Rising senior Brett Wishon shares his thoughts as the team spent time Sunday worshiping with the locals and exploring the areas where they will be doing their work this week.
It all started with the call of a rooster from no other than the man himself, Chris Klotz. As we all began to wake up from our hot slumbers there was some movement around our DR Villa and a sense of community, along with a little bit of tiredness from our long journey the day before. But we all knew that we had a long day ahead of us and that God had called us to this place for a reason, so it was time to go to work.
We went downstairs to the smell of freshly made pancakes and bacon. After breakfast we rode 30 minutes to a community on top of one of the many mountains here in the Dominican Republic, where our Marte Missions host family lives. The drive up the mountain was not only breathtaking because of the views we had on the way, but also heart dropping because of the small dirt road we had to drive on that looked like it had about a mile drop on both sides of the road.
As we reached our destination we were greeted by many friendly waves from the locals and we all began to file out of the bus. It is truly amazing to see people who may not have much as far as money or possessions be filled with so much joyfulness and friendliness. After taking a few pictures and picking some avocados, we all went into a small building for church. We started the service with worship, but the songs were all in Spanish, so it was a little difficult to understand. That didn’t stop us from trying our best to worship though.
The service was filled with both Spanish and English speaking. One of our freshmen, Michael Buckland, spoke about his testimony and a few life experiences. That was a very special moment, and one of our coaches, Coach Idstrom, finished the service with a little sermon about community. One amazing thing that I noticed was that when both Michael and Coach Idstrom were speaking, all of the Dominican people were on the edge of their seats because they were so interested in what was being said.
After church we walked down the street to the house of our Marte Missions Host family and played some games for a few hours until it was time to go see our playground construction site. We hopped back on the bus and traveled down the windy and terrifying road to the site where we will be working to construct a playground this week. We saw the basketball court that our women’s basketball team created for this community, and the baseball field that our baseball team created. Both of which have obviously been used countless times by both the kids and the adults from the community.
As we walked down the hill to the baseball field, we noticed there were some guys who appeared to be getting dressed for a baseball game. As they changed, a few of us asked if we could use their gloves and throw the ball around a little bit and of course they said, “Si”, with a friendly smile. We never imagined what just tossing the ball around would turn into.
Apparently every Sunday there are men’s softball games on the field and a team had traveled 45 minutes to play the local community team. The only problem was that the local team was short three players so they asked Eli Pepper, Asa Duvall and Cam Miller if they wanted to play, and of course they all said yes. To make a long story short, the final score was about 10-1 with the locals winning, thanks to a home run by Eli Pepper, or as the locals called him, “Big Papi”.
There was also some very good fielding by Cam and Asa. Before leaving the site to go back to our building to eat, we all gathered on the location of where we will be building the playground and prayed for God to use us in the way He sees fit. As we all headed back to eat, the bus was filled with talks about all the awesome people we had met in our time today, and the occasional talk from Eli about how great his homerun was.
After finishing up dinner we all headed back to our rooms to get ready for church whose pastor is the one we are building the playground with. This service was a lot like the first one, with worship all being in Spanish, but there were times that the Pastor would speak in English so we would understand.
During the service, Cam Miller shared some ideas and thoughts that God has put on his heart and Chris Klotz finished the service with a very powerful sermon about being all in for Christ that yet again had everyone on the edge of their seats. As we waited for the bus, we spent time talking and getting to know the amazing people in the congregation.
Another amazing moment that I noticed was the fact that none of us speak fluent Spanish and very few of the people in the congregation speak English, but we could still understand what the other was saying after interacting for a while.
When our bus was ready we jumped on and headed back to the Villa. When we got back we all headed up to the roof where we could share our favorites snapshots or moments from the day, so we could look back on what it was we did, and it’s a time where we can reflect and share our feelings with one another before we go to bed.
Some of the snapshots shared were the softball game, the church services, and all the amazing people we met, but these are just a few. Each day we will continue sharing our snapshots at night before we go to bed so we can reflect on what God is doing, both with us and through us while we are here in the DR.