On July 25, 2013, the volleyball team embarked on a missions trip to the small Caribbean country of Haiti to lead a vacation bible school for over 1,900 children in addition to running sports camps, training the Creve men’s volleyball team and more.
The team stayed in Creve, a village nestled in the northwest Haitian mountains, growing closer everyday they spent there.
“This trip challenged our team to see God in another culture which allowed us a much deeper appreciation for our blessings, as well as, that God is so faithful to love and provide for ‘the least of these,’” said head coach Stacie Johnson. “This trip was intellectually, spiritually, emotionally, and physically demanding all in a very positive adventure. The relationships we built will last a lifetime. The team grew much closer through each experience we encountered.”
In addition to running VBS and sports camps, the team also trained the Creve men's volleyball team in offense and defense systems before playing matches against them. Additionally, tactical sessions with the local Creve volleyball coaches in game rules, systems and team management were planned.
“My favorite moment of the trip," recalled sophomore Melissa Bakke, "was when I was dancing with a little Haitian girl at the crusade revival at night and just feeling as though the language barrier wasn’t even an issue."
Senior Kailey Bain especially enjoyed her time spent with the children at the sports camp, shaping unique bonds with the children there that she will remember for a lifetime.
“As we arrived to the sports camp each day, I would look over and see three girls named Jemalil, Nadia and Lishama running towards me screaming my name,” added Bain. “These three girls were filled with pure joy. It was unbelievable to see these girls have so little, yet be so happy. The relationships I formed with the kids is most definitely the most memorable piece of Haiti that I have.”
When they weren’t involved with athletic aspects of the trip, they sang at the nightly village crusade and offered encouragement to pastors, ministers, coaches and medical personnel in the area by building relationships for future missions trips.
“We chose Haiti because we began with a set the time frame that we could go and the Lord brought this trip to our attention," Johnson noted. "We prayed about it and knew this was where God was sending our team."
As expected, leaving the securities and comforts of American life was a challenge to some of the team. While engaging a different country, culture-shock can sometimes be an issue that needed to be overcome.
“We were all forced into a situation where we were uncomfortable because we were unfamiliar with the culture, the language and the lack of our typical American 'on-time' culture,” Bain admitted. “Being in Haiti allowed us all to leave behind what we knew about everyday life in America and really push ourselves outside of our comfort zones to learn about another culture and be able to just love on our brothers and sisters in Christ.”
Though they were pushed out of their comfort zones, the team agreed that its time in Haiti exceeded expectations, as they experienced the power of Christ through sports ministry.
“God did amazing things in Haiti with our team and His power was truly unmistakable,” said Bakke. “The fact that there was over one hundred salvations while we were there was such an awesome thing to witness!”