30 years coaching experience/Worked Camps/Clinics on 5 Continents

Thursday, July 14, 2016

It's Easy to Become Attached...If You're Pure in Intention

Earlier this week, I had the opportunity to head up to Xenia, Ohio and Athletes in Action on a "reverse" mission trip. Instead of going to a foreign country to teach basketball and share the Gospel, they came to us. This group of students and teachers were from Nairobi, Kenya, and I was also able to take my son with me.

Brandon, since he was real little, has always wanted to go with me when I travel for basketball. But he's been too little, the cost is too much, and it just hasn't worked out, so we saw this as a great opportunity for him to see what it is, I do. Thanks to Kelly Combs who made the arrangements and to AIA for housing us for a few days.

The first night, we arrived, got some ice cream and got situated in our room and went to bed. Brandon was so excited, I didn't think he would go to sleep, but the next morning as we prepared to go eat breakfast, I explained to him what we would be doing. That we would do the basketball drills he's always done and that he needed to be a positive example with them and in his behavior from our guests from Africa.

We ate breakfast, had our first meeting and then it was off to the gym.

We did fundamental stations and shooting drills. Brandon, who is 8, was going against boys and girls ranging from 12-18 and enjoying himself. When we finished, he had already bonded with a couple of the older boys, a couple of the coaches, and there was more than one little girl giving him "the smile".

That day their group did some bonding exercises and Brandon participated. At one point, he was too young to do what they would be doing, so he and I went off to eat and watched The Secret Life of Animals. We got back in that night at the dorm, got to sleep and he was excited for another day of basketball.

Day 3 started as did Day 2, then we headed off to the gym. Brandon had clearly bonded with many of the people, including some of the teachers from the school in Nairobi. I told them we would be leaving after the basketball clinic that day because we had to get him home and they all agreed that I could leave, but my son could stay...they wanted him to stay.

We were going to do the basketball work out, then head home, but now suddenly Brandon wanted to go eat lunch with the group. Every other meal we had eaten at AIA was not quite up to his standards, but now, he was begging to go eat their food. I spoke to the kids and told them we would be leaving after lunch and a few of them said goodbye and we got some pictures.

As we were leaving, Brandon started to get emotional. He's a soft hearted kid, but this was different. He wanted to leave so as not to be seen, but he didn't actually want to go home. As we got  to the parking lot, he was almost in full out heaving crying because he did not want to leave.

We got in the car and he cried for a few miles, then got real quiet. I asked if he was ok, but all he said was "I just want to be home, that's it, I just want to be home." He missed his new friends.

He was hurting.

I explained to him that this is part of meeting people from different places, that at some point you have to leave. I explained that if you are doing it for the right reasons, helping, then it does hurt when you leave because it is easy to become attached if you're pure in your intention.

He tried to understand as an 8 year old can, but he was not happy.

Eventually, we got home and he excitedly told all the stories he had heard and experiences he'd done to his mom and sister and they laughed and listened.

Eventually, he met up with friends and started playing basketball and baseball and was back to his old self and I thought he had gotten past his time there. And then last night....

Brandon: "Dad?"

Me: "What's up buddy?"

Brandon: "You have anything to do tomorrow (Thursday)?"

Me: "No, I don't think so."

Brandon: "You think we could drive back up to Ohio to see everybody?"

It was an awesome experience for me, but in that moment, I realized how deep of an experience it was for him. He, who doesn't like to drive in a car at all, was ready to drive 3 hours to spend a few more hours with his new friends from earlier in the week.

He gets it.

He may not understand it yet, but he will some day.

And when that day comes, he will surpass his father and any small thing I accomplish during my time here on Earth.