Camp Life

Our daily schedule at camp has set in! Each day we

7:45 AM Wake-Up

8:00 AM Morning Workout

9:00 AM Breakfast

11:00 AM Wrestling Practice or Soccer/Basketball/Football

2:00 PM Lunch

3:00 PM Bible Study

5:00 PM Wrestling Practice or Soccer/Basketball/Football

7:00 PM Dinner

8:00 PM Evening Program

We have had some great workouts at wrestling practice. Today the guys even got to have a former Russian national team member give only our boys a clinic for an hour!

We had our Bible Study material translated into Russian so we have been able to invite others to join us! The last few days we have had Ukraine, Moldova, and Latvia all in attendance. We had almost 30 people at the study today as we learned about the importance of Prayer and some new was to pray lead by coach Brian.

Our nightly programs have been fantastic with singing (from Yuri’s daughter Julia) and a speaker that will be here all week. We also play fun games each night, like passing a banana with your feet all the way down the line and then eating it.

The wrestlers and coaches have done a great job of paying attention and seem to enjoy the program. Our boys are getting a little tired of “camp food” but have some Nutella to keep them going.

Day 5 Camp

Today the teams will arrive for camp. Our team was treated to a traditional Ukrainian sauna in the morning. Some of the boys made it only 5 minutes while others enjoyed the experience off and on for about an hour and a half. Yuri used oak leaves on some of the guys as way to energize them. We had Shashylk barbecue for lunch. After lunch we headed to the local mall for some shopping, picking up snacks, and hit the Ukrainian chocolate store. Ukraine is famous for the chocolate.

When we made it back to camp our team had a Bible study on chapter 3 of the “Assist” book. The “Assist” was written by an AIA staff member at the University of Wisconsin and does a great job exploring how God loves sport and how we can use it to share his love. We also covered started our Bible Study on the Holy Spirit. We were able to be joined by a Ukrainian Junior national champion who had traveled to the US last year as part of a group hosted by AIA Wrestling. He had become a Christian just before coming last year so it was great to have him be able to part of our study! We also found out that he and the junior national team will be competing in Central Asia with our team that heads there in about 2 weeks. God is so great in how he orchestrates things.

The teams are slowly arriving and we are excited to meet them and get camp started.

Day 3

Today we headed out early on the 2 hour drive to Fastiv, Ukraine for a dual match organized by the youth pastor at a local church.

The match started with a long warm-up then presentation of the teams. The church did a great job with the match, even playing Christian music before and after each match! Their were traditional singers who sang local songs as well as the Ukranian national anthem. Local dignitaries spoke, the teams were introduced, and then we started wrestling.

Our boys did well with the matches both teams winning about half the matches. The sportsmanship by both teams was fantastic. Coach Brian was interviewed by local T.V. and after the match Nate was able to share his story. Yuri passed out Bibles and our sport DVD’s and all the wrestlers quickly crowded around him to receive them.

After the match were treated by the local church to a very american meal of pizza and hamburgers. After that we went to a paintball area run by one of the wrestlers. They started cooking Shorpa (soup) and Plov (Rice dish) about 4 hours before we ate. During that time we played paintball and swam in a small lake. We have been treated so well by the people of Ukraine. Our boys are falling in love with the people and the country more and more each day. It has been fun to see our guys engaging personalities quickly break down any barriers. Everyone should be very proud of them!

Day 2

For our second the plan was for us to travel to a juvenile prison about 2.5 hours from Kiev and play soccer and share with the guys. We picked up Dima, Yuri’s pastor, along the way. It is hard for outsiders to get into prisons to share here in Ukraine. But Dima has such a great reputation and has been ministering so long to prisons that we were able to go along with him. We had to submit all our passports ahead of time for security check, and once we arrived we all went through security, signed our documents and were lead to the prison yard. In this particular prison there are 36 inmates who serve anywhere from 1 to 12 years. While serving their sentences they are taught career skills so when they are released they are able to go back into society and find work. Our goal was also to give them hope for present and for eternity.

We played soccer against their team it was 6 on 6. We were hopeful and excited, until they came out in matching jerseys then we knew we might be in trouble. Things started off well with the us only being down 2-1 in the first 15 minutes of the game. By the end of the game the score was 15-3. even though we lost by competing and interacting with the guys we were able to form a bond that allowed us to speak into their lives. After the game Aidan and Zach both shared their testimonies. The boys did an amazing job of sharing, and their stories spoke to the prisoners hearts. Yuri’s pastor Dima shared the Gospel at the end and during the prayer many of the guys vocally committed their lives to Christ. Afterwords we handed out Bibles and sport videos and every guy came to get one.

We ate a quick lunch and headed back into Kiev, where we attended and spoke at Yuri’s church. Brian shared about the vision of their club Reality Sports and how they use sport to share the Gospel and CJ shared about being part of Reality Sports has impacted his life. It was fun to be part of a Ukrainian church service!

Day 1

We woke up after a good night of sleep and had our first team Bible study. One of our goals of our teams is to equip athletes to become disciples who build build disciples. Our hope is that when guys return home they would be able start mentoring and leading others. Our study focused on how we play a part in God’s story.

We than had a traditional Ukrainian breakfast of fried eggs, bread, oatmeal, and tea. The guys seemed to really enjoy it.

After breakfast we hoped on the bus and headed for our first practice with the Cadet national team. We started out practice by matching out guys up with their training partners. We then had a long warm-up, which was good for your guys to get the travel kinks out of their system, and some technique work. We finished off practice with some “live goes”. Our boys did really well and seemed to hold their own.

Following practice we ate lunch and then headed to a children’s hospital for cancer patience. All the kids were gathered and we did a display of wrestling, some magic tricks, back flips, and interviews with some of our boys. It was emotionally challenging to see the children and the affects cancer has had on them. But our boys brought many smiles to their faces.

We noticed one girl, about the boys age, who was waiting around after it was all over. We asked her if she wanted some pictures with the guys, and she quickly said yes! We found out she was having surgery tomorrow and asked her if we could pray for her. Brad lead our team in prayer, and did an awesome job! Our boys must have a “touch of allergies” because there was not a dry eye among our team or this young girl after we prayed and gave many hugs. It memory that she and our team will share for the rest of our lives and one of the greatest experiences I (Rob) have ever seen on our wrestling tours.

We finished off with dinner, some ice cream, and a ride on the ferris wheel in the town square. Tomorrow is another full day as we head to a Juvenile prison to play soccer and share.