Belmont University

May 25, 2011

"It Takes A Tribe"

We have been blessed with a team of volunteers who have served us and with us so beautifully. There are Journey Girls--Courtney & Grace, semester study abroad students from Quachita Baptist - Abbey & Stephanie, local translators--Ilaria, Grace, Marta, and Antonio.

Of course, Shannon and Charlie Worthy have become our extended family along with Benjamin (two), Alesia (four), Emma (seven), and Micah (nine).

Journeymen Worthys

The school Director, teachers, local merchants and friends of Charlie & Shannon have all embraced us and been a vital part of this journey & ministry. They bake us cakes & cookies, give us Gelato (ice cream), and prepare specialties of all kinds. They have been our guides and walked miles upon miles with us. Our needs have all been met .

One teacher even participated in relays and drills with her class. The teachers and entire school have all bought in to this ministry. They love the interaction and hanging out with this team. The message of Christ has inspired them. They want to know more.

Translator Translator

"It takes a tribe" to make all this happen and we will forever be thankful for our Napoli Tribe!
- Betty


Mick PrayerHe has been with me to South Africa, Malta, and now Naples. He stands tall and gets lots of attention. He plays, dances, claps, jumps, and runs with the kids. He allows the little boy inside himself to blossom and shine. This giant of a man is adaptable, gentle, welcoming, unassuming, caring and easy. He gives and gives and gives, never showing fatigue. He is always ready to serve! He is the consummate teammate. He is Mick!

When he opens his mouth to speak--people listen! He is always right-on target. I've watched him grow in his faith and deepen his commitment to Christ. He speaks truth and leads by example. I would trust him in any circumstance to speak on my behalf. He is well on his way to becoming a Godly man. He blesses my life daily and is a "rock" to his teammates. He is Belmont's "Mr. BRUIN."

- Betty

It's a Marathon!

Betty WisemanIt's Tuesday and possibly our longest day. We are at our school for six one hour sessions before heading to the park at 5:00 for our last session there. We'll then go into five different homes for our evening meal with families. That should be a unique cultural experience. We anticipate a 13 hour day before walking back to the hotel around 11:00 pm.

We're in the last leg of our marathon journey. Tomorrow we'll be back in school for 3 hours before an afternoon of shopping in preparation for our departure on Thursday at 5:00 a.m. from the hotel. Thanks to Debbie we have a bus to take us to Rome to the airport. I have already given away half of my clothing and items from home, thinking I'd be retracing all those steps and trains from Naples to Rome. That's ok because I don't really need half of all I have anyway!

This has been an extra special team to be with. They have grown in their love and respect for one another. They trust one another with their thoughts and feelings. They were growing spiritually and in fellowship.

Processing times have been intense, honest, and deep. Team members are eager to take all they have learned and apply to their teams and seasons next year. It's so good to hear them talk about leading bible studies within their teams, being Christ-centered BRUINS. Their testimonies each day have been more and more relaxed and relative to the moment. They are growing individually and together in Christ.

We will come home exhausted and emptied but "filled up"!" It will take some time to debrief and adjust--to recover. We will have been embedded in a culture that has stretched our limits of adaptation. There is much to be shared but telling the story won't come easy. Just give us all some time.

**The first thing I will want to do is hit a good salad bar and drink some cold iced tea!
- Betty

Plate 1...Plate 2...Plate 3....Plate 4

AllysaWell tonight was an experience to say the least. Tristan, Adam, and I went to the home of an Italian family. The mother and father, Mari Lou and Antoino, and their daughter Claudia. Claudia attends the school we have been in all week. They also invited the mom's two sisters and mother over! Not knowing what to expect since our experiences with food in Italy so far have been quite interesting, we were pleasantly surprised.

To start the night off we were served pasta. (Go figure) It was truly wonderful! After this the second dish was brought out! It was a plate of real Italian sausage and and a green spinach/ Brussels sprouts/broccoli type vegetable native to Naples. Along with this came the dish that all of our team just LOVES.....the oh so wonderful eggplant and tomatoes. With this also came the fresh mozzarella and the fresh bread. We thought we were done but, oh no. After this came the tiramisu and cookies followed by some blood orange juice. Then they brought out a plate of fresh fruit. To wash it all down, they gave us a drink that they said was for "indigestion". Let's just say, it was not exactly what we expected! It was a once in a lifetime experience that I am very thankful for and will never forget!
- Allysa

May 24, 2011

Grow(n) Together

HaleyA country with many churches, but few believers, is where we are stationed. It's crazy to see how many people live here in Naples Italy and do not want to change their bad habits of smoking, polluting, trashing the city, and not knowing Jesus Christ. My second day here in Italy I began talking to a twelve year old girl named Valentina--who could speak simple English. She was so pleased to be actually talking to an "Americano" as she would say. We talked about food, basketball, our favorite things, and then eventually Jesus Christ.

Valentina was some what confused about what I was talking about at first and thought I was just telling her to attend her church. After about 30 minutes of explanation, she was able to catch on, and became extremely interested in the phrase "having a relationship with Jesus Christ." Soon after, Valentina prayed with me to accept Jesus into her heart. This experience brought joy to my life and I will continue to pray for her faith and relationship. Everyday that we have been at the parks I have been able to spend more time with Valentina. She is going to grow into a great young lady, and it's a great feeling to know I have been a part of that.

HaleyOn a different note some of the guys came over to our apartment (cause us girls got the big roomy plaice) and we played some cards and just chatted. We played a couple hands of Kings Corner (or Kings Castle--as some of the team renamed it). But finally we made it to an intensive game of Egyptian Rat Screw, while Nash, Ted, Adam, Alyss, and J.J. had already lost all of their cards, it was down to Bake and I until J.J. "slapped" back into the game and stole all my cards! So props to J.J. although Bake pulled out the 'W' in the end. It's good to get to know all of the team even more while on this trip, and talk about our faith in Christ while having a good time.

I was telling BW today that while it seems like we have been here for so long, at the same time this trip is flying by! We had our second Belmont team processing time and lucky it was not as intense, but super informative and active with information about our journey this far, as well as plans for when we head back to the states. It's great to see how much we have grown together. Of course after leaving that; Nash, Ted, Alyssa, Cacy and I had to have our own processing time. I've never felt closer to a group of girls in my life, and I know God sent the five of us here on a trip together for a reason. I am so happy to be here knowing the days and time we have are slowly fading, I have already gained so much more faith in God and I can tell the city of Naples sees that in the magnificent team we brought here.

HaleyI am pleased to see the interest and eyes that are brought our way not only because we are tall (well extra tall) Americans with something to say, but it shows God gave us the ability to play basketball, to spread His word, and to be here in this struggling area of Naples. Although walking all over this place is tiring, I think we walk so people can see us and basketball players and the cross on our shorts and shirts. At first I was unsure of walking 5 miles everyday, but now it makes sense when we stop for gelato (ice cream) every day (HaHa!) Most of us struggle deciding what two flavors to choose for the day. After the tasty treat we head to the parks - where I met Valentina. These days will be times, moments, and memories I will never forget.


P.S. If I could only write it all, but I don't have 3 days to to it!

Wes Comes Full Circle!

wes_fence_sm.jpgIt does my heart good to watch Wes Burtner standing before groups and leading our team. I take great pride in the fact that Wes began exactly where the athletes are on this trip. Now, he has come full circle - leading.

Wes' quiet and gentle demeanor enhances his ability to organize and lead. He is non-threatening but speaks as one with authority. Our team has followed his leadership with great respect for who he is and the One he serves. His experience in sports evangelism trips as a student-athlete has served him well. He has earned the right to lead.

I know he misses his family - Candice, Max, and Reece and soon to be born child. We have all been sensitive to this separation and done our best to encourage him. He doesn't have too much time to think about it due to our busy schedule.

Special thanks to Wes for his leadership role!

- Betty

Thank you, Ms. Debbie

Betty WisemanHow many times a day do I hear this? Regardless of how often we say "thank you," there is no way to measure the magnitude of Debbie Chenoweth's service. More than ever before Debbie's presence with us is a gift from God.

Whatever we need--Debbie has it. If it isn't in her back pack, it is in her room. The team knows she will take care of every need. Charlie (missionary) is amazed at her skills, talents, and gifts. She has been his shadow. Her servant's heart inspires us all.

She has added responsibilities this trip--the journal/blog. Debbie daily sends entries and photos to husband Paul who records on the journal.

Debbie along with Charlie makes plans for our meals and pays the bills. She buys metro tickets, pays for hotel expenses, and keeps track of receipts. Debbie has her office with her at all times. She is the ultimate organizer, and servant.

Thank you, Debbie, for serving us and our Lord so unselfishly and generously! You are definitely our Most Valuable Teammate!

- Betty

May 23, 2011

"Pure-Sweat Man" - At His Best!

DrewHe has his own company, travels all over the country to train basketball players of all ages and levels. He is beyond his years in skill, leadership and as an entrepreneur. He is innovative, creative, disciplined, confident, passionate, and bold. He can do more things with a basketball than you can imagine.

Drew Hanlen
is the real deal and ultimate teammate. He can take any group, large or small, and organize and lead. This is his third trip with me and year by year I've given him more and more responsibility. He is a leader.

But what has taken place in his heart during these three years is a wonderful transformation. He will tell you very quickly that these sports evangelism trips are the highlight of his travels and teaching. He is a natural in a leadership role. He is at his best! He loves to share Jesus now and there will be a ministry component to "Pure-Sweat" in the future.

- Betty

A Semblance of Hope

WesAs someone who has had a longstanding, yet unexplainable fascination with the mafia, my eyes have been opened to a new reality. The Godfather movies and tales of New York crime boss like John Gotti have peaked my interest for years. While here in Naples, a city controlled by the real mafia, I have seen how oppressive the mafia is and how it has sucked the hope out of Neapolitan citizens and especially the youth. Too often, I've heard that the mafia has a stronghold on the community and future prospects are limited because of the grip the mafia has on business, government and society at large. I can only pray that God will work on the hearts of those associated with the mafia and that He will provide a semblance of hope for the citizens of Naples.

- Wes

J.J. - J.J. - J.J. !!

Debbie and I are trying to describe J.J. - what we see and hear. We can't. J.J. is a magnet. The kids love him, chant his name (see picture below), hang onto every word he speaks, imitate everything he does! His smile, personality, and animation light up a room and captivate an audience. He is a child's inner self. Charlie and Shannon's children are his shadow. The little boy inside J.J. is a joy to behold as he plays with these kids.

J.J. men_play_sm.jpg

I loved watching him last year as a BRUIN, but what I'm seeing here in Naples far exceeds that 30-5 season. He at his best--in his true element--doing ministry--connecting with kids. He makes my heart smile!

- Betty

Eye Opening Experience

TrevorThis trip has been an amazing eye opening experience. I have never experienced anything like this. The people are extremely receptive of us and are really interested in what we have to say. They love playing basketball with us and play as hard as possible because they want to beat the Americans. I think the best part about being here in Naples is that we get to play with these kids and get to see first hand the impact that we make on their lives. Its amazing to watch a kid's eyes light up, especially the ones close to our age, when we arrive to play with them.

TrevorAt the end of every day, they are always asking if we will be back the next day. By them asking that, I know for sure that we are impacting them and that they want to see and hear more from us.

- Trevor

I Love Italy!

AdamWow! A lot has changed in the last two days since I wrote my last blog.

First a quick update on John-Cabo... His real name is actually John-Carlo. You have to give me credit, I was pretty close on his name. Their accents are very thick here. I've seen him at the park everyday. He is a believer in Christ as our relationship grows maybe there will be a chance where he opens up to me. He is one of the many friends that we have made down at the park.

Speaking of friends at the park, Mick and I met a guy named Marco on Friday. (he insists that we call him by his American name, Marcus). He is a 17 year old kid with a really good heart. He loves basketball. The only thing he wants is to come to U.S. I admit sometimes I take things for granted and seeing "Marcus" share his dream with me really made me stop and think of how blessed we all are. Marcus shocked us all when he showed up at church this morning. He took two trains all the way from Pompeii to make the morning service! He spent the rest of the day with us. He ate lunch, went to the park and even stayed for dinner. I am very proud of him and am looking forward to spending the rest of the week with him and the rest of our friends down at the park.

Adam TestimonyAt the park today we noticed that one of the rims was nearly torn down. It was hanging by one bolt. Luckily Drew, Mick, trevor and I found the missing pieces on the ground and were able to fix the goal. This really took some team Chemistry. Drew was sitting on trevor's shoulders and I was Sitting on Mick's shoulders. (really funny site to see) after we fixed the goal, all of the guys were very appreciative.

This whole trip I've been learning a lot about Italians and their culture but I've also learned a lot about some of my teammates as well. It's crazy how you can learn more about them in 3 days during a mission trip than you would after spending an entire season with them on the court. This shout out goes to JJ, Trevor, and Wes. We have all been getting pretty close and I am happy we are. We are like a family.

I absolutely love Italy but there are somethings that I will never get used to... The first one is the walking. I feel like if we complained on every blog post from now on it still will not do it justice. I have probally walked more here this week than I did my entire semester at Belmont! One other thing that is foreign here is there are no refills on drinks. Refills might be the best invention in the world. Drew and I have been coming up with business plans that would start a revolution here. My favorite idea is, chicken Parmesan (they don't put any meat on their pastas) they would love it!!!

- Adam

May 22, 2011


AllysaCiao! Saluti dall'Italia! In other words "Greetings from Italy". I apologize for such a late blog entry but honestly things have been crazy and my electronics just seem to always be dead! Well I don't think that there is enough room on the blog for me to reflect on all the amazing things the past couple days so I'll just mention a few of the highlights.

First off, I think we all now know how it would feel to be famous because we get stared at EVERYWHERE we go. I guess it is unusual to see a group of 11 basketball players almost all over 6 feet tall (0r in Mick's words..2 meters) :) It also doesn't help that most Italians never see blondes, and I have yet to see a natural one either. Since being here we have met our host missionary Charlie and his wife Shannon! We have all truly enjoyed being with them and their wonderful three kids! Especially the youngest boy "Benji" who just can't seem to say any words other than "J.J". They have so kindly allowed all of us to eat at their house a couple nights so far and we have had such a great time over there except for the 4 flights of stairs up to their door. You would think a bunch of athletes would be able to do it but after a very long day on our feet and walking what seems like 15 miles a day...its a struggle to say the least. Drew, BW, and I have discovered the wonders of a very sketchy elevator but nonetheless it's an elevator. I would have to say the best memory at dinner would have to be Bake's dance with the hot pink streamers to "Ain't No Sunshine". Quite a sight! Between that and "pulling it out of his hat" (inside joke) I completely lost it in tears crying.

AlyssaWe have been working in a elementary school in Naples and it has been such a joy. Clapping, screaming, dancing, and laughing are all the events other than basketball that goes on within the hour we have with each class. We start of by an introduction and many drills, followed up by all of us playing against each other, and then someone from our team shares their testimony. These times at the school have been very special for me. As fun as it is seeing whatever wild move JJ can come up with in the dancing competition and seeing Mick block a 3rd graders shot to the other side of the gym, I have been able to have some really special moments with some children. First I met Antonio who was an autistic boy and we were able to really have a type of connection. Although I was not able to really have a conversation with him I was able to get him to play with me outside gym and really just try and show him that I cared. Personally, it was just a really meaningful moment.

A couple days ago we met at the end of the day for a time of reflection and discussion. We went in expecting a meeting full of touching on the highlights of the day and all left with a feeling of the touching of our hearts. The only way a can really explain it is a truly bonding experience. It was a time of opening up and letting ourselves be vulnerable and open with each other and it was one of the most amazing things I have ever been a part of. It is something I will never forget and I am sure there will be more like these within the days to come.

I would have to say one of the best things about the trip in my opinion is going to the courts in the evening. The court is located in almost as we would call like a "town-square". It is somewhat the hot spot of the area. It's the hangout place for all the teens. It was a great way to start the week when one of the first things I was told was that I should get a medical marijuana card for my asthma. This was a sure sign that evenings at the court would be interesting......and that they have been. From awesome basketball games with the locals, watching the boys put on a show of dunks for everyone, to being able to share my testimony numerous times with people there! I have met 3 guys in particular that I have created a great relationship with. One of which came to church with us today which was a great experience. I have been able to really get into some deep conversation with them and hope to go even deeper before we leave and try and let the Lord work through me and speak through me. I will try and give an update soon as to how things are going but I am really starting to fall asleep so I better get some rest but please continue to pray for my team and I as we finish out our trip here and continue to try and share our faith with those here in Naples. Thank you!

- Alyssa

Good Food, Great Fun, and Deep Conversation

Brandon Group.jpgHere in Naples everything begins and ends with food. The entire day is scheduled around the meals. Today I had some absolutely delicious food; a pastry and cappuccino for breakfast, pasta for lunch that was, as the Italians say, “magnifico”, and good ole chicken and potatoes for dinner. We had to have more of an American dinner because some of my teammates (all of them) are not as open minded as I am about trying the authentic Italian cuisine.

Based on food this was the best day we have had yet, it was also the most fun. We had tons of fun with the children in Naples elementary school. Our trip to the elementary school included a running sky hook in 5 on 5 play (me), some very intense shooting competitions between the Neapolitan students, and what turned into a 3 minute break dancing competition. The participants in the competition were three of the 4th grade students in our gym class. One student was of Asian descent, another appeared to be 100 percent Italian, and the final competitor resembled an elementary school version of Mick Jagger. All three of them were dressed as if they were on the cover of GQ Magazine.

TristanOur day was amazing, and we had so much fun with the kids, but I would not be doing this blog justice if I focused on sky-hooks and break dancing. There were four testimonies shared today in the elementary schools after we played with the kids. Tristan was the first to speak and set the bar very high. The only hiccup in Tristan’s speech came when she explained that God can help the kids get through tragedies, like losing their dog. The translator looked appalled, thinking that Tristan meant losing the dog to death, but quickly covered it up telling the kids in Italian that God can help them when their dog gets sick. After Tristan the next three to give their testimonies, J.J., Alyssa, and Kristen were all newcomers to the Belmont Sports Evangelism trips but you wouldn’t know it listening to them speak. They each made great points and clearly spoke from the heart, which is hard to do when pausing for a translator.

BrandonAs impressive and touching as the testimonies were, we had not scratched the surface of the emotional and spiritual impact that would come later. After our work in the schools we grabbed lunch (the aforementioned “magnifico” pasta) and came back to the hotel for a debriefing session. It was intense. It is hard to describe the emotional level of the meeting without breaching the trust of everyone involved, but I will say this: Earlier in the park a four year old Italian girl was hit in the face by an errant half court shot…I out cried her today, hands down. And I would do it again in a heartbeat; the tears that were shed, the friendships that were strengthened, and the love that was shared in that small Italian hotel room will stay with me until the day that I die.

- Brandon

May 21, 2011

Being Encouragers

b-dub-grief_school_sm.jpgThe school we've been working in daily experienced a real tragedy within a few days prior to our arrival. One of their beloved teachers died, a young woman of only 50 years old, from pancreatic cancer. The teachers here are grieving.

When a class comes into the small gymnasium the teacher is introduced to Debbie and me, and then they stay to watch and listen to testimonies. We are hearing story after story of how God is using team members' testimonies to encourage these teachers. They talk of "something" different in the lives of these athletes. When they hear us talk about Jesus--then they understand.

I am praying God will give me an opportunity to share with those who are hurting.

- Betty

May 20, 2011

First Mission Trip Ever

KristinI apologize for being a day late on my blog entry! I was supposed to write it yesterday but thus far this trip and the ministry that we have done has been quite amazing. Working with the kids at the elementary school here in Naples has just been a joy because to see the smiles on their faces when they see us make this trip all worth while.

Kristin TesifyEveryday the kids come to the gym we do some drills and fun games with them then one of the team members speaks to to the group of kids about their relationship with Jesus Christ. Well it was my turn to go on Friday and boy was I nervous before I got up there. But with the prayers and support of my other team members I got up there and just let the Lord speak for me and it ended up turning out great!

I've been enjoying becoming so close to the other team members. It really feels like we are one big family. Continue to keep us in your prayers while we're over here doing God's work!

- Kristin

(click image to view larger size)

Friday Morning

CacyIt is Friday a.m. - our second day in the school - 4th and 5th graders today - following a very long day yesterday. I'm watching from the sidelines as Wes and Drew lead in basketball relays and drills. This team is filled with energy, enthusiasm, and the love of Christ! I love seeing the faces of these children as they play and respond to our team. The noise is deafening!

Our park experiences each evening are unique. We split the team and work in two locations. Each team member can tell their own stories of how God is providing divine appointments and opportunities to minister to individuals. Cacy spent two afternoons with Carlo talking about Jesus--then I was able to step in and lead him to make a decision to follow Christ. Kudos to Cacy for her sensitivity and commitment to this divine appointment.

Tomorrow (Saturday) we'll take a much needed break and sightsee at Mr. Vesuivus and Pompeii. Following church Sunday we'll spend the afternoon in the parks. These parks are filled each day with families. People everywhere--Amazing! We keep our translators busy!

I wish all of you back home could hear the testimonies of the team members. They amaze me with how they speak with clarity, boldness, passion, humility and complete honesty. They truly are the "aroma of Christ" in this place!

Betty WisemanThe "first-timers" are stepping up today and sharing. I am so proud of them. That first times not easy, but it becomes the point of no return for them as they take a step forward in their faith journey. They are proud of themselves, as they should be.

- Betty

Images from Days of Service

Click on image to view larger size in a new window:

haley_cacy_sm.jpg men_play_sm.jpg
Wes Carlos Close-up
Class Clowns Adam Testimony

May 19, 2011

Make Yourself Available

CacyWOW, what a great day we had in Naples today! We started off eating breakfast in one of the many breakfast bars. I had a chocolate croissant and fresh squeezed orange juice it was amazing! We spent the majority of our day in the schools and played and shared with 3rd and 4th graders. The kids are very energetic. It is through them in which we get our energy.

Each and every person who spoke today did a great job and the kids were very receptive. I would have to say though the highlight of my day was in the afternoon when we went to the parks. Each day when we go to the parks we break up into two groups and go to the two different parks that are near each other.

CarlosYesterday (wed) at one of the parks I met this little boy and his dad, Carlos. They were both very nice and friendly. While I was playing with the little boy, his dad, Carlos, asked me why we were here. I told him and he automatically
seemed interested. Through a translator I was able to share my testimony. Carlos said he prays to Jesus a lot and loves learning more about him and listening to people talk about him. He truly was a lovely man and there was just something special about him.

This afternoon I went to the other park I had not been at yet. After about 2 hours I decided to go to the park I was at Wednesday just to see if Carlos and his son had come back. As I was walking to the other park, I ran into Carlos and his son. They were walking to the park I was just at. It was amazing how the Lord allowed us to meet! With our very helpful translators I was able to start small talk with Carlos. Shortly, into the conversation Carlos, the translator and I were once again talking about Jesus Christ. He said this morning his little girl had to go to the hospital because she busted her head at school. He said he prayed to Jesus and his little girl ended up being fine. He told me he talks to Jesus all the time and has a bible. I was so glad Carlos knew of Jesus and prayed to him and talked to him daily. However, there was still something missing.

Carlos PrayerI just was not quit not sure what to say. And in God's working, BW came up right at that time and started talking to Carlos with the translator and I. It was amazing to listen to BW talk to Carlos. She asked Carlos if he died today did he think he was going to heaven? And he said, "I don't know, that's a good question." Then she went on talking to him and within 10 to 15 min Carlos accepted Christ into his heart for the first time. It was such an amazing experience to witness and be part of. After Carlos accepted Christ into his heart our translator that goes to church in Naples invited him to church with her. I am so happy for Carlos and I think him as a father and leader in his family could impact his 3 children and wife. It was amazing how the Lord set everything up today. The biggest lesson I have learned is how when you make yourself available, God will open doors to things you may never have expected. I am just happy to be a small part of God's great plan.

Every night I am excited to see what the next day will bring.
- Cacy

Lorenzo: The Dribbling Machine


Side note: Before I start my blog entry about a full day of activities, I would like to note that there was a local that absolutely dominated JJ in a 3v3 game yesterday. He only spoke Italian, but still managed to say “In your face” in English to JJ after knocking down one of his many three-pointers right over JJ.

On a more serious note, today was our first full day of mission work, and we stayed on the grind all day. Our day started at 8:00a at a local school, where we spent six hours with around 150 children, in one hour sessions. Each session contained dribble relay races, dancing, shooting contest, 5v5 full-court games, and a short testimonial from one of our team members. Mick, Cacy, Brandon, Adam, Haley, and I all spoke to the kids about making good life choices and having a personal relationship with Jesus.

DrewAfter a quick lunch, which only consisted of nine pieces of bread for me because the “stew” did not quite meet my picky standards, we headed back to the school for two more sessions. After two more successful sessions, we headed to two parks for more basketball. (Another side note: Debbie came through in the clutch, like she always does, and helped me get a few tasty snacks before heading to the parks.)

We started at a court in the middle of a roundabout and played 5v5 games to 52 points, with every basket counting as two points (Coach Byrd, we tried explaining that three-point shots should be worth three points, and that two-point shots should be worth two, because a 3:2 ratio is more game-like than a 2:2 ratio, but they couldn’t understand our English. They also had no idea about bringing the ball to “The Spot” ☺). After a few successful games, we moved to a local park to play with some of the local kids. That is where I met Lorenzo, the dribbling machine.

Lorenzo is a ten-year-old boy that absolutely LOVED (Pure Sweat) ball-handling drills. We spent about an hour practicing all kinds of ball-handling drills, including: figure eight drills, two-ball dribbling drills, spinning the ball on your finger drills, and everything in-between. After an hour, his mother approached me and asked if I could babysit for 15 minutes while she ran a few errands. We spent some more time working on some fancy ball handling drills before his mother came back to get him. At the conclusion of the “workout” he asked his mother if he could come to America with us. I’m sure T.J. “All Day” Saint will be recruiting him after reading this blog, so hopefully Lorenzo will be playing college ball in America one day so you guys can meet him too.

I am so so excited that we have another full week here to work within the community (“So so” was not a typo, just a new term that Cacy has created). The locals are really beginning to open up to us, and I think that we will be able to make a huge difference in their drug-filled community.

Thanks to everyone that contributed and helped make this trip possible. I travel all over the country running basketball clinics for my job, but this is always my favorite trip, because I leave changed for the better every time I go.

Until next time, ciao,
- Drew

May 18, 2011


JJItaly is AWESOME. Day 1 and travel is officially complete. It was quite the adventure to get here with the planes, trains and walking, but it is great to be here. I think I speak for everyone when I say last night was one of the best nights of sleep of our lives because we were so exhausted.

San Elmo CastleI saw one of the most beautiful things I have ever seen today when Charlie took us to Castle San Elmo (click image to see larger size). It overlooked the whole city and Mediterranean Sea, and it was absolutely gorgeous. It just made me think about how amazing God is and how amazing this world He created is. Later in the day we made it to the parks where we played with the young adults and kids and all I can say is I hope they had as much fun as I did. We are off to the schools tomorrow to continue God's work, and I could not be more excited.

- JJ Mann

Day One

AdamI really enjoyed today! We started this morning by walking to the market place for breakfast. I had a Gratta which is basically a huge donut.. I will probably get this for the rest of week because it was so delicious! After breakfast we walked to a historic castle that was built in the 16th century. At the top of the castle you could see everything! We saw Pompeii, Mt. Vesuvius, and the US Council (the place where Jason Bourne escaped from in the Bourne Identity) Looking down on the entire city was breath taking! Naples is the most densely populated city in Europe. What is more astonishing is that of all the people in the city only about 3 percent are active in their religions. Looking out over Naples; seeing how many people there are that do not have Christ in their life really puts this trip in perspective for me.

Later on in the the evening, we we went to the park. This was a stepping stone. We were able to interact with people naturally. I played basketball most of the time and I met quite a few people. I was able to talk to one guy, Jon-Coba (I'm not sure how to spell it, that's how you pronounce it at least). He is a 17 year old senior in high school who wants to attend college to be a doctor. We talked lightly about his faith. He said he is Catholic and he does attend church occasionally. I'm not sure what he meant by "occasionally" but it is my goal to find out more about Jon-Coba by the end of the week. Most of the same kids go to the parks so many of them told us that they will be at the park tomorrow evening. We will be back at this park tomorrow evening as well, so I will get the opportunity to talk with Jon-Coba and others again. I can't wait!!

- Adam

Do you want to smoke some marijuana?

MickDay 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".

Mick PrayerOur 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!

- Mick

Meet Deborah and Claudio

Deborah and ClaudioDeborah just gave her heart to Christ and celebrates with BW. She is our first convert in Napoli.

- Betty