Saturday, July 7, 2012- Nicaraguan Sports Team Update
“Today was the first day with the local kids. Seeing the smile on their faces brought an even bigger smile to me. I can’t wait to see what we get to do the rest of the week!” Will Norton, Indy Youth
Buenos dias para Managua, Nicaragua. One of the things that I would like to do this week is to include comments from as many of the team members as possible. The quote above from Will is a good introduction to the day. It started for me with a quiet morning run through the neighborhood and a fantastic breakfast that included some of the best fresh fruits that I have eaten. We loaded up our bus with a sound system, sports equipment, about 50 lunches, drinks, and our team of 17. Our job for the day was to begin to build relationships with young people from a local church and community. The tools included baseballs, futbols, basketballs, and volleyballs- sport is the vehicle we are using to connect. We took a ten minute drive to the sports facility where we spent our day. We arrived about 30 minutes before the kids and a great game of Knockout (Gotcha for the Tennessee crowd) began that included most of the team members. A short, fun bonding experience for the team. This takes me off the beaten path for a few lines- as I type this I am sitting on the porch at La Quinta Primavera in the middle of three different card games going on at the same time. Young and old; Nashville and Indianapolis all playing Phase 10, Euchre, and other games together. The group is getting along extremely well!
Back to our day…our group arrived at the sports complex at about 9 am. The team formed a line to welcome our new friends and we walked with them to a covered pavilion for instructions and a few ice breakers. We played two games that caused us to move around and have fun…
“The one thing I will remember about today was the faith that my partner showed while we were playing Railroad Tracks game and how she ran up to me and jumped into my arms trusting me to catch her.” Dawn Fair, Indy Adult (I’ll let Dawn explain Railroad Tracks to those who are curious)
After the games we divided the kids into 4 groups each with 9-15 and it was off to sports. The kids rotated to new sports every 30 minutes. So we had 52 Nicaraguan kids, some parents, and some very small children playing sports or sitting and talking with members of our group. The moments that I got to stop teaching basketball for a minute I would look at all the activity and I felt so filled by what I was seeing…kids from different backgrounds playing soccer and baseball together. Kids learning new things at their basketball and volleyball stations. And Nicaraguan mothers sitting and talking with our team members. After two hours of sports we ate lunch together, enjoyed a devotion by David Cupp, and headed out for an hour of just playing and hanging out. Here is what some others have to say about the day:
“Today was awesome! The Nicaraguans were so friendly and are really good at sports. During prayer they all looked thankful. Again today was awesome.” Andrew Nelson, Indy Youth
“Besides learning that I am really bad at baseball, I had so much fun meeting our new Nica friends for the first time. Even though we couldn’t communicate with words we really connected. I fell completely in love with the kids and had fun trying to talk to the ones my age. I am so excited to go swimming with some of them tomorrow.” Autumn Fair, Indy Youth
“I was working and playing soccer with all the kids today and had such a great time. The kids were so fun and lovable. The most rewarding part was at the end when a group of girls wanted to go play baseball. I have never in my life played baseball but it was so much fun! They were so excited and cheering for everyone on our team. I think that’s when I really realized it didn’t matter to them who knew their language or not, they just want to love and be loved.”
I gotta say that I learned a lot about communicating without talking. It was great! I was laughed at several times as I tried to recall Spanish from my three years I took in high school and played unofficial games of charades trying to teach squaring up to the basket. Others learned things as well…
“Today I learned patience. By not being able to speak the same language as our Nica friends I had to be patient. Almost every time I tried to have a conversation I had to as a translator for help. This was very difficult for me because I am used to everything being so instantaneous. Also, not being able to understand them the first time they said something was frustrating. I had to ask them to repeat themselves multiple times so I could understand when a translator wasn’t around. Although it was frustrating I am glad I experienced some different barriers and that my eyes were opened to new things.” -Kerri Loftis, Nashville Adult (kind of)
I think that I can speak for the entire team when I say that the highlight of the day was our Nicaraguan friends. They are so accepting of us and so ready to love and have fun. I could spend many paragraphs talking about Cristian, Joseph, Judith, Jorge, Marcos, Eddy, Francis, and a lot of others. But I will spare my stories and end with one from Rob McEwan, Indy Adult: “Today I met a two year old named Allison. She reminded me of my daughter but also made me think about how young children can be so accepting of others because they don’t have any preconceived notions or prejudices. God calls us to greet everyone the way Allison greeted me- with a smile and an outstretched hand.”
Tomorrow we head to a local lake (clean) to take most of the group we met today swimming. Then we get cleaned up for a 3 pm church service at a local congregation that is apparently going to be quite the experience.
Exciting news for the day- there will be a basketball game at the sports complex between members here at La Quinta and a Nicaraguan team put together by a local high school coach. I am excited, but a little concerned. Talk about a major road game….and the word on the street is that the Nicaraguan that is arranging their team has connections to the Nicaraguan National Team. It could get ugly….and I hope that I won’t end up in a Managuan hospital…yikes.