For seven days over winter break, the John Brown University women’s soccer team traveled to Guatemala to connect through soccer—the “language of the world,” as sophomore Meghan Kennedy said.
The soccer team also traveled to Guatemala for a missions trip in 2018. This time the athletes went to learn about the Guatemalan culture and play some soccer while sharing the Gospel. Kennedy said that as the team traveled around the cities and villages of Guatemala, they were there to be loved and share love. “Whether that’s through everyday community living, we got to interact with a lot of people there and cook with them, eat with them … we just showed love to them that way,” Kennedy said. “The way the people loved us was also the same way Christ would love us, too.”
This was Kennedy’s first time traveling outside of the United States, and she said it taught her a lot about the beauty of other people’s traditions and culture. “Everywhere we went it was super beautiful, whether it was the people or the scenery,” Kennedy said. “Even just waking up in the morning and seeing a beautiful lake and volcanoes, I just felt like his creation was worshipping him … The language that they spoke and the different culture showed Christ as well.”
Junior Sie Nealon said, “I think the biggest take away from going to Guatemala this past time was how easy it is to make things other than God an idol, and how it can truly take over your life. In reality, everything should flow from our desire to constantly want to be surrounded by God, and that should push us to want to become better as people, in order to have the possibility of making a change in someone else’s life.”
The women also competed in a game against the Guatemala Under 20 National Team and Cremas Femenino. Although Nealon said that the ultimate goal of these games was not to showcase any talent.
“We were able to compete at a high-level, and at the same time realize that soccer ultimately wasn’t our goal of being there, but an opportunity for us to relate with the girls,” Nelson said. “I think going to Guatemala and then coming back to school after helps me to see that this world is so much smaller than I think it is, and the impact that I can have on people so different than me is surprising.”
Freshman Kylie Kilfoy said that this trip has related to her time at JBU in many ways. Specifically, it has helped her understand her major better. “Since coming back to JBU, my trip to Guatemala continues to inspire a fascination in me for my major—international business.” Kilfov said. “As I think back to my trip, I am reminded of my passion for diverse cultures and developing countries, and my motivation to study international business is renewed,” Kilfoy said.
Kilfoy is not the only one whose day-to-day life was impacted from the trip. Kennedy said that the whole soccer team has carried through the lessons they learned in Guatemala to practice and classes.
“We’ve debriefed the trip together and I felt like it’s helped us grow closer and really capture what we want to bring into next season and the next stages of our life,” Kennedy said. “While we were over there, everything we did was to worship God and it seemed really easy … It made soccer seem fun and like it should be a platform for Christ instead of something you can stress over or something to add to your list of things to do.”
Photo courtesy of JBU Women’s Soccer