Thursday, June 23, 2016

DR - June 15-23, 2016 (Gateway Youth)

June 16, 2016

Today we were up at 7am for devotional readings, breakfast and last preparations for the kids.  Camp started at 9am.  Kids were at the door at 8am, waiting with GREAT ENTHUSIASM.

The kids were exposed to soccer, volleyball, basketball and art.  Some of the campers showed up in their school gym uniforms (long pants & collared tshirts) and it was HOT today!  Full sun and heat!  Luckily the courtyard had some shade!  The kids were excited about each station they played at and so were the leaders. 

Art camp was quite an adventure! Campers learned that art is a display of God’s beauty in this world. The high school students had to help the art teacher interpret Spanish and give directions; thank goodness for our patient high school volunteers! The campers worked creatively on coil pots, pinch pots, and stamping while the high school helpers distributed supplies and collected projects. Everyone did an excellent job! We are truly blessed by young adults willing to serve God and one another!

Carrie hard at work with one of her many students
Jennia giving great encouragement, a student making a pinch pot and Ty playing soccer with the girls.

1, 2, 3 Jesus at the end of David's station.  Why not get excited about Jesus?

JD and Carter with Jennia and Grace instruct some students on the finer points of ball handling.

Madi and Gabbi working hard to scrape the inside of the church. 

June 17, 2016

2nd day of camp: This morning was a crazy one. The guys were all up on time today, and all of them actually got breakfast. Today was lots of work, including painting the church, clay projects in art, and lots and lots of basketball and soccer.  The kids were thrilled every time they got to a new station, and participated in most activities with joy.  I had a great time getting to know the kids, and even participated in a pickup game of basketball with some of the older boys.  After camp, we followed up with some more painting in the church, some more basketball and a LOT of cards.  Overall, we’re tired, but have had a great day.

- Zachary Seitz

Zachary working hard as we paint the sanctuary at Ebenezer Church

Everyone loves volleyball!!

Hello all, or should I say Hola todos! We ended our 2nd full day here in the Dominican Republic and let me tell ya it was a blast. I helped translate in a station where the kids chose whether they wanted to play soccer; I mean futbol, or basketball. Most of the kids chose basketball, which surprised me, but turns out there are a lot of LeBron fans here. Most of the girls, however, wanted to play volleyball. For lunch we had a scrumptious meal of rice and chicken with beans. It reminded me a bit of my mom’s cooking so my tummy was happy. Although, I was not in the art room, after lunch I took a peek at the kids’ creations and man oh man are they great. One child even made a Mickey Mouse (a universal character)! After camp ended the group went to the church and practiced a song that we’re singing at church on Sunday. Dare I say we sounded great! And for dinner we had some wonderful tacos and tortilla chips. So all in all I would say our 2nd day went swimmingly.
- Dorie Pierre  

Dorie and Mackenzie having a blast translating at camp!!
Some of today's artwork

Two days down here in Barahona, and they have been two very busy days that have been both very revitalizing and very exhausting.  Today I was in charge of the soccer station with Griffin and Sophie and it was so fun to interact with the kids and watch their skills improve.  My favorite part was when a kid wasn’t participating or wasn’t too confident and I was able to go up to the child and work with them. The one on one attention and encouraging words (tu puedes.. you can do it!) went a long way. It was awesome to see a confidence and a sense of accomplishment in their eyes, smile, and actions.  I am feeling extremely grateful for the opportunity to spend a week with these children and see the excitement and joy in each and every person. I hope we can bless these kids, but I know they have already blessed us in more ways than one. I know I have learned more from them than I, by myself, could ever teach them. As fun as it is to teach and play with these kids, it is also very exhausting. By the end of the day, I am ready for a nap, some food, and a shower. The best part of the day, in my opinion, is still to come. At night we all gather for a good game, good conversations, worship, and devotionals. The time to be up on the roof, feeling the breeze, and just being with our team is awesome. This trip is an amazing time for growth in many ways and an awesome time to escape the worries of this world and focus on people besides ourselves, and most importantly, our wonderful Creator.
- Lisa Simmons        

Griffin, Sophie, and Lisa with a group at their soccer station

 June 18, 2016

Today, I was a group leader. Since we had five group leaders and only four groups in the first half of the day, I got to sand the church wall with a rock because we are repainting it. I’m more than positive that the rock didn’t do anything, but they told me to keep going. The second half of the day, I got to lead a group of older girls. They were so fun to talk to and get to know! I had to play every sport with them just so they would play. I think I ran out of air in my lungs on the second station (I had three more stations to go). Let me tell ya, those girls were in shape and might I add feisty. The second group I got to lead was my all time favorite. Three years ago when I came here for the first time, there was a girl in my group named Rosa. She was eight while I was 14 years old. We were best friends from the first day of that week. The year after when I came back to the D.R., I asked the girls where Rosa was. They told me that she went to a different school. I got so sad because I thought I would never see her again. Yesterday, I saw a girl that looked just like her! I asked the girl if she remembered me…her face lite up, and she replied saying, “Gabby.” I gave her the biggest hug possible! This trip, so far, has been amazing! But I cannot wait to go home to share the love of Christ just like the people have shared with me here.

- Gabby Lyon

The first few days here were great. When camp starts everyday, the kids are so excited to see us. They are all smiles; it makes my day every time. Most of the kids seem to understand me. Luckily, when they don’t there is usually a kid near by who does, and they explain what I can’t. Although it is hot, it isn’t hard to stay hydrated here; I always have my water bottle near me. I am having a lot of fun here.
– Kaylee Puthoff

I wasn't very confident in my Spanish prior to the trip. But, with experience I have become very confident in my Spanish.  Having to speak only Spanish in my AP Spanish class was awful at the time, but it made me very prepared for translating. I have made really good friends with some people my age.  It’s been really cool.  I also sat in on the Dominican church worship team’s practice. It was unreal. Just during practice I felt God’s presence and  it was awesome.  And, my birthday was great! Tonight after dinner they brought out a cake for me with a flare on top of it that said “Felicidades”. Didn't get the experience that most people get when they turn 18, but I think mine was much better. This trip has done nothing but help the fact that I want to live on this island one day.
- Drake Heidepriem

After practicing for our song we will sing Sunday morning, some of the team decided to try and rap

Campers showing off their masterpieces

Our room full of their beautiful creations

June 20, 2016

The kids are super friendly and very interested in “Americanos.” The culture is a lot different. From the roof of our place, you can see many one room shacks as houses, and everyone is always out and about on the streets, basically spending the whole day outside. The view from the roof is spectacular, seeing the crystal clear water with the mountains in the background is just breathtaking. I’m pleasantly surprised that I am able to communicate with the kids fairly easily, and when I don’t know a word I can just point and they pick up on it. The church service was very vibrant and full of energy, and it was a great experience. Sharing the gospel while serving is a humbling and amazing experience, and I’m glad to be here.

- Carter Brand

Carter helping at art camp

The incredible revival we got to be a part of

Carter accompanying our team as we sang at the revival
Hola everyone! Today was eventful for me. We played some pretty fun basketball, volleyball, and soccer games. To motivate the girls that were playing, I told each one (individually) that they were the best ones on the team- believe it or not, it worked. Also, after translating a Bible story about Daniel and the lions’ den, I called on someone to pray out loud. Unfortunately, the person I called upon was mute. I have to hand it to her. She prayed her little heart out. And danced for us as well. I couldn’t decide whether to cry because it was so adorable and innocent, or feel bad because I called on her to talk out loud in front of a group of people. Everyone was wonderful and fun today, and we were all pretty tired at the end of the day. My heart is happy and full.
- Mackenzie
Mackenzie and her team of "all stars"

Mackenzie showing them how to play defense

The Dominicans have been so kind despite the fact that every time I try to talk to them, I completely butcher their language… (I guess 3 years of Spanish hasn't been enough).  I worked with soccer skills on Saturday and I think I’ve broken the limit of number of times anyone should say “Muy bien” in 3 hours. The breeze has been a blessing today; Sunday was quite the scorcher.
- Katie
Katie and JD working hard painting the inside of the church

Katie showing her soccer skills
Keaton and his basketball studs!

Sweet girls with Tracy at Art Camp

Sharing Jesus with the group at the end of camp

Everyone loved volleyball today

June 21, 2016

This trip has truly been one of the most heart-moving trips. From seeing the sweet and beautiful faces of the kiddos, to looking at all of what God has created. My heart is so much more appreciative of what I have now, after seeing how minimal others live. A storm occurred last night and the only things on my mind were the families that have cracks in their roof or unstable walls. It broke my heart to think how wet and cold they must be. My mission is to come back here multiple times because this is a country that is dear to my heart and I want to help it.  People say that we will change the kids’ lives, but they truly are changing ours.
– Love, Claudia

It is unbelievable the things you realize on a mission trip. No matter how many times you go on one, even if it is to the same place and you are doing the same service, you always end up learning something different every time. This time, God has chosen to show me how important of a virtue joy is in this world. He has taught me exactly how much a simple smile or “Hola” can make someone happy for even just a few seconds. You never know exactly how much those few seconds can mean to someone. For example, on this trip, I met a girl who did not remember me at all from when I came two years ago. But today, she whispered in my ear the words, “I love you” in English. I will never forget that moment for as long as I live, because it showed me that I was helping spread God’s love in an indescribable way. I want all who read this to remember how important joy is. Go out there and give someone a smile, or give someone a compliment. It will amaze you with how good it will make the both of you feel.

~Grace Dickmann

Bus ride to the beach

Claudia and her sweet group of girls

Grace and her friend, Francheska

The girls were especially competitive

The whole group at the Olympic Village