Kristen Lye's first summer missions trip to Zimbabwe was during a time of peace.
"I spent three weeks there last summer And I really felt like I belonged there," she says.
Kristen is going back to Zimbabwe, along with UNC student Allison Young, to a country bubbling with political and racial strife.
The country's June 24 elections may only deepen the racial and political chaos that has led to 32 deaths since February.
"There's a lot of just despair and no hope in the country," says Kristen.
The students will be part of a Christian missions program in Zimbabwe. The goal is to share the Christian faith and teach the people how to play softball.
"It's somewhere I can work in sports, and if it gives us an opportunity to go and share our faith and God's love with them, then all the better," says Allison.
A year ago at theSpecial Olympics World Gamesin the Triangle, a delegation from Zimbabwe learned about softball for the first time.
Bats, gloves and safety equipment cannot be found in the African nation, so the missions program Kristen and Allison are a part of is asking people to donate new or used equipment.
The girls are allowed to bring four bags with them. They are hoping to fill them with donated softball equipment.
With the equipment, knowledge of the game and a desire to forge close friendships, Kristen and Allison hope they can turn minds away from race, politics and violence.
"It's really neat just to see that we really have a lot in common, no matter what characteristics God has given us," says Kristen.
Kristen and Allison leave for Zimbabwe on June 25.
Anyone interested in donating new or used baseball and softball equipment can drop it off by Saturday, June 24 at Grand Slam U.S.A. It is located at 4500 Western Boulevard, next to K-Mart in Raleigh.