Lipscomb associate athletic director Brent High checks in with a report on Day 3 of the baseball team's mission trip to the Dominican Republic.
Sunday was a day none of us will ever forget.
We began the day with a breakfast of French toast, hard boiled eggs and an assortment of fruit including papapya, pineapple and cantaloupe. The good people at Mission Marte have taken extremely good care of us when it comes to meals.
We had the blessing of worshipping with the Iglesia Cristiana Cuerpo de Cristo in Navarrete where Michel is the minister. One of our team members, Samuel Montoya, preached the sermon in Spanish. While we didn’t know most of the songs, we did recognize “Mighty to Save” and “Come Now is the Time to Worship” and sang along in English. They had a baby dedication and several responses when the invitation was given. When it was time to give money, everyone went to the front of the building and put their contribution in a basket. Communion was a very meaningful time. The energy and love of the people at the church was evident.
Lunch consisted of grilled chicken, fried plantain, some kind of local root and fruit.
We knew that Michel had arranged some kind of softball game after lunch with the locals. We were not quite prepared for what we saw when we came down the hill to the field.
Let’s just say that all that was missing was Shoeless Joe Jackson, Moonlight Graham, Kevin Costner and a corn field.
Not one, but two adult fastpitch softball teams were there in full uniform ready to play our guys. They had been warming up for quite a while. There were two umpires in full gear and uniforms. A crowd of probably 300 was on hand.
After some welcoming remarks by one of the Dominican team’s managers, we shared a time of prayer. Then it was time to play.
Our guys played extremely hard and extremely well. Grant Massey set the tone, leading off the game with a ground-rule double that bounced over the left-field fence made of old tires. Michel was the pitcher for our team. His brother Melchor was the catcher. They were both incredibly good. We made several stellar defensive plays in the field and were able to string together enough hits to score four runs. Our defense held on in the bottom of the fifth and final inning to secure a 4-3 win.
I don’t think the first team expected to lose. Their manager made multiple trips to the mound during the game to talk with his pitcher. They were yelling at each other after the loss. A bunch of college kids from the United States playing in shorts and tennis shoes had just taken it to them.
The two Dominican teams played each other in the second game. The team we had to play in the third and final game put a whoopin’ on the team we beat in game one. I think the final score was 6-0. Their pitcher was a 61-year-old fireballer that could locate three different pitches.
Michel threw another gem in the second game and made several incredible defensive plays himself. On one play it appeared that a line drive had hit him although he still made the out at first. Coach Forehand came out to check on him but Michel was quick to tell him he was fine. Our offense was highlighted by Jamie Young who hit an opposite-field, two-run bomb to left field. The good guys won game three 4-2.
Coach Forehand commented that today’s games were among the best moments he could remember in all of his years at Lipscomb. It was the perfect intersection of passion, purpose and relationships.
The guys entertained dozens of children again today. They carried them on their shoulders, spun them around by their arms, taught them how to whistle by cupping their hands, played catch with them and were just generally great in putting their interests above their own.
We had spaghetti and salad for dinner. It was scrumptious. After dinner we sang happy birthday to Jonathan Allison and ate birthday cake.
Shortly thereafter we gathered together to share and reflect on the first three days of the trip. Each and every person shared something meaningful they had seen or experienced on the trip. Hearts were opened. Voices cracked. Tears were shed.
Walls have already been broken down. Relationships have been born and others strengthened in our short time here. As I have said before, these trips always seem to have a built-in reset button for those that come. They give you a chance to reset your priorities, ask yourself what you need to change in your life, what you need to add, what you need to subtract, who you need to add, who you need to subtract.
The next three days we’ll return to working on the Field of Dreams. Our plan is to finish the backstop, build two dugouts, add permanent bases and a pitching rubber and generally get the playing surface in as good of shape as possible before we leave.
We hope relationships continue to be forged on that field. We want to equip Michel, Melchor and Mission Marte with the best possible baseball facility possible so they can teach baseball and have leagues.
Ultimately, our work is so much sweeter because what will happen on that field will matter in 500 years. Michel, Melchor and their amazing team of volunteers will use the greatest game in the world to build relationships with a new generation of kids and families. Then they will boldly, unapologetically tell them the greatest story in the world – of a man named Jesus who lived, died and rose again so that we can all play on a Field of Dreams together one day.
If you haven’t had a chance to contribute to our trip, we still need your help. Please visit www.lipscomb.edu/gift and designate your gift to the Dominican Republic-Baseball mission trip.