Dominican Republic: Johnson Ferry Christian Academy 2014

JFCA Saints Baseball Mission Team 2014

JFCA Saints Baseball Mission Team 2014

Johnson Ferry Christian Academy Saints Baseball Team is traveling to the Dominican Republic in partnership with FCA Atlanta/Dominican Republic and SCORE International.

 

 

 

 

Day 1 - Our team of 14 departed Atlanta on February 15th, a little late, but no issues otherwise.  We arrived in Santo Domingo around 3pm and were greeted by Mike Shaheen.  Arrived at the SCORE Hotel to unpack, debriefed, an early dinner and headed to the beach.   Returned to the SCORE and spent time going over the schedule for the week.  We are starting our study on 1st Peter.  The team has been studying 2nd Peter over the past month at practice.  We prayed for our time, for Frank and Jo and their family, and Mike and his family.

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Day 2 - San Pedro - Today we worshipped at a church in San Pedro.  Norman Hunt, from Hopewell Baptist Church in Canton preached this morning.  Pastor Norman has some of his youth here.  The service was packed!  After the service, our team stayed behind and had a sack lunch.  We walked a few blocks to the La Puerta "the door" community.  The boys were meet by close to 60 boys for a clinic/practice.  Chris shared the gospel and about 12 boys that indicated that they were interested in learning more we asked to return to the church with the local pastors.  We returned to the SCORE campus around 3 and it was off to the beach again.  Everyone is doing fine, we are just getting ready to start our Bible Study for the evening.  Click on the image below to see more pictures from our day!

JF Saints Baseball 2014

JF Saints Baseball 2014

David and Miguel

David and Miguel

The Bucket Brigade

The Bucket Brigade

Willy and William Jesu (Willy's brother, a pastor, is in the background

Willy and William Jesu (Willy's brother, a pastor, is in the background

Sharing with Westlynn

Sharing with Westlynn

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Pastor's Study

Pastor's Study

Day 3 – What a remarkable day!  Chelsea went to the orphanage with another SCORE group.  The team had a game at Tangecito, Boca Chica.  This was one of the nicest fields (other than Rawlings) that we have played at.  Americanos – 1, Dominicans – 0! , final score of the game was 14-6.  We simply won on fundamental baseball.  We also had a few of the Dominican boys that played with us last year, Eric, Ariel, etc, sub in and play in our line up.  Jackson, Porter, and Bryan pitched. Jackson had a great hit.  Mitch did a great job at first.  Hunt played right and first.  Tim did a great job all around.  David Jr. turned a couple of double plays.  We were significantly beating the Dominicans in the first couple of innings, so we switch things up. Jake pitched for the first time and did great with the help of his defense.  Kade pitched and Micah caught (yes, I got that right, Micah suited up and played), he also actually scored a run.  There were other funny antics as well.  Following the game, we shared the gospel with the other team, there were about 45 there.  This is the field that Miguel (FCA) works with. In the pictures, Miguel is the one that is 6’ 7”.

We drove to Willy’s (FCA) house and eat our lunch and then started help with the construction project.  We are one of three groups that have made a contribution to helping Willy complete his house.  Willy will soon be heading up FCA in Boca Chica and Mike and his family will move to San Pedro in July to begin reproducing what has been done over these last 2 ½ years.  It really is exciting to see what God has done through FCA.

At Willy’s, the boys formed a “bucket brigade” to start getting the cinder blocks up on the second floor.  We laughed that it was a part of their workout program.  Once that was complete, rebar was cut, concrete was mixed (much different than in the states), and Micah started laying blocks. 

Many of the Dominican boys that know Willy and either play on an FCA team or help with FCA showed up, it was really an awesome thing to see so many willing to help.  While a part of the team worked on the construction, a group went door to door.  We visited a home and Jackson shared his testimony.  We continued down the street and there was a sporadic group of people sitting outside of their homes.  Willy lives just down from a small group of Haitian’s.  If you do not know anything about Dominican and Haiti, basically, there is a lot of racial tension.  We invited them to come and sit around an area; we had about 20 or so.  We shared the gospel, David, Jr. introduced the group and Jackson shared his testimony again.  Jake finished out and prayed for the people and their needs.  One of the men claimed to be a witch doctor, but as we left, he commented that he might become a Christian.  We met several other Christian’s and prayed for them. 

The last house where we stopped had two men standing outside talking to a woman.  Neither of the men lived in the community and the woman (Westlynn) had just moved there from Haiti 15 days prior and she spoke Creole.  Our interpreter only speaks Spanish.  The two men spoke both Spanish and Creole.  Chris began to present the gospel; all three recognized that there is a God.  Miguel read verses in Spanish and Philippe (SCORE) translate as Chris shared the gospel message, then the older of the two men would translate into Creole to Westlynn, her answers back to Philippe, and Philippe would translate for us.  Have you ever seen the I Love Lucy where she got the traffic ticket in Rome… it was just like that scene.  However, as humorous as it was, it was very sad.  Westlynn understands the gospel, she has heard it before, but she said that she has to fix some things in her life before she can make a decision.  When asked if she died, where she would go, she replied she would go to hell.  She said she was not ready and waiting on God.  The other man replied that he was always willing to listen about God, but he had some things to get right.  The older man who was translating for us said that he was a Christian, but that he had fallen away.  We plan to go back to visit Westlynn, please be praying that we will find someone that speaks Creole so we can speak with her again and that God would work in all of their hearts.

Overall, we shared the gospel with over 70 people.  The boys, David and Micah all returned to SCORE for a little beach time, dinner, and Bible study.  Chris and Kimberly went home with Mike have dinner with him and Jodi.  Mike arranged a 3 evening study for his local FCA staff and their pastors and other area pastors.  Craig McClure (SCORE) joined us to translate and we had 23 in attendance.  This evening was on tradition and its influence on interpretation of scripture, Hermeneutic principles, and basic rules of interpreting the Bible.  It was an eclectic group of ministry and church leaders; it was a great time of learning and was well received.

Everyone is having a great time and doing well.

 

 

 

Click on the image above to see more pictures from our day!

Day 4 - We start out in Megapuerto, Boca Chica.  The field was in terrible condition.  The pitcher was throwing fast and the mound was closer than normal.  Jackson was first at bat and the second pitch floated up, he turned; however, the ball caught him in the side check.  He is doing fine this morning (Day 5).  However, yesterday we went into emergency mode.  We were able to get him an x-ray and back to campus to rest and he had a visit from the SCORE Doctor.  We are waiting on travel instructions, please be in pray for him and we will keep you posted.  Thank you to our Mom's In Touch group and the staff at JFBC for all your prayers during this trial.  Personally, I believe it is spiritual warfare based upon Jackson's boldness to share the gospel yesterday and that this was his first mission trip.  Below, Chris describes the fruit of the labor from Day 3's experience that Jackson was a part of.  However, the Saints ended the day in a win Americanos – 2, Dominicans – 0!

Written by Chris Maiocco - Yesterday we shared the gospel with 2 gentlemen and a Haitian lady who only spoke Creole. The lady and another man, Blanco, said they needed to get their life right before committing to God.  The other man, who had half of an arm, mentioned he was a believer before but had strayed.  It was a serious exchange and there was some soul searching.

We (Chris and the Translator) were buying some food about 100 yards from where the baseball game was. The two men from yesterday (the one that was translating into Creole) came walking down the sidewalk across the street. This was a TOTALLY different part of the town, so it was amazing to see them there.  We motioned them over and asked them if they thought about what we talked about yesterday. The man with 1/2 an arm said "yes" and wanted to get his life right with God now. The other man said "yes" and wanted to trust Christ. I asked him when would he like to do that. He said now! We prayed with him on a busy sidewalk (translating from English to Spanish to Creole) and Blanco accepted Christ today. We went back today to see if the lady was home from yesterday and she was not.

The pastors study has gone very well.  Tonight we had about 20 again in attendance.

Field at Megapuerto, Boca Chica - Gilligan's Island Dugout

Field at Megapuerto, Boca Chica - Gilligan's Island Dugout

Field at Megapuerto, Boca Chica

Field at Megapuerto, Boca Chica

Written by Coach David Reynolds -  Today we decided to leave earlier and get a jumpstart on all the activities. Everyone was very responsible in setting their alarms, showing up for breakfast and having all the right clothes on for baseball and discipleship work. The field we arrived at was something I had not seen before. I thought I had witnessed all the various field configurations, but this one was a little special. Immediately I was met with ground rules for the layout. "If you hit the ball from left-center where that chicken is standing, and over to the right field stake…and the ball goes over the wall, it is only a double." "If you hit the ball from the left center shed, and over the left field house…and over the fence it is also a double." "If you hit the ball to center field over the fence that is probably 450 feet away, it is a home run." The opposing team was busy digging a hole for home plate while I received the game ground rules. Several of the players asked me where they could go to the bathroom prior to the game, in which case I was unable to provide them a suitable location. The locals were no help with this question as they just shrugged their shoulders. Needless to say, we were playing on a field with bounding hills and valleys, a strange razor wire toped fence that was more like an A-frame on a roof, and a dugout that seemed like something out of Gilligan's Island. One thing that did catch my attention is that there was only one shaded dugout, and the Dominicans had given it to us.  The game did not go as planned as Jackson was hit by the second pitch of the game. It was the last pitch that we would see thrown at that field, as it became clear the players were now scared and the field was less then desirable. We packed up the equipment and decided to move to another facility. Being in a new location on a nice field helped the boys relax and resume there goals of baseball and discipleship. They went on to play a new game and beat the opposing team but stayed concern for Jackson during the day.  The second half of the day included a re-visit to the construction project for Willy's new home.   It is clear that people love Willy and what he does for the neighborhood by helping with the project.  The time we are giving to Willy and his family is greatly appreciated and is serving to move that project closer to completion.  Most of the boys have never seen or participated in construction like this.   Simple tools and techniques are used to stack the blocks and cement them together.  These building techniques are much different than what they might see in the United States. The previous night some of our boys engaged in a serious debate on what the most frightening thing in life is.  After much thought and consideration, it was concluded that "Clowns" are the most scary part of life.  I chalked their discussion up as another strange teenage event, and gave it little consideration afterwards.   For our final event of the day, we went to a combine worship event at score.   It was a great worship event in which Jake and Chelsea opened with worship and song.   The guest speaker for the service was an honest to goodness clown.  This guy travels around speaking in churches and businesses as a clown!  I don't make this stuff up!  Needless to say, there were several boys who had trouble concentrating.

Day 5 -  Our game was at Cedeno at Ozoria, Boca Chica.  This is the site for our first batting cage.  Johnson Ferry Christian Academy and the Johnson Ferry Saints have started an outreach called, Cage for Christ.  You can view more information at our website at cagesforchrist.org (which is still under construction).   We raised enough support to build the first cage which is used for batting practice and Bible study where Luis Hernandez serves as the FCA staff at this location.  Our goal is to build cages at each field where there is a FCA staff person.  Cost to purchase, transport, and build each cage is approximately $1,200.  If you would like to support our project, please contact our Athletic Director at jfsaints@jfca.org.

First Batting Cage Sponsored by Johnson Ferry Christian Academy

First Batting Cage Sponsored by Johnson Ferry Christian Academy

Boca Chica is an area with a very high prostitution rate.  You see it everywhere, it is very obvious.  We were told that most boys either turn towards homosexuality or drugs and crime, there is simply a lack of male influence and the area is very corrupt. 

Field at Boca Chica

Field at Boca Chica

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From Coach David Reynolds - The Saints had an uneventful win on Wednesday.   They beat a well matched team 5-3 and had the opportunity to hear some testimonies of new Dominican believers.  Americanos – 3, Dominicans – 0! Brain and Hunt threw a lot of curve balls because it is the most disliked among the Dominican batters. The pitching was effective and the Dominican team struggled to score runs. The fielding was also great with tough play by Kade at 3rd base blocking some very hard hit balls, and double plays with Jake, David, and Porter. Mitch has been taking turns at 1st base to minimize throwing on his hurt arm. Following the game, we went to Willy's again to resume the effort of building his house. The house is coming along great. The upstairs walls seem to be complete, and we spent most of the day building the outside fence. Moving cinder block around, heavy mortar and squeezing it between the 100 of blocks is a very tedious process. The boys are getting a good idea of what it is like to build a 1st century home. At least they get to use rebar to help strengthen the walls. Hunt, Brian, Kade and Micah have become a favorite set of resources to Willy as they have worked hard and developed the skill to get the job done

From Chris Maiocco -  On Thursday at a field near Juan Dolio (SCORE facilities), the baseball team played a team on one of the nicer fields.  JFCA came from behind and tied the game in the last inning.  At the end of the game, Porter Enloe shared his testimony and Chris Maiocco shared the gospel to approximately 45 players.  At the end, an invitation was given.  One young man immediately raised his hand, than another a little later.  The second young man was from Venezuela and had moved here with the goal to be picked up by a professional team.

What's cool is that FCA had just started visiting this field.  Aurial, one of the FCA leaders, had been visiting the park to meet some players to share the gospel.  It was made clear to the coaches and players that he was there to help and not steal the better players for other teams (which does happen in the D.R.).  The coaches were excited about this and his help in the future.  But most incredible, the 2 that accepted Christ were the first for that park and will now be discipled by FCA.  What an incredible start for that park; Aurial is excited to start working with these 2 young men (both were about 18 years old).

 

Adrian and Americano hija Chelsea

Adrian and Americano hija Chelsea

Our 5th child - Adrian and Americano mama Kimberly

Our 5th child - Adrian and Americano mama Kimberly

Getting ready for last night of the pastor's study

Getting ready for last night of the pastor's study

From Kimberly - Today was our visit with Compassion International child, Adrian. Compassion International in Boca Chica and is about 3 blocks from the baseball field.  Philippe, Manuel, Chelsea, and Kimberly took the bus to go and pick up the translator, a teacher, and Adrian.  This is our 3rd opportunity to see him and he is very sweet and quiet; although his Compassion teacher said that he is quite active, so he just isn’t use to us yet.  We went to the local Ole and picked out a couple of pairs of shoes while Philippe and Manuel shopped for basic cooking items.  We picked out some clothes and a few special treats for Adrian.  Adrian lives with an aunt, but spends a lot of time with his grandmother.  His aunt works in the capitol and is gone Monday – Friday, he says with his grandmother during the week.  Compassion is an afterschool program that he attends two times each week.  They provide things like homework help, piano lessons, a variety of things that vary based upon the child’s age and interest.   Philippe and Manuel left to pick up the team after baseball and to take them to Willy’s.  We got to stay and have lunch with Adrian.  During this time, his Compassion teacher explained her concerns.  Currently Adrian is in the 2nd grade; however, he is 10 years old.  His father was killed in a motorcycle accident and his mother is not a part of the family, there are two other siblings, a brother and sister, who were sent to live with another family member in the country.  This was very traumatic for him and he is academically behind.  His current public school cannot give him the attention he needs.  She said that he really needed to be in a school that could help his special needs.  She recommended one that is by Adrian’s grandmothers.  We had to meet with the Director of Compassion to get approval to try and get him some academic and psychological testing and arrangements to get him into a private school.  Philippe and Manuel picked us up and loaded our baskets full of stuff for Adrian and his aunt.  We made a quick stop to buy a pair of tennis shoes that Adrian desperately needed.  We dropped him at home, got to meet his grandmother, prayed, said our goodbyes and heeded to meet with the Director, Linda.  She had gone home for the day, so the teacher recommended that we just go to her home.  We walked down the street and arrived, Linda saw us and smiled and welcomed us into her home.  Our translator (who ended up being someone that Philippe knew – she translates for SCORE), explained the situation.  Linda said that she would go to the private school to see if it was possible to get Adrian started for the remainder of the school year which ends in June.  She will have all of the information and everything ready on Friday when the team returns to work at Compassion.  As we were leaving she introduced her husband and indicated that he is a pastor.  I explained that Chris’ teaching at the local basketball gym and that he would be welcome to join us this evening.  We walked out and the Compassion teacher started talking to our translator and said that her husband had been attending the studies, he was the tall guy.  Thought through the pastors that I remembered and asked if it was Willy’s brother, can you believe it was! What a small world.  See the picture above with Willy, his brother is in the background.  We had been walking around with his wife all day and didn’t even know it.  It’s a small world sometimes!  I am in awe at how God works.   We went and picked up the team, it is amazing how much work they have done.  It is looking great.  We returned to SCORE, of course, most of the boys headed to the beach, others stay around to hang out with Jackson.  Chris, Kimberly, and translators Philippe and Carter went back to Boca Chica for the last evening study.  There were 20 again and it was an excellent study.  They have learned so much this week, there is such an incredible need for Bible teaching.  Great day!

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Micah is suited up

Micah is suited up

Mike and Jake

Mike and Jake

Day 6 - Written by Coach David Reynolds - We had people moving in several directions today.  Jackson and Kim headed to the capitol to meet with a doctor, while the others played on a new field near the SCORE complex. This was a field that I have never seen before and was very well maintained. Apparently some Italian investor has been buying up all kinds of land in an effort to develop the area. One of the first items he put in was a nice baseball field. I can almost guarantee that the first buildings on investment land in the US would not be a baseball diamond. We faced several problems on this particular day. Brian decided to sit this one out due to a sore shoulder, and David was suffering from some kind of cold. The boys all seemed tired and interested in being elsewhere. The other problem is that the Dominican team was stacked and ready to play. ; They had guys clearly able to throw bullets around the field, about to hit long fly balls and run like the wind. Today seemed more like a mismatch than a game. We stared with Dominican pitching which performed well due to their low velocity. The opposing team was unable to wait on the slow pitching and struggled to hit the ball effectively. After about 3 innings, we only trailed by a couple of runs. Hunt pitched an inning, followed by Jake. The other team threatened every inning, but we somehow were able to scrape a few more runs together. By the end of the game, we were behind 2 runs with one out and the opposing pitcher began to throw wild. We took advantage of the mistakes and scraped two runs together before the 3rd out. Due to the lateness of the day we decided to call the game a tie.

 

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We stopped by SCORE for a quick lunch and then onto Willy’s again. Willy was very grateful for the help we provided during the week and cooked us all a rice, beans and chicken dinner. Although it was a second lunch for us, it was good. The team split up in several directions. David, Hunt, Porter, Kade and Micah all worked on the wall while Mitch and others played in the street with some of the surrounding kids. Several of us went to see Miguel's home and church. In walking to Miguel's home we ran into his preacher who has attended the three day seminar put on by Chris. The preacher was welcoming and invited us to see his church, and work place. The encounter made us realize how effective and helpful the seminar was to the local church leaders. In walking into Miguel's home, we noticed he turned on the light by screwing in the light bulb on the celling a little further. This was comical to us, as we were expecting a light switch. Since Miguel is almost seven feet tall, this was not a problem to him.

 

Saying Goodbye at Willy's

Saying Goodbye at Willy's

JF Saints and Boca Chica FCA at Cedeno at Ozoria

JF Saints and Boca Chica FCA at Cedeno at Ozoria

Day 7 - Our final day on the field was a morning at Compassion International, a pizza lunch at Boca Chica beach, good news from the Dr. that Jackson could travel home with us, a blended team game of Boca Chica FCA and the Johnson Ferry Saints, and we returned to SCORE for a trip to the beach.

 

 

 

Day 8 - Our team arrived in Atlanta this evening.  Great flight, no issues and back to school, work, baseball and all the things that make us busy.  As we talked in the airport, it was very obvious how much God had done this week and how much these boys have a desire to return.  This was a great group of young men and we praise God for all he did this week.  Thank you to everyone that prayed for us, and especially Jackson.  Continue to keep him in your prayers as he meets with Dr.'s this coming week.  Tomorrow starts our Global Missions program at Johnson Ferry.  Please take a look at the Global Missions website.  One of our greatest passions at Johnson Ferry Christian Academy is to  teach students and athletes about missions.  Whether you pray, give, or go, God has a part for you in his work to bring the gospel to the nations!  Thank you again for your support, pray for those that made decisions while we were in the Dominican, and we God glory the honor and praise!  Here is a summary of our week -

~ 18 accepted Christ
~ 2 recommitted
~ shared the gospel to over 200 players/adult
~ 3 night study where 20 pastors and Bible study leaders attended