The team finally arrived back home safely tonight! It was tough for everyone to say goodbye to each other, but we were all thankful for the friendships that were made on the trip and the relationships that were built with people from many different areas.
Saturday was the Church fun day, where kids who participated in the Church’s Vacation Bible School program and Push the Rock camp were invited for a day of fellowship at the Church. Some of the kids had their parents show up, which provided an opportunity for the team to minister to them. At the fun day, there were blow-up rides for the kids to ride and great food. After the fun day, the team got ready for a night in downtown Miami. We toured through the Bayside area, where there were lots of neat shops and restaurants. We ended up eating at a Latin American place right on the waterfront. It was a really neat experience. We were surrounded by Columbia soccer fans who were pulling for their country in the FIFA World Cup. They seemed to pop up everywhere throughout the entire city after their team won! After dinner, we were able to walk outside the Miami Heat’s basketball arena, the American Airlines Center.
This past day began with us participating in worship at the Church. Sunday school was at 9:30 and the service began at 11:00. We enjoyed fellowship with the believers there and were encouraged to see many of the kids from our Push the Rock camp there. Many of the kids had a really tough time saying their goodbyes to us. It was tough to leave, but we were glad to have been an encouragement in the children’s lives. Many seeds were planted in their lives throughout the week and we know that God will provide the growth. We had lunch at the Pastor’s home before heading to the airport to fly out at around 8:00 p.m. We arrived at the airport in Philadelphia at 11:15 and made it back to Emmaus around 1:00 a.m. today. God definitely had His hand upon the trip.
“I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 3:14
Blessed to be able to attend service and worship with a host of nations – Spanish, American, Venezuelan, and even Swedish, we were welcomed by our host church with open arms and the traditional two cheek kiss. A great time of worship with song, communion, and the message, we clearly have been accepted into this local body of Christ. For some of us, it was a reunion of sorts while for others, all things were new. Both Tim and Kylie gave their testimonies in the service and while Tim has good control of the Spanish language, Kylie’s testimony was translated into Spanish. A fellowship time followed the service as the PTR team mingled with the church until lunch time. Served again by missionary Lois and her kitchen crew, we had a fantastic lunch which even included home made mashed potatoes. A very valuable and meaningful team time followed lunch as we spent time worshiping in song, both a cappella and with Sajid on the guitar. Hannah and Tim told their stories of what God has done and is doing in their lives and both were an encouragement to us all. Continuing in our study of Philippines, we were blessed by the discussion and input from both English and Spanish speakers alike. The team returned to their homes to change out of their church clothes and into something more comfortable for a meeting concerning the week’s clinics, then dinner, and then a trip into a nearby town for a little sight seeing, a little shopping and a little ice cream. Following a great day of worship and fellowship, we returned to our homes to rest and prepare for what comes next week. We are anticipating what God will do in us as well as with us as we engage with the children in the towns of Santa Ursula and La Victoria. May God use these simple clinics to bring honor to Him and spread His fame through us.
For the team, Coach Brendan
This is how Coach Chris Godshalk usually ends his talks with the kids and we thought it appropriate to begin our blog with this phrase as our time in Imola has come to and end. It has been such a joy to partner with Chiesa La Rocca Imola.
Each year at the end of the camp we play an Italian v. American soccer game in the Andrea Costa gym. It’s becoming quite the rivalry and this year was no different. Despite multiple shots on goal that hit the posts and the crossbars, the Americans were outdone in a 4-3 Italian victory.
Dinner at a local pizzeria is always a highlight of the end of the week and this year was no different. We filled the restaurant with local families and PTR players and the restaurant was kind enough to do the same with our bellies (maybe a little too much). It is always a bitter sweet time, often filled with “selfies” from the players/kids and hugs and traditional italian kisses goodbye. The kids love to sign things for us and vice versa as we hope to reunite the following year.
The following morning (Saturday) was a rest day. The team was able to sleep in, clean up the apartment we had the opportunity to stay in, and do another team time in preparation for the next week at Mestre. It wasn’t a coincidence that the team’s focus was based on Philippians 1:12-30 and reflecting on Paul’s single minded approach to the advancement of the gospel.
Therefore, it is on Saturday that our team ended up splitting up. Preston Turpin had a knee injury (torn meniscus and chipped femur bone) and will remain in Imola for surgery on Monday. Please pray for his speedy recovery and opportunity to reconnect with the team in Mestre as soon as possible.
The rest team, however, had a safe arrival to Mestre via train on Saturday afternoon and took a trip into Venice for an opportunity to enjoy dinner at a recommended restaurant right on the water. It was a welcomed refreshment to the daily grind of camp and the team will attend “Il Faro” (The Lighthouse) on Sunday with Mark and Kris Crooks.
PTR Italy ’14
Always eager for their guests to fellowship with the church and one another, host missionaries Dave and Steve arranged for an outing before we made our way up north to the town of Santa Ursula where our partner church is located. Some of our number choose to ride bikes down the volcano on an adventure ride, a few others chose to enjoy a relaxing day at the beach, and just a few chose to remain poolside. Whatever choice was made, each member of our group had a great time. The most exhilarating of the three events was the bike ride down the side of the volcano. To begin the journey, we were transported by van with bikes in tow near to the top of the volcano. Along the way to our downhill starting destination, we were given great views of the island as well as four of the other islands that are nearby. A beautiful sunny day allowed for wonderful vistas and the ability to see many impressive sights. On our journey up, we were told many interesting facts about Tenerife, one of which is that it boasts 412 volcanos on the island with the highest one, Mount Tiede, being the highest one in Spain and the third highest in the world. Once we reached our starting point, the bikes were taken off the trailer, we were given high visibly safety vests, helmets, gloves and a safety talk. When all was ready, we mounted the bikes to descend almost 2,000 meters on winding, twisting downhill roads. Partway in our excursion, we stopped along side the road for a quick Canarian lunch and then were back on our way. Once down at the bottom of the mountain and at sea level, we were taken back to where we were staying, just minutes away. A great adventure, it was a great way to see God’s creation and enjoy our time with each other. Those who stayed back, enjoyed time recovering from the busy week and late nights. Whether it was poolside, by the beach, or walking down the town’s version of a boardwalk, our team continued to fellowship with each other and allow the downtime to help rejuvenate for the week to come. Once on the road up north to Santa Ursula, we made a quick stop at our favorite European sporting goods store, Decathlon, before reaching our destination. Upon arrival, the team was given time to settle into to our new homes for the week, taking the opportunity to refresh and to prepare for dinner. Typical Spanish culture had us eating dinner around 9:30 at one of the many local restaurants that are locally and family owned. A fantastic meal with great company allowed us to enjoy the final moments of the day. Not long after a filling meal were we back in our homes and ready for bed. Greatly blessed by our Creator throughout the day in many ways, we look forward to worshipping Him tomorrow in the church where our host missionaries serve.
For the team, Coach Brendan
The last day of the first week as arrived. Tired, but ready for the task ahead of us, we set out to finish what we started in the towns of Los Cardones and Adeje. Using every minute possible, we took the opportunity to finish the week strong in the skill areas with which we have been working. The kids have shown improvement and continue to allow us to work with them both in the areas of sportsmanship and basketball. We even assisted in the completion of the basketball clubs competitions and 3 v 3 tournament. It was awesome being able to participate and assisted the club’s director, Eneko. A very well organized man, he had everything orchestrated to give the kids the best experience possible. As a part of the closing program, a mix of PTR, the missionaries, and the youth from our partner church put on a skit which demonstrated the value of having Jesus in your life. Fun yet poignant, the message was clear that having Jesus in your life is very valuable, and may even call you to walk away from friends until they choose Him. PTR also participated in the program and gave away PTR t-shirts as awards for the hard workers and those that demonstrated sportsmanship throughout the week. Excited to receive the same shirt that the coaches wear, the kids were also excited to be selected from among their peers as outstanding in their efforts. With the last event in the southern part of the island complete, we packed our bags and moved out of our home base into a hotel just for one night. This move will help us be prepared for trip to the north, where our partner church is located.
For the team, Coach Brendan
Today was our last day of camp! We had an awesome time with the kids and were able to play a variety of games with them. We started the day off with dodgeball, which the kids genuinely seemed to love. We played different forms of dodgeball to give the kids a bit of a varied experience playing the games. After dodgeball, we played a couple of different water games because of the hot weather outside. Following those games, we had team time and lunch, and then we held a re-match in flag football for the teams. We had played earlier on Tuesday, and this provided a chance for the teams to compete again after having played sports all week. Today was a blast, and the children will be greatly missed by the coaches. Tomorrow, we will have the opportunity to see many of them again at a Church picnic held for all the participants in their recent Vacation Bible School, their AWANA program, and the Push the Rock camp. We will have the opportunity to interact with people in an informal setting and enjoy some fellowship with the campers we had.
Tonight, the team had the opportunity to relax a bit more without having to prepare very much for tomorrow. We enjoyed team time out of Philippians 3:1-11 where we discussed what we truly valued in life. It has been a great week with the campers and we pray that the Lord continues to grow the seeds that were planted in their lives this week.
“Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ.” Philippians 3:8
We are looking for male basketball players who desire to use their gifts and abilities to serve the Lord in a unique environment. On August 23rd a Push The Rock team will be traveling to SCI Graterford to participate in a charity tournament they are hosting. For the past 3 years Push The Rock has been playing in various prisons in Eastern, PA and we have been very blessed by the experiences we have had interacting with the inmates within these facilities. Basketball is truly an awesome tool for sharing the love of Christ! If you are interested in joining us for this day, or would like to be contacted regarding future prison ministry opportunities please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Today was a really fun and exciting day for the campers. They had the ability to play many different games. We played kickball, whiffleball, capture the flag, and tag. By the end of the day, the campers were all exhausted from the running they had done! The kids have really become comfortable being around the coaches and enjoy spending time with them.
One of the highlights of the camp day was the Play for Christ commitment challenge. We taught the campers how Christ is to be glorified in all the things we say and do, and that extends into the sports world. Our director shared with the campers how they can worship God with the way they play their sports and challenged them to consider signing a sheet that said they would play to honor God. The campers were not forced to sign it, but were allowed the option to decide on their own whether they would like to make the commitment or not. We stressed playing for Christ throughout the day, even when the campers struggled with their competitive attitudes. The team time we had with them reflected a lot of the things that were learned in Play for Christ. We talked about loving others, with our theme verses being 1 John 4:7-9: “Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God.” The campers were challenged to show love to their opponents, refs, and opposing fans as they played sports.
After camp today, the team had time to rest and relax. Dinner was held at 5:30, where we were able to eat rice and chicken. After dinner, we were invited to go ice-skating at a local ice-rink. The team had some time to enjoy themselves and enjoy fellowship with each other.
We ended the day, as always, with team time. Tonight, we focused on Philippians 2:12-30. We discussed the meaning of Paul’s phrase to “work out your salvation”. We were able to learn a lot and be challenged by the team chaplain. We had the chance to also pray for several of the campers that God had placed upon our hearts. Tomorrow is our last day of camp, so we pray that we can really build these connections with the campers and share with them Christ’s message of love and forgiveness effectively.
What? A week? Already? It is so hard to believe that a week has gone by and that we are preparing for the last day of clinics in the South. As you might expect from a group that has lived together, worked together, played together, eaten every meal together, rooted through bags of each other’s clean laundry, we have grown close to each other. We are building friendships and relationships that are very valuable in supporting each other while we are together. Two locals who are relatively young believers are such an encouragement to us. The resident missionaries from the US and Venezuela continue to bless us also. Through words and deeds, the team is being blessed. But it doesn’t stop there. The team, in return, is able to bless each other and also those we are living among. Opportunities arise and are seized as the group cares for one another. Through the daily routine is similar as it has been Monday through today, the experiences are new each day and relationships with the kids, no matter what age, grow stronger. Tonight’s game was the men’s game against the local basketball club that is hosting us. Always eager to compete against the Americans, tonight’s team fit the bill. The PTR team, composed of American, Spanish, and Venezuelan believers was privileged to have among its ranks one who gave us an opportunity to minister not just on the court, but also in the huddle. Off to a slow start, the PTR team fell behind by the end of the first quarter. Working hard to crawl out of the hole, the PTR team did all it could, but could just not crest the top. Missing 13 lay-ups, the PTR team ended the game behind 80-60. Add in those 13 and the PTR team would have won by 6. As a bunch of individuals who came together just 5 days ago and have ministered all day to the kids at the clinics, they played extremely well against a formal team who have been training together for a while. Despite the tough play on the part of the opposing team, the PTR team maintained the character and integrity of Christ-followers. Multiple times the PTR team helped a player up after he fell and PTR players were seen chasing balls that went way out of bounds just to hand it to the other team to continue the game. Although the scoreboard said we lost, in the most important part of the game, we won. By God’s grace and mercy, He was able to use those 40 minutes as an opportunity to praise Him and allow His Son to shine. More ministry opportunities are on the horizon and we are excited to be able to see how God will use them for Himself and His glory.
For the Team, Coach Brendan