Wednesday, February 26, 2014

getting paperwork reveals bigger problems...

we are hoping to do some international traveling with our rhinos this year.  the JV boys have been invited to play in a tournament in honduras, and we're praying for the possibility of taking the varsity boys to the US.

as we prepare for these opportunities, we are working hard to obtain paperwork on all the boys, so that we can get their passports, etc.  in doing so, some of the reminders of the injustices of poverty are rearing their ugly heads.

some boys don't have parents.  some do but they don't have legal documents saying they are guatemalan citizens.  some have absent parents in other places who are impossible to track down.  others have dads living right around the corner who don't even claim their kid.

some have parents who are permanently bedridden so they can't go to the necessary places to get paperwork done.  and the most recent example from today, one isn't even sure which guy his dad really is.  after seeing the father's name on his birth certificate he told us, "i know that guy, but he's not my dad."

one by one, we will get to the bottom of each case.  and as we do so, God reminds us what a blessing it is to be a part of the healing process, and correcting process, of the many wrongs that these boys have endured in their lives.

what a blessing it is to be a part of raising up the next generation of leaders in Buena Vista.

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Wednesday, February 12, 2014

the killing

the picture seen here is of the varsity rhinos leading a soccer clinic in the area of santa faz in one of the most dangerous areas of guatemala city.

there, through a special ministry called "life of hope", we were invited to come in and spend a day teaching soccer skills and sharing the gospel with the kids in the neighborhood.

so many things i could blog about here...  from how impressively the rhinos led, served, and loved on the kids...  to all of the special people we met who are serving selflessly in this dangerous, gang-infested area.

but what stood out to me the most were the few conversations i had with various children who lived in this community.  at different times throughout the day, i asked the kids the same question: 

what is the most difficult part about living here?

every single one of them answered the same: "the killing."

the answer stunned me.  apparently in this little community, gang violence is rampant.  not only gang members killing other gang members, but also initiation practices that call for the killing of innocent people.  as a member of this community, you learn to live with the fact that you are risking your life every single day.

strangely enough, the next day my dad sent me an email that included the world's murder statistics, which if you sort by city, ranks guatemala city #2 in the world.

no real angle with this blog.  just been thinking about how fragile life is.  and amazed at how those kids talked about violence and murder so casually.  its just part of normal life to them.

life is fragile.  each one of ours will be over before we know it.  we should make the most of it.  we are all called to use our resources, talents, time, and health in order to serve others.

it not only makes the world a better place, but its exactly what Jesus will be referring to when he asks us all, "what did you do for me?"

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

the new guys

the newbies, from L to R: isabel, kitty, elmer, and willie
we've completed our first month of 2014 in the academy.  one thing that is always rough about the first month is the "incorporation" of the new guys into the program.

this year we welcomed 4 newbies onto the JV team.  pretty easy to pick them out in the attached picture...  they are the ones who haven't earned their uniforms yet.

you've heard of "hell week" for military, police academy recruits, or even sports teams.  while its a strong term, its pretty much what we do with our new guys for their first few weeks.

our intention is to push them hard physically, as well as introduce them to the discipline aspect of the academy.  we do it in an extreme way so that they can adapt into the program quicker.  we have found over the past years that this helps their "acclimation period" to not linger on and on...

these 4 have been... well...  interesting, to say the least.

"isabel" (pictured 1st, in the white shirt) is just plain soft.  he came in arrogant... and quickly realized that the rhinos are legit.  he's 13 and was getting worked physically by 10 and 11 year olds.  after workouts, he is always left with a look on his face that suggests he has no idea where he is.

"kitty" (pictured 2nd) hasn't said more than 2 words since he got here.  he stays in a fog.  he doesn't pay attention.  he seems lost half the time.  he's going to be a "project" for sure.  the good news is, i remember when we had 30 newbies just like him - so we know there is hope!

"elmer" (pictured 3rd) is probably the most solid of the crew.  he's picking things up a little faster, doesn't seem to mind being pushed physically, has shown some personality, and has a great smile!  i think he's going to do well...

"william" (pictured last, in the green shirt) - what can i say about willie!  he's clueless!  he barely talks, can't read, and just seems to be lost everywhere he goes.  you can literally tell him something directly, then ask him what you said, and he has no idea.  he's cute...  but he's going to take a lot of work...

these are our rookies.  but now they are rhinos.  when they received the news last friday that they had made the team, their excitement was special to see.  it showed me that "being a rhino" is becoming a big deal in this community.

that works in our favor, as our hope is that the rhinos will be known as young men of integrity.  if its "cool" in this village to be a rhino...  that will eventually mean that it's "cool" to be a loving father, faithful husband, and man of God.