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Hart's More than an Athlete: The Lonsinger Bros.

Basketball players worked with children in Haiti

Posted: June 12, 2014 9:58 p.m.
Updated: June 12, 2014 9:58 p.m.

Hart High seniors Jesse and Frank Lonsinger.

 

Frank and Jesse Lonsinger had been looking for a trip to take for a while.

Peru, the Dominican Republic, Guatemala and some other places were all possible destinations.

After some deliberation they finally settled on Haiti. But this wasn’t a vacation the twins and recent graduates from Hart High were planning.

It was a service mission through Real Life Church, working in cooperation with Three Angels Children’s Relief to help the people of Haiti, specifically the orphans of the country.

Real Life Church travels to the Dominican Republic, Guatemala, India, Mexico, Peru, Uganda and Haiti to partner with other organizations and provide things like clothes, food or shelter.

“The (2010) earthquake in Haiti caused a lot of devastation,” Frank says, “We had been wanting to go on a mission like this for a while.”

So, along with their friend and Hart basketball teammate Luke Maly, Frank and Jesse started to get the ball rolling on their mission.

First they had to raise the money to get there. For all three boys to make the trip they needed about $4,800, or $1,600 per person.

Over a three-month period before they left, Frank and Jesse went door-to-door asking for donations.

“I wrote letters and sent them to my closest friends and family,” Maly says.

Once they had raised the money, the next challenge was getting approval from their teachers.

The trip was planned from November 7 to the 13th, so they would be missing nearly a week of school.

Initially, the boys thought that would be a problem. But they found their teachers were more than happy to give them a break.

“They were really cool about it,” Jesse says. “They told us to just do the homework when we got back.”
The final hurdle was getting their parents on board.

“Luke, Frank and I got with our parents and met at the church and discussed the trip,” Jesse says. “They were confident but concerned at the same time. They were sending three teenagers to a third-world country, but we all wanted to go. In the end we all thought it would be a good experience.”

Once in Haiti, Frank and Jesse were immediately struck by the poverty that surrounded them. They knew they would be seeing a lot of devastation, but the reality of Port-au-Prince was a lot to take.

“We knew we would see a lot of heartbreak,” Frank says. “You could smell it as soon as you got off the plane. On the way to the school we were staying at we saw a bunch of homeless people laying in the streets. They didn’t have any bathrooms so they just went wherever they could.

“There were people drinking water out of sewage and it made me sad because you want to help everyone but you know you can’t.”

After they got settled at the Three Angels Christian Academy, the three boys hit the ground running by rebuilding a fence.

They did anything the school or orphanage needed. Whether it be spending time with the students or repaving a road, Frank, Jesse and Luke worked to improve the conditions around them.

As they worked, they got to meet and see how the people of Port-au-Prince lived.

“It really humbles you. You see the way these people have to live and it’s hard to imagine living like that,” Frank says. “But despite all the stuff that’s happened to them, the people were awesome. To have that much faith after everything that happened, it makes our faith that much stronger.”

Jesse was just as moved by the devotion the people of Haiti showed to their religion.

“We went to church there and it was like 90 degrees,” Jesse says. “How many people in America would be at church if they were sweating? Most people would leave, but they stayed the entire time and had no problem.”

Each morning, Frank and Jesse would get up and greet the school children at 6 a.m.

They would also go to the nearby Angel House Orphanage and hang out with the kids there, playing soccer and spending time with the orphans.

Being with them made Frank and Jesse appreciate the things they had back home, but also raised a new desire in the twins.

When they are older, both Frank and Jesse plan to return to Haiti and adopt a child.

It’s something they have talked about since returning from their mission and are very passionate about.

“You see how the children live there and it makes you want to adopt one to give them another chance at a better life,” Jesse says.

Frank agrees, saying that it’s good knowing that the orphans will be going to good homes eventually.

After returning home from Haiti, both Frank and Jesse have a new appreciation for the lives they live.

Seeing how happy the people of Haiti were despite their living conditions made small things, like fighting over who gets to take the car out, seem unimportant.

“It affected us enormously,” Frank says. “It makes us grateful for the things we have and makes my faith stronger. It was the coolest experience I’ve ever had. Just being there and helping out really humbles you.”

Now, after graduating from Hart, Frank and Jesse are ready for their next adventure.

While they won’t be traveling to a new country, they will be entering into unknown territory.

Frank and Jesse will be attending East Texas Baptist University in Marshall, Texas together in the fall.

They’ve never been to Texas before, but plan on visiting the campus for the first time a couple of days before classes start.

And if going to the same university wasn’t enough, they will also be rooming together in the dorms.

“At least I don’t have to worry about having a loud roommate,” Jesse says. “We’ll have two other roommates living in another room so we don’t have to be around each other all the time.”

Frank, who as one of the better guards in the Santa Clarita Valley helped lead Hart to a Foothill League championship in basketball, plans to try and walk on the basketball team at East Texas.

Jesse spent much of the season on the bench because of the depth of the Indians team. But he helped shape the team’s overall chemistry by forming a cohesive second unit that gladly played second fiddle to the starters.

“They’re just stand-up kids,” says Hart’s head basketball coach Tom Kelly. “They’re the kind of guys where if I needed to deliver a message to the team, I could ask them and would never have to worry about it.

“Probably their biggest strength is that they’re both tough. Mentally and physically. They’ll dive for loose balls or take a charge. There’s no fear in either of them.”

The twins only played together for two years at Hart but their chemistry on the court was strong. And a lot of that comes from the relationship they have with each other.

“I look up to (Frank),” Jesse says. “We grew close over high school, and I wouldn’t trade that for anything. He knows what I want to do and I know what he wants and we keep each other in check.”

Added Frank: “Jesse is my best friend. I can go to him with anything. It doesn’t matter what it is, I can always rely on him to help and be there for me.”

Both Frank and Jesse want to take another mission, but with college starting they don’t know when they’ll have the chance.

One thing they do know, however, is that whenever they do find the time for their next trip, they’ll be going together.

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