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2014-07-28 Indescribable Impact: Tiger Football visits Guatemala, but gets more in return
2014 Guatemala (1)

Indescribable Impact: Tiger Football visits Guatemala, but gets more in return

Author: Nick Birkey/Vann Hunt
Posted: Monday, July 28, 2014 at 1:05 PM
2014 Guatemala (2)

There are rare moments in your life where you meet special people whose impact is so profound within your life, that it changes your entire perspective. Each person can recall an individual who has affected them in such a way throughout the course of their life - the Olivet Nazarene football program has encountered a special group of people who have done just that.

You never know the ways that you will come into contact with these individuals, but it is fair to say the impact that has been felt by ONU Football has come in a unique way. When the relationship first began, Tiger Football set out to impact the lives of those in need, and although they have achieved their goal, they have gained far more than they have given.

During the past two years, Tiger Football has been fortunate enough to form a relationship with The Village of Hope in Guatemala. The Village of Hope is an orphanage that houses children who are infected with HIV.  The parents of Keegan Block (Caddo Mills, Tex.), a Tiger linebacker, are missionaries that live in Guatemala and work with the orphanage. Through this connection, ONU football has been proactive in creating a relationship that helps increase the quality of life for the children there.

In May of 2013, the team took its first trip to The Village of Hope and partook in many different activities that helped the people there: they built a perimeter wall for the community, helped dig septic lines, and filling in large trench holes. The team also held community outreaches where they taught the children, played games with them, and provided food for families. The things they saw there made them want to continue the relationship, and the act to further their reach began with the 2013 season opener. 

Creatively dubbed the “spRED the Hope” game, opening night 2013 saw a sea of red fill the stands to support the Tigers and the Village of Hope. Red is the international color associated to aids awareness. The night proved to be quite successful, raising over $4,000 to support for the orphanage. The Block family was on hand to experience the impact that the football team has had on our community through these experiences and to gratefully accept the contribution.

Tiger Football furthered their relationship by taking a second trip in May of 2014.  Head Coach Brian Fish, along with his wife, Jodi, and Associate Head Coach Nate Brown took an even larger group of players down. This year the team helped build rafters for a house and prepare the area for electric lines. They again also held outreaches working with the children and provided food for different families.

“It’s important to go on this trip not only because we needed to do God's work, but because we need to do something that’s out of our own comfort zones. This trip really helps you see what other cultures struggle with every day, and puts your focus back onto what you can take advantage of,” shared senior wide receiver and team captain Tyler Swindle on the importance of the trip.

The impact of the activities done by the players while visiting the city is immeasurable, many of them were humbled by their experience and expressed how fortunate they were to be able to go. Junior quarterback Zach Gross (Elgin, Ill.) shared some insight into the perspective that this trip gave him: “Bringing bags of food to the families in need, is what really impacted me the most. We only brought them $16 worth and just yesterday I spent $20 on one meal. It showed me how fortunate we are and that I should be grateful for all the opportunities my family and I have been given.”

Senior linebacker and team captain, Brandon Ruemler (Williamsport, Ind.), made both trips and it affected him just as much the second time around. After visiting The Village of Hope again, seeing new and old faces, he spoke about some takeaways from the trip: “Two lessons that I took to heart are to really value the little things in life (like family, a house, food, etc.) and to not only look to God during bad time but all the time and be thankful for every situation He puts you in.”

Even though Tiger football is having an impact in the lives of those who are less fortunate, the impact these trips have on the team and its players are far greater. The lessons of thankfulness, joy and perspective are taught daily on this trip as they interact with the people of Guatemala who have less material things than we do in the United States, but still are able to have happiness. These lessons that have been learned are priceless and will continue to drive the relationship between Guatemala, The Village of Hope, and Tiger Football.