This time last year Casey and I were preparing ourselves for our first mission trip overseas to the Dominican Republic. I remember we were both so nervous. Reminiscing about the trip brings up the true and raw feelings we had and our struggle to let the Lord work in our lives.
It all started when we were at an annual baseball conference that we attend. We were introduced to a couple that does missions and uses baseball as a tool to reach out to others. The organization is called UPI (Unlimited Potential Incorporated). When we were presented with the opportunity to go on a mission trip we were both instantly convicted, we knew in our hearts we were supposed to go however our minds were not on the same page. You see, the idea of a mission trip sounded awesome until it was actually obtainable and right in front of us! We were told it was only a month away! The pressure was on and this is where it got sticky.
We later talked to each other about this unique proposal and felt that although we were being led to do it, we just had to many things going on and that is when the excuses kept popping up. I have to admit the closer it came to the trip the more creative our excuses were getting. Finally, the couple that was running it called us and pretty much shut all of our excuses down by saying someone wanted to sponsor us to go. Now in a way we felt stuck and we couldn’t let this game go on any longer, so from there we tried to prepare our hearts and minds but nothing would have prepared us for the journey we were about to go on.
We arrived in the DR to the news that our trip itinerary had changed due to some circumstances one of the missionaries we were working with had. Therefore we now were talking a public transportation bus from the Capital, Santo Domingo, to Santiago which was several hours away. The bus was stinky and full of people, we didn’t even have seats together. My normally cool, calm, and collected husband was even freaking out! Luckily Casey was able to somehow convince the large gentleman next to me to swap seats with him through some broken spanglish.
When we arrived in Santiago we had so many emotions running through us. We talked about how we wanted to do mission work but we were clearly not called to do overseas missions. We were way far out of our comfort zone! Sure I have traveled to several countries before but I had never been to a third world country, it was a huge culture shock to say the least! We thought to ourselves, “Lord, you called us here but you have the wrong people”. We had convinced ourselves that we were not meant for the job we had in front of us so we spent our first night of being there looking up plane tickets to get the heck home. We thought the Lord had clearly made a mistake, but thats where we were wrong.
We decided to stay, I think partially because we were so afraid of embarrassing ourselves to our leaders but also ashamed because the accommodations we had were more then nice. We were so fortunate to stay in a beautiful home of a former baseball player who was originally from there, his wife however was from Indiana and her hospitality comforted me beyond words. The house was very Americanized which was refreshing. We had air condition and hot water and didn’t have to worry about not flushing toilet paper, so as far as mission accommodations go we had it pretty good.
As the week progressed I cannot explain how life changing it was for us. To see Casey working with young baseball players that play with sticks and bottle caps brought tears to my eyes. We put on several baseball clinics and gained so much perspective as to why baseball is so important over there. We did several things while there including: speaking at a church, school, visiting orphanages, but nothing prepared me for the times I had at a girls school called New Hope. The girls school was much different from the orphanages, it was tucked away on a hill in a very poverty stricken town. This school was special because the girls that attended would otherwise not have an education due to varying factors. The school was also a home to several of the girls that attended and provided them with a safe place to stay and meals to eat. The first day I went to see them I was so taken back by the smell, and overall conditions of the town, it was heartbreaking. Those girls changed my life in many ways but I will never forget watching one of them open a care package that was sent by a sponsor, she was so enlighten about the smallest things, things we take for granted daily.
While the girls pulled at my heartstrings I was so inspired by the woman facilitating the school. She was a beautiful woman inside and out. She was not from the DR but let the Lord lead her over there. She is making a difference in young women’s lives all because she was pushed out of her comfort zone. She has brought hope to these girls and also jobs to women in the neighborhood. While I was there I got to tour a home that had converted a back room into a workshop where ladies make purses that are then distributed and sold throughout the world, providing support for the girls school and work for mothers in the community. It is a small operation but it all started because of someone being courageous enough to trust the Lord.
As our week wrapped up in the Dominican Republic our mindset had changed so much since we first got there. It went from wanting to leave on our very first day, questioning the Lord and why he chose us, and being pushed so far out of our comfort zone to thinking we have to come back and do this again one day. Sometimes we fight what the Lord has in store for us instead of just trusting in him. My mind would have never been able to guess how much we would personally gain from that trip and i’m so thankful we were able to experience it. Life changing was what it was for us.
Peace Love & Baseball,
If you want to learn more about New Hope please check out the link below!