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Baylor Softball Ghana Mission Trip
Blog #11 "Home"
By Glenn Moore, Baylor Softball Head Coach
January 7, 2016
We have arrived back in the land of the free, realizing the blessings that God has poured out on our great nation more than ever.
The expectations prior to this trip were high. We really didn't know what to expect but we knew we would not be disappointed. We certainly were not!
I believe every Baylor student should experience a mission trip if you want to be truly educated. Each day as I watched team members commit to being the hands of God, I would always stand amazed in his presence. We were constantly there; "in his presence." I saw a side of my athletes and staff that reflects who they really are at the very core of their being. I saw tears from those who never cry and I saw them love in a way love could never be shown or seen in sport.
It gives hope, churns emotions and ignites passions for things real, and not temporary vapors of the materialistic pleasures so coveted by the world. At nights, I've awoken with my mind racing a thousand miles an hour with events of the day and expectations for the next. Yes, I've seen the faces, the smiles, the clothes and even the scars of the children and adults we served on this trip, but I've also seen the hearts of my athletes and staff and I've seen their faces as they poured out their hearts with a seemingly endless supply of love.
I can't say enough about the leadership of Ben and Katherine Johnson. They have kept this mission on point from the day we committed to going. Their preparation of our group and implementation of the plan worked beautifully. This was a mission trip to change lives through Christ. We never deviated from that.
I saw first hand the incredible work of Becky Kennedy and her staff with Baylor Missions. Plain and simple; they are good at what they do. We were organized and felt informed and safe every step of the way.
Baylor can be proud of the work Truett Seminary alum Rev. Vincent Asamoah is doing in his native country of Ghana. He is a true man of God and we grew to love him very much. I encourage you to support him financially through FCA if you are able. God is doing big things through Vincent with bigger things on the horizon and he needs resources.
We certainly would be remiss not to acknowledge Baylor's biggest supporter of athletic missions, our AD Ian McCaw. He approves a significant amount of the funding that is required of the team members as well as shots and passport/visa assistance.
To those of you who supported this trip financially or through prayer, your rewards will await you in heaven. I want to speak on behalf of the Ghanaian children in reminding you of the words of the song by Ray Boltz, "Thank you, for giving to the Lord...I am a life that was changed..." I can also speak on behalf of each member of this mission team including myself and say the same!
Baylor Softball Ghana Mission Trip
Blog #10 "Wheels Up From Ghana"
By Sarah Beth Toben, Sophomore Pitcher, and Kelsee Selman, Junior Pitcher
January 6, 2016
(Sarah Beth Toben) After a restful night we woke up to a beautiful coconut grove morning. We had breakfast at eight where we enjoyed oatmeal, eggs, toast and cereal. I enjoyed the down time this morning we were able to spend before we went to the slave castles.
There were men selling art, jewelry, and clothes as we ate and hung out beach side. I really enjoyed the two beach walks I took with two different groups of teammates. There were a number of fun things to look at as we wandered around the resort from urchins and crabs in the ocean, to horses, peacocks, and crocodiles on the golf course.
I also enjoyed playing ping pong against Ben next to the pool where he showed his skills beating me in the best two out of three games.
After we left the resort we traveled to Elmina, a village where we visited one of the oldest, largest slave castles that was part of the transatlantic slave trade. It was a sobering experience learning the history and suffering that went on in between those walls as we walked though each room.
After learning of the capture and trade of human beings, just as our tour guide reminded us, "it is our duty to not let this horrific history repeat itself." This trip has led each and everyone of us to open our hearts as Christians to those surrounding us that are in need. We must keep our ears and eyes open to take advantage of the opportunities we are given to make lives better every day, not just on this mission trip.
(Kelsee Selman) After the slave castle, we jumped on the bus and headed to Accra. During the bus ride we stopped at a gas station and everyone picked up a ton of snacks, like Pringles, cookies, crackers, Sprite, and a whole bunch of different American-looking foods.
After we stopped, we had about two hours left. When we finally made it, we stopped by the mall and got to do some last-minute shopping. We also ate a little dinner before we headed to the airport.
When we arrived at the airport, we got everybody's baggage checked, passports checked, boarding passes printed.
We had a good hour to wait for the plane to get there, and while sitting there, I couldn't help but think what all God had done this week.
He taught a lot to so many people and He allowed us to teach the game of softball and spread His Word to 200 children. For me, I learned a lot, but the main thing was that the little things do matter.
Before coming here, I didn't realize how much we skip over the little stuff. For example, I was asking my group what makes them unique and several of them answered with, I can walk and I can talk. I take so many things for granted.
So, this reminded me to be thankful for th elittle things no matter how big life gets.
What if everything you get today is all you thanked God for tomorrow?
Baylor Softball Ghana Mission Trip
Blog #9 "Two Roads Diverged in a Jungle"
By Riley Browder, Junior Infielder, and Robin Landrith, Senior Catcher
January 5, 2016
(Riley Browder) After a bus ride that seemed to have lasted forever we were all eager to step on solid ground when we arrived at the canopy walk. Shortly after we made our way one by one off of the bus, our tour began with an uphill walk through the forest on a path paved with stone.
Not too far into our tour, the path split. It was here that we were to make our choice, either go left and continue to walk on the path through the forest, or go to the right and walk OVER the forest.
By choosing the path to the right, we committed to make our way to through the rest of the tour by walking on multiple bridges made of only rope and wood suspended over the trees below us.
Simple enough, right? However, for some of us who are afraid of heights, this took a leap of faith requiring us to step out of our comfort zones.
Each of us had our own way of making it over the shaky rope suspended bridges. For some of the daredevils on the team it was the perfect opportunity to jump up and down on the bridge causing severe anxiety for the rest of us as we held onto the sides of the bridges for dear life.
Others fearfully and slowly made their way across the bridge, careful to maintain their stability. Nonetheless, regardless of pace, we all made our way over the canopy safely and were in awe once again at the creation of our Lord.
The trip from the canopy back to the hotel was only an hour long, but for many of us it seemed never ending. The bumpy roads along the way caused many of us to feel carsick and we had to make a quick pit stop for our stomachs to settle.
Finally, we made it to our destination and the wait proved to be well worth it. Cape Coast, Africa was a gorgeous town that sat right on the beach, and a cool breeze caused by the ocean tide greeted us. Unable to contain our excitement, we ran to the beach while our coaches waited to receive our room keys.
It was a bittersweet time as we began to draw near to the end of our trip. How beautiful it was to think that the same God who created this breathtaking site was also responsible for creating each and every single one of us.
Our God, "made everything beautiful in its time" (Ecclesiastes 3:11) and standing in awe of such a marvelous creation after a hectic week in Obuasi, I had never been so sure of anything in my life.
(Robin Landrith) There's a little bit of humor in the fact that I happen to be writing the blog today, because I also happen to be the one person who did not participate in the main activity.
As you might have already learned from Riley's post, the main attraction for the day was the canopy walkway in Kakum National Park. And as you might have learned from our bloggers yesterday, we went on a tour through Vincent's new seven-acre plot of land that involved some trailblazing and, I confess, not a small amount of anxiety on my part, mainly concerning the number of insect friends that came to greet us.
The story in a nutshell is that I was pretty content with my jungle experience at that point and wasn't entirely sure I could manage another one, especially at the height of a football field over the forest floor.
So I saw them off and met them at the end, and Vincent courteously stayed with me. But the cool thing about this was that it allowed me to have a conversation with Vincent, whom I have come to respect immensely, and then to observe some of the forest trees around the clearing at the end of the walkway.
One of the most striking things about these trees is the way they blend into one another, and between the roots, vines, branches, and the density of all of them together, it was actually hard at times to see where one tree ended and another began. And as I was looking up at the canopy there at the end of the walkway, I remarked to Jon, who was standing next to me, "I thought I knew what beauty was until I got here."
In essence, what I meant is that I've always taken a little bit of pride in noticing and appreciating beautiful things, whether it's a desert sunrise or an evening symphony. But when I looked up at the conglomerate of vines in front of me, I realized that it fit no category of my understanding of beauty. And yet I know that those forests are ancient creations of God, and as His creations, there is something intrinsically beautiful in their wild asymmetry.
Jon observed something to this effect, saying that perhaps this just goes to show how much more there is in the world beyond what we know. And I quite agree. The fact that I couldn't stuff the singular beauty of these Ghanaian landscapes into the wee little box of my definition of beautiful things is evidence enough of the point.
And it was at once a humbling and exalting moment, to feel the vast shadow of things beyond my comprehension push at my mind's small boundaries, and to recognize at the same time that I'm allowed to serve the God who rules them all.
Baylor Softball Ghana Mission Trip
Blog #8 "Coaching Clinic and Return to Chief"
By Heather Stearns and Sarah Smith, Baylor Softball Seniors
January 4, 2016
(Heather Stearns) A.M. Entry - Today we had breakfast at 7:15 a.m., just like every other day. After breakfast, we went back to the field to run a coaches clinic.
For the first hour at the field, Ben and Coach Moore did a classroom talk with the coaches while the rest of us worked out. We threw, ran, pitched, and hit for a solid hour. We didn't have a formal camp but we invited some of the kids at camp to come hangout with us.
About 20-30 kids showed up and they worked out with us and just played around. I had a group of seven girls doing squats, push-ups, and lunges with me which was pretty fun.
The second hour, the coaches came outside and we helped demonstrate different plays and situations for them on the field. Coach Moore and Ben were ecstatic about the enthusiasm these coaches had for the game and the amount of questions they had.
While the coaches and some of the players were helping with that, the other half of us and the kids made bracelets. We had different colored beads and each bead represented some part of the Gospel. So, while making bracelets and necklaces with the kids, we were also spreading the Word.
After the field part of the clinic, we divided all the equipment we brought between the coaches. It was really neat to see how excited the coaches were to receive the equipment so they can continue to teach the sport that we brought to Ghana.
Then, after we said our goodbyes to the coaches and kids, we went back to the hotel for lunch. By lunchtime, most of us were completely exhausted, but we knew that God would continue to show us amazing things. After lunch we headed back to Chief Nana's house.
(Sarah Smith) P.M. Entry - After lunch we headed to see Nana Okofo so he could show us the land the the Lord led him to give to Vincent.
For those who don't know me, I am a city girl through and through. I'm talking never seen a snake besides at the city zoo. So when they said we were going to see this land, I was thinking we would just look at it from the highway.
But before I knew it, Nana had one of his men chopping down brush with a machete and we followed. We walked almost two hours through the Ghanian jungle around the seven acres. Let me tell you, it was an experience.
From jumping over ant hills, to eating cocoa pods right off the tree, it was a lot for this city girl to take in. But I wouldn't have changed it for the world. We even saw wild bananas growing high up in the trees. Being able to see the smile on Vincent's face as he and Nana lead the pack made walking worth it. As our time in the jungle came to an end, Coach Moore prayed over the group to finish off our day. This turned into a day that I will never forget.
Baylor Softball Ghana Mission Trip
Blog #7 "Meeting the Chief"
By Caitlin Charlton and Morgan Groppe, Sophomore Infielders
January 3, 2016
(Caitlin Charlton) A 7 a.m. church service is practically nonexistent in the States, ecept maybe the occassional sunrise service on Easter morning. But if anyone was tired when we walked into the unfinished cement building occupied by First Baptist Obuasi, all tiredness was wiped out.
I can say for myself that I've never been in a church service as lively or as impactful as the one here in Obuasi. There's something incredibly empowering about seeing extra vagant, vibrantly colorful Sunday best dress and shameless, free dancing, all mashed together for pure celebration of our Creator.
I think, at least for myself, that sometimes we can so used to the structure of the way we express our faith that we forget to realize that there is no rules we have to follow to praise our Lord and Savior, and I'm so eternally grateful for being reminded of that by the beautiful Ghanian worship this morning.
Plus, there isn't anything that will put a bigger smile on your face than a dance party for Jesus.
Vincent's message that followed was absolutely outstanding. He spoke with such a presence and power about using every talent for God's glory no matter how big or small. I've read the passage and heard sermons on it before, but none quite like Vincent's.
I think it is because he so clearly embodies his message in his every day life. Every talent God has given him has been overflowing in his work during this trip; his message was truly authentic.
After service, we met with the students/young adults above the church in a breezy, open, "under construction" sanctuary. I sat beside two twins in full African dress, one whose name was Rejoice, who is studying management.
Another boy I spent time with, Eugene, is studying computer engineering. They were both so passionate about their education. What hit me was when Eugene said, "The thing about Ghana is we study and study and study and put so much in with so little output. We (pointing to his friends) dream of studying in America, because there are so many more resources to learn here that we don't have."
It makes me feel guilty of when I complain about school or studying, because all these people my age want to be able to do is learn as much as possible to be able to grow the communitites in the country they love. Too often I feel burdened by what is actually a privilege in my life; something I want to change.
We also set up an impromptu photo booth that was a smashing hit; I still find it funny that "selfie" has become a universal term.
After a wonderful lunch, we headed out for an experience of a lifetime: being invited into Chief NaNa's palace, chief over 87 villages in Ghana, including Obuasi.
I think I can speak for everyone when I say we felt a bit out of place and nervous walking into the home of African royalty, especially since we were told lifting your left hand is a huge sign of disrespect. There might as well have been super glue between my side and left arm because when I walked up to shake Chief Nana's hand, my left arm might as well have been an extension of a stone statue.
After much dialogue between the elders, chief, and Vincent - and a friendship forming between Sarah Smith and the Chief (she received 100% Ghanian chocolate and pictures of the chief, as well as a promised authentic African robe in the mail) - Chief Nana announced that because of the work he has now seen Vincent do, he is granting him seven acres of land to build a recreational center and church for the community.
The joy in Vincent's face spoke for itself. For a man so dedicated to God's call in his life, I am so happy that our team was able to help Vincent's dream take further steps forward.
Riding back to the lodge, I couldn't help but be captivated by the villages outside the windows. I know I speak for everyone when I say there is a big part of us that has fallen in love with Ghana and the open hearted people here. And despite the poverty and seemingly stricken world these people are living in, the joy and happiness they have in simplicity is something I wish I had. I came there thinking I was here to fix the broken, when really I found myself to be more broken than them in ways I had never noticed.
Spaghetti was for dinner, accompanied by our Christmas morning excitement for the change in pace. We recognized six hotel staff members who do everything from cooking to cleaning to running the front desk. As I sit outside writing ont his beautiful Ghanian night, I'm deeply saddened that the trip has flown by so fast, knowing a big piece of my heart will be left behind, but I hope and pray that one day, God will lead me back.
(Morgan Groppe) Today was absolutely eye-opening. Today we got to attend church at First Baptist Obuasi. We pulled up to the church and it almost looked like a stadium. We were a little late, but when we walked in there was music blaring through the speakers in the church. The Ghanians wore very vibrant colored dresses and some wore robes. We took our seats by the choir and I was absolutely amazed at what I saw.
Every single person was singing and throwing their hands up, praising God. Nto one person was sitting or silent. The children we worked with all wek showed me how to love Jesus with open arms, but seeing the Ghanians in church today helped me to go past my comfort zone and to not be timid or embarassed to show such love for Jesus. At one point in the service, the choir went into the middle of the church and started dancing and singing to a song that worshipped Jesus.
[Lindsey] Cargill was the first to step out into the dance party, then followed Steph and Katherine, and then finally me. It was a blast. The Ghanians were so welcoming of us into the crowd, even though we had absolutely no rhythm. I've realized that I need to be welcoming of other people who want to love Jesus as well, no boundaries and arms wide open.
Pastor Vincent preached during the service, and wow! He talked about using the talents that God has given you in the way that He wants you to use them, and to glorify Him. This man definitely did just that this week. He has amazed me in many ways.
One instance was when a lot of the kids didn't show up to camp, he went and picked them up and brought them to the field. He didn't get discouraged or give up, he found a way to get them there. Another example was when were having a group discussion after dinner. He talked about how some of the parents had asked him why we came all the way from America to Ghana. He said to teach these kids the Gospel through softball.
He talked about what a blessing we have been to the kids and what an impact we have made on their lives. Not once did he mention himself or what he's done for the kids, even though he's spent countless hours, days, months organizing the camp. Lastly, he amazed me with his sermon. One of the things you're taught growing up is practice what you preach. This man showed me what that means today during his sermon. He used his God-given talent of preaching God's word today to his full potential and without a stutter.
The next adventure we took was to a nearby village about 45 minutes away to visit Chief Nana (pronounced Naw-naw). It felt like we were meeting the president. We wore our church attire, and we couldn't shake his hand with our left hand or cross our legs while sitting, which was pretty awkward. I don't know if I was sweating because I was nervous or if it was because of the 90 degree weather, probably both.
The objective of this meeting was to show the chief that our team was serious about ministry, with hopes of Vincent obtaining some land from the chief. The sub-chiefs and the chief asked Vincent questions about our mission and the mission of his ministry. After a little discussion, Sydney and I realized that we had to use the restroom, so I asked Doreen where I could use the restroom. It was like a domino effect. Doreen asked the person next to her, who asked the person next to her, and soon I had a sub-chief escorting us to the restroom. Good job, Morgan.
Sarah quickly made friends with the chief. They became such good friends that he wanted a picture with just her and even gave her a gift, saying he would mail her one of the robes they wear.
At the end of the meeting, the chief told Vincent that because of his efforts and our efforts to show him how serious we were about our mission, he would grant Vincent seven acres of land to build a facility for his ministry.
How cool was it to help out a friend who has gone out of his way to make sure we were accommodated for our trip!
After eating spaghetti (Yes, spaghetti!), we had our nightly group discussion. It was so neat to hear everyone's thoughts about the trip that will soon be ending. I can only pray that God will continue to bless the people of Ghana and the many children that have not only blessed our lives, but have transformed them.
It is sad that there might be a chance I will never see these people or children again, but I pray that it is in God's will that I will get to come back again soon someday.
Baylor Softball Ghana Mission Trip
Blog #6 "Medo (I Love You!)"
By Jessica Tomchesson and Sydney Christensen, Baylor Softball Sophomores
January 2, 2016
(Jessica Tomchesson) Last day of camp was bittersweet for many reasons. Sore, dirty, sunburnt, and exhausted, we headed to the field to see 20-30 kids waiting. Within 30 minutes, we had 120-130! Most of them were wearing the same clothes as days before, but just as happy to see our blue bus. Like all the other days, Lindsey Cargill got them going with a rambunctious game of tag and Coach Walls warmed them up like college athletes.
As you know, we have been teaching softball, and today the Ghana kids really seemed to finally grasp the concepts of tagging runners, lining up in the batters box, and home run dances. Even the Ghana coaches were playing a pick up game before our afternoon session.
We also have been talking about God with them everyday. Our acronym for the trip is MORE. Today our lesson covered "R" and "E." "I repent and receive eternal life."
Many kids understood the concept of changing their lives to honor God and then going to Heaven as a result. After our huddle time, the whole group was given an opportunity in Twi (local language) to accept Christ, many did.
"That if you confess with your mouth, Jesus is Lord, and believe in your hearts, God raised him from the dead, you will be saved." -Romans 10:9
Many special moments took place today for me. My afternoon group sang a glorious song about how they could not do life without God. Also, many of us were able to give away clothes, shoes, and softball gear.
Specifically, I was able to give two gloves to a female Ghana coach named Agnes, she plans to teach kids at her school the game of softball (hope they are lefties!). Each gift was met with joy and many tears from both the child and the giver.
Leaving the kids at the end of the day was one of the hardest things most of us have had to do; harder than any loss or practice. However, bringing joy and softball to these kids for three days was so impactful to us. Several children were hard to let go (Kenneth and Benedicta), but leaving them with the word of God and trusting Him to love them helps comfort us.
Finally, "Medo" was one of the Twi phrases we learned today, which means "I LOVE YOU!" We yelled that from the blue bus as we rolled away with many smiles and memories engraved into our heart. I am so grateful to God and Baylor for our 2015-16 mission trip. God bless!
(Sydney Christensen) I'm not very good with kids, I'll just start off with that. Of course I love them, no doubt, but when it came to interacting with them, I am kind of awkward. For the first two days, I mainly just watched. I coached a few here and there, but never truly connected with a certain kid like my teammates did.
Today, however, I met a boy (probably around the age of 10) named Edward. Morgan [Groppe] and I were working with a group as they scrimmaged each other. I was pitching to the batters, Morgan was receiving pitches near the hitters.
I decided to ask someone from my team, in the field, if they wanted to pitch. My man, Edward, was the first to jump at the opportunity. He understood most of what I was saying in English, so he was fairly easy to communicate with. I taught him how to pitch underhanded to batters and he immediately picked it up. He was a natural!
When my team got three outs, Edward and I ran off the field together. I noticed that he was running with a very bad limp. We stood together behind the plate and I received pitches that the batter did not hit. At one point, the ball bounced by me and even with his horrible limp he ran as fast as he could to get the ball for me. When he came back, I asked him, "What happened to your leg? Why are you limping?" He proceeded to tell me that he got kicked really hard in the leg during a futbol game.
Then I asked, "Why did you run after the ball if you're hurt?" The words that came out of the little boy's mouth were incredible. He told me, "You have done so much to bless me, I wanted to do something for you." I had known this hurt boy for maybe twenty minutes, and he was caring for me. He wanted to make me happy. I didn't know what else to do but hug little Edward. We then spent the whole rest of the morning session together. He did not leave my side.
These kids show unconditional love. They want to make you proud. They want to make you laugh. When I see their faces waiting on the field for us as we pull up in our bus, I can't help but smile. These kids, who have nothing (most of them wore the same shirt for all three days), wanted to give us everything. They made us beautiful bracelets, some with our name. They pay so much attention to detail. How do they remember all the names of 22 coaches then go and make those bracelets in one night?
What really made me proud today was that almost every one of my kids that I had in my small devotional group could recite John 3:16. After they said it, I began to go deeper into the verse and explain the meaning behind the words. When I was done the girl sitting next to me, Sharifa (the camp prankster), sat up and kissed me on the cheek. In that moment I had to hold back a tear in my eye. It was so simple, but it was the simplicity of the action that really got to me.
I see God working in these children and it strengthens my faith and changed my life. I am so blessed to be able to come on this trip and spend a few days with these amazing people. God bless, and hope all is well in the U.S.!
Baylor Softball Ghana Mission Trip
Blog #5 "Botaii ay! (Purpose!)"
By Jordan Strickland and Kaitlyn Thumann, Former Baylor Softball Standouts
January 1, 2016
(Jordan Strickland) Simply put, today was a blessing. It started when we were awoken by fireworks going off outside our door at 1 a.m. You can only imagine the thoughts running through mine and KK's head as we almost flew off the bed trying to take cover.
Once it was actually time to get up, we followed our regular routine here of getting ready, going to breakfast, and preparing for the day with a devotional. Jon Graham shared with us this morning and it was so perfect for what the day had in store for us. He reiterated how important it was for us to just give all the love we have to these people through service and our response to injustices.
When we pulled up to camp, campers were excited and waiting! Their big smiles and waves could probably be seen from Texas. It was so sweet.
We put all the skills we taught the campers yesterday into game form today and taught them the rules and showed them how to play. Lindsey Cargill did an incredible job with these kids and connected with them. They held on to every word she taught them about softball while we demonstrated her words on the field. They were almost ready for the games, but first they had to warm up! We put the kids through our game time warm up with lunges, squats, and jumping jacks. It was evident that they were loving every minute!
After this, the day got sweet. The kids were broken into teams and we formed 6 different softball games with teams led by us. They caught on so quickly! It was truly incredible how much they already know about softball. I couldn't quite get them to understand that you don't just run freely around the bases, but they were having so much fun I couldn't burst their bubble.
I had such a fun team of sassy little girls that I quickly fell in love with! I did have two boys, Michael and Bryan, that just wanted to play, but my girls just weren't that into it after a few innings, so they were teaching me their language, singing, dancing and calling me "scared white girl" because there are lizards everywhere!
Late in the game, one of the girls asked me with them all surrounding me, "You want to be our friend?" I immediately responded, "Yes! Of course!" This was followed by them all but tackling me to the ground with the best group hug you could imagine. This elated them and filled my heart with such joy. I did not care one bit about softball in these moments with them. They never left my side the rest of the day. This is such a testament, in my opinion, about who these people are. It's not just my sassy little girls, it's all of them.
We talk about Christ's love and how to show people what that looks like, and these people are living it in its purest form. They give their love so freely and deeply that it's almost indescribable. Their love knows no boundaries and they live with such thanks. A simple smile is all they need to love on you. This world would be such a different place if we learned to love and live as these children do. They don't blame God for their circumstances, they know it's due to the brokenness of the world.
They don't put value in things, they put value in God! They truly believe in His goodness and many of them testify to that in our small group time. It's not about what the world can give you, it's about how well we love those around us and how thankful we are for even the simplest things that we take for granted daily; breathing, talking, seeing!
I came here wanting to teach them about what Gods love is, but they are the ones teaching me. They truly know the greatness of our God and it's so inspiring to see their young hearts shine such a bright light in this dark world. I am already so thankful to have met each of these children. Their impact will be eternal on my life.
(Kaitlyn Thumann) Today was an incredible day in Ghana! We continued our softball camps like yesterday. Today we did more game-like situations so that they could understand the game of softball better.
[Lindsey] Cargill has a natural ability to teach the game. It has been so fun watching her excel in her element. For Kelsee [Selman], we are starting to call her "Mama K" because all the little babies love her. Coach Moore has picked up the name "King Kong" from the campers....ha ha ha!
In the first session, the first girls I met at this camp came back today! I do not know how to spell their names but I will try my best. My first girls I met were Confuuts, Melissa, Narwaiwah, and Shareefa. My little four year olds, Nyatmease, Ritah, and Musah, also came back. Yesterday, I had the struggle of handling the four year olds during a mini-softball game. They all wanted to hold the bat at the same time, which worried my little anxious heart that someone was going to get knocked in the head! Thankfully, it all worked out safely, but my patience was definitely tested. They are so cute!
Today, the second session of camp, my heart was touched when driving up to the field, all of the campers running and screaming towards our bus in Twi, "Purpose! Purpose!" which is what we taught them the day before, that all of us were made for a purpose. It hit me hard that these adorable kids were taking the word of God and remembering it. What we say, they will remember, which put more of an emphasis on why we are here in the first place.
I also noticed these past couple days, that most of these children do not wear shoes. They were running, jumping, flipping, and sliding on hard grass with dirts and sticks. They never once complained because this is their way of life and this is all they know. It made me feel guilty for having so much, when it seems like they have so little. I am learning, however, that they are more spiritually rich than I am. Wealth does not always come in the shape of finances.
These children know the true meaning of relying on God every single day.
Lastly, in camp today I was watching all the girls and boys play with such incredible joy. They have never touched a softball or bat before, yet they are so incredibly eager to learn and pick it up extremely quickly. It was in that moment that I was reminded of how much a sport can impact someone's life. I was reminded how faith and sport can and should be incorporated together. I was reminded how universal sports are, because some of the children cannot speak English. And I was reminded of how powerful our God is, bringing together two totally different countries through a game of softball. His plan couldn't be any more perfect. Seeing the smiles and hearing the giggles of these kids playing softball has made my heart melt. I love this game, and getting to share it with someone who has never played before has been incredible. I love these kids.
These kids have poured out so much love to us these past few days. Words cannot describe the overwhelming feeling of being so loved. Maybe this is what Jesus' love looked like. I thought I was called here to love like Jesus and plant the seed of faith. In reality, I think I was called here so they could help my seed grow. My heart is becoming more and more full.
This is what matters.
Baylor Softball Ghana Mission Trip
Blog #4 "Happy New Years Eve from Ghana!"
By Ari Hawkins, Junior Infielder
December 31, 2015
Today was another great day in Ghana! Just being reminded that loving on one another, even in a different country, could go a long ways. It started off with a wonderful breakfast and a bus ride to the school in which we held camp. Just being able to observe the city around us and wave at people during the ten minute ride was such a joy.
Once we arrived at the school, we instantly were greeted and surrounded by children who were ready to love and be loved on. Having the opportunity to reach out to a small child and showing them they have a purpose in life while teaching them the game we love so much was an indescribable feeling!
As the day went on we broke up into groups and began teaching the children softball drills. They were such a joy to teach because they were so eager to learn something completely new and they never once were disrespectful. They loved having fun and sharing their culture/language with us. I believe bonding with one another on a personal level naturally helps sharing Christ and the Gospel!
Once we were all done with the physical activities, we huddled back up within our small groups and shared the first part of our mission.
Ephesians 3:20 is the word we decided to focus on for our trip and so we broke down the word by its letters. Today we discussed the "M" which stood for MADE BY GOD FOR A PURPOSE! We explained to the children how God made us individually and for a special purpose, whether we know it yet or not. As leaders, we tried to come up with several different ways to share this idea with the children through examples of stories, objects, and other creative ways. It was so cool to see the flow of the spirit through each and every one of my teammates, coaches, and chaplains.
Overall, I believe God taught us a few different lessons today: Patience! While teaching the game, it was frustrating at times. In the book we are reading, Kisses from Katie, there is a section that speaks to this perfectly. The author shared her own experiences of seeing God at work in her new culture, not on her schedule.
Second, that the simple things in life are what matter most. When we were in huddle time, we asked the kids what was unique about themselves. They replied with things such as being able to walk, talk, learning to play softball, making new friends (US!), etc. Through these discussions, God showed us that the simple things in life matters most, not the worldly things that consume us everyday.
Lastly, time flies! Teaching the gospel with others never has a time limit or looks a certain way. We were shown that today while working the camps. The morning camp went about as planned and the afternoon did not follow our set plan at all. We incorporated games such as jump rope and tag. After, we played live games of whiffle ball, which they loved and caught on quickly to.
This was definitely a Holy Spirit moment as he led us on what was best to do and not what we had planned.
Baylor Softball Ghana Mission Trip
Blog #3 "Akwaaba (Welcome)"
By Lindsey Cargill, Junior Outfielder
December 30, 2015
Today was another travel day. In the morning we were served a wonderful breakfast and had a devotional. Our devotional today was about attitude and how we can use it in a positive way like Jesus did.
Around 9 a.m., we packed our bags and we were off to Obuasi. Throughout the trip we saw for the first time how people live here. It is completely different when comparing Ghana to America. People on the side walks are either selling items, washing clothes, or fixing a car or a house. This was all to provide for their family.
You would see young girls and boys in the middle of the highway going in between cars selling food or water, but the interesting part was how they balanced all of their items on their head. Every time I got the chance I would smile and wave at anybody that looked my way, and it was the most wonderful feeling! Every time, their faces would light up and smile.
How can people here want to smile and wave when the conditions here are terrible? It's attitude! They have the attitude to be happy with what they've got and have a positive attitude to provide and help their family.
As the trip went along we saw many broken down tree houses, babies running around, people on the side of the road carrying items on their head, people washing clothes, cooking, and skinning chickens. I couldn't sleep because it was so interesting to me. We finally got to a town called Kumasi, and we had the opportunity to work out and play catch at one of the schools. We even did some sprints on the basketball court that was painted green and gold (they love Baylor).
We then went to drop our bags off in storage for Vincent (Ghana native in charge of our trip). While we were there, so many little kids came up to us and were thrilled that we were there. We asked questions, took pictures, played soccer and taught them the Sic 'Em Bears! It was amazing seeing the happiness coming from the children.
Today was a long and eventful day which opened our eyes to something we've never seen before. The Baylor softball team is blessed to be here and can't wait for camp to start tomorrow!
Baylor Softball Ghana Mission Trip
Blog #2 "Avontuur"
By Candice Walls, Athletic Performance
December 29, 2015
After the 9 hour flight, we landed in Amsterdam (7:00 a.m. local time, 1:00 a.m. Texas time) and decided to be adventurous.
After using our extremely persuasive skills on Coach Moore, we decided to risk missing our next flight to explore the city. After spending several minutes (which felt like hours, due to the fact we had just been locked in a box in the sky) trying to figure out the local train system and the signs, which were written in Dutch, we were off.
We rode through Amsterdam as the sun was rising over the city's horizon. For many, including myself, this was the first time we had ever seen this city's beauty and all the history it had to offer.
We saw businesses opening, locals drinking at coffee shops, and tourists from all over the world exploring the early morning streets. After stopping by Anne Frank House "Huis" we decided we should head back before our flight for Ghana left us.
As I sit here reflecting and drinking the amazing Dutch cappuccino I bought as we rushed back, all I can think is "tot de volgende keer."
Baylor Softball Ghana Mission Trip
By Katherine Johnson, Team Chaplain
December 28, 2015
Bags packed, prayed up!
Tonight we met in the Getterman Softball Indoor facility for our final team meeting. 17 bags of gear were packed, all to be left in Ghana. The gear included bats, gloves, helmets, catching gear, and much more.
The feeling of what is in store for all 22 of us over the next 11 days is excitement. We go to bring glory to the Heavenly Head Coach, grow closer to one another, and to plant seeds of good news through teaching a game we love.
Baylor Softball Ghana Mission Trip Preview
By Jerry Hill
Baylor Bear Foundation
"Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age."
- Matthew 28:19-20
As the Baylor softball coach, Glenn Moore knows that he is judged by wins and losses and making it to the NCAA Tournament and ultimately the World Series.
But he sees the fulfillment of the Great Commission as much bigger than any softball game.
"The greater mission here is to use the platform I've been given for his glory and to provide these athletes who are on the greatest stage an opportunity to do that," said Moore, who is part of a 22-person Baylor group that is leaving Monday for a mission trip to the African nation of Ghana.
"This is life-changing for our student-athletes. And to me, that's what a university should be about. These girls are excited about going, but a lot of them have no idea. You never know when an experience like this is going to change the course of their life to put them in God's will and in the direction where they ultimately find the happiness and success that their life was meant to have. That's when you get excited is when you see one or two touched in a way that changes their lives."
Back in the summer of 2011, Moore and Associate Athletic Director Tom Hill led a mission trip to the Panama island of Aligandi and primarily did backyard Vacation Bible School-type sessions with the Kuna Yala Indian tribe.
But this time, the mission trip will include daily softball clinics for around 300 children in Obuasi, which is about an hour south of the larger metropolitan city of Kumasi in southern Ghana.
"One of the things that I desired, different from going to Panama, was that we were able to use our expertise in softball in spreading the gospel," Moore said. "I desired that, but I didn't make it a prerequisite for this trip. I just said I would like to keep that in mind. And if it materializes to where we're able to do that, then I think our girls would feel more comfortable in sharing and having that as kind of an ice-breaker."
Vincent Asamaoh, president and founder of Shoot 4 Life Ministries in Ghana, is the local missionary helping Baylor with the logistics and sees the clinics as a way to encourage the Obuasi children to begin playing softball.
"But more importantly, it's a way to spread the gospel," Moore said. "We may walk away from there and they'll never pick up another softball. But for at least the week we're in their lives, we're going to be teaching a skill we know while sharing the gospel. We're using a gift God gave us to share the gospel. It's certainly not our priority to get softball started. But if seeds are planted and it happens to grow into some kind of recreational sport, that would be great."
It could even lead to a return trip to help them build a softball field, "but we'll just see how they take it," Moore said.
Joining Moore on the 11-day trip are assistant coach Dani Price; strength coach Candice Walls; Courtney Cox, director of softball operations; team chaplain Katherine Johnson and her husband, Ben, the Heart of Texas FCA Director; student manager Jon Graham; and former LSU player Stephanie Hastings.
Along with 2015 seniors Kaitlyn Thumann and Jordan Strickland, the players making the trip are seniors Robin Landrith, Sarah Smith and Heather Stearns, juniors Riley Browder, Lindsey Cargill, Ari Hawkins and Kelsee Selman and sophomores Caitlin Charlton, Sydney Christensen, Morgan Groppe, Sarah Beth Toben and Jessica Tomchesson.
"We started looking and praying for opportunities," Moore said. "And we had several present themselves in vague ways that just never came to fruition. We looked at going to Brazil and the Philippines and even looked at some domestic things. But this was something that Ben and Katherine were presented with and brought to me. I said, `Let's pray about it.' And here we are."
Having to raise nearly $70,000 for the trip seemed like a monumental task, Moore said, "and then you hear the confidence in Baylor Student Missions in raising money because of the benevolence of so many of the Baylor alumni and just people that genuinely want to provide resources for these girls to have these experiences and people that want to share the gospel and can't go themselves."
As for any safety concerns in traveling to Africa, Moore said he has "full confidence" in Baylor Missions and the "experts" that have been there.
"There's always the possibility in everyday life of something happening," he said. "But it is minimal with what they know and what they do to provide the safety of our student-athletes and put them in safe environments. . . . They've been there. So, having had feet on the ground in places where we're going to be makes you feel more comfortable as well. What we've told the girls is when you're in the will of God, you couldn't be any safer."
After a bus ride down to Houston, the group will fly to Amsterdam and then on to the Ghana capital of Accra, arriving at 8 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 29. They will have a day of prep before opening the camp on New Year's Eve and wrap it up with a coach's clinic on Jan. 4, "where we'll actually prepare the coaches for taking it a step farther, if they desire to do that."
Before returning home, they will also visit a national park and St. George's Castle in Elmina, one of several former slave forts along Ghana's Atlantic Coast that includes slave dungeons and punishment cells and a slave auctioning room that now houses a museum.
"There is guilt, but it puts things in perspective and makes you appreciate your blessings," Moore said. "I remember when we were in Panama, I told one of the missionaries there from the Kuna Yala Indian tribe that we would be praying for them. And he said, `We'll be praying for you.' And it kind of hit me. He said, `You guys have more distractions from God than we do. So, we'll pray for you.'
"We think we've got it all figured out here, and they're more dependent on God, which is where He wants all of us to be."
Pray for Moore and the rest of the Baylor team as they travel to Ghana. And make sure you check out the mission trip blog next week.