June 9, 2009
This summer I went on a mission trip to Istanbul, Turkey with an organization by the name of “Sports Reach.” This organization takes a group of college athletes out of the country every year to embark on a once-in-a-life-time opportunity to travel the world, compete against other athletes, and spread the word of Jesus Christ to those who may not know Him. I was really excited to be a part of an experience such as this, even more excited to be able to share it with my fellow teammate Lindsay Welker.
Turkey was the country of choice this year, because of the annual Sports Festival hosted by Bogazici Universitesi. The Sports Fest consists of sports like: American football, soccer, rowing, outdoor volley, handball, water polo, sailing, tennis, track & field, volleyball, wrestling, badminton, basketball, swimming, table tennis, softball, baseball, and ultimate frisbee. There were countries from all over the world, including Belgium, Bulgaria, Finland, France, Georgia, Germany, Hungary, Netherlands, Pakistan, Poland, Romania, Russia, Turkey and the USA.
Excited and ready to start this new adventure, Welker and I met up at the Atlanta airport and flew to Memphis, where we met up with rest of our group. On the way to Turkey we had a flight transfer in Amsterdam. Luckily, we had a 10-hour delay, giving us the chance to go out and view the city. This was great, because now I can tell my grandkids one day that I’ve been to Amsterdam, and then we were off to Istanbul! After 13 hours of travel we finally arrived to our destination (yayyyy)! The tournament didn’t start for a couple of days, so we had a chance to catch up on some much needed rest.
Once the opening ceremonies began, the festive atmosphere was in the air, and we were ready to BALL! The women’s basketball teams didn’t have a huge turnout, but were still pumped and excited. Our first game was against Bulgaria, it was a blow out. This first game is where we realized playing time would NOT be an issue, being that we only had seven players! With games both indoor and outdoor, the only issue might have been not getting enough rest, especially when we played outside! We also played Romania, Bogazici, Lebanon, and Bulgaria one more time in the championship game. All-in-all, we wanted to win games, have fun, and play for God’s Glory. Both the Men’s and Women’s teams went undefeated, winning the GOLD metal for USA basketball.
After the Sports Fest was complete, we had about four days to go sightseeing and view the city as tourists. We visited Rummeli’s Palace, Topkapi’s Palace, The Hagia Sophia, The Blue Mosque, and took a day trip on Izmir where we visited the ruins of Ephesus. We also got the chance to go to a professional basketball game between Fenerbahce and Antalya.
I had GREAT time on this trip. I was in parts of the world I will most likely never see again. I met some WONDERFUL people whom I will never forget, and above all I strengthened my relationship with God. I couldn’t have asked for a better way to spend two weeks of my summer.
– Kirstyn Wright aka K*Wright
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