Naples Naples Naples! I am apologizing already for the lengthiness of this blog! I just would hate to leave anything out! Plus for those that know me know that I love to talk anyway! This was hands down one of the best experiences of my life. I am beyond blessed to have had this opportunity to go on such a trip and be with such amazing people. When most people think of Italy they think of the Tower at Pisa, Coliseum, and maybe even fashion and Italian boys. This is all very true in some parts of Italy, but not in Naples. Naples is a very different from the rest of Italy. It is very dirty and is one of the poorest cities in all of Italy. Naples is very much in need of the Lord. My teammates and I had amazing opportunities these past ten days to step out of our comfort zones and show others our love for one another and our love for the Lord. As much as I hope that I touched the lives of the people of Naples, they touched mine so much more. We all really developed some great friendships with not only Charlie and Shannon Worthy and their children but with the Neapolitan people as well.
I really got to know four children at the elementary school quite well. They were four autistic children named Carolina, Jon Carlo, Simone, and Francesco. They put a smile on my face each and everyday. I will never forget how excited they were every time we came into their school! I also really got close to two older boys from the basketball courts. Michele and John Carlos. I was able to share my testimony with them and we had some great conversation. I encouraged them to go to church with Charlie and they both sounded quite interested and I hope that they try and follow through with him since we are now gone. Not only did God work through me but in me as well!
What I like about this trip is that we are all basketball players but that is not what we were this week. We did not see each other as Mick the great post player or Mick the big guy that walks around campus, but just plain ole Mick Hedgepeth. I wish I could try and explain these feelings of seeing all my teammates in this way but it is very difficult. Our relationships are no longer based on our connection through basketball but yet our connection through our faith and love for the Lord. I especially think this was true within the girls on the trip. Cacy, Haley, Kristin, and Tristan and I had some really great bonding experiences through this outlook. Many nights we had a little “girl talk” time. It was full of jokes, laughs, tears, and unspoken thoughts and feelings. Amazing is the only word that somewhat describes it. We all became so much closer and decided to take what we have learned and how we have grown into our team next year. It can be an absolutely program and team changing experience.
Overall I wanted to say thank you to anyone and everyone that had anything to do with this trip. It is something that I will always remember and cherish. Thank you!
To everyone who went on the trip: I love you all so very much and had the most amazing time getting to know you all and I can't wait to continue our friendships within these years to come!