I wanted to take a few minutes to summarize our week in the Dominican Republic! What a fantastic week from the beginning to the end. Our whole trip went very smoothly and I credit the Lord for allowing us a worry free trip to keep my nerves calm!
The team was phenomenal from how they met new people and engaged in the activities to how they pursued relationships with one another. They were enthusiastic, helpful, compassionate and patient. I am blown away by their maturity and their willingness to step out of their comfort zones to see what the Lord had for them this week.
The challenge as we come home is to incorporate the lessons learned into our daily lives and for those that set goals and made commitments to live those out!
I am blown away by God, his care and love for us and how he works in our hearts and other nations. God has shown me many things in my heart and has lit a new fire to serve him and others! I have gained a new love for the Dominican people as I think each of our team members has as well. When we left it was heart wrenching to leave people that we have only known for a short time, but are bonded by our love for Christ!
Thank you to all of our financial supporters, parents, friends and school staff who have supported this trip and who made this possible! Your gifts have been invested well. Thank you to SCORE International and all of its staff, including Felipe who truly had a servants heart, and were as concerned for our spiritual well being as those that we were trying to serve.
God is Good!
Coach Heather Johnson
Thursday, August 8- Barcelo Resort by Maribeth, Sam, and Tippy
To start off our last day here, we got to spend time together at Barceló Resort. We got to enjoy each other’s company while enjoying multiple pools, the beautiful Caribbean sea, beach volleyball, water aerobics, and salsa dancing with intern Billy, also known as Captain Awesome, as our guide. When we first arrived, a group of us went straight to a two level pool, with the levels connected by a slide. Another group went to the beach and played beach volleyball with a couple boys from France. For the first time this trip, we had to try to speak yet another language to communicate with them. We ventured to the drink bar to try pina coladas, strawberry slushies, and pop. The drinks were so good you had to get at least five! Then we jumped into the pool and joined in on a water aerobics class led by two guys who were on the resort staff. It was interesting and tons of fun. We were not only entertaining ourselves, but the people around us were getting a good show. Then we headed to lunch, which was a buffet including some of the best food we’ve had all week. The seating area was an outside room with a beautiful view of the ocean. There was passion fruit that was really sour, but Tippy liked it. After lunch we went to the beach to go shell hunting. Clarissa got to go underwater in the ocean for the first time. Ashley and Tippy found the best shells. After giving up on the hunt, we played beach volleyball as a team. It got really intense, getting down and dirty in the sand. On the beach there were tons of “cheapy cheapy” venders trying to sell us bracelets, necklaces, sunglasses, and hats. One’s name was Pedro, who we met earlier in the week at the other beach we went to. After buying our “cheapy cheapys,” we headed back to the pools to learn some Dominican club dancing. It was very exuberant. At the end of that session, we dove for dominos at the bottom of the pool one person at a time to see who could find the most in one breath. Bitty and Ashley tied for champions with 12 dominos each, and so they faced off at the same time, and Bitty came out the ultimate champion. After all of that fun, the seven freshmen got together and took pictures on the beach. The sun here is very hot and wears us out very easily, and so we all decided to take a nap and dry off on the chairs. We were then abruptly awakened by people on the resort staff wanting us to salsa dance, and so we all joined in and learned the steps. We headed back to Score for dinner and ended the evening with “Missionary Night.” At the end of this trip Coach Heather is very fluent in Spanish and kind of crazy. I think we all can say that God has transformed our lives with this trip and it’s something we will never forget. We've grown closer to each other as we've personally grown closer to the Lord.
Holy 6:45am. Today was the earliest day this week. Breakfast at 6:45 and on the road by 7:30. Almost every bus ride we take we have to drive through Santo Domingo, which is the Capital. It takes about an hour for us to get through all the crazy chaos of Dominican traffic, so by the time we get to the field we are all tired and car sick. We lost both games today, but we are really developing as a team and forming strong bonds. It's hard having to battle diversity and adversity everyday, but it's helping us grow not only as teammates, but also as sisters. As we were playing the Mexican National Team, the Dominican National Team presented us with necklaces as keepsakes in return for the t-shirts and softballs that we had given them after our game. As we have played the team multiple times, we were starting to form bonds and friendships with players.
After we finished our game with the Mexican National Team we did something that we have been wanting to do all week. We ate at Pizza Hut. Holy American food!!! It was one of the most beautiful things we have experienced all week:) But sad to say, there was no Mountain Dew:( It was a sad day here in the Dominican Republic. After we finished eating we went to the flea market. What an experience! There were so many shops that sold the same thing, but we got to choose our price by bartering with shop owners for our souvenirs. We concluded our night with devotions which were led by Jolie Miller. Her message tonight was about praying for miracles. She encourages us and challenges us to continue our own individual mission in our daily lives. One thing that struck us as simply beautiful tonight, was something that a 17 year old intern told us at dinner. Josh, aka Twin #1, asked us if we won today. We sadly replied no. He replied, "If you played well, and shared the gospel you've won it all."
Jordan McKinley, Morgan Cody, and Allison Franklin :)
August 6, 2013
Today was quite a long day for our team. This morning we played two games, as we pulled up next to the field we all stared out the windows, of the bus, in shock. The field was a real life sandlot!!! There was a horse in left field and grass up to our knees, there were zero dugouts and zero fences (other than the brick wall in the outfield). After we had lunch we then ran a softball clinic the girls ages ranged from 12 to 24. It was interesting to show mechanics and teach them in their own language! Personally this week has been a real eye opener for me. On Saturday when we went to the girls orphanage I realized how much I take for granted! There were 30+ girls there whose mom's were either sold to prostitution or were willingly giving themselves away. However, there was joy in each and every girls eyes. They do not have much but they still worship God and thank Him for what they do have! Another thing that touched my heart was the fact that even though there is a language barrier here, those girls stopped at nothing to let us know they loved us and that we are all sisters in Christ. The hard part about being at the orphanage was seeing all the little girls that reminded me of my baby sister, Esther! We are now 3 days from departure, this will be a bitter sweet time in the trip. We will get to go home to our families in the U.S., but we are leaving our families in the D.R. I know we all love and miss each and everyone of you! Daddy if you're reading this I LOVE YOU! I MISS YOU!, and I can't wait to see you!
Monday, August 5th
After an inspirational night, we all slept well. I think we all are feeling tired, but in the best way possible. We are emotionally overwhelmed by how God has worked through our lives in just a couple of days. We got up for breakfast, planning on going to the Sugar Cane Village this morning. God had other plans for us. Instead of playing in the afternoon, after we visited the village, we were told we would be playing in the morning. We were supposed to play the Dominican national team, as well as the Mexican national team. We only had a short period of time to make the adjustment, but we did it! We traveled to Santo Domingo to play at their Olympic training facility. It was a lot nicer than the field we played at on Saturday. We didn't have any children or dogs running through the outfield today. We found out that we would only be playing one full game against the Dominican team today. On Wednesday, we will play the Mexican and Dominican team. It is very interesting to play an international team. Their pitchers, to our standards, as illegal. We hung with them and, although we got beat, we grew as a team. We made adjustments that prove that, when we are in season, we can play and beat any team. After the game, we came back to Score's complex. Of course, we had to make it through the treacherous traffic of Santo Domingo. Honestly, on the way there, it was questionable on whether we would make it to the game without an accident. God looked out for us though! We went to lunch. It rained; however, that did not interfere with our plans of finally going to the Sugar Cane Village. The rain stopped by the time we arrived there. It was amazing to see all the kids run towards us as soon as they saw the bus. They swarmed us and wanted to play. We had wiffle balls, chalk, bubbles, stickers, and more toys for them to have. It touched our hearts to see how protective they were of these items. They didn't want to let go because they were afraid the toys would disappear. Another thing that touched my heart was how they cared for one another. They made sure that each child had a toy and they showed so much love for each other. Seeing the joy on their faces gave each of us joy. We handed out toys and had to part our ways. Felipe was with us again today. He is from this village and he took us to his home and his church. His mother is an amazing woman who opened her home to all of us. She is brave too! She embraced each one of us as though we were her daughters. in reality, we are because we are connected through Christ. We visited with her and prayed for their family. From there, Felipe took us to his church where they are having VBS this week. It is remarkable that they have over 400 kids attending. They were so eager to learn about God and to grow closer to Him. That within itself was a realization that we should all have that hunger to have a stronger relationship with God. After visiting with the kids, we came back to Score. We played Silent Football until dinner. After dinner, we had devotions. Gen led tonight. We talked about how God is our Absolute Reality. Our purpose is not ourselves, but for God. We are here to glorify Him. He is the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last. He is endless and there is no other God and there will never be. Isaiah 43:10 is a great example of this. For the rest of the night, we will swim, relax, and reflect on how God has changed our lives today.
To start our Sunday off, we attended the church Juan 3:16. We got a warm, friendly welcome from the pastor and the Dominicans who attended. After we sat down, the children came to us and sat with us. They tried hard to talk with us and we learned something about each and everyone of them. The service started at 9:30 and ended at 10:45. Though it was kind of difficult to follow because of the translation, we still managed to get the message. It was so amazing to watch them worship. They go so into it and you could see how much they love the Lord. It was such an amazing experience for us to finally see in person that people from other countries do in fact worship the same God. After church, we had a free day. Coach decided that, as a team, we would go to the private beach right down the road from us. It was a more controlled area than the beach we had previously gone to. It was absolutely beautiful and altogether we had a blast. As we were about to leave people who sold necklaces, bracelets, rings, and other items came to us. He said to us, "It cheapy cheapy." So, of course, that made us look. The majority of us purchased items from these men trying to make a living on items they had made. We decided to go to the Lily House after we returned from the beach. The Lily House is a house where 30 women live that picked off the street. Score took these women in and gave them shelter, food, and skills they need so they could stop selling themselves for money. While we were there we went to their gift shop, bakery, and beauty salon. They had some of the best ice cream I have ever tasted. It was very interesting how they served their ice cream. They served it in the fruit that your flavor of ice cream was. So, for example, I got chocolate and my was dish was a cocoa bean. At the gift shop, many of us purchased t-shirts and souvenirs. The beauty salon had to be my favorite. I'm pretty sure I had the best massage of my life. Many of us all got our hair braided, as well as our nails and toes done. It was just so much fun talking to the workers. We laughed and joked around the entire time we were there. We built a great relationship with them. The best thing about going to the Lily House and buying our items from them was knowing we were helping these women stay off the streets. Though everything we did yesterday was amazing, I believe the best part was at the end of the night. The score leader who has been with us the past 3 days, Felipe, had a small group of us and we started to sing worship. After asking coach if we could us our devotion time as worship time, she allowed it. We sang for about two hours, non-stop, and enjoyed every minute. Felipe taught us the chorus in Spanish to the song, How Great is Our God. It might have taken us a while but all of us, including coach, learned it. After worship, Felipe talked to us about our purpose, and what we have learned already from this trip. He was so inspirational and made me tear up. He is the reason why I will change when we get back home. Though it may take time, I will change for the better. I will be grateful for things I have, attend church more, spread the word of the Lord, and just all around, be a better person. I know I am grateful that God put Felipe with us because he has truly inspired me.- Bridget
What an amazing and life-altering day the Grace Softball Team had today! In the morning, we visited the Pasitos de Jesus- Home for girls, where we played games, colored, made bracelets, got our hair braided, and played volleyball. We also got to tour their home. They feel so blessed for what they have. They started with 8 beds for 28 girls. Now, every girl has a bed! Praise the Lord! We ended our time there with them sharing worship with us. It was humbling to see how the Lord works in the lives of these girls who come from nothing. They are stereotyped as to become like their mothers. They come from backgrounds of sexual abuse, mothers as prostitutes, and abandonment. However, they know that the Lord has not abandoned them. They sang How Great is Our God in English and in Spanish. This touched us in ways we could not imagine. After leaving the home, we traveled 50 minutes to play our first game against the La Toronja Team. We played two 5 inning games and had some obstacles such as having children and dogs running through the outfield! It was definitely different than what any of us have experienced. After the game, Tiffany shared her testimony and we gave each member of the La Toronja Team a Grace College t-shirt and a ball with our favorite verses. We ended our day with dinner and devotions. We discussed our thoughts and personal experiences from the day and talked about how we need to savor the Lord and glorify Him in all we do. We are SO excited for what all God has in store for us this week and throughout the season. Thank you all for praying for our trip and helping making this possible!
Hello Everyone! We made it! We had a very smooth trip after loading from the hotel at 4:15 AM we arrived in Santa Domingo at 1:00 PM. We made it through customs in a record time and no one got anything confiscated and we got all of our luggage! Praise the Lord!
After about a half an hour of some crazy driving we arrived at SCORE International Head quarters! The staff is amazing and we got a tour of the complex. We are very secure and feel very comfortable in our little part of the Dominican Republic.
After some orientation, we finally rested some. We did some swimming and hanging out! After dinner we took a brisk walk to the beach! A few of our girls got to see the Beach for the first time, which is always exciting.
After finally receive our uniforms and handouts... we sent the girls to bed.
Thank you for your prayers and thinking of us. We have a BIG day tomorrow and we get to jump in quick to our service. We visit Pasitos de Jesus - Home for girls in the morning. We get to go play and hang out we can't wait to meet them! After that we head to our first game vs. La Toronja Team.
We are having some difficulty with WiFi, will post as soon as we can! Keep praying -- God is going to do some great things --- I can feel it!!!
We are one night away from starting our journey and there has been a lot to do. We have had lots of questions on what to pack and how to pack and all of those interesting things. It seems like the more we check off our list the more we have to do! One more meeting as Coaches and Leaders before we leave tomorrow for Indianapolis.
We are excited, scared and nervous all rolled into one! We are anxious to pursue what the Lord has for us!
8/11/2013 1:54:16 PM - 003062495722
Thanks for the pictures!
8/11/2013 12:43:34 AM - 006096426768
Bitty got a lot of pics some of which were under water pics that she's gonna upload soon.
8/10/2013 11:05:42 PM - 003062495722
Hey, if anyone has more pictures, Please share. Hannah didn't take one single picture! Thanks.
8/10/2013 12:07:07 AM - 000039876194
Welcome Home Lady Lancers!
8/7/2013 11:59:12 PM - 006098731094
I have traveled to many places around the world ; every place I have learned something useful and I have see things that are unique. Learn everything you can and remember what you see and do. you will never be sorry. Your pics are great. Have a great trip back. Opa Strite
8/7/2013 1:45:48 AM - 006097671299
Maribeth, so sorry we missed your call. It was so great to hear your voice...enjoy your last few days in D.R. and we all miss you like crazy. I know you will leave a piece of your heart with all those girls. We love you, MB! See you soon! ~Mom, Dad, and Kara
8/6/2013 6:48:27 PM - 006096742073
What awesome pictures! So great to see what you are doing down there. Each one of you will come back changed in some way, what an awesome God we serve!!!
8/6/2013 1:16:45 AM - 006008364797
Just saw the new hair do CK... Love it kiddo! Love you!
8/6/2013 1:11:20 AM - 006008364797
It looks and sounds like you are having an amazing time. CK you are seeing just how Big Mi Familia really is. We serve such a Mighty Awesome God. Praying for you all...
8/5/2013 12:19:02 PM - 006096349125
Allison, we are so proud of you, and hope everyone is having a wonderful time. Love and miss you. Your Family
8/5/2013 3:40:55 AM - 000039876194
I hope you are having the time of your life B!
Love and miss you!
8/5/2013 2:57:33 AM - 006096426768
Itty...your dad and I are so proud of you and the fine young lady you've become. Enjoy every moment of this experience. I'm praying for you as are your grandparents and many others. We love you.
8/5/2013 2:45:51 AM - 003062495722
Hannah's mom and dad, praying for all of you! So proud of you Hannah!
8/4/2013 10:49:50 PM - 006096764403
Bridget we wanted you to know how proud of you we are. May god keep you safe during this mission. Enjoy this life lesson. We miss you. Your family
8/4/2013 3:46:36 PM - 006096730614
This is Becky's mom and dad. We are praying for all of you. God has given you all a special mission. Let Him lead you. We love you all and we love and appreciate getting to s.ee your service
8/4/2013 12:10:09 AM - 003082634717
Hi Morgan, its mom. Idk if you will get this message or not, but I wanted to let you know I love you and I'm so proud of you! Your description of the orphanage today was so sweet, and its a perfect depiction of your tender, wholesome heart. You will touch the hearts of many in your lifetime. God knew what he was doing when he made you!
8/3/2013 4:56:54 PM - 006008364797
Praying that you are all Mighty in The Lord! That your lights shine so bright you eternally change lives. That you experience the fullness of His Kingdom blessings.
8/2/2013 11:43:21 PM - 006096426768
No pics yet but 104 views so far on the pictures and video page......seems we are all very anxious :)
8/2/2013 9:02:09 PM - 006096835858
I hope you have arrived safely! Anxiously awaiting pictures!
8/2/2013 5:33:15 PM - 006096930546
This is Genevieve's Mom, Judy. Soooo excited for you all! I've been praying for all of you, and will continue. I' grateful to be able to keep up with you on this site. Should be touching down about now! Woohoooo!
8/2/2013 3:04:40 PM - 004030858811
Following your flight going down the side of FL right now. So excited to hear how God is working through each of you!
8/2/2013 3:04:34 PM - 006096426768
Itty I miss you already!
8/1/2013 11:16:59 PM - 006096411746
Safe travels. The nurse in me wants to remind everyone to wash your hands constantly. Sorry, couldn't help it. God Bless.
8/1/2013 7:35:27 PM - 003082634717
Hi, this is Morgan's mom, Robin. Just wanted to wish everyone well as they make final preparations for their journey. I'm sure it will be a meaningful, awe-inspiring experience for everyone!