"Lord, teach us to pray" Lk.11.1 Sitting on the sideline of a basketball coaches training course last week, "Marcus" (one of our young volunteers) asked me to write out a prayer of thanks like the ones my colleague and I prayed at our recent Christmas party. "Marcus" had been impressed by our words and the act of praying to thank God for the meal and for friends and fellowship together. He said that is very different from what he is accustomed to, and he is drawn to it.

(Hmmm... I thought the key part of our Christmas party was reading the story in Arabic and then explaining the true meaning and ultimate purpose of the holiday! And I feared they would only remember the fun white elephant gift exchange! Obviously I had the wrong perspective!)

It's the little things that count more than we know. I confess I am not so faithful in the little things, such as giving thanks before every meal, and I have often neglected that small act whether alone or in the presence of our friends. However, it is clear that even a simple demonstration of faith is captivating their hearts.

This brief sideline conversation was a highlight for me of the hi-level basketball coaching course we coordinated together with the local Basketball leaders.  Having been here before, it was especially significant that our visiting US coach was able to build upon existing relationships. To quote him regarding our collective impact through sports in this land, he said, "There is a blanket of sp'ritual dust settling over the coaches." That definitely resonates here as the spring dust season quickly approaches, when that fine dust seems to penetrate through even the slightest crack.

The Sovereign Lrd never ceases to amaze us, as He perfectly orchestrates His plan. He has brought us through much this past fall… from project cancellations and security issues, to deeper talks of Truth with local sports partners, to contract negotiations over finances and dates, to overcoming new obstacles in obtaining visas, to the expansion and growth of our like-minded expat sports team residing here, and to refreshing trips out… He maneuvered the details to make it all fit perfectly. Though we often fail to see His hand at the time, the seemingly small things contribute to His work of wonder, as we have seen carried out in this recent hi-level basketball coaching course. His presence is clear, and He continues to reveal the path to pursue. Thus we press on.

We kicked off the new year strong with this basketball course! Now here are some things we're looking forward to in the months to come: 1. Weekly visits to the PE college, where many of our sports contacts work as professors or attend as students. This will facilitate more opportunities for language practice, as well as greater Life and Truth impact as my colleague and I seek to engage our friends at deeper levels. Specifically, I hope to spend more time with my good friend, "Mary", who is a leader in local sports and who has increasingly confided in and sought counsel from me over the past few months. 2. A trip out for vacation with my best friend the end of February. It's always important to schedule those vacations to take a break from life here! 3. Building upon our successful hi-level course, we are now coordinating another basketball coaching course to train coaches in how to teach fundamental skills to youth. Hopefully, this course will take place later in the year, pending both our US coaches and local side schedules. 4. We will have two US coaches returning to join our team in leading a youth basketball camp, followed by a multi-sport camp for orphaned youth here.

Thank you for lifting up each of these endeavors, and especially remembering "Marcus" and others of our friends whose hearts are being penetrated by Truth and Life.

In whatever He leads us to pursue, may we each be faithful to spread that blanket of sp'ritual dust even in the little things! "You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much." Mt.25.21