What Happens When 4 College Age Guys Take a Trip to Sierra Leone?
In January, our first team of the year traveled to our center in Sierra Leone. Led by Kobe Diers, this team was small but mighty. Kobe Diers might be a familiar name to many of our Raining Season supporters. He is the son of Jen and Doug Diers. In what has become a bit of a family affair, the Diers family has been a big part of The Raining Season since nearly the beginning.
Kobe is one of eight children, five of which were adopted from The Raining Season. Kobe first traveled as a sophomore in high school. Even before his first trip in 2014, Kobe saw the potential for an impact in Sierra Leone. In 2011, as a middle school student in Iowa, Kobe spearheaded a fundraiser to raise the money needed to install basketball hoops at the center. The children love soccer, but the Diers are a basketball family, and Kobe saw the potential to share a game he loved with a group of kids he also loved.
This past January, Kobe made his sixth trip. For this trip, Kobe stepped in as a team leader. The team was made up of two of Kobe’s friends from Pella, Iowa, and a third friend who attends school with Kobe at the University of Northern Iowa. All three were making their first trip to Sierra Leone. Although this team was small, the makeup of the team led to some neat experiences throughout the week. For Kobe, it was a chance for his African world and part of his American world to collide. He had the opportunity to show his friends firsthand what he has been talking about. If you have ever traveled with The Raining Season, you understand how difficult it can be to put into words a trip to our center in Sierra Leone. While there is a lot to share, there is so much more that can only be truly understood by experiencing it. For Kobe and his team, this will be an experience that will stick with them.
It is always amazing to see how the Lord works through each team. No two teams are the same. They bring different backgrounds and experiences with them. This allows them to have unique experiences while they are in Sierra Leone. This team was made up of four college-aged guys. It led to the perfect opportunity for these young men to spend time with some of our older boys. One day, they took a group of fifteen teenage boys to a nearby beach in Freetown to play soccer. Kobe has noticed that the older boys do not always get as much attention from travelers as some of the younger children. Being older, they are more independent. Many attend school outside of the center, and they often prefer playing soccer over sitting around and talking. On this trip, these boys received some much needed and deserved attention from our team of guys that could pour into them. We are so thankful that our team of young men was able to encourage our growing boys.
The week ended with a big trip to the beach. This trip to the beach was particularly special because all of our kids, along with our entire staff, were able to go. Thanks to our many generous supporters, everyone was treated to a trip to the beach as a post-Christmas gift. Like many of the beach trips, this was an opportunity for our kids to do something out of the ordinary. The team got to experience what it is like to take over 100 people to the beach. During their time at the beach, the kids enjoyed spending time in the water, playing on the beach, eating, playing soccer, and dancing.
A trip to Sierra Leone can be difficult to prepare for. Kobe shared this advice for first time and returning travelers alike, “Be super flexible and go with the flow. It is so much easier to go in and say, 'What God wants to happen will happen on this trip.' Go in with a very open mind, and let God open the doors. Don’t set an agenda of what you want to get done.” Not on the agenda for Kobe’s trip was the chance to visit his brother Emmanuel’s biological mom. The Diers family has been able to continue communication with her. Kobe was able to show her pictures of Emmanuel, and share how he is doing. Visiting Emmanuel's mom was special because the opportunity to continue communication does not often happen with adoption. What a special opportunity for both Kobe and Emmanuel’s biological mom!
Thank you, Kobe and team, for pouring into the children at our center on the first trip of 2020. We are thankful for your encouragement, open minds, and willingness to step in and serve where needed.
The Raining Season