AIA Mission's Voice

  • See You Later

    Section: Sports Perf.

    2017 Teams: Sports Perf. - South Africa

    Sports Performance - South Africa

    The last two weeks went by so quickly, but I fell so in love with the country and the people that it felt I had been there 6 months already. Saying goodbye is always a hard thing to do. I realized it was going to be much harder this time when Thursday morning came around and I still hadn't packed. I think part of me was in denial that it was time to go. The other part of me just really hates packing and always waits until the last minute anyways. 

    After packing my belongings and doing a last check in the guest house, the team drove up the hill for breakfast and the first round of goodbyes.Our sports performance team had been partnered with the AIA Campus team and we had spent practically every day together. We became so close and we grew together both as people and in the Lord. You don't say goodbye to friends like that, so instead we said "see you later." And we meant it. 

    Today was about making the most of our trip and enjoying the last bit of time we had together. We picked up our sweet friend, Jason, and headed over to the Giraffe Park. We looked at all the animals, fed some llamas and goats and finally the big, beautiful giraffe. He let us scratch behind his ears and gave us all big kisses (or maybe he was just trying to eat our shirt sleeves). Upon leaving we held a python (I freaked out a bit) and then we were on to our next adventure.

    We drove over to the Waterfront for some last minute souvenir shopping. We spent most of our time in the Watershed, a giant shed full of fair trade items and all things made right there in South Africa. It was amazing to see the craftsmanship that was put into these gifts. I bought all my gifts there and moved on to get one last milkshake (I enjoyed one every day since being there) and sit by the water. One thing I will miss most is the simplicity of sitting back, taking a deep breath, and just looking at the mountain. We all live busy lives and too often we forget to stop and look around at what an amazing life we've been given.

    Time was ticking by, so once again we headed out to one last stop before the airport. We ate lunch and said goodbye to Jason, who gave us all a Bar One to take home. I don't think he realized how much that small bar of chocolate meant to us. It was a small gesture, but taking it home would be one last reminder of the kindness we were leaving behind and the memories we were taking with us. I'm saving mine for a rainy day when I need some encouragement.

    Our last stop was a speed cricket tournament. Dom, our wonderful guide and friend, was playing and we couldn't wait to see him in his element. He had done so much for us in our time there, including teaching us about the confusing sport of cricket. His face lit up every time he talked about it, so it was neat to be able to go and enjoy that with him. Unfortunately time is unforgiving, and we had to leave early. We said another goodbye, to Dom this time, and headed to the airport. 

    We ended up being a couple hours early and so we spent our time discussing the trip and things we would miss. We went in a circle and gave each other affirmations and reinforced how thankful we were to have met one another. This moment was bittersweet. It was a reminder of more goodbyes soon to come, but a promise that we would stay in touch and hopefully see each other again.

    Fast forward to the present moment, after spending way too long in airports and on planes. It feels great to have my feet back on the ground, but I have to admit it is a bit strange being back home. I can't seem to find the right words to describe my experiences and what they mean to me. Saying goodbye was hard and even sad, but what excites me is that none of it was really goodbye. I don't know when or how, but I know I will be back. Goodbyes all turned into "see you later", and for that I will praise the Lord.

    Sending my love from Kentucky to South Africa,

    - Emily for the team

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  • Extra Innings Episode 19

    Section: X Project

    2017 Teams: 2017 Teams, X Project - Ohio

    X Project - Ohio

    Jackson S.

    “Eat. Pray. Baseball.” This would be the moto Jackson S. chooses to live by. Introduced to baseball at a young age, he always knew he wanted to be like his dad one day, a collegiate baseball player. It wasn’t until Jackson signed with Corban University that his dream became a reality.

    Finishing up his undergraduate degree in the fall, he is patiently waiting for God to reveal what the next move is, “my ultimate purpose is to serve Him,” Jackson says. The only thing certain, is Jackson’s love for combining sport with faith and impacting those around him.

    When considering internships for college credit, Jackson knew X Project was one he couldn’t pass up. After hearing about the internship through his parents, who work with Athletes in Action, it seemed like the perfect opportunity to gain both professional and spiritual growth for Jackson.

    Experiencing God’s love and community on a trip to Cuba with his baseball team, Jackson realized what it looks like to be a Christ follower in any environment. “We went down there to encourage the church because they have a lot of restrictions from their government, but both times I left just humbled because these are Christians that are not in as good of a situation as me,” Jackson says.

    Talented, driven and passionate, Jackson has a bright future and continues to pray about where God wants him next. With eagerness to start the next chapter in his life, Jackson reflects on how he has grown this summer and how that will transition into his future career.

    #GOAIAUSA  #AIAXP17 #ExtraInnings

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  • I Can't Dance

    Section: Sports Perf.

    2017 Teams: Sports Perf. - South Africa

    Sports Performance - South Africa

    Wedesday was a day of opposites. We started the morning at Stellenbosch Unviersity, where we met with the director of High Performance (D1 to professional athletics). Sean, the director, shared his new model and philosophy for the university's athletics. During his presentation it was confirmed that there is huge a disconnect between all of the branches within sports medicine. It seems that pride and a lack of communication are the greatest hinderances to sports medicine here in South Africa. Since Sean has been involved in Stellenbosch Univeristy, he has tried to implement mandatory communication meetings between the sport coaches, the strength and conditioning coaches, the physicians, the physiotherapists, and whoever else needs to be included. He is trying to change the culture of sports medicine and performace in Cape Town. It is exciting to see someone care so passionately about his athletes by creating the best possible enviroment.

    After our time in Stellenbosch, we drove to Khayelitsha, a township in the Cape Town area, to visit and treat some of our local athletes that participated in the Ultimate Training Camp. We spent our time at one of the guy's house, where his familiy welomed us with open arms. We stretched, performed soft tissue work on their tired muscles, and taught them stretches they could do on their own after we left. While we were hanging out, the boys were trying to teach us how to dance some of the local African dances. Well, that was quite a site! There was so much body segment movement in their dances, I literally could not catch on. Your feet would go one way, while your hips went other, while your upper body went in multiple directions. Our athletes and locals were laughing at us. Since African dancing was not working for the Americans, we decided to teach them some of our dancing. Please do not judge our choices for dancing (it was the only music we had)! We taught them the "Wobble" and a line dance to "Footloose." They quickly picked up the steps and put us to shame with their moves and added flavor. It was a true joy to sit, dance, talk, share, and hangout with these young men. They have become forever imprinted on my heart and my greatest prayer and desire is to visit these young men and women again. 

    As we were sitting down eating our Fet Koek, aka Fat Cakes, (a local favorite), I noticed the the beauty of the moutains just ouside the towship. these mountains are areas that people flock to. As I am sitting there, I see the end of the township right up to the mountain, which to some people could ruin the natural beauty of the mountain. I saw it as my life. God's beauty and purpose is always around me, but I have to look beyond my circumstances to see Him working within and through me. 

    Sad to leave Cape Town,

    - Reagan for the team

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