Spain Update #8 June 29, 2012

Friday, June 29, 2012

Day 8

Friday.  Usually the last day for camps back in the states.  This is partially true with our clinics here in Spain because the town that we are staying in has asked us to do something in the morning with the kids on Saturday (tomorrow) while the afternoon clinic in the neighboring town ended today.  The morning clinic had 59 kids present while the afternoon clinic had 65 kids in attendance.  Both clinics ran very smoothly today and all the kids enjoyed working on their skills, being with their friends, and playing in the games.  We were able to recognize one of the players in the afternoon clinic for executing what we have been encouraging all of the kids to do throughout the week.  While playing and having an advantage, this young lady gave up that advantage to help the opponent up and back on their feet.  A true sign of sportsmanship, this simple act resonated with us and allowed us to recognize her in front of her peers for a job well done.  At the end of the afternoon clinic, the mayor of the town stopped in to see what we were doing and to present us with a book on the history of the town and a small plaque with the town’s seal on it.  It was a real honor for PTR as the mayor took some of his time to recognize us and the value that our clinics bring to his town.  We also were able to present the gospel to the group and share with them love of Jesus Christ.  We are grateful for all the doors the Lord is opening for us and all that He is providing.  He continues to be about His Kingdom business and we are fortunate enough to have His grace allow us to be a part of what He is doing here in Tenerife.

Both the women and the men played a game tonight and both of them won their games.  The women’s game was close for the most of the game but towards the end they took a lead and never looked back.  They played hard and well, and have learned a little bit more about their teammates and how they play.  They also displayed teamwork, character, and integrity during the whole game.  Being gracious winners, they hugged the opposing players after the game and even posed for a picture of both of the teams together.  The men’s game had the lead going back and forth for most of the game but it finally rested with the PTR team when the final horn blew.  The team the men played against is the team that uses the gym as their home gym for their basketball club and is where we have been holding our clinics in every morning this week.  Before the game, the host team was talking a little bit about how they were going to beat us, but when the game was over, they were very gracious and continued to be a great host.  Two men from the local church we are working with have built relationships with men on the host team and it was very good to be able to talk more with them after the game, continuing to build relationships.  It is our prayer that our attitudes and sportsmanship has helped them better see their need for Christ in their lives.

Tomorrow holds for us the clinic in the morning, a hike through one of the most beautiful valleys on the mountain, a little shopping, and then dinner at a local restaurant called a Guachinche.  We are looking forward to more time with each other and a chance to see some of God’s great creation on the island.

Thank you for your prayers and your support.

Coach Brendan

Italy Update #6

‘Tis bittersweet!

Today was a great day at camp! We do stations Monday through Thursday where kids rotate through different fundamentals taught by coaches. Friday we play mostly games, do special competitions, hand out prizes, and just enjoy the last day by utilizing what the kids have learned throughout the week in a different way.

We also had several coaches give their testimonies. It is always great for the campers to stories of others and about how God is at work in their lives. It is a great encouragement for the coaches to also hear the other testimonies. Today was no different. The kids really had a great day today and it was tough to finish up and say Good-bye. On Fridays we always invite the parents to come and watch the activities and check out what their kids have learned. Today quite a few parents showed up for the closing program. The kids competed in some individual competitions and we also had a 3-on-3 tournament.

We give out prizes for the various competitions but we also give out the “Christian Character” award. This is awarded to the camper(s) that best exhibits the Christian qualities and characteristics we have been talking about all week. Today two well-deserving young men received shirts. They truly exemplified what we talked about all week. I would venture to say that they do not do it for the same reason that we do … to honor and serve our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ … but they have taken to heart what we have shared.

It is always fun to interact with the parents and take pictures with the kids before saying Good-bye. The coaches enjoy signing shirts for the campers and leaving a Bible verse with each name. You know those kids are going to cherish those shirts, so we trust that one day they will cherish the verses that sit next to those names.

We are excited about what the Lord is going to do in the lives of these kids and their families. There were some great young men and women and camp and once God gets a hold of their hearts, they are going to do some incredible things for His Kingdom. We just need to keep praying along those lines.

We just finished dinner (pizza) and are getting ready for our last game here in Imola. Should be a fun game and we are looking forward to competing and playing together. We head out to Florence tomorrow for the day before heading up to Venice to begin week 2. It is supposed to in the 100s next week and since we are going to be outside for camp (8:30-5:30), we could certainly use your prayer for that!

Last night we had a blast watching the Italy-Germany game with our missionary hosts. You can imagine the commotion on the streets on our walk home with all of fans cruising the streets, honking and yelling in celebration. Looking forward to a great final with Spain. The other basketball team from Push The Rock is in Spain right, so I guess we are going head to head in a way:).

Thanks for your prayers. We appreciate them and ask that you keep up the great work!

To God be the Glory!

Chico for the team

Spain Update #7 June 28, 2012

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Day 7

Today began with the same “what” but a different “where”.  Yes, the team ate breakfast and yes, the team met to pray before the day began.  What changed was the “where”.  Meeting a little bit earlier than normal, the team converged on a new café that recently opened, not far from the local church.  Remarkably larger than most café’s on the island, this one had plenty of space and served a variety of coffee and specialty teas, along with pastries, cakes, and tortes.  One of our team members brought a short devotional that challenged us to live our faith.  The challenge centered around where we place our hope.  Even though we could put our trust in a variety of things, the best place to put our hope is in Christ.

The clinic in the morning again rose in attendance with 55 kids.  Today’s sportsmanship thought challenged the kid to play with integrity in all aspects of the game.  Among the other things taught today was the game we call Hot Shot.  It was new to most of the kids and it was apparent that they enjoyed playing it.   We made sure that the kids were able to play 5 v 5 today and as usual, it was a favorite activity.

Lunch again and then another team time where the men and the women split and had their team times separately.  We talked about living with a purpose and how we are designed and formed for God’s family, in which we show love and experience life together.

The afternoon clinic also went well and the 65 kids who were present were challenged again to play hard, play well, and develop their skills.  As we give them the tools to work with, we are seeing them do more things better and that is a very rewarding experience. They also heard about the value of integrity, whether it’s on the court, at the playground, or in life in general.  Telling the truth even when it will give you a disadvantage is always the best way to increase your integrity, both on the basketball court and in life.

The men’s team played a game tonight against a club team from Puerto Cruz, a neighboring town and whose club we have partnered with in the past.  For the first half, things went well and the PTR was making their shots and playing well.  The second half changed all that as the team from Puerto Cruz began to connect on almost everything they threw at the basket.  Unfortunately, the men’s team didn’t have a victorious outcome to the game, but their work ethic and their love for their opponent sent a clear message that there is more to basketball than winning.

The last semifinal game in the 2012 EuroCup was played tonight with Italy taking on Germany.  With a two-goal deficit, Germany scored its first goal late in the game, but was unable to win the game, setting up the final match: Spain vs. Italy.  Just as our team here in Tenerife (Spain) will be glued to the game and cheering for Spain, the PTR team in Mestre (Italy) will also be found watching the game, cheering for Italy.  It may very well be the first time that two PTR teams will be rooting against each other.  🙂

Thanking God for another great day,

Coach Brendan

Italy Update #5

“Acqua! Acqua! Acqua!”

The word heard MANY times a day at camp … “Water! Water! Water!” I guess when it is close to 100 degrees and you are playing basketball for close to 8 hours, you are going to get thirsty … and get thirsty again … and get even more thirsty. So every 15 minutes (or less) kids are clamoring for yet another water break. Thankfully, fresh water, albeit not cold, abounds. Imagine life without the “Living Water.” Not a pleasant thought at all! Imagine life without Christ. This is what we are here to share in Italy … Jesus Christ is the Living Water and whoever drinks of this water never thirsts again, regardless of the heat or sports activity.

Today several different coaches and translators shared their testimony. Our missionary host also shared his testimony and laid out a clear and precise presentation of the Gospel. Then we broke up into stations to talk about some of these truths. We continue to pray that God would work in the hearts of each of these 22 kids at camp. They come back every day ready to roll; maybe a little bit more tired, but certainly attentive to both the basketball and spiritual lessons. We are grateful for such a great group!

Hard to believe that tomorrow is our last day of camp. Friday is always bittersweet. It is tough saying Good-bye to kids that have become so special to us, but yet we are usually ready for a break. Tonight we will have dinner together, praise the Lord in worship and song, and share individual testimonies. Oh yeah, Italy also plays in the Semifinals of the Euro Cup, so we will watch them take on Germany together.

We have had some late nights so tonight will be a nice break from that. We played a game that started at 9:30 last night. We ended up losing to a team that is supposed to have several players from the Under 20 Italian National Team. They were definitely good, there is no doubt about that. Our team fought hard but came up short to a better team last night. Looking forward to some rest tonight and then we play again tomorrow night at 9:30 before we head out for our day off Saturday. We are also heading up to Mestre Saturday night to begin our second week of ministry.

Thanks so much for praying for us and look forward to what God has in store for us tomorrow. Please pray that God would give us the words to speak so that we can effectively communicate God’s love to the kids one last day.

To God be the Glory!

Chico for the Italy team

Spain Update #6 June 27, 2012

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Day 6

The excitement lasted all day today – from morning to night!  The day began as it typically does and was filled with excitement as the kids came to the morning clinic eager and ready to go.  There were a total of 53 kids present today; the daily attendance is climbing.  Spread across the gym, the kids went through the skills stations.  Today’s all-camp demonstration included basic defense, teaching where to stand, how to move, and what to look for when playing.  This was followed by sets of 3 vs. 3 games as the kids were able to put into practice some of the things that they were taught.  Some caught on faster than others, but overall, we have seen success.

Excitement was accompanied by anticipation as Brendan and Kim, along with missionary Dave, headed to the radio station, Radio Atlantida, for an interview.  As Dave conducted the interview – asking questions in English and Spanish – Brendan and Kim were able to give the reason why we are in Santa Ursula, where we are from, who Push the Rock is, the value of teaching sports as it relates to life, and much more.  Team Time included a time of praise and worship as a few team members gave their testimonies and shared what God is doing in their lives.  Whenever God is moving in the hearts of people, there is always some amount of excitement, which serves as motivation for other to follow hard after Christ Jesus.

The afternoon clinic had excitement of its own as there were 61 kids at camp, still plenty of kids to keep us busy.  On staff with the basketball club that we are partnering with is a former USA Olympic athlete who played on the women’s basketball team and won gold medal team in 1984.  She was able to give a small talk to the upper level players, encouraging them to use the tools that are given to them to become better players.  She also spent time talking to them about some of the finer points of the game that will help them achieve more at the next level.  It was exciting to hear what a former Olympian and professional basketball player has to say to developing players and to hear her passion for youth basketball.

Leaving the gym and heading to the court, the PTR women’s team played in an exciting game against another local team.  Working hard and doing their best to overcome challenges, the PTR women showed a great amount of heart and desire as they played.  Their testimonies held strong and they were a great example of what we have been talking about each day so far.  Unfortunately, we didn’t have enough points at the end of the game, but were able to see the excitement that the competition with PTR brings.

Almost running from the game, the whole PTR team headed out to catch the Euro 2012 semifinal game where Spain took on Portugal.  After 90 minutes of excitement, the score was tied at 0 and went into overtime.  The excitement continued into overtime where at the sound of the final buzzer, the score remained the same.  On to penalty kicks where Spain won 4-2, thrusting them into the Euro 2012 final verses the winner of the Germany v Italy game on Sunday night.  As the game-winning goal was scored, the town ignited with excitement as fireworks went off, horns were going off in the distance and the locals cheered the victory of their team.  As I stood outside and listened to the excitement, I can only imagine the excitement in Heaven when one comes to know Jesus as their personal Savior.  May God be pleased this week to draw to himself more people and fill Heaven and earth with true excitement.

Anticipating more excitement from Him,

Coach Brendan

Italy Update #4

Buon giorno!

Praise the Lord for a great day! Wednesday is always a tough day as it is the middle of the week and coaches and campers alike tend to hit a wall. We all fought through it today and enjoyed a very good day. The 4 hours in the morning went pretty quickly as we worked on our basketball fundamentals and talked about various spiritual truths. We enjoyed another fantastic lunch of pasta before the afternoon session of camp, which also went well and went by quickly. To switch things up a bit one of the coaches designed an obstacle course for the kids to go through. They really enjoyed it and it was a nice change of pace.

We have been blessed with great weather, but it is HOT! It will be over 100 degrees again tomorrow, so we are drinking as many liquids as we can. We are at dinner and are looking forward to Team Time and then our game at 9:30. It is nice to regroup over dinner at the end of the day as a team.

Last night we enjoyed a “free” night and went downtown, grabbed some gelato, and walked around the fortress. Then we headed home for some prayer and rest time.

Hard to believe it is already Wednesday evening. Praising the Lord for another great day at camp today and looking forward to what He has in store for tomorrow and Friday. Please pray that the Holy Spirit would continue to work in the hearts of the kids as they hear the Gospel presented clearly from multiple people in different ways. We have been greatly encouraged by the interaction and the questions they have asked relative to a relationship with Christ.

Thanks for praying for us as we greatly need it! God is doing some great things and we are thrilled to be a part of it!

To God be the Glory!

Spain Update #5 June 26, 2012

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Day 5

Today was very much like yesterday.  Kids arrived early and eager for both the clinics.  The morning clinic had 49 in attendance, one more than yesterday.  Some of the faces were new, which meant that some of the kids who attended on Monday didn’t return.  (However, we did see some of the older kids at the clinic in the afternoon, mostly because that camp has more of the players of their skill level.)   The afternoon camp also increased in attendance and rose up to 80 kids.  This is quite a large number as well as a significant increase for the camp.  We are excited to see how many kids are attending camp and how much interest there is to participate.  The large number presents challenges for us, but we are trusting God to help us find the most effective way to coach and teach all of the players.

Team Time day was another lesson in Living with a Purpose where we saw that we are planned for God’s pleasure.  We are born for worship of the Creator of the Universe and because of that, we are able to have a real relationship with Him.  The men and women met separately as we discussed the topics and scriptures.  This gave us an opportunity to talk with each other in a way that we could connect better as men and women, even addressing issues that unique to each gender.

The evening brought both a women’s game and a men’s game, competing against the same club.  The women played hard and well, but no matter how hard they worked, the ball just wouldn’t go into the basket.  They were full of encouragement for each other as they did a good job learning to play with each other.  Unfortunately, the PTR women lost the game 49-36.  The men’s game followed immediately and right off the bat, the PTR men went ahead.  However, towards the end of the 4th quarter, the opposing team caught up, tied the score and then went ahead.  A few baskets were missed by the PTR men and at the final buzzer, the PTR men succumbed to the opponents by a score of 68-63.  There were over 50 fans in attendance to watch the PTR teams play.  In spite of the loss, both games were victories in the sense that the testimony of each player was strong and the Lord was honored in what we said and did.  Although not always an easy thing to do, the PTR teams chose to put the opponents and the refs above themselves, giving proof that what we are teaching is, in God’s power, a very possible thing to do.

As we have done in the past three years here in Santa Ursula, we will be interviewed by the local radio station.  The interview will broadcast live tomorrow (June 28) around 1:30 PM local time (8:30AM EST) and will be a chance to share with town what we are doing here.  We will be sharing about PTR, the clinics, and the purpose for what we do.  If you are interested, you can listen via the web at www.radioatlantidatenerife.es.  Please pray that the interview goes well and that the Lord uses it to glory himself.

May God be honored in all,

Coach Brendan

Italy Update #3

Buon giorno!

It is Tuesday night in Imola and we have finished Day 2 of camp. It was a great day today! The kids came back energized and ready to roll. We changed things up a little bit today and included 3 non-basketball stations. It helped to split up the 7.5 hour day, and it gave us an opportunity to get to know the kids in a much more personal way. The 3 stations we included were: life, basketball, and spiritual. Essentially, the kids rotated through each of the 3 stations and could ask any questions they wanted to with regards to these 3 specific areas. However, in the spiritual station, only spiritual questions could be asked. Same it true for the life and basketball stations. We thought the kids did an outstanding job of asking good questions and honestly answering the questions we asked.

These 21 kids come to camp each day and work extremely hard. They pour themselves into every drill and every game. They listen attentively and soak up the testimonies, sportsmanship challenges, Bible story applications, and all of the basketball teaching. These kids are a pleasure to work with. The same can be said about the translators and coaches, who tirelessly give of themselves so that each and every kid can catch a glimpse of God’s love and plan for them!

We did enjoy our first game last night. It was a great atmosphere outside with music and fans sitting along the sideline and sidewalk. We ended up losing by a shot at the buzzer. I think we ran out of gas after a long day of camp, but they were a very good team. We are looking forward to playing Wednesday and again Friday night. Most importantly, I think we modeled Christ in a very clear and concise way. We played with very good sportsmanship and believe we lost with grace.

It was appropriate, then, that our Sportsmanship Challenge for the kids at camp today was “Win with humility; Lose with grace.” So much easier said than done, but very important nonetheless!

We have a “free” night tonight and are enjoying time together for relaxing with some praise and worship together. In a little bit we are heading downtown to the fortress and will most definitely pick up some gelato. That is a must!

Thank you so much for praying for us! Days are long, nights are short, and it is very warm here. But God is good and we are excited for what the Lord has for us tomorrow.

To God be the Glory!

Italy team

Spain Update #4 June 25, 2012

Monday, June 25, 2012

Day 4

And so it begins….the opening day of the clinics for both the towns of Santa Ursula and La Victoria.  The day began at a place somewhere in the town of Santa Ursula, which we have designated as the “prayer place.”  This year, it is a vista not far from the city plaza that overlooks the town below and to the coast and sea.  A quite place it is and a good place to meet with God prior to beginning work for Him.  A challenge was brought to the group from 1 Peter 2:9 to proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called us out of darkness into light.  As we start to run the clinics and interact with those who will participate, we were challenged and encouraged to proclaim how excellent our great God is.

The morning clinic located in the town of Santa Ursula is home to our host church.  Being the second year we are allowed to use the gym and facilities of the town was a very exciting and encouraging thing for our host church.  Starting this clinic with 48 kids was a wonderful thing to see since the last day of last year’s clinic was less than that.  The growth of the clinic was another blessing from the Lord and confirmation from Him that He is a part of what we are doing.  The clinic had children ranging from the ages of 5-14 and presented a few challenges when it came time to play full-court games.  Through the wisdom and experience of the Push the Rock team members, we were able to handle the younger children by giving them a great experience the first day.  As is most times, the children’s favorite skills to work on were shooting and defense.

Another fabulous lunch awaited the team after the morning clinic.  With full stomachs we began another time in praise and worship together as a team.  Singing songs of praise and hearing what God is doing in the lives of people can be an emotional time as we share our inner being and ourselves with God and with each other.  This time was no exception and God was honored as we gave Him His due praise and heard about His movement in the lives of team members.

A quick car ride to east found us in the neighboring town on La Victoria where the kids were already starting to gather.  With 61 kids, the clinic got underway and the coaches worked hard to teach some groups new skills while developing the skills of current athletes in other groups.  The large turnout also signified that God is still interested in using basketball to share His love and His principles found in His Word in this town.  There were many repeat faces and some new ones who joined the group.  Missing were a few who we have had our eyes on as they have been at our clinics in years past and whom the Lord could call to respond to His gospel.  This clinic also had a wide age range with kids as young as 5 all the way to 16.  Some kids even came from a neighboring town to participate in the clinic.  The coaches had multiple opportunities to demonstrate the characteristics of God in both how they coached and what they shared with the group.  Both clinics (morning and afternoon) had a coach share about how the player is more important than the points – meaning that the relationships you have with various people in a game (the opponents, the refs, the coach, the teammates, etc.) are more important that the score.  Knowing this helps players see the value in playing in a way that honors God and gives Him praise.

Later in the evening, the men went to play with some locals who play pick-up games Monday nights in the gym where we have clinics.  The women filled the stands to watch and support the men as they played.  Although not a formal game, the Push the Rock team stayed together as they played a bunch of full court games against the locals.  There was one team that had two players that sometime chose to play a little outside the rules.  Rather than getting mad and demanding that fouls be called, the Push the Rock team played with great character and integrity.   God blessed their efforts and kept them safe during a time when the potential for injury was high.  It was exciting to hear that one of the players on another team commented to missionary Nathan, “The guys on your team ask for forgiveness when they foul.  We don’t.”  In less than an hour, and using a man-made game, God choose to point out a simple truth: people need to ask for forgiveness.  Our prayer is that the testimony displayed tonight will spark a fire of questions to the missionaries and believers who come in contact with these same men who they see every week.  May God’s Holy Spirit move and draw many to Him because we have been faithful to His calling.

Grateful to be counted among the redeemed,

Coach Brendan