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On A Mission: Sports Ministry Sending 45 Back to Kenya

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May 10, 2012

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By Jerry Hill
Baylor Bear Insider

Everywhere Wes Yeary looks, there are needs stacked upon needs, an endless supply of people and places in Kenya that need something.

"It's so easy to get overwhelmed when you see all the need," said Yeary, the Baylor Athletics Chaplain that will lead a 45-person Baylor Sports Ministry team that's leaving Sunday for a two-week mission trip back to Nairobi, Kenya. "And you can't meet all of it. We can take equipment and supplies, but the reality of it is we could never take enough."

Yeary said it "resonated so deeply with me" when he was reading the book Kisses From Katie, the story of a young woman from Brentwood, Tenn., who moves to Uganda when she's 19 and has adopted 14 children and established a school that is feeding and educating thousands of children. Ktie Davis shared in the book that there are times when she feels that she is "trying to empty the ocean with an eye-dropper."

That's exactly the feeling that hits Yeary when he steps on the soil in Kenya. But the Baylor group, making its fourth pilgrimage to Kenya, will work alongside local ministers like Walter Machio and Boniface Mwalimu and try to "make a difference one at a time."

"The beauty of teaming up with people there is that we're not coming in to rescue or save the day," Yeary said. "We're really there just to help them. . . . One of the focuses we take and I continue to emphasize with our students is just that I can make a difference one at a time, in one life, in one place, in this one day. Who is that God is bringing to me today to minister to, encourage and serve? If I'll be faithful in that each day, He will meet needs along the way and provide for us and for them in that."

Leaving from the Baylor campus on Sunday, the group will take a 14 ½-hour flight from Dallas to Dubai and then a five-hour flight to Nairobi, Kenya, arriving Monday night at the Gracia Guest House.

The first work day begins with trips to the Tumaini Children's Home and Kizito Children's Care. They will also work with Mwalimu in ministering to the street children who are addicted to glue; visit the Mukuru slums, where they rebuilt a house last year; and minister in the Nairobi West Men's Prison and Lang'ata Women's Prison.

"It's been exciting to return and see the growth of the ministries that we've helped and continue to build on that," Yeary said. "That first year that we went to the prisons, it's amazing to see how God opened that door in the first place. It planted a seed of sorts where Walter and Dennis, our partners, were given an open door to carry on some things. And then last year, because of what had happened, they opened doors to the women's prison that's now developed into a weekly ministry."

In the Mukuru slums that were devastated last year by fires, the group will see how a foundation "that actually our students started as they began to sponsor kids that they got to know" is helping the children there get through high school.

"The slums began with just a clinic a year ago and has now moved into the mentoring," Yeary said. "Last year, we rebuilt the home for the family in the slums, and it continued a tutoring area. The mentoring and training of coaches that have come from all of that, and now this foundation will help see these boys all the way through high school."

The Tumaini Children's Home was one of the additions to this trip. At a hospital/orphanage for babies and children infected with and affected by HIV Aids, the group will spend half of a day just holding babies.

"They talk about the child development - and I don't know all that side of it - but the importance of being held," Yeary said. "And I just thought with the group that we have, not only will it help (the orphanage), but what a perspective that could give to us of children that literally are born into situations that seem hopeless, where there's not much promise of many of the things that we have as a child when we come into this world."

That goes back to the idea of missions being "people being transformed by people being transformed."

"To me, that's part of our whole mission is to go give and serve," Yeary said, "but also to open the eyes of our students to the harsh realities of situations around the world and the needs that we can often help with if we're aware of those. We can read statistics, but it's another thing when you have a child in your arms or when you know their name. It stirs the heart in a little different way."

While this year's group includes 34 first-timers, Yeary said several of the student-athletes who went on the first three trips "have called back and want to be a part and to give toward that," Yeary said. "That means so much that because it impacted them so much, they want to give back to it as well."

The goal of $132,000 to fully fund the trip was met by the May 1 deadline, and the group is also taking shoes, cleats and T-shirts to pass out to the children.

Along with Yeary and Kim Scott, Baylor's Director for Campus Recreation, Lindsay Palmer from the national champion women's basketball team is making her fourth trip to Kenya. But the group also includes three first-semester freshmen from the volleyball team - Samantha Hill, Mackenzie Mayo and Amy Rosenbaum.

"It's really their senior year of high school, and they signed up with the other group of freshmen," Yeary said. "They've had a countdown. They drop by the office, and they'll say, '40 days!' or '20 days!' There is just so much joy in their face and excitement. That's been fun for me.

"That's part of the joy of sharing this experience for them is just providing for some of them a lifetime opportunity and just the sincere desire to grow in their relationship to God. They have a sense of expectation and anticipate (God) showing them things and revealing Himself to them in ways that they haven't experienced before. That thrills me, because I now He'll show up. I know He'll meet that desire.

It's just thrilling to get to share with them and watch as they step out of their comfort zone and literally start their day just saying, `OK, God, whatever, whoever, wherever, lead me today.'''

Please pray for the Baylor Sports Ministry team before, during and after the two-week trip to Kenya. You can read daily blog entries at www.baylorbears.com/sportsministry. Here is a list of the team members:

Acrobatics & Tumbling: Samantha Peterson, Ginger Plemmons, Kristie Serrano, Courtney Shaw, Lori Williamson
Women's Basketball: Sune Agbuke, Lindsay Palmer, Rachel Carson (manager)
Equestrian: Katherine Berg, Meghan Murphy, Rachel Nankervis, Whitney McIlvain (graduate)
Football: Anthony Betters, Jeff LePak, Levi Norwood, Michael Valdez, Joseph Williams, Sam Shalala (graduate)
Soccer: Kate Beaudoin, Alex Klein, Lisa Sliwinski
Club Soccer: Jessica Loyd and Elizabeth Sauer
Track and Field: Jennifer Gueldner, Kheri Jones, A'mie Preston, Angel Tsai
Volleyball: Zoe Adom, Nicole Bardaji, Tori Cox, Alyssa Dibbern, Elizabeth Graham, Kate Harris, Samantha Hill, Mackenzie Mayo, Hope Ogden, Amy Rosenbaum, Jordan Teel, Briana Tolbert
Staff: Kim Scott, Wes Yeary (Athletics Chaplain), Kerry Williams (Chaplain), Robert Perez (video), LaPrise Harris-Williams (A&T coach), Mary Smart (Athletics Trainer)