Basketball and Best Friends
Blog post written by Alyssa Rikimaru
Senior, Crean Lutheran High School
Today was filled with lots of physical activity and excitement. After going to a boys orphanage, our team had the amazing opportunity to visit an all girls orphanage. When we arrived the director told us that the girls couldn't wait to meet us and play basketball. We were so excited! When the younger girls first saw us, they immediately jumped out of their seats and ran to greet us. Their reactions were so welcoming and brought smiles to our faces!
We were able to give each girl a stuffed animal with the donations that we brought. Some team members hung out with the little girls making pictures, beaded jewelry and even giving piggy back rides. Jenni handed out quinceanera photos and shared the videos with the girls that participated in the quinceanera two weeks ago.
I was so excited to get to play basketball with the older girls. While many of them were hesitant to join our game in the beginning, several girls couldn't wait to play. My team consisted of the girls from Crean and four girls from the orphanage. While some girls were tired after the first game, there were two very athletic girls who never backed down and brought their full effort to each game. It was so neat to see how happy they were to play with us. They were really involved and practically controlled the court! With each point they scored, their faces lit up as we gave them high fives.
At the end of our games we were able to share with the girls. I introduced the Crean basketball team and Kathy, one of the missionaries, shared her testimony. She led the girls in a powerful prayer time and many girls were emotional as they responded in prayer.
I was deeply touched when one of the girls approached Lilly, one of our translators, and asked her to gather our basketball team. She wanted to thank us for spending time with them. It wasn't just a quick, simple "gracias." It was a genuine declaration of thanksgiving and appreciation. She told us that she would pray for each of us to have blessed lives and kept expressing how much she enjoyed playing with us. She said that we were like "best friends" to them. After having such a great time playing basketball with the girls I couldn't have imagined that the day could go any better. But her kind, thoughtful words were an unexpected ending to an incredible day.
It was obvious that the girls had as much as fun as we did because it took forever to say goodbye.Our leaders had to repeatedly ask us to leave. Three of the girls who played with us even walked me and Lisa all the way to the exit (along a different corridor). We finally parted ways, but not until one of the girls taught Lisa to say, "Tengas un lindo dia" (which means "Have a beautiful day"). She truly made our day beautiful and we will never forget her.