Friday, October 31, 2008

Update through October

This weekend is a break from the Revolve Tour [Austin's pretty bummed, but I think he needs a weekend off] so I thought I'd post an quick update on where we are through October. The clinic we funded last year is scheduled to open next month and we're all pretty excited about this, knowing that lives are going to be saved. Be sure to check out the post from October 16 to see the pictures.

So our project this year is to fund a second clinic. This second clinic will be located about 3 hours north of the one opening next month. The area for this second clinic is near Chilala which is pretty close to the Jonathan Sim Legacy School which opened last year. The budget for this second clinic is $322,000. It will cost about $125,000 more than the first one as it will be a specialty clinic to work to prevent mother to child transmission. It will also contain 3 doctors houses.  Right now, we've raised a little over $100,000 for this clinic. We're actually right on track to fund it fully as we have close to 100 Hoops of Hope events happening between now and mid December! So, if already did an event or if you're doing Hoops of Hope sometime in the next 6 weeks, every penny you raise will go to build this clinic.

I can't tell you enough how much we appreciate every volunteer, every shooter and every donor. You're helping to change lives and making an eternal impact. We'll keep you posted and thank you for all you do....

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Conflicting Statistics

I came across an article today that stated 71% of adults believe they are "fulfilling their calling in life", while 51% also said they are "searching for meaning and purpose in life" [Barna Group]. Not sure why this hit me as weird, but it did.  Common, if you're fulfilling your calling in life, don't you also have meaning and purpose?  Is this logical?  Made me wonder how I would have answered these questions.  

The answer is probably part of the reason why when we do "good deeds" we "feel good".  We're wired that way and all of us want to have meaning and purpose while fulfilling our calling in life.  I don't have all the answers, but I can assure you, giving to others will absolutely create a sense of meaning and purpose.

Monday, October 27, 2008

A Must Read Story

Here's a story I just had to blog about. Each weekend the guys from Hawk Nelson visit a local Ronald McDonald House wherever they are on the Revolve Tour. This isn't something that is crazily advertised, they just go do it. They spend time loving on kids and making a difference in their lives.

Well, this past weekend, they visited the local house in Sacramento and they ended up bringing a little boy to the show on Saturday [sorry, I can't post his name]. The little guy was an amazing 5 year-old boy but he has four different types of cancer. We learned that his body is no longer responding to chemo treatments, so as you can imagine each day is a miracle and blessing. His dream was to be a rock star and for one Saturday afternoon, he was just that. He sang You Are My Sunshine to over 7,000 screaming girls before Jason Dunn led him over to the drum set where he climbed up and played a drum solo. Everyone in the audience [who was crying by the way] started chanting the little boy's name as he played on.

Imagine for a second how his mom must have felt watching her 5 year-old son live out his dream on stage for just a few minutes? What the band did was simple, but definitely not insignificant. I'm going to look for something simple today that I can do to add significance to someones life.

Thanks Hawk Nelson for being more than just a great band. Thank you to our new rock star for playing like a pro - your prayers are with us.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Sacramento Revolve

Today is a travel day as we're heading to Sacramento for the Revolve Tour. I love going to these events and can't wait to see everyone in California. See you tonight!

- austin

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Unexpected Gifts

Every so often, things happen at Hoops of Hope that rock our world. Little things and for some reason, they almost always happen at the Post Office. Like the time I went and pulled out a bag of coins from our box. Seriously, someone sent a bag of change and it actually made it through the system and to our PO Box - untouched [by the way, I don't recommend this :)].

This happened again last week, but this time the bag didn't jingle. It was a real check, and the story is what impacted us. Back in April, a freelance writer came to our house to do a story on Hoops of Hope for some Sunday School curriculum. The check was from him. It was made out for exactly what he was paid for doing the story. He included a note on how he just wanted to "be a part" of Hoops of Hope. How awesome and how inspiring. Thank you, Mr. Freelance writer. You've not only helped orphan children in Africa, helped tell the story so more will get involved, but you encouraged us beyond imagination.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Ability to hear

I ran across an organization today that provides hearing aids to people in third-world countries. I learned about the Starkey Hearing Foundation from a preview article in NEED Magazine. I think it was the incredible blue of the girls eyes in this picture [I found they're that color because of the disease that took her hearing] that captured my attention. Honestly, I've never thought about what it would be like to not be able to hear. I love to read about organizations that are helping others with issues that I never bothered to even think about. I can't imagine what it would be like to never be able to hear, and then be given that gift. If you get a chance, check them out today. Check out NEED Magazine as well. This group did a great story on Hoops of Hope last year and they've been through some difficult times due to a theft to their office. But, they're back in business and as they say, they're not "out to change the world but to tell the stories of those who are".

© 2007 NEED Communications© 2008 NEED Communications

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Zimbabwe to Texas

Last week, I traveled to Texas for a work related [i.e. non- Hoops of Hope] conference...yes, Austin's dad has a job other than Hoops of Hope :). Our group rented out a swanky suite in a big hotel to host a bunch of customers and after hanging out for a while, I slipped out to go back to my hotel a few miles or so down the road. I went to the transportation desk to arrange a ride and found myself in the back of a big SUV. It's true - everything is bigger in Texas.

My driver was a nice lady who appeared to be in her late '40s and when she asked me how my day was going, I quickly picked up on her accent. Turns out she was from Zimbabwe (Zimbabwe is directly below Zambia where Hoops of Hope is working). Being a curious person, I began asking her how in the world she got from Zimbabwe to Texas. Her story rocked my little world. She and her husband fled when violence erupted in her village and ended up coming to the US to find work. They are both drivers at this hotel where we were meeting.

The rest of the story I'll admit caused a few tears. I asked her about her family and she proceeded to tell me that she and her husband have five children. The youngest is now eight years old and they left him when he was three. She told me the only way she gets through each day is through God and knowing that her sister is caring for her children. The story went on for a while and ends up all their paperwork is now final and they are hoping to save enough to get their children back with them within the next several months.

I know what everyone thinks....scam, right? Well, honestly, I don't know. I do know her accent is real. I know her tears are real. I know the stories from her homeland are real. If her story then is real, what would be so bad to cause a person to leave their family and small children? I'm not sure and I'm not sure I ever want to know. I am sure that I'm incredibly fortunate to live in the United States.

If her story is a scam, oh well, I've been had. For me, I'd rather give with some risk, than to not give at all.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Catalyst 2008

Almost two weeks later and I'm just now beginning to digest the impact of a conference called Catalyst. Honestly, before Brad [the guy who runs the entire show] called us in June, I really didn't know much about it. Now, I can't stop talking about it. It is by far the best conference for church leaders I've ever seen. It isn't a conference that promotes one "style" or "brand" over the other, it's just a conference to refresh, renew and challenge the leaders of today's churches. In fact, it even challenged us.

They invited Austin to do an interview onstage and it was an incredible time and honor to be there. In fact, after the interview, they hired a professional dunk team to do some entertainment and pledged $1000 per shot that they made. They ended up donating $10,000 to Hoops of Hope to help us build the medical clinic in Chilala. Needless to say, we were blown away. I've attached a few videos on our YouTube page so you can see for yourself.

I also had the chance to sit and listen to a few of the speakers while we were there. I found myself completely engaged in a talk by Craig Groeschel of LiveChurch. He talked about the beginnings of his church and how they first met in a two car powerpoints, videos or any technology to speak of. But what made it work was what he called the "It" factor. This factor was the drive and passion behind the ministry. We've all been to places before that just have it, right? Places that just feel different. Companies that seem to get it. People that you want to associate with.

You're probably getting where I'm going with this. Yes, his talk made me think about Hoops of Hope. Technology? Well, we now have two computers thanks to an amazing donor. We don't have an office and quite frankly, don't need one. But I think we do have that "It" factor. We probably have 1,000 or more volunteers that help pull off Hoops of Hope events around the world. They don't get paid a penny and in fact, I'm sorry to say, sometimes aren't even thanked like they should be. But they keep working. Why? Because they have "It". There "It" is a passion to help these children that just drives them. My prayer today is that we'll never lose "It".

Thanks Catalyst for getting "It" and for giving "It".

Friday, October 17, 2008

On route to St. Louis

Every now and then, you run into an organization that just "gets it". Thomas Nelson Live is one of these organizations. Sure, they're a business and they're financially responsible, but, their core motives go way beyond the statistics you'll find in a 10K report. We've had the privilege of joining them this year on the Revolve Tour and this weekend, we'll be at the fifth stop in St. Louis. If you've never heard of the Revolve Tour, be sure to check it out. Over 2,000 girls have already committed to doing a Hoops of Hope event from the first four Revolve Tour stops. The girls will be working on not only helping us complete our second medical clinic in Zambia, but will also be building care centers for orphan children in Swaziland. The best part of the Revolve Tour though is not the number of sign ups. It's hearing the stories of teenage girls who have been impacted by the Hoops of Hope story. I love hearing from girls who once thought they couldn't do anything who now think they can. If you've never had the chance to see the impact of this event, go to their website and find out when it's going to be in a city near you. I get chills every time I look out over an audience of 7,000 plus girls realizing that some of them are hearing for the first time how special they are and that they matter to God. It's a great experience - way to go Revolve and thanks for letting us journey with you.

In the end, it's all about changed lives. Not just in Africa, but here as well.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

What a day to start a blog

It seems fitting, I guess, that a blog which I hope will "inform and encourage young people to do more" would start on October 16th. Today will come and go for most everyone as just a normal day.  But, today is actually known as "World Food Day". Today, millions across the globe face hunger, malnutrition and disease only made worse by the increase in food prices. Tonight, 854 million people will go to bed hungry [United Nations, 2006].  When I think of these statistics, it really gets me.  Think about it - 854 million people is more than double the population of the United States.  But, we're not asked to solve the worlds problems.  We're asked to just do something.  Help one person, one family and you've done your part.

I read an article today about the very community Hoops of Hope is helping this year in Zambia.  You can view the article online by clicking here.  We've been there, touched the hands of these people and I can't wait to get back.  In fact, just last week we received the first pictures of the new medical lab / clinic we're building in Sinazongwe.  Thanks to everyone who helped with this facility.  It opens next month and immediately will start the process of literally saving lives.  When we were in Sinazongwe, the World Vision director told Austin that if they could just extend the lives of the working men for another three years, it would change the entire economic structure of this community.  This facility will do just that.  Thanks for being a part.  Enjoy the day and remember it's not just an ordinary day.