Diamonds in the Rough August 2023

LET’S GET TOGETHER!

Our 4th annual fundraising breakfast is right around the corner. On October 5th at 7am at the South Hill Community Center in Spokane we will come together and raise funds for the important projects coming in 2024. Last year we raised funds and were able to build the kitchen we shared about last month. Let’s make a gift to the community again this year!

Because of all of the economic issues you are all well aware of, we have had to change the format of the breakfast a bit. The cost of food has risen exponentially and we can no longer cover the cost. Because of that this year, individual tickets will be $10 each, or you can purchase a table for $80 and find seven other people to introduce to Joshua 1:Nine and the mission! There will be a full catered breakfast at the event.

We will still have an ask at the breakfast because your ticket cost will only go to help cover expenses for the breakfast and our goal is to raise money for the kids. By helping with expenses, more of what we raise can go directly to the community!

Click the link above or below to purchase your ticket and plan to attend. We look forward to seeing you there!

An Important Travel Opportunity

One of the exciting things we are working on this year and next is to strengthen the literacy efforts in Fondo Negro. As part of that project we are providing a book to each kid in Fondo Negro! In November or December we are taking a group to deliver books, read with the kids and do other projects needed in the community. If you are interested in going on the trip please click below and send us an email for more information. It’s going to be a wonderful experience!


Come learn more about these kids and support the mission!

CHANGE YOUR LIFE! TAKE AN IMPACT TRIP!

We are taking groups to spend a week with the kids in the DR! If this sounds like something you are for which you are interested in being part, let us know by clicking the link above, sending an email and we’ll get you more information!


As always, we are thankful for you, our supporters. We pray you are happy, healthy and know the peace that comes through faith in Jesus Christ. He’s got all of us in his hand, here and abroad, and for that we are forever thankful. Thank you for your prayers and ongoing support!

With deepest gratitude from the guys.

Diamonds in the Rough July 2023

A New Kitchen, Making Life Easier and Safer

At our October Fundraising Breakfast in Spokane we raised funds to build a kitchen in the open space behind the field. For five years the team was eating dinner at Coach Robert and Bella Nira’s house which worked great for a while since Bella Nira is the head cook and they had a nice open yard. Over the years however, the team grew and some of the yard around their house was taken over by structures. Before we knew it, we outgrew the space. The team was making due but it was a significant challenge. With a desire to increase the amount of days we are feeding the team we knew a change needed to be made.

Coach Chico requested the kitchen and you, our supporters, came through big time. After a small delay due to availability of supplies, the kitchen was finished the beginning of June! In conjunction with the completion of the kitchen we increased the amount of food for the summer so the team is now eating on Tuesdays and Fridays. This is fulfilling a significant need because in the summer the food which the government provides through school stops and without the supplement, kids could go most of the week without enough to eat.

In addition to making the process of feeding the kids easier and having more space for the boys to eat, the kitchen is far more efficient. The food is ready as the boys come off the field and they don’t have to walk the ten minutes to Coach Robert’s house. This is becoming more and more important as kids from outside of Fondo Negro are hearing about the program and joining. Some of these boys travel over 30 kilometers each way to practice. We are able to get those kids fed quickly and on the road back home a little earlier. This helps with safety since typically hitchhiking on the highway is their only mode of transportation. This is common in the DR but it is still dangerous and the earlier we can get them home with full stomachs the better. 

This is a significant step in moving the program forward and we praise God that he provided through your generosity. Below, you’ll find a number of pictures from meals so far this summer. Because we haven’t hit our fundraising goal for covering the additional meal each week going forward, we will go back to one day a week meals once school resumes. If you feel led to give, your tax deductible gift would be much appreciated. We need seven new monthly givers at $40 a month to be able to feed all 150+ kids one more time a week. That’s only $10 a week! Please click the link above to become a Team Sponsor. Even if you can’t give the full $40 a monthly commitment of any amount will get us toward our goal.

A Zaid Update

Last month we asked for prayer for Zaid as he underwent emergency surgery on his stomach. We have great news! Prayers were answered and he is home, healthy and growing like crazy. Thank you for the prayers. God is good!

SAVE THE DATE

Our 2023 Breakfast Fundraiser is set for October 5th. We will again be at the South Hill Community Center and look forward to welcoming all of you for a morning of celebration and coming together. The format will be changing slightly so please stay tuned for additional details in the next month. Think of who you can invite as we hope to extend our reach!



Come learn more about these kids and support the mission!

CHANGE YOUR LIFE! TAKE AN IMPACT TRIP!

We are taking groups to spend a week with the kids in the DR! If this sounds like something you are for which you are interested in being part, let us know by clicking the link above, sending an email and we’ll get you more information!


As always, we are thankful for you, our supporters. We pray you are happy, healthy and know the peace that comes through faith in Jesus Christ. He’s got all of us in his hand, here and abroad, and for that we are forever thankful. Thank you for your prayers and ongoing support!

With deepest gratitude from the guys.

Diamonds in the Rough June 2023

The Best Laid Plans

In late May, Water@Work Ministries, the organization that partnered with Joshua 1:Nine and Rotary International it build the water purification plant, decided the ongoing problems with access to water at the plant needed to be addressed. The desire is to have control of the water access buy owning our own well. This should also lead to water that is cleaner at the time it enters the plant and will decrease the cost of cleaning the water. This will lead to better profits for the plant and further impact to the community. The well drilling project began on Wednesday, May 31st.  On Friday, June 2nd, a good water supply was found at a depth of 310 feet.  The well drilling company began the process of putting in the piping and well casing to finish the well.  

In early June, the weather in Fondo Negro included record amounts of rain, quickly. One day the town partially flooded. A flash flood filled Coach Melbin’s parents’ house with water and mud. Thankfully, no one was injured but there was some damage to personal property.

This storm coincided with the drilling of the well. Unfortunately, because of the overwhelming amounts of water, a hole opened up where they were drilling and the rig sunk into the hole overnight. A crane and a backhoe were brought in and eventually, the rig was removed, but it took a lot of head scratching and a broken down fence to make it happen.

So we start over. Thankfully, we know there is good water at 310 feet and if natural disasters can be kept at bay, we should have a functioning well by the middle of July. In the meantime, the plant is unable to operate so we are praying for a quick and smooth resolution to the problem as soon as possible.

This is the reason having ongoing support from people like you is so important. We never know when a figurative hole is going to open up and create an unexpected, but significant and important need for the program. We are not responsible for the expenses related to the well, so this time the disaster isn’t ours, but issues like this arise all the time. Would you consider giving to the general fund? This money goes to projects and needs directly effecting the community and we can’t get through the day in/day out operations without the generosity. Click the button at the top of this email to contribute.

A Zaid update and prayer request

Last month we introduced you to Zaid, Coach Elvin and Jenny’s new baby. We received word yesterday that Zaid has a problem with his stomach and is having emergency surgery in the capital this week. Please pray for Zaid, his doctors and his family as they maneuver this scary time.

New Members of the Family of Faith

We are so happy that this month two members of the team took their first steps of faith by making a public proclamation of belief in Jesus as their savior. Maximilliano and Rafa (or Julio) are 13 years old and have been attending daily practice, listening to the word of God on a daily basis, since they were each 8. Thanks to a very generous donation from The Gideons, each were given their own copy of the Psalms and New Testament. 

We praise God for the addition to our family of faith and ask that you pray for these young men as they learn what it is to be followers of Christ. We are so grateful to have Coach Elvin to walk alongside these boys as they learn and grow in their faith journeys.

Come learn more about these kids and support the mission!



Come learn more about these kids and support the mission!

CHANGE YOUR LIFE! TAKE AN IMPACT TRIP!

We are taking groups to spend a week with the kids in the DR! If this sounds like something you are for which you are interested in being part, let us know by clicking the link above, sending an email and we’ll get you more information!


As always, we are thankful for you, our supporters. We pray you are happy, healthy and know the peace that comes through faith in Jesus Christ. He’s got all of us in his hand, here and abroad, and for that we are forever thankful. Thank you for your prayers and ongoing support!

With deepest gratitude from the guys.

Diamonds in the Rough May 2023

Something is Coming!

A note from Board Vice Chair Mark Baldwin.


Something is coming to the DR and the rest of the world and it creates a challenge and an opportunity for the families of Fondo Negro. What is happening in the Dominican you ask? Summer is coming! As summer approaches in the DR, daily life changes for the kids of Fondo Negro. I think it is safe to say that there is universal joy when school lets out for summer but many of the families in the community have some nagging concerns. Like many schools in the United States, Dominican schools often are the primary source of food for school age children. Families count on the meals students are provided during the school year but in summer it can be a struggle to keep everyone in the household fed.

Joshua 1:Nine has grown to understand this issue and we are improving our ability to help feed some of these kids. The generosity of donors has paid for the construction of a kitchen at the baseball field so that food can be prepared and served more easily on site. This is a great foundation to build from. As construction is completed the preparation and serving will move from the coach’s home to the ball field.

I need to tell you, it is amazing to walk with the kids through the streets of town to the coach’s house a few blocks from the field. And it is quite the sight! You see the team, 130 or so, forming lines to get a bowl of chicken and plantains, and a second line where a couple of coaches are dipping out punch! These kids are grateful, patient and they gather and sit on the ground in groups laughing and talking. When we were there, they also let us take their pictures!

Right now we provide one meal a week on Fridays, but we think we can do two days or maybe three! What we need is $400 a month to expand to another day. If there is a person out there who wants to establish a monthly gift of $400 to feed our 130 players, I am sure you will feel amazing about it, but honestly, that is a big ask. What works just as well is if ten people contribute $40 a month. When we asked for support to build the kitchen the response was great and that vision is being realized. Can you help us take the next step?

Finally, a yearlong commitment to our kids may not work for you – – -so what about supporting the team for the summer. A onetime gift can help us reach the goal of $1200 for the summer. Right now a private party has stepped forward and will match the first $600 given to the additional meal day. Everything helps, join the team!

Mark Baldwin
Vice Chair of the Board, Joshua 1:Nine


Welcome to the Family, Zaid!!!

April was a big month for the Joshua 1:Nine family! On April 26th Coach Elvin and his wife Jenny welcomed Zaid into the world. Mom and baby are healthy and thriving. He joins his sister who is excited to have a little brother to protect and pick on. 

Congratulations Elvin and Jenny and welcome to the family, Zaid!

Come learn more about these kids and support the mission!

CHANGE YOUR LIFE! TAKE AN IMPACT TRIP!

We are taking groups to spend a week with the kids in the DR! If this sounds like something you are interested in being part of let us know by clicking the link above, sending an email and we’ll get you more information!



As always, we are thankful for you, our supporters. We pray you are happy, healthy and know the peace that comes through faith in Jesus Christ. He has all of us in his hand, here and abroad, and for that we are forever thankful. Thank you for your prayers and ongoing support!

With deepest gratitude from the guys.

Diamonds in the Rough April 2023

Patricia De La Cruz Beltre


We are so happy to welcome Patricia to the Joshua 1:Nine family! She was born on April 18, 2023 to Coach Meblin and his wife Silvia. Both mom and baby are doing well. Meblin reports she is eating a lot and she is a happy baby. Patricia joins the family with her big brother Emmanuel.

Congratulations to the entire family!

Thanks to the benefits provided by Joshua 1:Nine Silvia and Patricia received the best care possible at a local hospital. Both Melbin and Silvia were appreciative to not have to worry about the cost of bringing Patricia into the world!


CHANGE YOUR LIFE! TAKE AN IMPACT TRIP!

We are taking groups to spend a week with the kids in the DR! If this sounds like something you are interested in being part of let us know by clicking the link above, sending an email and we’ll get you more information!


As always, we are thankful for you, our supporters. We pray you are happy, healthy and know the peace that comes through faith in Jesus Christ. He has all of us in his hand, here and abroad, and for that we are forever thankful. Thank you for your prayers and ongoing support!

With deepest gratitude from the guys.

Diamonds in the Rough March 2023

An Impact of a Lifetime

Last February, my family traveled to Fonda Negro with Joshua 1:Nine. This was a second trip for our Bigs, Jacob (15) and Carter (14), and our Little Dylan’s (5), first trip. This was the first time we traveled with our friends Laura and Atticus, who were also on their second trip. Atticus, Jacob and Carter grew up together on the youth baseball fields in Minneapolis, MN, playing for The Millers. They are in high school now; at different schools; and on different athletic paths so this trip was likely the last time I saw the three of them play baseball together. Needless to say, they went out with a bang!
During our visit, “Several professional baseball players spent time with us throughout the week. They had returned home to see their families, touch base with the baseball program and be in their community before reporting to spring training. Despite their success, it is clear that in their hearts, they are Fondo Negro “kids”. This special community remains a part of them and draws them back no matter where life and career takes them…” shared Laura. It’s no small thing to watch Atticus, Jacob and Carter play amongst Dominican World Series talent. So if this was indeed the last time I watched the boys play baseball together, thank you Fondo Negro “kids” for taking time to play baseball with our kids.

Side note, Dylan plays tee-ball in Minneapolis. In Fondo Negro, baseball tees don’t exist because who needs a tee when you can throw a ball?! Dylan hit pitches thrown by Coach. Coach has a World Series Ring. It’s safe to say, Dylan’s baseball career is off to a great start. Minneapolis Millers – Here we come, again!

Like baseball, Fondo Negro draws you back but it’s not only about the baseball. That’s just a really cool perk! Laura summed it up well, “Fondo Negro has drawn us back too. My family has been there twice for Impact Trips, but Fondo Negro has impacted us as well. We practiced Spanish, volunteered, played baseball and had cultural exchanges among so many other things. No matter where life takes us, Fondo Negro will be in our hearts. We look forward to when we are drawn back yet again and can reconnect with this place and its warm people.” Like Laura and Atticus, my family is drawn to Fondo Negro. Maybe it’s the “chicken fried”? The mangos? The dominoes? The quick trip to a deserted beach? Chico’s sugarcane? For each person in my family, the impact hits a little different. Though I know for certain, the humans and their smiles, handshakes, and hugs are all felt the same. You don’t have to speak a bit of Spanish to know you are welcome in Fondo Negro.


This visit, our group totaled 14, which included one of Laura’s closest friends, Melissa and her son Michael. Melissa and I bonded while painting houses in the most impoverished part of the community. Turns out we are both moms of blended families. We chatted quite a bit about the parallel gifts and challenges our mom roles present. I saw Melissa’s strength and she saw the strength I hope people see. That was a very unexpected gift and another reason to say, thank you Fondo Negro. You never know who you will meet on an Impact Trip. And you never know who might say yes when you ask them to join you. My bestie Kristin, founded Joshua 1:Nine. She asked me to join her on a trip, I asked Laura, and Laura asked Melissa. Are you next?

The rest of our crew included Tim and his son, Zan. I will remember both of them for years to come as they were both incredibly patient with Dylan when his five year old quarter was running out. Tim always knew just what to say to distract him or Zan gave up his phone, which is no easy task when you are a teenager. Also, Zan hit his first homerun. Boom! Thank you Fondo Negro.

I can go on and on about an Impact Trip to Fondo Negro. I am the best version of myself when I am pulled away from the creature comforts of America and my privileged life. My family is its best version of itself when we are reliant on one another for a cold glass of water, granola bar, bug spray and sunscreen. We stop bickering and we love each other better. Tim and Zan summed this up well when chatting about how little the people of Fondo Negro rely on “…realiz[ing] that what they do have is faith, family, friends and baseball in the sunshine 300 days a year. So maybe they do have a lot after all, and we are the ones that could use more of what they have.”

CHANGE YOUR LIFE! TAKE AN IMPACT TRIP!

We are taking groups to spend a week with the kids in the DR! If this sounds like something you are interested in being part of let us know by clicking the link above, sending an email and we’ll get you more information!

As always, we are thankful for you, our supporters. We pray you are happy, healthy and know the peace that comes through faith in Jesus Christ. He’s got all of us in his hand, here and abroad, and for that we are forever thankful. Thank you for your prayers and ongoing support!
With deepest gratitude from the guys.

Diamonds in the Rough February 2023

Generational Change

When we first started coming to Fondo Negro in the spring of 2017, we knew we were encountering a different type of community. The team was as close as family already and the coaches were mentoring the athletes without any prompting or promoting from the outside. What we wanted to do was provide further support for what was already in place. We began encouraging the coaches to talk about what being a good person looked like. We talked to the kids about what being a good person looked like. We talked to the kids’ families about what bright futures might look like and what it was to have dreams that included baseball, yes, but also so much more.

What we hoped was that these conversations would grow roots. That the boys who were receiving the mentoring would turn into men who would have these conversations with their friends and family members and eventually we would work ourselves out of a job, sort of.

Lorenzo Speaks

When you get a chance to meet Lorenzo (in the above picture in the red Arizona Diamondbacks gear) the first thing you’ll notice is his quiet mannerisms. He has a smile that starts and builds slowly as does his conversation. He is quiet, but he is heard loudly. Since we first met him when he was 15 years old, he has been a leader amongst his friends and the kids on the team. Now, at 21, he is finding success in the minor leagues and has no intention of stopping.

Recently, when he was home visiting his family during some vacation, he asked the coaches for a minute with the team. He stood in front of the 130 or so kids gathered and shared with them that they needed to do better in school. He implored them that he knew some of them were fighting and not working as hard as they could while they are there and then he brought it home by saying this will lead to failure if they ever sign a contract with a Major League team. He told them that just baseball is not enough. They have to do better in school. They have to learn to listen to their teachers AND they have to work hard at the field. He was open and vulnerable with them and he offered them no space for excuses. 

This is what we have prayed and hoped for: young men to step forward and lead their community; to not be afraid to say “you are great; be better”. 

What is happening in Fondo Negro is working. We want it to work better. We need 10 more monthly sponsors this year to allow us to increase the amount of food we provide an additional day each week. Can you cut out one coffee drink each week to help feed 130 kids in the DR? That’s all it would take. 

Come learn more about these kids and support the mission!


CHANGE YOUR LIFE! TAKE AN IMPACT TRIP!

We are taking groups to spend a week with the kids in the DR! If this sounds like something you are interested in being part of let us know by clicking the link above, sending an email and we’ll get you more information!

As always, we are thankful for you, our supporters. We pray you are happy, healthy and know the peace that comes through faith in Jesus Christ. He’s got all of us in his hand, here and abroad, and for that we are forever thankful. Thank you for your prayers and ongoing support!
With deepest gratitude from the guys.

Diamonds in the Rough January 2023

A Year of Laying Foundations for the Future

Once a year I take over this platform and make this less about the people of Fondo Negro and more about what has been accomplished and where we hope to go in the next year. Some years my report is goal heavy, other years it’s dream heavy. I never know exactly where I’m going to go when I start writing so settle in a bit and we’ll see what we get up to this year.

I had an additional trip this year to the DR because a friend of mine got married and invited me to the wedding. In addition, I purchased a home in Fondo Negro which will serve as the center of operations for J1Nine and that meant some work setting the house up for use and making sure everything was as it should be. The addition of the house became necessary when the current President changed the laws of the country to require a physical location for nonprofits to have nonprofit status in the country. Our status was revoked, and we realized we needed to find an alternative option. The house will provide that location and has the potential in the future to include housing for teams so groups can stay in Fondo Negro and not make the 30-kilometer drive between the hotel and the community. 

In July, a group of high school students from Spokane, WA made the trip to Fondo Negro. It was a huge joy for me to watch as friendships developed across cultures as well as within the group of travelers. At the beginning of the trip, people were a bit reserved and uncertain. By the end there were hours and hours of dominos, feats of strength and so much laughter. 

A November trip for the Board of Directors brought good conversation and understanding with in-country staff, a new focus on our mission and vision statements and a rekindling of the flame for the board to lead the organization and make things better and stronger. 

For me, taking people to the community and watching them fall in love with the people and the place the same way I do, is one of the highlights of every year. As the person running the show, I sometimes have to focus a bit more on the administration and “get it done” aspects of running an organization. These trips and the trips I take on my own are such great resets and they allow me to focus on the real reason we are doing what we are doing and that’s that we are called to just flat out love one another and specifically in this situation, the people of Fondo Negro. It’s the easiest and also at times, the hardest part of what I do as President. Hard because I want to be able to do everything for everyone. Easy because, well, go to Fondo Negro and I won’t have to explain myself.


Goals for 2023

When I sat down at the end of the year last year and started planning for 2023, it became very clear to me that I was going to need some extra sleep. After a couple years of feeling gun-shy about growth and moving forward, not just trying to maintain, I feel as though we have been able to start moving forward again. Growth is now an expectation rather than a surprise. 

While the Board of Directors was in Fondo Negro in November, the staff requested an increase in the amount of times per week we provide food for the kids. The need in the community has not diminished and the number of kids attending practice continues to increase. This means more bellies to fill, more opportunities to connect and share the Gospel as well as more dreams to support and lift up. We have many ideas and plans for the year but the two that are at the forefront for me are continuing to strengthen/deepen our literacy project and to add another day of food each week. 

Last summer, groundwork was put in place to start a program this summer where parents of students who are struggling with literacy will receive training in reading and writing along with their kids. There are two teachers who want to move the program ahead to success and the plans are still in place for that to take place this summer. In addition, we want to continue to provide WIFI to the schools so the teachers can use the smartboards provided by the government and have access to the internet for resources they otherwise will not have. The third piece of this plan is to provide a book to each of the 700 students in Fondo Negro. As an avid reader, my house is filled with more books than I will likely ever read in my lifetime. I am a pretty regular guest in many homes in Fondo Negro and I do not recollect ever seeing a  personally owned book. Studies have clearly shown that access to reading in the home makes a huge difference in the amount of literacy in a community/culture. Between supporting literacy in all members of the family and providing tools where practice can continue together, we hope to make a big impact on this major gap.

The budget for this program is $7,000.

The second program improvement will be to increase our weekly meals from one to two. It costs about $140 to each time we feed the team for food and personnel costs. The board of directors has an eye on sustainability and have decided the best way to approach this new cost is to increase our monthly givers to cover the cost. This means in 2023, we need to add 10 new monthly givers at $40 a month to cover the food cost. We have already had one join us in January so the goal is now nine. We’ll get there and be set up for success this year with your help! The food program is one of, if not the most, important things we do. Most of the kids in the program would only eat what is provided by the school on a daily basis if we do not provide them food. Kids come from as far as 30 kilometers away to be on the team. They walk or hitchhike home at night but we feel better about those nights when they are heading home with full bellies instead of hungry ones.

If you are interested in becoming a monthly supporter at any level please follow the link in the blue box below and sign up. You’ll be making a difference in the kids’ lives and help to improve their health and outlook for the future.

I am looking ahead at 2023 with so much excitement and delight. I know more hours on the field and side splitting laughter are ahead in Fondo Negro for myself and others I will get the pleasure of shepherding there. It is my greatest joy to get to serve this community and walk alongside them as we work to learn from one another. I am a better person because of their influence and because of being involved with each of you and your generosity and support.

Thank you in advance for your support of the kids and for your time every month as we share updates. Feel free to spread the word with friends and family members. We would love to introduce them to the community and the mission!

With Strength and Courage (Fuerte y Valiente) until this time next year,
Kristin

Come learn more about these kids and support the mission!


IMPACT TRIPS ARE BACK!

With the lessening impact of COVID in the DR and higher numbers of vaccinated people in the US we are back to taking teams to spend a week with the kids. If this sounds like something you are interested in being part of let us know by clicking the link above, sending an email and we’ll get you more information!

As always, we are thankful for you, our supporters. We pray you are happy, healthy and know the peace that comes through faith in Jesus Christ. He’s got all of us in his hand, here and abroad, and for that we are forever thankful. Thank you for your prayers and ongoing support!
With deepest gratitude from the guys.