It is so hard to believe that we are already finishing up our final week in Nigeria. There have been so many amazing blessings that have come out of our time in this village and it is incredible to see the determination and tenacity of the teens here. We have pushed the kids here to their limits, challenging them to call upon God for motivation and to give their all to the One who gave them their all. Using sports has allowed us to develop the kids athletically and to also prepare them for their futures but giving them the tools and encouragement and foundation necessary to be strong Christian's and leaders in life.
As we begin our final day of sports, we begin to close the chapter on our time here. We have completed 7 hours of coaching per day for a total of 105 hours over these 3 weeks. While there have been times we have gotten tired and frustrated from all of these long days, it is all so worthwhile (x1000) to see how the kids have grown not only athletically, but also in their leadership. I can't help but smile as I see them begin to invest themselves in their games, in their teams, and in their peers. They are striving for greatness and want to perform their best for the glory of God. The older ones help coach the younger one. Those who understand the sport or drill better will pair up with someone who doesn't to help and encourage them. Even when it wasn't their favorite sport, I saw effort and great attitudes.
All of their hard work to learn and master basketball, volleyball, and soccer has now culminated with our tournaments. It is amazing to see all of the athletic ability the kids have and how much they have grown since the first day we ran practice. They are stronger, they are faster, they are more disciplined, and they love competition. The sportsmanship is unmatched. They love the game, but they love who they are doing it for even more.
While coaching these kids has been incredible and such a rewarding experience, the time spent outside of sports growing relationships with them has been my favorite part. There is something so unique and special about every single one of these kids. They have so much love in their hearts and they care about other people in a way that is so rare back in the United States. It has challenged me to look into my life and see how I can imitate their attitudes back at home. They are all searching and continually trying to better themselves. They have struggles and pain and want advice and want someone who can listen. Being able to sit down and talk them through their struggles and to be able to share our lives and our downfalls and testimonies has been incredible. It is going to make leaving them tomorrow that much harder, but it is encouraging to know that we did make an impact.
As much of a difference that we may have made here, the kids, mommas and staff at this village have given me more than I could ever give them. They have shown love to strangers, they have welcomed me wholeheartedly and made me feel at home. They have showed me great examples of being men and women of God. They have been windows and not walls, letting God shine out through them. They have shown me what it truly means to persevere and that I can make it through anything, even on the toughest days. They are special and have been put here for the glory of God by God and I cannot wait to see how these kids are going to change this broken world.
- Marea Swaffer, Michigan State University
To God be the Glory!
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