Today was an amazing day. However before I get into the days events, I want to reach out to the rest of our Team FCA missionaries who will be coming over to the island on Saturday. Apparently, all the SCORE missionaries are Dr. Pepper, Mountain Dew and Peanut M&M Junkies. The problem? They can't get those things here. If any of you coming over to the island on Saturday could help feed their addiction by bringing those items over I know they would love it. In addition to that, Please see if you could find some face paints and brushes. The children in the villages love to have their faces painted, however we can't seem to find those items here either.
So...today at 8:30 this morning we headed out to a small, impoverished sugarcane village just outside of San Pedro. On our way to the village, we stopped at the "Jumbo Store", (think WalMart) and purchased $400.00 worth of food that we would distribute to the families of the village we were going to visit. That amount of money allowed us to buy enough rice, beans, sardines, bulion, salt & canned chicken to feed about 75 families. After buzzing through the store, we hopped back on the bus and headed over to the village. We pulled into a large open field (cow pasture) as we arrived and within 5 minutes, we had pretty much all of the village residents surrounding us. My estimation was that there were about 100-120 people in all. What was very interesting to me was that the people were comprised mostly of women and then children from just a few months old to about 16-17 years old. I only saw 2-3 males that were over the age of 23-25. Apparently, once the boys get into their late teens-early 20's, they leave the village (and their children) to head out and find work outside the village.
We played wiffle ball with the boys, gave airplane rides to the little girls and just generally loved on the kids for about an hour. Then everyone (our group and all the people of the village) walked over to the village church where one of our softball players, Lindsay Emerich, led everyone in a few Bible nursery rymes and songs. Coach Mike Shaheen, working through a translator then got up and shared his testimony about how God has worked in and through his life and the lives of his family. He spoke about discovering a God who has shown him how to love. When coach Shaheen finished, our team of coaches, players and parents handed out the bags of food to the 75 selected families. Each individual bag of food would be enough to feed an entire family for about 5 days. They were extremely grateful. As it came time to leave, a few of members of our team became a bit emotional and overwhelmed. My thoughts? I believe that God is starting to impress upon the hearts of our team just how truly blessed that they are.
We headed back to SCORE for a quick lunch and then the girls suited up for an afternoon double header against a high school & college age team in a village just outside of Santo Domingo. Upon our arrival to the field, we observed the opposing team warming up in the outfield. We got off the bus and were immediately surrounded by close to 50 children yelling "Americano's, Americano's". I think that many of our girls were a bit shocked by the greating. Within 5 minutes, there were close to 150 people in the stands and surrounding the field ready to watch the game. We palyed two, 5 inning ballgames. game number one ended in an 8-8 tie. At the end of that game, we assembled everyon in attendance along the 3rd base side of the field where Jessica, one of our players shared with the group how at the age of 7 she placed her faith in Chris and God saved her. Then Greg, one of the missionaries that accopanied Jessica down to the presented the Gospel and gave everyone an opportunity to respond. Twelve young men from the village who were spectators at the game made decisions to give their life to Christ. All the glory to God!
Game two of the day ended with team FCA winning in the bottom half of the last inning by a score of 6-5. However the result of that game fell WAY short in comparisin to the life changes that I have begun to witness today. The resounding response from our group today was "these people have nothing...but they are so happy". In Philippians 4:11-13, the apostle Paul said "I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through him who gives me strength".