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.
Wednesday July 3
On Saturday, each team that came to the tournament had to bring 5 “despensas,” which is different types of goods to help the orphanage the missionaries are involved with. Today we ended up taking those despensas to the orphanage and we got to see some of the kids and take a tour of where they live. They were so thankful for all we were able to get from the different teams to support them in a small way. After that we took a tour of downtown Guadalajara, went to our evening clinics and finished our day off with two flag football games. It was a great day, but sadly tomorrow is our last day.
Tuesday July 2
This morning, we woke up and had breakfast and our daily devotional around 8:00am. We then walked to a school where we ran flag football clinics from 9:20 am – 1:20 pm for over 300 kids! It was a so much fun and a highlight of the week for many. Many of the coaches got to share a sportsmanship thought helping the kids understand how to play sports in a Godly way. We then ate some of the most delicious empanadas in the world, had our Team Time and rested before our evening clinics. At 4:00 pm we left for our evening clinics where we had double the kids as the day before. A coach shared another sportsmanship thought and testimony with the participants.
Hard to believe we are almost done with the week. With it being Thursday and following some late nights, the team was very tired going into the camp morning. As we began the basketball portion of the day, one of the coaches shared the day’s sportsmanship thought: Attitude and how attitude impacts not only us but those around us. He even highlighted that we cannot let our situation dictate our attitude. After skill development and 3v3 games, we enjoyed pasta for lunch with the kids. The afternoon portion of the camp was a trip to a local pool, so we decided to go as this would be relaxing but also great to spend more time with the kids. We spent about 2 ½ hours at the pool and had a brief debrief discussing the logistics of Friday in which we were planning to have a festival in the afternoon centered around Canada and the U.S. since Canada Day (July 1) and the 4th of July were coming up. Following the pool, we grabbed gelato at a local gelateria. This gelateria was ranked in the top 30 of all Italy for its creative gelato flavors. After enjoying this tasty gelato, we proceed back home for rest and dinner. For dinner, we enjoyed pasta with panna (whipping cream) and sausages. This dish was one of the coaches favorite meals. We spent dinner discussing various stories and answering questions. Team Time proceeded dinner and the team would get to bed at a pretty decent time.
It’s Friday and the last day of camp. Many of us started to get sad as we knew this was the last day we would get to spend with the kids and possibly never see them again. We decided that camp would be filled with many games and competitions. The sportsmanship thought for the day was love and what it means to love others. We even highlighted the greatest love which comes from God, and that’s Jesus Christ. The kids participated in various defensive, shooting, and dribbling competitions. Following snack, we played a 20-minute game of soccer in which the Italians won 4 – 2. Before lunch, we thanked the kids for an amazing week and gave out our “Christian Character” award to 3 kids who displayed all the characteristics we highlighted throughout the week. During lunch, many of us coaches were signing autographs on kids’ shirts. Following lunch, we started the festival with several games from bean bag toss to water games to slapshot competitions. After games, the parents arrived and heard various songs that their kids learned. The songs were in English so it was great to be able to join them in singing the songs. To conclude the day, we had watermelon and lemonade with the kids and their parents. It was definitely hard to say goodbye to all the kids. Before heading home, we went to get gelato at another gelateria with a couple of the high school helpers. The gelato was very good. After saying goodbye to them, we rushed home to get showered and dressed as we would meet up with the missionaries from the camp in a nearby town called Brisghella, known for its two towers. We got a chance to go up one of the towers and take pictures. The view was amazing. We would have piadine for dinner along with more gelato. The team headed back and got to bed as we would be traveling to Florence in the morning.
Day 3 of our week in Faenza/Forli followed the same schedule as the other days. We ate breakfast and heard a Pebble Challenge from one of the coaches. Following breakfast, we proceeded to camp to lead basketball in the morning. Today, we had only 12 kids as some kids were tired from the past two days. Our Sportsmanship Thought was on humility and what that looks like in our lives. The kids went through various drills to improve their shooting, passing, dribbling, and defense. The coaches’ challenge was three-point shooting in which one of the coaches won the competition pretty easily. Following the coaches’ challenge, the kids played 3v3 or 4v4 against each other. For lunch, we enjoyed some risotto and salad. After lunch, we left to rest and then head to Imola to see some of the kids from past camps. We arrived in Imola around 5:30 pm and noticed that the local court had a large 3v3 tournament that lasts about 2 weeks. Therefore, we had to find another court to play on and this gave us a chance to meet some other people. Following a few pickup games, we were invited back to two of the boys’ house for dinner. We had some local pizza and just chatted about life. The brothers informed us that they were playing in the 3v3 game and that we could watch them play so we stayed to watch their first game. Their team won the first game of the night. In between games, we proceeded to a local restaurant for some gelato. While eating our gelato, we walked back to the court to say our goodbyes and proceed home, arriving at home around midnight.