Now you know why I titled this post "With God, It's Possible." While God's timing is sometimes subtle, there are times it slaps you in the face. I had been questioning the long flights and a growing concern about what we'd find when we arrived at Lira Integrated School and whether there was any way we were going to accomplish something good. As they say, "oh ye of little faith." So this bus flap was a nice little slap in the face to remind me who was in charge and that I should be about His business. While the sport objectives were to be strictly secular so we did not step on the feet of the grant givers, our little crew gladly represented the faith-based side of the trip. Here is a sweet list of the planned endeavors for our team as a whole.
1. Conduct a large-scale basketball coaching clinic
Who was on the team? Representatives of International Sport Connection (ISC) led the basketball clinic and included coaching staff, support staff and kid wranglers (it's more fun to call them that instead of kid staff). Funding is provided by the SportsUnited Division of the U.S. State Department's Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. According to ISC officers and board members Jens and Megan Omli, ISC's mission is to
"connect vulnerable youth with caring adult mentors who are equipped with international-standard technical training and timeless leadership principles."Mentor coaches from the U.S. and Uganda met with 200+ Ugandan coaches and coach candidates in academic and on-court sessions. Following each busy day, the evening program helped build camaraderie and reinforce lessons through games, mixers, talent shows and other activities. 500+ local boys and girls (we worked hard to register a 50/50 mix) played with kid wranglers (American teens, college students and Lira teachers who were organized by a U.S. professor) when they were not on the court learning basketball skills. Upcoming posts will feature more details of each program.
2. Teach swimming and develop swim instructors
I was the lead instructor trainer and one of my ACU students was excited to help. Unfortunately she stumbled in the dark the first night following the evening program and cut an almost 2" gash into the front of her left calf. Did I mention how very dark the night can be and how exquisitely bright the stars can be in Lira? It is and they are, but not quite bright enough to illuminate every little (or big) hole in the ground at the school.
3. Create a sewing classroom at the school
Rachel has created sewing rooms in many countries and the plan here was to work with a few women (preferably seamstresses) so they could maintain the sewing machines and teach the school children the life skill of sewing. J. built the work station tables and a large, central cutting table. I have tales to tell about how all this worked out (look for THAT post!).
4. Introduce Pickle-Ball
Dr. Curtis wrote the book about Pickle-Ball. She really did! She mentioned our plans to the creator of Pickle-Ball who promptly shipped a very large box to Abilene. Into our suitcases went three nets, many paddles and balls, the book and DVDs. John David, another ACU student, enjoys the game and was ready to teach.
5. Conduct Vacation Bible School (VBS)
Luke was in charge. We planned Bible lessons, crafts and games. Mr. Luke, as he became known, warmed up the kids with delightful songs and interactive motions. There were four of us and hundreds, probably thousands, of children wanting in the gates.
Sing with me, this little light of mine...
6. Deliver the dresses sewn by contributors to the Lira School Dress Project
With gratitude we received little girls' dresses from across the U.S.A. Sweet Heather in Alabama started the project with the hope of sending 66 dresses for the school's primary 1 girls. Instead our suitcases held over 260 dresses, 132 panties, and some toys.
7. Deliver New Testaments (with Proverbs and Psalms)
How best to deliver these unfolded as the week progressed. Oh yes, we have stories to share and I hope you'll follow in the coming weeks.
Previously I mentioned that the trip exceeded our expectations. One note here: we met American college-aged men and women participating in World Race (worldrace.org) who offered blessing upon blessing. Their help on the final day of VBS was stupendous! And yet, there was MORE in store for us throughout the week in addition to meeting them. So...as the kids played, bounced balls, made crafts, sewed tote bags, learned new sports, and learned many leadership lessons...I can say with confidence that one of the hardest weeks of one's life became yet again one of the best!