Saturday, May 26, 2012

National Tournament Report

   Kara here.
   Sorry it's been so long! Things have been crazy around here. I don't think I've posted more than one blog this year. First Kobwin, then basketball tournament prep, regionals, more basketball prep, national tournament, EYO camp. I want to focus more on the national tournament and EYO camp.
    I'm writing this (or rather beginning to write this) on Sunday May 6th. (Just now editing it on the 23rd!) The national Ugandan basketball tournament was the last week of April. EYO camp, just this past week. Now, I was somewhat excited for the basketball tournament. I looked forward to spending time with friends and actually playing... Playing! In a National Tournament. But I was nervous. These were girls that have been playing for years and years, and here I was, a girl who had been to a one week basketball camp at six years old, bounced around a ball here and there, and only started to play seriously a year ago. What was to become of me?
    Well, the night before we left, we went to bed around ten, then woke up at 5:30. Seven hours. This is important. It was a long nine hour drive from here to Fort Portal. My legs were cramped, I was holding a bag on my lap the whole time in the hot coaster, making my legs sweat. At least I was seated by my amazing sister Peace. I love Peace. She's awesome. So we got to Fort Portal and started settling in. At first we were told the girls would be eating, sleeping, and playing in a different place. Everyone was like, "WHAT?!" I think all the girls (including me) were super disappointed about that. Thankfully, we ended up playing and eating break and lunch there.
    The dormitories where the girls slept were horrible! People didn't care about keeping the latrines clean so some girls began using the ground right outside the latrine rather than the latrine itself. The official bathing place was four tin 'walls' that were about four feet high, so instead of bathing there the girls bathed right outside the dorm rooms (the dorms were separate 'cabins', each about fifteen to twenty feet away from each other). We shared our rooms with two or three other teams, football and basketball both. The first night I slept with them I got about four hours of sleep. Girls' phones would ring at about midnight to two in the morning. Whenever I turned over in my bed the springs would squeak. The light didn't get turned off until two in the morning. The mosquitos were bothering me. I was miserable. The lines throughout the week for food were bad. Two girls that I saw had refused to listen to authority to make a straight line and/or move into or from it. They were beaten by an askari (security).
    An askari is basically a guard. We have askaris here on NHU, they patrol the place and rotate being our gatekeepers. Anyway, there were other girls who got in fights with each other and askaris. It wasn't the greatest place to be. I spent two nights with the girls, the second night I got about six hours of sleep. Better bed. Lights off earlier. Two others I spent in a guest house (hotel) with my family. Good beds, good bathrooms, good old mosquito nets, amazing breakfasts...
    But enough about the accomidation. I'm sure you want to know about the actual tournament. Truth to be told, I had fun. For most of the day, I preferred to hang out in the coaster and read a book. I'm not the kind of person who likes to make friends. It's hard for me. But I did meet a few people, who received my 'contact' by the end of the week. Those were Shila (Sheila), Asher, Sharron, Lillian, Rita and Brenda. We played three games that week, the first game we played was against one of the teams that had reached the top eight the year before. Gosh those girls were good. I was getting so frustrated with their hands on team (by that I mean they were constantly touching us, grabbing our arms and jerseys) and the fact that we couldn't make any shots I was in tears by the end of the first quarter. But after crying out to God and receiving His grace, by the end of the game I was able to congratulate the winning team without resentment. Thank you Jesus! And surprise surprise, most of them asked my name and invited me over to their coaster to 'hang out' for a little bit. ?  Once there, they actually asked me if I wanted to join their school the next year. Ding ding, translation! Meaning, "how about playing for our team next year?" Ok. Hold on a second. Do you mean you are inviting someone from a loosing team, 4 - 48 who didn't get one shot but only dribbled the ball down the court making it past their defenses once? Or twice, I don't even remember now. Heh, but that was a surprise. The boys team played the same school and lost, less miserably than the girls did.
    Second day we had no games, it was a pretty boring day. The boys played one game (which they lost) and went to tour the Toro Kingdom Palace. The girls had to stay behind, just in case our game was next. We ended up playing it the next day, so we were bored. We interacted with some people. Actually, I was getting tired. Physically, yes, but also socially. I'm not used to interacting with a huge crowd of people I don't know, having strangers saying "Hi Kara!" It's kind of weird, made me feel almost like a celebrity or something. Now I know what they feel like. During devotions the morning after, I shared Hebrews 12:1-3. "Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles..." Looking back, I can think of the 'sin that so easily entangles' as frustration, anger, hate towards the teams that beat us. I personally, didn't feel and hate, but that first game we played I was getting very frustrated and angry. So that verse caught my attention, now here's the rest of it. "...and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith..." Wow. So even if I'm getting socially tired, even spiritually, if we fix our eyes on Jesus and persevere the road He has set before us, He will perfect our faith, he will renew it, make it strong! "...who, for the Joy set before Him, endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider Him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart." Hello God. The boys just lost two games, we have lost one and were about to play two more that afternoon. He is going to keep us going if we 1. Fix our eyes on Him 2. Consider the pain, opposition and shame Jesus endured to bring us life in order that we "not grow weary and loose heart"!
    So now, we go out and face the next two giants. Squash. Yep, you guessed it. We died. Actually, we could have beaten both teams if we would have made more shots, but there were no nets and the backboards were funny. In the second game, if I would have made two more lay ups and two more free shots, we could have won. But, I think the best thing was that we girls were so joyful after the game. We didn't win, yet we were happy! ??? Why? People actually thought we had won our games because we were so happy. Why? We got joy joy joy joy down in our hearts... Down in our hearts... Down in our hearts, we got the joy joy joy joy down in our hearts, down in our hearts to stay!!!! ......... Sorry. Oh! And at the end of our last game, Grace (who is our team leader), our Dad and I all got interviewed by a guy from the FUBA (Federal Ugandan Basketball Association). He asked me (in not so many words), what is it like to be the only caucasian on the team? I told him they all treat me like we're sisters, and we are sisters, in Christ that is. It's funny, because people noticed how much we are like family. A guy from another team asked Peace why we don't treat other guys like we treat our boys. Peace told him it's because our guys are brothers, rather than strangers/newly made friends. I actually had one guy ask me my number. I was so surprised because I had just met him, and because of the way he asked, I just said we'll see. After he left I smacked myself on the head. Stupid stupid stupid. At least I could have told him I don't have a phone and that if he wanted my dad's number he could take it. Sometimes, I just fail miserably at social interaction. Thankfully he didn't come back. Maybe the fact that I got teased by most of our boys confused him so that he thought I already had a 'boyfriend'. I hope that's not the impression I made. They are all great friends and brothers. Nothing of the romantic sort.
    The boys played their last game and won, but didn't make the qualifying round by one point. Saturday, we went to a place that had a pool, sauna and steam room. Oh the sauna was heavenly! It was a cold rainy day in a cold pool. Getting out after my lips turned blue and running to the sauna was amazing... Anyway. We stayed in a different place that night, a hostel. Y.E.S Hostel, Youth Encouragement Services. They had a ping pong table, a badminton net, connect four and cards on computers, Brevin brought his computer and we watched movie clips, then went to sleep on amazingly comfortable beds. And that was the end of our week- oh no. Not yet. I almost forgot (how could I?!). About an hour our of Fort Portal, the coaster broke down. The brakes broke. Big time uh oh. Thankfully, we stopped right under a tree (a nice one to climb, we were still wearing pants). In just about a half an hour, a huge public bus came by. I wanted to go along with everyone, but I had to go in the car with my mom and Tiff and Tal. And Brevin and our obnoxious little brothers. :P Yep. I was bored. At least I had plenty of gonja (thanks mom!). Gonja are a type of bananas. The ones they sell along the road are roasted, and when eating them hot they're super good! Love those things. They're my favorite traveling snack. Anyway, we got home safely, and total that week I got about 45 hours of sleep. Just wait for my next post, the EYO camp. I get even less sleep then.


           1 Corinthians 10:31- "So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God."

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