It has been a full two days since the last update. Saturday night after leaving you a note behind, we headed to a summer concert. It was a beautiful evening for a concert and it was great to mingle with the townspeople as they gathered for a collection of well-known musical pieces. Two bands played for over two hours. It was a wonderful night, but by the time 11 pm rolled around, we were beyond ready for bed. Not sure when the last time anyone on the team slept for 11-12 hours, but to a person, we got lots of sleep in. It was very much needed as we had been up for close to two days without any sleep.
We got up in time for lunch on Sunday, after which we headed out to see the town of Imola. Lots and lots of history. The local fortress has been here for 2,000+ years, which gives a bit of perspective on American history. We toured the fortress and grabbed some much-needed gelato. It is nice and toasty over here, so that gelato went over really well. That evening we joined up with several couples for the Sunday service. It is very encouraging to see the church family grow over time. Now four couples are involved after only one family started the church 3+ years ago. We are thrilled to be a part of what God is doing here!
It was pretty cool to be here for Italy – England last night. The Euro Cup is in full swing and now that we will be in Italy for two weeks, we might as well watch and root for Italy!!!
Mondays … camps on Monday are always an adventure. Kids are pumped, yet anxious. Coaches are pumped, yet anxious. Makes for a great day! We got up early this morning, met for prayer, breakfast, and a Scriptural challenge to kick off the day. We headed to camp where we were met by many familiar faces. Always great to reconnect with kids from previous years. We also met some new kids and their families. We are excited to see what God is going to do in the lives of each of the kids throughout the week.
We did have a great day of camp, but by the time 5:30 rolled around, especially after starting at 8:30, the kids (and coaches) were beat! We are now eating dinner and will play our first game in an outdoor 5 v 5 tournament in town. Looking forward to playing together and sharing Christ through games. Thanks for praying for us! We will need it … going to be some hot, long days!
To God be the Glory!
PTR Italy team
Sunday, June 24, 2012
Starting off the day with the Sunday Morning Worship service, we had the opportunity to gather with the local church that we are serving along side of for these two weeks. We were privileged to have the youth of the church lead in the praise and worship part of the service. It was a special time as they are given this chance to praise the Lord with their talents and abilities. Also apart of today’s service was Communion, another very special thing to be a part of while here in Spain. For the non-Spanish speakers, there was a sense of understanding and connection even though they were not able to understand what was being said. Following the service we were invited to be a part of a potluck lunch with the entire church. This opportunity gave us time to spend with the church members and to get to know them a little bit better. Those of us who are non-Spanish speakers are very grateful for those who are willing to translate for us, constantly demonstrating a servant’s heart. The next thing was to have our team time where we are talking about Living with a Purpose and how we have been designed for worship of our Creator. The discussion time was good and included many people sharing with the group and adding to the discussion. Another team practice was added to the schedule and after a quick shower we returned to the church for supper, consisting of a Venezuelan favorite: Arepas! New to some of the team members, this delectable delight brought full stomachs and happy taste buds to both veterans and rookies alike. With a little time left in the evening, the team entered a nearby town for a little sightseeing and team bonding as we prepare for first week of clinics.
We have been blessed to have safety in all we have done these past three days. For this, we are grateful to the Lord, as He has provided it for us and to you who constantly keep us in your prayers. Please do not grow weary in prayer for we are dependent on you for this.
We are grateful for your support,
- Team Practice in Santa Ursula
Saturday, June 23, 2012
The second day of our time in Spain has flown by so very quickly. With team meetings in the morning (included was a time of praise and worship) and team practices in the afternoon, followed by the Euro 2012 Spain vs France soccer match, we had plenty to do. As we seek to engage with the community these next two weeks, we take part in a variety of things that will help us do what God has called to do while in Spain. The team meetings helped us prepare mentally and spiritually for what we will encounter. Always a blessing which directs our hearts and thoughts toward Him, the time spent singing praise and worship songs ended our meetings right before lunch. Another meeting to help us understand the culture and language we are living in was conducted by Missionary Nathan and was very helpful in understanding how we can be effective in God’s service on the island. With special permission granted to us, we were able to get into the town’s local gym and have a team practice. The practice was a great workout, very beneficial in getting to know teammates, and helped us prepare to do everything with excellence. The European nations are currently in a European wide soccer tournament, second only to the World Cup. Each nation takes pride in its national team and people enjoy rooting and cheering for their nation. Such was the case tonight when Spain took on France in a quarterfinal game where the winner advances and the loser goes home. Immersed in the culture, our team made its way to the public showing of the game on a huge screen with two big speakers in the gym where we will be holding the clinics next week. Sitting side by side with the locals, we joined the celebration as the cheering and the horns blew off the roof of the gym when Spain scored the first goal early in the game. Late in the game on a penalty shot, Spain scored the second and last goal of the game, winning 2-0. Excitement filled the gym where we watched the game as people from the neighboring areas cheered and screamed and hollered with joy as their national pride advanced to the next round. No doubt the excitement will continue on Thursday night when Spain takes on its other neighbor, Portugal, in the semi-final match.
There is excitement in our hearts as the team works together for the one goal of sharing Christ through sports. Already active in our hearts and our lives, the Creator of the Universe is preparing to do something for His Glory. Tonight, He began with two teams playing far away on the mainland, opening the door for us into the community. What He will do next, as for now, only He knows.
Until He shows us more,
We are safe and sound in Imola after many hours of traveling. The trip was not as smooth as it could have been, but neither was it as eventful as it could have been. We enjoyed the fellowship of our fellow travelers for an additional 2 1/2 hours on the tarmac in Philadelphia. It was a beautiful display of God’s power and majesty as the thunder rolled and lightning struck. We thought we would have over 3 hours in London on our layover. Instead, we were met by airline personnel to whisk us off to our next gate. Thankfully, our flight to Bologna was also delayed, so we made it just in time to board. We thank the Lord the delay also allowed all of our luggage to arrive.
There were numerous times on our trip over where people asked what “Push The Rock” is. It gave us a great opportunity to share why we would come all the way to Italy for two weeks … to share the love of Christ through basketball.
Our gracious hosts met us at the airport and we have spent the afternoon in additional team training and bonding. We just finished up dinner … so glad Italians take their food VERY seriously:) … and are soon heading into town. Our missionary host plays in a band and tonight is their big outdoor summer concert. Going to be a great night!
Thanks for praying for us. We are excited about the opportunity to be a part of this church plant tomorrow. We spend part of the day getting the lay of the land around town and then preparing for camp on Monday morning.
To God be the Glory!
Chico for the team
Friday, June 22, 2012
Eleven. I have been on four trips to one of the seven Canary Islands and have never experienced the combined effort of so many people to find out what is “Push the Rock”. Eleven times someone stopped one or more of our group to ask that question as we traveled over 14 hours on the journey to Tenerife. Of those 11 encounters, I personally had three of them, two of which gave the opportunity to explain the mission and purpose of our group. I used the words “Jesus”, “Gospel”, “Ministry”, “Character”, “Integrity”, etc to curious people who read those three words on our shirts: Push the Rock. In airport lounges. In airplane isles, Passing through security. People want to know what Push the Rock is. And we’re here to tell them.
Once on the ground, the day consisted of meetings that introduced us to the church we will be working with, logistics and team procedures, and preparation for the clinics. We have been well taken care of by our gracious missionary hosts and are off to a great start. Time was also given to prepare for the rest of the meetings, clinics, and other activities that we will encounter this next week. There has only been one hitch so far: seven of our fourteen bags came on the flight behind ours, leaving some team members without their bags for just a few hours. We were blessed by having all of our luggage arrive safely. We have also met two others who joined our team here on the island: Joe and William, both veterans of the Push the Rock outreaches in Tenerife. It was a great reunion for us as we have gathered team members from the first three trips together to help form this fourth team. A third person comes to join the team, Nelson, arriving on Saturday from Venezuela. After two great meals and everything in between, the night ended with a quick run into a local seaside town for a little gelato before we headed back to our places for the night.
The sun has set and we lay our 16 heads down to rest knowing that tomorrow the sun will rise as we rise and look to the Son to see what He has set before us.
Greetings from Guadalajara!
First let me apologize for not having updated you on our trip earlier. I experienced internet difficulties the past two nights when I was planning to write.
Our team finished our clinics on Friday by returning to Los Olivos and working with our largest group of campers yet, somewhere around 100 for both the morning and afternoon sessions combined. Apparently word spread around town about our camps earlier in the week.
After camps we changed our shoes, re=sunscreened and gulped down some water before walking across the street to take on some local guys in a friendly match on a basketball/soccer court. Many of the kids from camp came and watched and a few of them faithfully served as ball boys. We believe the message of Christ and others- first Christian behavior promoted by PTR has already begun to take hold in some of the kids’ lives.
Saturday morning our team spent two hours helping one of the local missionary families move out of their house; we moved a lot of furniture including several marble items proving that PTR soccer players work just as hard off the field as on it. We were glad to be able to give back to a family that has partnered with us in ministry this week, opening doors for ministry and providing translation assistance.
Later in the afternoon we headed to San Juan de Dios, a large market in Guadalajara, for a little shopping. We concluded the evening with a final match versus the team from Factor Fe. We prayed together and said our final goodbyes at the park to a few of the missionaries that have helped us this week as well as to church members, one of whom worked with us all week and became an incredible asset to our team as well as a good friend.
Tomorrow (it’s actually today as I write) we plan to fly home, leaving for the airport in Guadalajara at 5:00 AM and arriving back in Emmaus around 5:30 PM, Lord willing. Please pray for our team that the Lord will grant us safe traveling and that we will eagerly seize opportunities for telling others about the ministry we have been about for the past nine or so days. Much love and blessings to you all!