”

They then continued by encouraging the team to take to heart this message: “We want each of you to show this same diligence to the very end, so that what you hope for may be fully realized.” Another one they shared which may be even more closely related to our current endeavor is: “And as for you, brothers and sisters, never tire of doing what is good.” Logan closed by telling us that “even after we leave, we should continue to show love.” Great advice for all of us coming from the mouths of two fantastic young men.

We wrapped up breakfast, discussed logistics for the day and then headed for the last morning to the athletic complex. Day Four follows a slightly different format in that the mass ball handling is even shorter than prior days, station rotations are given less time and awards are given out. Most importantly, our hope is shared with the kids who might otherwise never hear it. Needless to say, Day Four is a great day of any Hoops for Hope camp.

While coaches began writing out certificates and adding score from their group competitions earlier in the week, Paul blew the whistle to have the groups come together and start shouting out their respective cheers. Whether it was the Grupo Verde with “Ole, Ole, Ole, Verde…Ole, Verde” or Grupo Morado with “Purple Power,” all the groups brought a tremendous amount of energy to the camp. The coaches then came together in the center of the court, started jumping and yelling and shouted “Hoops…For…Hope!”

Fired up, camp went straight to mass ball handling, then cross court drills followed by stations. After the sweaty kids and coaches grabbed a quick water break, we moved into the bleachers to listen to Paul present “Place.” Paul has always been a great speaker, but today went even beyond his normal effort. He presented today with even more emotion as he discussed with the kids some his own difficulties in life back in the United States. He shared a text message from his son, Isaiah, with the kids that really brought to reality the emotions that we all share despite our cultural differences. We all hurt. We all love.

The kids lined up in their groups on the basketball court. One of the things that the kids most look forward to in camp is awards day. In a Hoops for Hope camp medals are given to each kid in a group who finished first or second overall in the competitions as well as a “Coaches’ Medal” for the kid who shows the best attitude and gives the most effort throughout the duration of the camp. As each team went through their medal presentations it was amazing to see the excitement on the faces of the kids when their names were called. They worked hard all week to put themselves in the position to receive a medal and each recognition was well deserved.

As the morning session of camp wrapped up, Paul took the opportunity to present the camp leader’s award to the kid who shows the best attitude and gives the most effort for the overall camp. For the morning camp a young lady received the medal. When called forward in error for a medal earlier in the awards presentation, she graciously and humbly gave the medal back and sat back down. Her character was on full display as she watched the other girls receive their awards and still fully supported them.

At the conclusion of the awards ceremony, each kid received a certificate and a highly coveted Hoops for Hope basketball. The smiles on the faces of these kids when they receive their basketballs is infectious. Even kids who have been stone faced all of camp are willing to show their pearly whites for a basketball. Once received the kids start finding coaches to autograph their basketballs. For a humble team this act can catch you by surprise. Autographing basketballs is for NBA players, right? Not in Peru. The kids are thankful for the coaches and love autographs and selfies. Every coach loves the kids so it seems like a pretty fair trade, autographed basketballs for love.

Following an emotional camp the team departed back to the hotel for a quick lunch, lomo or chaufa (fried rice). Lunch had to be quick because earlier in the week we had been invited for a boat ride on the Madre de Dios river by the former minister of sport, Marco. So when we asked earlier in the week about the boat we were told that it was a two story boat with a cover. When we arrived to the shore of the river there was indeed a two story boat with a cover. However, there was also a dingy attached on the opposite side of the two story boat. Now “dingy” can be a relatively loose term. It could be an inflatable life raft, a decent sized fiberglass boat with a Yamaha motor on it or let’s say a locally hand-made wood boat with sides very near water level that rocks side to side when any one person moves. Yep, you guessed it, we had the last of the three dingy options. I have to admit that some within our group were not thrilled as they boarded the dingy.

Nonetheless, everyone boarded the boat safely and off we went on an hour long ride. We rode alongside the riverbank looking for animal life in the trees. After what was really a very relaxing boat ride, we docked and headed back to the hotel for a few minutes of downtime before our last camp. A short nap and perhaps a quick shower later, we met in the lobby and headed back to the athletic complex one last time.

Upon arrival at the athletic complex we found the doors unlocked. Hallelujah! Tired from a long week of camp, the streets of Puerto Maldonado are not quite as attractive in the afternoon sun as they might have been a few days earlier.

The team arrived and began the same activities as the morning camp, writing out certificates, adding scores and interacting with the kids. Group cheers and a coaches’ huddle and we were off again. Moving through the mass ball handling, drills and stations, the afternoon session provided more time all week to include other activities. Today those activities included more shooting, 2 on 2 and 3 on 3 competitions. The 3 on 3 competition even pitted the older boys against the older girls. A competition taken by the girls. Good job, girls!

As we transitioned, Paul again spoke in group time. Every bit as real in the afternoon session, he delivered a beautiful message to the kids about the “Place” prepared for them. As we continued to share our hearts, the kids once again separated into boys and girls.

The afternoon camp concluded much like the morning, each group presented awards to their teams and Paul presented the camp leader’s award. However, as we were preparing to finish, the minister of sport, Eduardo, and his assistant, Giovanni, took control of the camp to present the Hoops for Hope team with certificates and medals of our own. One by one he called each coach forward and had a different kid from camp present a medal to that coach. It was a very moving moment to feel the appreciation the community has for our time and effort here. We then met for one last time in the center of the court, kids and coaches, put our hands in the huddle and yelled out, “Hoops…For…Hope!”

A few autographs and selfies later, we rounded up our supplies, grabbed taxis and headed back to the hotel. No showers, but some dry clothes later, we set out on our way for our last team dinner in Puerto Maldonado. Having eaten at Carrion 322 the night before, we elected to convene at a past favorite, El Hornito Pizzerias. The brick oven pizzeria in the plaza de Armas of Puerto Maldonado was a great choice for dinner as the team and the local sponsors enjoyed some of the best pizza anywhere along with Inca Kola and frozen limonada.

Many handshakes and hugs later, we bid farewell to our friends, some old and some new, and head back to the hotel for one last recap in Paul’s room. All coaches, Dan, and two of Dan’s understudies, Kaleb and Herrod, squeezed into room #12, Paul immediately starts off by speaking about the coaches, one by one.

Tim – “Took on a leadership role in camp. Wanted to improve the experience each day.”

Dillon – “When I needed it most. You gave me the energy to give the kids what they needed.”

Matt – “Didn’t know what to expect, but you brought your skills to connect with the kids.”

Keith – “You took the lead in your station, kept the kids involved and even taught them pick and roll.”

Lynnsay – “You taught basketball skills while the girls loved all over you.”

Logan – “You started with me as a young kid. You have the personality to serve.”

Ruby – “You rocked it girl!”

Luke – “You took a backseat to the limelight in your station and played your ‘part.’ Maintained a great attitude when your bag was lost.”

Taylor – “The girls loved your personality. You have a calm, soothing demeanor.”

Kendall – “Good form and ability to teach basketball skills. Your heart took over at Pueblo Viejo.”

Sarah – “Ideal mom. Take great care of your family. Stepped out of your comfort zone on this trip.”

Becky – “’Team mom.’ Always one step ahead of me.”

Jason – “Use discretion when praising people. Encouraging of others.”

Reese – “You did awesome. Share positive characteristics with Logan.”

Paul finished by thanking the team for the absence of any problems on the trip.

Jason then took the opportunity to thank Paul for his outstanding leadership throughout the course of the trip. Paul has kept everyone safe from the day we started traveling last Saturday. He has brought a level of energy that is unparalleled. Even when he lost his voice he just kept pushing all of us to give everything we have…and then some. He has also allowed for flexibility as needed at times. Simply put, he has rocked it as a Hoops for Hope leader!

We then spent the last few minutes going around the room sharing thoughts on how the camp had gone. Logan started by commenting on how he can feel hope when Dan talks with the kids in Spanish although he cannot understand much of it.

Keith followed by mentioning how excited he is to see what happens next for the boys he coached this week. He shared with all of us that he got a little teary eyed as we wrapped up. It is truly amazing to see and hear a grown man profess how much the kids he didn’t even know a few days ago have impacted him.

Becky shared her appreciation for the team and how easy it was to get to know everyone. Keith also mentioned how good it felt to be able to see most of our team give away their shoes to some of the kids who truly needed them. Last, but certainly not least, Ruby shared that she heard some of the girls talking about how they wished Last Second Hero would go on longer.

Tomorrow we start our travel back home. For the team, Puerto Maldonado has become a piece of each of us. It is emotional and it is spiritual. This changes people. It changes people in the places you go and it changes you. We hope that wherever you may be reading this that you will have the desire to share as well. Whether it be Peru, Ukraine or your home town, we all know that world needs more people who love others.

Wednesday, June 7

Day Three Camp

Another early Peruvian morning and the team was back at breakfast to start Day Three of camp. As the team was consuming their food and enjoying some of the best coffee around, Matt and Tim began the day’s challenge. The subject this morning was humility. Matt started with an example of humility based on his observation of NBA player Lebron James. He mentioned that when Lebron was asked about playing in the NBA Finals after his team, the Cleveland Cavaliers, had been blowing opponents out by double digits, Lebron said that there was still room to improve. Matt used the example of Lebron recognizing that although others people thought he was great, he still felt that he should be able to give and do more. Matt continued to discuss how we as Americans sometimes feel rightful. Being in a new environment this week has given us the opportunity to show humility as Americans to another culture.

Tim continued by sharing his thoughts on how he had felt like he was better than the inmates when the men visited the prison on Tuesday. After some reflection, he noted that he was just as much in need as the inmates. Tim mentioned that our boasting should be not of ourselves and worldly things.

Closing this time together, Matt and Tim provided the team an action step. We are instructed to confess your faults to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. Therefore, the action step given was to confess something to one another. The team would encourage each of you reading this to apply the same in your own lives.

Heading back across town to the athletic complex for the start of camp, it seems that Puerto Maldonado is becoming less and less foreign. Most of the team is comfortable with riding a moto (essentially a dirt bike used for a taxi) or a motokar (essentially a dirt bike with a canopy and a bench used for a taxi) from and back to the hotel. (Side note: Peruvians love Honda dirt bikes.) As the taxis moved the team across town we arrived to a basketball court with many of the kids already on the court. That may not seem like a big deal to many, but we have found that the “on time” portion of clock management might be a little different in this region of the world.

Camp started as it does every day with mass ball handling. As the kids skills continue to improve day over day, the time allotted for this portion of camp decreases. In place of the lengthier mass ball handling, the camp introduces some new competitions in which the kids can utilize some of the skills they have learned. Today those competitions included a shooting competition between groups and some highly contested 2 on 2 and 3 on 3 games.

Coming out of the competitions, the kids took a well-deserved water break leading into the presentation of the Day Three topic, Part. Paul led the group presentation utilizing the story of Richard Hurd. Richard Hurd was a Baylor basketball player who rarely played in college. In the 5th overtime of a game with Texas A&M, Richard was called off the bench to play when another player fouled out. Down by one, Richard took a foul and shot two free throws. After he made both to put Baylor up by one, he made a spectacular defensive play against Texas A&M to seal the win. When asked by the media later how he felt about the game, he merely said, “I did my part.”

As we have spent the first two days this week discussing the purpose and plan for us, today gave us the opportunity to share with the kids the part they play in that plan. Much like our bodies need our hands, feet, legs and other parts to function, our family needs all of us to play our parts as well.

The balance of morning camp included stations, competitions and, of course, Last Second Hero. We concluded in the middle of the court thanking the kids for their great attitudes and hard work, reminding them to be at the court by 8:00 in the morning and then yelling “Uno, Dos, Tres…Hoops for Hope.”

Hot and hungry we asked Dan, one of our sponsors, to suggest a place to eat for lunch. To which he replied, “Gustitos en la plaza de Armas.” That certainly is a lot harder to say than BJs, Applebee’s, or Chili’s. Worse yet, each one of us found that they were closed as the taxis dropped us off. Lucky for us, the keyword John and Paul have shared since the beginning of the planning for this trip is “flexibility.” That flexibility landed us two doors down at Will’s Burgers.

While some of you may be thinking, “Will’s Burgers doesn’t sound Peruvian,” let us reassure you that it most certainly is Peruvian. Most of us enjoyed hamburgers and biscuit milkshakes. (We will come back to the biscuit milkshake later.) We like to think that if you eat any food in Peru, it is Peruvian. However, since it took about two hours to eat lunch, Will’s Burgers is definitely Peruvian. Remember that earlier comment on clock management?

After lunch the team headed back to the hotel for some short downtime before heading back to the athletic complex for the second camp. As a beautiful rain shower moved through the area we discovered that all of the motos park when a few sprinkles fall from the clouds. While this makes it more difficult to catch a taxi, the calmness of a normally crazy Puerto Maldonado street is well worth the wait.

Upon arriving at the complex we found that the doors were locked…again. The athletic complex takes great responsibility in ensuring that only those that are supposed to be inside the complex are actually in the complex. With the rain today we were forced to take a back seat to the conclusion of a soccer game on the basketball court. No big deal. We are here for a greater purpose and kids playing soccer for a few extra minutes into our schedule just means that they are doing something positive with their time.

Afternoon camp went much like the first camp with the exception of a few minutes of audio issues (rain on a tin roof) while running through mass ball handling, a few goals in need of mending and a wet outdoor basketball court. All minor things requiring a little flexibility. At the conclusion of the rain we saw a beautiful rainbow over the complex.

At the conclusion of the afternoon camp Paul and Tim spent approximately 20 minutes playing a pickup game with eight of the older kids from camp. It is absolutely amazing to see how the older kids look up to those amongst us who have good basketball skills. We have seen it all week. The older kids are extremely competitive and just want a few minutes of our time to play in game like situations. We all feel blessed that they love the sport of basketball in a country where futbol (soccer) is king.

As we have done every night after camp, we packed our gear up and headed for some food. Tonight was certainly one of the best meals we have enjoyed since arriving. We ate downtown by the plaza (as it seems we do often) at a new restaurant, Carrion 322. From lomo to pollo, many of us ordered different items from the menu. This gave us the opportunity to try a medley of items as we shared amongst the team. It is fair to say that future Peru trips should require at least one visit to Carrion 322.

The day concluded with a debrief session in Paul’s room. Small room, 16 stinky coaches, a sponsor and his assistant…no bueno. Regardless, we persevered and enjoyed hearing Paul describe the balance of the task as we close camp tomorrow. Many of the team shared ways to improve the flow of the camp to ensure we can make the last day near perfect for the kids. Lynnsay shared how a young girl came to practice early so that Lynnsay could help her work on some of the things with which she struggles. Keith mentioned how he saw one youth practicing a post move in a pick-up game that he had taught him earlier in the week.

Becky shared how a very young boy from Scott and Tracy’s home was having a positive impact on TJ, Reese and Dillon.

All in all another great day in our time in Peru. In closing, we have two things to share. First, we need to clarify what a biscuit is in Peru. This morning during breakfast Keith brought back to the table a stack of Oreo cookies. When asked where he found them, he stated that they were in the jar labeled “biscuits.” If that is truly the case then many of us just became biscuit lovers. Second, we mentioned that we played 5 on 5 yesterday at the prison. What we failed to mention was that we lost the game. That’s right, we lost a basketball game to a group of Peruvian prisoners. However, that was just a game. What we won was an experience and an opportunity to share love in a place where it might not otherwise exist. That happened because of our belief and a basketball.

Monday, June 5

Day One Camp

A beautiful, new day in Peru started for the team at 6:45 AM around the breakfast table. One of the best meals of each day can be found in the restaurant located within the hotel property. This morning it was made even better with a challenge led by Keith and Luke. They opened with an old proverb, “iron sharpens iron.” They discussed how sharpening a tool brings shine to the tool and removes the dullness. We can sharpen one another as we develop team bonds this week that bring us closer together in sharing. They concluded and then it was off to day one of camp.

Dan and Scott met us at the hotel to pick up the gear and some of the team. The balance of the team decided that they would brave the world of motos and make their way to the complex via Peruvian taxis. Taxis from Cabana Quinta to the complex run about 30 cents each way per person. Everybody made it to the complex safely and eager to start the first day of camp.

Day One, Session One started at 8:00 AM with approximately 45 kids. The team kicked off with an energy filled coaches huddle in the middle of the court. Paul quickly took the lead and after welcoming the kids to camp, he went into mass ball handling utilizing Matt’s ball handling skills for demonstration. After mass ball handling, the camp moved to some other drills before leading to Paul presenting “Purpose.”

In group session, Paul spent ten minutes discussing his purpose in life and how each and every person has a purpose given to them. The group session led to small group conversations with coaches pairing up to share their purpose with the kids. It is always a great thing to watch people who might never come into contact with one another, sit on a basketball court and discuss these things.

After small group, the team led stations which focus on different basketball skills. While this is the part of camp that coaches prepare for the most before coming on a trip, it also seems to go by the fastest as all kids rotate through each of the stations every 6-8 minutes. We concluded morning camp with Day One of competitions as the kids have a chance to compete against each other.

The team left the athletic complex shortly after 11:00 AM to find some well-deserved lunch at a local diner, Califa. The team once again enjoyed Copasu, Cocona and a Peruvian favorite, Coca Cola. In addition to the beverages Califa has a great menu of Peruvian food. Everybody had the chance to try ceviche, chicken with yucca fries, stuffed avocado and a plethora of other delicious options. With bellies full, the team started back to the hotel for some downtime before the afternoon session.

The afternoon session started at 3:00 PM, sort of. The team was at the athletic complex on time, but was met with locked doors and very hot sun. No worries. With patience on board we were able to collect the basketballs from another area of the complex. Shortly thereafter the local sport authorities showed up to not only unlock the door, but with much needed additional basketball goals. The complex only has two fixed position goals so when four additional mobile goals showed up, let’s just say we were excited.

Sunday, June 4

The Peru Team has arrived safely in Puerto Maldonado just before noon. They've checked into the hotel, showered and are ready for the afternoon. They'll set up for camps to begin tomorrow at 8:00A and 3:30P, then get some rest. They took 3 full pieces of luggage for kids of the orphanage.

The recap from Sunday in Peru:

Sunday saw the continuation and conclusion of a long travel day for the Hoops for Hope Peru team. The team departed Mexico City around midnight and began the five and a half hour flight to Lima. Needless to say, not much happens on a 737-800 over the Pacific Ocean from 12:00 to 5:30 AM.

The team would have been fine with uneventful, but things changed quickly once on the ground in Lima. While we were excited to move through Customs quickly, baggage claim found us with two less bags than we started with on Saturday. The loss of one bag left JT and Logan a little less prepared for the trip as toiletries and clothing went missing. The loss of the other bag included donations from the Anton family’s COM group for the local orphanage. Even with the loss of the bags, the attitudes of JT, Logan, Luke and Ruby were fantastic. JT was quoted as saying, “I am just going to do it Peruvian style” in reference to just being laid back and taking things in stride.

What may have initially seemed on the surface as an unfortunate event, the loss of the bags may have actually been a blessing since the connecting flight from Lima to Puerto Maldonado only allows one check-in bag per passenger. For a group of 16 who started with 18 bags, suddenly having only sixteen bags meant that we would not have to spend precious minutes trying to convince Star Peru to let us take the two extra bags.

Once checked in for the flight to Puerto Maldonado, the team made quick work of healthy food options provided by McDonalds and Dunkin Donuts and headed through security to the gate. Shortly after arriving at the gate a call came over the intercom system for one of our teammates to report to the desk. Immediately the leader of the team, Paul, stepped in to address a situation where we had too many aerosol cans in one of our bags. As the team boarded the bus to board the plane Paul was still nowhere to be seen. Minutes before we were to leave Paul arrived and shared a story of getting to see parts of the Lima airport that 99% of the population will never see. Lesson learned, don’t over pack aerosol cans when flying Star Peru.

We arrived in Puerto Maldonado shortly after 10:00 to the warm welcome of two local hosts, Dan and Scott. With the help of Dan and Scott we were able to load all of our bags and team members and head to the hotel. A quick check-in before lunch gave the team a chance to recuperate for an hour.

Dan rejoined the group to walk us around town and eventually over to a local diner. The team had the opportunity to try some local Peruvian food and a multitude of different juices to include Copasu and Cocona. After lunch the team headed back to the hotel to prepare balls and other supplies for the first day of camp.

The evening time saw the team participate in two local fellowships. Dan started us off at Pueblo Viejo, or “Old Town” as it is known to the locals. Buddy and Loren finished off with a Spanish/English fellowship at their location in town. In between we ate dinner at a local restaurant on the economy. Jason, JT and Dillon led the first challenge to the team and chose to discuss our call to reach out. As both JT and Dillon are about to begin their sophomore years of high school, it was moving to hear their hearts as they discussed seeing the world as something much larger than their own communities back home.

As we prepare to get a good night’s sleep before camp begins in the morning, it should be said that it is a good thing that we are here to bring good news to this area of the world through the game of basketball. After the kids of “Old Town” taught us how to play volleyball, it became evident that Mark Wible chose the right sport.

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CLICK HERE for the photo album.

Team members are: Adam Fischer, Anna Raines, Bryan Davis, Dillon Maks, Isaiah Thomas, Jason Maks, Jeff Achee, Jon Wible, Kelly Thomas, Kristen Cherry, Matt Langford, Minnie England, Nicole Fischer, Paul Thomas, and Trey Lippincott.

Saturday, March 19

The Peru Team has returned safely! It was an awesome time with the kids, hosts and friends. Thank you for your support!

Friday, March 18

The team heads to Lima later today to start their trek back to Texas and is expected to arrive tomorrow afternoon. Thank you for every remembrance!

Thursday, March 17

Impact...impact is a powerful word. This trip has made an impact. Each coach has personally been impacted, the kids have been impacted, the government here has been impacted and the local friends have been impacted. It's humbling to have the opportunity to be part of the impact!

Like I mentioned in a previous update, the President of Sports for this state has been observing the impact this week, and he has thanked us countless times for coming. He also has commented that he wants everyone here to have the spirit & passion we have! The President has asked if we will not only come back and coach the kids but also coach his coaches to love and connect with the kids and coach with the spirit and passion we have. He said he sees that we bring hope to this community. What an opportunity! What an impact!

The President, along with other government employees, did an appreciation ceremony for the team court side after the last camp. They presented each coach and translator with a personalized certificate and shirt from Peru. They also presented Jon with a state seal pin and a beautiful framed certificate. They thanked Hoops for Hope for coming year after year bringing basketball and a message of hope, and the President mentioned that he remembers the first team of coaches that Mark Wible brought here several years ago. We were impacted by their thankfulness towards us.

The kids were impacted by love! We are humbled and grateful to have been able to see that work in their hearts. There has been an impact in these kids’ lives!

The local co-laborers have also thanked us countless times for coming, and they have made connections with the kids this week so they can continue to pour love into them week after week as they live and serve here. They also said they have never seen the local government respond to a team like they did this week, and they are grateful that the government connects them to us. They hope their connection to us will open doors for them to serve this community in new ways.

The coaches on this team have been impacted. We talked about how contagious love is when we serve together, and how our hearts are impacted by serving. It makes each of us want to serve even more! Several coaches commented that they can't imagine not coming back. They want to see these kids again! We talked about how humbling it is to be part of that working, and how we as a team have such a connection after this week. The team commented that the individual bonds with the kids were stronger than they expected, especially in such a short time. Several coaches left behind their basketball shoes for kids they had coached, and the smiles on the kids’ faces as they put on the shoes were amazing!

This week we coached 120 kids, encouraged 3 local families, and openly shared love to the local government. Love impacts people, and we are each grateful to have been part of this impact!

Wednesday, March 16

I wish each of you could hear our team debrief meetings. There are so many incredible things to share I don't feel like I can do them all justice.

Our team is committed to being energetic! The energy is contagious!! It's fun to see the kids catch on and mirror our excitement. Each team has its own chant & cheer specific to their team & team color. It's energizing to hear the whole court echo with the coaches & kids excitement.

All the coaches are very intentional to encourage & compliment the kids. It's been fantastic to see the kids began to mirror that and begin to encourage each other and be genuinely excited for each other. At the beginning of the week the kids didn't naturally do that. The coaches have set a great example. As I have mentioned before, each coach brings unique blessings to team. We have served each other, the kids and the local hosts.

Matt received lots of applause and cheers when he danced silly for the entire group today. Jeff was pumped to overhear kids saying that they were challenged by and really liked his rebounding station. After the morning talk, 3 of Jason's boys came up and hugged him, and he feels strong connections with them. The kids really connect with Minnie, Dillon & Isaiah and the kids want to take selfies with them. Kristen's girls are focused on every word spoken during the group time, and it gives Kristen the chills out of excitement. Nicole's Spanish has come in handy so many times as well as her constantly serving the team in so many ways.

The President of the Sports Department for the Peru Government has come to camp daily to thank us and watch us in action. He always has so many sincere and kind compliments for our team.

Tuesday, March 15

Today was energizing! The team gave every ounce of energy & excitement to the kids, and the kids responded with lots of enthusiasm. It's amazing to see how bonds and connections form between coaches & players in just 2 days.

Each coach brings a unique personality to the team & it is a blessing to the kids. Kristen had fun doing the Macarena dance with her girls team. Nicole really connected with some of the younger girls in the first camp. They had lots of hugs for Nicole, and asked if they could bring Nicole a present on the last day. Adam & Trey are focused on making connections & bonds with a group of teenage boys. There are 7 of us on the team that have been here in previous years (Jon, Paul, Kelly, Isaiah, Anna, Matt & Bryan) and we saw a group of older girls that came to watch camp that we have coached in the past. They wanted to come see us even though they aren't participating in camp this year. Isaiah also connected with a boy that was on his team last year, and it was awesome to see them recognize each other. All of the coaches are doing incredible including our 3 youngest, Isaiah (16), Dillon (14) & Minnie (11). We are pouring our hearts into these kids!

Dan & Buddy, 2 friends here, play soccer on Tuesday nights with a group of teenagers and young men. Then after they play, they talk about life with the guys. Dan asked if anyone wanted to join him, and Jason, Trey, Kelly, Anna & Kristen went. It was so neat to watch them play soccer, and Jason, Trey and Kelly jumped in and played with them! Jason & Kelly both grew up playing soccer, so it was awesome to have an opportunity to play in Peru. It was such a unique and amazing experience.

Through our team times & conversations kids have asked good questions that show they are thinking. Other kids may not ask questions but listen intently as their coaches share their hearts. Kids asked today why we came all this way to see them. We have awesome opportunities to love on them!

Monday, March14

Team Peru's Report from Monday:

Today we were greeted by smiling & energetic kids ready to play basketball with us. They make the trip awesome & they impact us as we hope to impact them.

The weather was great today & there was a nice breeze that we all were so thankful for.

We worked with about 65 kids today, and the coaches loved every minute. This team has been awesome at being flexible & working together. Today we really worked together as a unified team. Our day started at the first camp with a portable goal falling on Adam's head, and Anna quickly came to the rescue and put 5 staples in his head. We are so grateful he is doing great! Coaches were flexible as stations had to be switched around some, and all the coaches had an awesome attitude. We are really having fun as a team!

Jason shared in team time that he is humbled to be here. This is his first trip like this, and years ago he would have never imagined himself being on a trip all the way in Peru. He also brought his 14 year old son, Dillon on the trip.

Anna shared how awesome it is that she has 3 girls that were on her team 2 years ago when she came. It's been exciting for her to reconnect with them.

The state department of sports made a sign welcoming us. Everyone has made us feel very welcome & let us know how excited they are that we are here.

We are ready for another day of camp & expecting even more kids!

Sunday, March 13

We are happy to report that the team arrived safely in Puerto Maldonado, Peru... well most of it! Paul and Molly’s flights from Cusco to Puerto were cancelled, so they are taking the next flight tomorrow morning.

And in case you’re wondering, yes; it’s hot and humid.

Saturday, March 12

The HFH Peru team from Temple, led by Jon Wible, left from Houston this morning at 11:00A headed for Puerto Maldonado, Peru. They will conduct morning and afternoon basketball camps for the kids there. We hope for safety in travel and smooth connecting flights, for all their luggage to arrive complete and undamaged, and for health and bonding for the team.

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CLICK HERE for the photo album.

Team members are: Delana Davis, Emma Dunn, Jodie Dunn, Reed Dunn, William Dunn, Blaine French, David Jeffreys, Meagan Johnston, Matthew Langford, Jamie Dunn Sovern, Isaiah Thomas, Kelly Thomas, Paul Thomas, Solomon Thomas, and Jon Wible.

THURSDAY MAR 19

All the coaches were thrilled to see the kids today, and we have been continually blessed with energy & excitement. The coaches spent time in preparation for today knowing the kids would hear the Truth today & have the opportunity to respond.

The kids came in with huge smiles (as always) and ready to play. It's amazing to see how quickly relationships form between coaches & kids....especially with a language barrier. It reminds us of Dad’s incredible way of removing barriers and forming bonds.

Throughout the week we have seen the kids improve their basketball skills, but what impacts us even more is seeing them be impacted by His love. Today Dan shared with the boys in Spanish, and Delana shared with the girls. We were all lifting up this important time, and we thank you for doing the same!

Today’s camps ended with the opportunity to make life’s most important decision; in the morning camp with the older kids, 11 boys and 11 girls made that decision. In the afternoon camp with the younger kids, 34 boys & 23 girls did the same. Once decisions were made, we placed lots of importance on explaining what this means to both groups. Dan & Delana, along with some coaches, explained how important it was to the new brothers and sisters, and shared with them how to walk daily as a new creation and how to get plugged in with the local family and friends. Buddy & Scott (other local co-laborers) helped the coaches talk with the kids who didn't decide today. They reminded them that they still have a purpose, plan, part & place in His kingdom. He still loves them, and they can choose to accept at any point they want. We encouraged them to get to know the local family and friends that can help answer questions for them.

After both camps we invited all the kids to meet us at Safe Haven which is the youth center Dan & Ruthie operate for the kids here. We had a chance to remind the kids why we came & how He has impacted us. All 4 of the teenagers that came on the trip, Jamie, Emma, William & Isaiah, got up and shared about their lives, and some other coaches shared too. It was a fun time to hang out with the kids outside of camp.

It's hard to say good bye especially when we have formed such a bond with these kids. But we are so thankful that through camp they have met several local leaders that will continue to pour into them. Our next update will include pictures of these partners and how you can help them.

Pictures are:

- The kids here melt our hearts!

- The older kids did some individual competitions and received metals for outstanding performance.

- Delana sharing with the girls in Spanish

- These are some of the older boys who made a decision and the coaches are welcoming them into the family.

- Sharing our love for Dad & our love for the people here at Safe Haven youth center. (The place where Dan & Ruthie work with the kids)

TUESDAY MAR 17

We were blessed with lots of kids today! Every basketball we had was being used & some coaches even gave up their balls during mass ball handling so more kids could participate.

The kids ran in eager to see us & eager to play. They come in with big smiles on their faces, and they light up when the coaches are working with them. Relationships between the coaches & kids are growing and it makes them really listen intently when we share good news because they really look up to us, which is very humbling.

During our team time tonight we reflected on so many things we are thankful for: great weather (especially this afternoon- cloudy with a breeze!), no one has gotten sick, all the coaches bodies are holding up (with the help of some knee braces, ankle braces & such), enough translators to help us communicate with the kids, we seem to be picking up Spanish words quickly that relate to our basketball stations, and the kids getting to hear the Truth and have fun while doing it.

Please keep us in your thoughts daily. He is at work!

Please remember specifically some girls who came the first day but left before storytime. They did not come back today, and we want to share with them!!

MONDAY MAR 16

Today the whole team showed awesome flexibility and commitment to remembering the real reason we are here especially when sometimes there are curve balls thrown into the plan. We were very blessed with enough translators to help us communicate with the kids, but it's also amazing to see how the kids pick up on our enthusiasm. Enthusiasm is infectious!

We had 2 camps today. The first one for older kids, middle school & high school, and the second camp was for elementary aged kids. The court was filled with smiling kids, enthusiasm and energetic effort by coaches and kids.

The team had time tonight to reflect & show thanks for our day. During that time Dave shared how he noticed the kids long to belong to a team environment and be accepted. Meagan shared how she had a conversation with a local co-laborer who is starting a new outreach here, and she had an opportunity to hand out wallet sized invitations to our taxi drivers inviting them. Paul had a chance to share the reason why we are here with some exchange students from the US he saw at dinner, and they quickly said they are "not religious," and we trust that we can plant seeds that can be watered in time.

During breakout time with the kids Solomon was asked why we came all this way to be here with them, and Solomon had the chance to share our purpose here and how he feels it is his purpose to meet them. Also during breakout time William shared with other teenagers his age, and they listened intently to every word especially since they can relate easily to each other in age. Many other awesome conversations & moments happened today. He is good & faithful. We are thankful for our purpose here! Thank you for remembering us.

SUNDAY MAR 15

We are excited and thankful to be here safe with all our luggage & equipment for camp. Today we met with our local partners and saw a glimpse of their efforts here and their love for their community.

We had our first meal here in Peru after getting checked into the hotel: chicken & french fries. The local flavor was a wonderful addition to the food that we often eat at home.

The highlight of our day was going out into the jungle of Tres Islas to connect with the people who live there. It was amazing! They sang songs for us in their native language, shared with us what is happening in their lives and in their community, as well as struggles they face and how we can help them. As we got to know each other, we were able to encourage them by sharing individually from our own experiences. We were able to encourage a teenage boy who is seeking meaning in life and uplift a woman who has been very ill.

At the close of our time together, they showed us their handmade crafts, jewelry & purses. We helped them by purchasing beautiful items they have worked so hard to make.

Paul shares that he was so humbled by the whole experience. It was cool to experience their joy in singing and sharing with us from their hearts, and realize how they live with so few resources. They have only one Book and little access to others, little education, no internet or apps. And do we realize how fortunate we are to live in America with so much available at our fingertips? It was very humbling.

We are excited about our first day of camp Monday!

At this point, we are:

--Grateful for safe travel for the team and for arrival of all the luggage.

--Asking for good rest tonight. The high was 87 today and it was humid, so relaxing in the hotel room with the a/c blowing was a great finish to the day.

--Eager to make quick and meaningful connections with the kids at the first camp tomorrow.

--Touched by the people here. Our partners here have worked very hard to build up the community and make a difference. It is easy for us to overlook that in our culture and society.

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CLICK HERE for the photo album.

Team L-R front: Jonah Erbe, Case McReynolds, Dan McReynolds

back: Josh Dunn, Ben Martinsen, guide, Grayson McReynolds, Mark Wible, Dan Martinsen

Saturday – June 15

The team left Cuzco for Lima today around noon and have been spending time there until their flight leaves at 5:00am. They will arrive back in Waco around 6:00pm tomorrow evening. Please pray for their safe return.

Thank you so much for your prayers throughout this trip. I know the team will be excited to share their stories in person.

Thursday - June 13

Today was a great day. It was a GREAT day!

In the morning team time, Ben Martinsen challenged the team to be joyful and sing. Our body’s countenance speaks as loudly as our words, so be joyful. Dan Martinsen shared many references of people who worked together to accomplish a goal. He encouraged the team to continue to look to each other as teammates. Mark shares that this team has been outstanding. There has been no complaining, no bickering. They have bonded well and truly enjoyed being together.

There was a 50% chance of rain and today’s camps were all outside. At 8:00am the rain was pouring down hard. What were they going to do if the Father didn’t hold back the rain? There was nowhere else for them to go. The clouds were dark and full. But he heard the cries for sunny weather and held back the rain for the rest of the day! It was an absolutely beautiful day too. Mountains surround the city of Cuzco, so the beauty is visible at every turn. It was 68-70 degrees and very pleasant. We serve the awesome one!

The format of both camps today was the same. They began with contests, which is a huge hit. While the scores were tallied and winners determined, the truth is shared with the campers. The leader of a local fellowship made the invitation for the kids and many indicated a decision to accept. One coach was heard saying he was so stoked because several in his team had given their lives. Although it was difficult to count those making a decision, they were confident that there were many! It was only fitting that Francisco, all of 5’2”, made the last invitation as the sun was setting over the mountains at the end of the day. It was the close of a great week together.

The students who came in with the coach yesterday returned today. Dan Martinsen coached them through the drills off to the side. At the close of the camp when certificates were presented, this small team was also presented with certificates and white wristbands. You would think they had won the lottery! Because these bands were different than all the rest, they felt that they were special and really enjoyed it.

The campers have been very well behaved this week. Seldom was there a need for correction. They were polite and enjoyable. As they said their goodbyes, everyone shared hugs and campers got signatures from coaches on their certificates and shirts. Great connections were made.

At the end of camps, the top officials from the coliseum spoke to the campers and coaches, then read a statement and presented certificates. The HFH coaches in turn presented them with certificates and t-shirts to show appreciation for use of their facilities to spend such a great week with the kids. The local coaches and translators also received gifts from Hoops for Hope.

Each day when the team is ready to go to the gym, the translators will hail a cab, secure the price, give the destination and ride with a car full of coaches. Today, just like every other day, the translators hailed a cab and secured the price. But before Mark realized what was happening, several of the coaches had piled into one cab and had taken off down the road… without a translator. Thankfully the driver knew where they needed to go and took them to the gym. The last cab in the group held only translators. This shows how comfortable our coaches are getting with their surroundings.

Tonight the team walked through a grand plaza in the center of the city. There was a festival going on and dancers were everywhere. One kid who had been part of the camps all week left his post and ran over to greet his coach. He jumped on the coach, gave him high fives, then ran back to get in his place in the dance. It was neat to see how these bonds are formed so quickly.

The team is tired but pleased. One coach shared that his strongest impression of the camps is that in the land where soccer is the sport, basketball has become more familiar and well liked. They are all grateful for the part they played.

Tomorrow they leave the hotel around 5:00am for 4 hours on a bus, train, then bus again headed to Machu Picchu. They will spend the day exploring this “lost city of the Incas” in the Andes mountain range and will return to the hotel late in the evening.

Please ask for safety in travel tomorrow and for rest for their tired bodies. We are so grateful for those who came to know the Truth today.

Wednesday - June 12

Today’s team time was led by Hunter Daniels and Josh Dunn (who is feeling much better!). They challenged the team to lay hands on the kids as opportunities arise and speak blessings to them, even if they don’t understand what is being said. The spoken word is powerful.

By day 3, the kids know how the camps are run and come in eager to get started. They get into their places quickly. The coaches called this day Lightning Day because everything was done quickly and with high energy. Competitions were 15 seconds long instead of 30, stations were cut to 3 minutes and everyone could feel the excitement in the air. It was a lot of fun!

In the afternoon, a coach came into the gym with 7 of his students. He had heard about the camps and wanted to see if his students could participate. Unfortunately, there were no extra balls due to the large number of campers and the drills were already in progress. The only thing they could offer the students was to watch. They watched… and took it one step further. They started mirroring drills off to the side using some balls they brought. They ran the dribble weave around their backpacks strategically placed on the floor. They were eager. They were innovative. They really wanted to learn. So Dan McReynolds and Dan Martinsen asked if they could coach this small group aside from the teams already in play on the gym floor. It was a huge blessing to see them step forward and take this group of kids through the training.

Because the mass ball handling, drills and competition went so quickly today, the afternoon camp was able to end the day on Last Second Hero, absolutely one of the kids’ favorites. This was especially meaningful because of the way it tied in to story time. Today’s theme was about everyone having a PART. The illustration was about a Baylor basketball player named Richard Hurd and his role in a historic win for BU. He blocked the final shot in the 5th overtime to win the game. Afterwards, he said, “I have a part to play. I just do what I am supposed to do.” The coaches shared with their team during group time about how they play their part in living out their purpose.

The coaches’ clinic was scheduled today after camps were done. Some of our coaches stayed at the gym to help out when needed. Mark took the group of ten Peruvian coaches (men and women) through mass ball handling using our coaches as demonstrators. He explained the philosophy behind the drills so they would understand why they would teach their students these drills. They were very receptive and interactive. It was a great time of instruction and the 20+ bystanders enjoyed it as well.

Please remember tomorrow’s camp, that the truth will be presented and received well. The foundation has been laid more effectively out of an addition to the HFH training packet. Coaches are given the talking points for each day and provided a place to write out their responses in advance so that during sharing time with their team, they would be better prepared to share from their hearts with confidence. Ask that the doors to the truth will be opened and many will enter. Since tomorrow’s camps will be outside, ask for good weather. Ask that distractions will be minimal. We are grateful that Josh is feeling better. He worked hard all day long.

Tuesday - June 11

After a good night’s rest and breakfast, Jonah Erbe and Grayson McReynolds shared with the team about having the right attitude regardless of circumstances. They challenged the team to be good representatives with their attitudes.

The morning and afternoon camps, again with 58 in each, went much smoother today. The kids knew more of what to expect and were ready to learn.

The coaches were flexible and adapted well to changing situations. One coach, Josh Dunn, caught a stomach bug and stayed at the hotel to recover. He was feeling better by the end of the day.

Several new kids came in and others dropped out, so teams were redistributed as needed. One kid enjoyed it so much he tried to stay for both camps.

The camps consisted of competitions and mass ball handling, leaving out the stations from yesterday. The 3-2-1 drill was introduced and the kids just loved it. At the end of the afternoon camp the Cuzco girls’ team challenged the boys to a game. They had fun, but it really wasn’t much of a challenge.

Story time was impactful. The coaches sat on the floor with their team and shared how they were building their lives around the Word. The bond is growing as the coaches become mentors and friends with the kids. The leader of a local fellowship with a heart of compassion came today and shared with the girls there. By the end of the camps, there were lots of hugs and hasta manana’s.

The team enjoyed local Peruvian meals for lunch, all served with rice and gravy. One had fried guinea pig, served with the head and legs still attached. Others had duck. The brisket was about half fat. The guests were entertained by local dancers in colorful costumes and live music. It was an experience.

Watching NBA basketball on TV was the end to a good day.

The coaches were grateful that the afternoon camps were allowed to stay in the gym instead of meeting outside. The weather was beautiful too. Please continue to remember Josh as he recovers and ask for continued health and strength for the rest of the team. Ask for the connections coaches are making with the kids to continue to form as they head toward Thursday when the Truth be presented to the campers.

Monday, June 10

The team rested well last night in their cold rooms under warm, heavy blankets and was ready for the first day of camp. They began the day with a hearty breakfast of eggs, hash browns, kiwi, mangoes, melons, strawberry yogurt, orange juice and papaya juice. It was wonderful. Team time followed where they discussed following the LEADER in every situation throughout the week, even though they may not understand.

The morning camp started at 10:00am. There were 58 kids registered, so it took a good 30 minutes to get each one assigned and settled into a team. Ball handling was cut short by about 30 minutes, which threw off the time allotted for stations and competitions as well. The kids really got into the competitions and played hard. Tomorrow should be a full schedule since the campers have a good feel for what to expect.

The theme for today was PURPOSE. The coaches did a great job relating to the kids from their personal experiences and the kids latched on to what was shared.

Lunch was served at a café belonging to one of the camp translators. His business is a gathering point for spiritual discussions. In fact, the building the team ate in was where Inca kings met to discuss business.

It started to rain after lunch so they had to hustle to get back to the school to start the afternoon camp at 3:30pm. Some kids were late because their school doesn’t dismiss until 3:30pm. The afternoon camp was shortened like the morning camp because of the number of kids (58) and the time it took to get them settled into teams.

Overall, the kids showed good basketball skills today and were very well behaved. There were many good conversations, laying a good foundation for the week.

The team and guests, thirteen in all, ate dinner at a good restaurant close by. They had chicken noodle soup, pan seared chicken with rice, and flan for dessert, all for $55.

Please continue to ask for the health of the team. Travel in general and eating strange foods can cause even slight digestive problems. Tomorrow afternoon’s camp and all of Thursday’s camps will be held outdoors. Ask that there will be no rain either day as options are limited at this point. Ask for strong connections to form between the coaches and campers in day 2.

The team is working through the morning lows in the 40’s and enjoying highs in the upper 60’s during the day. "It's cold."

Monday, June 10

After a long journey, the team stepped off the plane yesterday at 7:00am in Cuzco Peru to a cold, crisp morning. They could see their breath. The city is surrounded by beautiful mountains; a beautiful sight, a beautiful experience. Rejuvenating. They were met by Bryan Davis, our host, who led them to a 30-passenger bus which took them to their hotel where Delana, Bryan’s wife, was waiting. They sat down in the lobby and enjoyed some hot cocoa leaf tea. It’s recommended to help prevent altitude sickness. They took a few minutes to make room assignments and talk about the day’s schedule before heading to our rooms for a 4 and a half hour nap. It was way too short!

There is no heat in the rooms, but the blankets on the bed are very heavy. It’s the best combination for good sleep. (During the day, it was warmer outside than in the rooms.) There is plenty of hot water though, so it all works out.

At lunch around 1:00P, they sat on the second floor balcony. There was a Peruvian band and dancers below (some with masks) entertaining them while they ate. The first drink they were served was a cold one made of lemon, fish, salt, 3 kinds of pepper (including cayenne) and milk. It was served in small quantities. The next drink was delicious; made of purple corn and sugar. It was similar to grape juice with a spice like nutmeg or cinnamon in it. Now that was very good. Roasted corn was served with that cold drink. The lunch consisted of either grilled chicken or flank steak with vegetables.

The team strolled through the city for a while, then made preparations for tomorrow’s camps. They inflated the basketballs they’ll need and finished orientation. Bryan and Delana shared about work in their youth center in Puerto Maldonado. They told of one boy who was part of the first HFH camp held 2 and a half years ago. A year and a half later, Bryan was walking down the street with him when they noticed a man painting a house. The boy asked why Coach Bill was there painting a house. He remembered Coach Bill (Bill Raines) fondly after that much time had passed. Last September Bryan led this boy through the most important decision of his life before he died in February.

It was through little steps from sharing one’s purpose after basketball training to walking along side him in everyday life that his life was changed. We all have a part to play, whether short term or longer. We just have to be willing to share.

They took taxis to a friend’s house that evening for fellowship. There were probably 12 family members there, not including the team. They sang songs; one they all knew and sang simultaneously in English and Spanish! Mark shared from the book he reads every day. They served sweet bread and hot tea to close out their time together.

The team returned to the hotel a tired but excited bunch, ready for bed.

Camps begin tomorrow at 10:00 and 3:30. Registration was cut off at 60 kids per camp, so they are planning for large teams. We ask the Father for a good night’s rest, for them to remain healthy, and for the coaches and kids to make connections quickly on their first day together.

Cuzco is a beautiful city at night.

Sunday - June 9

The team arrived safely in Cuzco as well as their luggage! They are tired and sleepy but excited! They will rest today and prepare for the first day of camps tomorrow. They plan to visit a small local fellowship with Bryan & Delana Davis (host and hostess) tonight.

Please keep them in your thoughts that they will become acclimated to the altitude quickly and they will be rested and ready for tomorrow's camps. We are grateful they arrived safely.

Saturday - June 8

The team left Waco shortly after 9:00 this morning headed for Cuzco, Peru for a week of basketball camps! They leave Houston at 3:13P (joined by Hunter Daniels) and arrive in Cuzco Sunday morning.

We ask for the team's safety in travel, that the luggage makes it intact, and that the hearts of the campers, gym teachers and coaches will be prepared to learn basketball and life skills. We trust the team adjusts to this altitude of 10,750 feet quickly.

Thanks to Ben Saage for driving the van!

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CLICK HERE for the photo album.

FRIDAY - MAR 16, 2012 There is no evidence of the strike, regardless of what the media says. It’s all been quiet and peaceful.

Their camps last night were strong and well attended. There were 44 in the first camp and 50 in the second. The interaction between the coaches and campers was outstanding. The kids have improved so much in their skills that the coaches were really able to push them today. It was great!

Paul has worked hard to learn some Spanish phrases so he could reinforce a job well done with the kids. He was proud of learning the phrase “Eres bacan” which means “you are cool” in Spanish. He enjoyed sharing this with the kids. Once he was sharing this praise with a young girl and got a little lost. Instead of bacan, he said vaca, which means “cow.” The kids once again cracked up at Paul’s funny self.

There was an awesome response to the sharing time. There were about 30-35 decisions, half girls and half boys. In one camp, all but 3 raised their hands. It was great!

The kids watched as the president of the state’s sports federation presented Jon and the team with gifts to show their appreciation. (Jon was also interviewed by a local TV station about the camps and the heart that fueled the outreach.) The president stayed at the camp and enjoyed a friendly game between the team and some of the older kids from the second camp. He even played some on Jon’s team. They were tied when Meagan made the winning shot and the game was over! Lots of fun.

As they prepared to say goodbye, the kids asked the team to stand with their arms around each other in a row. Then out came hidden small cameras and cell phones to take pics of the team. The kids and the president asked about the team coming back next year and it was agreed on with sweet anticipation.

Afterwards the sports federation president asked Bryan, Delana and the team to join him for pizza. Bryan & Delana sat by him at the restaurant and were able to get to know him much better. They shared about their heart for the kids there in Puerto Maldonado and he engaged them in good conversation. This was a great connection. Then as they left, the president hollered to Pablo (Paul, once again!) to jump on his motorcycle and he’d take him for a ride. Paul did as he was asked and off they went. It was a great end to their week of camps.

Bryan and Delana left Puerto Maldonado on an earlier flight than the team’s schedule. They were all meeting in Lima and will spend the rest of the day together, as well as the day tomorrow. I hope to hear from Jon Saturday and I will send out the last update from them then.

THURSDAY - MAR 15 They did make it to the camp yesterday afternoon! There was still a good group in each session; 27 kids in the first and 45 in the second. The count was down, maybe 15-20%, but not by much. They didn't see any protesters along the way and all have felt very safe the whole time.

One kid was so excited when he arrived to camp and saw that the team was there on the courts waiting for them that he just fell down at their feet. He said he had run the 2+ miles from his house! The coaches pushed hard and the kids responded. The defense station was on an uncovered section of court, so when it started to rain, they had to move to the covered court. Jon changed the plans to include everyone and called for a mass defensive slide. The kids loved it. The rain cooled things off, so it was a nice break.

There were good conversations between the coaches and campers again yesterday. One camper in Meagan’s group asked many questions about finding her part, her place and purpose in life.

The team is doing well. Their energy level is high; they feel healthy but tired. Paul shared this morning about doing everything not for selfish gain but for the glory of the Father and the team is united in this desire. They are pumped about today’s sessions and look forward to sharing their life stories with the kids. Camp structure is shorter today so they can share.

The strike has caused lots of businesses and schools to close for the day. The city pretty much shut down. The news says it’s bad and the media showed up to catch all the rioting. Jon and the team didn’t feel threatened at all. Bryan said it’s not going to be as bad as people had thought. The leaders are in hiding and warrants have been issued for their arrests. Negotiations between government officials and the miners are scheduled to begin on Monday. With this in place, the tension will cool off.

Talk with Dad…

• For the kids to be receptive when they share today.

• That the kids will want to know what their part is in the master plan for their lives.

• For rest for the team and their tired bodies.

• With thankfulness that Delana did get to see her doctor in Puerto Maldonado and was released to travel tomorrow.

WEDNESDAY - MAR 14 I talked with Jon around noon. Before I continue with the update, I want to assure you that the team is safe.

The strike has intensified. The miners took over the market last night (a good distance from the hotel where our team is staying) and 700 policemen were called out to control around 10,000 strikers. They were forced to use tear gas to control the rioting.

Again, the team is safe. Bryan & Delana are safe. The concern is not that the team can’t get to the courts today, but that the kids won’t be free to come. If the strike didn’t end by 3:00P so they could taxi to the courts, the team was going to walk the 2 miles and be ready for the kids should they show up. The team is encouraged by what they’ve seen in the camps so far and won’t give up at this potential setback.

Yesterday, the kids were challenged by the coaches better than ever. They are catching on to the drills so well that the coaches could step up the pace of instruction today. The kids are learning well and quickly; improvement is obvious. The coaches have learned the names of the kids on their team and now can have a deeper connection and stronger impact.

This growth leads to open communication about life. Suzie’s girls asked lots of questions about how Suzie knows Dad, how she relates to Him, and how she knows to follow His plan for her life. David, a 25 year old translator, is being affected as well. He is asking Suzie these same questions, searching for a deeper understanding. (He’s the replacement for Bryan and Delana when they go to Lima for 3 months.) It’s great that he’s searching as well.

Meagan is relating well to her girls, but one girl in particular. When she sees Meagan each day, she runs up to her and gives her a big hug. It’s neat to see how His love is not restricted to being able to understanding a language. These two are relating as coach to player and girl to girl. The love between them is obvious. Paul’s second session asked a lot of questions as well. It’s neat when the kids can open up, as many will just sit there quietly and listen.

Yolanda, a camper on Suzie’s team, was asking about Bryan & Delana leaving them. Suzie reassured them that they were indeed coming back to the camp. This reassurance freed the kids to ask questions with Bryan and Delana too. Another open door.

The weather was very nice today. There was cloud cover, it was around 85 degrees and not terribly humid. Nice.

Talk with Dad...

that the strike ends before 3 so kids will have the freedom to come to camp

for flexibility for the team

for Delana to see her doctor to release her to leave Puerto Maldonado for Lima before Friday

for rest for their sore bodies

for the kids to be open to conversation

that the coaches will have the right words to say

Here’s a funny they would like to share with you to close out the day’s recap.

The team members coordinate basketball shorts and t-shirts for camp each day, so their colors are the same. Today’s shorts color was white. Paul was so active and sweaty that he soaked the back of his shorts. It didn’t take long sitting on the bleachers before the dirt stuck to his sitting place. From that point on, the kids laughed and laughed at him as it looked like he had soiled his shorts. The team got a kick out of that too, as it couldn’t help but make you laugh.

TUESDAY - MAR 13 The first camp from 3:00-6:00P had 50 kids from ages 7-13. There were 55 kids in the second 6:00-9:00P camp, ages 15-23. This represents a 30-35% return from camps last year, so a good portion of the campers are new. All the kids were attentive and wanted to learn. They listened to the coaches and followed instruction well. Since the kids in the first camp are younger, their skill level is still developing. In the second camp, they knew how to handle the ball much better and the team could deliver a more challenging camp. Even though the evening session was cooler, they sweated more because of the high energy. They were tired at the end of both sessions and slept well.

There are 2 areas where camps are held, one open-aired and covered, and the other connected to the first but in the sun. Thankfully it didn’t rain during camps yesterday which would have forced an outside station to move inside. It was 90-95 degrees and very humid. The team consumed 5 gallons of water to keep from dehydrating. Everyone is feeling healthy.

The talk yesterday was about our purpose. They discussed the meaning of a purpose, then the purpose of a basketball. They use a vivid and comical illustration of showing a basketball in many ways that don’t serve its purpose. When its real purpose is shown, the idea hits home. They ended the story time with the message that each one has a purpose and they need to find out what it is and follow it.

This morning they had planned to visit a small community outside of town. When Bryan showed up to the hotel to pick them up, he explained that the coal miners were striking again and would have the roads blocked all afternoon, so the taxis wouldn’t take them. The team could make it out of town in the morning, but chances of getting back in time for camps were questionable. It was wise not to risk the chance of losing the camp sessions. They will try to visit later in the week if the strike is settled.

So Plan B was to help out at the youth center. They were planning to spend the rest of the morning there doing some spring cleaning.

After Jon and I had ended our call, he called back and said the girls were mad at him because he had not shared everything from the day before. So here’s the contribution from the feminine side of the team.

Delana, our hostess there, is 30 weeks pregnant. Her station is offensive moves, and despite her pregnancy, was active and enthusiastic in her role. The translators picked up on the stations well and were very helpful in keeping the kids moving.

At the end of the day in debrief, Delana got teary eyed when she shared her appreciation for the surprise baby shower they had given her that morning. She was not expecting anything like this and it touched her greatly.

As we mentioned, some of the kids are repeat campers from last year. One girl ran up to Suzie as soon as she saw her and was so excited to tell her of the changes in her life since last year. She had listened to the messages last year and when she was ready, opened her heart to the master plan. This conversation continued with the girl asking Suzie about her purpose in life and what Suzie thought this girl’s purpose would be.

Ask Dad for:

Strength and continued health for the team

Receptive hearts as they share again tomorrow

Boldness as they share their stories

Good weather

MONDAY - MAR 12 I talked with Jon this morning. Last night, there was a concert at the youth center. A young friend of Bryan & Delana’s has a band and enjoys playing music and singing there. This was a good time with the 30 +/- kids. Members of the team had a good time interacting with the kids and hope to spend more time with them in camps. Bryan talked about the importance of pursing the plan for your life - to find it and follow it.

After the concert, 2 teen girls sang a song to Bryan and Delana. (They are leaving for 3 months.) One shared how Bryan had been a great father figure to her after she lost her dad in October. The girls reaffirmed the connections with the kids Bryan and Delana have there.

The team had a full night of sleep and feel rested this morning. They will begin camps this afternoon, working around school schedules. The first one is from 3:00-6:00P for ages 9-15, and from 6:00-9:00P-ish for those over 15.

Their hope is for strength as they teach in the humid 90 degree weather and for boldness as they interact with the kids as they go forward.

SUNDAY - MAR 11 The team flights were smooth and uneventful. Paul flew with frequent flyer miles and was happy to meet the team in Lima. They had a good rest in the Lima airport before they headed out to their destination. Bryan and Delana (the contacts on the ground) are all doing great. At the hotel, they had a delightful nap from noon to 3:00P and were getting ready to head out to their hosts' home for spaghetti. Then it's on to the youth center to meet some of the kids. Their camps will begin tomorrow later in the day, because of the school kid's schedules.

Tomorrow is a big day! Camps begin at 3:00P and end around 9:00P.

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