Wednesday, March 9, 2011


There are some things in life that I just cannot comprehend. I see the horrible situations of these girls and just don’t get it. How is it that these girls have to deal with this stuff at such a young age. Today was one was one of those days.

In order to give you a good background, I need to first inform you of the drama leading up to this event. Just to protect her name, we are going to call her Denise. Denise has been captain of the Barrio Blanco team. Denise is 14. About two weeks ago, we had a big tournament. During the time we was on the bench, she had a horrible attitude; didn’t support the team, just pouted because she was on the bench. Anyways, the team wrote me a note of how they felt Denise did not have a good attitude and should be removed from her position as captain. They also told Denise about the letter. I don’t care who you are, that hurts a lot. So despite my phone calls, Denise hasn’t returned to practice. Also, I haven’t seen her during that entire time, until today.

I was driving up into her barrio today and got lucky (or God totally planned it that way) and saw her on her way to a colmado. I stopped her as asked her if she had time to talk. She said no. I said, oh well, I don’t care sit down anyway. ☺ I’m really nice like that. As the conversation went on, I discovered that day after the tournament a group of girls invited Denise to hang out with them. Well, this group of girls happened to be a gang. Within the next few days, Denise found herself with a group of girls that steal, smoke marijuana, get in fights, have sex, drink, and have sling shots that they put bullets in along with the rock. Good influence, right? When asked why she stays in it, she responded at least these girls tell me things to my face and not behind my back. We talked for a while and eventually she said she is going to try to get out on Saturday. She said that they may try to hurt her if she leaves, so please pray that she will be protected and the other girls will let her go. Also, pray that I will be able to convince the team to apologize to Denise. Teenage girls can just be plain mean and they are just awful at asking for forgiveness. They often let these events remain like this and stay enemies forever. Ugh, breaks my heart. For real. 14 years old.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

I love my job.

Seriously, this job and my girls give me sooo much joy. I am just wondering when I'm not gonna enjoy it and be sick of it but my love for my job keeps growing and growing everyday! We just had a volleyball outreach and it was seriously sooooo fun! When we have american teams, we take a group of them to play against a community. This particular night, they played first against my girls team from Barrio Blanco. Then we chose 6 to play against the guys (who are stinkin AWESOME) ps. we have never EVER won a game against a guys team in my 2 years of being here. Anyway, I played when we played against the guys and we ended up winning but it was seriously such an intense game. The whole community was so into it. For real, it was amazing.

In other news, I had a huge breakthrough with one of my girls Darlenys. Her grandma just died and even before she was pretty closed off to everyone. Her grandma has raised her since she was 3, so she's pretty much been her mom. But when I came back from Christmas vacation, I could tell she was struggling even more. Anyways, God gave me the idea to start a journal to her. I wrote her a letter and asked her some questions about her mom, God, life, etc. Basically, the stuff I would ask her in convo but have a hard time getting out of her. I told her she could respond when she wanted and as long as she wanted and I would respond. Well less than 24 hours later, I had it back 4 pages FULL of questions about God, how to deal with depression (she also mentioned that she hardly ever eats bc food makes her nautious). Ps. any ideas of how to deal with that? I am excited to continue seeing her life through this journal. God is good.

VC Revolution (the travel team that we just started) has their second tournament this saturday. I was sooo proud of them last weekend. Before the tournament we talked about how we need to be missionaries even on the volleyball court. During the day, one of my girls got interviewed for a local news crew and she talked about how the goal of the team to to bring all honor to God. Also, on the way to the tournament, all 3 teams piled into a mini-bus. The music was blaring and a bad song was playing. Behind me I could hear TONS of girls yelling and dancing along with the song. I was disappointed at first but when I turned around, my heart just swelled to see that none of my girls were singing and they all just smiled at me with full awareness of why I was turning around and full awareness of the fact God was proud of them in that moment. Not to mention, I was SO proud of them. I will make sure to take a picture of them after the tournament saturday. They seriously look so cool in their new gear. The team is currently 2-1. :)

Thanks so much for your support through everything. I feel so privileged to work here. For real, thank you.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas!!! Here are some highlights of the past month!

VC Revolution:
We are forming an elite team of girls from all my teams called VC Revolution (Volleyball Club Revolution). These girls are going to have the chance to travel around and compete. The mission of the team is that through our play, actions, words and attitude, we show Christ to all teams that we play. We received a donation to buy the team uniforms so they are stoked about that! Also, generous donations flew in to buy all the girls shoes too! The girls are so excited to be a part of this team. We have a varsity team as well as JV. Our goal is that every six months we have another tryout where other girls from my teams (as well as other communities) can try out for the team. This team has always been in my vision for the site and now its actually happening!

City Tournaments:
I continue to coach teams from three different communities in addition to VC Revolution. We hosted another tournament last week that was another huge success! We invited other teams from the community as well. The girls had a chance to compete with fun Christian music and we also brought a speaker to talk them during lunch.

Two Girls who Received Best Attitude (Keysi) and Best Defensive Player (Mabelis)

All the teams together!

Spiritual Growth:
I host a bible study in my home for the VC team as well as a community called Barrio Blanco. My girls continue to amaze me at the depth of their questions. Just last week, I shared the gospel message to my girls and many of them raised their hands to accept Christ. In this culture, God is talked about almost flippantly so I really prayed that this would actually be a life changing thing for my girls. That night, one of my most closed off, hard hearted, rebel girls called me (which she never calls me), and she asked, "Jess, you know how you said we could change? I... I.... I think I can change. Do you think I can change?" My heart leaped and ever since then I've been trying to seek her out more and just spend time with her asking her questions. She's still closed off but I can tell things are really starting to turn. I am excited to see how God will continue to work through the bible study and my time with the rest of the girls.

Bible Study Christmas Party

Urgent Christmas Request!

Okay, so I’m gonna try this out and see if anyone is willing to HUGELY bless one of my girls in the next 48 hours. No tax deduction. Just pure Christmas generosity. Here’s the deal in 10 sentences or less. Out of the three teams I coach, we are forming an elite team that is going to be traveling to other cities. The team is called VC Revolution. Last month, someone donated money for this team to buy uniforms. However, these girls really need shoes. I mean really, one of the girls played in ballet flats last weekend. Most of them have NEVER had a real pair of tennis shoes. So, my goal for this Christmas is to buy all the girls good matching shoes that will last them. We have 12 girls to pay for. Are you in? Here are the girls names and sizes.

Rafe Sanchez- Size 6
Cindy Aquino- Size 7
Dianny Moronta- Size 7.5
Shakira Calderon- Size 8
Mabelis Avecedo- Size 8
Maryln Aracena- Size 8
Ester Hernandez- Size 8
Keysi Marte- Size 8
Ana Hernandez Size 8
Estephanie Victoriano Size 8.5
Sarah Dougan Size 10.5
Lili Candelario- Size 5 (we may have to get size 6, I haven’t been able to find size 5 in this style)

Shoe: Red Asics Gel 1120V- $39.99 (per pair)
*** If you buy two you get 15 dollars off! What a deal! ☺


Send to: Jessica Gates
7328 Ramsdell
Rockford MI 49341

(I am coming home for Christmas and will be able to bring them back in January)

Just reply to this email and tell me which girl (or girls) you can pay for. I’ll keep updating this email to see if we can really get all the girls shoes. I really believe we can do it! From all the girls… THANK YOU!!!!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Doulos Adventures

So just wanted to let you know how life is these days. Things have really taken a cool new turn with my team that practices at Doulos. The girls have really began to invest in the team. Also, it has actually become a real team. Let me explain. With my other teams, the girls always have had the option of not showing up. As a result, I always felt like I had to make practice fun (ya know, and that means no hard conditioning stuff). There are certain things that have definitely been ingrained in me as a level that I would love to expect in my athletes. Ok get your point.

The girls now have to buy a t-shirt if they want to be a part of a team that practices at this school called Doulos. Basically, they now have to make a descision to be a part of the team. And if they are in, they cant make excuses like I had homework, I have to wash my clothes, I just got my hair straightened and I couldn't get it wet. Ps. that happened to me all the time. They also signed a code of conduct which was discussed thoroughly which really allows me to hold them to an even higher standard. The girls have really come together. This same group of girls has a bible study together at my house. In addition I run an English class with the same group of girls. More than anything, I just really enjoy being with these girls. The other day, practice was canceled because of the hurricane… so what did we do? Stay inside? Heck no. We made a slip and slide and enjoyed the afternoon. You can see the picture and video of us below.

Also, in the photo is a picture of one of my interns for the fall (Brittany). I also having another stud intern named Corrie. These two girls have done an INCREDIBLE job. For real, they have really invested and connected with my girls. They also have taken over one of my other English classes which has been a huge help to me so that I can plan for other things like bible studies, the other English classes, or practices. For real, I am going to miss them when they leave in December.

Thursday, November 4, 2010


Well, one of my dreams for this site was just fulfilled. With the help of Doulos Discover School, we held our first full day tournament. We had over 60 girls from Jarabacoa were able to participate. They even all had jerseys, which was a first for many of them. Let me give you a play by play of what has been going on here with the sports site.

Our goal is to plan a tournament similar to the one we just did in October. All four teams that I coach competed against each other (and look pretty sweet in their jerseys). We have created a cool environment for the girls with Christian music, a ref that enforced strong sportsmanship rules, prayer and FUN GAMES! For this particular tournament that happened this past month, we also brought in a speaker to preach to the girls during lunch. The winning team was awarded medals as well as other players were recognized with medals for excelling in areas such as best attitude, most disciplined in practice, best serve, etc. Overall, the tournament was a huge success and keeps the girls super motivated to practice. Check out the teams that participated below!

In other news, we have started a weekly bible study with two of the teams. Girls have really opened up and this has given me a chance to really enter into their lives. Out of all the things going on, this is the most important. Pray that the girls can continue to be transformed and become true disciples of Christ, not just stud volleyball players. Below are some pics of some of the girls at bible study.

Again, thank you for your support! We have another tournament coming in December, so I’ll be sure to send ya the stats as soon as I get them!

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Fall Update!

“Jess, I wish I someone who could explain the Bible to me. Sometimes, I read it and it just doesn’t make sense to me. When I read it at home, people say that I am going crazy.” Just last week, one of my girls, Darlynis, said this to me and it sprung the idea of starting a Bible study with her community. Because it Darlynis’ idea, she was able to get all the girls super excited about starting a Bible study where my girls can really learn how to read and understand the Bible. So EXCITING!

So here in the Dominican Republic, I continue to work with teenage girls with my principal target being girls who play volleyball. We have developed teams in four communities. In addition, we have organized big city-wide tournaments filled with loud fans, blaring Christian music, strong sportsmanship rules enforced (by yours truly), as well as a message being preached in the middle to all who are watching and participating in the tournament. In addition, I am leading a bible study for any girls interested as well as an English class for about 20 of my girls. Below is a picture of the champion team of the summer tournament.

After one of the game days, we had a pizza party at my house and here are some pics of them at my house.

As I reflect on how God has orchestrated and led the girls sports site, I stand amazed. We started in two elementary schools and now, almost a year and a half later, we have expanded to forming solid teams with girls from all over the city. I am incredibly grateful for Blythefield’s faithful support and prayer. You are all huge participants in the great things that are happening here. Thank you.

Prayer Requests
• Support- I am receiving about 80% of the support needed per month and particular need of monthly supporters.
• Girls Bible Study- Girls will gain a genuine passion to study God’s word and as a result, become leaders for their communities