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DOMINICAN REPUBLIC MISSION TRIP (JULY 2014)

2014 marked the fourth year that Tristan and Team FCA have traveled to the Dominican Republic for a week of baseball and faith based mission work in and around the towns of Boca Chica, Juan Dolio and San Pedro. This year the team was coached by two strong Christian men, Mike Brady from the Walker School and Phil Roberts from Strong Rock Christian, both in Atlanta. We were surprised to be joined by two players from Arizona who had read about the trip on line and decided to meet us in the DR. Adam and Ben are excellent baseball players but more than that they are great young men, Tristan hit it off with them immediately. We faced two major challenges this year while we were on the island. First, when we arrived the DR was in the middle of an extended drought with the usual afternoon rain storms mostly absent. On top of that, Chikungunya, a nasty mosquito borne virus was sweeping through the Caribbean. Luckily, no one in our group got sick. Once again, we were able to donate nearly 200 lbs of baseball gloves and other equipment through www.giveoneglove.com. It is impossible to describe what something as small as a baseball glove can do for a young Dominican who has nothing more than the tattered clothes on his back. We have said this before, but if the Dominicans were carpenters, we’d give them hammers. They live for baseball so we provide them with baseball gloves as a tangible example of the love of Christianity. We went back to the all girl orphanage, Pasitos de Jesus, and we all got a kick out of the young girls and their desire for attention. There are some great pics of the boys playing various games with the little girls. Each year something happens that drives home to me why we go back year after year. One afternoon, our group arrived in a small village. It was hot and Tristan was not feeling well at all. While we all started throwing baseball and exploring the village, kids (and adults) starting coming out of the houses. Tristan was in a bad mood and went to sit by himself with his head on his knees, on the concrete stoop of a not yet finished church. Within minutes he was joined by three small village boys who sat quietly next to him. My favorite moment of that trip was seeing him notice that the boys had sat near him. It put him in a better mood. He was still a little sick but the “church boys” brought a smile to his face. They are three things that remind me of our time in the DR. The first is the smell of burning trash. It just seems to be everywhere. The second is chickens which run free range in every small village we go to. The last is smiles. Every where we go there are smiles. As we were leaving the village I took a picture of the handmade sign on the church and I asked the interpreter what it said. “That is the name of the village, Los Botao,” he said flatly. “It means the lost or forgotten, like when your girlfriend dumps you.”