Sports

Grace Softball Ministers to Young Girls in the Dominican Republic

By  Ashley Bossaer

When the Grace College Softball team of 24 boarded the plane to the Dominican Republic they began a journey beyond their wildest dreams. Attica’s own Ashley Bossaer had the privilege of attending the eight-day excursion. For the majority of the team (including Ashley) it was their first time overseas.

August 2nd the team loaded up in Indianapolis at 4:15 a.m. At 1 p.m., the girls arrived in Santo Domingo and made it through customs in record time. After half an hour of crazy driving, the team arrived at their place of residence for the week, Score International.

Score International is a ministry that offers several different types of short- term mission trips in a variety of categories. The Grace College Softball team took a team sports trip that Score offers that allows athletes a chance to travel overseas, experience a different culture, see the mission field firsthand, and use their talents God has given them to make an internal impact. Each international sports trip lasts about seven days and gives the teams the opportunity to play teams from the country they visit as well as other outreach opportunities in local communities, orphanages, and churches. All in all, Score provides short-term mission trips with long-term effects.

“It was definitely a life-changing experience that taught me so much. This trip really opened my eyes. I never realized how good I had it until it was all taken away from me. We witnessed firsthand the struggles these people go through on a daily basis. Seeing this made my problems seem so small. I had never witnessed struggle to this extreme before,” Bossaer said.

The team had a full schedule the entire week. After landing the afternoon of the 2nd , the team was given a tour of the complex and went through an orientation. Each entrance of the complex was guarded by an armed guard to ensure safety and to make sure the team was in no danger.

The next day the team had a very life-altering day. In the morning they visited Pasitos de Jesus Home for girls. Here the Grace team had the opportunity to play and interact with the girls and tour the orphanage. Originally the home started with eight beds for 28 girls. Now, with a lot of work from God, every girl has a bed. It was so humbling for the team to see how God works in the lives of these girls who come from nothing.

Their pasts are filled with stories of abandonment, sexual abuse, and mothers who were prostitutes. There was one girl at the home who was mentally handicapped and her mother used to put her in a cage because she was so ashamed of her. The Grace girls were in tears by the end of the morning and their hearts were hurting. The morning came to an end as the girls from the home shared worship with the Grace team. They sang a few songs and finished with “How Great Is Our God” in Spanish and in English. The Grace girls were touched in so many ways that morning.

A little girl named Melana that became particularly fond of Bossar. The women of the home had to pry her off of Bossaer when it was time to go because Melana wouldn’t let her go.

In the afternoon the team played a double header against the La Toronja team. Throughout the game there were all sorts of obstacles the team had never experienced before. There were children and dogs running through the outfield the entire game. Not to mention the Dominicans were trying to sell us baked goods and such while we were in the dugout. After the game, the team was able to share devotions and testimonies with the Dominicans before returning to the complex.

The next morning the team had the opportunity to attend a Dominican church service at Juan 3:16. The entire service was in Spanish with rough translation so it was a bit difficult for the team to follow along; however, it was a good experience. The team concluded the evening with a worship service put on by the team who sang together.

The rest of the week was very busy and exhausting. One afternoon, the team took a trip to the relatively nearby Sugar Cane Village. This was another eye opener for the Grace girls. When they arrived they had to pull their bus into a lot that was surrounded by a concrete wall with barbed wire on the top. The team also had a translator/ body guard named Felipe with them at all times. This was to ensure safety. The Grace girls brought a number of items for the children to play with and it really opened their eyes to see how protective of those things the children were. When kids got hold of an item, they wouldn’t let it go and they guarded it with everything. They were so afraid to let the items go and some other child would get it. On the other side of things, though, the joy that our presence to play with

them brought was unreal. They genuinely enjoyed having us there.

Another thing that really touched the Grace girls was the way that all of the children cared for each other. Children here in the states are so dependent on their parents for everything. Some of these Dominican children don’t have parents and depend on each other. At the end of the afternoon when it was time to go, we had to line all of the children up and hand out extra items in a very organized way. It was important to do things very structured because they were unsure how the people would react. Before we left, the staff warned us that after we handed the things to the kids the older women would sometimes beat the little girls for things or the kids would fight each other.

After the village we went to a VBS that a local church was hosting where over 400 kids were attending. That in itself was a realization to the Grace girls that we should all have a hunger to have a stronger relationship with God.

Later in the week the team played a double header against the Dominican National Team and the Mexican National Team. This was the first time in Score history that a Score mission team has played two different countries in the same week. We lost both games. However, the way we see it is, if we played well and shared the gospel, we won it all. Also, the team played another club team in a double header. This field was a real life sandlot. There were no dugouts and no fences. Not to mention they had to mow the field before we played because the grass was so high. However, they had to mow AROUND the horse that was tied up out in left center field. The Grace girls also ran a softball clinic for Dominican girls ranging from ages 12 to 24.

The Dominican world was so different than the world we live in each and every day. It was very challenging to acclimate to the way they live on a day-to-day basis. Down there, there is no sense of time, and people do what they want on no sort of schedule. They are so laid back. A big struggle for the girls was their lack of traffic structure. In the Dominican there are no stoplights, stop signs, or speed limits so vehicles essentially do what they want with no restrictions. This allowed vehicles to drive on whatever side of the road they felt was right. Despite the lack of structure though, Dominicans are actually rather courteous to each other on the road. Not only that, but they are very helpful to each other. One day someone had stolen a cow and they formed a group in pursuit of the perpetrator.

All in all, the trip taught the team so many life lessons. They now know without a doubt that God is their absolute reality. We are here to glorify Him in all that we do. Spreading the word to all of the Dominicans made such an impact in each girl’s personal walk with Christ. It was a real realization of how good we have it here, yet we think the total opposite sometimes. We take so much in our lives for granted and don’t see the poverty all around us. God has blessed us with so much and makes us think twice about what we’ve thanked Him for. We owe everything to Him. God transformed so many lives in such a short amount of time, and the girls came home truly blessed and forever changed.

Olivia Winget added, “This trip was such an amazing experience for our team. One moment that I think brought us all closer was our day at the Pasitos De Jesus (all girls’ orphanage). At the end of our visit, the girls sang “How Great Is Our God” in Spanish, and instantly tears were flowing from every player on our team. It was beautiful to see how these girls have been through so much but were so sure in God’s love for them.”

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