Diamonds in the Rough – August 2019

Diamonds in the Rough – August 2019

The gift of “being”. Chadron reflects on his time in Fondo Negro.

Greetings from Spokane, WA –

I wanted to take this opportunity to give a brief report and thank the donors, sponsors, and supporters of Joshua 1:Nine Ministries.   Your generosity and the foundational relationships built by the organization allowed me to be a part of a pretty special trip with my 14-year-old son this summer. Having the opportunity to travel to the Dominican Republic has touched our lives in many ways, including working together on fundraising projects, creating “inside jokes” and memories from the trip, and spending time in reflection as we’ve returned.

It was a long set of flights for what seemed like an incredibly brief 5 days on the island.  Before we left, we had conversations focusing on two things.   The first was – what are we “doing” while on the trip.   Many people focus on the tasks of mission work, whether it be building wells or painting walls.  We had no project that we were working on in particular, so much of the “doing” that was done was playing baseball, exploring potential long-term academy sites (an incredible future dream), and eating, worshiping, and playing at camp.  

However, prior to leaving, we discussed the more important aspect of the trip.  This trip was not a “doing” trip, but rather, the second focus that we had was on “being”.  Joshua 1:Nine is built upon the idea that we are walking with the people in and around Fondo Negro.  It is sometimes difficult to envision or to explain the idea of walking with.   As American males, culturally we often seek to fix and solve.  Doing something physical means we’ve made our mark and done good work.   Building a wall for a school, for example, gives us the satisfaction that we’ve left a lasting legacy that will serve those in the community.   However, brick and mortar can crumble and be destroyed.   The idea of “being with” may be difficult to describe, and may go against our cultural programming, but the relationships built by walking with those in the community are the things that last.  They change both those we walk with – as well as ourselves.  Being for us looked like hours in the hot stadium watching baseball and talking to kids, sitting in plastic chairs in the shade while meeting various family members, and playing baseball (or soccer) with no concern for language barriers.

As people have asked “how was the trip” I have found it sometimes difficult to describe what occurred and the connections made, both in the community and with my son.  However, by any measure, it was “successful” and I am thankful.

Just as water reflects the face, so one human heart reflects another. – Proverbs 27:19

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

We are praying for a medical team to travel with us this fall to help develop a medical outreach to the people of Fondo Negro! Are you a medical professional? Know someone who is? Please contact us and let us know you might be interested! kristin@joshua1nine.org

Diamonds in the Rough – July 2019

Hello from Camp!!

Kristin here, reporting dirty, tired but happy after not the two days of camp we expected, but three! What an amazing experience with the kids of Fondo Negro. We ate, slept, played and worshiped God together; creating new relationships and deepening already existing ones. The kids returned home around 1:00 today full of stories of mud and baseball and feats of strength and friendship and hopefully new or strengthening  belief in Jesus.

My favorite part was worshiping with the kids. I love to sing worship songs and with the Spanish words on the screen I was able to sing my lungs out. I started to get a bit of a reputation for my singing, hopefully teaching the lesson of making a joyful noise. 😉

A number of our kids, boys and girls, made a commitment to Christ. The counselors did an amazing job of of loving on and walking through the process with the kids. I was encouraged by the way the kids listened and participated in the worship. It was a new experience for most of them and I was thrilled by the response. God is good. 

Technology was nonexistent and discouraged at camp so I don’t have many pictures on my phone. I’ll follow up next week with a special addition of the newsletter which will share the experience in pictures. Stay tuned!

Thank you for your prayers during this week. They are very appreciated! Until next week!

Diamonds in the Rough – December 2018

Diamonds in the Rough – December 2018

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year from Joshua 1:Nine!

What a year this has been! As the weeks and months go by it is easy to lose sight of everything that gets accomplished but as we look back we can see the year has been filled with success and blessings. Below is a list of just a few of the items that successfully started and will continue to find strength in 2019.

1) We have seen the implementation and refinement of our meal program, including hiring our cook Bella Nira;
2) Deepened relationship with For the Least of These Ministries to assist in supplementing our meal program;
3) Finalized Dominican nonprofit status which makes us a legal entity in the Dominican Republic;
4) Implemented a salary structure for our coaches and staff which allows them access to the country’s retirement system and public health benefits;
5) Began daily devotionals with pastors from two Fondo Negro churches who come to speak into the lives of our coaches, community members who are involved in practices as well as the boys on the team;
6) Established a relationship with Tierra Alta which will provide an opportunity for 250 boys and girls to attend summer camp in July 2019;
7) Laid the necessary groundwork for the installation of a water filtration system which will provide clean water to the community, as well as surrounding communities, for the first time in their history;
8) Completed two successful Impact Trips which included outreach to the community clinic as well as the building of a latrine for one of the boys’ family, a lot of fun and a lot of baseball; and
9) Last but not least, we have given love and increased the amount of trust and understanding the community has in what we are doing. This is essential to our lasting impact.

In 2019 we desire to see continuation and growth in the above accomplished goals and our goals for 2019 continue to evolve but they include:

1) Installation of the water filtration system and successful commencement of the production of clean water for the community;
2) Summer camp experience for the Fondo Negro youth;
3) Three or more Impact Trips; and
4) Inclusion of the Fondo Negro baseball AND softball team members in the Major League Baseball initiative know as RBI.

Big things are brewing for Joshua 1:Nine and the opportunities the completion of these goals would create for the community are vast and growing. It is with GREAT excitement we look toward 2019 and hope you will continue to be part of this endeavor.

Please join us by becoming a financial or prayer partner. We can’t accomplish these goals without the help of our community partners as well as God’s provision. And to those of you who have walked with us so far thank you for your support and prayer. We look forward to continuing to share in this journey with you.

We pray your holidays are blessed and full of happiness and joy.

Fuerte y Valiente! Strength and Courage!

I’d like to support the 2019 Goals!

Did you know Joshua 1:Nine is lead by an amazing group of people across the country who make up our Board of Directors? (Pictured above is board Chair Jodi during her visit to Fondo Negro in 2017.) Have you made a New Years Resolution to do more to help your community and fellow man? Do you enjoy leadership and helping to create and implement vision? We are looking to expand our board and would love the opportunity to talk with you about it if you are interested. Our first meeting in 2019 will be in February so January is the perfect time to get established and caught up. Contact Kristin for more information.

I’m interested in being part of Leadership at J1Nine. Tell me more!

Diamonds in the Rough – October 2018

Diamonds in the Rough – October 2018

Current Weather: Hot with 100% chance of mosquitoes

Hello from Fondo Negro! I’m in-country for the next month, really diving deep into what’s going on with the program, how to improve it, make it run smoother but also to love on the kids and keep deepening those relationships.

The mosquito problem is the worst I’ve seen it, even the locals are complaining. It doesn’t stop them from playing ball however; it just adds an arm workout in waving them all away once the sun goes down. Last night there was a full moon and as it rose over the field with the very green landscape from the rain it was breathtaking. I wish you all could see it in person.

I continue to be impressed by the resourcefulness of the people here. The coaches wanted the kids to do a drill with their hands on the wall in right field but it had been baking in the sun all day and was too hot. Easy solutions are found where there is full foliage around. Just use some branches as a buffer. Success!

I’ve been here for two days and the kids were very excited when I showed up. Those who remember my name were proud to yell it out and the names that I could remember in return elicited huge grins.

Work on the process for getting grant funding for the water project is well underway, with a meeting of the local rotary club, myself, a pastor in a nearby community who runs a similar system and the company that does the install scheduled for tomorrow morning. Friday will find me shopping with our cook for food for the kids for the weekend. Mentorship with our pastor and the confidence he is slowly building in working with the kids and our coaches  is in process as well. Slowly but surely systems are put in place, habits are formed and people come to trust we will do what we say we will do. Nothing goes fast here and that includes creating trust. I don’t think people actually believe I will be here as long as I say I will nor do they believe we will come back, and yet we do.

Prayers for successful endeavors and traveling mercies for myself and the two teams who will be joining me throughout my time here would be appreciated. Also, pray away those mosquitoes! Please and Thank you!

Depending on how my time goes I might be sending out an additional newsletter in the next month so keep an eye out just in case. And please, feel free to let me know if there is something specific you would like video or pictures of. I’m happy to do what I can.

Off to the field. With Strength and Courage (Fuerte y Valiente)!!
Kristin

I’d like to support these kids!

The boys love Coach Chico. They swarm him as much as the mosquitoes and it’s easy to see why. He shows his love in return even when he pretends to be ultra serious. Not long after this picture was taken he and Coach Robert put two of the boys in an anthill. The laughter could be heard a long way off. Work hard, play hard, give love.

Do you want to meet these people yourself? Click here to find out how you can travel with J1Nine to Fondo Negro.

Diamonds in the Rough – September 2018

Diamonds in the Rough – September 2018

Back to school in Fondo Negro

Most of the kids living in Fondo Negro attend one of two schools, the elementary school or the high school. Fondo Negro is a small enough community that the kids walk to school. They wear uniforms consisting of blue tops and khaki pants or skirts.

The schools were built by the government and are made out of cement and yellow in color.

Each class has about 25 kids per teacher. Just like in American schools, the elementary school students remain in one class all day and the high school students change between classrooms. Classes can be noisy and full of activity but there are definitely times when the students buckle down.

The amount of hours spent in class is significantly less than in American schools with a lot of down time at both the elementary school and high school levels. There is PE in elementary school and social breaks in the high school.

Each family must pay for uniforms and materials for classes. This causes financial stress on families and some children miss school because they don’t have what they need to attend. Joshua 1:Nine works to fill some of those gaps. You can help by donating to support a student’s efforts to attend school.

I’d like to support a student!

School is work but it also is a lot of fun! It’s a chance for each student to spend time with their friends and to learn more about the world around them. Laughter is a common staple. Without it, it wouldn’t feel like a day in the Dominican Republic!

I want to see the Fondo Negro schools first hand. Send me Information about traveling to the Dominican Republc.

Diamonds in the Rough – August 2018

Diamonds in the Rough – August 2018

In All Things God Is There

In March, representatives of Joshua 1:Nine were welcomed into a few of the boys’ homes to meet their family, learn about their lives outside of the baseball field as well as create deeper relationships. One of the families who welcomed us was Rafael’s family (known as Mello by his friends – pronounced may-o). Mello is 17 years old and lives with his mom, twin sister Angelina, aunt, niece and nephew. He is a pitcher on the team and likes to cheer for the Yankees. He loves to study history.

While with his family Mello’s mom made it very clear she has concerns about the safety of her children because the family does not have access to a latrine at their house. Instead they are required to go down the street to a friend’s house. Multiple times she asked for help and it became very clear her fear around this safety issue was extreme.

These are the types of projects J1Nine is looking for. We never want to to go into the community and force a project on anyone. The only good projects are the ones where the community actually has an expressed need and this was a project we could get our arms around. With that in mind we started putting together a group to go down in the fall to build the family a latrine.

The need for this project became even more profound when Head Coach Chico informed us Mello’s Uncle, who is the only person providing financial support to the family, was recently killed while on vacation in another part of the island. This family is now in crisis mode. There is no money for food and no support for the kids as they start a new school year this week. The latrine project is coming at a time when one concern can be alleviated from the mind of Mello’s mother and the safety of the family can be increased.

 

  

Mello’s house is on the right. There is a small yard to the right of it where we will be building the latrine in November.

We have an ask for all of you reading this. The trip to build Mello’s family’s latrine is happening November 9-17 and we are praying for some additional hands to make it a success. If you have ever thought about traveling to the Dominican Republic (or you haven’t but God is telling you in this moment you need to go) please contact us by clicking the box below. We have six people committed to helping this family but we have a need for an additional three or more people to make the project a success. It will be a week of hard work but also a lot of fun. We’ll help Mello’s family but also play with the kids, spend time enjoying the Caribbean and you will fall in love with the island and it’s people. It might be your first trip but it won’t be your last.

If you have even the smallest amount of interest please don’t hesitate to reach out for more information. We are praying you will listen to the nudge that is in your heart right now. Fuerte y Veliente, Strength and Courage; that is what we are praying for from you.

 

Diamonds in the Rough – June 2018

Diamonds in the Rough – June 2018

The Baton Pass in Family Culture

Starting out practice with a group run

You’ve all seen it, or perhaps even done it; the relay race in track and field. One runner starts with the baton in their hand and runs toward their teammate. The teammate stands at the ready, looking back with an outstretched arm until the other teammate gets close enough they need to start to run. At that point they can’t look back. They run full speed ahead with the blind awareness the first runner is going to place the smooth baton in their hand at which point they will drop off and the new holder of the baton will continue their full speed run to the next runner.

The same is true with culture. Dr. Tererai Trent talks about this with her African roots. She says “Everyone is running a relay with a baton; the baton of poverty, baton of illiteracy, the baton of early marriage. But you can change the baton. You just have to believe you can, be shown it is possible and then do it.”

Sometimes all someone needs is a person to believe for them that they can do something different in their lives, or to tell them that a different life is possible. We don’t believe “illiterate” or “uneducated” or “unloved” need to be part of family culture in Fondo Negro any longer.

This is the reason we work so hard to keep the kids in school and to tell and show them the love of Jesus. Educated, loved, literate, valued, caring; those are the batons we are stepping in to pass to our kids . We accomplish this through the teaching from our coaches and mentoring from the people who visit and pour into the kids we are serving. Our favorite question is “why are you doing this?” because then we get to say “because Jesus loves you, because we believe you have more in store for you, because we believe you get to create your own story and make it look the way you want it to look”. That’s a heavy baton but one we are glad to be asked to pass along.

Help Pass a Different Baton. Become a Monthly Sponsor.

I Want to Help Pass the Baton – Click here for more information on how you can go to the Dominican Republic

Diamonds in the Rough – May 2018

Diamonds in the Rough – May 2018

What’s the Big Deal about Performance Enhancing Drugs?

Performance Enhancing Drugs (or PEDS) are all too often in Major League Baseball news. What is all the talk about using an * for PED era records? Why does this issue matter? How does it impact what we are doing with the program? In our newsletter this month President Kristin takes a few minutes to break down the topic and especially why it matters to the kids we serve.

PEDS…..What are they good for? Absolutely NOTHING!
(Sorry to those of you in a certain generation that now have a song stuck in your head from my heading.)

I was given the amazing opportunity earlier this month to spend a sweet, uninterrupted day in Cooperstown at the National Baseball Hall of Fame. Any baseball fan should take the opportunity to go and I would suggest going in the down season like I did. There were no lines to get in, no one stood in front of me as I slowly took in all of the information and memorabilia in the three floors of the museum and I could touch each and every plaque in The Hall itself. I didn’t, but I could have.

One thing that surprised me was the amount of time spent on the topic of PEDs. There were polls to take about whether or not, you the fan, thought the use of PEDs was an important note around baseball fame; whole walls speaking to the Barry Bonds and Mark McGuire seasons where the home run records were crushed and where steroid use was a likely aid. For many, people who use steroids should not be admitted into the Hall of Fame and some say their records should stand but only with a little * behind them. I have opinions about both of those things but that isn’t really what’s important here.

It is against the MLB rules to use PEDs. This includes certain diuretics athletes might use to aid in the healing process but can also be used to trick tests by cleaning a drug out of the player’s system rapidly. PED use in baseball was on my mind when a few days later news broke that Robinson Cano, a very highly regarded and successful Dominican player tested positive for one of these banned diuretics. His response, similar to others in his shoes was that he didn’t know what he was taking. He claims he just took what a Dominican doctor gave him. (I could add further commentary about the Dominican medical system and corruption here but will save that for another conversation)

In my mind, as a person who is helping to shepard the next generation of Dominican ball players the issue around PEDs goes beyond the health aspects and the “it’s the rules” rhetoric. Don’t get me wrong, both of those issues are important but what has been more telling to me, and what I believe is the bigger issue for our kids is the idea around personal responsibility. When you ask kids about it in the DR across the board they will tell you it would be possible to not know what they were taking but if a doctor gave it to them it was fine. This feigned ignorance is not acceptable. Someone like Cano who knows PED use can ruin his career and taint the image he is projecting for the next generation should be responsible for knowing better. He is a role model to the kids in the Dominican Republic as well as here in the United States. If we don’t talk to our kids about the damage PEDs can do to their bodies as well as the example they are projecting to others we miss the mark.

Alex Colome is another Dominican player who tested positive for PEDs. Before the start of the 2014 season he was found to have used a drug called Boldenone, a steroid known to treat horses. He was given the nickname “El Caballo” (“the horse”) after he came back from his 50 game suspension; a name he still uses proudly.

This goes further to demonstrate my point. Why in the world does he wear the title of PED user proudly and why are we not doing anything about it? It should be a stigma one can’t shake and instead, other than perhaps hurting his chances of getting into the Hall of Fame, it is taken lightly and not given the weight it should be. I believe it is part of our job in mentoring these kids to talk about this. We need to talk about personal responsibility when we make mistakes and also to talk about the grace that comes from Christ when we do make mistakes.

That is the crucial piece for me in our program. We get to talk about the fact that we all fall short but that we need to try to walk in the steps Jesus has laid out for us. When we fall short we can take responsibility, ask for forgiveness and it’s given to us no questions asked because of the grace of God. So yes, I just took us from PEDs to Christ. It’s there everyday. We just need to be the ones speaking those words to our kids.

Will you pray with me for opportunity to share these types of practical heart lessons with our kids and for God to place the people in the program that can share these sentiments with them on a daily basis?

Thank you for hanging with me through this somewhat longer newsletter today. I hope it has caused some thought and maybe opened ideas for conversation within your own families. Thanks for the ongoing prayers for our kids!

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