Eighth Grade DI Team Earns 6th Place at Global Finals!

"In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven." Matthew 5:16

“That’s a God-thing” is a sentimental phrase that we often use around St. Matthew when we want to acknowledge that the only way to explain a particular situation or extraordinary circumstance is God! However, during the duration of our 8th grade DI team’s journey to Kansas City to participate at the 2023 Destination Imagination Global Finals competition this past week, it feels like we have said this endearing statement quite frequently!

Before the team even left for Kansas City, they learned that they had been “buddied up” with a team from Ukraine. Wanting to provide the Ukrainian team with a taste of Michigan, they took Faygo red pop (which the Ukrainian team thought tasted like medicine) and Better Made potato chips for them to sample during their initial meeting.

When the two teams met for the first time last Sunday night, there was an instant connection as the Ukrainian team shared their story regarding the significant perseverance and determination it took to get permission to participate at DI Global Finals. (In fact, while they were meeting, the Ukrainian students received text messages that the air raid sirens were going off at their homes; it was 4:00 a.m. Ukrainian time when that was occurring!)

Originally, the Ukrainian coach traveled 12 hours by bus from Kiev to Warsaw, Poland, to acquire visas for the entire team so that they could participate at Global Finals. The inspector denied this initial request, but stated that the applications would be reconsidered if the entire team and their mothers would return in person to request the visas. So the team’s leader rode the bus back to Kiev to retrieve the team and their mothers for another 12-hour bus ride back to Warsaw, where they waited two days to be seen. Finally, on the third day, all but one team member (due to her young age) were cleared and given visas. They also learned that of the three DI teams in their area, they were the only team granted visas. This was our first "God thing" - that of all of the teams attending Global Finals, St. Matthew was selected to be their buddies!

When their big day of travel to the United States finally arrived, it took 48 hours for the Ukrainian team to fly from Warsaw to Munich to Chicago to Kansas City! The team concluded their story by mentioning that they couldn’t bring a lot of their materials for their “Scientific Challenge” and needed to figure out how to locate these items in the United States, and that’s when God began to use our team! Knowing Target would deliver to their hotel, Mrs. Colby located their crucial element of marshmallows for their challenge while Mrs. Rohman, Joe, and Braedon were up early the next day to locate the rest of their missing ingredients.

In addition, one team member from the Ukrainian team also mentioned that he had lost of all his pins right before their meeting. DI pins are treasures for Global participants as team members trade them and use them as a way to meet other kids from other states and countries. This loss also tugged at our team’s hearts, so many of them spent much of their free time trying to locate and collect pins for the child who no longer possessed any.

Each team attended each other’s performance, and many additional Americans also supported the Ukrainian team, so much that their room was packed to standing room only! At the conclusion of their performance, they also received a standing ovation!

The plan was for the two teams to connect one last time after the closing ceremonies; however, our team received a message that one of the Ukrainian team members had fallen and was in need of medical attention. Again, God allowed our team to locate and assist the frightened Ukrainian team. After it was determined that the team member was okay, both teams spent time together one last time. The evening concluded with both teams praying together before walking the Ukrainian team back to their hotel so they could prepare for their 48 hour journey back to Ukraine.

Just last week, Mr. Topel gave a wonderful Chapel about "We are the instruments that God plays to show love to others." We rejoice how God blessed our 8th grade's journey to Global Finals, but most of all, we praise God for how He used our DI team to be His instruments to show His love to this Ukrainian team!

Have a wonderful week allowing God to use you to be His instrument!

In His Love,

Mrs. Palka

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