As senior Ryan Robinson left a gas station in Guatemala, he saw something he had never seen before.
Outside stood a security guard with a shotgun slung over his shoulder, a chilling reminder that he was no longer in the U.S.
“It’s not anything we’re used to here; I don’t usually see a guy with a shotgun as I walk out of a store,” Robinson said.
Armed guards and houses surrounded by barbed wire were some of the sights that shocked Robinson and the other members of the Taylor men’s basketball team during their recent team mission trip to Guatemala over the summer. The team’s mission? To spread the Gospel and minister through basketball and visiting with local families.
Two of the team members, sophomore Luke Huffer and freshman Carter Wright served as the team’s interpreters throughout the trip, both fluent Spanish speakers.
Leading the team was head coach Josh Andrews; this was his first trip in his seven seasons at Taylor.
The trip was facilitated by Sports Ambassadors, a sports evangelism ministry formerly known as Venture for Victory.
Venture for Victory was founded by Don Odle who coached career at Taylor from 1948 to 1979.
Throughout the trip, the team hosted basketball clinics for local youth as well as other types of ministry, senior Mason Degenkolb said.
Later on, the team stopped at a home for at-risk children where they were greeted with hospitality. In return, the team did whatever they could to put smiles on the children’s faces.
Robinson said helping put smiles on the children’s faces especially the faces of those experiencing tough times was one of his favorite parts of the trip.
Despite seeing some unpleasant sights, the team also noticed some beauty around them.
Robinson said quite a few of the people they met were very poor, but even in the midst of poverty he and the team could still see the beauty of God’s creation.
Degenkolb said the team saw this beauty in the hospitality and warmth of those they encountered.
“(The hospitality) showed me immediately how open and caring the people were,” Degenkolb said.
Playing sports and leading worship were some of the activities they did with the residents.
Eventually the time came for what Robinson said was the hardest part of the trip — saying goodbye.
Robinson was asked by some of the girls at one of the children’s homes if they were coming back; he said saying goodbye knowing they weren’t coming back was the hardest part of the trip.
Robinson said the greatest lesson he learned while on this trip was to be thankful for the little things we have in the U.S., such as clean drinking water and air conditioning.