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

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Fan Page....

So for those of you that speak spanish, you have to check out this blog that my friend Joan made. He is so funny and claims that I am famous, so he thought he should make a blog so all my "fans" could follow it. Anyways, read it just for a good laugh.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

God is opening doors!

Okay, so one of the coolest things happened this past week. I have always thought it would be sweet to bring the teams I coach to other cities to play. Well, thanks to the idea and pushing of my wonderful intern, we finally made it happen. So this past Wednesday we loaded up two trucks of people to head down to a nearby city called La Vega (about 30 min away). The boys baseball ministry site also was scheduled to play a game in the same facility as well, but thanks to the rain, theres was canceled which means their whole truck of guys came to cheer (I mean CHEER, for real, loudest cheering I've ever heard). We had two divisions, "infantil" and "juvenil". The infantil was the group of girls I work with (ages 11-14). Then I, Cristi (the greatest intern ever), and some other girls I have worked with in the past wer able to play with the juvenil. The infantil team won but our juvenil team lost. Here is a pic of our team from Jarabacoa (missing Cristi my intern)

However, that’s not the main thing I want to talk about. The best part of the day was that one of the Americans that was on this missions team was able to share her testimony with the entire gym. She had a powerful testimony of coming from an extremely broken home but offered hope of a father above who cares, even when her earthly father doesn't. Wow. So powerful and especially impactful in this culture. Soooo many kids here grow up without a father and personally I think that's why so many marry so young. They grow up longing for that love of a father. As they enter puberty and start getting attention from guys, they CLING on and move in with their boyfriends/ get pregnant.

Anyways, when I got up to expound on her testimony and the power of the love of our father, there were numerous girls crying as a response. Gloria a Dios! (Glory to God) Also, after the game, I was able to connect with the coach and many girls on the older team. First of all, I’ve MISSED good volleyball. I kinda thought when I came here, it meant giving up that part of my life. Well folks, NOT YET!!! This team from La Vega is incredible and they invited me to practice and play in games with them. So today, I went down to La Vega and practiced with the team. I sweated a ton, the coach yelled the entire time… and I LOVED IT! I also talked with the coach and he wants us to bring groups to play every other week now and share a message every time we come. Gosh, experiences like this get me so fired up! I’m so glad God can use our passions for his glory! God is sooo good!!! Below is a picture of all those that participated in our games.

Prayer Request: There have been numerous break-ins during the past month, often to American missionaries. Today at 11 o'clock during the DAY, someone tried to break into my house. My car wasn't in front so I think he thought I wasn't home. Anyways, I grabbed a knife and yelled at him and he left. But it still totally freaked me out and still worries me. Pray that God will just protect my house and more than anything, just give me a peace to not worry about the house.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Summer Teams!

We have now gotten in the swing of having summer teams. I rememeber going into summer teams last year feeling like I had NO CLUE what I was doing. My spanish was still pretty rusty and SI expected me to start a new site and minister to the summer teams as well. To say the least, I was scared and thought I did not have the capicity to do it. However, with SI's support and Gods incredible help, I survived. Going into a new summer with more spanish and clearer vision, its exciting to see how God is going to work this summer. Here are some updates of things that are going on these days.

Training Disciples- Jesus calls us to make disciples. God (and my pastor) have kept reminding me of this call and I decided to take it to the next step with my girls. The average age of my girls is 13 so I wasn't sure what approach to take. However, I thought, why not let them give the bible lesson. They have heard me enough and they know the basic idea. So far, two of the kids have given a lesson and it has worked out great!!! They give me an idea of what they want to talk about and then I help them look for scripture to use. So neat to see them preach!

New Intern (Cristi)- I have a sweeeeet intern with me this summer. She does a great job with the girls. Her energy not only pushes the girls, but really helps me out too. God has blessed her with such joy that has definitely picked me up at crucial times. For example, we just figured out how to connect an ipod adapter (thanks Ashley Pagel for your awesome donation) to my car and had an amazing singing party in my car to a high school musical song. I was seriously ready to go for the rest of the day!

Anticipating Visitors- On the next outreach, 3 girls who came on an outreach last summer plotted together to all come on the same outreach again this summer. They come in a week and I am soooo excited to see them again. With all the short terms trips always coming and going, its nice to have some girls come back! One of those girls just happens to be my sister! She came with an outreach and will be coming back again for a couple weeks. So EXCITING!

Goodbye- My brother, Josh, just left for Burkina Faso, Africa to serve with the peace corp! He will be living there for 2 years and teaching Math to highschoolers in FRENCH! He's such a stud, I'm so proud of him. However, its a bit hard for my family because during that 2 years, he will not be able to come home. Keep him in your prayers!

Birthday- I celebrated my 24th birthday during this month. It was so cute. The kids threw me a birthday part and then we had a domino tournament with my friends. Below is a pic of some of my friends.

Okay thats about all for today! Take care and please keep me posted on what's going on in your lives! Congrats to my friends Lo and Matt and their engagement! So exciting!

Friday, May 21, 2010

Haiti Reflections

Ever since the earthquake in Haiti in January, many have asked if our organization has gotten involved. (The DR shares the same Hispanola island with Haiti). In January, we helped send aid over but did not make an actual trip. In April, the staff decided to exchange our spring staff beach retreat to go help in Haiti (some exchange eh?). Our group went to work with an organization that my Dominican church has been in cooperation with ever since the earthquake. Honestly, its hard to put into words my experience that we had there. Honestly, I was a really emotionally tough trip on me. Even though the DR is considered a third world country, Haiti is much worse. Haiti is hot, dry, hot, poor, and HOT. Our staff divided into 6 groups to serve the different people in the community.
1. Womens Group- who taught a group of women in the community to bake bread that they could sell. We also brought down an oven to donate along with the ingredients to get them going for a couple weeks.

2. Teenage boys (sports and other "manly" games)
3. Teenage girls
4. Pre-school age

5. Elentary age group - This is the group I helped in. We did different fun activities, bible studies and crafts. This day, Fausto dressed up like a clown and we did different games with balloons. Plus, the kids just loved playing with him. :)

6. Construction- group built private bathrooms where people could privately bath themselves (with bucket water).
7. Dentistry

Just a disclaimer. We were only there a couple days and these are my reflections based on the limited time I was there. I do not claim to be an expert by any means. Thus, if you see something false with my observations, feel free to correct me. :)

HEAT: Okay, so the heat here is NOTHING compared to Haiti. In Port Au Prince where we were, there are very little trees and no breeze. So, there is no way to escape the heat. A large portion of the population live in these tents, that are packed into every open piece of land. Actually, they are packed into ANY type of land. Sidewalks, allies, parks... everything is full. So if you do the math. The Haitians are never able to escape this heat. If anything, its even hotter in the tents.

Things for kids to do: When we went April 21st, school had just began starting again. The kids were forced to stay in their housing areas. Honestly, I don't think I even saw much grass while I was there. The community where we worked was gated off. Thus, it was safe, but there was very little for the kids to do. Anybody want to bring a sports ministry to Haiti? They sure need it!

Lack of jobs: Because everything is so dry, there are very little jobs for people. The DR brings people in because of its beautiful trees, rivers and mountains. As a result, many people can find jobs in tourism. However, in my opinion, the only thing drawing people to Haiti is earthquake relief and God. The main jobs I saw were road vendors and people working in sugar cane fields (which is HOT, hard labor).

While I thought I was not a too high maintence person, I realized how I am still very emotional dependent on my privacy, running water, and cooler nights. It made me more aware of the lifestyle we live as Americans is incredibly different than the majority of the world. Now, does this mean that I am going to take bucket showers from now on and never turn on my fan. No. However, it has made me realize that I have very little to complain about. I cannot let my emotions get flustered when our lights go out everyday or we go a day or two without water. I am still incredibly blessed.

Please continue to pray for Haiti. There is still much work to be done, even now 4 months after the event. Also, pray for the missionaries who work there. A little shout out to Jared and Jalayne Coblentz who are still currently serving there. Folks, it takes tough missionaries to live there. Thank you Jared and Jaylayne and any other missionaries who are serving in Haiti.

Here are some other pics of the trip.

Capital Building

Friday, March 19, 2010

Answered Prayer

One of my prayers is that God will continue to bring more girls to the site. Another prayer is that among these girls, leaders will rise up in the communities. Well folks, God does answer prayer. When coaching volleyball, I teach young girls (ages 11-19) from two main communities, Barrio Blanco and Barrio Ippolito. In Barrio Blanco, there are now 6 new girls that are interested in joining the team. We have organized a tournament day on Fridays so that the two communities I work with can have a game day. Normally, I take the girls from Barrio Blanco in my jeep to Barrio Ippolito. Before, when we had 11 girls from Barrio Blanco, they all fit okay in my jeep. However, now that we have 16, it puts a little stress on Bessy. However, we worked it out that I just take two trips to get the girls to the other community. Even though it takes an extra 20 minutes, I am overjoyed with this blessing. However, I may need to buy a bus if God keeps bringing more girls! Also, two of the new girls are Christians and are definitely a light on the team. My prayer is that they can continue to lead the team and encourage their teammates to go to church with them. God is good!

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Train Ride

Every month or so, I meet with the pastor of my church. I have a lot of respect for him and I feel he has a good handle of how the Dominican culture works and the best way to reach out to them. At one point, I was expressing to him how much I was enjoying life and I felt like God has been blessing me in so many ways. He was genuinely happy for me, but he also gave me a word of caution that I felt was really wise. Enjoy.

He drew the analogy of a train. In a train, there are various cars. There is a front train called the train engine. There are also other cars behind the engine, but the whole train gets it’s power from the engine. The cars behind it sometimes can be larger and others smaller, but the train still gets its power from the engine. Sometimes the train has to go up hills, sometimes its on flat ground and other times it goes downhill. When it goes downhill, the engine still controls the speed of the train, but if the load is large, it can take over the speed of the train. The train is our lives. The engine is our convictions. Who do I believe Christ was and why did he die on the cross? How does this effect who I am and how I respond to situations. The cars behind the engine are our feelings, our emotions. Some cars are happiness as a result of good situations. Other cars may be worry or hate. Depending on the person, some cars are bigger than others and control the momentum more. Some may even put their car of “feelings” at the front of their train. As a result, in good times, their train goes great and life is wonderful. However, when things start to go bad, their train is thrown off track and they lose all force.

Like I mentioned before, then train travels in different types of land. Right now I am in a downhill part of life. I am definitely loving my life and everything is going well. Even though I see hardship on a daily basis in the lives of my girls, I am full of joy each day. I have been seeing huge progress in my girls. At times, my high emotions start to control the momentum of my life and can effect my decisions. However, I cannot go downhill forever. I will face difficult times and have to start to go uphill. It could dangerous if I let my “feelings” control my view of how my life is going. Let me clarify something, we should always have joy and there is nothing wrong with me enjoying my life. However, the engine, my convictions, my foundation, my relationship with Christ needs to always have control of my life. Why? Because the train will eventually have to go up hill. And then what? Will my emotions control the momentum of the train? They may last for a little while, but they will run out of steam. If my engine is not strong enough, the train will decrease speed. However, if I have a constant force, Jesus, powering my engine, I will have joy even in difficult circumstances. Paul reminds us of this in Philippians 4:12-13. Ironically, he says this while he was in chains as a result of preaching the gospel. Paul says, “I have learned the secret of being content in any and ever situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through him who gives me strength.” What a powerful imagery. I think Paul was well aware that the “secret” was his identity in Christ. His engine was truly powered, conducted by Jesus Christ.

Thanks Popin for reminding me of an important lesson. I have been told before that I am a very passionate person. Awesome. However, I have also often made rash decisions because my train can be conducted by these emotions. I thank God for this joyous/ happy stage of life, but I am also aware that I must continue to grow in my knowledge of who Christ is so that when hard times hit (and they will), I do not lose my joy or momentum.

So my question to you is this. What controls your train? Your emotions? Financial situation? Health? Having a boyfriend/girlfriend? I hope this challenges you in some way, just like it definitely challenged/encouraged me! Take care!

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Northwestern Team!

So a dream of mine came true this past week. An actual college volleyball team from Northwestern came and helped run a camp for the girls. Not only did equip ALL my girls with t-shirts and shorts, but they also brought a brand new net. Even more, they came with incredible enthusiasm and passion, that definitely left my girls changed and impacted. Each day the girls shared a bible lesson with the girls as well. This team not only came to serve, but to open their hearts and make a big impact on Jarabacoa.

Also, through the sport of volleyball, they were able to bring the gospel to areas that I have not been able to on my own. Thursday night, the team played against a group of guys from the community that are by far the best in Jarabacoa. We were 1-3 but the one we won was way worth it. :) First of all, playing and getting super pumped with the team was sooo fun. I miss being a part of a team. Secondly, we had a chance to preach to this group of guys which probably would have never would have had the chance to hear the gospel being spoken. I translated for a girl and then had the chance to preach to the guys myself. It was soo neat because I often go to play with these guys but since I'm the outsider (and they are definitely not a talkative bunch unless they are arguing about a call), I have not gotten the chance to really share my faith with them. But this definitely opened up BIG doors to sharing the gospel with them!

Thank you Northwestern for truly making a difference in my own life, as well as so many lives here in Jarabacoa!

Additional side note: So today I was reaching into my box of cereal and just as I was putting into my mouth, a cockroach ran up my hand and onto my face! Ohhhh the fun exciting things here in the DR. Love it. :)

Monday, February 15, 2010

Incarnational ministry vs. guarding testimony

Tonight broke my heart. I was walking downtown to meet some friends for dinner. During this week, there is a festival known as Carnaval. From what I have gathered from friends, it’s a pretty satanic holiday. Many people wear masks and costumes. There are also people that walk around with cow bladders and hit people with them. Other friends have told me that it’s a holiday that consists of lots of drinking and lots of sex. Part of me would like to just go downtown and see it, but I have been told Christians should never be seen at parties like that. my witness would be destroyed in a couple minutes if I was seen there. However, sometimes I wonder if Jesus would be in the park among the people? He would not be getting drunk and having sex, but just loving on people. I know as Christians we are supposed to protect our witness. However, at the same time, wasn’t Jesus constantly ridiculed by the “religious leaders” for being among the sinners? I want to live an encarnational life, but where is the line drawn in protecting your witness. I feel like Jesus redefined those lines. What are your thoughts?

Okay, so to get to the part that broke my heart. As we were walking through the outer part of town, I say one of the boys from the baseball site, Pa’sao. A 9 year old boy like him should never be walking through town, especially with such a crazy party going on that night. I yelled to him and realized he was crying. When I asked him why he said that his dad was drunk and told him to go home. I asked him what he wanted me to do and he asked me to take his dad home. Since we knew that his dad for sure was not going to leave the party, we just invited Pa’sao to come eat with us. He continued to cry throughout dinner. This kind of stuff makes me so mad. A 9 year old boy should not have to be responsible for his father. If you are going to go to a party and get drunk, at least don’t take your child! I love Pa’sao and I often see him at the baseball field at nights always by himself. His parents never know where he is. Pray for Pa’sao and many of the other children who are not cared for like they deserve.

A little shout out to my fam. This week was a bit rough for us because our dog Willow died. I love you guys and miss you oh so much.

My mom and dad come to visit in 3 weeks so that is super excited. Also, one of my best friends from BC comes in 2 weeks! The one and only ASHLEY PAGEL! There is something about when people from home come that really gives me new life. I do not know how to explain, but it reminds me where I come from and who I am (if I have forgotten). Haha. This may make no sense to some and perfect sense to others.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Jessica Gives A Beating

As I pulled out of Pinal Quemado, my blood teemed with anger. How could someone in their right mind actually call this 11 year old boy a “pajaro”? (Pajaro translates to bird, but here it also means gay) I decided I could not hold it in and turned my car around to give these guys a piece of my mind.

Let me first give you a bit of background on this story. I work in this community known as Pinal Quemado. I love these kids as if they were my own. I normally just teach the girls, but occasionally if we have extra balls, I allow some of the boys to play. One boy in particular, Kelvin, I have deemed as my assistant. He is eleven and is always really helpful in the practices and jumps in whenever we need an extra person. He is also one of the most faithful attendees to the church. So Viansy and I, and some of the girls from the community and Kelvin were pulling into Pinal Quemado. Some of the older teenagers then yell out as we arrive, “Here comes the pajarito.” I had heard people call Kelvin this in the past, but I did not address the issue. However, Kelvin and I have gotten closer and this particular time, it just got to me. So after the girls got out of the car, I was able to have a good talk with Kelvin. He told me that he really was not gay and that he hated when people said that about him. My heart broke to hear how people had done so much damage to this young boy, just to get a good laugh. I really do believe that is how some people end up gay. Starting from a young age, some boys who have more girlish tendencies or a higher voice are called gay. Little by little, they start to believe it themselves. I am not going to get into a discussion about whether being gay based on life experiences or can happen from birth, I’ll save that for another day. What I do know is that what people say can do serious damage. So, to continue my story, I turned the car around.

I pulled up to the group of guys and in my anger, I was able to explain my frustration of the permanent damage they are doing to these kids. They first started to not look at me and smirk. Then I told them, “you know why none of you cannot look at me right now? Because you know I am right. You are embarrassed and you are too immature to own your actions. Then I started to tear up a bit, but never lost my rage. I told them to please THINK just un chin before they something that could have permanent damage on someone. I got in the car and my heart was on fire as my hands trembled on the steering wheel. I thank God for giving me the words, because normally when I am mad or excited, I talk super fast and even my English gets messed up. So I am thankful for God’s guiding help.

My hope is that little by little, the men in this community will gain a respect for me and the kids to at least not say those things when I am around. Before, when I did not know as much Spanish, I probably did not realize what they were saying to my girls. However, I have really started to understand everything now, GLORIA A DIOS! God is good and he is giving me more and more courage everyday to truly care for my girls as Jesus took care of his children.

Day after note: One of the guys that I talked too went to Kelvin’s school and apologized!!! He said, "I am sorry for what I said and after Jessica gave us a beating, I realized I shouldn't have said that to you, I will never say it again.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Earthquake Reflections

So the earthquake definitely made an impact on the people here. For those of you who do not know, Haiti and the Dominican Republic have a history of hatred toward one another. Even though there are a large number of Haitians living here, there is still racism toward the Haitians. Haitians are given the worst jobs with the lowest pay. I am still amazed when I am driving back to my house at 11 o'clock and there are still Haitians out hauling cement or doing other hard labor.

I was interested to see how the Dominicans would respond to such an event. Ever since the event, the earthquake had been the talk of the town. People are deeply saddened and are trying to help in any way possible. My church has been sending large amounts of fuel and water. I asked some of the teenagers I work with, "Do you think that the Haitians are treated better and are receiving more respect now that this happened?" They responded, "Yes, but after a while, people will probably go back to how they treated them before." It seriously broke my heart. While most won't ever admit to be racist toward the Haitians, I rarely see my girls hanging out with other Haitian girls.

In other news, I will be moving within this next week. I am super excited and I really like the new girls I am going to live with. For those of you who read the update earlier, the relationship I talked about has gotten so much better. Almost all communication has been cut off and I cannot tell you how much of a release it has been for me. I feel God has taken me back into his arms and has just been pouring his love onto me over the past couple weeks. Another cool thing that happened this week is that I met with the local pastor. I have been in his discipleship class the past 4 months and I really desired to connect with him even more. He was really encouraging and actually asked me to help teach english at the school they run through the church. The school was created for specifically the shoe shine boys of the community. Ever since I first came, I have really liked the idea of the school, but not been able to find a way to get specifically involved. Okay, get to the point Jess. I will be teaching english class for the school 2 days a week, teaching english class for the boys sports site 3 mornings a week. I will still be doing my girls sports site, but all my girls have school in the morning, so this worked out really well to teach in the morning and do my site in the afternoon and tournaments on the weekends. I am excited to use both of my passions (teaching and sports). God has really opened up doors and I feel such a peace and joy doing what I am doing now. Thank you for your support and time (especially if you took the time to read this whole thing). You mean a lot to me.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Doing Fine :)

Some people have asked if the earth quake in Haiti affected us here. Good news, we are fine. A lot of people felt it and I guess the building I was in shook a lot. Funny that I was taking a nap when all this happened. So yeah, I did not even wake up.

Life is going good. We have a softball team here so we have been working at the baseball site. Its nice to have a little variety and the girls are super cool too! Take care!

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Happy New Year!

Hey Friends and Family,

My time at MTI was amazing. I learned so much stuff about myself and things I need to apply to my life now that I am back in the DR. I also realized the importance of being real how much I really need your prayers through everything. Thus, I am going to be vulnerable with you and just get to the point. I need prayer for 3 specific things.

1. Relationships: Some of you may know more than others of specific issues that are going on here. Please pray for my relationships in general. At times, my girls can be a bit dramatic, and frankly, mean. Please pray that God will give me guidance of how to best deal with my girls.

2. Support: I am now about $500 short in monthly supporters. I have an account that I have been pulling from to help with the deficit, but it will run out quickly. Please pray that God will bring along monthly supporters to help.

3. Guidance: As we approach a new year, I get super excited. I feel like my site has grown a lot. I have learned so much Spanish and I finally feel I am able to really get deep with my girls. My desire is to continue working with the same girls and even though many of them have become Christians, its still a challenge to get them really fired up about God's work. Many of them come to our bible study and say all the right things, but there is very little life change. They are sounded by a culture that puts so much pressure for them to get married (move in with their boyfriend signifies getting married here) at a young age and the drink all the time. I would say 90% of my girls life in broken homes with only one parent. I would also say 85% of my girls have had sex and about 30% have been pregnant at some point in their life, but many get abortions. Thus, pray that God will give me guidance of what direction to take with these girls. God has put on my heart to start some sort of purity study with them. But this can be a challenge because most of them are already sexually active, so I have to approach it from a different angle. So yeah, pray for these girls!

Here is a pic of some of my younger girls on the way to church:

Thanks for your prayers and support. For real, I know it is a sacrifice for all of you. I really appreciate it.