Posted tagged ‘VisionTrust’

Promising Basketballs

June 28, 2013

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                                      June 28, 2013

 

On our first day of basketball camp at Grace School in Herrera (an area in the inner city of Santo Domingo…kind of like saying “The Bronx” as a part of New York City), I made a promise to the kids. At our first session that first day we only had eight children. We had planned on a hundred for each session (although, in hindsight, we are somewhat thankful that didn’t happen).

A couple of our VisionTrust bags on our trip down were filled with deflated basketballs that had been donated. We brought seventy-five balls with us and spent a good deal of time putting air in them after we arrived. So on Monday I opened my mouth and inserted tennis shoe, and said that we would give a basketball to each child on Thursday, our last day of camp.

Many basketball camps in Colorado Springs do that. I had just helped at a camp at the Classical Academy a couple of weeks ago and each of the fifty campers got their own basketball.

So…no big deal, right?

Yesterday…Thursday, after our first session…the one that had eight children the first day…thirty-seven basketballs were handed to kids as they left the 8:30-10:00 session. By the end of the day we had given out all of our basketballs…plus the fifteen that the school had…plus we have the names of the eleven boys who did not receive one yet.

I need to buy the eleven plus replace the fifteen! It is an expensive lesson on making promises to kids…who have cousins…who have cousins!

In essence, about a hundred basketballs, or the promise of a basketball, exited the building yesterday. And I was the one who did the training session for our team about the American tendency to treat the problem of poverty with the solution of “giving people things.” Poverty is really brokenness…brokenness in terms of a person’s relationship with one or more of the four foundational relationships: with God, with myself, with the rest of creation, or with others.

We often treat the symptoms of poverty without acknowledging the core problems.

So today there are many children in Herrera who have a new basketball, but they still returned to the same situations of brokenness in their homes and communities.

I guess my hope is that as they hold their basketballs they will think about the week they had at camp, the hope of Christ that we shared with them. That as they think about some of our daily lessons of jumping, shooting, and shooting an impossible shot, they will think about the lessons we taught concerning grace, forgiveness, and the love of Christ.

Last night we met two exceptional young people who are graduating from high school- Pamela and Delton- who come from very difficult situations. Pamela taught herself English. She spoke to us last night more clearly than many of us talk. She volunteers with VisionTrust two to three days a week, and wants to major in tourism. Delton, who looks like a six-foot Kobe Bryant, and plays like Kobe, grew up in an orphanage, Remar. He is heading to the University next year, but wants to help the children who are still living at Remar. He wants to major in computer engineering.

Both Pamela and Delton were redirected in the course of their lives because, first of all, God loves them, and secondly, because God grabbed hold of the heart of some people and made them realize that he had a purpose for the lives of a little girl and a little boy, but that purpose could not be realized without someone being obedient to God’s beckoning.

It makes me wonder how many children are lost because someone didn’t heed the calling of God to come alongside.

A new basketball will not change any of the lives of those hundred children, but perhaps it will help them to know that there is a way of hope, a place of grace, and a plan for their lives that will lead them to make a difference.

I still have to get twenty-six more basketballs! I’m okay with that!

Meeting The Children

June 28, 2013

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                                        June 27, 2013

This week, if you have been reading my blog, you know that I’ve been in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic as a part of a sixteen person mission team doing basketball camps and construction projects. The construction crew painted all of the classrooms and the hallways so that when the 400 students come back to school in August they will be greeted with a fresh look, a new beginning.

Today many of us were able to meet the children that we sponsor through VisionTrust. Carol and I have been sponsors for several years, but today was the first time I was able to meet our two Dominican children face-to-face. Alexa will be in sixth grade. I can tell that she loves to laugh and talk. She is cute as a button, and shared that she loves all food…even veggies!

I found myself getting emotional as I met her and talked, through our translator, with her. I’m not sure why my eyes got a little misty, but I think it was probably because today was a connecting point- connecting the sending of our financial sponsorship each month with who it is helping. I have to admit that Carol and I have sponsored children for so long that it has become easy to see it as a monthly bill to be paid instead of a gift to help someone in a different country. Just send the bill in with a check along with the utility bill and car insurance bill.

Today, however, gave me a completely new appreciation.

And then I met Johan, a third grader, who was shy and much as expansive in his answers to my questions as Alexa was. I’m sure it was a little intimidating for him to meet an old guy for the first time who kept asking a lot of questions about him and what he liked and didn’t like, favorite school subject, how many siblings, etc.

Alexa and Johan, two children who I will pray will be held in God’s hands, protected and growing each day.

It was a good day! A day of firsts. Perhaps tomorrow I will write about how I put my foot in my mouth on the first day of basketball camp this week and ended up giving away 91 basketballs.

 

P.S. The Cunfer family is awesome! They met the child they sponsored today also. Like me they connected to points that gave them a new perspective.