Monday, December 22, 2014

HALF-WAY THERE!

Thank you so much to those who bought t-shirts from our t-shirt sale!  We also had some people give  very generous donations to the trip and we are so thankful! We are excited to announce that we have reached the half-way point of $9000!!! Chelsie made this "Christmas Tree'" for her church so people could sponsor the girls! Send Chelsie an email at chelsie.blackburn@gmail.com if you are interested in sponsoring a player!

We would like to get to $11,000 by Christmas if possible! If you are interested in donating for our trip, visit gofund.me/DominicansServe 
Or to learn more about our trip and how you can get involved: http://dominicansserveitup.blogspot.com/

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Survivor Trip 2014


We just finished up a great weekend trip full of team building activities, gross food eating competitions, and bootcamp training.  This years “Survivor” trip was located in small country community called “Majaguita”.  The girls were split into tribes and were given points when they won challenges as well as bonus points when they demonstrated certain characteristics such as leadership, collaborator and servant leader.  In addition to really coming together as a team, the girls learned a lot about what it really means to be a Christian and many accepted Christ.  This was our third survivor trip and I think probably my favorite! Here are some pictures to show our adventure!
Capture the Flag
Fully Armored with CardBoard Protection!

Boot camp
with real military commander Raul Canela
(He is currently the boys sports site leader)


Team Building Activities

Would you DARE to eat...
Fully stocked with octopus, Jalapenos, etc

More team building activities

These girls are working hard and have each planned their own ideas for fundraisers for our upcoming states trip. However, we really need your help! 
 For more information for how you can get involved visit


Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Where are the graduated players today?

 After being here over 5 years, I have had the privilege of coaching certain girls since they were in 8th grade!  I have seen them work hard and graduate from high school. For most girls here in the Dominican Republic, just graduating from high school without getting pregnant is a huge feat in itself.  So where are these girls now?  Some of them are in college, some are working and some need help to be sponsored to start college in January.  We are so proud of all of these girls and wanted to take some time to highlight each girl to show you what they are doing now!

Rosangely Pichardo- Graduated June 2014
* Currently volunteering in the Students International Physical Therapy site.
* Responsibilities: Opening and cleaning  facility, making appointments for patients and keeping patient records
* Future college goals: Go to the college in La Vega in January
* Sponsorship Needs: 1 Tuition Supporter ($100/mo) and Partial Transportation Sponsor ($35/mo)

Caroly Trinidad- Graduated June 2013
* Will be starting her second year as Rachel's assistant at the SI Community Health site
* Responsibilities: Fills out patient records, measuring blood pressure and taking pulses, training Shakira to be an assistant for a nurse that will be coming on staff in January 
* College:  Has received excellent grades and will be a sophomore this year studying Dentistry 
* Sponsorship: FULLY SPONSORED! 

Shakira Calderon- Graduated June 2014
* Currently volunteering at the community health site
* Responsibilites: Same as Caroly
* Future College Goals: Shakira hopes to start college in La Vega in January to study medicine
* Sponsorship Need: Tuition Sponsor ($100/mo)

Mabelis Acevedo- Graduated June 2013
* Currently volunteering as an assistant coach for the new Varsity team. She is also very involved in church as an usher and leader of the youth group.
* Responsibilites: Helping facilitate practices
* College: Has received excellent grades and will be a sophomore this year studying Psychology
* Sponsorship Need: 1 Transportation Sponsor ($60/mo)


Esther Hernandez- Graduated June 2013
* Esther started studying this Fall at the local University in Jarabacoa.
* Currently volunteering as an assistant coach with Chelsie at her alma mater, Anija (local school in town that is part of the Kid’s Alive ministry).
*We have recently started seeing a renewed passion in her to follow the Lord and to be more involved in church!
* Scholarship needs: Fully Sponsored! Ester is fully sponsored through the Kid’s Alive! We are thankful that this need is covered and that we also are able to stay in contact with her through her time as an assistant coach.

Estephany Victoriano- Graduated June 2014
*Studying on the weekends in Santo Domingo to be a flight attendant! This is something that she has dreamed of doing for a couple of years now!
* This past summer, she was volunteering at “Genesis” (special education school through SI). As a result of her work ethic and commitment, she was offered a position to work there as a full-time employee!
* She will also be volunteering as a coach with the Anija volleyball team.
* Scholarship needs: Fully Sponsored! Just like Ester, she grew up in Anija through Kid’s Alive and is being sponsored through them!

Loreidy Hernandez- Graduated June 2013
* She has been studying since the fall of 2013 as a psychology major.
* She is volunteering two days a week at Genesis, working in the preschool classroom.
* Loreidy also helps coach volleyball in Corocito one day a week.
* Scholarship needs: Fully Covered by monthly donors!

Dianny Moronta- Graduated June 2013
* She is a Dentistry major and has been studying since the fall of 2013.
* She is also volunteering at Genesis in the preschool classroom.
* Scholarship needs: Tuition ($100/mo),Transportation ($60/mo)

Loreidy, Dianny and Estephany pictured above

If you are interested in helping sponsor these girls, you can donate directly at 

Here are some highlights on other seniors that are not directly involved with Students International, but are still doing great things with their lives!

Leslie Polanco: Studying English at a college in Santiago, practicing volleyball in La Vega and will be going to the States to play volleyball in a junior college in January.

Keysi Marte:  Working full time at a Optical Center here in Jarabacoa and hoping to study in the states in January.

Anna Lanier:  Studying and playing volleyball at Harper College, coaching at Top Flight Volleyball Club in Chicago and will be transferring to Moody Bible Institute in January to study and play volleyball!
  

Friday, August 22, 2014

Highlights from the Wedding!


The day just came and flew by.  It’s amazing of how much work goes into planning a wedding and yet the big day just seems to fly by!  Rather than talk about it, I just wanted to show you some highlights of the week and the big day!

Highlight #1:  Family Support
Having family come down and getting to show them my life here.  It meant so much to be able to show them around and really get to enjoy this week with them! Dad even reffed a men’s basketball tournament going on here that Breddy has been playing in.  The best part was, after the game, when one of the Dominicans asked if he reffed in the NBA back in the states!

Highlight #2:  First-Look with the Varsity Girls
I had all my varsity girls be the junior bridesmaids.  Even though Breddy and I didn’t see each other before the wedding, we had a really special moment when my girls saw me for the first time. That’s when the first tears began to flow!


Highlight #3: Ceremony
It was just a beautiful ceremony.  I am pretty sure I cried through the whole thing… I am such a cry baby! I loved the violin/worship songs, foot-washing ceremony, having my veil fly in the wind so I couldn’t see anything, having my best friends by my side were just some of the things I loved!



Highlight #4:  Father/Daughter Fake Dance
You all know I'm not a big dancer, so my dad and I did a new spin on the father/daughter dance. The clip was too long to put on the blog, but here's the link to watch it on youtube. 
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-OCnTy-eDpo&feature=youtu.be 

Highlight #5 (and potentially the best part of all):   Maid of Honor Spanglish Rap
video


It’s hard to sum up the day with just 5 things.  I am so thankful for so many supportive friends and family members that came to our stateside reception.  In addition, the wedding decoration was beyond what I (or even pinterest) could have imagined thanks to so many great friends here.  And my bridesmaids kept me totally chill all week long so I really was able to enjoy this special time. Thanks to all for making this celebration undeniable unforgettable. Here are some extra pictures to just see a bit more!









Friday, May 9, 2014

Missions Trip: Dominicans Serving Dominicans


As you may have read before, we have been doing a discipleship program with 12 girls this spring.  In this program, girls learn how to read scripture and discover more of their identity in Christ!  In addition we try to put these things into practice and give them opportunities to serve! 

The "FRONTERA" discipleship program recently went on a weekend mission trip to the small community of Caraballo. 

How cool that they got a chance to serve others in their own country?!

      As a group, they were able to be a part of the AWANA program at a Kids Alive school in Caraballo. They played games with the kids, memorized scripture with them, and walked through their community- it was a full day!

      The next day we were also able to help out with some construction at the school. BUT, it was more about the work that the Lord did in their hearts, and not what we did at the school. Their eyes were opened to poverty in their country- which was greater than what they have experienced in their own lives.

 If you haven't already, watch this super short 2 min video and hear personal stories from the girls!! 
:)

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Player Teaches Coach Jess a Lesson


The day had arrived. Every year, there is a big 3on3 beach volleyball tournament in my small town in the Dominican Republic. Even some Dominican National players came in for this event.  I went into the tournament pretty confident as I had joined two other players who had been previously successful in this tournament in years past.  After making in through pool play and losing in the semi-finals, we were faced to fight for third place against a team that was composed of two of my previous players and my co-site leader Chelsie.  We had beat this team twice in the tournament already so we thought this would be an easy win.  Coach vs. player.  Unfortunately, our team just couldn’t build enough momentum.  With the support of the entire crowd, team “Jarabacoa City” rallied together and ended up beating us!

Now, I a pretty competitive person. After our tough loss, I stayed down by the river for a while to cool down.  I honestly did not want to face any of my players!  So finally, when I pulled myself together, I walked back to the crowd to congratulate the girls.  I feel like any normal teenager (or at least myself when I was a teenager) would take advantage of this opportunity to gloat a bit in their coaches face.  I braced myself for the taunting as I walked up to them.  To my surprise the girls just hugged me and said, “Coach, you know we won because of all that you’ve taught us.”  As I tearfully write this, I feel so humbled to have the opportunity to work with these girls. When I think I am teaching them things, God uses them to teach me.  So that was the day that I will always remember that my players became my coach.

Enjoy the pics from the game!
Our team (pink) vs. Team Jarabacoa City


Prayer Requests
·      Continued support for college girls
·      Help new set of girls who are graduating from high school make plans for college.  This group of girls have dreamed even beyond the DR and want to even study in other countries. 
·      Potentially planning a trip to the States with the new group of varsity girls.
·      Pray for me as I continue to do ministry and get married in August! 






Monday, March 3, 2014

Basketball turns into engagement ring!

About a week ago, I planned to surprise my boyfriend Breddy with a visit.  Okay, let me first bring you up to speed.  Breddy got a visa to live in the states in October of 2013.  After living in New York for a couple months, he decided he wanted to be in an area where more people speak English.  He also wanted to get to know my family better. So, after spending Christmas with my family, he accepted my brothers invitation to move to COLD Michigan and live in an apartment with my brother.  Since January, he has been working at a restaurant called Arnies.  So back to the story...

I told Breddy that Saturday, February 15, our varsity team had a tournament in Santiago.  My goal was to make him think that I was making plans to throw him off so he wouldn't think I was coming home.  He replied "Great! I am playing basketball with some guys at work in the afternoon, so we'll both be having fun!"  When I arrived Saturday morning (my parents had told him that they were going to pick up my grandparents from the airport... well that's what I thought they told him. They were in on it too.), I snuck up from behind and as I hugged him, I saw tears roll down his face. Surprise? SUCCESS! (Or at least I thought)

So that afternoon, he said he still wanted to go play basketball with his buddies.  After begging him to cancel, I finally relented and decided I should be a good girlfriend and go support him.  So we show up not to a basketball court... but the river.  Something is up, I thought. As we walked along the river, I realized that this was definitely not a sporting event!  We got to the top of the bridge, he got down on one knee.... and you know the rest!

What's next: Breddy is in the process of getting what is called a "re-entry permit" so that he can come live in the DR and not lose his residency.  If everything goes as planned, he will come back to the DR in June and we will get married in August!  I'm so thankful for this man God has brought into my life. Breddy loves sports just like me and loves God even more! I'm excited to spend my life with this man!