Seven Morningside football players recently participated in a mission trip to Tanzania.

A group of seven Morningside football players demonstrated the NAIA Champions of Character program’s core value of servant leadership during a mission trip to Tanzania in eastern Africa.

The players traveled to Tanzania to lend their support to Project Rehema Ministries, a non-profit organization whose founder and CEO is Kelli Solsma, the mother of Mustang senior quarterback Trent Solsma.

Solsma and Mustang teammates Conner Niles, Chase Reis, Seth Maitlen, Seth Roberg and twin brothers Jacob and Joel Katzer traveled to Tanzania in May to assist Project Rehema Ministries.

Project Rehema’s primary goal is to minister to some of the 2.5 million orphans in Tanzania and provide small, modest homes where a “mama” cares for a small number of orphaned children per home by providing a home-like setting where the children’s physical needs are met while experiencing the love of a family.

Project Rehema serves close to 80 orphans in Tanzania. In addition to providing housing, the organization also helps pay for schooling and assists the orphans in meeting their basic daily needs.

While in Tanzania, the Mustang football players completed the construction of a new home in the Massai village of Monduli Juu, located on the outskirts of Arusha, a city in northeastern Tanzania.

The home they constructed will house eight to 10 orphans and a “mama” or foster parent. The players made the cement and layed the brick for the house and dug a 13-foot hole for a bathroom. They also hauled water from a nearby stream used to mix mud to help secure the rocks that formed the base of the house.

Aside from the hard work, there was also time for fun. The group held an activity day with many of the local children, where they taught them about football. They played a game of football with the children and were challenged by the children to a game of soccer.

Solsma said the time in Tanzania was a life changing experience for he and his teammates.

“Seeing the progress we were able to make on the house and the smiles we were able to bring to the people there is something I will never forget,” Solsma said. “The experience gave me a greater appreciation for what life in America is like and opened my eyes to the little things that we take for granted.”

“The look of surprise and joy on the face of the ‘mama’ when we turned on a light bulb in her new home is something I will have ingrained in my mind forever,” he said. “That was just one example of the times we helped the people meet a basic need and we were overwhelmed with their gratitude.”