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Holland (Mich.) Christian High School girls’ varsity basketball team is used to road trips. Recently, however, instead of a snowy bus ride to play an opposing team, these young women went on a cross-continental journey to Africa.

Holland Christian High School girls’ varsity basketball team members travel to Lesotho.

Ten players, along with two coaches and three other chaperones, spent two weeks at Beautiful Gate orphanage in the small country of Lesotho. Beautiful Gate serves children from infancy to age 5, many of whom have been abandoned or affected by HIV-AIDS.

“It was a little odd, just knowing that it was summer instead of winter, and this really was the last time we’d be together as a team,” said Anna Michmerhuizen, 17, a member of Maranantha Christian Reformed Church. “Instead of playing basketball [together], now we were united to serve.”

The players painted, helped the staff, and spent many hours with the children. “I loved just being around the kids and being able to read stories to them and play with them,” Michmerhuizen said. “Actions that seemed so simple and small to us were huge for them, especially the house mothers there. When we helped them with the kids, whether it was feeding them or helping them get dressed, they always were so thankful.”

The idea for the trip came from assistant coach Mike Verkaik, a member of Haven CRC in Zeeland. The current directors of the orphanage are also members of that church. Last year the team raised money for the orphanage; this year they were determined to go visit, fundraising to help cover the costs.

The team even had a chance to shoot a few hoops, playing net ball with a girls’ team in Lesotho.

“The trip will have a lifelong effect on everyone who went,” said head coach Crystal Strickland.

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