After visiting Haiti and having a day to recover from the long bus ride, Mission Emanuel staff got back to working in the Bayona area. This meant that I was back playing baseball and working with the players on their English.
One huge blessing that I had this week was that Dan, an English as a Second Language teacher from the Chicago area, came down to work with some of the schools in the area. After hearing that he was an ESL teacher, I had the opportunity to talk with him about what I was doing and how I the methods that I was using with the players. He had a lot of information and teaching tools to offer me that I have been able to utilize since talking to him. Most of my work has been focused on exercises with a small group of players. We've been going over some basic verbs and conjugation, as well as building up their baseball vocabulary. I've seen a lot of progress already, and hopefully it will continue to be the case.
Today, Dan and I had the opportunity to play in a scrimmage with the players from the academy that we've been working with. While neither of us have played in game situations in a while, we held our own and each got a hit. It was amazing to share in the camaraderie of the game and get a glimpse into what growing up was like for some of the Dominican players in the Majors. The bases were a large foam square and two sacks filled with sand. Every foul ball was chased through the streets. Locals gathered along the foul lines to watch. I couldn't help but stop and soak it all in; this is Dominican baseball.
I really enjoy spending my time with the kids, as they've truly embraced me and made me feel as though I'm a part of their team. A part of why I am in the Dominican Republic doing what I am is to show them that despite their age, they are still cared about and are important to the area that they live in, as well as to the people of Mission Emanuel. Even though they have grown up and may not draw in the Americanos like they did when they were younger, they are still important to the people who come and work with Mission Emanuel. I've had the opportunity to see them as more than just teenagers, as they work on their baseball skills not to become famous and go to the United States, but to provide for their family, to give them the assurance of a meal or clean water. Baseball is clearly more than just a game to them. It gives them and their families hope. My hope for them is that they will see that their identity is more than just being baseball players, but can be found in Christ, and that they can rest in the promises that he has for them.