Diamonds in the Rough – October 2019

Updates from Fondo Negro

There were a lot of really great things this summer; from camp, to new stoves to English classes this summer was a big one for the Joshua 1:Nine community. We are excited to share some updates we haven’t shared yet.

Originally, the team’s food was cooked over fires. It makes for really tasty food but it takes a long time, is difficult and sometimes impossible when there isn’t enough firewood around. In discussing pressure points with the staff, this kept coming up as a big one. So, Coach Chico, who is also a master welder, was given the resources and built a stove for the team to use. Now food in the evenings is a possibility and meals are far more consistent on the weekends. This was a huge step in the program development and we are glad we were able to have a solution to the problem once we discovered it.

This also means an increasing grocery budget and we need your help! Will you consider walking along side the team as they grow? We need to fill those bellies!

Cooking lunch with fire
Lunch before the completion of the stove.

I would like to help support the physical growth of the Fondo Negro kids by being a Team Sponsor!

We also employed an English teacher for the boys and the coaches this summer. He met with two groups of kids (one older and one younger) twice a week for about 6 weeks. This was completely optional for everyone but the classes were well attended. Miguel, the teacher, is the father of one of our players and does a great job. We are excited to have him as a resource and know he will be part of our bigger picture going forward.

English class summer 2019
Miguel works with Francis on his introductions.

I would like to help employ the people of Fondo Negro like Miguel!

As pictures kept rolling in throughout the summer it became clear the field was looking dead. We discussed weather and the lack of rain but eventually it became clear this was not normal, even with a dry summer. We are still learning how everything functions and what resources are available in the community and through questions and conversation discovered one of the rare (but needed) resources typically available in Fondo Negro is a sprinkler system on the field!

When asked why they weren’t using it, we discovered it was because the pump had failed and there were some problems with a few of the pipes. Thanks to the generosity of our donors throughout the first six months of the year we had enough funds to purchase the pump and fix the system.

The grass is slowly growing back and the community is very thankful we have been able to help in this way. They take great pride in their field. It was actually built and paid for by the people of Fondo Negro a number of years ago. They came together and created a committee that worked together to organize the project and the entire community worked together to build the stadium and put in the field so people would have a place for recreation in town. It says a lot about why we like working in Fondo Negro.

What an exciting way to be able to pour into the community. The boys got to get a lesson on the mechanics of the system so we had a learning opportunity as well. That was a sneaky way to support learning and education!

The sprinklers work!
They work!

I want to see this all first hand! How do I get involved?

What an exciting summer! These seemingly little things are not so little when you consider the long term effect of feeding into the kids and the community. The kids are receiving additional nutritious meals, their brains are being challenged and expanded, their spirits were filled and fed at camp and daily at devotionals during practice and the entire community can see the support we provide by loving them and caring about what is important to them as well. God is good! What a summer!

Praises and Prayer Requests

1) We’ve shifted away from hurricane season and feel so thankful it was a very quiet one. This is a huge praise as concern increases every July when the danger from the weather becomes very real.
2) We are praising God for a large gift of a grant from Rotary International! The grant will be used to build/install a Reverse Osmosis water filtration system in Fondo Negro. This will provide clean water for the first time ever to the community. Our mission is to love all of the people of Fondo Negro, not just the baseball kids, and this falls into that mission. Stay tuned for updates.
3) November means Impact Trips! We have two groups heading down in November; one to work on expanding the American side of our baseball program and one to start the build for the water filtration system which will go in over the winter. Prayers for safe travels and good health would be much appreciated.

Diamonds in the Rough – September 2019

The Impact of an Impact Trip

Hi! Sarah Mixdorf, Joshua 1: Nine Board Vice-Chair here to fill you in on my fifth trip to the Dominican Republic. Like each trip before, it was IMPACTFUL. I made this trip to assist in bringing Joshua 1:Nine children from beautiful Fondo Negro to Tierra Alta summer camp near the capitol. You might be thinking, that’s so ordinary. And how was it impactful? Well, let me set the record straight. Summer camp is extraordinary for children from Fondo Negro; possibly once in a lifetime.

After the children turned in their proper forms and received their wristbands, the adventure began. Side note: If you’re a child lover, you will appreciate my near panic during the wristband process. I wanted every child possible to experience the trip and between language barriers, parent – child communication and typical life chaos, I thought certain at least one little love wouldn’t have his or her proper forms. I am a mother of three boys and I rarely meet this expectation. Well, we did it! 150 kids and no hiccups. We traveled as a group by coach bus for three hours to Tierra Alta. Some of our children had never left Fondo Negro. For them, the bus ride alone was an adventure! They saw parts of their island they might never see again.  

When we arrived at camp, they were provided sleeping accommodations; a bed and bathroom with shower and toilet. Running water!? That seems like no big deal for those of us from the US but if running water isn’t available in your community it is a real gift. For those of you yet to visit Fondo Negro, let me assure you, the children were in awe of their surroundings. To them summer camp was extraordinary. During our visit, the children mostly played and again it was extraordinary. The baseball fields have grass or turf! The dugouts keep you cool! There are major league baseball facilities in sight that provide life motivations that can’t necessarily be taught through word and story. The food was delicious and plentiful and they were assured three meals a day. The children dressed for dinner like they were attending an American prom. DR fashion is fancy but some were thinking once in a lifetime. We worshiped, of course, and guess what – extraordinary; hundreds of children in prayer and song. It was beautiful.

One evening during worship a child gave me a gift. Five trips in and it still takes my breath away when a child gives me a gift in the DR. They have so little. This gift was four bracelets. Well, rubber bands but I’m sticking with bracelets. Here is the best part: When he put the bracelets on my wrist, the one that holds my newest tattoo “James” (My father passed away two years ago. He is James.) I thought, I should switch wrists because I don’t want to hide “James”. And then it hit me. The reminder that amidst the toughest journeys: me losing dad; this little guy who is not sure when his next meal might come, is happy – stop searching; gratitude – wake up, check. It’s a blurry mess sometimes but it all comes together perfectly if you choose to let that happen for yourself. So I’m keeping the bracelets where they belong.

Finally and in keeping with the theme of extraordinary, I must mention the butterflies (yes, off topic but worth the mention). It was literally raining butterflies our entire trip. Perfect, little, yellow butterflies. At one point, I turned to my fellow travelers and said, “Who needs a butterfly exhibit in a zoo, when this happens?”.  I sent a video of the butterflies to my twelve year old, Jacob. His response was, “That’s so cool.” This level of cool was a first for me and yet another reason, trip #6 won’t be far off. Thank you Joshua 1:Nine for another pile of happy, a heap of gratitude and a dash of cool.

I want to experience this! Send me more information please!

Hours were spent just hanging out together at camp. It was not unusual for a “rap-off” to break out often throughout those times together. (shown here) Kids are kids everywhere!

Look closely…..those are all butterflies!