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“Play by Play”– Coach Sanders

Wow… what a week.  As I sit here in typing this entry so many thoughts are running through my head.  First and foremost to everyone who is reading this, I want to tell you “Thank You”.  Thank you for supporting this team, this program, this missions trip and these amazing young women.  It is because of all of you and your prayers and support that this trip was able to happen and that these lives were able to be changed, so a HUGE “THANK YOU” from the bottom of my heart.

This week has been, well in a phrase…life changing.  12 people boarded a plane last Tuesday bound for a foreign country without a clue what would happen, without an idea of what was in store, and they all came out changed.  When we arrived last Tuesday I could tell there was some serious culture shock going on.  The girls were not just tired from the flight and the additional jet leg, they seemed to be a bit … well overwhelmed for lack of a better term.  Wednesday we started off our trip with going to a village and there for the first time the girls got an up-close and personal view of what life was REALLY like in a village in a 3rd world country.  This was no longer just stuff you see on TV or in the movies, this was real, this was up close and personal.  We got off the bus and (after being immediately grabbed by the village children who wanted nothing more than to hold our hands) looked around and saw small shacks that were put together with nothing more than gravity, steel, and a prayer.  We saw children with no shoes trampling through mud, over rocks and gravel and through thorns and bushes without a second thought.  It was at that moment when I looked at the girls faces and saw that this was quickly becoming real.

We talked when we arrived about what this missions trip was about, and what we were here to do.  We all knew that this missions trip for us was about Love… and showing God’s incredible love to everyone we would encounter.  We didn’t know how we would do it, we just knew that we were called here to this place at this time to do this work.  At this first village we got that chance, and got it immediately.  The village children grabbed us and hung on tight.  I was the last off the bus and was swarmed by young boys who wanted nothing more than to hold my hand and show me around their village.  I looked ahead and saw all the girls in the village hanging on my team members for dear life wanting nothing more than their attention, and their… love.  The team started playing games, and then getting their hair braided and played with and before we knew it and before we could stop it it turned into just a huge playground scene where all kids were simply being kids and playing and my team was just being themselves, letting their guards down, and showing these children the much needed love that they wanted so badly to have in their lives.

Throughout the week these experiences continued.  There were more villages, more children, and so much more love being shown and given.  As you have read as the girls have all BLOG’d they all gave their devotions, they all spoke to the kids, and they all began to be changed.  Each morning at 8am or so the team would gather and we would do our morning devotions.  Then in the evenings we would come together again and have an evening devotion and talk about our day and what happened.  Throughout this time slowly, yet surely this team was starting to change.  The girls were opening up to the kids more, they were being touched by the love that they were receiving and not the love that they were giving… they were starting to see that perhaps… just perhaps this missions trip was about more than just us showing God’s love to the Children of the D.R., perhaps this was about us as well…

Then came a tipping point… a point that changed it all for me personally as a coach of this team, and as a member of this missions team.  That point… was Saturday.  Throughout the week we had had great experiences in the orphanage, and in the villages, and with members of our team, but this day really became a day of change….

We arrived at a village named La 41.  It is one of the poorest in the Dominican according to our guide.  We pulled up to a church that was gated and was led in.  As we entered in … there wer no children clamoring for us, no screaming kids to play with, and no people to hold our hands… there were just about 5 families waiting on the church steps.  The girls faces went long… you could see they were both confused and disappointed that after all the great experiences we have had this week that this… our last village would have no kids to play with.  We were led into the church.  It was at this point we started to see a few kids that were there had gathered in the church as well and pulled up chairs to sit down.  As they sat Maris got up and began to give a devotion.  During this time (unbeknownst to the team) I looked outside the church doors and what did I see… but about 160 kids coming down the roads towards the church gate.  As Maris finished her devotion I told the congregation that the team would go outside and play with the children.  They did so, and immediately the gates were opened and the kids were let in… it was incredible.  During this time I was asked to stay in the church.  As the team and the kids played outside our missionary asked me to talk to the adults of the village.  I was taken back, unprepared, and a bit… well confused.  However as the girls will tell you, I am NEVER at a loss for words especially when it comes to speaking about my Savior.  So I got up and gave my testimony and spoke to them about the hope that is found in our Lord and about the Love and his plans for our life.  Following this as I always do, I asked if anyone had any questions… nobody ever does… until today.  A man stood up from the front row.  He stood about 6 feet tall and was very muscular and dressed very well and my initial thought was he was someone of means in this small community.  He then stood up and in a shaky voice through our translator began to speak to me.  He said how these words he just heard ‘hit him in his heart’ as we too grew up without knowing his parents, and he then spoke about his life…how he went through life simply living and thinking about himself first.  He said he TOO had tried to fill his heart with anything and everything he could.  He then said… I don’t know about Christ, but I want to know.  For the next several minutes through our translator we told him about salvation and how he too can be transformed.  This was AMAZING!!!!!  This was my tipping point, this is when I realized that my mission here wasn’t just to help lead this team to their missions goals, but it was also to change me and show me that the words we speak aren’t our testimony… our testimony is our lives.  We are living, breathing, walking testimonies everyday!  Our transformation stories are simply that… the story of when we were transformed, and now today this man has one of his own.  Praise Jesus!

As I stepped outside of the church after this I saw so much more incredible things happening.  Maris and Miranda had started a mini nail salon for the girls, Mary Ann was playing Tag with the older boys, Amber was teaching them a game and writing in the dirt, Kelsey and Sarah and both Brittany’s were playing piggy back rides and games with the kids, and all around us at that moment right there was joy.  God was living and breathing through all of us, showing his amazing love through these children to our team, and through our team to this village and these children.  Then it was time to go… and as we always do we gathered the village together to pray with the children.  I started to pray through our translator and to my surprise the kids began to repeat my words.  I got choked up as I continued to pray and heard my words of love and hope resounding in spanish right back to me and to our team.  How incredible.  We finished our prayers and began to head back to the bus when Emily Ethington came up to me and said something… I couldn’t hear her so I asked to repeat it.  She said again “Coach, can I give my shirt to this boy?”  I looked at her and said ….” well do you have another one on? :)”.  She said yes, and I in turn said if you want to then do it.  I watched as my Senior All-Conference Shortstop took off her Asbury Softball T-Shirt and Handed it to this young boy.  I saw his face light up as though he was handed the keys to the kingdom right then and there… and who knows… maybe that was the start of something in his life.  Then my gaze turned to Emily, and her face and although I’m sure she’ll never admit it I almost saw a tear well up in her eyes.  She then got on the bus and we went back to the hotel.

It was that night, Saturday night at our evening devotions that this team transformed.  Mary Ann spoke to us all about her life, about her story and about the direction she wanted to be going.  Then the girls spoke with each other and the walls came tumbling down.  The history of pain that existed on this team began to be washed away by the love of Jesus Christ showing through each of them.  It was this night that this team went from a team, and became a family.

As I close and we go to bed on our last night in the D.R. I am struck by so much that happened, so much that you have read through these girls words in the BLOG and so much that I have seen happen here.  We arrived 12 individuals from Kentucky, a little nervous, all with our own goals for the week and our own expectations.  We then learned that by giving away the love of Christ we got back so much more.  We learned so much more about ourselves, what our focus should be and what our team should be about.  We TRANSFORMED.  We came here to do missions work, and while we did do missions work, God worked on us, and in us and changed us.

Oh and by the way… we played softball too… and WON.  3-2, 3-0, and 10-0… not too shabby if I do say so myself… not that we care about such things!!

 

“Video of the Day”

To view the video of the day please check out RebeccaBaker Asbury Athletics on facebook:)

“Play by Play”–Brittany Warren

My favorite place that we visited this week was the very last village that we went to, named La 41. When we got there it was awkward because there wasn’t children around for us to play with, all we saw was a church and just a few people. The team went inside and Maris gave her devotion to the people inside the church. After that we went outside and waited for the children to show up, as the children got closer I began to get excited and anxious to play with them. The looks on the kids faces were priceless when we played duck duck goose, they had the best time just running around, sitting in our laps, holding onto us and just laughing. The children loved to be on our backs and pretend that we were their own horses and smack our butts and tell us to run. The children had so much love for one another and they showed us all the same. There was this little boy that couldn’t be more than  3, he had a Mets t-shirt on and I thought that it was the cutest thing, because we got along so well. I took a picture with a bunch of little kids and he was sitting behind me and he just wrapped his arms around me and put his cheek on my cheek and I thought that it was the most precious thing in the world. Then before we left we had a prayer with all of the children, and Coach prayed while the translator followed him. When the translator would translate everything that coach said the children would repeat everything back. I looked over and there were these three little boys who had their heads bowed and their hands in the prayer position, repeating everything and I almost cried because it was so amazing to witness that. The village had to be my favorite place of the week because the children just showed so much love towards us and they showed me how to love other people.

 

“Play by Play”–Brittany Hogg

Hola! Today was a very fun and eventful day on Catalina Island. We started the day by waking up around 7:30 ish and enjoying a delightful breakfast hosted by the residence.  When the bus arrived, we all loaded up to head to our next adventure…Catalina Island!!! After an hour bus ride, we reached the destination where our boat was awaiting us and we all jumped on the boat very excitied. The boat ride was about 45 mins. to get to the island however; we had fun listening to Dominican music, and drinking yummy punch on the way there. In about 30 mins into our voyage, we stopped in the ocean to snorkel on a gorgeous reef.  The intern Libby (shout out to Libby), decided that the whole group must jump off the top of the boat ( which was about 20 ft) or you would have to walk back to the Score complex. The threat only convinced some of us… including me. Jumping off the boat into the water was a refreshing start to snorkeling. We snorkeled in the ocean for about an hour seeing many colorful fish, beauitful reefs and trying to scare one another about skarks. After snorkeling, we loaded back onto the boat and headed to the island where we sun tanned, had a great lunch and begged coach to buy us a banana boat ride… it didn’t work but nice try Kels :) Now having so much fun, many of the girls thought they didn’t need to wear sunscreen because they never get burnt in Kentucky…Well they learned very quickly that we are closer to the equator so they need to apply more sunscreen and apply the sunscreen often (see pictures).

Staying on the Island for about three hours, we loaded up onto the boat with some of us very burnt and headed back to where the journey began. Coming back on the boat, the waves and wind were roaring so the boat was rocking very hard back and forth. Some of the girls felt that they were going to get sick and thought the boat was going to flip. I have to admit I was scared at one point where the boat rocked and the ocean smacked me in the face. Finally reaching land, we loaded up onto the bus and learned a great new game called Contact once again thanks to Libby. I would explain the game to you however it took us the entire bus ride to understand the game. Well ADIOS!!!!!! See you back in the US :)

“Catalina Island and Snorkeling”

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“Play by Play”–Miranda Drury

I am going to give a brief description of how this week has went for me and what has touched me the most while being down here.

So this week has been very moving and rather emotional for us here. We all came in with different expectations for this trip. We have played with children, who have touched and loved us within a matter of seconds. These are children that will forever be in our hearts. For me, the children were a huge part of this trip and the aspect that has had the biggest impact on me. I could talk about the children forever! This week has changed the core of this team and has brought us all closer together. We have been truly blessed to have each other in our lives and been able to impact each other over the years together.

I have had so much fun on this trip. These past two days have been “fun” days for us. We haven’t done any mission work, but we were able to grow within ourselves, which was so awesome! However, I would have been completely content with doing missions work everyday because the people of the Dominican have truly touched my heart and I would love to spend more time down here working with them and loving on them.

I haven’t really gone into specifics, so I am going to tell you about my favorite two parts of this trip. The first outting that was my favorite was when we went to the orphanage. I fell in love with a little girl named Jennifer. She played with my hair, and she attempted to teach me a game similar to patty cake. She would get so frustrated anytime I would mess up. What really touched me though was when we had to leave she hugged me, and it wasn’t just any hug it was a hug that said “Don’t leave me. I love you! Take me with you. You made my day.” I felt all of this from a simple hug from a little girl and it was the first time my heart was broken from a simple hug.

The second of my two favorites was the Feed the Village that we did. I had the same experience with another little girl, who’s name I am not sure of. I know it sounds strange to love someone who you don’t even know their name but this girl along with Jennifer have my heart and I will forever treasure the little time that I spent with them. The little girl from the village did the same things that Jennifer did. Except I carried her around a lot more and she would whisper God knows what to me because I couldn’t understand her at all. The language barrier was so difficult to overcome, but we didn’t need to speak the same language to know that we loved each other.

I also had an amazing time growing closer with my team last night. We were able to be real with each and totally open up and not hold anything back from each other. This is something that has been an issue for our team for the longest time. We were all so scared to share what we really felt because we didn’t trust the people who are closer to us than anyone else. This has really changed our outlook for the upcoming season and we are ready to see what God has in store for us when we return, and when we do we know we will have 19 other girls to have our backs and be there for us.

This trip was an amazing experience. Thank you all for following us and praying for us! We have truly been blessed and I hope that God has been able to touch your life through our what we have been doing here as well.

“Play by Play” Maris Herald

Today was absolutely amazing..again. Each day this week has been about reaching the people in this country who are in desperate need of experiencing God’s love. But today was a little more about searching ourselves and recognizing the areas in our lives that we need to change and grow. After we got up for breakfast, we got ready for church and had a devotion. Amber Taylor did a terrific job of talking a little bit about forgiveness and change. She expressed that we must be intentional about forgiving others for the hurt they have caused us, and we must start to make changes in our lives to live in a way that is obedient to God.

After our devotion, we went to the church that SCORE has established. We we taught the vowel sounds in Spanish and sang a couple of songs. I got really excited when I recognized the song “Shout to the Lord” even though I struggled to sing it along with them. There were quite a few tourists, along with us, and the rest of the people were natives. The message of the pastor’s sermon was translated by his son and was about putting on the armor of God and preparing for the fight. We must be prepared for when Satan attacks. The pastor also stressed the importance of being “in the world” but not being “of the world.” He talked about redemption and sanctification and tried to put it in simple terms. He used the analogy of a man buying a carton of eggs from the store and taking those eggs home. The man got to decide what he was going to do with those eggs. He set two eggs apart to make a cake with them at a later time, and the other eggs could be used for whatever else. Those two eggs were given a purpose, and that is what God has given us. That’s sanctification. He has set us apart from this world. If we are set apart from this world, we can’t be of this world or part of it. We can’t fill our minds with the things that this world offers…the things that appear to be good for us. The pastor used another analogy. He said to imagine that you are nearly dying of thirst. A man comes up to you and offers you a bottle of water. He pulls it out and you see that it is completely filled with worms and dirt. If you saw this, would you still drink it? Of course not. Why would you fill your body with contaminated water that could potentially give you a disease? You wouldn’t, of course. Why, then, do we fill our spirit with the contamination of this world? The pastor did an excellent job of really showing us what it means to be set apart from this world and not fill our hearts with things that aren’t holy.

After church we came back for lunch and then went to the beach for the rest of the day. The ocean was absolutely beautiful with crystal clear water, and the beach was really nice with “bed huts” all along the shore. These were the kind we only thought existed on television. At the beach, Becca and I decided to have our hair braided in corn rows, and that was quite an experience. It was fun, to say the least!

We came back for dinner and then had our devotion. Maryann led it and did an amazing job. She talked about how most of us would probably ourselves to be lukewarm Christians. She read some things out of the book “Crazy Love” that has really touched her heart. She expressed that she didn’t want us to feel that we aren’t worthy of God’s forgiveness. If we say that we shouldn’t receive his forgiveness, then we’re saying that the price that Christ paid on the cross isn’t enough, which is a complete lie. She really showed me that I’m not alone in the fight to transform my life and be the radical Christian that I want to be. After the devotion, the team hung around and we all started opening up and sharing things that were going on in our lives. It was incredible to encounter everyone letting their guard down and truly opening up to one another. I know that this experience together is really going to bring our team closer, and we all have the support of one another to further and deepen our daily walk with Christ.

These girls are absolutely amazing, and words can’t express the joy I feel. We definitely needed this day of re-evaluation. Each message/devotion was centered on change, transformation, and beginning to live our lives completely for God. We weren’t called simply to go to church every Sunday and just do the “right” things. We were called to put on the full armor of God and show Christs’ love through us by being his hands and feet. When we set ourselves apart from this world and give ourselves completely to Christ, that is when we’ll find ourselves. We were set apart for two simple things..to love God and to love others. And together, as a team, we are committing our lives and giving it all to him in order for his will in our lives to be accomplished.

Maris Harreld

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