Brazil

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RETURN BLOGS
10:14 A.M. CT, WEDNESDAY, MAY 24, 2017

Wetzel

My eyes have been opened in many ways over the past few days.

I feel really "spoiled" with all the comforts we have where we live. We saw so many people who live without the comforts I take for granted every day.

We met so many people who spoke Portuguese and English. They taught themselves to speak English by watching American movies and TV shows. Why have I never worked hard to really speak the Spanish I learned in high school?

The people we have been around have been so thankful. They are so giving and loving.

The football players we coached were so thirsty for coaching and leadership. I wish we would have had more time with them. Football (although a new phenomenon for Brazilians) is a universal teacher of life.

We were able to share lots of life lessons with these men we were privileged to coach.

Alexandre Ribeiro sent me an email before I left for Brazil. "Alex" said he coached American football in Brazil and wanted to better his skills as a coach by visiting Baylor. I immediately sent back a reply that told him I was on my way to Brazil very soon. He said he spoke English so we ended up talking by phone.

Coach "Alex" said he actually lived a long way from Maceio---somewhat like the distance from Florida to New York.

But he wanted to come meet us in Maceio and talk football. As we talked, I told him that we were actually going to Maceio for a mission trip. Alex then explained that he was a Christian and loved to do mission trips. In fact , he became a Christian because of his involvement with football.

Wow!!!

Alex met us in the hotel and it could not have been better. He helped us coach football and helped us translate. He was so impressive in many ways. He was fluent in English and Portuguese. He loves football and was craving to know more. He and I were able to spend quite a bit of time talking/drawing X&O's one on one. He has really studied the game and has good handle on it. Alex was a true blessing for our trip and for me.

Three huge things stand out to me from the trip:
1. Our God is everywhere. His Love is universal and has no language barriers.
2. The people we worked with were so loving and thankful. They blessed us more than we blessed them.
3. The future is in great hands with the student-athletes who represented Baylor on this trip. They are an incredible group of young adults.

Philippians 1:3
I thank God every time I remember you.

Thankful,

Coach David Wetzel
Baylor Football

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Chou

"For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life." John 3:16

Ten days ago we landed in Maceio, Brazil and since that day, the lives of many Baylor student-athletes have changed. This trip has opened so many of our hearts and minds physically, mentally, and spiritually. The impact we had on the people we interacted with was parallel, if not more, to the impact they had on us. This Sports Ministry Mission was full of blessings, and the presence of God was always prominent.

Prior to this trip, the number of student-athletes I personally knew was very little. Apart from the basketball girls, interaction with other athletes seemed very limited during the school year. One of my goals for this trip was to get to know all 42 athletes at deeper level. As the days went on, I got to interact with each person on this trip in different ways. I had the chance to play goalie with the soccer girls when they played a friendly against a bunch of the boys from the church project (they only scored on me 3 times), I had the chance to take part in football drills whenever the football players did their clinics, the Acrobatics and Tumbling team taught me some skills to do cartwheels and flips, and I played sand volleyball with the girls at night by the beach. We all became very comfortable with each other and truly enjoyed each other's company by the end. Before the trip we were all strangers but after, we became a family.

Throughout the 10 days we were in Brazil, we had the chance to visit various schools to spread the gospel through sports. The students we visited ranged from all ages and came from different kinds of backgrounds. At these schools, our chaplain and leader, Wes Yeary, would introduce us and explain our reasons for coming. Then, each sport would perform skills that represented each of them well. The Acrobatics and Tumbling team would do flips and pyramids that would always send waves of excitement through the crowd. Then Kristy Wallace and I would perform some basketball tricks such as dribbling with two balls, spinning the ball on our fingers, and racing the kids down the court. Then volleyball would demonstrate how to spike, set, and pass. The football guys would pass the ball to some of the kids who volunteered and did a push-up contest with all of them. But the main event would be when the soccer team went up. In Brazil, soccer is the top dog sport. Everyone had soccer running through their veins. The soccer girls would ask for volunteers to play one-on-one or two-on-two match-ups and the result would be 50-50, sometimes the Brazilian kids won and sometime our girls team won (which is to be expected since Brazil is the soccer capital of the world). After performing these demonstrations, a couple of us athletes would share the gospel to the crowd using our Gospel Balls. On these balls would be various colors, black, red, white, green, and gold. Black stood for darkness caused by sin, red for the blood of Jesus Christ, white for the cleansing of our sin, green for growth in Christ, and gold for the golden gates of heaven. Ultimately, everything is circled back to Christ and his love for us.

Our trip would not have been possible if it hadn't been for our partners. The community at Igreja Batista no Trapiche was incredible and so supportive. Talking and learning about the gospel with them is an experience I will never forget. Pastor Jonson and his family were so welcoming and showed us so much love throughout the whole trip. Sharing the gospel to the kids with them by our side made the trip so much better and enjoyable. Getting to know all of them individually and listening to their stories and experiences was a priceless experience. I'd like to say "Aburrito" (or obrigado in Portuguese) to them for their hard work in Christ.

I learned more about the gospel and Jesus Christ on this trip than I would have thought possible. Not only did I read the Bible and spend more time with God and with my fellow student-athletes, I was able to see God's power at work in everyone's heart on this trip. The amount of happiness and joy that was present throughout the whole trip was amazing. I learned that loving on people can make the biggest difference in their lives. Also that giving and showing these kids a little bit of heaven is the most important thing us Christians can do. I will continue to spread the gospel to others back home in Waco and also Dallas.

Lastly, I would like the thank everyone who made this trip possible. Thank you to all the donors who donated money and prayed for this trip. Thank you to all the fans who kept up with us throughout our journey. Thank you to the city of Maceio for allowing us to come into your home with smiling faces. Thank you to the Igreja Batista no Trapiche church community and its members for welcoming us with open arms. Thank you to all the student-athletes that came on the trip. Thank you to Kim, Tierra, and Doc for giving up a part of their summer vacation and coming on this trip with us to make sure we were all safe and taken care of. And a huge thank you to Wes Yeary for putting this trip all together. You showed us student-athletes how to live a resilient and steadfast life, that Christ is all you need, and that love is never overrated. Your legacy on Baylor Athletics will be a great one that no one will forget. Thank you so much Wes, for everything.

Love,
Natalie Chou
Women's Basketball


DAY SEVEN IN MACEIO
11:55 A.M. CT, TUESDAY, MAY 23, 2017

Throughout the week, we were able to share God's Word through clinics working with kids on many different sports. At the church during the clinics, it was awesome for me to see those kids' smiles even through their circumstances. They are there enjoying life even without shoes and a stable home life. It was also great to see Pastor Jonson and his family's amazing ministry to the people there. God used these kids and needy families to give all of us Baylor student-athletes and leaders a new perspective on life.

We also had two church services while we were there, and we got to share our testimonies on Sunday morning. During those services, it was cool to worship all together in two different languages.

Throughout the week, we went to three schools, and I was able to share my testimony about my journey from Brazil to the USA and Baylor and how I've grown my faith. For me, that was a scary moment but also a great opportunity to tell those kids that God has a plan for their lives and that their dreams are possible too. I met a boy named Ezekiel at the second school, and that was a blessing for me because he came and told me that I was inspiration to him and that I reminded him that he can live out his dream, too. I felt like many of the kids related to me because I was in their spot when I was young and now I am doing what they dream to be doing, studying while playing the sport I love, well that all Brazilians love, soccer. It was a lot of fun for me to be able to show my home country to everyone else on the mission team and share things like our Brazilian food and culture. Everyone loved the Brazilian BBQ and pizza! I think everyone can now see what made me who I am today. It is hard to say goodbye, but I am thankful for everything: for all of the Baylor athletes that came here, for the church hosting us, and for the great time we had getting to know each other. Being able to be around people that share the same belief was an incredible experience.

Aline De Lima
Baylor Soccer

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"I want their hearts to be encouraged and united in love, so that they may have all the riches of assured understanding and have the knowledge of God's mystery, that is, Christ himself." -Colossians 2:2

Wow! What an incredible experience these past 10 days have been. Words can not explain the love and joy these people from Maceio have showed us. On Monday, we had our free day at the beach! Although it rained all morning, we traveled about 30 minutes south to another beach. During the drive we were able to see parts of the city we had not seen yet, and some of the effects from the past two days of rain. Much of the beaches throughout the drive were covered in trash washed away from the city, and instead of seagulls or other ocean birds there were only vultures. The weather cleared up for us at the beach (which was far enough from the city to be clean/safe), and we were able to have a great time!

Of all the amazing experiences I've had on this trip, spending time with the Marechais football team is one I will hold closest to my heart. Their love for the game and want to always get better is truly inspiring to me. Going into this trip I was unsure on what I would teach, or how I would even communicate with the players. During our first practice, I was overwhelmed with trying to coach the players using only hand signals and gestures, since only one offensive lineman understood English. I asked God constantly to work through me, and to not make the language barrier too much of an issue. Eventually I was able to speak more effectively through translators, and as the week went on I saw a lot of improvement from the offensive line. The joy the players have while working with us really touched my heart. It is incredible how God uses sports to bring people together. Most of the players came to church Sunday night to worship with us and stayed long after talking with us.

As we wrap up our mission trip and head home I can't stop thinking about how fortunate we are in America. The little things like air conditioning, clean water, or a proper sewage system that are all necessities to us are luxuries here that most people do not have. Yet, they are still so happy.

God, I pray that you continue to work through the people we have encountered here in Maceio. May Your love continue to encourage and unite all of us. Amen.

Patrick Lawrence
Baylor Football


DAY SIX IN MACEIO
9:30 A.M. CT, MONDAY, MAY 22, 2017

Today started off great. We attended Sunday School at the church and separated into groups to talk about the book of John, chapter 21:15-19. They gave us a sheet of paper and instructed us to fold it into four sections. The questions helped us break down the importance of the section: "What are the keys words of the passage?", "Which part of the verse draws your attention?", "How can we apply this to our own lives?", and "Who can I share this with?". I won't tell you guys what I said because I want you guys to answer these questions for yourself just to see if this message really got through. Each person went around and gave their personal input, even some in Portuguese.

After we left Sunday school, some of us had the privilege to help coach the Marechias football team we have been practicing with all week. Today was their first scrimmage against a team that is considered professional down here. Our guys fought hard but came up short at the end. This was special to me because we got to coach these guys up all week and have built everlasting bonds with some of the guys. Some of the players gave me priceless gifts passed down from their family just because we gave them a few pointers about football. Although we came to teach the Marechias about football, they taught me so much more like the gift of being selfless, which was one my favorite attributes of them.

To end the day, we went to church which was a service where every word was translated because of the language barrier. I got to see some of the kids for the last time. I wish I could bring all of them home with me because I have such a connection with them. The kids have opened my heart in ways I thought was never possible. Honestly, I have cried more times on this trip than the last three years combined.

I went on this trip not knowing what I wanted, not really sure what I was going to do to contribute to the trip. You know, maybe I was here to change lives or leave a huge impact. Instead, I came here and experienced a transformation. My faith has skyrocketed and I have learned to really let go of the wheel and let God take control. Before this trip I have never experienced anything spiritual in my life, but today I felt as if Jesus was right next to me. Who knew something so perfect could happen to someone like me?

Taylor Young
Baylor Football

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Today's agenda: church, lunch, football, church, but this became a bit harder than anticipated due to the heavy rain that we experienced (which is very uncharacteristic for this time of year). We got up early and went to a Bible Study held at Trapiche with the congregation of the church, and here we enjoyed music in Portuguese, fellowship, and biblical study. It was so fun to see so many of the kids that we had played sports with here at the church, and they were certainly excited to see us. After a time of worship, the group divided into three groups: kids, young adults, and adults, for the main portion of the morning. All of the Baylor students spread out amongst the groups, and I went with the kids group, since I had found my Brazilian friends Clara, Julia, Bea, and Matzu. We all sat in a big circle, and Babi (Jonson's daughter) asked us Baylor students to share with the group our testimonies in order to encourage the students. Many of us shared with the help of a translator, and the kids seemed interested in what we had to say. We then closed out with prayer in both Portuguese and English while holding hands in a big circle, which was a really cool experience.

After church, the rain was still coming down heavily, so we went and got lunch at the food court of the mall before heading out to the Marichais football game. The Lord provided for the fans at the game, because the rain stopped just before it started and stayed away until it was finished (much to our delight). There were about 150-200 fans up in the stands alongside us, but you would have thought they were 400 strong with how much passion and enthusiasm they brought. They were yelling and cheering and using their noise-makers and horns throughout the whole game, and their passion and excitement for the game was beautiful and fun. The Marechais played a good game with the help of our Baylor football players coaching them, but sadly they lost. However, the fans were still just as happy and excited, because they had played, and to them that was reason enough for joy.

Following the game, we came back to the hotel for dinner and a quick shower before heading off to Trapiche for their evening service. We arrived just a few minutes late, but that didn't phase them a bit. They pulled a few of us who play music on stage, and together we led worship with a mixture of English and Portuguese and a slew of instruments and voices. To me, this was an incredibly powerful experience. Regardless of where one is from, what language one speaks, how old, how young, or male or female, we all speak one common language: music. As a violinist, this struck me with awe, because we had the opportunity to worship the same God together in unity through this one common language, and that was incredibly beautiful to me.

Wes and Jonson both spoke at the service, and together we learned, took communion, and worshiped. Afterwords, we enjoyed our last chance to fellowship for this trip, so lots of hugs and pictures were exchanged. It was here, amongst all of this, that one one of my most treasured memories occurred. One of the people I had become closest with over the trip was a woman named Sabrina. She is 25, and has a cute little boy named Pietro that she adopted, and spoke fairly good English. We had spent most of Saturday together talking, laughing, and making music together, and then got to see each other tonight at the church. Saying goodbye was hard, but she gave me something I will treasure forever, a little felt bird. To anyone else, this little bird would be of very little value, merely a trinket, but to me it is priceless, because she gave it to me. All week, Baylor has been giving things to the community to bless them, but tonight, she gave me this small gift to bless me. I was so moved by this simple gesture, that writing about it now brings tears to my eyes. This trip has opened my heart to the people of Brazil, and a piece of me will remain here with them here in Maceio forever. I have fallen in love with their worn down streets, their smiling faces, beat up soccer balls, giving hearts, shack homes, hospitality, challenging language, and passion. This trip has been priceless to me, and I am so excited to come back again and see how the Lord can bring our two cultures even closer to one another and to him.

Anatalia Ashcroft
BU Track and Field


DAY FIVE IN MACEIO
6:45 P.M. CT, SUNDAY, MAY 21, 2017

Today, we spent time with the Marechais Football Team at camp outside of Maceio.

It was great to work with them and make some adjustments to get ready for their game tomorrow. The team is really looking forward to showing everyone how hard they have worked this offseason.

After walking through all of their special teams for their game we took time to talk about mental, physical, and spiritual preparation for competition. Coach Wetzel answered some questions and then Wes told them about his coach, Grant Teaff, who said he had three kinds of players- quitters, sitters, and hitters. He explained that the quitters are the ones who come out for the team but quit when times get hard. The sitters are the guys that are just satisfied to get their name in the roster but just sit around and don't help the team. And the hitters are the difference makers. They listen to their coach, study the playbook, are committed to, and make sacrifices for the team. We then compared that to being a part of God's team and shared our desire to surrender to our head coach, Jesus, so that he could do a work in and through us that would bring glory to God.

After all of that we got to spend some time with the Marechais, eating lunch, playing volleyball and hanging out at the beach next to the camp. It was great to get to know them outside of football. The Marechais are a very special group of guys, and it has been an honor to coach them. I cannot wait to be on the sideline at their game tomorrow to watch them play. I know it will be a very special and unforgettable experience.

Trevor White
Baylor Football


DAY FOUR IN MACEIO
12:15 P.M. CT, SATURDAY, MAY 20, 2017

Today was a crazy day. We went nonstop from breakfast to dinner, and we're exhausted, but also so blessed by what God is doing here.

Our first stop this morning was at the same military school we went to on Wednesday, but this time we were with the high schoolers. They were so good at everything!

One boy who was really good at soccer came up and asked me for a picture after we finished. When I asked for one on my phone as well he turned to me with a bewildered look and asked if I was serious. The joy on his face in that picture is incredible. Wes tells us every morning as we head out to "give 'em heaven!" and show Jesus' love, but I didn't realize that could mean simply asking for a photo. I did something so little, yet the hug I got afterwards told me it meant so much more.

That is the hugest difference here in my opinion. These kids simply want a little bit of love and attention. Anything you give them makes their day, just saying "oi" (hi) lights up their face. The simple joy of it all makes me realize how blessed I am to have people around who tell me daily that they love me, and it breaks my heart to see the kids down here that mostly don't have that.

We then went back to church for lunch and to the stadium for a clinic with over 200 kids. I was so excited to see the same boy from the school there because I knew he would have the opportunity to get connected with Jonson's family and the church. The clinic lasted two hours, with kids rotating between stations for Acro, Volleyball, Football, and Soccer- but every time they got a ball it became a soccer ball anyways. It was hilarious to see with a football, but made me happy because they just love soccer so much.

The clinic ended and it was a bittersweet moment. It was a culmination of all we have done this week, but it was the last time we would see all of the kids we had worked with each day and it made me sad to say goodbye. Some of the kids I knew from my trip here in 2015, and the growth and changes in some of them from then to now is incredible and such a beautiful thing to see. As a senior I probably won't ever have the chance to come back here again, but I know that God is working a mighty work in Maceió through Jonson and his family. I am so blessed to have been a part of that here twice, and cannot wait to see what happens in the next few days as well.

Thank you for your prayers, they're definitely making a difference here!

Jody Lee
Baylor Soccer

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First of all, on behalf of the whole team, we all would like to thank BUmissions and everyone involved in putting this year's trip together. The organization and logistics have been impeccable thus far. You all have truly set us up to succeed at our mission.

What a day! This morning, we returned to the military school that we visited earlier this week. This time, we spoke and played sports with the high school students and not the middle school students. I have kept touch with a few students from this school throughout the past year and recognized even more faces in person.

Last year, there was a tragedy involving the passing of a fellow classmate at this school. This year, a student shared with me how thankful she was for our message as she cried. She said it gave her hope and helped her through the passing of her dear friend.

I was so encouraged by this moment because it goes to show that the love of Jesus has no language barriers or restrictions. It can flourish by planting even the smallest of seeds.

It is so encouraging to see positive changes from last year to this year in all aspects of this trip. I know that Jesus is doing work through us. We are his vessels here on earth right now to share the good news.

John 15:10-12
"When you obey my commandments, you remain in my love, just as I obey my Father's commandments and remain in His love. I have told you these things so that you will be filled with my joy. Yes, your joy will overflow! This is my commandment: Love each other in the same way I have loved you."

Wyatt Schrepfer
Baylor Football


DAY THREE IN MACEIO
10:14 A.M. CT, FRIDAY, MAY 19, 2017

Hello Baylor Nation! I am so excited to share with you all about the powerful day we had here in Maceio, Brazil!

Our alarms sounded early this morning for breakfast and a team meeting. In the meeting we discussed calling, specifically, God's call for each of us to be a servant. Many believe that they are too flawed to be a servant for Christ, but God does not require us to be perfect. All we have to do is attune our hearts and minds to God's kingdom, and say yes to Him when He calls our name. When we achieve this hunger for God's will, He finds a way to use us as servants regardless of where we come from. After hearing this message, I was eager to get on the bus and see how God was going to use each one of us at the school we were headed to.

This school was located in a more impoverished part of Maceio than the previous schools we have been to. Nonetheless, the kids were ecstatic when we arrived. They lined the fence and shouted warm welcomes as we walked onto the court. Each sport represented by our team of Baylor athletes did a short demonstration in front of the kids. Their favorites seemed to be Acrobatics and Tumbling and Football. The crowd was wild! The demonstrations also allowed for the kids to volunteer to run some plays with our athletes. It was truly incredible to watch the joy on their faces as they interacted and learned from each of our teams. After the demonstrations, the kids quieted back down as we shared with them the true reason we are in Maceio; to teach them about our great Savior. We told them the about the gospel story and handed out pocket-sized books of John.

The soccer, volley, and footballs that we used during the demonstrations were used as a tool to tell of the good news. The colors on the ball symbolize the promise that if we believe in Christ as our Savior, we will be washed clean from sin, permitted to enter into a relationship with God, and welcomed into His kingdom for eternity. After sharing, the kids were able to come out of the stands and interact with us individually. One little boy grabbed my hand and pulled me to the side of the crowd. His name was Samuel and he was 11 years old. He spoke a little bit of English and was able to communicate to me that his family is going through a number of hardships right now. He asked me to pray for him and his family. Samuel and I joined hands and bowed our heads as we prayed for God's protection and deliverance. Samuel had tears in his eyes, as did I. To me, this experience proves how powerful God truly is. He is bigger than poverty, He is bigger than language barriers, and He is bigger than any hardship. I feel so blessed that God used me today to share His hope with this little boy. It was the greatest honor.

Next, we headed over to the church where we got to meet with local high school seniors. In Brazil, many students do not complete high school and very few pursue college degrees. We were able to congratulate these seniors on earning their high school education. The pride and joy on each of their faces was beautiful. We also got to share with them about our own college experiences, and encourage them to be steadfast in their studies, and to continue with their education. Aline De Lima, a Baylor soccer player and Brazil native, was an integral part of this encouragement. She spoke about her own journey to college athletics and reminded the seniors that they too can achieve their dreams. We prayed for them and handed out some Baylor souvenirs.

Later in the afternoon, we had a sports clinic at the church with the kids from the community. Today, we played basketball and football with them. It is so much fun to be around these kids. They are full of energy and excited to learn new skills. They have such a passion for athletics, just like we do. It is very special to be able to share that passion and build relationships from it. We wrapped up the clinic by talking about the gospel balls, just as we did earlier this morning. Again, the kids were engaged and curious. It feels so good to be able to share such an amazing story with them.

To finish the day we had a team dinner and reflection time. We cannot wait to see what tomorrow has in store!

I'd like to thank all who contributed to making this mission trip a possibility. God certainly is moving in Maceio, Brazil and it is such a privilege to be here. Please pray for Samuel and his family and please pray that more hearts would be turned towards Jesus before we depart in a few days. Thank you, Baylor Nation! God is so good!

Sam Howell
Baylor Equestrian


DAY TWO IN MACEIO
10:14 A.M. CT, THURSDAY, MAY 18, 2017

Wow I'm really unsure as to where I should start for today. It's been so amazing here and the time is flying by so fast. The first thing we did this morning was have a devotion led by Cameron Wendlandt. She talked about James 4:13-15 and told us how no day, hour, or minute is promised to us and that we must use the time we have to spread about God's love for us. After we wrapped up devotion time we headed to our bus and went to the first school. As we walked in through the gate there were children everywhere peeking out from stair wells, balconies, and any window they could reach. The kids flooded into the courtyard and started to play with us as we waited for everyone to get ready for the program to begin.

Wes started off by introducing each team and then most of the teams gave a small demonstration. It was really amazing to see how athletic most of these kids are and how willing they are to learn new sports. A growing sport in Brazil is American football, and man do they get excited when those boys come out and show them how it's done. We attempted to get the kids to settle back into their seats while some of the athletes explained the meaning of our gospel balls. No matter how many times Blake Murphy asks if anyone can recite John 3:16 there is always a kid that is able to do it perfectly. At the end we are able to give out little books of John written in Portuguese to each kid, and many of them ended up having us sign them. We said goodbye to the kids and left them with many bracelets and necklaces, while they left us with many more memories. We headed black to the hotel for a relaxing three-hour lunch break and then we were off to our next school, a military academy.

As we walk through the gates yet again we can see little heads poking out of every corner so excited that we were there. The kids rounded out their day with a test and then were released from their formations and allowed to come have fun and hear about Jesus. This group of kids was far more overwhelming than the last, almost twice the size as the last it seemed. When it came time for demonstrators to pick volunteers from the crowd it got crazy. We thought Taylor Young might lose a hand for a second, but one of the kid's leaders came and saved him. The demonstrations all finished and the gospel balls taught, this only left time for one thing and that was for the kids to swarm us. These kids are so beyond excited to get the little Bible from us that it was a matter of seconds and every single kid had one. Each athlete felt like a celebrity, because everyone had lines of kids waiting to sign their Bible or take "selfies" with them. The amount of joy that these kids hold for some of the simplest things is quite amazing to me. Many of the kids took girls' hair ties and others necklaces, one even cried she was so excited. I pray that the kids back in America can learn to appreciate the simple things in life as these kids do. Brazilian kids don't need a TV or cell phone or even a ball, just a little bit of space and an old water bottle will do just fine for their games of soccer.

We rounded out the night with Pastor Jonson at Igreja Batista no Traphiche, his church, for a night sermon and worship. We heard the heartbreaking news that a young boy had recently been told he has a brain tumor that causes seizures, but he didn't end on that sad note. Jonson told us that the family and everyone who knew the boy were praying for him and the boy told his mother at one point that he was starting to feel a change inside of him, but not a seizure this boy knew it was God working inside of him. This story really hit home with me, because my uncle died in 2006 of a brain tumor. I very vividly remember the day I came to the conclusion that brain tumors=death and the sinking pit that arose inside of me. I wish I had been able to hold on to this hope that the boy's family does, these people are able to say they truly know of God's great healing power. The amount of hope that this church community has gives me so much hope to take back home and spread to my family and friends.

Wes was given the opportunity to preach to the entire church, and talked about hardships and trials we face in life. Wes reminded us that through all hard times we must stay steadfast. Steadfast means to remain loyal or faithful never wavering for even a second. He read us Proverbs 4:25-27: "Let your eyes look straight ahead, fix your gaze directly before you. Make level paths for your feet and take only ways that are firm. Do not swerve to the right or the left; keep your foot from evil". This is a challenge for many college kids, we get busy with school, sports, friends, and other various tasks and forget to leave time to read our bible or just talk to God. I'm guilty of this as I'm sure many others here are, but that doesn't mean we can't change and better ourselves. As we head into the rest of the week I hope that you will continue praying for us and that we are able to reach these kids' hearts and help them to see just how much they are loved by us and God. I can't wait to see what He has in store for us.

Maddie Chenoweth
Baylor Equestrian


DAY ONE IN MACEIO
9:45 A.M. CT, WEDNESDAY, MAY 17, 2017

We began the day by touring the city of Maceio, so we had an idea of the culture and people we would be working with. Going from the tourist side of Maceio to the more impoverished area, we went from seeing hotels and shops on the beach to shacks and mounds of rubble by the lagoon. The homes were compacted all the way to the edge of the lagoon and there was no space between each little home to the next. Trash and animals were skewed everywhere. It was such a contrast to the beautiful beach that lay behind it. Next to this area is the largest stadium in this state of Brazil. This stadium is their livelihood. Tens of thousands of people come to cheer on the teams that play. The games are crazy, loud, and intense. Some fans will even jump into a ravine to cross the barriers so that they can watch a game. The revenue from the tickets sold helps the city run, and most people from the city will use the game to sell food and drinks to fans in order to provide for their families. Soccer is definitely a huge part of the culture not only for entertainment, but for survival as well. This was definitely something that hit me hard as a soccer player. I love the game but never have had to look at it as a means of survival. It was such a blessing to see this piece of Maceio. It was awesome to find out that we could use the sport that I love to share the gospel. We may not speak the same spoken language, but we could communicate with the people through our passion for the game.

Later today, our ministry team put on a soccer clinic at Igreja Batista no Trapiche, a church that provides a safe haven for kids in the area. It was such an amazing experience. We had close to 100 kids participate, ranging from the ages of 5 to 18. There were six stations each with six different skill sets, like heading, skills, passing, shooting, etc. The kids were excited and energetic with everything we asked them to do. Most of the kids didn't even have any shoes and did all the drills barefoot. They always wanted to be playing with a soccer ball, even during breaks. The joy on their faces was contagious. I loved seeing everyone communicating, despite the language barrier. The kids were patient with us as we tried to explain the drills. They even taught us a little Portuguese :). We ended the camp with sharing the gospel ball, and we were even able to give all the kids the Gospel of John. I don't know who got more out of the camp: us or them ;). They had a childlike joy and faith, which I could see God using it to reveal himself. It's inspiring to see how God uses the kids to impact us, just as much as he uses us to impact them.

Later at night, the football boys held a two-hour football practice for a team here. This practice took place at 10 p.m. because most of the players have jobs or school and that was the best time that worked for them. They didn't make excuses that it was too late or that they had to play on a sand field. These players gave a 100% effort. It was awesome to see them step out of their comfort zone and play American football in a soccer dominated culture. They were eager to learn. I fully believe that if we have this kind of attitude, then God can work miracles. We just have to be willing and he will take care of the rest. I believe He will use the sports that they play to reveal Himself and inspire others to accept the great news that we are redeemed, loved, and have a family and home in eternity with Him. Overall, God showed me that you just have to be willing for Him to work through you. He will take care of the rest. Definitely coming into this trip, I struggled with believing that I was a good enough soccer player or a good enough Christian to teach others. Knowing Brazil is a soccer-dominated culture, I figured most of the kids were going to be extremely talented. I also knew that more than likely, none of them would speak English. Despite these doubts, God came through for me, just like He always does. He says, "Don't let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity." {1 Timothy 4:12}. God doesn't call the qualified. He qualifies the called. He shows us this again and again in the Bible. David is a shepherd, but God leads him to be a king. Moses was a murderer, but he later led the Israelites out of slavery. Today, He used a bunch of college students to lead children to Jesus, who can give them eternal love and eternal life. It didn't matter what skill set, good or bad, either of us were at. We had a blast regardless. There was so much joy and laughter in both our team and the kids we worked with.

He also reminds us to "Be diligent in these matters; give yourself wholly to them, so that everyone may see your progress. Watch your life and doctrine closely. Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers." {1 Timothy‬ ‭4:15-16‬}. We don't have to be perfect or have it all figured out. Not every skill had to be executed perfectly nor did every word we spoke have to be given without stumbling. It's our journey that matters, the struggles we've overcome, the victories we have over sin because of Jesus. He reminds us it's the way we conduct ourselves that change people's hearts because His power is made perfect in our weaknesses {2 Corinthians 12:9}. This was just Day one, and I know God has way more for us and the people here. I can't wait to see what He has planned next!!

Ariel Leach
Baylor Soccer


BEARS DEPART FOR BRAZIL
8:40 P.M. CT, SUNDAY, MAY 14, 2017

Brazil

For the ninth consecutive year, Baylor student-athletes, coaches, and trainers will be heading out as part of a Sports Ministry Mission Team to share the love of Christ and serve ministry partners by using the International language of sport. This week, 42 Baylor student-athletes and five staff from seven different sports will be going back to Maceio, Brazil to work with Igreja Batista no Trapiche- the Maceio Baptist church that has an amazing ministry to children and families in the largest local favella (or slum). The team will be doing daily programs and sports clinics in local schools, and working with the church after-school program to teach specific sports skills and share their faith. This will culminate with a big event at the end of the week in the local professional soccer stadium and a big youth outreach and worship at Igreja Batista no Trapiche.

Another element of the mission is the work our football players will be doing with a local team, the Maceio Merichais, who over the past two years of our work together have gone from "worst to first" getting to play at the end of last season in the championship game at the Pele Stadium in Maceio (The first American Football game ever played there!) The most exciting part has been the spiritual transformation of so many of the players who now attend and even help serve at Igreja Batista.

We will treasure your prayers as we seek to say "Yes" to God and allow Him to work in and through us in any way He desires!

We are so grateful for the many of you who helped to make this possible through your generosity, help, and prayers. We'll look forward to keeping you informed on what's happening as best we can each day!

Giv'em heaven!

Wes Yeary
Baylor Sports Ministry

2017 Brazil Sports Ministry Team Roster
Alexsis Amrhein, A&T
Anatalia Ashcroft, T&F
Tierra Barber, Staff
Camryn Bryant, A&T
Madison Chenoweth, EQ
Natalie Chou, WBB
Makenah Cotner, A&T
Jacqueline Crowther, SOC
Aline De Lima, SOC
Hannah Fluegel, VB
Haley Foster, SOC
Camryn Freiberg, VB
Alicia Gasser, EQU
Molly Gibbons, A&T
Katelyn Horstmann, A&T
Samantha Howell, EQ
Madeline Johnson, EQ
Quan Jones, FB
Dalton Justice, FB
Jarrod Koym, FB
Patrick Lawrence, FB
Ariel Leach, SOC
Johanna Lee, SOC
Amanda Lesikar, VB
Gisella Mendoza, A&T
Eva Morrison, T&F
Blake Murphy, FB
Katy Parsons, T&F
Ted Phipps, Dr./Alum
Julia Rodriguez, EQ
Victoria Rydelski, Csoc
Wyatt Schrepfer, FB
Hannah Schumacher, A&T
Caitlin Schwartz, SOC
Kim Scott, Leader
Halee Sowinski, SOC
Sommer Stanley, SOC
Allison Steele, A&T
Shani Thompson, Trainer
Kristy Wallace, WBB
Lindsay Walton, TF
Camryn Wendlandt, SOC
David Wetzel, FB Coach
Trevor White, FB
Tara Wulf, VB
John Yeary, Leader
Taylor Young, FB


Brazil Sports Ministry Team
May 14-May 24, 2017

Sunday, May 14
Depart Waco

Monday, May 15
- Arrive Maceio
- Dinner/Welcome Meeting

Tuesday, May 16
Maceio

- AM- Igreja Batista no Traphiche - Trapiche Community/Visit Stadium
- PM- Sports Clinics
- 8:30-10:30 American Football Clinic - Marechais

Wednesday, May 17
Maceio

- AM- Trapiche Schools
- PM- Sports Clinics
- Igreja Batista Wednesday Night Programs

Thursday, May 18
Maceio

- AM- Trapiche Schools
- PM- Sports Clinic at Soccer Stadium
- Brazilian Barbecue
- 9:00-11:00pm American Football Clinic - Marechais

Friday, May 19
Maceio

- AM- Trapiche Schools
- PM- Sports Clinics
- Evening American Football Clinic - Marechais

Saturday, May 20
Maceio

- Early Breakfast and travel to Baptist Camp Ground
- All Day American Football Camps + Camps Day for Teens From Trapiche Church

Sunday, May 21
Maceio

- Worship Service/Bible School - Igreja Batista
- Afternoon Free time/Rest
- Sunday Evening Service-Closing Ceremonies
- Team Dinner

Monday, May 22
Maceio

- AM - Beach/Fun in Maceio
- PM - Team Meeting/Reflection

Tuesday, May 23

Depart Maceio

Wednesday, May 24

Arrive Waco

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