July 20, 2019 - July 23, 2019| $5,000
Jason Phillips reports: Praise the Lord, we made it! Everyone is feeling healthy and we are blessed that all luggage made it safe and intact.
We visited both sites today and we are excited to have 50 kids in each camp. We are reminded that this is tough ground to plow, but we are not discouraged or afraid because we know that God has gone before us. We also know we have the game of basketball to break down barriers and build relationships to allow for the Gospel and the Holy Spirit to move forward.
It is always great to worship in these churches where there are many first generation Christians who are on fire for sharing the Gospel. It is definitely motivating and encouraging to us as a team.
Day one is complete. It started with a great devotional from Taylor where she reminded us to be intentional with everything we do today and throughout the week.
Everything about this trip and everything with HFH for that matter is done with intentionality. We know when reservations are made and bags are packed and the whole team begins to pray, everything is done with intention. That also goes for when we are on site doing camp. Everything we do needs to be done for a purpose so we can show excellence and begin to build relationships that will allow us to share the Gospel.
It is a good thing we are intention in our preparation and knowing our mission. We had some significant opposition today. Satan was working in the heart of a Muslim dad who was upset that after basketball, we began to talk about Jesus and God and the Bible. Lucas, our host, told us that this was going on behind the scenes and he was doing his best to take care of it. This reinforced for the team that we need to press on because we are making a difference.
Taylor had absolutely wonderful conversations today with some older teenage girls who were questioning evolution and if God really loves them. It was evidence of the Holy Spirit working. These were great first steps we are sure will bear fruit while we are here or after we are gone.
Both camps have very well behaved kids and they are pretty well skilled as well. We are going to be challenged in the drills we are doing to make sure they are challenging and engaging for the players.
The team is well and healthy and ready to get some rest. We’re looking forward to Day 2!
It was a great day – Day 2 of Camp in Torrejon de Ardoz and Serracines. We had a few more walkups in the morning group which pushed us to about 50. In the afternoon all 50 showed back up and were excited to be there. The kids’ skill level has not necessarily improved yet but things are running smoother. The coaches and the kids know what to expect and are beginning to enjoy themselves and not feel so confused by the whole process.
Grayson’s devotion this morning reminded us that we do all things because we love God and want to be a part of what He is doing. He does the work, and has already forgiven us for our sins and guilt. This is especially important in this spiritual climate where Catholicism is so heavy. The children and families believe things are done out of rote tradition, not out of love.
The morning was absolutely beautiful, but the afternoon started to get warm until some clouds rolled in with a little moisture, and we smelled the fresh rain in the air. It added a nice cool wrap-up to the evening session in Serracines.
In the afternoon session, Taylor continues to have great conversations with her older girls. A lot of these are sparked by great questions they feel comfortable asking Taylor.
The Muslim father who was upset yesterday about us professing our faith and talking about Jesus did come back and brought his kids with him. We were thrilled we were able to pour into this Muslim family.
In Luke’s group, he came face to face with one of the Muslim kids who was very upfront, saying he worships Allah and respects Christianity. Luke is beginning to build a relationship there that will hopefully lead to deeper discussions.
Everyone is well and healthy. We know tomorrow is hump day and will take an extra special positive attitude full of energy to get us through, but with some rest and a good quiet time we will be off and running.
We survived the midweek lull. We had a great devotion this morning from Luke that touched on the fact that we do not need to be anxious about anything, whether it is anything in our lives or anything at camp. God is in control and we can rest in that peace.
Another good thing about this morning and a good start to the day is the fact that we had cold milk, (that is important right, Mark Wible?!).
It was cool in the morning and we thought it was going to be toasty in the afternoon but it actually cooled off a bit and we were able to use the indoor and outdoor court at Serracines.
In the morning group, kids were definitely in awe and captured by the story of Richard Hurd. The coaches were then able to expand on the part they play in God’s kingdom and God’s purpose and plan for their lives.
We had one more boy show up this morning. The morning camp at Torrejon is definitely loaded with boys, whereas the afternoon camp at Serracines is heavier on the girls side. The kids always appreciate the way the Wednesday format allows for more fun competitions and less rigid drilling. The one minute shooting competitions are always a hit and get the kids competitive juices flowing.
The boys in the afternoon are really good players and there are a couple of really good girl players as well. The afternoon group is no different in that the children are mesmerized by the Richard Hurd story. It always sets the perfect stage for the coaches.
The opportunity for talking to parents is a great thing that is happening in the afternoon group. Even better, two girls wanted to talk with Lucas, our local pastor. As always, it’s good to see the children want to talk more even after we break camp. It is also encouraging when we heard that one of the moms of one of the girls in Taylor’s group is communicating directly with Lucas.
Some of the words used tonight after dinner were tired and more sore each day. We are glad that we fought through and made it through Wednesday. We are looking forward to a great Thursday with the children.
Energy levels were high on day 4 and we had a great day! We hit the ground running and had a great camp in the morning. Competitions were heated and instructions on how to set a ball screen and screen off ball went really well. The kids in the morning and the afternoon for that matter, are both well skilled in basketball. That makes our job sometimes difficult and then at times easy because they are very coachable.
Lucas, our local pastor, gave a great talk to the morning group. When I introduced him they applauded for him. He is well loved and well respected among the morning group. At this point Lucas made the decision that presenting the gospel and praying the prayer of salvation was not the best thing for this group. He is trying to plant little seeds with the group and hoping and knowing that the fruit and growth will come later.
In between the morning and afternoon camps this week, Taylor has been running a mini coaching clinic for some of the older boys who will be coaching some of the younger players. That has gone really well and has been very well received. Those mini clinics Monday through Wednesday were put together on the fly with Taylor being flexible and adaptable. Those clinics were in Serracines, the town that we drive to in the afternoon. She goes ahead of us and does a clinic an hour before we get there. She is definitely missing out on her siestas! She has been a trooper and has done a wonderful job coaching these younger coaches up.
Today was the preplanned bigger clinic with the more experienced coaches. That was this evening from 6-9:00P. All indications were that it went really well. We heard good reports while we were at our second camp all evening. There were plans to expand that and make it more tailored to what the coaches from this area need from the Hoops for Hope organization.
The energy level from the afternoon camp was really high and really fun. Each night more and more parents have shown up and tonight was no exception. There were at least 20 parents in the bleachers for the majority of the evening session. As you can see from some of the pics, the parents see our camp in a good light and think it is a well run camp and they show their gratitude by bringing us food, snacks, and drinks every night. We usually end up staying at least 30 minutes after camp is over visiting with players, partaking of the snacks parents have provided and sometimes even talking with the parents. This has been a great opportunity for Lucas and Michael to build relationships in this community.
The gospel presentation in the evening camp had success we could see and success we could not see. Guy had at least 4 or 5 young boys accept Christ. He prayed the prayer of salvation with his interpreter and when he opened his eyes, 4 or 5 of the boys had tears in their eyes as they had accepted Christ. Guy was overjoyed to say he would see them again some day in Heaven.
As the day went on, I am reminded, and perhaps other coaches as well, of Courteney’s devotion this morning. She came to realize that maybe our testimonies don’t always have much impact because we come from Bible believing parents. In all actuality, our testimonies do have components that appeal to anybody in any situation in their lives.
We are anticipating our last day with these Spaniards with mixed emotions of course, knowing we have made an impact but not to the extent that we wish we could. We know we have done our best and will be sad to go. We are leaving behind nuggets of truth that will one day impact these children and maybe even parents, and maybe lead to a house church in Serracines.
Our final day of camp in Spain may have started off slow but it ended with an amazing night. Morning camp had a bit of a sluggish start to it but did end with an award ceremony that was fun for the campers and coaches. We of course saw some tremendous improvements in the kids’ basketball skills and we know we were able to make impression that will last.
The hospitality of the security guard that let us into the court everyday was really cool. At the end of every day he would have some “cheches” (junk food), drinks, popsicles and fruit for us. He really enjoyed serving us and had a heart of gold. In the picture you can see that he presented us with a banner from one of the clubs that use the facility.
The evening was something special. There were at least 20 to 30 parents in the stands for the last 30 minutes of our evening. This happened on more than one evening so we know they heard the gospel and about Jesus more than one time this week. I have never seen this many parents for an awards ceremony. They were fully engaged with phones out videoing and enjoying seeing the children presented with their awards.
During small group time Taylor was able to pray the prayer of salvation with her older girls’ group and we believe there were five or six girls who accepted Christ. At the end they were in tears and it was definitely evident they had bonded with Taylor and had seen Jesus in her. The Holy Spirit was moving.
In talking to our local contact, Pastor Lucas, he was absolutely thrilled with the evening. He was almost in tears as he told me about the relationships he was able to begin tonight in the moments after camp was over.
When awards had been presented and certificates and balls handed out things were just getting started. The parents of three campers cooked out for us. We had pork and sausage and chicken wings. It was true fellowship with friendships being created and connections being made. We hung around and visited till about 10:30.
We hurried back into Torrejon and watched a water light show. The evening ended with gifts of olive oil being presented to the HFH team from Lucas and the church at 1 AM in the hotel lobby. It was a great way to end a long but rewarding day. We are off to a sightseeing tour tomorrow in Madrid.