Spain Update #3 June 30, 2010

Day two of camp went great!  Following much of the schedule of the first day, both the camp at the Hotel and the gym were successful.  The morning camp at the gym exploded with new kids as we went from about 8 yesterday to a total of 25 kids today!  They came with all different ability levels and we were able to divide the kids into groups based on those levels.  it gave more meaning to the station times as each group received instruction that was tailored to meet their needs.  Each of the kids who attended the camp enjoyed the day and ended the camp tired, but happy.  Lunch was great and followed the first camp just like yesterday.  Following lunch, we had another team time where one of the team members gave his testimony.  More time was spent talking about commitment and how what our commitment to Christ looks like.  Once back in the vans at the gym, we held camp again for the older kids.  Today, there were 24 kids, another improvement from what we had yesterday.  There were more of the younger kids in this age bracket and we were blessed with more new faces.  Knowing that Spain played Portugal in the World Cup at 7:30PM, we ended camp a little early so that the kids and parents could get home in time to see the game.  As you know, soccer is HUGE here in Europe and the Spaniards showed their pride today as Spanish flags flew all day long.  The local theater in Santa Ursula decided to show the game on the big screen for free.  With very little persuasion, the whole PTR crew gathered in the theater with the locals to experience this event.  What an incredible moment it was for us when Spain scored!  The entire theater erupted with cheers and horns!  The place went nuts and we found ourselves swept up in World Cup fever.  Portugal never scored and Spain won 1-0!  At the final buzzer, the whole place burst with excitement and we yelled and cheered and gave high-fives to who ever was near.  I have never in my life lost my voice over a soccer game…until now.  The evening concluded with another fantastic meal provided by the church.  We are so grateful for their hospitality and the way they take such good care of us.  God’s blessings were so evident today, we can’t mention them all.  Keep praying that He continues to work in us and that we are empty vessels for His purposes.  May the people of Tenerife come to know Him because of what He is doing here.

For the team,

Coach Brendan

Italy – Midweek update

Buongiorno! We are about to embark on Day 3 of camp here in Mestre. It has been a great two days thus far. It has been extremely hot … in the 90s … but the camp has run really well.

First days of camp are always interesting as we get our bearings with what exactly both the kids and the coaches can do. Plus, we usually have additional kids sign up the first day. This week was no different. We have had between 59 – 65 kids each morning. They continue to brave the elements to join us. Some of the kids are returners from previous years while most of them are new. The coaches have done a fantastic job of getting out there and mingling with kids, getting to know their names and their stories and modeling Christ for them. Being a basketball community, it is important that kids get good instruction each day. However, the greatest impact to date has been the spiritual input. Multiple parents have come forward to share how much they appreciate the spiritual instruction. Their kids are having a great time learning basketball and hanging out with us, but it is the message of the Gospel that is making the difference. We praise the Lord for that and ask that you would be praying that it would continue!

They have been long and hot days! A typical day for us … get up around 7 am; eat breakfast; arrive at the bus stop by 8 am; take the 4/ bus to the park, arriving at 8.30; shoot around with the kids until 9, when camp starts; break for lunch at 12.30; half the kids eat lunch while the other half go to the pool; have kids rotate through various stations, including the Bible lesson station, until 2.45; run camp from 2.45 – 5 pm; dinner at someone’s house; back to the park at 7.30 for a game; home at 10 to shower and Team Time and then to bed between 12.30 and 1. Then we get up and do it all over again. They are very busy days, but the Lord has sustained us and continues to give us the strength for each day. Dehydration is certainly a threat, so we are doing our best to drink fluids all day.

Wednesday is always a tough day because we are halfway through camp. So today the challenge will be to stay excited, keep the kids excited, and make camp interesting and fun to break up the “monotony” of the first two days. We are excited to see how the Lord is going to work today! Everyone has found their niche and is giving it all they have. Even Chris, who is bound to a wheelchair this week with his Achilles, is doing a great job encouraging the team, bringing spiritual encouragement and instruction to camp and just modeling Christ from the “sidelines.”

It will be a full day today and again tomorrow and Friday. Friday night we are having a closing program and inviting the parents to come and take part in the program at 5. We will also be playing games tonight and tomorrow night.

Thank you so much for taking us before the Throne of Grace each day! Do not stop now! This is a tough place to serve. We have faced some opposition, but we are excited to be serving in the name of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ!!!

Chico for the team

Spain Update #2 6.28.10

6.28.10
With a full nights sleep, we set out to do our first day of camp of 2010.  We drove about 15 minutes to the town of Puerto de la Cruz where 4 of our group participated in the camp held at a local hotel while the rest of us headed for the gym.  The Hotel , Hotel Eden, has a summer program for kids which includes a variety of activities.  The kids rotate through the activities throughout the morning.  The PTR basketball time is one of those activities.  The kids range in age and come to the PTR element as different groups, all based on age.  Seeing that the kids are younger, the basketball skills taught match the level of the kids.  Back at the gym, the rest of the PTR team was greeted by 8 kids.  We took them through the typical events of a day in camp.  A few were learning the game of basketball and with smaller camp numbers, this allowed us to give them some focused, individualized instruction.  The morning went well and the time ended with the kids playing a game of basketball with the coaches.  All who played enjoyed the time on the court.    After camp, we packed back into the vans and headed to the church for lunch.  The ladies from the church make a fantastic meal and it was enjoyed by all.  Following lunch, the team met for a time of praise and worship and then moved into team time where we began our Biblical study of commitment.  Led by Annie, it was a great time of discussion and learning.  The rest of the afternoon took us back to the gym for our second clinic of the day.  We were greeted by 11 kids who participated in our camp last year.  Being the older group, the skill level was higher and we were able to do more with them than we were able to with the earlier groups.  The camp included all of the elements that we have in a typical camp and ended with playing a real game.  The older boys were matched up against the male coaches and had a blast.  Both squads put in a lot of hard work and sweat but enjoyed every minute of it.  The girls group were divided into two squad and they too, enjoyed the competition.  At the end of the camp, the campers commented that they enjoyed all components of the camp.  Following a quick snack, we all packed into the vans again and drove to the gym in Santa Ursula for a women’s game against a team from the neighboring town of La Victoria,  Our PTR ladies played well but came up a little short in the end.  Sidelined by a roll of the ankle, one of the PTR ladies had to sit and watch the rest of the game.  It was disappointing for her to sit out, but it was deemed wise so that she can be ready for tomorrow.  Had enthusiasm of the cheering section counted, the women would have won the game hands down.  After the game, it was back to the church for a light supper provided by the ladies at the church.  With what little energy we could muster, we climbed back into the vans to head back to our places to hit the sack.  A long, good day and we are thankful for all that the Lord has done for us.  We continue to pray that He would bring more kids to camp and that our words and actions would point all who spend time with us to Him.

Until later,

Coach Brendan

Italy team arrives safely

We praise the Lord for the safe arrival of the team in Mestre! It is a blessing to be here, but also a blessing to have the whole team here! Over the weekend, as the Spain and Italy teams were training together, there were several injuries. A member of Italy’s team ruptured his Achilles tendon and a member of the Spain team injured her knee. Thankfully, they were both able to travel with their respective teams and we are excited about how God is going to use their special circumstances to impact others for eternity.

After an uneventful 7-hour flight to London, we spent 3 hours at Heathrow hanging out and watching the travelers from all over the world go by. Many were coming and going to Wimbledon while others were coming from or heading to the World Cup. It was quite the scene.

I am not sure there was a single member of the team who stayed awake on the 2-hour flight to Venice. We were beat. But we arrived safely, along with all of our luggage … Praise the Lord! We got settled into the places we are staying, got a quick rest in and then headed to dinner with our missionary hosts. We will spend our evening together watching the World Cup and getting ready for camp tomorrow morning. We are excited about how the Lord is going to work in and through our team! Thanks so much for your active role in our being here!

Spain Team Update #1 June 27, 2010

At 10:40AM local time, the full team touched down on the Island of Tenerife, Spain.  Without a single glitch, the flights and transportation to the church went very well.  Greeted by missionaries Steve and Nathan, the PTR team met up with the team of translators from Madrid and headed off to begin the great adventure.  Since the church was still in service when the full team arrived, the teams took a short trip to a local cafe that sits on an outcropping of rock.  Marveled by the wonderful sights of the island, team members commented on the beauty of God’s creation and His incredible power to create such things.  One member even chuckled in disbelief that such awesomeness could somehow have ‘just happened’ and evolved into what we see today.  We have again, as others before us, affirmed that God is the Creator of the Universe.  Once at the church, the full team (PTR and the Madrid translators) were met with a warm greeting from the Tenerife church. Many hugs were exchanged and the love of Christ was on display by the Tenerife church.  Lunch was prepared by the church and then eaten by the full team.  Following a great meal, the teams spent time worshiping in song and planning the rest of the day as well as talking through the logistics of the camps that will be run this week.  After a short break to take a walking tour of the area (or to stay awake?) the team met again with missionary Dave to discuss simulation into the culture.  7:30Pm local time brought another meal, this one lighter, and then trips to the various housing locations.  Knowing that there are World Cup matches on TV that ‘need’ to be watched and that every moment of sleep is absolutely precious, the team will make the toughest choice of all as they lay their heads down drift off to a great night’s sleep.

We covet your prayers for all things.  For the team,

Coach Brendan

A recap of the second week in Costa Rica June 7, 2010

We just finished up three very busy days of ministry with 6 clinics, one game and a full work day at Project Abraham.

Monday

We spent the full day working at Project abraham.  This is a church which has 2 foster homes, a preschool and they are building a new church/gym combo.  We spent the day moving donated wood.  It was an exhausting but rewarding day .

Tuesday

In the morning we ran a clinic in del Lomas, an area where there are a lot of drugs and gangs.  One hundred ten kids showed up (we were prepared for 70) and we had to make up stations on the fly and for a few had no translator. After a rough start things went ok. It certainly challenged my spanish.  After lunch we played a game and then ran a clinic at a foster home.  The foster home was a lot of fun and great to be able to share the love of Christ with kids who have so little.  We played until dark and then headed back.

Wednesday

We ran 4 clinics in a very poor area of Heredia.  In between the clinics we played the teachers from the school.  While I was watching/coaching the game a group of young  boys around 10 yrs old gathered around me.  They had just been at the clinic and knew who I was. They knew little english and I know very little spanish but somehow we connected.  My heart broke as I heard that most of them had no father.  They told me they wished I was their grandfather. Hopefully CED we will see them again.  After the clinic we traveled back to AMCA for dinner.  After dinner Stephanie, one of the girls who translated for us the first week, stopped by to say goodbye and give us a gift.  She told us that we had really had an impact on her.

Thursday

We wrapped up with two clinics at a local school.  It is hard to believe that our time is nearly up.  We have had a great time opening new doors for PTR Costa Rica and are excited about the future.  Please pray that God will provide the staff and the funding needed to keep the ministry growing.

Dave for the team

Costa Rica team heads into final days of ministry June 3, 2010

Today was our last full day of ministry.  We have a clinic tomorrow morning and then head to the beach in Guanacaste for the last day or so of our trip.  So far, it has been amazing seeing God at work in and through our team. 

Today was an extremely busy day.  We left AMCA at 7:30 and did not return until 4:30 and we were either working at a clinic or driving to the next clinic.  We didn’t even have time to stop for lunch.  The morning clinic was at the “Nuevo Horizonte” School where we worked with Ceasar from GOALL.  There were two sessions at this school and in between the sessions we played against some of the teachers at the school.  For the first clinic, we had our normal stations and then split the group in two with half playing a soccer game and the other half playing volleyball with Ceasar.  Julie shared her testimony at the end of this clinic and then we played the teachers.  The game ended up going in to overtime and then penalty kicks.  The kids really got excited about the game!  After the game, the second group of kids came for the clinic.  We had a shorter amount of time due to the game going into overtime, but it still went well.  Again, we had our stations, and then Ian shared his story with the kids. 

We had to leave the school as soon as we were done, to travel to the next school to get there on time.  We ate lunch in the car on the way to the “Benjamin Herrera” school. This clinic was at the school that Danny went to.  We had a lot of kids at this clinic!  The clinic started out well, and then it started to rain and we had to eliminate two stations that were out in the rain.  The end of the first clinic was a little chaotic, but it ended well, with Danny sharing her testimony.  For the second clinic at this school we adjusted our stations so that everyone was inside and although it was crowded the kids had fun!  Nattie shared her testimony with the kids after the stations.

After the clinics, we headed back to AMCA for a restful evening.  With the rain still coming down, I think the rest of the day will be spent resting, Team Time, and fellowship! Hard to believe that tomorrow is our last day of ministry. We are excited, though, as this means we are headed to the beach for the remainder of the trip! 

Rebecca for the team

The Costa Rica team finishes up first week of ministry June 1, 2010

We are just finishing up our first week of ministry and continue to be blessed with how God is working!

On Saturday we spent the morning at the juvenile detention center playing soccer against the young men who are inmates. Push The Rock Costa Rica goes there every Saturday to play and minister.  It was great to be able to support their ministry.  From 8-9:30 we played against men 18 – 24 who are waiting to be sent to the men’s prison.  From 9:30 – 11 we played against young men waiting for trial and from 11:15 – 12 against boys who are in maximum security.  They asked us to stay and play against the last group because they rarely get out.  In fact, we were told they only get 1 hour of sunlight a day. We played a lot of soccer and were exhausted at the end. Andy shared his testimony at each session and Pastor Don G prayed for the men.  We prayed for one young man at the second session who specifically asked for prayer. 
 
After the soccer we went back to CED for lunch and then went shopping for supporters.  I love the bartering but most find it boring. After shopping we went to dinner in the mountains and had a great time of food and fellowship. We were so high that the clouds were eye level.  When they passed by you could see all the lights from the city below.   At one point we had Eddie convinced that all the lights were turned out at the same time.  It was a great night.

On Sunday we got to sleep in until 7:30, which was great.  Most days we are leaving AMCA at 7:15 so this was a real treat.  Julie and I made our traditional walk to Musmani for cream donuts and coffee before heading off to CED for breakfast and church.  The people from CED are so gracious and loving and we have come to love them very much.  We had breakfast with the Push The Rock Costa Rica Board of Directors.  I shared about all that is going on at Push The Rock and our vision around the world as well as our expectations for them as a board.  After I shared I opened it for questions and we had some good dialogue.  I really enjoyed the discussion and am excited about what God will do in Costa Rica as well as in all of Central America .

After breakfast we had a great service at CED.  Pastor talked about the need to hear God’s voice.  He shared about the Israelites, who at times refused to listen to God. He asked if we are ready to listen to God when He speaks to us ?

After church we went to the mall with a group from the church and had a great time of food and fellowship.  The church has embraced us and we have built a great relationship for which we are so grateful.  Late in the day we had a 8 v 8 game and played terribly.  After getting down 4-0 we came back and eventually won 8-7.  After the game we had dinner and Team Time and enjoyed a good time of fellowship before bed.

Dave Walton for the team

The Costa Rica team takes the ministry to the mountains

Thursday and Friday have been great days of ministry.  We so much appreciate everyone’s prayers.  Thursday morning found us ministering at a school in the town of Escazu.  We ran clinics for about 70 kids from the ages of 4 through 3rd grade.  The kids were very enthusiastic and listened attentively as Andy shared his testimony.  In the afternoon, we traveled to a small mountain church that ministers to a very poor community.  The kids were waiting for us at the “field” which was mostly covered with mud. The kids were organized into groups and everything went surprisingly well.

After the clinic, Dave shared his testimony and some of the older boys listened very intently.  As we were leaving the field, the kids decided to roll in the mud … oh, their poor Moms!  We then went to visit the community church led by a real servant of the Lord, Pastor Hilbert.  We were all humbled by his servant´s heart.

Friday morning was spent at a very small, poor school in the mountains. The principal was so thankful for our presence there and looks forward to us coming back.  The kids had a great time at all the stations and enjoyed playing small-sided soccer games. After lunch we traveled to Zurqui, the juvenile prison and our guys played “round robin” soccer with them.  We had an opportunity to share a testimony and a time of prayer with them both before and after the games.  Please be assured that all is well here in
Costa Rica and God is certainly at work as Push The Rock Costa Rica continues to grow.  We are privileged to be able to partner with them in ministry.

Julie for the team