Håfa Adai from the beautiful island of Guam! From the moment our family arrived, I knew God was calling me to serve at Guam Adventist Academy (GAA) in the music department. But little did I know, He had something else planned too. Samuel Wigglesworth said, "God does not call the equipped, He equips those whom He has called." Back in California, I spent a lot of time helping the athletic director at my kids' school with various sporting events, as just a parent. Although I didn’t know it at the time, God was preparing me for something more: to become the athletic director at GAA.
It has been proven over and over that exercise is linked to better grades. However, long before science confirmed it, Ellen White wrote ,
Many a student sits day after day in a close room bending over his books, his chest so contracted that he cannot take a full, deep breath… The body not being sufficiently nourished, the muscles are weakened, and the whole system is enervated and diseased. … They might have come from school with increased physical as well as mental strength, had they pursued their studies under proper conditions, with regular exercise in the sunlight and the open air.
After reading this, I knew I had to incorporate more exercise into the lives of my students. Learning under the pandemic conditions only compounded this need. The more they exercise, the less time they have staring at their screens. With God on my side, I was determined to get the athletics program going.
The first obstacle came during my first athletic directors meeting with the association. I was handed the volleyball schedule and realized that there were volleyball games scheduled for Sabbath. After explaining to the association that we couldn’t play games on Friday night or on Saturday, they discussed and decided to rearrange their entire schedule to accommodate our athletes! Praise the Lord!
After finalizing the girls’ volleyball schedule, I had to decide what to do with the boys; the options were tennis and cross country. Since we have no tennis courts at our school, I decided on cross country, only to learn that there had never been a cross country team in the history of GAA. After numerous phone calls and texts, I convinced six boys to run for our inaugural team. Since it was GAA’s first team, I had no expectations. We were running against much larger schools who could afford to have tryouts for their teams, so I would be happy if we didn’t come in last place. I encouraged the team to eat a plant-based diet and cut down on the sugar. I wanted them to show others - through running - the beautiful health message that God has given to the Adventist Church and to our school. God blessed us because of our faithfulness to the health message and our team came in third in the all-island competition with two of our runners placing within the top ten. Girls’ volleyball also finished in third place for our league.
We recently started practices for our first ever track and field team, with 23 student athletes. Since track meets take over three hours, I was concerned when I was again faced with Sabbath time conflicts. Once again,I prayed for wisdom. I told the students not to be disappointed if the meet time could not be changed because knowing what the Sabbath is, and having the opportunity to celebrate it, is of more importance than playing sports. The next day, I attended the athletic directors meeting and found that God had once again solved the problem for us. Because there were so many schools in our sports league, the meets would have to be split into two days to keep them from being too long; we would have the opportunity to play on Thursdays instead of Friday evenings. The track commissioner already knew our need to have Sabbath hours free and scheduled every single one of our meets on Thursdays, including the all-island meet scheduled for the end of this season. I could go on and on about everything God has done for our teams. What a mighty God we serve!
I want to acknowledge the coaches. A special thank you to Head Coach Evan Valentino and Assistant Coach Elijah Mafnas for coaching the volleyball team. I also want to thank Head Coach Yumiko Imazu and Assistant Coaches Dr. Shin Miyagi and Andrew Robinson for starting up our cross country team.
In Isaiah 41:10 the Lord says, "fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand." God is certainly with us here at Guam Adventist Academy. Please continue to keep us all in your prayers!