These are some photos of the equipment donations before we left. We spent three days packing and sorting all the equipment to meet the 50 lb. weight limit on all the bags for the airport regulations.
Day 1 of the mission started at the Houston airport where my mom, my son Christian, and I, along with 99 other volunteers boarded our chartered Continental jet to Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic. With us, we carried over $150,000 worth of donated baseball, basketball, and volleyball equipment to host a four day mission camp for over 2,500 kids.
This was Christian's first trip on a plane, as well as the first time to leave the country. He was very excited!
We were up in the air for awhile, when the pilot came on and said that we were passing over the Gulf oil spill. I was almost brought to tears at the sight of the red-orange tint across the water. I could clearly make out the color even at such a high altitude. The picture below shows the ships at the main site. My camera didn't pick up the oil itself good enough to post the pictures I took.
Soon enough, we were passing over the clear waters of the Caribbean Islands.
We arrived at the airport and went through customs with ease. We had Dominican friends there to help us load up the luggage and equipment to take to our hotel. We all loaded up into various vans and buses, which took us to the hotel.
I was instantly in awe of the plants we passed along the way from the airport to the hotel. (I'll start another blog post on all the plant life I encountered later.) Within 10-15 minutes, we arrived at the hotel.
The grand staircase below is the first of many awes at the Pier Giorgio Palace Hotel.
This is the view from our balcony. A beautiful pool with gorgeous gardens surrounding it. The white tent like structure is the dining area which over looks the sea. It is a very beautiful hotel!
Me and Christian
After everyone had their luggage and rooms arranged, we met downstairs in the dining area. We were greeted by Pastor Rivas, who is one of two men that helps coordinate things for us down there.
Next, Jose Checo greeted us. He is the man that coordinates the baseball leagues and all the AIM mission stuff in the Dominican. Before he left, he sang us a song that he wrote. Even though it was in Spanish, we all quickly had the tune stuck in our heads. You could hear people humming the tune all week long!
The words to the song are as follows:
El Diamante Real En El Basball
Hay un Diamante Real en Baseball
En Jesuscristo el Salvador (Repeat)
El te da vida
El te da paz
En Libertad (repeat)
Busca de Dios
En esta tiempo
de baseball (repeat)
The song actually carries on a lot from there, but that was the part that we all learned in Spanish!
It translates into English like this:
The Real Diamond In Basball
There is A Real Diamond in Baseball
In Jesus Christ the Savior (Repeat)
He gives you life
He gives you peace
In Freedom (repeat)
Search for God
At this time
in baseball (repeat)
I think I just got the song stuck in my head again just from writing it here! It really is a great song, and the kids loved to listen and sing it during the camp VBS.
After our greeting we had some time to look around the hotel, and the kids decided to jump right into the sea for a nice swim before dinner. This is Christian before he jumped off the cliff ledge at the hotel!
And this is him jumping!
These are the stairs leading back up to the ledge. The kids would jump off here and go snorkeling too.
Soon, the sun was setting and we were getting ready for dinner where we would meet our Dominican coaches and VBS helpers for the camp.
These were our lovely chef's and servers!
We had a wonderful dinner, and met everyone in our group, including the Dominican helpers. We were given a few last minute instructions and then we were off to bed since our day would start early and be full and long tomorrow!