Travel Update

I’ve been blessed with the opportunity to travel to more than 40 countries — five continents down, two to go. As a communicator, one of the ways that I enjoy telling my story is through film. Here are a few films that I’ve shot and edited from recent travels.

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Dare to Live (Shot on an iPhone X)

I travel often, but haven’t traveled with my family since 2005. This video, all shot on an iPhone X, was filmed this January in Spain, Portugal, and France.

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Wanderlust — Santorini, Athens and Amsterdam

Nine friends from the U.S. traveled to Santorini, Athens and Amsterdam during the 2017 Thanksgiving holiday. This is the recap video with shots from a DJI Mavic Pro, DJI Osmo, iPhone X and a GoPro HERO 5.

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The Land of the Rising Sun (and Singapore)

I traveled to Japan and Singapore in March of 2017. This is the recap video featuring shots from Tokyo, Kyoto, Ishigaki and Singapore.

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Don’t let me down, France

October 2016: Paris, Nice, Monaco. In the end it’s not the years in your life that count — it’s the life in your years.

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Austria, Israel and Germany: Thanks for the memories!

Three continents, seven airports and 16,581 miles later, thanks for the memories. All footage filmed on a DJI Osmo.

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#MakeManningABachelorAgain

Thomas Manning is (officially) getting married. Here’s the story of his bachelor party.

Faith and Baseball

In 12 years of baseball camp, today was perhaps the most memorable day that I can recall. Simply put, Thursday was rough on our team and I was a bit concerned how they would bounce back today as the camp had a slate of six games.

After dropping their first game, they managed to string together five-straight wins while gaining plenty of confidence, supporting their teammates and overcoming adversity. We lost two of our campers due to injury today and the team came together and found a way to win. The coolest part was that I was able to play defense with them – granted it was right field and I had to dial it back. It was a great experience to be able to share my passion for the game of baseball with the campers by playing alongside them.

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However, the most important moment today came during our team time session where I was able to share my testimony which focuses on my Dad’s stroke. If you haven’t heard the story, let me know and I’ll gladly share it with you. Long story short – I told the campers that if my Dad had not suffered a stroke in 2003, I likely wouldn’t have been speaking with them in Germany and I likely would have never met them. His stoke changed his life, my life, my mom’s life, my sister’s life and the lives of our friends and family.

God has a plan for all of our lives and we have to trust in him through faith. Using the story of my Dad, the campers were very attentive and even asked several follow-up questions about God. One of my favorite memories growing up was playing catch with my Dad in our front lawn. To share his story at baseball camp while explaining God’s Grace, that was a tremendous feeling and I hope that a foundation was planted for my team so that they may ask more questions – not just about my Dad – but of God’s love for us.

Evening Service + Q&A

Tonight during our evening service we celebrated the 12-year partnership between FBCTW and the church in Lübbecke. The relationships that we have developed during the last dozen years have created what we have coined a baseball family that is focused on God.

While The Woodlands and Lübbecke have enjoyed a rich relationship throughout the years, we partnered with a church based in Kyle, Texas, during camp this week. Jonathan Leftwich is the senior pastor at Fellowship Church at Plum Creek and I sat down with him this evening to discuss his impressions of baseball camp and what his takeaways will be as Plum Creek begins to evaluate a prospective partnership with a Germany church. Click the SoundCloud link below to listen.

What If I Stumble?

As it turns out, the Big Red Machine can be stopped – temporarily.

After beginning the camp with a perfect 4-0 record, our team dropped their two games today, but I think it was for the best. Although we stumbled, we were able to see some things that we could improve upon and I feel that the team became more open and supportive of one another – and more receptive during team time sessions.

My campers wanted to see me take a few swings in the batting cage this afternoon — it felt great.

When it comes to the team stumbling, the first thing I was reminded of was the DC Talk song “What if I stumble,” which you can listen to here. To me, that song has a direct connection with our team time discussion today that focused on Romans 5:8-9. The song centers upon Christians and their constant struggle with missing the mark and falling short in life. Romans tells us that Christ died for the ungodly – which is all of us. It’s not based on how loveable we are, but God’s supreme love for us. Essentially, Christ paid our debt and reconciled our sin because God has unconditional love for us.

As mentioned earlier this week, baseball camp is more than just winning and losing – and I hope that our team was able to see that today through our games as well as team time and our discussions.

Q&A with Thomas Albrecht

Continuing with our interview series today, I spoke with Thomas Albrecht who plays an instrumental role in organizing the annual camp in Germany. Find out what he has to say about Baseball Camp in Lübbecke.


Reds move to 4-0; Cheer Camp is on Fire

First off, thanks to everyone for reading these posts and sending me emails or texts – it means a lot and is quite encouraging.

Cheer Camp in Germany

With rain in the forecast this morning, we dodged a bit of a bullet and had sunshine all day with temperatures in the mid-80s – perfect baseball weather! For those of you keeping track, the Reds moved to a perfect 4-0 on the season and outscored their opponents 13-3 with all three proving to be unearned. The kids are having a great time and are quite responsive to our discussions both on and off of the field. Tonight we’ll meet up at the church for an evening service with great music and games.

Here’s a quick video from the afternoon of the team running out to their positions.

Cheer Camp

As mentioned yesterday, Cheer Camp has become quite popular here in Lübbecke and has been the highlight of the week for many of our campers. I had the chance to speak with our cheer coordinator, Tammy Washburn, following today’s camp. Take a listen as she discusses some of the highlights of the week and how the camp has grown here in Germany.

That’s all for now! As they say in Germany, tschüss!

The Big Red Machine

Today marked the first official day of baseball camp in Lübbecke and it was quite the success. With nearly perfect temperatures in the mid-70s, more than 200 campers showed up this morning – about 120 for baseball and 80 for our cheer camp.

We opened this morning with a meeting between the coaches, translators and volunteers and I was tasked with leading our devotional of the day which covered Ephesians 2:8-10 – Grace through Faith. I stressed that baseball camp is more than a game and that this week is not about winning or losing. Rather, our primary focus here is to use baseball as the tool to glorify God by making disciples who transform the world.

My team, the Reds, is comprised of campers ranging between 15 and 18 and you can meet them by watching the below video. At work, one of our core values is One Team and the Reds are the perfect example of what that means. The entire group is highly supportive and many are camp four-year camp veterans.

Transitioning from a station leader to a coach has been a great experience and allows us to develop one-on-one relationships with our core group of campers while being intentional about discipleship. I’m really looking forward to seeing what the rest of the week has in store.

Q&A with Darryl Egley

While trying to upload a video interview yesterday, I realized that it would be a difficult task with a spotty internet connection. With that being said, I really liked the Q&A format that we had and wanted to continue that as the week moved along. However, today our audio is actually audible. Please listen below as I spoke with Darryl Egley about his experience at the baseball camp and what his outlook is for the remainder of the week.

As always, please leave comments and/or feedback below.

Baseball Camp Preview with Krischaan Albrecht

UPDATE: While waiting for the video to load to YouTube, you can listen to the audio on SoundCloud or you can listen to it below!

Hey, everyone. Thanks for following along as I post updates from baseball camp. I wanted to let you all know that I recorded a video interview with Krischaan Albrecht on my GoPro this evening. The audio is a bit faint but it’s a good outlook on what the camp has meant for the community her in Lübbecke. With that being said — hold tight. The video is taking quiet a while to upload. I’m hoping to have a compressed file loaded shortly. Stay tuned.

Prelude to Lübbecke

Prior to beginning baseball camp in Germany, I spent 1.5 days in Belgium touring both Brussels and Brügge. While both cities were unique in their own right, it was fascinating to explore these two towns on foot with hardly any pregame plan or direction.

Equipped with my iPhone and GoPro, I walked about 20 miles over the course of my stay and frequented Belgian pubs for a few staples – Belgian beer, waffles and chocolate.

Perhaps the coolest place I stumbled upon was Cafe Vlissinghe, located just a few hundred meters from the canalsIMG_1614 in Brügge. What made this place special was the history – the pub is celebrating its 500th anniversary this year and proved to be the perfect environment to enjoy a beer while sitting on the outdoor patio while listening to about a half dozen languages being spoken.

My brief stop in Belgium was also another first for me – it was the first time that I have traveled solo in Europe and it happens to fall alongside my 12th or 13th trip to the continent. It’s a completely different animal to travel alone – more on that later.

Anyways, I arrived in Lübbecke earlier this afternoon and we’re having a Bavaria night this evening with members from the local church – this should be fun.

Germany Bound

Editor’s Note: After 595 days, I know everyone has eagerly awaited my latest post. Well, here it is!

It’s that time of year again – baseball camp in Germany. For the past 13 years, I’ve had the opportunity to travel to Lübbecke, Germany, for a sports-based mission trip that uses baseball as the tool to glorify God by making disciples who transform the world.

From July 20-25 we will host our annual camp in Lübbecke for approximately 120 kids that range from ages 8 to 18. For the first time, I will be transitioning from an instructor that teaches the fundamentals of the game, to a coach, which is tasked with working one-on-one with a team of ~12 campers while building relationships with them on and off of the field.1930619_576198446623_2958_n

I’m thoroughly excited to see what God has in store for us during the baseball camp and cannot wait to see how the week pans out. Throughout the camp I will be posting updates on this website as well as photos on my Instagram page.

For those asking how you can help, I’d recommend prayer that we can reach the campers that aren’t familiar with Ephesians 2:8.

Growth Group

As many of you know, I’ve been involved with a Growth Group at GBC Houston. Growth Groups cover some of the most foundational truths and ministry skills needed to participate in God’s Kingdom work. In 2014, I was a member of a group, and in 2015 I have served as a co-lead for a great group here in Houston.

I feel that the last 1.5 years have helped to prepare me for my new role as a coach for our camp.

Podcast

And one last plug before we call it a night. Late last month, I had an opportunity to record a podcast with Rachel Duke that covers John 5. If you are looking for something to listen to while you work, I’d recommend giving it a listen by clicking on this link.

LÜBBECKE BASEBALL CAMP: THE REST OF THE WEEK

Tuesday/Thursday

Camp on Tuesday and Thursday were quite similar to Monday — station rotations followed by games in the pool play. Throughout the two days, you could tell that the kids were steadily improving their skillset, and enjoyed the friendly competition during games. As a station leader working with the older campers (ages 13-19), it’s always fun to see the returnees and the excitement that they share for the little things that we take for granted in baseball – base hits, catching fly balls, putouts, etc.

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During the evening portion of the camp on Tuesday, we hosted a Texas night – which played to nearly all of the stereotypes you hear of Texas – I’m not sure if this was a good or bad thing. Regardless, we brought the game corn hole over to Germany and it seemed to be a big success. The night featured everything from country music, two-stepping, balloons for the little Germans, and corn hole.

Wednesday

Because this was the 10th anniversary of the baseball camp in Germany, Wednesday was a bit different than usual. In years past, we’ve taken half of the day to either visit various sites or play an exhibition game against a local baseball club in the region.

This year was different.

Rather than hosting camp for the morning, Wednesday was just a full day off that we spent with the Germans and the translators who do so much to make the camp a possibility each year.  We began the morning at 11 a.m. with a brunch and tour of a local mill that played a large role in the region’s economy in the 19th century.

Following the tour, we went with our host family to a famous eis café in town before we met up with our team at the camp fields at 3 p.m. for a field day full of games, human foosball, and the new German pastime – corn hole.

The day concluded with a BBQ and reflection time on the past 10 years and perhaps what is to come with the future partnership of Synergy and EFG Lübbecke. It was fascinating to hear many of the stories from those that have either attended the camp from the start and/or had just attended for the first time.

Friday

If you were looking for two words to describe Friday: record heat. According to the local paper, Friday’s temp approached nearly 100 degrees – well above average – and was the hottest recorded temperature in Western Europe that day. Needless to say, it was the hottest day of the year.

While we’re familiar with warm temperatures in Texas, Germans aren’t – and it showed with the campers. Much of them displayed visible signs of fatigue, so it was critical that we hydrated them and kept them in shaded areas as much as possible. The day was spent entirely playing baseball as part of the pool portion of the camp, so finding proper shade proved to be difficult at times.

Following the camp in Lübbecke, I traveled to Bramsche to immediately lead/coach a follow-up camp that EFG Bramsche was leading nearly two weeks after their camp. I had been to Bramsche for two prior camps – 2010, 2011 – so it was great to see many familiar faces. The evening began with a non-traditional dinner – at a local Chinese restaurant – and the night ended up around 10 or 11 p.m. as we wrapped up the extra training session.

Saturday

Saturday marked the end of the baseball camp as it concluded with the tournament. We had great crowds on hand as many parents and members of the community came out to support the kids. We wrapped up the day by reflecting on the camp as a group and spending time with our host families and German friends.

Lübbecke Baseball Camp: Day One

Editor’s Note: We are right at midnight here in Germany so my thoughts are a bit jumbled. Please excuse the poor grammar – hopefully I’ll have the time to edit and format this later.

The first day of baseball camp in Lübbecke is in the books. Below you will find highlights of each day since we left Houston on Friday.

Friday/Saturday

After arriving at IAH, we departed for Newark at 11:01 a.m. and left the Garden State for Amsterdam just after 7 p.m.

I’ve always been a fan of window seats so that I can try and capture cool images from the plane. As we wrapped up our approach to Newark, I snapped this photo of Lower Manhattan and the Freedom Tower to the North and topped it with this photo as we were taxiing the runway prior to our departure to Amsterdam. Because our flight was not direct, I didn’t sleep much on the flight across the Atlantic. However, it allowed me to take this picture of the rising sun as we entered Irish airspace.

We arrived in Amsterdam shortly after 7:45 a.m. on Saturday and met representatives from Lübbecke at the airport where we had a bus waiting for us that would take us to Germany. Unfortunately the weather is unseasonably warm right now, and the bus didn’t have air conditioning, so it made for a long four-hour ride to Lübbecke.

However, it was great catching up with my host family—the Wache’s—when we arrived.

Sunday

We met up at EFG Lübbecke Sunday morning and followed with a lunch at a local Biergarten in which everyone in our party enjoyed Schnitzel – a German staple. After a bit of downtime, we began meeting with the translators for the camp – most of which were once campers themselves – and went over the logistics of the camp and began to sort equipment.

That evening we were informed that the field that we were going to use had suffered a slight mishap late last week. Apparently the grounds crew had fertilized the field, but failed to water the grass, which caused the field to burn. Luckily, we were able to relocate the camp to Blasheim and utilized two of their soccer fields.

We closed the night with a BBQ at the Hinnah’s household, and enjoyed great conversation with our team and Germany friends.

Monday

The camp this year is a bit smaller than normal with 75-ish campers … but we are also hosting another camp about 10 km away, so I imagine that has impacted the attendance total.

Camp began this morning with a team meeting at 8:30 a.m. and the campers began to arrive shortly thereafter. After a stretching session, the campers paired off into their teams and began rotations where they learned various offensive and defensive skills. I was one of the hitting instructors during the morning and taught them the basics before throwing BP. My gear for baseball camp.

We finished the day with a pair of six-inning games and I was the ump for the older campers. Many of the older kids have attended seven-plus camps, so it’s always nice to see familiar faces and to see many of them grow.

However, because we have so many campers that have attended over the years, it becomes difficult to recognize all of the kids, even though most of them remember the Americans. Oddly enough, I think that is one of the coolest things because I hope that it means that we’re actually making a difference in their lives.

Due to some inclement weather, we had to cut the games short which allowed the coaches to build stronger relationships and learn more about the kids on their team.

We closed the night back at EFG Lübbecke with some skits, worship, games and a great message delivered by a German speaker.

For a photo montage of day one of the camp, I’d recommend checking out this photo gallery that was put together by Krischaan Albrecht.

Tuesday is Texas night here in Germany and I have two words: Texas Forever.