Lee University Woman’s Basketball (Lady Flames)
Today we (Lady Flames) embarked on our cross-cultural trip to the Dominican Republic. Leaving Lee University at 4:30 A.M we arrived at 7:30 A.M. for our 9:50 A.M flight into Santo Domingo. Arriving to our destination at 1:15 P.M, as we looked out the plane windows we witnessed a very humbling sight. It was very overwhelming to see the differences between the city of Atlanta and Santo Domingo. As we looked down we saw dirt roads vs. smoothed paved roads, and rural towns vs. Metropolis cities. Upon our arrival we were greeted by our Score intern escort, and made our way to Score orientation. Before orientation a delicious lunch was provided to us by Score where we enjoyed ham sandwiches and potatoes chips.
After eating lunch we had our Score orientation and learned a little about what all we will be doing for the upcoming week. Lady Flame Tori Lentz accepted the challenge of translating the introduction of our orientation speaker and succeeded with flying colors. We then were taken to our hotel where we unpacked our bags and got everything situated.
Later into the evening around 6 P.M. we returned to the Score head quarters for dinner. For dinner we had salad, pasta, rice, chicken, eggplant, and ice cream! It was a great first dinner in the Dominican. We then made our way through a little market towards the beach were we meet two little puppies who followed us all the way there. You can only imagine the sight of the sea! It was breath taking, however that sight was not the best part of the night. The best part was meeting a young lady by the name of Esmeralda whom was taking pictures in a beautiful pink gown for her Quinceanera. As a team we decided to sing her happy birthday in her native language. Mind you it was a little rough but the smile on her face made it all worth it. It was interesting to see that in the Latin culture a girl turning fifteen is a monumental aspect in her life because she is being considered a woman at this time. In American most girls are not considered a woman until the age of eighteen. Being very small part of Esmeralda’s big moment was more of a blessing to us then to her. Overall our first day in the Dominican involved more traveling verse cultural experiences, it’s only the first day and we have more to come. WE CAN’T WAIT!
As we woke up to our first full day in the Dominican, we knew that we were in for a full day of playing basketball, but most importantly getting to visit one of the Girl’s homes here in the city. On our way to our game, we drove through part of the city of Santo Domingo. While we were driving through, we were astonished at how crowded and chaotic that the streets were. It was nothing for there to be six lanes of traffic when there were really only supposed to be three. Our friendly bus driver, Blanco, informed us that there are 11 million people that live in the city of Santo Domingo.
When we arrived at the fitness gym that we were playing at, there were children running up to our bus and waving and jumping up and down like they had been waiting to see us their whole lives. The gym that we played in was nothing like we had seen before. The floor was caged in and you had to go through a gate just to enter onto the court. The walls had holes in them to provide airflow since there was no air conditioner. During the game all of the children were in the stands were cheering both our opponents and us on like it was the National Championship game. So Lee fans, you have a lot to live up to after that game. They were lined up against the gate talking to us while we were on the bench, asking us questions like, “Como te llamas?” and calling us “Americano!” Don’t tell Coach Rowe, but we may have been paying more attention to the children than the game at times. At the end of the game, both teams came together at half court and our graduate assistant, Hollie German, shared a little bit of her testimony using a translator. After Hollie spoke, one of Coach Rowe and Coach Fitz long time friends, Teresa, who was also a player, spoke to us and thanked us for coming. She also gave each one of us a handmade bracelet.
After lunch, we visited Pasitos de Jesus Home of Girls. Wow, was this an incredible experience for us. Not only for us as individuals, but also as a team. There are fifty girls at the home and their ages range from one year to 18 years old. As we walked up to the girls they immediately took us all in different directions. Some of us were playing volleyball, others were learning the songs that they were teaching us, and a few were getting their hair braided. We were able to have basic conversations with them, but when we needed to ask them the most important question of all, “Do you know Jesus Christ as your personal Savior?” we had the translator come over to help us. Although we learned that there were many differences between our two cultures, we had one main thing in common and that was Jesus Christ. Out of everything that we had talked about and did with the young girls the answer to that question was more important than anything that we had done.
It’s amazing to see how happy these girls are that we came into contact with, both the players and the girls at the home. It is really eye opening to see how happy they can be with how little they have. From now on, anytime we have a bad day, we will think back to this trip and to this day and remember all of the smiling faces and kindness that we received. It is technically only the first full day, and our hearts are already overwhelmed with joy and blessings and we know it is only going to get better from here.
We woke up this morning excited to start the day off with experiencing more of the different culture. It started around 8:45 a.m. when we gathered downstairs in the lobby to eat a delicious breakfast. Then we headed to San Pedro to attend a Spanish-speaking Baptist church called John 3:16.
We were greeted warmly by the congregation with smiles. The service opened with two songs, in Spanish, and a reading from Psalm chapter two. Afterwards, Kayla Beavers shared her testimony, about how she became closer to God. It was a very moving speech that brought everyone to tears. Moments after Kayla sat down, and the worship team was preparing to sing their next song, the power went out. We were shocked because in America it is not a common thing for the power to go out during a church service. We patiently waited for the power to come back on, and when it did, we proceeded to sing the third song.
When we had finished singing the song, the pastor gave his message. Much to our surprise, he preached the entire sermon in English, while he had someone translate it into Spanish. It made us all feel welcomed because it showed that the pastor wanted us to be there. After the pastor’s gratifying sermon, we sang one more song that most of us knew, “Shout to the Lord,” but in Spanish. After the closing of the service, we had the opportunity to spend some time with the kids in the congregation. We could tell that they really enjoyed our presence, and did not want us to leave. Even though we had to go, we wanted to give the children something to remember us by, so a number of us gave them the bracelets from off of our wrists.
Upon leaving the church, we travelled back to the Score Complex and ate a quick lunch before heading to the beach for some fun in the sun. Spending hours at the nearby beach, we had the chance to buy souvenirs from vendors and converse with many local citizens. While some of the team went snorkeling, and played volleyball in the ocean, others took naps in the sand.
Overall, getting to experience a different church service, and meeting new people on the beach, we had another amazing day in the Dominican Republic!
Today we woke up excited for day 4. We had another delicious breakfast at the hotel. We then left for the sugar cane villages around 8:30. We were all very anxious because we did not know what to expect. We arrived at the village which was a long dirt road lined with houses on both sides. Their houses looked like huts made out of tin. They had dogs, horses, pigs, and donkeys roaming the street. The village had a church, baseball field, and basketball court. The people made the best of what they had.
As the bus pulled up, the children began to run from their homes and chase us. We all got off the bus and children would choose one of us and we became their “amigo.” Eventually they led us to the baseball field. While some played a long, intense game of baseball others played off to the side. We played pato, pato, ganso that is duck, duck, goose in Spanish. After a little bit they led us to their church to hangout. They were so excited to take us there. One of our teammates, Jasmine, led us in a song while another teammate, Tori, helped interpret. Then four girls made us sit down and they performed a dance routine for us. It was precious. When they finished we all joined in dancing and singing. It was the most fun we have had all week. Unfortunately we could not stay forever and we had to leave. Saying bye to those children was heartbreaking.
We then went to the Score house to eat lunch and then headed back to the hotel to rest. At 3:45 we left for our second game here in the Dominican. It was in Santo Domingo again, but at another gym. The arena was very similar to the first one we played in. We won the game by one point. The bus ride home was filled with lots of chanting and singing until we arrived back at the Score house. We ate another awesome dinner of salad, mashed potatoes, chicken fingers, and ice cream!
Visiting the village was one of the most eye opening days so far. The children were so happy with so little. It really changed our perspective on life and made us all realize how blessed we really are because we have more than enough. Our hearts are so full and we cannot wait to continue this humbling experience.
After such an incredible experience in the sugarcane village yesterday, we were blessed enough to go back today. The villages were similar, yet we saw differences through the spirit of the people and through their way of life. This time, we were fortunate enough to bring food to families in need. After a couple hours of playing and ministering to the children, the village congregated in the church for the food distribution. There was a list of name, and after each name was called loud cheers of support rang through the church. This was especially inspiring because rather than displaying envy, they displayed joy for one another. Not only did we have the honor of assembling the bags they received, we also got to pray over each family. This was initially intimidating because of the language barrier: however, it was apparent that the love of Christ could dismantle any obstacle. After distributing food, we had half an hour left to play with the kids. Many of us had brought along items to give to them including anything from pens to t-shirts. The joy they expressed for things that seem so trivial to us was amazing. It was eye opening to see how much of the world we take for granted. When we thought we had nothing left to give, we became even more aware of how much we truly have. It was in this moment the Spirit moved through us and prompted us to give them our shoes. We were humbled through this experience and felt the overwhelming power of Christ when we saw the look on their sweet faces. We will never feel like we gave them enough but we find comfort in knowing that their growing relationships with Christ will always sustain them.
After we left the village, we went to Score for lunch then back to the hotel to reflect on our morning and prepare for our game. During this time some of us went to the pool while others relaxed in their rooms. Around 4:00 pm we left for our game against the Dominican Jr. National team. At the end of the game, we circled up as a group to share testimonies and prayer. When we left the gymnasium we headed straight back to Score for dinner. unlike our usual routine, we had a worship service along with a devotion led by our intern David. His devotion emphasized the importance of preparing our hearts for eternity as we grow in wisdom and confidence. Directly after the devotion we had the opportunity to support many of the Score missionaries and foundations by purchasing handmade items and baked goods. We wrapped up the day with a team meeting in Coach Rowe’s room. This meeting was different than all the other nights because we each had the opportunity to share a moment that moved us significantly. As we enjoyed hearing our teammates hearts open up, there were many laughs and many tears. We cannot wait to finish up our trip tomorrow and hope for an even better day.
Unfortunately today was our last day in the wonderful Dominican Republic. However, what a great day we had together! Our day was spent on the beautiful Catalina Island with the bluest water some of us had ever seen. We started our day snorkeling off of the coast of La Romana on our way to the island. The water was full of colorful fish and gorgeous coral. Our day was filled with swimming, dancing, and cliff jumping. This could not have been a better way to end our trip here.
Looking back on this week, the only word that really comes to mind is wow. Wow to the experiences we have had. Wow to the things that we have seen. And wow to the people that we met. This trip has truly been unimaginable!
Although we have all had many different moments that stick out to us, we have all shared the common factor that we have been impacted more than we could have even hoped. Moments that stick out to us are the children at the villages or orphanages, the workers and interns from Score International, praying with the people at the village over the food that we supplied them with from the money we raised, or giving the children of the villages the shoes off of our feet. Although we may be coming back to America with less materialistic things than we came with, we are going back with so much more in our hearts.