Thursday, December 10, 2009

Merry Christmas

Okay so I am incredibly bad at keeping this thing updated. That is a new years resolution of mine. We'll see how it goes. Anyway, right now I am currently in Colorado attending a three week missionary training seminar. It has seriously been incredible. To be honest, I just feel exhausted by constantly having to be cut open to be vulnerable with these people. However, I left the DR feeling quite defeated and just broken. However, God has used this time to build me back up and fuel me to head back to the DR the 31st. Here is a little paraphrase of 1 Corinthians 13 that I wrote that will hopefully capture my time when I head back to the DR.

If I speak with the tongue of a expert coach, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or clanging cymbal.

If I wear the national dress and understand the culture and all forms of etiquette, and if I copy all mannerisms so that I could pass for a Dominicana, but have not love, I am nothing.

If I give all I possess to the poor, and if I spend my energy in the sun without reserve, but have not love, I gain nothing.

Love endures long hours of language study, and is kind to those who mock her accent; love does not envy those who are fluent, love does not exalt her past volleyball experience, is not proud of her national reputation.

We know only part of the culture and we minister to only part.

But when Christ is reproduced in this culture, then our inadequacies will be insignificant.

When I was in America, I spoke as an American, I understood as an American, thought as an American; but when I left America, I became a learner of a new culture!

Now I adapt to this culture awkwardly, but He will live in it intimately; now I speak with a strange accent, but He will speak to the heart.

And now these three remain: cultural adaptation, language study and love.


We just organized a volleyball tournament and hope to continue in February. Here is a pic of the winning team of the liga mediana (younger league).

I hope ya'll have a fantastic Christmas. Please continue to pray for strength when I go back. I feel like I have just made some big break throughs with many of my girls. My prayer is that God will use me to transform their lives so that the will be fire-breathing, people loving, volleyball playing, disciples of Christ. We have a softball team coming in January so we will modifying the site and doing some girls softball camps which should be super fun and a nice change of pace. Thank you for your support and prayers. :)

Friday, October 2, 2009

Language School

So life has taken a little different twist the past few weeks. I have actually joined up with the Bethel Semester abroad program and been apart of the language school. Even though I feel like I can basically understand everything, I still have a lot to learn especially in the area of grammar. Even though I am not able to attend the site, it still continues. Viance, who has helped me throughout the summer, decided that she wanted to continue the site even when I was gone. I am seriously so proud of her. Even though she has school from 8-3 everyday, she continues to go to the site after school. I have visited a couple of times and so excited to see the same rules being enforced. Even though Viance is only 18, the girls continue to do sprints, push-ups or whatever Viance decides as their punishment. More to come later. ☺

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Still Living...

First, thank you so much for your prayers. God has really been moving here in drastic ways and I know it is a direct result of many of your prayers. So thanks! Sorry I have not written sooner, but it has been crazy the past few months of having summer teams here.

Looking back it has been neat to reflect on how God has shaped and changed the girls sports site. When the first Bethel team was here in May, we started working with young elementary girls. As cute and loving as those girls are, I really have a passion for working with teenage girls. I was still thankful to have an opportunity to work with girls. However, I do believe God knows are hearts and wants to give us our desires.

A city wide volleyball tournament has now started. There is both a men’s league and women’s league. God has totally used this tournament to open up doors for me. Because I play in the tournament, different communities have seen that I actually do know what I am talking about. I am now working with two different communities of older girls. I am finally able to plan practices and engage in deeper bible studies with the girls. However, along with this package comes teenage attitudes. In the culture of sports, everything is someone else’s fault. Literally, if you make a mistake, your instinct is to yell at someone else. So with my girls, things get nasty. However, poco a poco (little by little) we are trying to reverse years of nastyness.

Please pray for strength is a very emotionally intense culture. My goal in being a missionary here is to immerse myself in as much of the culture. But as a result, I am becoming more aware of many of the hardships of this culture. Some of my close friends are gay and often come to me for “advice”. Just last week, my guy friends invited me to house where there was an abandoned boy. In their eyes, I am a grown women (the average 17 year old girl has a baby). So, seeing me as a Christian woman, they invited me with the hopes that I would adopt the child. Yesterday, we met a 14 year old boy who lived by himself and ran his own colmado (its like a small convenience store). People here get offended much easier and I have a hard time knowing how to respond when a friend will go whole day not talking to me. Yet, the next day, they are normal again. To be honest, my heart is very weak and tired right now. Its hard seeing these things every day and not sure of what to do. I feel like I have been given a small glimpse of what God sees everyday. Man, I sure am glad I am not God. I could not handle seeing all the brokenness of the world at once.

Well, that’s about all for now. Next week, we have a week off to rejuvenate and just get ready for the fall. I plan on joining the language school in September when the Bethel semester abroad group gets here. I will continue working with the girls in the afternoons and language school in the mornings.

Prayer Request: Emotional and Spiritual Strength

If you get a chance, please shoot me and email at and let me know how your life is going! It means so much to me when I hear from people in the states. Let me know how I can pray for you as well! Take care!

The following are some of the highlights from this summer!

Carla's Baptism: One of the girls during one of the outreach became a Christian during her two weeks here. She asked me to baptize her at the end of the two weeks. It was such a huge blessing to so many people that were there to hear her story.

Tournament: For the holiday Dia de Carmen, there was a HUGE party in town. Right in the middle of town, they put up a volleyball net, soccer goals, basketball hoops and a boxing ring. There were tournaments in all these activities. Me, Karissa and Viansy played in the womens tournament and won! It was seriously such a blast!

El Mogote: My friends love adventure. We have climbed Mogote three times now and twice, slept up top. It has been huge in building relationships them. There is just something about camping, cooking rice and spaghetti, and a campfire that really facilitates conversation. They would climb it every weekend if I did not say no. haha. It has been such a blessing who love to climb mountains, jump off waterfalls, and explore. One picture is of Willy (my brother now) and mom cooking up on mogote. The one at the river is a common river that we always go to swim and jump of rocks.

Heather: My sis was able to come for two weeks. It was so fun to have her here. She even learned how to drive a motorcycle before me! My friends still talk about how fun she was. It was such a blessing to see the people I care so much about make such a great connection with her. One pic is her and Viansy having fun with whipped cream and the other with my friends at the river.

Family: Viansy and I have really become great friends. God has been so good to bless me with a friend like her who loves God, loves volleyball and loves adventure. Her family has welcomed me in. Now, I call her mom, mami, her brothers: hermanitos, and her cousins: primos. It has been so great to feel a sense of belonging her and to be apart of a family here. Her dad lives in Jamaica and visits once a month. Our brothers' names are Johan and Willy and mom's name is Silvia.
Pic One: Heather and Willy on their way up to Mogote
Pic Two: Johan jumping at a favorite swimming spot we call the Jacuzzi
Pic Three: Mom and Dari (friend) getting ready to cook some platinos up on Mogote

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

One Month In...

So God has been moving in really cool ways and opening up doors in huge ways. I wanted to give you an update on what our girls sports site is looking like now.

Mornings: A Local Gym in a community known as Barrio Ballaguer (ages 7-12)
* Group game with all the kids (kickball, dodgeball)
* Focused time with just the girls (volleyball or other sports)
* Devotional time with all the kids
* Scrimmage against some of the locals

The pictures below are of the gym and a morning when we went to a river with the kids. We tried to move this huge log so then we could float on it... yeah it was awesome.

Afternoons: Outdoor court in Barrio Blanco
* Practicing with a girls volleyball team (11-14 yrs old)
* This has been a blast because they just love playing and they have not had a coach in the past so they have been really receptive

Here are some pics of the girls that we have been practicing with. They came over to my house for a pizza party. We played dominos and of course, passed the volleyball outside together. :)

Nights: Hang Out With Mis Amigos!
* Nights often consist of watching local baseball games
* Hanging out with Viance and her family
* Playing volleyball (surprise surprise)
* Playing dominos

Here's a couple pics of Viance and I. One night, we went with some other friends to Santiago to see a movie. I am seriously so thankful to have her as a friend. She is sooo much fun and is so helpful in so many ways.

Well that's about all for now. I have loved this group of American students. They have seriously been such a blessing and I will be sad when they go.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

New Friends!

This is going to be a quick one, but I wanted to update you on two really cool things that have happened in the past couple weeks.

1. Girls Volleyball Team- I have been working the past month with young elementary kids. As fun as that has been, my goal would be to work with older girls so that I can teach them volleyball. Just this past week, we discovered a team of junior high girls that really love to play but really don't have any one to teach them. We had a "team meeting" and we talked about they would like to practice more often, have some games to play in, etc. Anyways, by the end of the meeting, we were all totally excited. So now, every afternoon, I will practice with those girls. I am so excited!

2. New Friend- Its a lot harder to make girl friends here. I may have written this somewhere before, but I really wanted to have a girlfriend, who was a christian, who liked sports and also loved to hike/explore. I know that probably sounds picky.. but God brought me that and so much more! Her name is Viance and we have done everything together the past week. She is now helping at the site, which is huge because I can explain a drill to her and she can make sure the kids understand it. Also, she is really good with kids so it helps so much. She also loves volleyball and she definitely holds her own when we play with guys. She always talks trash, so its so fun to play with her. She is also a Christian and goes to my church! This past weekend has consisted of watching baseball together, lunch/dinner at her house, hiking to see a waterfall, playing volleyball, going to a river to cliff jumping stuff, going to church and then going out to eat together! I am seriously soooo thankful to have a friend like her! It was totally a God thing. Okay, well I am heading to bed, but I wanted to give a quick update. Thanks for your prayers! For real, I know thats what has made this past month so awesome!

Take care!

Sunday, May 24, 2009

So far so good!

After my first two weeks, it is difficult to put into words my thoughts and emotions. Rather try to put these all these ideas into words, I just tell a couple stories that have kinda captured my last three weeks.

#1: Equipo con las mujeres (Women’s softball team)
One of my main objectives is to be able to use my love of sports to reach women here. Well, I actually got connected with the women’s softball team here. I practiced twice with them and I had my first game today. I think I was more nervous for today’s game than any college game I have ever played. I played third and the first hitter hit a grounder my way and I was able to make the play. In my head, I was like PHEW! So then the second hitter, yep she hit one right through my legs. Of course, all the boys from the baseball site had a good laugh about it. Maybe it was the look of fear on my face, but I think every single person felt it was their duty to tell me how to play. It was kinda got funny. Before every batter, I would have at least two players and three people in the crowd tell me where I should throw it. Oh and I was told to be there at 9:15 because our game was supposed to start at 10. Ha ha ha. Well most of the players on my team did not get there until 10 and the other team did not show up until 12:30. We ended up playing a double header and we got done at 3. So yeah, it was a great day. Next weekend we have a game in the capital (Santo Domingo) which is actually a pretty decent drive. I am so pumped that God opened up this door. I had a girl talk to me after the game who knew I was a Christain and she said, “You know, its just hard being on a softball team. You know, they drink and do a lot of bad stuff.”

#2 Relay Races
Our “girls sports site” takes place in two main locations. We have been really fortunate to have access to a court that is inside in the mornings. We normally work with girls from a nearby school from 9 until 11 and then from 11-12 we scrimmage some kids from the community. The girls from the school range from 4th grade to about 9th grade. In the afternoons from about 1:30-4, we go to a school called Barrio Blanco. At this school we have been working more with younger girls (1st through 4th grade). Okay, so now to my story. It is harder to do a lot of volleyball with the younger kids so we have been trying to come up with gym type games for them to play. So in the morning we did relay races and it ended up working out really well. So we tried doing in with the 1st and 2nd graders in the afternoon. Well, first it took us about 10 minutes just to get them in the lines. Then, I did my best to explain it the same why I explained it in the morning. I meant for one person to go at a time, ya know, and then touch the next person in line, and so forth. So yeah, I go to the other side of the court and when I said GO! I had about 50 girls screaming with excitement all run at same time at me! I am sure the look on my face had to be priceless because I felt so clueless as to what to do from there. Luckily, the librarian saw what was going on and he came out to help.

Lowlights of the past few weeks:
• Feeling clueless of what to do with elementary girls. My experience has been more in coaching high schoolers and college athletes, so second graders is a whole new ball park
• Frustration of not being able to speak Spanish as well I would want.

• HUGE interest of girls in the communities we are working in. We probably have interactions with at least 100 kids each day.
• Many opportunities for the American team here now to share Christ with the girls
• Many opportunities to play sports with people here (for real, they would play all day if I didn’t say I was tired) I seriously wake up every morning thinking to myself, “Is this really happening?” I get to coach volleyball and at the same time share God’s love and truth to kids EVERY SINGLE DAY!
• Having the Bethel volleyball team here. It has been such a blessing to have their expertise and help these past few weeks. They have been huge in helping me run drills and think of games to play with the kids. It has been really nice when I feel so clueless as to how to start a sports site, to have them here to keep me on track.
• Joining the women’s softball team in the community
• Daily devotions that we have been able to share the girls in communities that students international has not been able to reach in the past

Prayer Requests
• Continued guidance with the site
• My arm- I think I got some sort of tendinitis in my right elbow from playing so much and now after about playing for 30 minutes, I have pain that shoots from my shoulder all the way through my hand. It kills me to not play some days. Or other days, I just play but then it hurts even worse.
• Ideas of how handle the young 1st and 2nd graders (and patience)
• Spanish- continue learning and picking up the language

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Making Preparations

Well, I honestly had doubts that this day would actually come. I booked my flight yesterday and I will leave May 3rd. I am amazed at how stressed out I got about fundraising. However, God continued to remind me that he was in control and his planning is perfect. I am filled with all kinds of emotions: anxiety, nervousness, extreme excitement, nervousness, have I mentioned I am nervous? However, i know that this is where God wants me to be.

I am so excited to be able to use sports as ministry. I hope that I am able to live a life that truly demonstrates incarnation ministry. I just hope I am able to love as Jesus loved. I love the quote from Shane Claiborne's Irresistible revolution that says "being a Christian is about choosing Jesus and declaring to do something incredibly daring with your life." Now, I don't think what I am doing is anymore daring than living here and deciding to life for Jesus as a teacher. However, I hope that they way I chose to live and love is daring. I hope I can move past myself and just give myself to others. Yeah, so a lot of ideas in my head (and a lot of sleepless nights recently). However, there are a couple things I do know. I am supposed to go to the DR and use sports to build relationships with the people of Jarabacoa. I am leaving it to God to lead me from there! DR... here I come. :)

I am close to having full time support in start-up costs but still need monthly support. Pray that the final costs come in so that when I am there, I can be fully focused on my ministry there and not raising support. Also, pray that preparations and connections can be made so that the girls sports site can be established especially as we get summer teams coming.