Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Nicaragua Sports Ministry - May 18, 2012

Thank you to all of you who have prayed for our team during this incredible mission! This has been a life changing experience for each and every one of us, so be prepared for stories and many, many details of how the Lord is working in Leon , Nicaragua . Most of us wouldn´t be the people we are today without you and the love you´ve shown us, so on behalf of the entire team, we sincerely thank you for the role you´ve played in our lives. God absolutely ordained and blessed this team of people to come together on this trip. I´ve been continuously amazed at the degree of patience, love, service, and selflessness that I´ve witnessed. (Which means a lot regarding a team composed of mostly college-ages boys...)

This morning we were able to sleep in later than 7 or 7:30am for the first time all week! (Which is actually like 9 or 9:30 EST, so we can´t really complain...) It was refreshing for everyone to wake up on their own accord and get as much sleep as they needed on our last day, which turned out to be less strenuous than most of the days we´ve been here. We started out by watching a rare women´s game, Leon vs. Managua . It was really interesting to go from watching men´s soccer (futbol) to watching women on the field. After the game we enjoyed yet another ridiculously good meal prepared by the lovely ladies cooking for us all week, then relaxed for a bit until we headed back to the market for the team to find some gifts for family and friends at home, and to just enjoy the architecture and sights of the city. The lifestyle and culture is so vastly different from what we´re all used to, and it´s been really good for us to experience life outside of the daily routine. No one really seems to be on a time crunch or working from a strict schedule, which is something most of the team is dreading going back to. (Including myself.) We drove to a soccer field where the boys set up different soccer training sessions for the local boys depending on their ages. To our understanding, they don´t receive weekly skills training like boys in the United States do when they´re on an organized team, so the boys were extremely appreciative and receptive to what our team was offering. Those of us on this trip not skilled in the ways of soccer broke out some balloon animals, bubbles, and passed out Silly Band bracelets for all the younger kids to enjoy. Seeing a child who has close to nothing hold their own balloon animal or put on their own bracelet is the most humbling and special thing. I was overwhelmed when a young boy insisted I have a bracelet he already owned as a gift. As best as I could tell, he said it was a joy to have us and he needed me to take it as a token of his appreciation. I also saw a family I met the first or second day we arrived (all the days run together...) that I didn´t think I would run into again. I just heard some children yelling my name as they came up to our group and I realized instantly who they were. The fact that they remembered my name was such a blessing for me, and I could tell they loved that I remembered all of their names, too. We headed back to the house after a wonderful afternoon and had dinner before the boys headed out to play their last game of soccer against Oscar (our host) and his team. The score was really close and it was a great game to watch. Seeing our boys smile and shake hands after losing was awesome to see. It was too hard for them to call it a night that they ended up playing another game in the rain with a team that was practicing on the field. They have been playing for the glory of God this entire week and are going to continue to show that when they return home. We can´t wait for you to see all the changes in our lives!

Please continue to pray for our focus to be on the opportunities God is trying to give us and not on our flesh. And pray for continued safety and protection as we fly back to reality tomorrow! We are leaving our host home at an extremely early hour (4am-ish) so it will be an interesting day tomorrow to say the least. It´s going to be difficult to leave, and I wouldn´t be surprised if some of your loved ones come home with plans to return next year at the very latest. The work God is doing here through Oscar and his family is astounding, so please pray for continued mission teams and the financial support they will provide to feed and clothe so many people. We love and thank you, and we´ll see you very soon.