Why we go to Egypt….from our Mizo

Traveling to another country can often be challenging and sometimes even be overwhelming. I have found that it is very important to have someone travel with us from the time we land at the airport until we arrive safely at camp. Then, it is especially important when we take the entire group to public places, whether that is the local store for supplies or to a popular tourist/historical sight.

Well, year after year, it seems this local friend has been one special young lady that is more than a tour guide/liaison. Mariz (or as we know her Mizo) was a camper in our early years of coming to camp. She then transitioned to the leadership team and would be the coordinator of the coaches and would help us at camp. Now, as a young professional in Egypt, she is no longer able to come and work camps. However, every year she takes vacation time or works her schedule so that she can meet us at the airport and transport us to camp. Then, she takes more time off to go with us when we travel around Egypt. She is no longer our Egyptian tour guide, she is family! She even traveled to Texas over Thanksgiving last year and experienced Texas football and Black Friday shopping with Grace. We love her more than words can express, and we have seen her grow from a shy camper who loved sports to a dynamic young woman who loves Jesus (and still loves sports). I asked her to share her thoughts on what she sees with the RRM team each year.

Sometimes people ask me, “Why Egypt? Why can’t you just serve closer to home?” When I form the answer, I often see faces like Mariz, and Shady, and Heba, and Toto, and Behar, and Fady, and Mina, and Taline, and Bisho, and Micho, and Amir, and Brimo, and John, and Andrew, and Merna, and Nader and on and on and on. These faces are why  we travel across the world to use sports to serve in this way.

Then, on top of that, I get to see what this place and this trip does to the team of coaches that go to serve. I again wish I had words to describe this process. But, all I can say is God is indeed up to something…and it is amazing to be a part of that something.

Thank you, Mizo for sharing this story and your life with us!

Who am I?

I’m a camper that had her life changed upside down because of my love and passion to sports! One of the main reasons of who I am today is Wadi Sports Camp!

First time I came to camp I was 16, I didn’t know a single person, I did not speak to anyone, I had a mindset of not listening about any “religious” stuff coz those evangelical church people have wrong beliefs (coming from a Coptic background). Just focus on sports, that’s what you came for – I told myself!

I remember my first second at Wadi I said that in mind “I will come back to this place for the rest of my life!!! I dunno how but I will! Yet how come I have this place in my country and I have no idea about it? How come there is a mix of Jesus, Fun and Sports all at the same time? (Still thinking those people are wrong). I decided to play play and play! Do what I love and just play sports as much as I can!

I got to know RRM team since I was a camper, I found some Americans all around the place doing nothing except loving us and teaching us sports! I did not understand why on earth would they travel all the way and just come to do this! I did not get the big picture back then – but what I knew is that they just love us so much. They added a beautiful atmosphere, excitement, encouragement and again endless love besides talking about Jesus so frankly without any borders or limits.

Looking at coaches as a camper I would say that kids definitely open up and accept whatever the coach says just because of the different skin colour may be!? That is a magical privilege for coaches talking genuinely about whatever and kids always accept it!  Some kind of cultural problems we have here does not give any other staff member that privilege and acceptance coaches have! It might sound cheesy from a counsellor but never cheesy or artificial from a coach!

Years have passed, I got to know Jesus at camp, I experienced love, acceptance, encouragement, community, family, support… the list goes on – Let’s say I experienced Life! Throughout the years I became a counsellor, I spent summers and summers at Wadi doing camps back to back.

Today I’m 30 years old, I do not get the same chance to be part of the staff or leadership team as much as before due to work and life busyness – yet I wait for that time of the year to have RRM team back for camps. I started to be responsible for the teams when I was still a student, my first time I took this role I was kinda freaking out and overwhelmed, but Geoff made my job way easier! He immediately made me part of his family, big family and small family. I never felt it is a heavy task, I always felt my family (who simply are abroad) are back in town and now it’s time to rock and roll! Time to be the bodyguard, time to serve, time to show this amazing team around, and do whatever I can to make life easier during your stay in my country. And oh how I love the body guard role!! 😀

Being not able to take long vacations for camps yet still be part of this beautiful WSC is something that makes me so so happy! As if RRM are the only link now for me to a place that changed my life forever!

And I want you to know that the fact that you guys just keep coming means so much! You keep changing people’s lives! Not only campers btw! You make a big impact on us staff as well in many unspoken ways! We look up to you. We love how you love Jesus. We love how you love sports. We love how you love life. Most of all, we love that you are now our family! Thank you so much for coming.

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From Heba….camp leadership

Hi everyone!

This is Heba from the leadership team at Wadi Sports Camp. I have been working together with RRM throughout the year to organize their trip to Egypt and it couldn’t have been a more rewarding experience for me.

Since you have been reading daily about the coaches experience at camp and how their days go by here, we thought we would share with you an Egyptian’s perspective on this trip just to let you know how amazing these people are and how much we appreciate them coming year after year.

As you must have noticed from the previous posts, camp is a super super busy place and we don’t get much chill time, however, i have managed to have at least one small conversation with most coaches on this team and I love them all! It has been great having them all this year and witnessing the impact they have on our campers and staff. We love how this team owns the place, feels right at home as soon as they enter through camp gates and take on so many difficult tasks without ever complaining and always asking for more to do. You are not only our campers favorite but you constantly invest in and encourage our staff members as well (shoutout to Lauren who has been giving me my daily dose of smiles and hugs when i felt tired the most!)

To the RRM team, thank you for believing in us, loving camp that much, loving our campers and staff and constantly giving all you can without expecting anything in return. You are our partners in making this camp the best place ever. Because of you, we are able to make Jesus known to more campers every year. Looking forward to more years of this partnership. To anyone involved by any means in this trip, even if you couldn’t make it this year, thank you for sending these beautiful people over! IMG_4055

“Mom Don’t Worry I Survived Egypt”

Friends, family, senders, whoever may be reading this blog: thank you for sticking with us till the end. I have the weighty task of giving a “brief” wrap up to what I consider the trip of a lifetime. First off, I want to say that it is impossible to wrap so many stories, experiences, and relationships I have built into one blog post, so feel free to contact me with any questions or interests you have and I would love to tell you more about this summer. Just ask the rest of the people on this trip how much I love to talk, I promise you it’s no bother and I’d love to have a conversation.

 

God’s has had his hand over me my whole life, but this summer was arguably the most evident he has made himself to me in his plan for me. Not having any idea what I would be doing this summer, Geoff reached out to me with the internship offer of a lifetime, and that is how I ended up at Beit El Wadi, what I consider holy ground. It is so evident how present the Lord is in this camp by having a conversation with just one counselor. The amount of campers who have come for multiple years is incredible, and most of the counselors are former campers who have experienced the best weeks of their lives and want others to have that same experience. Many of them even came to the Lord at Wadi Sports Camp and return because this, to them, is also holy ground.

 

The relationships founded at WSC transcend barriers; whether that be distance, language, ethnicity, culture, or whatever else, everyone at WSC is treated as family. From the welcoming to the goodbyes, I have never met more genuine people in my life. For instance, one of my campers from W3 is insisting on driving to the airport to say goodbye one more time! Getting to know the campers was a gift from God, and to see the transformation in some of them in just 10 day’s time is a privilege I do not take lightly.

 

For the sake of your time, I will share one brief story that Carrie briefly mentioned in her blog. Mickey, a stud camper at only 16 years old, was talking about the cross walk, where the campers wake up early and silently carry a cross around camp. In his description, he spoke a truth so fundamental and so often overlooked, that Carrie and I kind of shared a look as if to say “WOW” with our eyes because we were so blown away. Mickey talked about how heavy the cross was. How much they struggled to carry it. How the weight seemed to become heavier and heavier as time went on. Then he said that this taught him that we are not supposed to carry our own burdens, because they can become so heavy. And how true is that, that we are not meant to carry our burdens on our own, but to give them to the Lord and he will take care of us? What a glorious perspective given by a young man striving after God’s heart.

 

This trip is incredible because the experience extends past camp as well. Although the goodbyes were hard and camp was long, we got to experience Egypt to the fullest. Today, some of our Egypt team got a chance to go see the pyramids in Cairo which is something I have longed to do since I was a little boy. I can say without a doubt that this was one of the greatest days I have experienced. The rich history, incredible architecture, and mystery behind them are sufficient to keep me thrilled enough to withstand the 110 degree weather and smell of death with a little bit of camel poop mixed in. The experience was mesmerizing and I will never forget it.

 

This trip is an overall immersion in Egypt. I have been blessed enough to get to encounter many different aspects of Egyptian life and culture, and for that I am thankful. Thankful to Geoff, to my supporters in prayer and finances, and thankful to God for intervening so blatantly in my life to show me that this summer I needed to be in Egypt. This team, these people, this country, and Beit El Wadi will always have a special place in my heart because of this summer and the work of the Father that has been so evident through it.

 

For the last time this summer,

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Going to Egypt…

Wassup everybody, this is my first year at Wadi Sports Camp, but believe me I feel like I’ve been here before because all of Grace and Hayden’s stories throughout the years. I was a little nervous coming in because of the plane ride and being so far away from home. But, Whenever I got here I was welcomed like I’ve been here for years and that helped me fall in love with this wonderful place. In W3 I was coaching basketball with Reese to kids that are 16 and 17, which was really weird because I’m 14. It’s funny that people that are way older than me respect me just because the color of my skin and this showed me the power I have in what I say. My favorite part of the day was pool time, a time filled with Spikeball, Ga Ga ball, Coup, Yardies, 9 square, and loud music. Some of the most fun our group had was during the different X periods. X periods are camp wide games between Alpha and Omega which are the two different camper teams. Color Conquer was the best X period and it consisted of alpha and omega completing different challenges to try to conquer all of camp. I have loved camp so much and hope Grace will let me come back next year.

As a little shout out to all the coaches, “I am going to the mountain, I am going to the valley, I’m going to church on Sunday…..now everybody sing.”  Just a little song I made up to keep things light in the team meetings.

Peace Out,

Dubs

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A Look At How Far We Have Come

Hello everyone, this is Hunter Ruffin checking in from Wadi Sports Camp W2. I have had an incredible experience these past few weeks. Full of life changing conversation and revelation. God is up to something in my life and in this place, and he has been using Egypt to sculpt and mold me.

My role here at camp has been mostly teaching the baseball major with Bratcher and Cate. It was so much fun going back to the basics of one of my favorite sports, and I mean very basics. What an intricate and complicated game baseball truly is, but the Egyptians were always eager to learn and never gave up. Most of them were 15 and had never held a baseball. Usually we broke them into stations and tried to do skill drills while teaching a rule at the same time. For example, practicing hitting at a soft toss station while explaining the concept of a count, and balls and strikes. By the end of camp we were playing full field scrimmages and they loved it. I learned about patience and how bringing energy that God provides can push kids to overcome obstacles and teach perseverance.

Today I am here at W2 filling a support role for the A&M team. I was placed coaching soccer with Juan, and it has been fun doing something different, especially in a sport that the Egyptians are already so passionate about. The A&M team has brought a new energy, and it is fun to watch them impact camp.  It was hard to say bye to the first group but every day I learn more about the new team and that has been very rewarding.

Other than baseball my roles were pretty all over the place. Such is life at camp, “here is your assignment, but show up ten minutes early just in case it changes” Haha I love that about camp. Beyond the reffing and coaching, what I got to do is build relationships with campers and staff. Campers could open up to me about their struggles and questions and all the while I got to learn and teach.

One of the other great things about this experience has been getting to know and learn from the other coaches. You all have heard their stories and have a glimpse of how fun and insightful they can be. I have learned from them and shared with them, and I feel like I have developed and improved on lasting friendships.

I want to say a huge thank you to every person that supported me and the rest of the team. It was amazing to see how God provided and brought these teams together to have a positive impact on the Wadi Sports Camp. Every day I feel God pulling on my heart and calling me closer to him and to live a life more like Jesus.

Hunter

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The Joy of a Day at Wadi

Hello faithful readers,

I hope this blog has given you the opportunity to get a glimpse into what God has been doing in this incredible place. It has been said before and we will likely say it again, you will never understand how special this place is until you experience it for yourself (@myfamily who I want to come so bad). The campers, counselors, and staff are the nicest, funniest, and most relational people I have ever met in my life. They want to know you for who you are, not who you appear to be. They love learning about American culture and have SO many questions about it. I’ve had many conversations where the entire time I spent explaining why we move away from our parents when we go to college. As opposed to the Egyptian culture where you don’t move from home until you are married. I don’t know how I changed the subject, but the point is that the people at camp are incredible and so sincere. Their hearts are made of pure gold.

This year it has been so cool to build on the relationships that I established last summer. There truly is no better feeling than a camper or counselor running up and hugging you because they remember you. (Side note: there also is not a worse feeling than forgetting said camper’s name when they are so excited to see you.) I have loved getting to hear about all the life changes that each person I met last summer has experienced. A few of the ones that I am closest to just finished their second year of university, just like me. We have loved getting to compare our years at school and even discovered that we all went through the same “Sophomore Slump” towards the end of the spring semester. That just goes to show that regardless of where you are, you are going to have both struggles and triumphs.

Something the Lord has constantly reminded me this year is how much weight my words hold (where are all my Words of Affirmation people at?). Being an American coach here at camp means that my words hold even more weight. A simple “you’re doing great” or “I’m so proud of you” might not mean a whole lot to me, but it can truly change a camper’s entire demeanor. We don’t know what every camper left when they arrived in Wadi and we don’t know what they are going back home to, but we’ve been given this incredible opportunity to love, encourage, and support them while they are here. God made this clear to me on the last day of camp when I had a really cool encounter with one of my campers.

At the end of every camp session, each major gives three awards: MVP, Most Improved, and I Am Third. It’s a big deal to win these awards and the campers work really hard in majors every day (well almost every day) to try to earn them. When it came time to decide who to give the volleyball awards to, Lauren and I had a hard time. Honestly, each one of our campers could have won these awards, but we ended up choosing three girls that we believed stood out from the others. After we presented each award, we took photos with the girls and then broke out one last time. Everyone headed to breakfast (after getting their candy, of course) and I stayed around for a quick second to clean up cups and what not. I noticed that one of the girls who received an award, Perry, was hanging back and not headed to breakfast. I walked over to her and without her realizing it, I pointed her in the direction of breakfast and we started talking. Quick backstory: prior to camp, Perry had never played volleyball. She had no knowledge of the form, the rules, or even the lingo of the game; however, she refused to let that stop her from working hard. She would come and ask us to a do a specific drill to work on basic skills because she really wanted to get better. She wanted to learn and practice and WORK HARD! Truly incredible. By the end of camp, Perry knew ready position, how to pass, set, & hit, move her feet and so much more. So in case you are confused, Perry won the Most Improved award. She was SO surprised and shocked that she won. Okay so back to my main story… Perry and I are walking to breakfast and I begin to ask her what her favorite part of camp was. She said volleyball (obviously) and I told her how proud I am of her. Instantly she started to cry and I was totally caught off guard. She looked at me and said, “Coach Mills, no one has ever told me they are proud of me.” My heart broke and all I could do was stand there and hold her as she sobbed into my arms. It was the sweetest, most vulnerable moment. I then had the opportunity to tell her not only how proud I am of her, but also how proud Jesus is of her. And how much He loves her. She lit up and I could tell that it all finally clicked. We exchanged numbers and she has already texted me asking about camp and when we could see each other again. 🙂 Because of an award that I didn’t think was a big deal and a phrase that I don’t say enough, Perry was reminded of the love of Jesus. Words carry weight, y’all.

God is on the move at Wadi Sports `Camp and it is so cool to be a part of it. My prayer is that the campers leave here feeling loved, supported, and important, but first and for most that they leave completely in love with the God of the Universe. After we get home, I would love for you to continue to pray for all of the campers, counselors, and staff. They hold a HUGE piece of my heart. I love this place.

In Him,

Mills

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OH, OKAY EGYPT…

I am writing this blog with a lot of mixed emotions.  While Egypt has become my favorite place, I realize that I fall in love not only with the people here in this wonderful country, but I grow so close to the team that comes with me to serve.  I hope you have been able to read the blog and get an idea of some of the cool things we get to do, but words can only paint part of the picture.  This is such a special place.  I feel so close to God here, and while I know that He is near me wherever I go I love that he gives me such a recharge every time I come to this place.

 

We just said goodbye to the first team that came to serve with us, and I will be honest…I miss them so much more than I even thought I would.  I loved how we laughed, played, and coached together.  But, I also loved how we shared what God was doing each night and got to ask questions to each other and really get to know each other in a genuine way.

 

It was kinda funny that when we got the text that the part of our team that left landed in Dallas, we were actually pulling into the gates of camp.  We were greeted with younger campers and the coaching team we had trained the previous week.  They were into full swing with camp, and it was fun to see how they were embracing this place.  It didn’t take long for us to drop our bags off and run out to help with an event called “combine” (think pure chaos).  What a way to be welcomed back to camp.

 

At night we had the carnival.  It is fun and kinda sad seeing the same camp events without the campers and coaches we had been with, but the new campers soon made us feel loved and we know tons of the staff which helps so much.  I also know we will begin to bond with this other team of coaches.  As my dad says, we are one team with one goal.  We may have had a different role for a while, but we will come together to serve and seek to give God the glory.

 

This morning, I changed majors and coached cross-fit with Mills and my dad.  It is the first time to ever coach something other than volleyball and it was fun.  The campers are beginning to warm up to us, and I can’t wait to see what else is in store for us and for them.

 

Well, it is pool time, so I better go play 9 square and hang out with campers.  I really do appreciate you praying for us.  Did I mention I love this place?

 

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