July 7, 2019 - July 13, 2019| $5,000
The team left from Waco yesterday afternoon and arrived safely this morning with all their luggage. Team members are: Mark Wible (leader), Landon Steinke, Luke Eason, Trent Collier & daughter Ashlyn.
Mark reports: We had an outstanding breakfast after a good night’s rest in the Verdi Grand Hotel, a new hotel in the heart of old Budapest. We took the train to Hillsong Budapest and had a fun time meeting new friends. Even though the translation did not work we enjoyed being there.
After a quick lunch, we drove to our host city, Torokszentmiklos. We are staying in the same B&B as last year and the precious couple greeted us fondly. They haven’t learned any English and we haven’t learned any Hungarian, so we just hammered at each other and nodded a lot.
We learned a cool fact about the arrangements for our camps. Our host, Baptist Aid for Hungary, did not have the budget to put on our camp this year, so we had been cancelled. The kids contacted the leadership and they got together and found sponsors so the kids could have this camp!
We are “aired up and ready to go!”
Day One is in the books! The day started with a delicious breakfast of eggs benedict, cold cuts, cheese, bread and fruit, followed by a Trent’s challenge in team time. Approximately 75% of our campers today were repeaters. It was great to see them again and share hugs and high fives. It was great to see the translators again too. They are the best!
The morning camp was scheduled to begin at 8:30A, but when only 1 kid was there at 8:30A, we knew something was wrong. The school secretary published the time for camp to begin as 9:00A, so everyone else showed up around 9:00A, bringing us to 26. Camp started about 40 minutes late… Flexibility! This worked out well, giving our coaches some time to get to know their campers a little bit as they played on the court.
We enjoyed lunch of cheesy broccoli and hominy soup, cold fruit and berry soup, and Cordon Bleu.
The afternoon camp was held in a tiny, hot gym. The 29 campers plus the coaches had a good workout in the heat.
Dinner was fried cheese and chicken fried chicken. What’s not to like?!
It was a great first day but we are all ready to turn in for the night.
Today was a good day! Mark started team time with Hebrews 11:11-13 where Sarah considered God to be faithful because He blessed her with the fulfilment of the promise He made to Abraham. Mark challenged the team to remember God’s faithfulness in their lives and to use it to encourage the kids.
Breakfast this morning was mostly the same as yesterday; hard boiled eggs, cold cuts, veggies, but there was one huge blessing for Mark. The staff remembered the team from previous trips and provided him with his very own liter of COLD milk. No sharing required.
Campers were ready to get started at 8:30A, so they went at it. Trent led the 26 campers in mass ball handling. They could really see improvement over yesterday. The kids got after it in stations and had a good time. Contests were heated… spirited. Coaches engaged the kids well. They added some new wrinkles to money goal and that was fun. Coaches played in some shooting drills with the kids and they all enjoyed that.
The kids were a little more interactive in break out time today. They are learning their coaches and feeling more freedom to talk. Today’s focus was on God’s plan.
Lunch was delicious Hungarian stew. It’s so thoughtful of the staff to learn their American ways. They brought the team a big bucket of ice!
They added a couple of girls who were a part of last year’s camp to the afternoon one, putting them at 31. They added a lot to the competitions. It’s easy to get kids spirited in competitions and station work.
While playing Bang ‘Em, Big Nondy, a 250 pound 15 year old, came down on his shoulder and was injured. His parents were called and picked him up. He had brought his ball with him from last year and left without it, so a friend got it for him. His team passed along the message that they are praying for him. If he is not there tomorrow, his team will go visit him at his house.
The older girls had a breakthrough in the afternoon camp. They were not responding to Ashlyn, and Eta, the translator, had finally had enough. She stopped Ashlyn and spoke directly to the girls. She asked them why they were not talking. She explained that Ashlyn is their age, has similar life experiences and is opening her life up to them. What’s the deal?! She told them to shake their head yes or no if they understood and believed what Ashlyn was saying. Finally an older girl shook her head and explained that she and her teammates attend a catholic school where they are forced to believe. She just set her mind that she was not going to believe. They all understood that HFH is not forcing them to believe, and responded that it’s the very reason they love our camps.
Small group time was extended 10 minutes to accommodate this deepened talk with the girls. Eta told Mark she would make those older girls her project to talk with again.
They ended camp with the translators and the 3 young coaches playing a game of full court 3 on 3. It was fun.
They had a fun time bonding on the way back to the hotel. The road they travel is a 2 lane one, and a truck had overturned, causing the traffic to come to a stand still for about 30 minutes. They learned that Landon can make some incredible sounds with his hands over his mouth. They laughed and laughed, and it didn’t get any better when he tried to teach them to do it.
After dinner of chicken spaghetti, and the debrief, the team is headed out for some ice cream. Sweet end to the day.
Wednesdays at camp are always a great/hard day. Everyone is tired and the newness of the experience has worn off. But the kids are also tired. So we knew that going into camp today. In preparation for that, Ashlyn challenged us in team time to see things that happen to us through the prism of “maybe.“ She painted a beautiful picture of the Romans 8:28 principles of all things working together for good of those who love God and are called according to His purpose.
Breakfast was good again.
So as the first camp began, the kids immediately noticed the change in the structure. We did dynamic stretching and zipped through mass ball handling. Soon the fun really began. Wednesday has become “game day.“ We played musical basketball, ran relays, had around the world shooting competition, played knock out and full-court layups competitions.
There were 26 kids in the first camp and 30 to the second camp. The walls are beginning to come down and we are seeing an opening in the discussions and small group time. You can tell the kids are warming up to us, especially in the afternoon camp, in that they waited around, shot and played and talked for 25 minutes after camp ended. We were taking pictures and had a lot of laughs. After playing with the kids our gang played 5/5 full court with the translators.
Big Nondy, the kid who got hurt yesterday, showed up today just to be with the team. He dislocated his arm/shoulder and is in a sling. We were able to express to him that we were praying for him.
One of the translators overheard 5 girls talking. They said, “We have been looking forward to this for a year! We love this camp. We hope they come back next year.”
Please pray for us as we share the gospel salvation message tomorrow. These kids love us and love talking with us. But they still adamantly say they don’t believe in God.
Gospel presentation day always gives opportunity for the enemy to try to attack. Several in our group had a hard time sleeping Wednesday night. So we recognized that the enemy was trying to create tired bodies because of our plan. We prayed for one another as the day began.
Landon challenged us in team time not to take anything for granted and to do everything as unto the Lord. It was a good concise word to begin our camps with.
By day four of camps, the kids are familiar with the routine and the coaches. It’s really the first time they get fully comfortable in the camps. We added several new wrinkles to ball handling and all of our stations. We remained very upbeat and quick in everything that we did. Competitions went smoothly and stations were challenging yet quick.
We prayed that there will be no distractions during gospel presentation time and the Lord was faithful. The kids listened intently and then went to their small groups. Three of the four teams went into overtime in their small groups. There were lots of discussion and lots of deep questions. Even the young ones asked hard questions about heaven and hell, life and death. It was truly amazing to see these kids who, just four days ago, came to camp not knowing what to expect and now they’re wrestling with the truth of the gospel!
When given the opportunity to receive Christ over a dozen in the first camp indicated desire to follow Jesus! We were ecstatic!
The restaurant in which we eat lunch and dinner has been really nice to us and fed us like royalty this week. Today they did not disappoint at either lunch or dinner. The food has been excellent.
We were late getting started with the second camp and all of the kids were waiting and wondering where we were.
Trent and Ashlyn led them through stretching, mass ball handling, defensive slides, jump stop-jab-and pivot. A new wrinkle we taught today was the screen and roll. They were a little slow picking it up, but at least they got the concept. The kids really enjoyed steal the bacon for the second straight day. It may be a new camp favorite.
At team time we really sensed the presence of the Lord in the group as the kids listened intently to the story and testimony that was being told. Then they went in the small group and longer discussion ensued. We finally had to cut off two groups because we were running 15 minutes overtime. But the kids really wanted to talk and have their questions answered. When we pulled them all back together and the sinner’s prayer was offered, we told the kids to bow their heads and close their eyes. We prayed the prayer, and then asked them to pray along with us. At the end, Mark said, “Everyone keep your eyes closed and head down. Now those of you who prayed that prayer, please raise your hand.“ The translator heard (and translated) “please raise your head.“
Our team was fairly disappointed when we saw no hands lifted up. Then several kids raised their heads and looked up at Mark. He kept saying, “Please keep your heads down and eyes closed.” It wasn’t until we were at debrief afterwards that the translator told me what he had said. So here these kids were lifting their heads as commanded to if they prayed the prayer to indicate that they gave their heart to Jesus, and Mark was telling them to put their heads down and close their eyes!
We were grateful to know of the mistranslation and encouraged to know that some gave their lives to Jesus.
It seems hard to believe that tomorrow is the last day of camp and then we have a touring day on Saturday and we head home Sunday. Thanks for being with us on this journey. Eternity has been changed for 20+ children in Hungary this year. It was an honor to represent the Lord and Hoops For Hope to Hungary.
We enjoyed the final breakfast with our wonderful no-English hosts. They have pampered us all week, making sure we are happy and well fed.
Luke led devotions this morning. He shared from Psalm 23 about the Lord leading us beside quiet waters, and asked us to quiet ourselves, think about the character traits of God, and contemplate on our favorite one. He instructed us to take a deep breath in and think, then breathe out a prayer for the kids we would encounter today, that they would see an expression of that trait in us. It was a powerful challenge.
Attila, our driver for the last 2 years, is a communist and atheist. He told us today that he has enjoyed being our chauffeur because we make him think. Seeds…
We switched up camps, did some fancy ball handling, quick movements, and fun games. We had the kids running from station to station. They were exhausted but had a great time. We gave extra team time to say our farewells, and everyone took full advantage of the extra 15 minutes.
Before the awards ceremony, the school presented us with gifts, which was a sweet touch. Then we loaded up the van, went back to the guest house, gave HFH gifts to our hosts for the week and said our goodbyes.
The 30 minute drive to the second site was filled with talk of “I can’t believe it’s over!”
At the restaurant where we’ve had lunch and dinner every day, we again enjoyed a sumptuous feast. We gave sackpacks, t-shirts and water bottles to the wait staff who had helped all week long. They were surprised and blessed.
The final camp was filled with high energy and seemed to fly by. Team time was all about relationship building. One teenage boy who joined part way through the week was on Landon’s team. He was rather aloof and thought he was a pretty good player. We had all noticed his attitude. At the end of team time today, he asked Landon if they could be friends on social media, because he had questions about God and didn’t know who else to talk to. Seeds…
The school where the afternoon camp was held also gave us parting gifts. It was very thoughtful. In this camp, there is one set of older girls who are definitely good players, in fact better than the boys. They’ve been with us 2 years now and one of the girls who had aged out of the camp came back to watch today. She joined in team time, came forward and got a certificate and ball! (This is the same club who presented our coaches with gifts last year. Some older ones had aged out and new young ones were added. They recognized Mark and Trent, the returning coaches, right away.) Those girls had made a special gift for Ashlyn. They all cried together at the presentation.
They presented a bag of goodies to all the coaches, along with a note. When she handed me my bag and note to me, I was told not to read this now, but wait until I got to the hotel. She started to cry, and said to go ahead and read it. I asked her to read it to us, and she graciously did. Here’s what it said:
Dear coaches, I know that my English is not the best, but I hope you will understand this letter. I would like to say Thank You for coming to us. This 5 days was more than amazing. You are all so kind and funny. Each of you have a lovely personality. We learned a lot of things about basketball and about the life. We have become better players and better people. You have opened our eyes to see every beauties in this world and of course we got closer to God. We learned how to look after the little things because these are make big difference. We have been teached so many new things. I hope you will come back next year too. Love you all and thank you very much. Love, Dorka
By the time she finished, everyone was crying! We all hugged and had a great time. Our goodie bag was filled with candy, cookies and candy bars. It was very sweet and thoughtful.
We said our last goodbyes and drove 2 hours back to Budapest. To say we had some weary coaches would be an understatement. We stopped at McDonalds for a quick bite.
I stayed in the room, and everyone else went out for a while to enjoy the city. Tomorrow the team will go sightseeing in Budapest, then we will begin our journey back home.
Thank you for your prayers this week. Lives have been changed, the Kingdom advanced!