Diamonds in the Rough – January 2019

The Impact of an Impact Trip

Our family went on its first service trip in November. People keep asking how it went and my answer is: It was good. And hard. But good. There are so many things to think about when it comes to serving far from home, but there are a few points that have really stuck in my mind as I talk to people about our experience. 

1) God shows up where you show up. Obviously, God is there even when you’re not there, but when you make the effort and put yourself out there for Kingdom work, God honors that. Our son is 7, and he’s a wily creature of willful energy. We weren’t sure how this trip was going to go for him since we generally are taking “down time” trips, and this was anything but. I put out prayer requests specifically for our son’s experience. Boy do I wish I had asked for the same kind of prayers for myself because our son was the life of the party the whole time. He had a good attitude, was energetic, never whined, didn’t worry about what was coming next, wasn’t hesitant to dive right in…He was engaged and a joy to be with. Even all our other team members were enthusiastically interactive with him the.whole.time. God showed up in this big time. Our little boy, who can be shy and selfish was outgoing, loving, and open with everyone he met, in every place we went. 

2) It’s God’s work, not mine. Here’s the thing – the work we did in Fondo Negro while we were there could have been done faster and more efficiently by the in-country workers. They were teaching us how to mix concrete, build walls, etc. We brought nothing to that except willingness (and lots of sweat). The ball players – they don’t need us either. In fact, there is nothing any of us could offer that their coaches and pastor can’t offer them. Some people might ask what the point is – and that misses the point. God is at work in this place, and we get to be a part of that! It’s God’s work that’s being mostly funded by our contributions. Our presence isn’t strictly necessary. And this frees us to be who and what God wants us to be while we’re there. For my son – it was being the first red-headed little boy most of those kids had played with. For my husband – it was being the red-headed hard working man who helped mix and move lots of concrete and cement. For me it was pushing my bounds of comfort with children I don’t know – and I also was guaranteed the first blue- and green-haired woman they had met. God is at work in this place regardless of my presence. And that is so freeing. We have the incredible opportunity to participate – we don’t have to create any work, God has already begun it, and he will carry it to completion. My job was to be there, to be a part of another of God’s communities of children, to listen, and to learn (and to sweat a whole lot). 

If you get the chance to go visit our people in Fondo Negro – go. God is there, working, and healing, and waiting for you to visit. 

Are you interested in a 2019 Impact Trip? Let us know!

“Many hands make light work, as Duncan figured out. He never once was afraid of the challenge. I’d go on another trip with him in a heartbeat!” – Kristin

I can’t go myself but I’d like to help someone else go on a trip of a lifetime. Donate here.

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

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

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

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

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

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!

Be part of the solution. Donate Here

Diamonds in the Rough – May 2017

x8unrdvow_nqr3epnur5jscyngzb2tcbdgyierh8hgwzvwxhbyhtn0e6btkqjb5ac7g9inhfnbnyyvzutqlal_y8vvvwiopwgzxrjbrm0i6fdhaq6j48etdmziyliz2aythinhghkxw6sb2iko2kgsdu3_i4_u8g8llc53gs0-d-e1-ftWe are heading to Fondo Negro in only three weeks and couldn’t be more excited to be back in the country and see the team. For Todd, this will be the first trip where he gets to know the new team, and for Kristin, it will be a chance to be that continual presence which has made such an impact in the work that is already being done. Next month and in the future, the newsletter will be full of pictures, stories, and videos as we introduce you to the kids we are serving with your generous support. Stay tuned and click the link below to donate and become a monthly partner if you would like a more personalized introduction to the team in the months to come.

Donate Today!

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When we first reached out to the coaches in Fondo Negro to ask about partnership opportunities, the team consisted of 55 kids. After learning about the opportunities that will be given to them once Joshua 1:Nine is funded, the team has doubled in size! This is because of the desire for what we will provide, but it’s also because the coaches now have resources to help kids where they didn’t before. We rest easy that God will provide for these kids just as Jesus did with loaves and fishes.

mt0fkocpgmwns5wjrvkk-zdfibvow91foxuvdnocmobebn83pcjwr0h23lq9v3qhdrbptkbna4nzp3p4zn6l1xqen3coh0qox2fz33ezkph8gacjg12b0lkwzgmqncrdh07uydtvjtj4daxcwnsoyjdslcjiw-n4n9cdb0ss0-d-e1-ftAll God’s People in Fondo Negro

One of the great things about working in a community like Fondo Negro is that it is a community that supports the baseball team completely. On game days and even some practices, the stands are filled with men, women, girls and boys who want to be part of the action. This gives Joshua 1:Nine a chance to impact the lives of the girls in the community as well and to keep adults involved in what their sons/nephews/brothers/cousins are doing. The program is about changing the lives of the boys on the team, but it is also about impacting an entire community.

Did you know you can help feed a boy on the team for only $30 a month?

We need people to join in as monthly partners to help feed the team. The boys will receive two meals a day, six days a week provided by a local cook. This time of sharing a meal builds camaraderie within the team and also helps with the boys’ health. Furthermore, this benefits families where there is little to go around by alleviating some of the stress on providers. A monthly contribution of $30 or more is a significant impact on an entire family.


Prayer Requests

1) Safe travel for Todd and Kristin to the Dominican Republic June 14-18.
2) Growth in partnerships.

Praises

1) Successful gear drives and partnerships with equipment providers which have provided all of the gear the team has requested and then some.