Yesterday the week culminated with the 2020 Zambia Open. After a great day Friday running the kids and glow in the dark events, everyone was ready to compete. The rains did not discourage the kids from coming, and they were there bright and early. The adult players trickled in and we ended up delaying the day a bit since many were walking there, and the rain was steady throughout the morning. Eventually, everyone arrived and we were ready to kick off the day with 73 competitors.
The team did a great job working with the Zambian staff checking things in and keeping the morning organized. Wilborn led a short meeting where he shared the rules of the day, and let everyone know how the day would proceed. After that, he prayed and we were off and running. The first round went great and all of the team members had stories to share from their respective cards as they played along with local players of all different skill levels. One of the local Zambians also shot the best score of the first round!
After a wonderful lunch that was prepared by local cooks, we went back out for the second round. All of the divisions were close, and the players were excited to see what they could do. Although the rains held off for the first round, the second round was a different story. Heavy rains resulted in some flooding on the course and a lot of crazy times for all. Amazingly enough, all 73 players completed the round and made it back despite being completely drenched. After some fun games, Coach Wilborn hosted the award ceremony. For many, this was the highlight of the day. Players cheered for their friends and family members as they were announced, and there was a really special moment when the winning junior player was lifted up by his dad who had just arrived to see him win the award! All in all the Zambian Open was a great day for the community of Macha, and the team did a great job helping to assist in running things.
After a tiring week, the team had the opportunity to share a more relaxing day in Macha. It started with a wet walk to church and a really memorable church service. The worship music was great, and all enjoyed the energetic message shared with the pastor. After that, we had the privilege to go to Coach Wilborn’s house for lunch which he had spent many hours preparing. We all sat on the floor and ate a great, traditional Zambian meal. Wilborn was a wonderful host, and it was a highlight of the week to be able to join him in his home for the afternoon.
After one last disc golf round in Macha we had the opportunity to hear from two couples from the United States who have been part of the Macha Community for much of the last 30+ years. They shared about the history of the hospital, the work that has been done to combat malaria, and more. It was really interesting to hear all that has happened in Macha, and it was an honor to spend this time with these faithful couples. We concluded the day with more testimonies, and time spent discussing the book of James. Tomorrow the team will leave Macha for Livingstone where we will spend the afternoon visiting Victoria Falls.
What an amazing day!! So many highlights from the day, but we’ll start with sharing that five standard baskets are officially in the ground! We are so happy to have these in the ground for the Zambia Open this year. Hole 18 will be the only hole that we will maintain the original short basket, but the regular layout will play to the new long position. We know the players will love to see all 18 baskets soon and we can’t wait to come back next year to see them. The final two baskets were built solely by the local staff, so the remaining baskets should not be far behind.
We are so thrilled to have had the opportunity to walk alongside Wilborn to host the junior tournament. We were not sure how many kids to expect, but we ended up having 90 kids play! This is a great testament to all the great work Wilborn has been putting in this year of training kids to get better, but even more so his willingness to be a light and friend to this community. What’s even crazier is that we even turned away over 25 kids who showed up to play for the very first time. Since these kids have not been training with the others, Wilborn had them follow their friends and invited them to start training with him next week.
We were blown away by some of the scores as well. We gave away 19 entries for junior boys and 7 entries for the junior girls to the Zambia Open. For the junior boys, the hot round was 47 (-8) by an 18U player followed close behind by a 13U player shooting a 48(-7). The cut-off line to qualify for the Zambia Open tomorrow was a 56(+1) which meant that 18 of 19 players who qualified shot par to do so. These players are a mix of all ages, even including a couple of 10-year-olds! While the disc golf was impressive, the best part of the day was seeing the joy that filled the course. Kids cheered each other on, laughed with each other, celebrated together, and we had the awesome privilege to join in.
After the junior tournament, the team enjoyed another wonderful meal before the glow disc golf round. The glow round is a very special time for the team as they get paired up with a Zambian staff member and get to play in the moonlight. Everyone was having a wonderful time as you could hear the excitement throughout the course anytime someone had a good shot. The night ended with a tie-breaker closest to the pin competition, and the celebration from the winners was so fun to see.
Today was definitely a special day, and it is just so incredible to see how God is being proclaimed on the disc golf course here. We can’t wait for the community to come together tomorrow for the 2nd Zambia Open, and our prayer is that God would move in a powerful way throughout the day.
Finally, we want to share that someone has already gotten an ace on a new basket! With many witnesses with him, Wilborn aced hole 18’s brand new basket which is in the new long position we re-designed. He threw a low flat hyzer shot that skipped once and crashed into the beautiful new chains and settled gently at the bottom of the cage. At least half of the team members witnessed it and were really excited to see such a great shot and especially so soon after the basket was put in the ground!
Day 4 was highlighted by the first standard disc golf basket installed in Zambia! Thanks to Chris Rodriguez, we have generated a lot of excitement from the Zambians with a 28 chain basket! What an improvement from their typical 8 chain basket with a water bin attached. The new baskets have been designed specifically for this course in Macha using materials donated by El Guapo Baskets along with 3 private donors. Two baskets were fully completed and installed with three more planning to be installed before the junior tournament tomorrow afternoon. What has been great about this process is that Boyd, Martin, & Gerald, local Zambian Push The Rock staff members, will be able to complete the rest of the 18 baskets once the team has left. All basket materials are ready for assembling and installation which will be taking place over the next couple weeks to complete their course.
After lunch, the team had the unique opportunity to visit Coach Gerald’s house and walk through the Macha market. It was a meaningful time for the team to talk with Coach G and meet his family. He shared with the team his perspective on disc golf in the community, and the value it brings.
Meanwhile, the rest of the team has finished preparing the course for the tournaments. The five new long tee pads will be used for one of the rounds on Saturday for some of the divisions. Over 50 kids came out this afternoon to train for the tournament tomorrow. Around 20 of the top scores will be granted entry into the Zambia Open on Saturday, free of charge thanks to our generous sponsors. The tournaments here are very special to Macha as it really brings the community together. Kids are being let out of school and some kids are even traveling from an hour away to play! We can’t wait to share pictures and stories with you tomorrow!
Today was another full day for the team! While part of the team worked on putting the new baskets together and starting the welding process, the rest of the team worked on the course in the morning and afternoon. The primary objective on the course today was to add some longer tee pads to challenge the best players and help them continue to improve. The team decided on adding 5 new long tee pads along with changing one basket location. We will do all the finishing touches on these tomorrow and the plan is for five baskets to be completed and ready to install!
In the afternoon, we trained with the 10-12 year old boys and a large group of girls. The course was packed again and our team had the opportunity to play with the kids while offering some instruction. We continue to be impressed by some of the shots these kids are capable of, and it is certainly a lot of fun to watch. The kids are warming up to the team which allows for some fun, and meaningful interactions. After the kids left we got to spend more time on the course and many of the workers were training for Saturday!
The evening was spent eating another great meal at the Thuma’s house, praying together, sharing testimonies, studying the word, and spending some time worshipping our Lord. What a great way to end a very full day. Tomorrow we can’t wait to get these baskets in the ground and see the reaction from the players.
After a very restful, and very needed night of sleep for most of the team, day two started off by finishing a walk-through of the course in daylight for the first time. We then joined the local Zambians slashing the high grass on some holes. In Zambia, most grass cutting is completely done with manual labor using slashers, so as you can imagine, the locals were much more efficient with the cutting than the team. Nonetheless, most of the fairways were completely mowed and we will go to work deciding which holes can have long pads. A lot of the players here are getting really good and definitely need more of a challenge!
While we worked on the course, Chris Rodriguez and a local crew worked together to prepare for building the baskets. This included a lot of planning, collaborating, and bending metal. Thankfully the work went well, and everyone is feeling great about the process for the days to come. We are not sure how many baskets will be finished by Saturday, but we are optimistic we will get a number built and installed!
After enjoying lunch together, the team got a chance to finally play the course for the first time. Witnessing our staff member Wilborn and his amazing forehand lines wowed many of us. Once we finished, it was time for kids to start showing up for the afterschool program which Wilborn leads nearly every weekday. Around 50 kids showed up, and we broke up into groups and went out with the kids to play. Many of them are very excited and preparing for the Friday juniors tournament where they can win a spot into the Zambia Open. One of the best moments was watching Wilborn share his devotional with the kids before the disc golf round asking them the question we receive in Proverbs 4, are we following the light, or heading towards darkness? Wilborn is not only a great disc golf player, but he is great at building relationships and sharing the love of Christ.
A highlight of the night was hearing from Eric and Corie Thuma. They shared the history of Push The Rock in Zambia, their ministry for philosophy, and what the future holds. All of us already recognize how special this place is, and it was great to hear how God put the pieces together to make it happen. Tomorrow we will continue work on the course, look to add some additional tees, continue working on the basket building, and spend more time teaching disc golf in the afternoon.
After nearly 25 hours of travel, the team landed in Zambia and made the 3 hour trip by car to the Push The Rock Zambia campus. After being greeted at the campus, the team went out and walked the course as the sun disappeared over the horizon. For most of the team, this was their first look at the course and they were pleasantly surprised by how great it looked.
Eagles Wings staff member Wilborn Munkombwe has put in a ton of work over the past year, especially on the tee pads. They were all leveled and packed down hard enough that they felt like concrete. Another big surprise was how much the fairway had been worn down by all of the kids playing each day. The team is looking to head to bed early tonight to get a fresh start tomorrow where they will begin organizing supplies, starting to build baskets, and working on the course before doing clinics in the afternoon.