The backs of our shirts
At 8:15, the bus came, and took us to see the baseball ministry. I really did not expect to enjoy this activity. I am not a huge sports fanatic. I watch them, if my children are playing. Otherwise, I usually do not get all that fired up about them. So I pretty much had the mindset that I would go along for the ride during this part of our day, and bide my time until the Bible club which was the next thing on the agenda.
Waiting their turn to play
Future professional ballplayers? Who knows.
Future young men of God? If M has anything to do with it, absolutely.
Playing baseball on a softball field.
We arrived at the fields, and there were players and parents everywhere. Some children were playing, but they all had on different uniforms, and it did not look like an organized game, it looked more like a practice time. We weren't given any specific instructions, and the only person we recognized from the ministry was M, and he was busy talking to parents. We just stood and watched for a while. After a few minutes, M came over and started talking to us. We were not there to do anything. We were just there because they wanted us to see this part of the ministry and M wanted to explain it and share his heart about it to us.
M sharing his heart for the baseball ministry.
He explained that M had made the map using the sun and a magnifying glass. Wow! How very unique is that! Yet another talent being used for the Lord. I thought it was fantastic. Then the night of the bon fire, I was able to talk with M about his interesting talent. He told me a little about how he had the idea to do art with the sun and a magnifying glass. It was completely fascinating to me.
Back to baseball...M came over and began to tell us a little about the baseball ministry and what was going on. They were in the off season, so really they were just practicing. He told us that they name the teams after items/animals in the sea. They do not want the boys identifying with any major league teams at this point. D had explained to us in the Dominican Culture class that "In the Dominican, Baseball is LIFE." And there is a ton of pressure on the boys to play and excel, because baseball could be their ticket out of poverty. They take their baseball very seriously. In fact, the city we were in, San Pedro de Macoris, has produced the highest number of professional baseball players, per capita, than any other city in the world.
M explained to us that as he coaches, he does not coach baseball players, he coaches young men. His goal is not just to make them excellent baseball players, but to make them young men with character and morals that happen to be baseball players. While M was talking to us, there was a young man running laps, because he had said a curse word, and that is not allowed. M explained that he did not just coach these young men on the field. Many times during the week parents would call him and ask him to help them out with their sons. M is not just a baseball coach. He is a mentor and life coach to those young men.
M told us that the two fields they were practicing on were softball fields. The ministry does not have a baseball field available to them where these young men can practice. This is not a huge problem for the younger boys, but it is for the older boys. Some of these boys are pitching at speeds close to 90 mph. They have already had one lady injured when a ball hit her in the mouth, and another very near miss. They have the space to build a field on Vision Land, but they do not have the funds.
M went on to tell us about his family of three girls, and how his youngest daughter was born three months prematurely. She lived and has thrived, and it was obvious that God's hand was on this little one. He spoke from his heart and thanked one of our girls for taking the time to be friends with his oldest daughter and to be an encouragement to her. I could not help but think again, how we feel like we are only there for a few days...what good can we do really? And M showed that us that in a few days, it is possible to make a big impact on someone's life. He had me (and several others) in tears.
What I thought I was going to enjoy the least, became the project that God laid on my heart. I would love nothing more than to be able to raise the funds to build a baseball field for M's boys to play on.
How many young men would hear the gospel, how many families lives would be changed, for the price of one baseball field. I can't do it alone, and I am definitely not a fundraiser, but we could all do it together. We could all pitch in, and raise the funds for a baseball field that would touch eternity. I am looking into some things, and praying about the best way to go about it, but I have a burning desire to see a field be built on Vision Land. It has to be a desire from God, because it is not something that I would normally think was important. I just see a way to reach many people at one time, all through a baseball field.
Can you see it?
Can you see a baseball field full of boys learning how to be Godly young men?
Will you pray with me about how we can make it happen?
A few preliminary things have already been done. I believe someone built a backstop, and some ground work for the infield has been done. The outfield needs work, they need sod, bases, fencing, dugouts...and because I'm not a sports expert, I am sure that I am leaving something out. I am still doing my homework on the best most efficient way to make this happen. If you have seen the pictures of the Mercy Center groundwork that I posted earlier, you would know that the ground there is full of rocks. Those rocks work their way to the top of the ground over time. So, they would have to dig and put down something that keeps the rocks from working their way through before anything else can be done. It is my understanding that this has already been done for the infield (or they have the funds to do it), but not for the outfield. I really want to make this happen. Will you all pray about helping me? I will be posting more about it as I come up with a plan. Until then, please pray with me about what part you can play in building them a field. Y'all, I am serious. I can't even think about it, or talk about it, or write about it without getting all teary eyed!
After talking to M, we all loaded on the bus again (along with S, one of the teachers at The Palms) and headed back to the church. At the church, S told us that we were going to split into groups and canvas the area, pass out tracts, and invite people to come to church. We split into groups and did just that. All of the people that we came into contact with were very friendly and gracious to take the time to listen to us. Our group also asked people if there was anything we could pray for them about, and without fail, they would tell us something and allow us to pray for them right there.
Passing out tracts and inviting people to church.
One of the things that stood out to me about the DR, was the amazing amount of activity that is constantly going on. There is constant noise and activity no matter where you are. The night before at the bon fire, as the youth pastor was preaching, he was competing with the announcer of some sort of boxing match that was going on nearby. There are people out and about on the streets and traffic at all times of the day and night. Our Bible Club was no exception. There were people coming and going on foot and on motor scooters (they call them moto conchos). There were dogs running around. Activity everywhere. Constantly.
We started by bringing out the bubbles and blowing bubbles with the children. After a few minutes of blowing bubbles and waiting on a crowd of kids to gather, we lined them up and Mrs. M led them in some songs. While she was leading the singing, Hido, Aunt A's favorite moto concho (or we would say delivery man) drove up and handed me Mrs. M's folder. I had nothing but my phone with me, because I had left my backpack at the church. So I had no way to pay him! I got S's attention, and she payed him for me. The folder contained copies of the Bible verse that the kids were going to put into the picture frame craft that they were going to make. While Mrs. M taught the children a quick lesson, Mrs. S and I got busy cutting the Bible verses so that they would fit into the picture frames.
The children were split into groups so that they could do their crafts. Each group had one of our kids as a leader. We passed out the Bible verses as they began to decorate their frames. The kids had stickers to put on their frames, and as they peeled the back off of their stickers, they would just drop the back on the ground. That really bothered me, so I did my best to tell them to put their trash into the plastic bag that their frame came out of, or to hand it to me, but not to throw it on the ground.
I moved from the group I was working with on to another area where the kids had finished, and the ground was littered with sticker papers. I called the Oldest Princess over to help me pick up as many as we could before the wind blew them all away. As we were picking up the papers, a little Dominican girl came and joined us. I made a big deal about telling her thank you, and a few seconds later a little boy had joined in and was helping us too. Hopefully we were able to teach them something by example that day. And hopefully, they will help pick up trash, instead of litter next time.
Then, before we knew it, it was time to go back to the church to eat lunch. It was delicious as always. The ladies had also prepared a sampling of different types of Dominican candies for us to try. Some I really liked, some not so much, but I tried them all. Also during lunch, we got the breakfast supplies that Mrs. J had so kindly picked up for us (including my special Pop-tart order).
We then returned to the hotel for another afternoon of rest. More of the same as yesterday. Resting, swimming, volleyball, etc. B and H, two of one of the missionary's children, went back to the hotel with us and hung out with our group for the afternoon. I tried to rest, but there were too many people coming and going in too many different directions, and only one key to our door, so trying to rest was not proving to be "restful". I finally gave up on that and got ready. The Oldest Princess also got ready and came down to the lobby. Leaving C in the room. (C had been resting and had to get up and lock the door when the Oldest Princess left) Our balcony was visible from the lobby, and a little while later C got our attention and wanted us to come and let her out of the room. She had been so tired when she got up and locked the door, when the Oldest Princess left, that she had forgotten, and thought that she was locked in the room.
When it was time, we all headed back to the church. We had Chicken Alfredo for dinner. Aunt A put out some of the Mercy Jewelry and we did a little shopping. They were also selling shirts for their upcoming missions trip to Peru, and some of the kids bought shirts.
Then it was time to meet with their youth group. They sang some worship songs, and then they played a couple of games. Mrs. M and our kids taught their youth group a black light routine. The Dominican kids seemed to really enjoy it. I loved watching the smiles on their faces. We left a black light and white gloves with the group in the mountains, and with the youth group here, so hopefully they will come up with their own black light routines in the future and use what they have learned as a means to minister to others.
Black light routine
The youth pastor, Y, then brought a message from Psalm 1. D his wife translated for us, while juggling their adorable son, that my friends, is multi-tasking at it's finest!
The Young Prince was sitting closer to the front, so B translated for him.
While the lesson was going on, it came a downpour outside. The rain was much needed from what I understand. Mrs. J was concerned because she had left their windows at home open (remember the crank blinds I explained the other day). They were afraid that their beds would be soaked. And, they had to take the kids who needed rides home in the back of their truck. But thankfully by the time it was time to leave, the storm had passed, and it was barely raining.
On the bus ride home, the girls practiced their song that they would sing during the church service the next morning. Back at the hotel, we had our nightly meeting, and the girls practiced a little more. I was able to connect with home again via Face Time, and the Youngest Princess shared that she had been to the pet store and had seen something called a "Fancy Rat". It was sooooo cute! Could she have one? "Please, Mommy! Please!" Not. In. My. House. "Fancy". Or. Not.
On the way back to our room, we found a gecko on the ceiling in the hallway. The Oldest Princess and S wanted the Young Prince to catch it. He tried, while the Oldest Princess used her phone to video, and S cheered him on. S was really getting into it, so I got the Oldest Princess's attention and told her to video S too. She did, and meanwhile, the gecko went in a crack over a doorway. The Oldest Princess told me to scare S, so while her attention was on the door, I snuck up behind her and scared her. She swung around and yelled for me not to do that. Then, because she is so sweet and she saw that it was me, she immediately began to apologize. I told her she didn't have to apologize to me, I had just scared her half to death.
We went upstairs to our room and watched the video several times while laughing at ourselves. Then it was time to get ready for bed and call it a night.
Once again, our sad, lumpy pillows served us well, and we slept like babies.