Monday, October 26, 2009

Island in the Sun: St Lucia Update on October 26th, 2009

Within the past ten days, I’ve had 4 Swing Dance events (one fell through), three basketball games, work, and started work writing a song to make a video for something called the “Logoscars”, which will be a chance for us on board to make videos, then win awards and get dressed up. Oh yea, I’ve also watched 3 games of American Football (God Is good). Two of the swing events were for youth programs, and one was a rather large youth program. The one I speak of was on Saturday the 24th of October, and was in front of some 400 kids. We did our dance (two couples) and then got interviewed about ships life. They asked me “What is good about being a man on board?” My (obvious) response was, “Well, what isn’t good about being a guy?” Then proceeded to tell about how we tend to get the better jobs, but I was handcuffed when asked what was difficult, offering no real answer back. The other notable event was yesterday when ten or so of us headed out to play some basketball against some locals. Only three showed up, about a half hour late, so we adjusted and played with them. I was in one of my moods where I freely and openly talk a lot of trash, and they were the type of people who can handle it, and even talk back. I really connected with one nicknamed “Gage”, who came back to the ship, and the trash talk continued, as I tried to raise interest in him coming to the ship.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Overview of Trinidad: Update for November 16, 2009

When we first came to Trinidad, I didn’t know how to feel about it. It was a big city that stank like the dickens, and was apparently very dangerous. Well, today we rolled out of Port of Spain, Trinidad, and onto the next adventure. As we sailed away from the Industrial capital of the Caribbean, I still had the same mixed feelings. It was a great opportunity to grow in ministry, and provided many opportunities to use what we’ve been practicing for many months (I’ve probably played more basketball here than I ever have in a month). Also, swing is still changing in my new leadership, and I’m not too sure which direction it is taking, but it certainly is getting used in a number of events. Even with the absence of my partner, I still danced in two events, and the other couples performed much more than I did.
I also had a chance to make some local friends, one being at the YTC juvenile center, and one being a local volunteer on the ship. I first met him when I was sent to his church as a leader of a church team. We shared the “Mission Hats” presentation, and I gave a testimony, while one more person did the message. After, they fed us and we got to meet them. His name is Adrian, and he played drums. He helped in the book hold for two or three weeks while we were in port. He also took Dan (Wales) and I out to get groceries for our upcoming break (on the beaches of Barbados).
One other cool thing that happened was that I learned a new sport; Cricket. First of all; yes it is as boring as it sounds. What happens is that a team consists of 11 people, who all get the chance to bat. After all eleven go, the next team is up. This can take hours, and batters can take their sweet time, due to no “foul ball” boundaries, and the fact that they don’t have to run if they feel they won’t make it to the next wicket (something like a base in baseball). The game was fun, when I had a hand in doing something, but the standby phases were killer, and long. Also, I did horrible batting, so I was out for about 5 minutes, while the rest of the team lasted a good 30 minutes each. I bowled (pitched) well, and got three wickets (outs). I guess it was good, but I still don’t quite get it.
So as we sailed away from Trinidad, I thought of the fond memories and friends I made, and was glad we visited. Then the stench of the air met my nose again, and I couldn’t wait to leave.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Prison: Update on October 2nd, 2009

They say that nothing comes easy in prison, and boy is it true. Our sports ministry leaders (alongside other leaders) had the fortunate opportunity to open up the prison bars and bring teams from the ship to play with some prisoners. The prison is for youths of all ages and all convictions, ranging from being sent by their parents (which is law in Trinidad) to the murderers and drug dealers. It’s safe to say that this was a rough crowd. In the past and coming days and weeks, we will have and have had numerous opportunities to play sports, and talk to these kids, as well as free reign to pass out literature.
On Friday, October 2nd, eight of us guys had a chance to go and play some basketball with a group of the prisoners. As we got there, they showed us around and walked us to the court, and explained what goes on there. This isn’t a waste of life for these kids, as they are forced to go to school, and also to learn trade skills, ranging from carpentry to welding and electric work. Of course, not everybody wanted to be there, but at least they were getting invaluable education during a period of punishment.
The gym was indoors and hot, which was expected, but hard to handle none the less. This was a huge social event for, what seemed to be, the whole of the prison. We sat and waited as hundreds of prisoners filed past us into the bleachers awaiting the tip off. As we warmed up, there were laughs and jokes, most of which I didn’t understand, and a lot of chatter. When the opposing team finally came out and started warming up, half of our team was sweating and a little tired already.
After a quick introduction from all of us, we began to play, and the first half was controlled by us. We had a fast pace, but patient offense running the court, and a tight zone defense to prevent opposing driving. They didn’t know how to attack it often it felt like, and we had them baffled. The crowd loved how we were playing, and loved when anyone would badly miss. The whole of the crowd would roar with laughter at ever bad play, giving more reason to not mess up. At half, we led by 17 points, 42-27.
The second half was somewhat embarrassing on our behalf, as they closed the gap to eight within the third quarter. We were dead tired, and had a lot of trouble moving the ball, and getting out of their full court trap defense. The more tired we got, the more physical the play got. This game was physically and mentally challenging as there seemed to be no fouls. There was pushing and shoving, and even some punching and slapping, the whole game. They also brought out three big guys (6’4” or so) to wear us down in the post. It worked for the most part, but we started to fight back eventually.
The fourth quarter was more of the same, as our exhausted team got run around, but hung on. In the waning minutes, we were up by a mere 3 baskets, and our defense held tight for most of it, but their physical play tore us down while they scored two more baskets. They never took the lead, but within the last thirsty second there was much business down by the rim as we delivered defensive blows getting in the way of passes and of shots the whole time. In the end, we were victorious by a score of 61-59 (I hit our only three).
Now the part that actually matters. We had a chance to talk to the whole gym after, as Clayton told his testimony of apathy, and shared about the ship, and of Christ as our savior. Then, as they funneled out some kids stayed behind to chat with us, some to keep playing, and some just to not have to go back to class. We also had a chance to pass out around 35 bibles (disguised as a sports magazine) to all the kids. The one kid I talked with most was named Samir, and was imprisoned for selling and using illegal narcotics. Samir liked to read, so we talked a little about books, and he took the bible. I told him to read it like he does a story, and he said he would. God willing, he will, and God willing his heart will be transformed.