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!
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.
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"
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
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!
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!
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!
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
It’s hard for me to believe that I have now been here for
almost 4 years.I am excited to
see how God continues to use VC Revolution here in Jarabacoa.We are training new coaches to
accommodate for all the new girls wanting to be involved.We have two big new projects that we
are working on that we need your help with. As we graduate 4 of our seniors
from our varsity team, we are also starting a scholarship program to help them
attend college. As our site expands, we also need monthly supporters to help
keep the site running efficiently.
of the girls in our program have been trained and discipled and will be
graduating in June.Mabelis,
Caroly, Dianny and Loreidy have all been a part of varsity and would like to
attend college next fall.Mabelis
and Loreidy would like to study psychology and Caroly and Dianny-Dentistry.They do not have nearly enough
resources to pay for college.Most
of these girls will be the first in their family to go on to college (or even
to finish high school!)In return
for their scholarships, they will join us as volunteer staff and help coach
teams within VC Revolution or serve at other ministry sitesWe are excited about this scholarship
program because it allows these girls, who have been be apart of our
program,to continue serving
alongside SI as well as continue their education. In order to pay for tuition,
transportation and books, it costs $100 per month for these girls to attend
Mabelis, Loreidy, Caroly and Dianny
you consider being a monthly supporter with your donation of $100 per
month?Or you can also be a half-scholarship
supporter of $50 a month.You can
also give a one time donation.Anything would be a huge blessing to these girls. Please consider
helping to sponsor one of these girls and give them a chance of a future that
they could have not otherwise afforded. If you would consider playing a HUGE
role in providing these girls with a future, you can donate online at https://www.stint.com/donate.php.Under “Ministry Site/Special Fund”
scroll down to “Dominican Republic/Girls Volleyball Site- Scholarship Account”
and follow the easy steps from there.
2: Site Support Needed
more girls want to be a part of VC Revolution, we need help financially to run
these teams efficiently.First of
all, we want to be able to pay our coaches fairly.In addition, in order to host tournaments, we need to
provide food and refs for the games.Hosting tournaments is a great thing because we are able share the
gospel with the teams that come.Students International was able to provide enough money to run the site
for the past 4 years.However,in order to allow
more girls into our site and provide coaches for all the team, we will need
your help.Our goal would be to
raise $600 a month for total of $5400 to complete the rest of the year.This money will go directly to the
program to cover Dominican coaches salaries, travel expenses, equipment and
the year of 2013, we need a total of $5400If you would be willing to give a one time donation or
consider being a monthly supporter of our site, we would so appreciate it! If
you are interested in giving to our program you can give a tax-deductible
donation online at https://www.stint.com/donate.php.Under “Ministry Site/Special Fund”
scroll down to “Dominican Republic/Girls Volleyball Site- General” and follow
the easy steps from there.
February, we welcomed Chelsie Blackburn to our full-time missionary staff.She will be spending the first couple
months taking Spanish classes and then joining me in May. Our goal would be
that she can really invest in the newer players and continue and disciple them
as they go through our program.
Chelse is the one on the right. :)
This was a big 3v3 tournament that we played in last week!
Here's a video that we just made giving a better idea of what VC Revolution is all about!