The alarm goes off and wakes us to another day in sunny Tenerife. Cool during the night, the sun is warming the air as we wake up to what God has for us today. Those who sprung out of bed Monday morning before the alarms went off, slept until the very last moment today. Getting slowly out of bed, the team prepared for another long day. And what a day it was. Breakfast was fantastic and the morning devotional from Hebrews 10 made sure that both our bodies and souls were well fed. More faces arrived at the clinic today as we topped off at 55 kids. Our invitation to come to the clinic last night was accepted by many kinds and we were able to work with more kids today than yesterday. As the kids moved through the drills and skills, they were attentive and hard working. They were respectful and positive as we talked to them about playing as a team, helping each other up, and by applying things learned to not only to the basketball court, but also to life. Players whose skills could allow them to have an air of arrogance were humble in their interactions with us, allowing us to share the love of Christ and add one more thing to help them be better players. Younger kids also were at the clinic and provided a challenge to work with and to keep them engaged for the duration of the clinic. However, they enjoyed their time and our coaches had a challenging but very good experience with them. Upon return to home base for lunch, we enjoyed another fantastic home cooked meal (which included…mashed potatoes) and another Team Time with the US participants and the local church. We talked about Jonathan, Saul’s son, and how he had confidence in God to do great things. This same confidence can be ours as well should we choose to follow hard after the Lord and be mindful to put into practice what we have learned about Him. Testimonies were given by Christy and Kory that allowed us to see the hand of God working in their lives. As were the previous testimonies, these were an encouragement to the group. The afternoon basketball session contained 59 kids which put stress on our seams as we packed the kids into the gym and what we had planned for them. They demonstrated all they had learned earlier in the day as they put into practice the techniques that were displayed to them. We were even able to teach the PTR game of Hot Shot. All had a chance to play and enjoyed this fun shooting game. A little different form what they are used to, it provided a chance for each player to work on his/her shooting and rebounding skills. But what was truly a highlight of the day was when one boy fell taking a lay-up and two others came to help him up! Although not specifically told or taught to do so, these boys had seen the example set for them and chose to do the same. What a rewarding experience to see that what we are doing is being used by God to make an immediate impact on the kids we are with each day. This situation gave us the opportunity to speak more about the action that so excited us. May God continue to move in the hearts of those who attend and view from the stands. A quick snack was eaten and we headed to another gym for the men to play their game. The PTR men’s team, a truly international team, took to the court in a contest against our host club for the week. Our team was out matched by the host team in number of players, but not in hustle or desire. Playing hard to the very end, our team lost a hard fought game 112 – 92. Not being totally sure of the history of scoring for PTR teams in Spain, this was one of the highest scoring games PTR has played in for the past 5 years. The team’s testimony was strong and evident as they worked hard to do their best and set a great example for the 70+ fans that were in attendance, including both adults and kids who attended the clinics earlier in the day. As we returned home from the game and enjoyed a great dinner, we enjoyed all that god has done today. And one, at the end of the day the sun is has long set in the sky. The alarm clocks, too, have been set once again in preparation for yet another day.
For the team,
Monday. The beginning of the week. The start of the clinics. All preparation was for this day. Starting with breakfast and then a devotional time from Hebrews 9, the team set off to the Galeon gym in Adeje. Seeing familiar faces from last year and new ones to accompany them, 39 kids started off the week. Aging from 6-17, the age span allowed us to separate the kids into age and ability groups. Each group had the opportunity to spend time in each of the 5 skill stations (passing, shooting, rebounding, defense, and dribbling/ball handling) working on and developing their individual skills. The overall attitude of the group was very positive and they worked hard to learn and implement the skills taught at each station. Teaching one-on-one defense, the all camp demonstration today showed the fundamentals of how to play this element of the game. With the basics explained, the kids then practiced the skills by playing 3 on 3 games. Using 6 baskets, each of the kids was fully engaged in playing and enjoying the opportunity to play. Following camp, a great lunch was served at our home base and we were also able to participate in a praise and worship team time that also allowed for the testimony of two team members. Sharing their testimony to the Push the Rock group as well as the volunteers from the church was a great encouragement to all who were listening, including new believers who just recently came to know Christ. When back at the gym, the team was met by 48 kids who arrived for the next two hours of organized basketball games. Playing 10 minute games with 5 of the older gorps and working on skills and having fun with the younger group, the time went by quickly. Able to build into the lives of all of the kids was a highlight of the time together. An invitation to come to the clinic the next day was given and those who had not been there in the morning gladly accepted. With hopeful hearts, the team waved good bye to the players. After a quick snack, an impromptu slam dunk contest emerged to the delight of the group. Five noble volunteers stepped forward to put their slam dunking skills to the test. Each were introduced in the finest of fashions and had 3 chances for a successful dunk in each of the three rounds. Those watching keep score and in the end awarded Alcedes the championship. Fun was had by all and proved to be a great time of team unity and fellowship. Still with daylight and gym time, the group was broken into two teams and scrimmaged each other. Not having a scheduled game against a local opponent, the two PTR teams played hard against each other used the game as preparation to play the rest of the week. Back at the home base, a great dinner followed the game, along with another opportunity to invest in the lives of those who are a part of this two-week ministry. Tired from the day’s activities, the team headed to bed, eager to start another day tomorrow. With God’s blessings and provisions, they lay their weary bodies down with anticipation of great things to come.
For the team,
The team has arrived safely back in PA! We got back to Emmaus around 9:30 last night. It is hard to believe that yesterday we were still in Florida. Our last morning in Miami was spent joining with the fellow believers of New Life Chapel in their Sunday morning small groups and service. Our team divided up and all went to different Sunday school classes. Some helped with the children, others joined the youth, and a few more dropped in on one of the adult classes. The team was grateful to have this last opportunity to worship with the people who had helped out in so many ways to make our time in Miami so enjoyable! It was also a blessing to be able to spend a few more hours with some of the children who had been at camp during the week.
After the service, we were treated to some true Southern hospitality … a delicious fellowship dinner complete with the traditional favorites: fried chicken, cornbread, and sweet potato pie! The team was very thankful to have a filling meal before we started our travels home. After many bitter-sweet good-byes, we left the church around 2:00 for the Fort Lauderdale airport. Our flight left at 5:15 for Philadelphia. It was a smooth flight and we arrived safely in Philadelphia around 8:00. As we walked out of the gate, we were greeted by some familiar faces of one of our team member’s parents. It was wonderful to be welcomed back to PA with hugs and smiling faces!
Thank you everyone who has kept our team in prayer! The trip would have been impossible without all of you! Thank you Pastor Lee and your family for your hospitality! Thank you New Life Chapel for all your support and help throughout the week! Thank you to all those who helped support individuals on our team so that they could be an important part of the ministry that took place! And most importantly, thank You God for all that You did in our lives, the people of New Life Chapel, and the lives of the campers! We cannot express our thanks to You enough!
Another day begins, this one with the blessing of attending the worship service at the church in the area. A Venezuelan family who is connected to our host church in the north, has become missionaries in order to help this small body of believers. This church is also partnering with us and our host church this first week of the trip. We were able to hear God’s word preached in Spanish and then translated into English, allowing us to follow along with the message. Following the church service, we participated in the Bible Study (much like a Sunday School class). At the conclusion of our time at church, we returned to location where we are staying for lunch and a quick debrief. Following lunch, we loaded up into the vehicles and headed to a gym to prepare for the week’s clinics and games. With 20+ people prepared to help in various ways, our crew is large, capable and diverse. Americans, Venezuelans, Spaniards, and Canarians have all come together in the name of our Lord to share the Gospel through sports. All are excited about this opportunity and to work together for the common goal. One Canarians have come to have a personal relationship with Christ since we last were here and, along with his new wife, are believers with an insatiable desire to learn more about the Lord and grow in him. Wrapping up in the gym, we gathered our things, headed back to home base for another fantastic meal, with fresh fruits of papaya, watermelon, and honeydew all part of the dinner’s selections. Topping off the evening was a quick trip down to the local beach to walk along taking in the sights of the ocean on one side and the shops and restaurants on the other. As the temperature dropped from a comfortable 79° to a cooling 70°, the team enjoyed the time together, building unity among the members and memories that will carry them through the trip and beyond. Gelato was had and enjoyed by all, putting a sweet ending on another fantastic day. With tomorrow beginning the clinics, final preparations have been made and all are prepared to begin what we came here to do.
For the team,
As the day comes to a close and we lay down to rest our travel wearied bodies, we reflect on God’s grace and His mercy. Before we even left Emmaus, we were met with challenges. On the way to meet, a vehicle broke down and caused the departure from Emmaus to be delayed by 45 minutes. Traffic to JFK caused the drive to the airport take almost 3 hours. The plane’s departure from NYC to Madrid was pushed back by 30 minutes. All of these could have put us in a place to worry, to doubt, to fret. But God’s grace and mercy continue to abound and we arrived in Tenerife with all of our bags, greeted by a fantastic welcoming committee. For some of us, this is like an annual family reunion where we are again reacquainted with family we haven’t seen in years. And yes, when speaking as our spiritual family, it IS a true family reunion! This year, we have new family members as one of the men who we worked with last year became a believer about 8 months ago! His girlfriend also is a now follower of Christ and in obedience to Him, they are now married. In speaking with him a bit today, he is so thankful that he has made the change in his life and is committed to life in Christ. It is such a joyous time to see the fruit from the seed that we helped water. We moved effortlessly from the airport to our new home for the next week in an area in the southern part of the island called Adeje (Ah-DAY-hay). Staying in a different location this year than last year, we have 4 rooms with bunk beds, 2 for the women and 2 for the men. The faculties are nice, clean, and located in a municipal building with the police, ambulance, and firefighters, it’s a bit different that what we have seen in the US, but extremely safe! Dinner was a fantastically made by one of the missionary wives and her helpers. Consisting of chicken in a Venezuelan rice dish, served with fresh bread and fresh fruits of watermelon, pears, apples, and papaya, it was a fantastic meal for tired bodies and hungry stomachs. Closing the evening was a brief time of getting to know each other. With close to 30 people working together in various capacities, it was incredible to see the team that God has assembled for His work these two weeks. May God continue to show Himself to us as we give ourselves to Him.
For the team,
“All I have needed thy hand hath provided,
Great is thy faithfulness, Lord, unto me.”
Greetings from Italy! God’s grace has brought us safely thus far. We are thankful for two uneventful flights yesterday (even the many toddlers on the flight kept their emotions pretty well under control!). Upon arriving in Heathrow, London after our first flight, we enjoyed some “world cuisine” at the Giraffe while being serenaded by Latino and reggae tunes. Try to figure that one out… Later, during our layover we also posed for a picture with a Scottish bagpiper who performed live outside the duty free store. If our experiences so far are any indication of things to come, we’re going to be in for some noteworthy adventures in Italy.
After arriving in Italy and meeting our hosts and local missionary partners, we settled into our rooms at the seminary and spent some blessed time finishing up our team orientation and praying for one another and the week to come.
Today has been a sweet day of much-needed refreshment and repayment of sleep debt. Most of our team settled into bed around midnight last night, and most of us either rose, or woke up sometime around 1:00 pm. After a brief lunch we walked to a nearby basketball court to practice for about two hours, getting familiar with inbounds plays and building a little chemistry. That knowledge and chemistry will come in handy when we play our first tournament game tomorrow afternoon.
This evening we worshipped with missionaries and a few local Italian believers in a small house congregation in an upper room. After sharing in communion and a message from the Bible, we concluded by spending some time in prayer for the coming week. We are currently enjoying our first taste of homemade Italian food for dinner!
Thank you all so much for your prayers. Please pray for God’s strength for the coming week, for safe traveling for Jack, our last team member who will join us tomorrow, and for our team (along with the local partners) to showcase the unity of Christ at camps beginning tomorrow. Much love!
Our Push The Rock camp at New Life Chapel has come to a close. We completed our last day of camp today. Yesterday and today were spent playing a variety of recreational games such as capture-the-flag, dodgeball, tug-of-war, and various tag games. Both days were very warm, so both campers and coaches were more than happy to participate in some activities that involved getting wet. The campers enjoyed having water balloons tossed at them and being sprayed with super soakers while trying to beat the opposing team in an obstacle course.
It has been obvious that the campers have thoroughly enjoyed participating in the many sports and other recreational activities we have done throughout the week of camp, but it has been an even bigger blessing and source of encouragement to watch these children learn about God’s abounding love for each one of them. It was a privilege to listen to the the pastor of New Life Chapel present the hope of the Gospel to all the campers yesterday. Afterwards, the coaches were able to talk even more about the significance of Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection with their campers during Team Time. Each day of the week, coaches have led their team of about 5-8 campers in Team Time . During this time, coaches have used Scripture to teach and challenge the campers to not only be game changers on the court, but to be game changers in life for Jesus Christ. It has been an amazing experience to see such young lives ask questions and respond to what we have been sharing.
Despite being exhausted from early mornings and long days in the hot, Florida sun, the team has appreciated being able to experience a little bit of Miami in the evenings. On Thursday evening, the team enjoyed a picnic on the beach and then took a swim in the ocean. It was wonderful to enjoy the bathwater temperature water, strolls along the shore, and the tropical breeze after our day of camp. We also had a lot of fun getting to see the city skyline in the daylight on our travels to the beach.
After our trip to the beach, we all gathered to cheer the Heat on to victory! It was a late night, but well worth the excitement of watching the Heat win in their home city. There was a lot of hooting, fireworks, and honking horns in celebration of the win last night and it was obvious today that the city is very proud of their team. We had some very tired, but thrilled campers show up to camp this morning.
Although camp is completed, we still have a couple other opportunities to interact with some of our campers and their families this weekend. Tomorrow we will be joining the church for a BBQ, complete with a water slide and bounce house! This is a great chance for the church to invest in many of the local families whose children were involved in our Push The Rock camp or the New Life Chapel’s vacation Bible School. We are excited to be a part of this event and to spend one more day with the precious children we were able to develop relationships with this past week one more time!
We are now more than halfway through our week of camp. It is hard to believe that there are only 2 more days left! Today’s sport was basketball. The campers were more than excited to shoot some hoops after the comeback of the Heat in the game last night. Most of the kids are Heat enthusiasts and had stayed up the night before to watch the game. It was fun to listen to them talk excitedly about the game. Even though none of us on the team are true Heat fans, I think it is safe to say that we are all hoping they pull away with the win on Thursday.
In the afternoon, the campers participated in some half-court basketball games. The games got pretty competitive and it was obvious that these kids were playing to win. This provided the coaches with an opportunity to share with the campers what true sportsmanship looks like and how even in the midst of a sports game, we can still be examples of God’s love through our attitude and actions. It was encouraging to see the change in the kids playing after this discussion.
Today may have been the hottest of the days so far, but again the Lord’s favor was on us with the steady breeze that lasted throughout the day. The hot temperatures did not seem to slow down the campers or coaches … although we do seem to be taking a few more drink breaks as the week goes on! We are thankful that those struggling with sickness were feeling much better today and are hoping that they will all be back in full swing tomorrow.
Tonight we had the opportunity to join New Life Chapel’s youth group. It was a fun evening of interacting with the church’s teens. Everyone enjoyed the new game we introduced to the group … 4-on-a-couch! I think the youth could have played all evening and it was quite entertaining for the adults to watch. We were thankful for this short opportunity to connect with these young men and women. We are grateful for the many relationships being developed!
Please continue to pray for strength as we finish up the week. Tomorrow, the Gospel message will be presented to the campers. It is our prayer that the children who do not have a relationship with the Lord would come to understand their need for a Savior and God’s abundant grace and love for them. We are very excited to continue to see how God will work in the lives of these precious children during the last two days of camp!
Today was day number two of camp and we were blessed again with a nice breeze and occasional clouds throughout the day. The sport for the day was flag football, which excited many of the boys in the group. Although we were pumped up for another day of camp, we had to overcome some challenges dealing with illness. However, we were very grateful for a group of willing volunteers who assisted us wherever we needed them. The kids enjoyed several flag football stations throughout the morning as well as a thrilling water balloon toss, which ended with many wet kids. During team time, we discussed how to be a “game changer”. We talked about the importance of willingness to obey God no matter the circumstance. One example we looked at from the Bible was Abraham and his obedience to God’s command. In the afternoon, the kids participated in small flag football games to practice the skills that they learned from the stations in the morning. We had good competition while keeping it fun. We finished out the day with a coaches testimony and an exciting tug of war game with the kids against the coaches. As a team we are very thankful for the volunteers from the church who have been very dedicated in their help as well as the nice weather. As the day comes to a close, being in Miami, of course we have to be watching game six of the NBA finals, routing on the Miami Heat to victory. Please pray for our team throughout the week, that we are able to maintain our health and finish out the week strong. Thank you for your continued support!