Buzzsaws Travel to Dominican Republic
Post date: Oct 24, 2012 10:34:22 PM
by Dante Sabatucci
Check back in a few days for photos from the trip that will be uploaded.
The Summit County Buzzsaws took a group of players to the Dominican Republic to play a series of exhibition games versus local Dominican teams through our affiliation with Meeting God in Baseball. The trip was designed as a short term mission trip and was also an opportunity for the players to experience baseball in a different culture, share their love of baseball with Dominican players, to gain some perspective on life in the United States and most importantly to experience spiritual growth. The team collected and took donated baseball equipment, clothing and other items which will be distributed to needy Dominican and Haitian children. The team also visited a Haitian refugee village in San Pedro. The trip afforded the players with many lessons and experiences as well as some strong bonds that were created between the Dominican and American players.
Day 1: Arrived in the DR at 1:30 am and traveled to the Meeting God in Missions (MGM) complex in Hato Mayor by 3:00 am. Players participated in welcome meeting and devotions at 11:00 am. Five Buzzsaws players were introduced to 10 Dominican players from around the country. After lunch, we traveled to a local field in Hato Mayor to play local team and share in a devotion message provided by Ty Moorhead. The Buzzsaws took an early 9-0 lead but the Hato Mayor team came back and made it close at the end and we ended up losing 10-9. Back at the MGM compound in the evening after dinner, the group had a chalk talk session where we discussed what we learned on the field and the differences between the way Dominicans and Americans play the game. Matt Conger was unanimously voted the player of the day for his hustle and for playing hard at second base. Afterwards, we had a short devotional session and then everyone went to bed early after a long day.
Day 2: The group participated in morning devotions led by Dominican player Jack Kelly. Then, after breakfast, we headed to San Pedro for two games. Game 1 - After a group message that was attended by both teams led by Ty Moorhead, the first game was unique. We played on a large square area that had four fields back to back with the home plates at the four corners so that all of the outfields were connected. There were teams playing on all four fields so that there were players from one field overlapping with players from the other fields which created quite an interesting situation. To top it off, about halfway through the game, another team starting warming up in right field during the game. There were literally 20 players out in right field with the right fielder and he had to avoid others when chasing a fly ball. It was very interesting but there are not many fields so they have to share the field as best they can. It makes me appreciate the fields and availability we enjoy here in the USA. During this game, we got down early 8-0 but we came back to make it interesting and ultimately lost 8-5. Game 2 - A few miles down the street is where we played game two after lunch. Once again, Ty Moorhead led a brief pre-game message with both teams. This field was a former Houston Astros winter league facility so it was VERY nice. It was nicer than most high school fields with spectator stands and dugouts and the field was well manicured. This game was also close and it was back and forth before the home team Dominican players won the game in the bottom of the seventh inning. The winning run reached base after a strikeout that got past the catcher with two outs and scored after a couple of hits. As a coach, it was a fun game to watch because there were lots of good plays made. After the game, we headed back to the MGM complex for dinner after which we headed into town for ice cream. The boys enjoyed the park in the center of town and got to see Hato Mayor at night and interact with the local residents. They were very well behaved and responsible and it was obvious that the Dominicans and Americans were bonding in a way that I have not seen in a long time.
Day 3: The group participated in morning devotions that I led. We discussed James 1 verses 2-12. We talked about how enduring temptation creates endurance and confidence to withstand temptation. We talked about how that applies to sports and baseball in general. Game 1 - After breakfast, we headed to La Caleta which is where I was first exposed to Meeting God in Baseball in 2011 by participating in the building of a backstop for their field and where I fell in love with country and the MGB ministry. This field is located in the middle of a neighborhood so foul balls were likely to land on someones house and there was barely any room for the players to sit. Many of the local parents came to watch the game which is unusual in the Dominican Republic. I spoke to the parents and thanked them for attending and gave them my opinion about how important it is for parents to be involved and how much their attendance is appreciated by the kids. They were there because of the involvement of Sharo Mercedes Martinez who is the mother of our exchange player Bernie and an employee of Meeting God in Baseball. It was a spirited game because of the crowd and once again we were bested by the local team by a score of 11-6. After the game, we ate a sandwiches at the local beach which was beautiful. It was unique in that there was a small beach area surrounded by rocky cliffs and absolutely gorgeous blue waters. After lunch, we were heading to the next game when we experienced a brief downpour that made the next field unplayable. So the game was cancelled and we went to a beach in Boca Chica so the boys could swim and enjoy the rest of the afternoon. Afterwards, we headed back the MGM complex for dinner. That evening we heard the testimony of 20 year old MGM employee named Freddy who helped out all weekend as our translator and making sure we had everything we needed. It was an emotional testimony for Freddy who had to work to support his mother and sisters at age 7 and has had to grow up too quickly. His life has been significantly changed by the MGB ministry and Freddy has developed into a young man of excellent character who is being used by God for a special purpose. One of the things that stood out from his testimony is how thankful he was for what God provided every day when he was supporting his family at such a young age. He said that he felt so blessed for what God provided every day. At the end of his testimony, there was one young man who had the misfortune of falling asleep during the testimony and woke up to a face full of shaving cream. The boys had a good laugh with him as the evening festivities came to a close.
Day 4: Ty Moorhead led the morning devotions by studying Proverbs 15. The boys were divided into three groups and given 11 verses each to discuss and explain which verse they like the best. Each group presented their verse thoughtfully and it was and good exercise for them. Ty challenged them to study one chapter of Proverbs every day for the next month and several of the players contacted me later in the week to let me know that they were enjoying their daily studies. One verse that stood out for me is Proverbs 15:15 - "All the days of the poor are hard, but a cheerful heart has a continual feast". I think this verse accurately describes many of the poor Dominicans that I have met over the past two years who have very little of what we Americans have but they are cheerful and thankful and they trust that God will provide for them which they say He does every day. The Dominican Republic is a third world country but Haiti is one of only two fourth world countries. Haiti (which borders the Dominican Republic) is so poor that Haitians enter the Dominican Republic for BETTER living conditions. Many of them work in the sugar cane fields for very little pay and live in one of many villages in the middle of the sugar cane fields. They often live in tin huts with no facilities, no running water, no electricity and very little food. On this day, we visited one of the poorest of the Haitian villages for a few hours called "Village 50". We took tennis balls provided by CVCA junior Halsten Maresh who has started a ministry called "10,000 balls" in which she is collecting soccer balls, baseballs and tennis balls to provide for the kids in the Dominican Republic. The boys played with the kids for a few hours and interacted with some of the adults. The kids are very spirited and fun to play with and they brought smiles to our faces. A couple of three and four year old kids had VERY good throwing arms. We were given a tour of the village and a downpour hit the village while we were touring the houses. I found it interesting that we were relying on their tin huts for shelter during this downpour and they were very hospitable as we basically invited ourselves into their homes unannounced. This village is so poor that Meeting God in Missions has decided to embark on a building project to build housing for everyone in this village. The homes were designed by a local architect and the building project will begin next year during the annual short term trip season. If you would like more information about how to become involved in this ministry either by participating in the trip next January or through a financial contribution, you can visit www.meetinggodinmissions.com. If you have any questions, feel free to contact me and I will try to get answers for you. After visiting the village, we headed back to the MGM compound where the boys had free time in the afternoon. We played some basketball in the afternoon and Ty Moorhead and I conducted a baseball clinic before dinner. After dinner, we met in the chapel and everyone shared their thoughts about the trip. The general consensus was that it was an amazing experience that is difficult to describe. It went better than I could have imagined and the fact that the boys were able to play on the team with other Dominican players rather than just against them was a blessing. I believe it was all part of God's plan to "connect" the boys through baseball. I pray that the boys grew spiritually because of the experience. Later than night, the boys safely returned home while Ty and I stayed the rest of the week for a coaches clinic hosted by MGB at the complex.
In summary, the trip accomplished what I believe was God's plan, to connect the young American and Dominican men through baseball. I pray that the boys grew spiritually and that some of them will catch fire for this ministry. There are special things happening in the Dominican Republic. The leaders of MGB believe that God is using the Dominican Republic as a starting point for a ministry that will spread all throughout the Hispanic nations in the Carribean and South America. Buzzsaws players will have an opportunity to be a part of this trip in the future. The idea is that we will develop some sort of fund-raising process to help offset the cost of the trip so as many boys can participate as possible. The plan is for the younger teams to voluntary participate in a team fund-raiser to help raise funds for the older boys. Then, when they are old enough, they will have the opportunity to benefit from the fund-raising efforts. I want as many of the boys who want to, to experience this at least once. Non-Buzzsaws players will be welcome also, if there is room. For information about how you can be involved in this ministry, you can contact me at email@example.com. The next opportunity to be a part of this ministry is during the January trip for $990. During this trip, we will travel around the country and provide free baseball clinics around the island and share a brief message with each group. You would not have to be a baseball expert to participate as there are plenty of ways to help with the clinics. But please be advised that arrangements would have to be made quickly as there is not much time to make the travel and payment arrangements.