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!



Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Personal Testimony

Greetings from the DR! Just wanted to give you an update of what's going on down here.

We started with a new group of Frontera, a discipleship program for new believers or girls who may not be believers, but want to learn more. Right now, we have 12 girls and we are going through at program called "God's Story" to give the girls a biblical foundation.  We will do our "survivor" trip at the end of this month so we are looking forward to that!

We also started up our JV team, which Chelsie is coaching and our varsity team which I will be coaching. We also continue to spend mornings up at a middle school in a town called Corocito running gym classes.  The college girls are all doing a great job.  They continue to serve at sites such as the special ed school, community health, as well as helping as serving as assistant coaches at our site.

Here is a picture of our varsity team with the Joshua outreach.  During January, we had the privilege to have two great teams come serve with us. Forge and Joshua were two great teams and they were a huge blessing and encouragement to us and the girls!

Varsity alongside Joshua team participants 
*If you want to see a short blog post from one of the Joshua girls about her time in the DR, you can visit this site: http://joshuawilderness.org/2014/01/social-work-and-womens-sports/

We wanted to give you a little glimpse of what God is doing in the lives of some of our girls. Click the link below to hear about Mabelis' story.  Mabelis played on VC Revolution for four years and is now studying psychology so that she go on and help others! Watch to hear what God has done in her life/

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Bootcamp!

I gasped as I saw Edely pass out after just 10 minutes of Survivor Boot Camp. “Oh no,” I thought. “What in the world have I gotten my girls into?”  This year, 11 girls have volunteered to be a part of our Frontera discipleship program because they wanted to grow in their walk with God.  In addition to bible study in the classroom, we took them on trips to help stretch them to depend on God. On one of our adventure weekends, we did a “Survivor” theme which included bringing in one of our missionaries who used to serve in the Dominican Army.  As a part of this team building weekend, he took the girls through a typical “boot camp” training.   The girls had to remain mentally tough while their drill sergeant barked orders at them.  Like Edely, many girls hit breaking points when they thought they couldn’t go on.  However, after a five minute break and pep-talk, every single girl gained the strength and courage to march back to their platoon.  

Crew lining up to start "boot-camp"

Tough girls after completing 3 hours of training!

Once the weekend was completed, all the girls were elated with pride. They realized that as a team, they overcame something really hard and were stronger for it!

We also did a missions trip to a poor city in the Dominican Republic called "Caraballo". The girls helped out the local missionaries with their Awana program as well as helped with some construction projects.  It was neat to see the girls really using their gifts to serve the Lord.  After walking through the neighborhood, they were also astonished to see the even greater proverty. 

Stephanie helping out with Awana

Mabelis, Ashley and Mary-Emily helping to pour cement!

Girls after carrying 100+ loads of rocks and dirt!

After a days work... Champs! 

I feel so blessed to be a part of this sports ministry in the Dominican Republic.  Just like enduring “boot camp”, many of these girls have to work hard and push through tough things in their lives.  Most of them come from fatherless and/or abusive homes and must choose to lift themselves up and courageously run to the Lord. Through our volleyball teams and discipleship program, we are really starting to see these grow into girls who are discovering what it means to find victory in the Lord.  God is good and I’m thankful to fight on his side!


Monday, November 18, 2013

Pee-Wee!!!

So, I'd like to attribute my lack of blog posts to my incredible work ethic that just pours out Jesus' love into girls that I just don't have time write on blog.  Unfortunately, that's not 100% true.  I am pouring out Jesus' love, but I'm afraid thats not directly correlated with my scarce blogging. Anyways, enough excuses.  I apologize that it's been so long. I'm going to try to break up the things that have been happening over the next couple blog posts.  But since I'm assuming you are busy too... its going to be a lot of pictures and less talking!

Event #1: We split up VC Revolution into "seasons"
We found it was hard to really pour into all our girls when we were running 4-5 teams at once. So this year we split up our teams into seasons. Three teams play from May-Dec and the others Jan-July.  This has been a great thing and has allowed us to really invest in these girls. Take a look!

My "teenager" team from Corocito.
Dianny (far right) is one of our graduated girls that will be attending college as well as helping coach the girls from her community. 

Freshman team- Coached by Chelsie Blackburn
These are girls from all over town that are mainly freshmen. Chelsie has really invested in these girls during their season and they have improved so much! 
Loreidy (far right) just finished her first semester at college while serving as the Freshman assistant coach. 

Pee-Wee Team
Great group of girls from Corocito that are 10&11 yrs. old. We just started this team this year and they have done such a great job! 
Another picture of some of our pee-wees because they are just so cute! 

Stay tuned... In the next blog post I'll be talking about our new discipleship program including their experiences of "boot camp"

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Empty Nesters


I’ve always heard that parents have a tough time when their kids go off to college.  I never  understood that until last month when 4 of our girls graduated from our VC Revolution program.   To be apart of our volleyball ministry, girls can start at any age and as they get better, they can move up to become a “varsity” player.  Throughout their years in our program, there are pretty high expectations of achieving certain grades, being a good role model in the community, as well as intense volleyball training.  We have had the opportunity to coach and disciple many girls for multiple years.  However, this past year was the first time that we actually had to “graduate” 4 Dominican girls from our varsity team.  Mabelis Acevedo  and Loreidy Hernandez have been a part of VC Revolution for 4 years, Dianny Moronta-3 years, and Caroly Trinidad-2 years. 

I wish these girls could have stayed on varsity forever, but I knew we had to push them out of the nest.  However, many of them come from extremely poor homes and do not have money to attend college.  Thankfully, we were able to find sponsors for all of the girls to attend a great college about 25 minutes away.   We hope to find more sponsors to help cover transportation and books, but we are so thankful to have come this far.  In return for their scholarships, the girls will volunteer 15 hours a week as assistant coaches within VC Revolution or help at other ministry sites.  So not only will they be attending college, but they will continue to pour back to girls from their community.   For most of these girls, they were the first in their family to even graduate high school! Now, they are really going above and beyond to attend college.

Caroly and Rachel

One neat story of how God has already starting using these girls is through our community health site.  Rachel Snider, who is in charge of that site, asked if I had anyone charismatic and organized who could be an assistant at her site.   Immediately, Caroly popped into my mind since she is great with people, and because of our training for our states trip last summer, is pretty fluent in English.  So for the past two months, she has been going out into communities, ministering to the Dominicans, translating for the Americans, and being a great help to Rachel and her site. I am so proud to see these girls, who have been a part of our ministry for so long, start to really give back and serve alongside Students International.  Even though we have had some girls leave our nest, God continues to bless us with tons of new girls.  I am so thankful to be a part of this ministry which allows us to disciple girls and then equip them with the tools they need so that they can go out and FLY! 

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Triple Header!

During these past two weeks,  I was reminded is so much bigger than I think.  His plans seemed to just BLOW my plans out of the water.  I headed into this past outreach a bit worried because we had to accomplish three big things. Our triple header.  First time ever Purity Ceremony/Senior Graduation. First  time ever volleyball camp.  Figure out a way to incorporate high schoolers in first two.  But, for cliche sake, gotta say it, God hit a grand-slam during this outreach.

First Challenger: Purity Ceremony/ Senior Graduation
This past week, we combined two important events into one big celebration. A purity ceremony as well as the graduation of our 5 seniors.  As a result of our purity ceremony, many of our varsity players decided to write out 10 promises they wanted to keep for their lives.  Not only that, but they invited their families, youth pastor, other VC Revolution teams, and other friends to be witnesses to this event.  It was an absolutely beautiful thing to see the girls nervously, but confidently read their promises in front of everyone. They proceeded to sign their contracts and receive pearl necklaces to remember their commitment.  Thank you to Blythefield Hills church for donating the special necklaces, the girls LOVE them.  Many families and parents were moved by the girls courage to do something like this.  One of our girls, Keysi, commented that it was only the second time in her life that she saw her mom crying.  We also invited the youth pastor to come and give a little talk about the influence parents can have on the girls lives.  It was a really neat thing for many of these families who never go to church to get connected with someone from our local church.  The senior graduation part was also incredibly moving as certain underclassmen talked about each senior.  Lots of tears were shed and it was a really neat time of remembering the great times we have shared with our seniors.  Its crazy to think some of these girls have played for VC Revolution for almost 4 years now and will now be going to college!!!


Second Challenger: Volleyball Camp
We wanted to try something this year to get more people from the community involved.  We hosted a weeklong volleyball camp with the morning session being 6-11 year olds and then in the afternoon 12-18.  It was a neat experience that we'll hopefully get more girls involved next year. But this year was fun!
Keysi teaching in the morning session.

Right before water balloon fun! 

Morning session: Ages 6-11

Afternoon Session: Ages 12-1

Third Challenger: Incorporate American Outreach Participants
Outreaches in the summer last 2 weeks.  Each American gets the chance each outreach to share a testimony/devotional at least once during their time here.  One of the first practices, we were all moved to tears by the devotion given by one of our high school girls.  Seriously, God blessed us with a 16-year-old preacher who has an incredible gift of writing/public speaking. SO. She became our guest speaker for our entire volleyball camp.  At the end of the week, numerous girls commented on how one of their favorite parts of the the outreach was her talks.  Another cool thing was that one of the americans was a Zumba instructor. SO. We got her to lead warm-ups each day for the girls.  By the last day of camp, the older girls kept wanting to keep doing ZUMBA and not go play volleyball!!! Here's a video of one of our jam sessions!
video


 It was a beautiful thing to see how God did things we totally didn't expect.  I was reminded me to remember that no matter how good of ideas I THINK I have, I need to hope and EXPECT that God will do even bigger things!

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Purity Retreat!

One of the biggest struggles that these girls face is what I think most teenage girls struggle with: boys.  Thus we teamed up with 3 other ministry sites within SI as well as the youth ministry from the church a put on a 3 day purity retreat! And it was awesome!!! Here's what Chelsie (our new volleyball site leader) wrote about the weekend. 

The Purity Retreat was great! Youth from the Students International volleyball, baseball and social work sites were involved. A HUGE thanks to those who prayed specifically for this weekend. God showed up big time in the lives of the students. They were very willing to listen, learn and grow from what they heard in the teachings. The main topics of the weekend were sexual purity and the importance of marriage. Many activities were planned, some just for fun (you'll see that in the video) and others that were very meaningful. There were many teaching sessions, a time where students could write down questions to be answered by a panel of adults, small group sessions and to end the weekend was "La Boda". "The wedding" was very special; instead of just imagining their wedding day they were able to walk through what it could be like. The ceremony was followed by an opportunity to commit to purity. It was a beautiful thing! A weekend filled with forgiveness, redemption, commitments and healing could only come from the work of a Mighty God! Take 5 minutes and follow the link below to a video that highlights the events of the weekend!!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3Y54h13Q8KQ&feature=youtu.be