Italy Update #8

Multo Caldo! (Very Hot)

That sums up at least the weather for this week. We are outside from 8:30 – 5:30 every day with the kids in the heat and water stations are more frequent than every before. With the temps in the low to high 90s every day, we spend as much time as we can at the fountain and in the shade. Of course, the hoops are in the sun, so you can imagine how that works:). We are having a great week! The kids are working very hard and continue to get better. They have also listened extremely well.

Tuesday was a much smoother day than Monday as we all reached a higher comfort level with each other and with how things were going to run at the park and in the heat. We have some challenges there with only 1.5 courts and construction going on nearby, but that has not curtailed any enthusiasm. In addition to the kids at camp, we have a number of high school and university students who are trying to learn English. They are not believers yet but are hoping that they are spiritually challenged as they listen to the testimonies and Gospel stories each day. Those from the church translate the “spiritual components” of camp while they translate many of the “basketball components.” It is a unique way for us to reach another group of people.

After a full day at camp on Tuesday we went to another local park to play a game. We played as long as we could until the sun disappeared and really enjoyed getting to know some of the young players in the community. Some we had known from years past, some were even campers a few years ago, and others were new contacts. We played the game with one of our current campers serving as the ref, so you can imagine the opportunities to practice good sportsmanship, honesty, and integrity during the game:). He was put into a very tough position and did fine … it was fun.

Wednesday … Happy Independence Day! As the week goes on kids tend to show up later and later in the morning. Yesterday was no exception. However, once everyone arrived (by 9:10) they were treated to special concert. Our American team members sang the “Star Spangled Banner” and our Scottish teammate sang his national anthem. Then we asked the kids to sing the Italian national anthem, which they really seemed to take pride in. It was a great way to kick off the morning and get the kids excited.

Yesterday was a bit cooler and there was more a consistent breeze throughout the day, which made a bit of a difference. Either way, the kids worked hard through the stations and were soaking up everything we were throwing at them. These kids are pretty fundamentally sound and basketball savvy as the majority of them come from the local basketball clubs. That does make a difference when it comes to teaching the skills and the speed at which you challenge them to advance those skills.

During the lunch break kids are rotating through non-basketball stations where they can ask the coaches about 1) life, 2) basketball, and 3) spiritual things. Yesterday three different kids expressed a strong desire to know more about this “evangelical Christian” idea we have been presenting. One young man, who is joining us for the 4th year, asked a lot of very good, in-depth questions about God and His role in our lives. Another young man, who is also joining us for the 4th year, has a father and mother who each believe in very different things. As a 12-year old he made a very interesting comment … “I am worried about when I am 18 and have to choose one of 3 paths for my life.” He was referring to having to choose between what his father believes, what his mother believes, and what we are challenging him to consider. And the third young man is new to camp this year and is experiencing everything new for the first time. What a tremendous day yesterday! Praise the Lord for these conversations that are happening with the kids! We pray that the author of salvation would draw these kids unto Himself!

Last night we had truly unique and wonderful opportunity. We were invited to the home of one of our campers from years past. She is recovering from an injury but has been a special part of camp the past 4 years. She and her Mom invited our whole team plus another family over for a seafood dinner. The meal was amazing, but the fellowship together in their home was even better. Praise the Lord for the relationships that continue to be formed and deepened!

Today the Gospel will be clearly presented by someone from the local church. Please pray with us that the Holy Spirit would move in the hearts of the kids and that they would come to a saving knowledge of our Lord and Savior. Thanks for praying! We need it! We are in the homestretch and are trusting the Lord for strength and energy to finish well!

To God be the Glory!

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