AH-sah-lah MAH-lay Koom

Translation: I come in peace!

You can now stop with the evil looks and snide remarks.  I have a good excuse for not updating our blog since my return from Africa….I do, seriously.  Well, sort of.  Ok, not really.  But if I did, would it really matter?

How do you sum up a trip to Africa in a quick blog?  That’s the problem.  I seriously don’t have the energy to process all my thoughts and release them into the blogosphere.  I know it can be done because I read great blogs of depth from people all the time…..I just can’t get it to come out for some reason.

But, I want you to know the trip went GREAT.  Actually, it went better than our team could have hoped for.  Probably because during preparations for the trip, we knew what was possible by our own efforts.  But we failed to consider (or grasp) what would be possible with God working ahead of and through us.

The primary mission of the trip was two fold: Objective A) Put on an “American” style basketball clinic for young men, women, coaches; Objective B) Via a successful clinic, strengthen the relationship of our host IMB missionary with the head coach at Dakar University so that future opportunities to reach young people might be opened.

From a basketball perspective, I think God worked a small miracle.  From the very beginning He reminded us this basketball clinic wasn’t going to be completed by our hands alone.

My friends in Haiti have a saying…TIH (This Is Haiti).  They basically use that term to explain anything that is completely illogical to Americans but perfectly normal to Haitians.  So upon hearing the term TIA (This is Africa), followed by a “you got to be kidding me” laugh coming from our missionary, during our first meeting with the head university coach on the day we arrived….I quietly thought to myself this can’t be good.  It didn’t matter that they were speaking Wolof.  That laugh, shoulder shrug, and sideways smile are universal for “I’m sorry, could you please repeat that…I must have misunderstood you?”

Said coach repeats himself a little slower in Wolof and said missionary looks at us and says, “He just told me that the courts where we had planned to do the basketball clinic have been torn up…..scratch that, torn DOWN.”  TIA, indeed.  At this junction is where I was again reminded of what it means to have true faith in God’s plan; continually modeled to me by my friends in Haiti and now being demonstrated by our missionary friend in Africa.  He just smiled, gave the coach a warm hand shake, and told us to get ready to see what God does next.   No stress, no concern, no curse words, no doubt…just anticipation.

Within a couple of hours, a new court had been identified and use of the court had been negotiated with the area chief.  No small feat.  This isn’t downtown city USA, there are only a handful of courts in ALL of Senegal.  And after visually inspecting the original court and then getting to step foot on the new court….major upgrade.  Not only was God in control but He had something BETTER in store for us.  There were happenings like that all week.

The clinics were done on this outside court everyday.  Boys in the morning and the girls in the afternoon….in 90+ degrees heat with extreme humidity.  Now, I live in armpit americana Louisiana and know all about heat.  In fact, it was technically hotter in LA than Dakar the week we were there.  But we were told that Dakar, Senegal is known for having some of the hottest sun rays in the world.  I googled it and my efforts to substantiate that claim fell short, but my skin that was still peeling off over two weeks later can testify that it was HOT!

Here are some pics of our guys and girls.  Several weren’t there when we took these pictures but we averaged about 15-20 guys and about 20-25 girls.  And just so you know, the “tall” white guy in the back was the head coach on our team and he is 6’10”.  These boys and girls had some serious God given athletic ability and HEIGHT.  Pretty weak on basketball fundamentals/game knowledge but very athletic, hardworking, and appreciative.

The Guys

Guys

The Girls

Girls

On the last day of the clinics we had a relaxed day of fun with competitions for prizes that were donated to me by the Dallas Mavericks (yes, the NBA team).  The kids were so freakin excited….I’m smiling as I write this thinking about the joy in their faces when we started pulling out Dallas Mavericks shirts and jerseys….it was so awesome.  The shirts they are wearing in the pictures were also donated and screen printed by a local shop here in town.  They were so proud of them…it was really great.

Every day, we took a break during each clinic and did some “Story Telling”.  We would share stories from the bible, painting the picture from Creation to the Cross.  All the stories focused on blameless blood sacrifices that were required for man to be cleansed by God…..all ultimately leading up to the final blood sacrifice of our Savior.

Like I said earlier, objective A was to put on a quality basketball clinic that would be helpful for these kids as well as their coaches.  Objective B was to strengthen the missionaries relationship with the head university coach.  Without a doubt, God worked a miracle in both areas.  After the very last basketball session on the last day, we had a sit down meeting with all the coaches and much to our surprise the head coach for the Senegal National Team (major deal) showed up.  He told us how he had heard great things about our clinics so he had to come see for himself.  And to top it off, the head coach that we were focused on invited us over to his families house for lunch on the last day of our trip.  This is a really significant gesture in the Wolof/Muslim culture.  Here are a few pictures from that event.  This post is getting really long but I have so much to share about my thoughts on the meal we shared with this Muslim family…it really shook me.  In a God tearing down some walls, exposing some sin in me, and rebuilding some love, kind of way……it is probably worthy of a post by itself.  Stay tuned.

The Meal (That plate is the size of a UFO)

The Meal

The Scene (Perspective for the UFO plate)

Dinner

The Coach and The Missionary (Objective B = Success)

Coach and Missionary

Amazing trip….Amazing place….Amazing people…..Amazing blessing…..Amazing God!  Thanks for your prayers and donations.

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5 Responses to “AH-sah-lah MAH-lay Koom”

  1. Thanks for the great report … it sounds like an awesome time … was the flight tough? I hate flying four hours — I always wonder how the Africa missionaries do it?!?! What a cool thing Jason.

    See you soon.

  2. Flight was 8-9 hours. Longest I have ever flown but not to bad considering what it takes to get to east or south Africa.

  3. Jeff Mullins Says:

    Hey, Jason. Great post! It sounds like it was a wonderful trip. We miss you guys!

  4. 8-9 hours? That’s pretty sweet! I flew 24 hours to east Africa, like you said! Sounds like it was a great time. I totally get the whole “TIA” thing! Steve and I are praying for you guys!

  5. john mccrimmon Says:

    Hi my name is John McCrimmon, athletic director for the Charlotte Preparatory Academy here in North Carolina, NC
    I would like to hold a camp for 12 to 18 year olds there in Senegal.
    Can you please put me in touch with the right people there.
    Please email me or call me at 980-333-8650

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