Guatemala City, Guatemala
March 10, 2019 - March 16, 2019| $5,000
The team arrived safely in the early hours this morning and have just finished breakfast. They will meet our host soon.
Team members are: Steve Clark, Maddy Davis, Sarah Ellingson (co-leader), Shawn Horan (co-leader), Joshua Martin, Trey Mena, and Halleigh Thompson.
Shawn and Sarah report: What’s the word? F. L. E. X. I. B. I. L. I. T. Y. It’s a strong part of our vocabulary when we take teams abroad, but today this word was stretched to new lengths!
The team showed up at the first camp site to 83 kids in 7-9th grades waiting to get started! The small gym was full to say the least. The teams were huge (one had 22). Trey and Joshua were rock stars in working with the boys.
The coaches worked hard to connect with the kids and many campers listened well. They wanted to learn. They had good questions during small group time. It was great to see the coaches working together well too.
The team rested over lunch at a Guatemalan clone of KFC. The food is very good, and it was a good time to bond with the local coaches/translators.
The afternoon camp was held at a school in San Miguel, a municipality of small villages on top of a hill. Most of the 50 campers were 6-8 year olds; none were over 10. They were energetic and ready to learn. Many ran up to the coaches when they arrived and hugged them. There were several repeat kids from last year and they were quick to share that they remember their coach and asked if their coach remembered them.
These kids are so loving, but this hour and a half camp is all they can handle. Many walk up hill 1-2 miles to get to the gym, then walk home afterwards.
The team walked around the neighborhood. One family they met was what one would imagine as the perfect Guatemalan family; dad, mom, and 3 beautiful children. The coaches enjoyed meeting them.
The team was ready for a good night’s rest.
Maddy kick started the day in team time with a challenge to remember their purpose for being there and give it their all. Love on the kids and teach them some basketball skills. It really helped the team pull together and refocus their efforts.
After 15 kids were kicked out of the morning camp on Monday, the atmosphere changed. It seemed the 76 who were there yesterday were more respectful and helpful. Perhaps they expected the coaches to be upset or unhappy with the campers, which settled them down. Our coaches showed up with the heart to love on the kids, and the camp went smoothly! Several kids stepped up to help lead their team in counting or putting the team in line. The principal stayed with the camp just in case there was any more trouble, but there was none. It was a great second day!
The kids who attend the afternoon camp located in a very hilly area are fed lunch by a local ministry through the week, except for Tuesdays and Thursdays. Last year on those days when they weren’t fed, very few kids returned for camp after lunchtime. And when camp began yesterday, there were only 10-12 kids. Coaches were expecting the same slight attendance. But to their surprise, only a few minutes after camp started, almost all of the campers returned! They have younger kids in this camp, some only 4 years old. Coaches were great at tailoring what they could teach to a younger group of campers.
Small group time with the campers has been good. Many kids ask great questions, showing they’re listening and wanting to know more about the hope we have in Jesus.
The team is strong. Everyone is healthy. They’re having a great time together, even though it’s really hot during the day.
We had a really good day at camp one. The teams continued to work hard and show the positive attitudes that they did on day 2. It ran very smoothly and the team did really well. The team times went well also! The kids listened well and had a lot of questions.
Before the camp we did a community walk through. We were able to see where the kids we work with live. This had a big impact on the team going into today. Last year we were able to walk through the community but this year it was too dangerous. The reality of what these kids live in hit the team members very hard. We were able to rally and put on a great camp like I said before.
We ate lunch at the seminary again today then headed to camp 2. We did contests instead of stations today and the kids loved the change of pace.
Halleigh has a sweet story, “This little chica is the smartest and sweetest girl. She ran up to me today and gave me this bracelet with her name on it even though she doesn’t have anything to give. She gives me lots of hugs!” Maddie also had a great story, “One of my girls from the second camp asked what my favorite verses is and it’s Isaiah 43:18. I told her and then she wrote it on her hand to look it up later.”
We went to another home visit today after camp and it was a very cool experience. We met a mom and her 6 kids. They have all attended the basketball academy except for the 2 youngest. She is doing an amazing job raising some beautiful children.
We went home, took some quick showers and then headed to Beto’s house. We enjoyed some delicious pizza and fellowship with FCA. Beto lead us in worship and it helped remind the team why we are here and that we need to find our identity in a Christ. The team is very tired from a long day and we are looking forward to getting some sleep.
Camps are going great! Sarah and Shawn and the team are doing well in bringing positive attitudes to the campers each day. The kids are having fun working through drills and competitions, and listening well and asking great questions in small group time.
The team has been able to meet some families of campers on their walks through the communities, which has had a big impact on the coaches. It endears the kids to the hearts of the coaches even more.
Halleigh shares about a little chica, the smartest and sweetest girl giving her a bracelet with her name on it. It meant a lot!
Thursday was a great day! The team is tired, but so pumped about the kids.
In the morning camp, they enjoyed the time in contests and competitions. They introduced Last Second Hero to the kids, and as expected, they LOVED it!
In a five-day camp, the fourth day is when the coaches share their life stories with the campers. Halleigh and Maddy combined teams and shared together. It was an emotional time of vulnerability for the coaches and the girls were intensely engaged. Afterwards, the girls gathered around the coaches and loved on them! It was truly a sweet experience of healing and bonding for everyone.
Trey and Josh also said the boys were engaged and listening intently. When the coaches began to share, they sat quietly and soaked up every word.
The afternoon camp consists of younger kids, generally ages 5-10. Their camp strategy is modified to accommodate this age, which means they had a lot of fun doing contests, relays, and Last Second HERO, a high energy favorite for sure.
The team is grateful for good health. They’re all tired, but everyone is feeling well. They are also grateful to Steve who has poured into the team all week, encouraging them to stay strong.
Sarah and Shawn report on the last day of camps.
Camp one was super cool. We were in the national stadium all day. The kids had a ton of fun doing relays and stations. We finished with last second hero again.
In the small group huddles at the end it was clear the impact that we’ve had throughout the week. There was a wide variety of responses between the teams, with some asking a lot of follow up questions, and others requiring a more in depth discussion.
Irma, on Sarah’s team, said that she got baptized between last year and this year because of her decision she made last year. Trey’s team had an intense discussion, they asked a lot of good, tough questions. Maddy and Halleigh’s group drew in even closer to them today, and that has been increasing each day this week. With how intense the emotions were yesterday it was really good to see them draw close with joy today.
We had lunch at pollo campero again, and it was delicious as always.
Camp two was quick and fun. The kids had a blast, as they always do. Even for their young ages it was really good to see how much they understood what we told them about this week. With how small they are, it really hasn’t been about their basketball skill, but more about the relationships and it was great to see the joy they had each day.
After camp we were privileged to visit two homes in the community. The first was the home of two kids in the basketball program, but one was not able to come to camp this year because he was involved in a motorcycle accident. We were able to pray over him and his family. The second was the home of 3 of our campers from this week. We prayed over their mother, who was dealing with multiple health issues while trying to raise 3 kids on her own.
After camp we drove to Antigua, ate dinner, and debriefed. The team is looking forward to exploring Antigua tomorrow!