Sunday, August 7, 2011
Well, we are getting ready to head out to the airport to
begin our journey home. We will be departing Santiago around 2:50pm and will
arrive in Miami, FL around 5:00pm. We then have about a two hour layover and
take our last trip home. We will be arriving in LA around 9:50pm and then will
head down to SDCC. Please keep us in your prayers today!
It has been an amazing trip with lots of memories that we
will never forget! Thank you all for your continued prayers throughout this
week, they were definately felt.
One Father Of All
"Therefore if there is any consolation in Christ, if any
comfort of love, if any
fellowship of the spirit, if any affection and mercy, fufill
my joy by being
like-minded, having the same love, being of one accord, of
one mind. Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in
lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. Let each of you
look out not only for his own interest, but also for the interest of
others." ~ Philippians 2:1-4
We didn't think it would be this hard to leave. The
connections and relationships that we made with these girls in just one week
are beyond what we though would be possible. The vulnerability these girls
showed on the first day took us by surprise. We came on this trip expecting to
touch their lives somehow, but what we didn't expect was that they would impact
our lives as much as they did.
It was so hard to say goodbye, but we can leave with the joy
of knowing that this won't be the last time we'll see these girls. We pray that
they will continue growing in their faith, and rise above the standards their
culture has set for them.
Its been an amazing week and we can speak for the entire team
when we say that our outlook on life will never be the same. We thank God for
this increbible opportunity, and we pray that we never forget our time in the
"There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were
called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptisim; one God
and Father of all who is above all, and through all, and in you all."
Love, Lo and Terra
Saturday, August 6, 2011
Hey everyone we are going to try and keep this short and sweet. Today was EPIC! We got the treat of sleeping in until 730 this morning then prepared ourselves for a day on the water. When we say water we mean RAPIDS, white water rapids! Our stomachs were in knots on the way but once we were in our boats nothing could stop us and there was no turning back. Our guide, Guerro, made the trip fun even though he had to save us a few times. The landscape was unlike anything we could ever see in the states with 30 foot cliffs on each side of the river. We took advantage of these cliffs and couragously jumped from the top.
After all the excitement we returned to our villas to get ready for a night on the town. We visited each souvenior shop in search of the perfect gifts for our friends and family. It finally hit us that the end of this trip will be bitter sweet because we are going back to our real families and have to leave behind the new family we developed over the course of the week. Each of our girls, Esther and Rafe, from the Varsity Revolution team made a lasting impression on us and we are so grateful for their open hearts and willingness to embrace us on and off the court. This missions trip was in our opinion an absolute success and we never could have imagined the ways God would work through us.
Aja' Walker and Lauren Howard
Yesterday morning we went with the varisty girls over to La Vega to rematch the local teams. It was great and fun competition and although our Varisty buddies lost in two games against the team they played, we were successful and clenched the win. The dynamic on the court was amazing, and the flow of the game was something to be excited about for the season. The connections were there, along with the passion for the game.
Afterwards we headed down to the river with the girls and shared lunches. We took turns jumping into the river from various rocks and heights. The water was so refreshing and was a great experience for all of us as that was the last time we would see the buddies we had for the week. My buddy, Leslie, told me that she was inspired by the way we play volleyball as a team. She said it was never just a one person show, but that the whole team worked together well.
For dinner we went to a location by a different river and the scenery was beautiful. And of course we ate ALOT. Upon arriving back at base we were able to watch a recap video of the week and see the work that God had been doing in not only our area but in the other sites as well. Each of the Varsity girls had written us a letter on the back of our team pictures. Although some of us had to get a translator to tell us what they said, the sincerity behind each message really touched our hearts and our tear ducts.
Today is the last full day we have here in the Dominican and may be our biggest adventure together yet. We will be taking off from base in just a couple minutes to experience the river swells and go rafting. It will be an experience to remember.
Friday, August 5, 2011
Today we led team building drills for the girls and we also
did them and learned many things about our own team. We learned that we all
have different strengths and we had to listen to each others ideas in order to
complete the drill. It was encouraging to see that the younger girls didn't
want to give up in any of the tasks. We were able to set an example by not
getting frustrated with each other. Later that day we went to Keysie's (one of
the girls on the varsity team) house for dinner in the community. Even though
there wasn't much room, they still enjoyed having us over. We had amazing rice,
fried chicken, salad, potato salad, and fried plantunes(french fries). It was
weird not being able to help with serving or doing any dishes. We've been
blessed more than they know.
-Mo and Phil(Lauren)
P.s. The hurricane is gone.
Thursday, August 4, 2011
As we exited the can onto the streets of innercity
Jarabacoa, they were paved with cracked tiles, dirt, and remenants of the
people that had travled them before us. Sounds of motorcycles and honking
horns, kids playing in the streets, and the occasional barking of dogs filled
the air; sounds of life here in Jarabacoa. The air was clouded with a heavy,
mixed combination of humidity, and smells..mainly fresh fruit and burning
Our first stop was to drop off one of the girls we work with at her home. Nana,
around 12 years old, happily lead us through the streets to where she lived. As
we passed through tight dirt alleyways, littered in trash, we finally reached
Quietly we approached a small structure, hidden by other small shack-like
structures, from the main road. We realized we had reached our destination. As
Nana entered, she smiled as she invited all 21 of us girls inside. With
content, she pulled back curtains that divided a standard-US-bedroom-sized
room...which revealed a kitchen, and three cots. Through the middle of the
concrete room was a string, used for drying clothes.
With a heard filled with joy and greatfulness, Nana opened up her home to us. I
could not help but fight to hold back my emotions; not only did the conditions
break my heart, but even more so the complete love and content that was pouring
into us through Nana's welcome.
As we traveled around the city to drop off more girls, the reactions of the
families were the same. All greeted with a kiss and a hug, we were accepted happily
and thankfully into their homes...they all offered what they had to us. Today I
am filled with a overwelming feeling of thankfulness for the blessings God has
given us. Surrounded by people that love me, and the comfort of having
somewhere to sleep, food on the table, and my loving God are more than enough
to quiet my heart. Looking forward to meeting more families and experiencing
the mercy and grace of God as the week goes on.
P.S. The storm passed, it barely rained last night and we are safe and sound!
Wednesday, August 3, 2011
Breaktaking and Aww are my words to describe Tuesday of this
week. Yesterday we coached our varsity girls, jumping in and out of the shade.
At the end, two of us shared our testimonies with the girls (which I pray God
used). It would have been a good day to end there yet God had more planned for
us. As a whole the ministry site gathered together for worship "Meet at
the Cross". Where many nailed burdens and sin upon which were ready to
remove with Christ's strength. It honestly was one of the most intimate times
I've had with the Lord. He moved throughout our team and hearts were changed.
Praise God for His Love and bringing us here. <3
It is a rainy, humid morning this morning in Jarabacoa, but
we are still looking forward to what God has in store for us today. Many of you
have probably seen the reports of Hurricane Emily headed this direction so I
wanted to let you know that we are safe. Students International is welled
prepared for situations like this and will take good care of us. The base is in
a location that has little chance of flooding. It's possible we won't be able
to work at our ministry site this afternoon due to the rains, but we will find
that out later today. Please continue to pray for our safety and our health!
The girls are doing amazing - I feel blessed to be their coach and have this
opportunity to see them grow throughout this trip.
We will continue to keep you posted on the weather!
Have a great day!
Tuesday, August 2, 2011
We are beginning day two of our adventure in Jarabacoa. The girls are doing
amazing! I am so proud of the women they are and their ability to open up their
hearts to the children of Jarabacoa. They are truly already making an amazing
impact on these girls. I will have one of them write on the blog later today so
that you can here directly from them, but I wanted to get you a little update
to start the day.
One highlight from yesterday is one of the directors took us out for Dominican
Republic ice cream last night - it was a fun experience! Ice cream is always
good for the soul :)
Today we will be holding two practices, one for a JV team and one for the Varsity
team that we worked with yesterday. It should be a great fun day today!
We miss you all! Please keep praying for continued health (no one has gotten
sick yet!) Also, please continue to pray for continued energy throughout these
long days of serving. We are having sooooo much fun!
Have an amazing day!
Monday, August 1, 2011
It is Monday morning and the girls are having their quiet
time before our morning devotions as a group. Students International does an
amazing job of taking great care of us. We have been fed very well and are
prepared to start our ministry today. We actually get an opportunity to play in
a match today against a team from a local town. We are excited to see what is
before us today. Please pray for our safety as we play and pray that we will be
able to overcome the language barrier to share the love of Christ with the
Dominican people. Please also pray that they will see the our love of Christ
just through our actions.
Thanks again for all of your support!
Sunday, July 31, 2011
20 hours, three airports, plenty of naps, and TONS of food
later, we have finally been able to come face to face with everything we have
been working towards. And not surprisingly, it has been completely worth it.
Unfortunately, when we arrived it was dark and we were not able to see much.
However, that just made waking up this morning even more incredible. Everything
is lush, green, and so obviously alive. Although we haven't had too much
interaction with the local people, just observing their way of life has left many
of us awestruck. The zest for life is written on their faces and is completely
apparent in the way they interact with others.
We attended a church service this morning and the passion for worship was
enough to leave goosebumps. There wereno reservations. No boundaries. Simply
the most incredible worship for the same God we worship. In a completely
different way. Every word, every movement, every drumbeat and guitar-strum was
from the heart.
The passion and love and deep appreciation without reservations is inspiring.
Saturday, July 30, 2011
Our team departed the college campus this morning and have
finally arrived after a day full of travel. We have traveled over 3,000 miles
and are tired, but very excited to be here. We are looking forward to a great
nights rest and anticipating our start tomorrow.
Please continue to pray for our health and safety, our growth as a team, growth
as individuals, and most importantly the impact we will be able to have on this
community over the next few days.
We are getting ready to leave the college to head to LAX. We
are all lacking sleep, but know that we will survive on adrenaline until we
arrive back home on the 7th. A big thank you to Teresa Demchak and Ryan Dillon
for being the drivers!!!!!
Please pray for safe travels!
Until next time......
Friday, July 29, 2011
19 hours until take off from LA to Miami.. 3 hour lay-over while in Miami.. 2 hour flight to Santiago, Dominican
Republic.. and finally a 40 mile bus ride
into the town of Jarabacoa.
Excitement and anticipation arise as our destination approaches. I have yet to
pack, my Spanish is rough, and so much seems like it needs to be taken care of
before we leave. It is only by the grace of God that I have an extreme since of
calmness for all of the unknown.
All I can think about is what God is going to do and the
radical experiences we are going to have. Ecclesiastes 3 talks about a time to
gather stones. The first thing that comes to mind, was when something really
profound happened in the Old Testament, the Israelites memorialized events by
gathering stones. They called them the “stones of remembrance”, a reminder of
the greatness of an extraordinary event. The point of these stones was to
commemorate what God has done- rescued them from impending destruction,
mounting stupidity, wrong turns, and other general lapses in judgment. I assume
this practice was necessary because they, like me, were quick to forget what
was really important. In one mind blowing example, God altered the flow of the Jordan River so His people could cross safely. Joshua
ordered twelve men to each gather one stone from the riverbed and place all of
them together to serve as a sign, a memorial, that God had intervened yet again
in their lives. These stones were reminders to wake up and see what is
possible, to notice the miracles, to even participate in a miraculous event now
and then – to stop worrying and making excuses and “should of” –ing and instead
Through this trip I hope we are more able to step out into
the current and see what happens. That when we come back we can get our feet
wet more often instead of paralytically wondering how cold the water might feel
or how strong the current might be or even how on earth we are going to explain
the miraculous occasions God allowed us to be apart of. I pray that as we find
ourselves in the midst of the unknown in Jarabacoa and when we return home that
we can gather stones and remember how God moved us, because I know that He