Monday, June 29, 2009

A Soul Generated by Love

"Everybody can be great...because anybody can serve. You don't have to have a college degree to serve. You don't have to make your subject and your verb agree to serve.... You don't have to know the second theory of thermodynamics in physics to serve. You only need a heart full of grace. A soul generated by love."

-- Martin Luther King, Jr

This quote really hits home for me. Sometimes I think, well I just need to do "this" first, then I can help others. I need to go to school and grow up first, then I can do something for someone else. I think we all have these thoughts. But, forget waiting. The time is now. Whatever age, race, or gender you are, you can do.....something. Go out and serve someone and see what happens. Serve them with your whole heart. Give them all you have and see how their world and your world changes. Remember, don't wait. The time is NOW. You don't need to be smart, rich, old, or outgoing to serve. All you need is love. A heart that desires to make a change. A heart that longs to do something bigger than themselves. Even the most inadequate, young, and quiet person can make a difference. Trust me. Don't let anything hold you back. Go out and serve with a heart full of love.


Monday, June 22, 2009

Take Your Best Shot

The world is in great need, and something has to be done. So ask yourself two important questions: Do I want to be a part of the solution? And am I ready to take my best shot? (If you can't answer "yes" to those questions right now, that's okay; keep reading.) We know that we are the ones who can and should be doing something bigger than ourselves, and we know that these things can and should be done now. But that still leaves one bigger question: How? How do we do this?

That is why I want to share my story. There's a pattern that I've seen in my own life and in the lives of those around me who are becoming world-changers. The group grows every time someone decides to help another person, but it doesn't start outside. It starts inside. Inside the heart, inside the mind, inside the soul. It's an inner journey that changes the outward life.

Today's blog contains an excerpt from Austin's new book Take Your Best Shot which will be released September 15th from Thomas Nelson. To pre-order the book, click here

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Zambia: March 2009

Austin and a team from Hoops of Hope and World Vision got the opportunity to visit Zambia where the new medical clinic was dedicated. Here are some stories from the trip-

Words don't even describe it. Today we got to visit with a patient from the medical clinc in Zambia. Her name was Media and was 27 years old. She had AIDs and her 3 month baby also had it. They were both on ARVs. Media explained how the clinic would allow her to get her required check up. She said that before the clinic was built, she would have to take a ride to a nearby town to get the check up. But it would cost her 40,000 kawatcha which is about $8. She said one time she only had 20,000 so she was stuck for a whole day. Now because of the clinic, she would be able to walk a short distance to get treatment. That is so cool to hear. It was such a joy to see this woman so happy because she could now just walk to get help.

Next, we traveled to an OVC kids house. The family was a widow and her three kids.

The mom had no real source of income. She would pull weeds when she could. That only paid 10,000 kawatcha which is $2. The family lived on $2 for a month. That's all they would get. By this time, the family had not eaten in 2 days. Wow, that was real poverty. The kids had their only clothes on. But, the joy they had through their pain was incredible. They were happy even though they literally had nothing. We gave them a soccer ball and then headed back. The kids were incredibly happy. It was so cool. Being back at the lodge tonight and hearing similar stories from the rest of the team was inspiring. Everyone came back different. I got my speech done for the clinic dedication. It isn't much of a speech to do justice of what God has done here. I cannot wait for tomorrow.


Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Waiting for this day for 7 years

Austin got the opportunity to meet his sponsor child of 7 years in Uganda this past March. Here are his thoughts of first meeting the boy he'll never forget:

Very few people ever get to meet their sponsor child and as a matter of fact not many even get the chance to sponsor one. Yesterday was a day beyond words. I know that for 7 years I have dreamed of that day. A day when I got to touch the hands of someone I knew but had never seen. Driving that morning was very exciting. Being there in Uganda but, never knowing when I would get to actually meet Ignatious. My heart was pounding with joy as we left the hotel in the morning. We made about an hour drive to the ADP office. Everyone slept in the car. Everyone but me. I could not. I described it as a little kid on Christmas Eve just waiting till the morning. What was on that path would change our family's life forever. We drove maybe about another hour down a bumpy dirt road. We thought that we were going to go to Ignatious' house first but when we stopped the van we could tell it wasn't his house. I got out and greeted a little boy and asked him if he was Ignatious. He looked at me funny and then ran off.

A girl came out in a dress. She greeted us. Then we got it. The girl was Brittany's (my sister) sponsor child. We talked and they exchanged gifts. I will never forget how shy Britt and Scovia (her sponsor child) were. They seemed to just hug each other, a lot. Brittany just wore a huge smile and you could tell both were extremely happy.

After visiting a school and playing soccer with the kids, we drove back onto the dirt road. The very first house we pulled into there stood the person I had waited for 7 years to meet. Ignatious. He was dressed in a suit and on top of the suit was the traditional tribal clothing. His dad first walked to me and said, "you must be Austin?" We were all shocked at his English. Next I turned and squeezed Ignatious. We were both overwhelmed with joy. Then we met his mom, sister, and grandma. We went inside and talked forever. Using a translator, I told Ignatious and his family about when I first sponsored him.

Then I told them about Hoops of Hope and how I think it was because of Ignatious. They all were pretty excited. We asked the dad how he knew me. Ignatious pulled out a letter and a picture of a boy with a ton of freckles. The picture was of me was from when I was seven. It was crazy that they had kept it for so long. Then Ignatious gave me a letter he had written to me. I cried as I read it aloud. Next we proceeded to exchange gifts. I gave him clothing, a soccer ball, and a blanket. He got so happy. Then he gave me a handmade soccer ball, homemade water jugs, homemade purses and lots of fruit! We then went outside and tried what was called a jackfruit. They don't have that back home. It was sweet and chewy almost like a mango. It was really good though. Then they had me try a passion fruit. That was not my favorite at all. It was just like slimy seeds. Fortunately I did not have to try the banana. Then we played soccer forever! We also gave him a Frisbee and taught him how to play. His dad talked a lot about sponsorship and how it had moved them into this house and bought pigs and chickens. I asked Ignatious if I could help him get water. We walked and got some. As we walked kids would point and laugh. I asked him why and he said, "Most kids never get to meet their sponsor so they are laughing because they are so happy for me." That was so sweet.

As we pumped the water I would never forget how big the smiles he would get from me being there. After a little more Frisbee and soccer it was time to say goodbye. It was hard to say goodbye, but it was so cool just to be able to spend a day with him. I will never forget him. Most people don't get that chance, but it was and will always be the best day of my life.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Key Club at Dysart High School Event

The Key Club (student-led organization that teaches leadership through serving others) at Dysart High School in El Mirage, AZ recently hosted a Hoops of Hope event and created an amazing video that captures the experience of individual students from the event. Please take a few minutes to watch the video and allow it to motivate you.

To watch the video, click on this link:

We are very proud of them. Thank you so much to everyone who participated in this event!!