This may be our first day in Barahona, but we are in full swing and working hard. Our team had 2 main tasks this morning – 4 of us presented at our Teacher Seminar and the rest of the crew worked on prepping walls to be painted. In the afternoon, half of us went to Blanquizales Church, one of our new churches, and put on the first day of Bible School there. The children there loved it and are excited for tomorrow when they will learn more about the power of God, learn more English and science and play more games. The rest of the group stayed back at the school and church we are staying and worked on projects we will use for camp the rest of the week. This team works and plays very hard. We enjoyed our spaghetti tonight with rosy sun touched cheeks and talked about the day. Each night the boys have played a game of “handball” and we have lots of card games each night. Tomorrow we have a full day of children as we do Bible School with 3 different groups of children. Pray for strength and endurance as we share Jesus with the children of Barahona through the heat. Ohio sure did not prepare us for this 90 degree weather!
June 18, 2019
Today we started off with another hot and sunny day in Barahona. In the morning, I started off at a camp with the younger of the two groups, and I got put in charge of the youngest group of kids. They were an amazing experience just by the joy they found in the tiniest things. They were all super excited when we did some small art projects and were very enthusiastic when trying to learn some English. Around lunch time, we had a little time outside where we could do really whatever. I ended up chasing ton of kids around and the younger kids loved it when we gave them rides on our backs, which was super fun. After we ate a great lunch of rice and beans and chicken, I stayed at the camp and was given the older kids to help with, some younger than me and some were older. Since they were older, it was much easier to communicate with them and get a closer relationship with them. After the camps were over, some of the guys stayed and we played some baseball and had a basketball game of Americans vs Dominicans. Eventually, we had to go inside for a little while, and during that time we ate some dinner. After that we had to finish up chores and relax a little. Then we are planning on continuing our handball tournament. All in all the first couple days has been a very great experience for me so far. – Andrew Thomas
This morning we started with some more hot temperatures and humidity; however, that didn’t stop any of the fun for the rest of the day. I started at a camp and was a group leader. My group was pretty fun and all got along, but they could not figure out how to make a circle…. Anyways, we ran around, got very sweaty, struggled to understand each other’s languages, but got through it. I made quite a few friends and have had a lot of bonding time with others on the team, which I am very grateful for. In the afternoon, I went to another camp in a different location. It was the last time our group would be running camp there, but the kids had a lot of fun. I went through the motions of helping with crafts and other things (they can be pretty rough at times). And then we went back to the compound. We had a bit of relaxing time, played volleyball with the Dominicans and then ate dinner. Over all it was a good day and I’m very glad to be here. These first days have been incredibly fun and valuable and I can’t wait for more! -Grace Jones
We woke up to the roosters crowing and a beautiful sunrise. Four of us adults headed to a church to do a teacher seminar with local teachers for the first half of the day. It was amazing to witness some “wow” moments when the teachers experienced the outcome of a science light experiment, laugh at a children’s book being read and see them get excited about graphing. The biggest challenge was trying to explain to some of the small groups why something happened in English when all they understood was Spanish. Using your hands to talk helped some. There was only one translator so it was hard for her to be everywhere when the teachers were spread out amongst 8 groups. The second half of the day was completely different. We actually worked with the older kids at the school in different stations reteaching the Bible story, crafts, science and games. It has just been inspiring to see God working in the lives of all the kids here and even the youth and adults that are helping. Everyone singing praise songs as one body, but all so different, is going to be a memory that will be taken away and remembered. -Ann Jackson
June 19, 2019
Today was the second day of camp, and the third day in the Dominican Republic. Despite the tiredness and heat, there are so many reasons to smile: coloring at the craft station with the children, a little girl patiently pronouncing and teaching me the names of colors in Spanish, playing volleyball with a group of Dominican and American women, taking selfies as girls braid my hair. I have learned more Spanish in three days than I have in my whole life! This morning I greeted the kids at the gate before I headed off to work on construction throughout the school. The girls taught me their handshake games and played with my hair. Then a group of us worked on scraping and painting some of the classrooms. After a lunch of Dominican rice, beans, and chicken, I helped with the older kids’ camp. I led a group of girls who are only a few years younger than me. It was interesting to interact with kids closer to my age and see their relationships and interactions with each other. Another benefit of mission trips is creating friendships and memories with others who are on the mission. Waking up early in 90 degree weather with a cup of black coffee, sitting on Grace’s lap while too many of us pack into too small of a car, playing Code Names on the porch, dancing on the roof as the Dominican children watch and copy our moves. These are little details that make trips like this so special. I can’t believe we are already halfway done!
This is my second trip to the Dominican Republic as I traveled from Haiti to the DR two years ago. Although I have worked with the teachers in Haiti for several years, this is the first year I have been able to work with teachers in the DR. As in Haiti, there are certain skills that we take for granted, like putting hole punched papers in a binder. I was concerned and wanted to help, but our translator remarked, “Let them figure it out.” There were four of us who did the teacher training seminars in the morning for 50-60 teachers. It was interesting to see how the lessons built upon each other. In the afternoon, we went back to the church to help with VBS where I lead the English lessons. (I’m hoping some students were able to pick up a little Appalachian American accent, so I will know I have left an impact.) In reality, it was great to see the kids again. Not only did a few remember the lessons on slinkys from two years ago, but I also noticed many of the teens who were now working so cooperatively playing volleyball, were the same ones who were fighting over jump ropes not so very long ago. I am trusting for more opportunities in the future to see the kids and teachers grow physically and spiritually as a result of all Mission Possible does in Haiti and the Dominican Republic.
The second day of the DR was very similar to the first. We started out with hash browns and assorted fruits for breakfast, with orange juice. However the construction is becoming very tedious. We will peel paint, only to find more that needs peeled. So far, we have nearly stripped an entire wall of paint. Many working on stripping the wall left to help other groups because we only had so many scrapers. Most went to the basketball court to help Owen contain the little children. Teaching children is hard, and adding a language barrier makes it much harder. After it had reached noon, we played basketball until lunch. Most Dominicans seem very good at basketball. After lunch, we headed off with our groups, and I got a mixed group. The first station of four was the games station, where the boys played basketball, and the girls played volleyball. Most basketball games are 4 on 4 or 5 on 5, however we occasionally do a 3 on 3. Then, we moved onto to the English lesson, which was very impressive. Some kids could say the color that was shown in English, before I could. Following English was the science station, which my dad led. It was about chemical reactions. We put Alka-Seltzer tablets in an airtight container to see how far the lid could fly. Then, we brought out the Pop rocks. The children loved the pop rocks. After Science, we went to the craft and bible lesson, which was about how the devil tries to trick us. We made little pieces of paper, which when you spin, looks different than when held still. After the craft lesson, we went to the courtyard, which brought on more basketball (I’m thinking the kids like basketball). Many games had a mix of Americans and Dominicans, but a couple were “Americanos y Dominicanos.”. Sadly the kids had to go home, so we headed upstairs and played “Codenames” on the porch, and then we had pizza sandwiches for supper. Small things make huge differences in the lives of many.
June 20, 2019
Today was one of our most fun and active days yet! Starting off we met with all the little kids in the church and took them to this park. It was a little bit of a walk, but not too far. When we arrived at the park, we got out the balls we had brought along and played a ton of different games, like kickball, passing a soccer ball, tag, frisbee, etc. Everyone loved them! The hot sun beaming down on us made us tired and sweaty, but we pushed through the exhausting work just so we could have a great time and make it fun for the kids. After all the fun games, we headed back to camp and ate our lunch. For lunch we had rice, beans and an option of beef. It was really yummy! When the afternoon came, the little kids left and then the older kids showed up. We met in the church again and then headed to the park. Once we arrived at the park, we got out all the balls again. This time we played a serious soccer game playing Americans against Dominicans. I thought it was going to be an easy win; however, that wasn’t the case. Both teams were super aggressive and made it hard to score. During half time we were all super tired and sweaty, and then as if perfectly timed, the rain came and it felt really good. The downside of the rain was how hard it became to play because the ball was super slippery and we all kept sliding on the ground. As you can see it was a great day overall, and we all are excited for all the other days we have left.
Today was probably my favorite day yet. We took the kids on a walk to a track surrounding soccer fields. I threw the frisbee with a couple kids; then we played soccer. Next, we all did races against the kids and they had fun. We stayed for a couple of hours then headed back to the school. We ate lunch of chicken and beef prepared by the schools lunch people. We didn’t have much time until we turned around and headed back to the track with ages 11-15. We played a huge Dominicans vs Americans soccer game. Some of the Dominican boys played and only one girl, but they had a couple older kids not even with the camp play for them. and they were good. We played that the entire time and lost 6-5. In the middle of the game, it started raining and got very slippery, but felt great since it was hot. We headed back to the school in the rain and changed clothes and played a game called Nerts. We also finished a previously started game of codenames. Like I said before this was the best part of the trip yet and I am so happy to have been able to experience such a different culture. It has been great and I have already had a very FUN time.
Today we spent time with all of the kids that we’ve been able to have in camp, playing games at the track near the school. We walked through town to get to the track – 60 kids walked single file for 15 minutes! I was impressed with the discipline this took, but the kids knew the expectation and really did well. This speaks volumes about the character and discipline instilled in the kids at the school! At the track, I really enjoyed getting to see the kids from the church I’d visited the day before. At the church where we did some Bible time and a craft, the kids were very reserved around me. But today at the track, these same kids were excited to tell me their name and play with me. The kids loved competing in soccer, foot races, and kickball. I was able to throw and kick the pelota (ball) with the kids and took lots of pictures of the girls -they really wanted to see pictures of themselves. In the afternoon, we were rained on at the track, but it was a refreshing change to the heat. I am looking forward to a couple more days of camp to spend with these kiddos and I’m continuing to pray for God to work in these children’s lives.
June 21, 2019
Today was our fifth day here and it was a pretty regular day. We started off the day with a good breakfast that consisted of eggs, fruit, and lightly toasted bread that could be covered in either butter, peanut butter, or Nutella. Then when we got down into the courtyard we played with some of the kids, and they “married” us, it was really funny and cute. Then we went into the church and sang our songs and eventually split up into our groups. Liv had the younger kids, ages 3-6 and Cooper had ages 11 and 12 years old. Of course with these kids, they are so crazy that it doesn’t matter what ages you have, it is going to be a challenge. Our favorite part of the camp is the games section. Playing sports with the kids is a great way to bond with them, even with the language barrier. Anyway, after being a group leader for the little kids, we ate lunch. Both of us only get rice and beans for lunch because we don’t like the meat that comes with it. The food is so good though, Cooper had 2 servings! In the afternoon, the older kids came. Both of us were pretty scared going into this afternoon because we had to be group leaders by ourselves. But, we sang our songs, and got into our groups, Liv had a group of girls ages 14-16, and Cooper had a group of boys ages 13-18. After the first station, we both realized it wasn’t nearly as awkward and hard as we thought it was going to be, and actually turned out to be a really fun experience. Later on in the day, a group of men came with souvenirs for us to look at and buy/bargain. That’s where we are right now, but we plan on playing handball later, which is our favorite game to play with everyone in our free time. We have to say that so far, this has been the best experience for both of us and we have had the best time even though we are away from our parents and home.
-Liv Lanagan and Cooper Norman
June 22, 2019
Today has been one of the most fun days so far as we were able to be in the beautiful nature that has been surrounding us. But first I need to go back to the beginning of the day. We started with breakfast of leftovers including oatmeal, pop tarts and a few types of fruits. After that we when to the courtyard to play enough games of rock, paper, scissors to make your cheeks sore. It’s all fun and games though. Going to the church, we sang some songs with everybody because the younger and older were both there in the morning. With so many students at once (probably around 120) it sounds like chaos waiting to happen, but we were lucky and it ended up being super smooth. Luke and I lead a group of 9 and 10 year old kids. We had lots of fun talking to the kids, walking around to different stations, and showing them my terrible dance moves just to make them giggle. After that we met back in the church were we said our final goodbyes to the kids and even made a tunnel out of us for them to run through as they left. Lots of fun yelling and cheering as they ran out the door with the biggest smile on their face. After that we ate a special meal that the ladies in the cafeteria made for us out of rice, meat, carrots, potatoes, and a salad that was outstanding. We relaxed as we waited for our bus that would take us to the waterfall. We got on the bus for a bus ride that was 1 hour long, but worth it. We got there and put on bug spray and started our hike. It was fun hiking through the falls, but disappointing because there wasn’t much at the top. Once we came back down the trail, we got to the bottom where they had small pools of water that the waterfall made. After a while we headed home where we are relaxing till we start the final games of handball. It’s getting intense with the series at 3-2 and the last chance for my team to win. All in all, it has been a great experience for my family and I. It also has been a great time for me to connect with God and spread his word with others.
We are exhausted, dirty, and sweaty, but our hearts are full. This week our team worked hard, played hard, and loved even harder. They showed over 250 kids the love of Jesus through piggy back rides (with sometimes 2 kids at once), volleyball and basketball games, science lessons, English lessons, and other playground games. Always willing to give a hug and a smile even though they couldn't say words, this group most importantly taught about the power and love of our God. It is a week they will not forget and the impact will be seen here in the Dominican Republic and also back home in the lives of these team members. Thank you Jesus for your love that has no boundaries or language barriers!