Day one in Naples was exciting and full of firsts for our team. We started off the day with a very sweet breakfast consisting of chocolate or jelly filled cornettos (similar to a croissant) with expresso, cappuccino, or freshly squeezed orange juice to drink. We then went on to visit a famous local castle that was built in the 16th century, which was the correct time frame guessed by Brandon Baker. Being on top of the castle produced an incredible ocean-front view of the extremely dense population of Naples. The only patches of green that could be seen were those at the airport and the mountains in the distance. You could see the area where the apostle Paul landed his ship and also the building Jason Bourne leapt from in "The Bourne Identity".
Our first afternoon of ministry was one I'll never forget. We broke up into two groups. Cacy, Kristin, Alyssa, Adam, Trevor, Wes, and I went to a fenced-in outdoor court in the middle of a roundabout in the city while the others went to a nearby park. We played 3 on 3 against the young people around the age of twenty. More people started to show up, so we began playing 5 on 5. They play games to 52 here, so we're going to sleep well tonight. As we rotated in and out, we visited the folks watching the game with a translator to share why we are here. After I had just finishing sharing about basketball and who Christ is in my life to a group, a young man came up to me and asked, "Do you want to smoke some marijuana?" After politely declining, we made small about sports until he asked the question that I was trying to get him to ask, which is "So what are you doing here?" This gave me the opportunity to talk to him about Christ and ask him if Jesus was a part of his life. He said Jesus was a very small part of his life and that he only attended church once or twice a year during Easter or Christmas. We talked for a while longer about the importance of faith and having a strong relationship with God. We then prayed together, and the young man is looking forward to coming back to play and talk with us as we will be at the same court for most of our days here.
Every year I come on these trips I am amazed at how God gives us great opportunities to plant seeds. However, planting the seeds ironically helps me grow so much in my own faith. This experience also allows us to grow with our teammates in new ways by having the chance to see each other in a unique environment where we are sharing who God is in our lives. I am looking forward to watching the seeds that we've planted grow and seeing what else God has in store for us this week!