Volleyball Daily Diary
Asbury University’s volleyball team is spending the week sharing the Gospel through the game they love. Follow along as they share their journey through the Dominican Republic.
Day 6 —
A word about the SCORE ministry here in Juan Dolio, D.R. as I start the diary entry today. SCORE has been in the D.R. since the mid 80’s and has established a base in Juan Dolio that serves as a hotel and conference center. Their ministry includes the operation of one week service trips like we are on as well as a ministry for the restitution of the women ensnared in prostitution in the area. They also run a gap year program (Sept – June) for students to be immersed in the Spanish language as well as intense Bible Study and ministry. All of our meals have been served at the SCORE center and have been truly delicious. We are thankful that God has protected us from illness and injury.
Our day was a full one as we headed toward the outskirts of the capital of Santo Domingo and the Jackie House Orphanage. Located in a remote section of metro SD the Jackie House oversees the care of some 30 orphans from all over the D.R. The girls again warmed quickly to the task as they scooped the younger children into their arms and pulled out the balls to play with the older ones. Jessica Stoll shared with the group from her heart and the girls also led the kids in several Spanish/English songs. The Jackie House children in turn performed a number of fun songs for our group as well. Several of the kids at the orphanage were in wheel chairs including a charming young man named Israel who made the effort to share his testimony to the whole group of God’s abiding love for him through the multiple medical ordeals he has had to endure. He is steadfastly holding to the dream of some day becoming an evangelist. It is humbling and exciting to hear these children talk about their hopes and dreams for their lives. With their words and actions these kids ask tough questions of us; what are we doing with our lives in a world full of need?
The group finally got some shopping in at a local market before heading to the Sports Center for our last set of games. The Court A group was met with easily the strongest group we had yet faced and we went down 2-0 before rallying to tie the match at 2-2. With time waning it was decided to leave it a draw. Court B won 2-0 before deciding to mix the two sides of the net up for the final two sets. With three Dominican players on each side it became a very lively friendly. All sides walked away with big smiles on their faces.
The final event of the day was an evening service led by SCORE at their local church. With over 100 people here participating on mission trips it was quite a lively event. Many testimonies were shared and John Zeller, Executive Director of SCORE, brought the challenge. A great event to wrap up what had been a very productive day. Tomorrow, an island hop, with snorkeling to finish the week out. Home on Saturday. Thanks for your support and we look forward to seeing you on Saturday.
Day 5 —
After many reports of rain and hurricanes passing by the D.R. prior to our arrival in the Republic today was our fifth straight day of blue skies and gorgeous (although very hot…..low 90’s) weather. It certainly is a good thing as we have spent every morning in wide open spaces playing with the children. Today was no exception as we made our way to the grocery store to buy basic supplies (rice, salt, cooking oil, beans, noodles, soap and toothpaste) for 26 families in a local village. After creating 26 packages for distribution the team hopped on the bus for a long trip out in to the sugarcane fields. The village we arrived in made us stop in our tracks as we came face to face with the reality of their hard scrabble existence. Delivering food door to door (every girl delivered a package saying in Spanish ‘Dios te ben diga’ God Bless You….) and playing with their kids for an hour was the least we could do for these precious people. We finished the session by gathering around the lone tree, holding hands and praying for them. Today it was incredibly uplifting to not only feed their souls with our prayers but their bodies also.
We were back to Santo Domingo in the afternoon for our third match in their Palacio Deportes against two club teams from the area. Because of time constraints yesterday we decided to share the Gospel with the opposing team before the match. Mackenzie Burke and Cari McMullen did a great job of sharing how God was working in their lives and David wrapped things up by praying for the whole group. Joining our team today was a missionary from northern D.R., Jessica (who played at Bethel College), who is part of a ministry called Sports International. She works in her town with two girls teams aged 13-17, coaching them, discipling them and sharing the Gospel with them. She is trying to make volleyball contacts in the country so will be traveling with us for the next several days. The matches went well as both Court A and Court B teams were winners 3-1 and 3-0. The overall play has been markedly improved the last couple of days as all the players have gotten more comfortable on the court. Tomorrow we are off to an orphanage!
Day 4 —
As we walk back in to our villa after a 13 hour day it occurs to me that Mission Trip work is taxing and yet incredibly satisfying. Our day began early after a quick breakfast at the SCORE Hotel and a long ride out in to the countryside where we bounced along a narrow and winding road to a remote village (the kids have to walk one mile on the dirt road to be picked up for school) that was surrounded by sugarcane fields. SCORE has recently erected a Church in the village and provided a lay pastor. With 15 or so huts scattered around we emerged from the bus to a small group of children playing in the shade of the trees. With the help of a few soccer balls, frisbees and volleyballs the girls were able to coax out 25 kids (and a few adults) in to the grassy field for rousing game of kick ball. Eventually the group made its way to their ‘gymnasium’ which was a dirt basketball court and a makeshift weightlifting area that was surrounded by sugarcane stalks and large trees. For the most part the girls just simply loved on the children, playing with them, climbing trees with them and holding some of the smaller ones. There is nothing more inspirational than seeing God’s Love played out in the form of hugs, laughter and sharing. Our time there ended with Helen teaching the children the song ‘Jesus es mi rey’ (King Jesus is All) and Monica Wright and Lindsay Ibold sharing Christ with the kids.
The afternoon and early evening were dedicated to volleyball as we took on a much improved side from the day before on Court A and B. Court A was able to pull out a 3-1 win while Court B fell 2-3, but put up a great fight. Because these matches are held in the capital city of Santo Domingo, which has traffic congestion problems that are epic, it is a very lengthy process to complete the roundtrip. Despite the time issues we were able to hand out tracts to the opposing players that we will follow up on after the matches tomorrow afternoon.
Day 3 —
As a Coach there are moments when you are unsure of how your team is going to act when they are asked to serve others in a selfless and redeeming way. My doubts melted away as we arrived at a village in the shadow of a large sugarcane factory on the outskirts of our town, Juan Dolio. The players came off the bus with a sack full of volleyballs for a handful of kids in the small park and within 30 minutes had 50 Dominican kids running in circles, climbing trees, playing soccer and volleyball, playing in the sand and generally having an incredible time.
Two and half hours later, with sweat drenched bodies and smiles on our faces we gathered the group together to share the Gospel. With our interpreter, David, helping us communicate Dena Busse, Sarah Abiro and Catherine Wolter all gave their testimonies (Sarah and Catherine in Spanish) and David finished with the Gospel message. It was an exciting start to our trip. We finished our day with a journey in to Santo Domingo to play a Court A/Court B match against two local clubs. Court A won all three sets and Court B lost 2-1 but more importantly we were able to gather all of the players together to share and pray with them. Kelly Cole and Brittney Rader gave a clear Gospel message and David again gave them the steps to turn their life over to God. We were able to put a Gospel tract in each of their hands before we left. This is just the start but it has been exciting to see how we have, in a small way, been able to be God’s hands and feet in this corner of the DR.
Day 1 & 2 —
It is truly amazing to see a block of 22 purple shirted volleyball players ambling through the Louisville and Miami airports. Heads turned with every step and encouraging shouts of ‘Way to Go and What are you Doing?’ followed our girls down the concourse. What ARE we doing, starting our season by throwing together a bunch of girls that are just getting to know each other and flying to the D.R. to serve the Lord and play volleyball, we will see!
After a long delay in Miami, in which we sat on the tarmac for two hours waiting for the weather to clear, our team finally arrived safely in Santo Domingo at close to midnight. Another delay in the pickup put us in our beds at 2 am! Through it all the girls displayed an amazingly positive attitude, patiently waiting at every turn.
Sunday morning started early for the team as we attended a local church planted by SCORE several years ago. The service was bilingual and provided the girls with a first chance to interact with the Dominican people, worship with them and take Communion with them. It was a great way to start our week here. On a day that is typically reserved for rest for the missionaries we had a chance to go to a local beach and swim through the surf. All through the day the girls were getting to know each other but it was at the evening devotions that the walls came down. I am continually amazed at how incredible Asbury students are; their willingness to open up and share what God has been doing in their lives and make themselves vulnerable to each other is truly remarkable. We have set a goal of having every player share their story with the group before the end of the week. I have a feeling that this will be an important part of our growth as a team this week.