Reflections from the Dominican Republic – Valor Baseball

In the past 24 hours, “gratitude” has emerged as a major theme of the trip. Last night during our debrief, we really dug in on the idea of being grateful for the blessings we’ve been given, but, even more importantly, what we’d be grateful for if all of those things were stripped away.

As we continued to deepen the discussion, we realized that many, if not most of the players, believed that they were experiencing something that “no one else could understand.” This tactic of isolation employed by the enemy keeps people from being grateful.

We leaned into this directly by encouraging players to connect with their peers and coaches. After the devotion, you would see small groups of players with one another or players with coaches all around the grounds. It was an amazing expression of both gratitude and brotherhood.

This morning, the players had their first opportunity to go into a sugar cane village to play with the kids in that community. There was no designed set of activities, just an opportunity to love on kids who have very little.

A sugar cane village is a set of houses and shacks stuck far from the city in an effort to collect a work force near the fields. The wage for working those fields is $3 per day or about $1,000 annually, and the home out in the village.

The trouble with the second part is this – what happens when the owner of the sugar cane factory shuts down the factory and no longer employs the workers in the village? That’s the poverty and situation we had a chance to lean into today. We had a chance to love on and play with the kids in the village and be the hands and feet of Jesus in that way.

Our afternoon outing pushed our boundaries of gratitude in even deeper ways. We traveled closer to Santo Domingo to an orphanage named Casa de Luz. Casa de Luz was started by a man named Lucas, a man who raised a son with special needs for 20 years and then opened an orphanage specifically for special needs kids. He saw a need and he felt called to fill it.

The players roamed the halls and interacted with the kids, most of whom were confined to beds or wheelchairs. Players would either stay in the same room in a deep time of quiet interaction and reflection or find a way to find some level of comfort in a setting they’ve likely never before experienced. In the end, we stood outside and prayed for the orphanage and the ministry that occurs inside its walls.

During the debrief, the players mentioned how this was probably their favorite day. They felt like they made an impact in each area they traveled. We’re grateful for how the Lord is moving in the hearts of our players and today is one of those experiences they will look back on throughout their lives.

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