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Entries in Dominican Republic (37)

Grand Slam Of Thankfulness

This week has confirmed we have much to be grateful for at One Child Matters.

We’re grateful for the unique partnerships God has given us with professional baseball players, their wives and families, and their agents – people who are both ambassadors for Christ and ambassadors for baseball.

We’re thankful the hearts of those like Kyle Gibson of the Minnesota Twins, and Justin Masterson of the Cleveland Indians, who give up part of their winter break to serve our kids and put on baseball clinics for those yearn to improve but have few opportunities to learn.

We praise God to see the parable of the talents lived out by Justin, Kyle, and countless others. Even Justin’s wife Meryl found a way to meet the needs of the kids at Mission Valiente – she gives the proceeds from her cookie business, Meryl Masterson’s Home Plate Cookies, to One Child Matters! And they are some seriously good cookies!

We are so encouraged by the way Justin defines the work he’s able to do in the Dominican Republic:

"My prayer for Mission Valiente Project 13 is, whether my name be near it at all, I couldn’t care less, but what I hope is that maybe somebody I went by or didn’t go by, that they would understand the love of Jesus Christ, and that the children would grow, and that in the end what started as biblical references as a mustard seed turns into something so much more incredible."

You can hear more of his heart and see the baseball project in use on this video!

One Child Matters - The Baseball Project from One Child Matters on Vimeo.

 

To learn more about The Baseball Project, click here. We are thankful for your partnership, too, for the way you help us meet the needs of children in Jesus' name.

Rooting For The Home Team

Spring Fever – the weather is nicer, we all want to be outside, and sports seem to be everywhere! Between the NCAA basketball tournament and the start of the regular baseball season, we are surrounded by competition and contests.

That also means we are surrounded by great letter-writing topics! You can use sports as a launching point for learning more about your sponsored child. Here are a few tips:

Ask about your sponsored child’s favorite sport and athlete. Then, search for news stories and photos online and print off a photo or a short article to send to your sponsored child.

For example, two weeks ago the Dominican Republic team won the World Baseball Classic Championship, and the entire country erupted with joy (a photo of the celebration is above). The Dominicans beat Puerto Rico in the final game, unseating repeat Classic champions Japan in the only global baseball tournament to include Major League Players.

“This means the world to us,” said Robinson Cano, second baseman for the New York Yankees who was also named the Most Valuable Player for the Classic. “You know how it is back home.”

Back home – where every boy dreams of becoming a professional baseball player and breaking the cycle of poverty (for him and his family) forever.

If you sponsor a child in the Dominican Republic, baseball is a very good place to start asking questions about who your child roots for or admires! All 30 major league baseball teams have at least one Dominican baseball player on their roster – in fact, 11% of all major league players came from the DR, the highest number of players from any country other than the United States.

The World Baseball Classic is current enough that you could find news stories and photos, or follow your child’s favorite players as the baseball season develops. For a list of Dominican baseball players in the major leagues, click here.

You can also use sports to encourage your child in school (check out tip #3 in this article) or find other unique ways to learn about your child’s favorite sport. We have several posts about the most popular sports in your child’s country, as well -- you may have never heard of some of these!

Sepak Takraw -- Philippines, Cambodia, India
Kabbadi -- Bangladesh, Cambodia, Nepal, India
Cricket -- India, Bangladesh, Nepal
Futbol/Soccer -- Haiti, Honduras, the Philippines
Badminton -- India, Nepal, the Philippines,
Netball -- Swaziland, Kenya, Ethiopia, India

Ask good questions and you’ll learn a lot about your child, his country, and the passions that you may have in common!

 

Rallying To Change Children’s Lives

Inside-out, sideways, backwards, askew – when your team faces tremendous odds, a rally cap is a simple way to show you still believe. Any baseball fan knows that a team can come from behind to win in spectacular fashion.

We believe that’s true for children in poverty, too. Show your commitment, and a child can overcome overwhelming obstacles. Provide opportunities to learn, grow, and play, and you will see children transform.

One Child Matters serves almost 4,300 children in the Dominican Republic, a country where baseball is unquestionably the national sport and universal language. We are so blessed to have several partners in our ministry there who work alongside us as we change the lives of children.

The amazing thing is that they happen to be major league baseball players. Along with their wives, families, and friends, several current and former MLB players have helped us invest in our programs in a unique way: they helped us build a baseball field, and then have come back year after year to check on it, run baseball clinics, help Medical Mercy check on the kids, and share their testimonies and the light of Christ in their lives.

It’s been nothing short of incredible! God is so good.

We pulled together some fantastic footage of the players (including the Cleveland Indians’ pitcher Justin Masterson, Minnesota Twins pitcher Kyle Gibson, and baseball agent Randy Rowley) serving at the “Field of Dreams,” also known as “The Baseball Project,” also known as Mission Valiente Joshua 1:9 Child Development Center. The field was started thanks to a generous gift by Garret Anderson and his wife, Teresa. Garret retired last year after a stellar career with the Angels.

Click here to watch the video!

The name of the child development center references Joshua 1:9, where God commands us, "Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”

Thank you, sponsors and prayer warriors, donors and baseball players, family and friends for building a place where kids can discover that they have reason to be strong and courageous, because God is with them wherever they go!

Sharpening Their Skills

On yesterday’s blog post, G.A. asked what sort of employment opportunities are available for older children in our programs. It’s an excellent question, and our programs in the Dominican Republic provide some great examples of the skills children in our programs learn before they graduate from our programs.

All of our programs are designed to enrich the whole child – we address physical needs like nutrition and health while also encouraging their educational and spiritual development. As children mature, we can add life skills or vocational skills training, such as tailoring or sewing classes, cooking, and barbering.

One of our programs in the Dominican Republic has been highly successful in training new barbers among the older students. Several have graduated from the barbering program and now volunteer their time at other projects, giving children haircuts to encourage good self-esteem as the young barbers sharpen their skills.

One of those young barbers is Jose. In addition to being pictured above, Jose answered a few questions for us about this program:  

Do you think you have a better chance of getting a good job when you grow up because you were sponsored?
Yes, because I learn technical courses. I graduated of Barber and I am the barber in the afternoon because I study in the morning. Besides I participate in the English, sewing, and computer courses that are taught.

Are you happy being in the sponsorship program?
Yes, because I learn about God and to have a better development in the life, and because I acquire knowledge through the technical courses.

What do you hope to be when you grow up?
I want to be an architect, because my dream is to build my own house.

We will share more about Jose and the barber program at a later date, but we wanted all of our sponsors to know that this is an important consideration for all of the children we shepherd into adulthood. Our hope and prayer is that they graduate as well-rounded young adults with a strong foundation in faith and education, ready to reach their God-given potential and dream big, just like Jose!

Snapshot: Dominican Republic

One Child Matters serves almost 4,300 children in the Dominican Republic. It is a country of exquisite beauty and unique challenges. Why is ministry needed there? Here are a few reasons:

Family Instability

So-called “free unions,” where couples live together without the formality of marriage, are quite common and very unstable. In the communities we serve, the average number of children in each family is 5; however, these children are often from 2 or 3 different fathers. Blended families pose their own risks, as children from previous relationships may be rejected or neglected.

Informal Economy

In urban areas, most adults work as street vendors or have low-paying part-time jobs that rarely provide enough for their families. Our more rural programs have seen families struggle to survive off the land. Our programs provide an element of stability for children, giving them access to nutritious snacks and educational support, easing the burden on parents who have so little.

A country's culture can shape our approach to ministry as much as the challenges children face.

Did you know?

Coat of arms courtsey of http://www.colonialzone-dr.com/With a Bible in its coat of arms, the Dominican Republic is the only country in the world with such explicit biblical symbol on its flag. In 2010, the Dominican constitution as amended to clarify elements of the coat of arms (seen at left), specifically that the Bible is turned to John 8:32, which says “then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

Due in part to its rich faith heritage, the Dominican Republic is receptive to our programs for children. Each of our 30 child development centers in the Dominican Republic is connected with a local church which helps reinforce the biblical values we teach. Often the children in our programs end up bringing their parents and siblings to church with them, multiplying the outreach in their communities.

Do you sponsor a child in the Dominican Republic? What would you like to know about your child’s country?

3 Countries, 5 Cities, 10 Days

One of the things we love most about our partners in ministry is their commitment to the children.We write often about Dr. Beyda. His leadership of Mission of Mercy's medical component (Medical Mercy) is inspiring and challenging.

Right now Dr. Beyda is traveling to our projects in Latin America to check on the health programs and staff he has trained. That's why we praise God for His work through Medical Mercy; it is not a one-time mission trip. It means establishing and continuing sustainable health care for the kids who need it most.

This is how he explained the purpose of the trip:

Three countries, 5 cities, 10 days. That's Honduras, Haiti, and the Dominican Republic. I'll be going to several of our projects in each of the countries to see how we're doing with our medical care.

We've been to each of those countries, bringing medical teams and teaching, and now I'm going to find out how sustainable our medical care is. It's all about what we leave behind.

If we've done our job well, we've left behind an infrastructure of health care that is supporting the growth and development of the children. I'll be going to the projects, looking at the children, talking with the project leaders, the teachers, the cooks, local health care professionals, and yes, even the children. It's a time to fix what needs fixing, and applaud that which is going well. I'm looking forward to clapping long and hard and perhaps even giving a standing ovation. We'll just have to wait and see.

So what did Dr. Beyda find on his first stop?

There is nothing better than being surprised and happy about it. Honduras has 3000 Mission of Mercy children in over 20 projects, many of them in Tegucigalpa, some in the north at La Ceiba and some in the south near Choluteca.

How do you ensure that those 3000 children get health care, all of the time, consistently, completely and without question? You have doctors like Victoria and Francisco with the help of Mae-Ling and her husband to take care of the Mission of Mercy children. 24 hours a day.

Really. 24 hours a day.

Victoria and Francisco, two recent graduates from medical school in Honduras, had a place in their heart to serve the underserved, to give and expect nothing and to be there for all who came to them. Through a series of events and some divine intervention, Mission of Mercy came upon these two noble physicians and they found us, and the relationship was born.

For several years now, Victoria and Francisco have served all of the projects, visiting all of them and all of the children multiple times a year, established a nutritional supplementation program, a 24-hour call center, an ambulance, a central clinic base, and a mobile clinic program, twice yearly physical exams for all the Mission of Mercy children, and much more.
 
I spent two days with them, traveled to 4 of the projects, saw what they had accomplished, and stood up and applauded. Standing ovation!! These two young physicians found a place to serve, to give and to fulfill their vision. The children of Mission of Mercy are better for it.

DR Library: Cool Time-Elapse Video

Ever wonder what goes into a new library? Check out this time-elapse video to see how the kid-driven mission team and the community came together to create a space that will invest in the kids in Moca, Dominican Republic, for a long time to come.

Prayer Requests: Of Books And Teeth

We have two very different mission teams leaving this weekend.

THE PHILIPPINES

A dental team is traveling to the Philippines to provide much-needed cleanings, exams, and other services to our projects there. This may be the first time some of our children have seen an actual dentist. Please pray for a spirit of trust to form between the team and the community, and for an absence of fear for the little ones getting their first cleaning!

THE DOMINICAN REPUBLIC

On Sunday, a very special team of elementary and middle-school aged kids (and their parents and grandparents) are leaving for the DR. In response to the need in one of the communities we serve, the team raised funds to build a library.

The project expects to use the space to help children (like the sweet little girl pictured above) study and help their parents learn to read and gain new skills. We are quite excited to share more about their trip with you when they return. In the meantime, please pray for their travel and the work ahead!

Decking The Halls

Your gifts to the Christmas Gift Fund ensure that each child gets a present... but our staff goes further than that when it comes to celebrating Christ's birth! Check out these photos from the Dominican Republic!

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A Special Christmas Menu

Your sponsored child may live halfway around the world, but you have more in common than you think in terms of Christmas traditions... especially food! We even included some recipes if you'd like to try something different this year!

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Christmas Wishes In Every Language

In the coming weeks you should receive a Christmas card from your sponsored child, and on it will be Christmas wishes in their own hand. We love this time of year because you can see the anticipation of Christmas in the children's heartfelt wishes. 

But very few of the children in our programs speak English -- so what do their Christmas wishes look like?

In most of the countries in which we work, the language spoken does not use a Latin or Roman alphabet such as what we use in English or what many of the countries in Africa or Central America use above. 

Yet the result is just as beautiful. Several countries, such as the Philippines and India, have regions that use different languages or dialects, which are represented below.

And then there's the Middle East, where Christ and the Christmas season was born. What wonderful wishes!

It's a bit early to wish you a Merry Christmas, but we can't help getting in the spirit! 

Returning To The Field Of Dreams

As you read this, a group of major league baseball players are providing an incredible Christmas surprise to children in the Dominican Republic.

How did some professional ball players end up at one of our projects? It's something only God could come up with... a way to reach children through the love of sports, sparking an interest in the hearts of a group of stellar athletes who could win an audience in this baseball-crazy country.

But they won more than audience -- they won the hearts of the community. Two years ago, a group of major league players helped dedicate the “Field of Dreams” in the Dominican Republic.

In addition to a baseball field, the community was provided with a two story building which houses classrooms that will include a computer lab and library in the near future.  A basketball/volleyball court and an open meeting area also provide learning opportunities for the 200+ children in the project, and acts as a central location for activities and summer camps for children of 8 other projects within close driving distance. 

Justin Masterson of the Cleveland Indians; Kyle Gibson, newly signed to the Minnesota Twins; Aaron Myette, former MLB Pitcher; and Randy Rowley, an MLB Player Agent helped dedicate the facilities and spent time with the kids. You can see a video of that ceremony below.

But today, Justin, Kyle, and Randy are back in the DR to take 80 children to a baseball game for the first time, as well as conduct mini-camps for the kids. And their wives will be engaged with the children in craft activities, including making all of the decorations for a Christmas tree. A free community dinner is being held so the players can share their testimonies. 

In the past two years, we've been amazed at how God has used this field and the programs it hosts to make an amazing impact on hundreds of children and the community of Moca. And the best part is it will only continue for years to come!

You can read more about the players and this trip on MLB.com by clicking this link. Or watch the video below to see the Field of Dreams for yourself!

Dominican Republic - Baseball Field Dedication 2009 from One Child Matters on Vimeo.

 

Thankful For...Toilets?

This may not make a typical Thanksgiving list, but that's no reason not to be grateful for the way you've helped us improve the lives of children!

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PRAISE: Children And Projects OK After Hurricane Irene

 

Hurricane Irene's location as of 9 am, Tuesday August 23, churning more than 50 miles north of the coast. Image courtesy of Stormpulse.com; to track the storm's path and progress, click on the image.Thank you for praying for our programs in the DR and Haiti! We just received word that our projects in both countries sustained minimal damage. Praise God!

Although Irene had been upgraded to a category two hurricane, the storm's path took it north of the coast of the Dominican Republic and Haiti. Many Mission of Mercy projects are located in this northern region and closed temporarily to allow families to ride out the storm together.

Our prayers for the communities' safety were answered! The staff is still checking with families and community members, but it appears that no major damage occurred.

If you sponsor a child in the Dominican Republic or Haiti, please note that we will only contact you if we are notified that your sponsored child has been affected.

In the event of natural disasters or disease outbreaks, Mission of Mercy relies on our Children's Crisis Fund to respond. To ensure we continue to have has the funds available to help the children and their families in times of hardship, please consider a donation to the Children's Crisis Fund. To read how the Children's Crisis Fund met needs in the past, click here.

Thank you for your continued prayers!

UPDATE On Storms And Goodbyes

We anxiously watched as Tropical Storm Emily approached the Dominican Republic and Haiti. And we are praised God as this storm weakened to Tropical Wave, which is weaker than its previous category of Tropical Depression.

Those praises continue as our field staff reported no damage. Some rain fell in the northern parts of the DR and Haiti, but not enough to cause concern. We thank God that our projects can continue to operate normally as they minister to the children and the community.

In this image from August 3, Tropical Storm Emily approaches the DR, Haiti, and after that, Cuba. Image: NOAA

The mission team in Honduras wrapped up their projects in Choluteca and Tegucigalpa and safely returned to the U.S. God has surely knit their hearts together, so we can continue to pray that they can hear God clearly and have the time and space to seek God's face about all they saw, felt, and heard in Honduras.

Returning Home: The Difference

What does life look like after you return from a mission trip?

One mission trip participant reflects on how even a year later, her heart is not the same.

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A Sponsor Visit In Pictures

The Mission of Mercy team was fortunate to capture many of the sponsor visits on the recent Dominican Republic tour. If you've ever wondered what a sponsor visit looked like, now you can follow along as Susy visits her sponsored child Rosanny and meets her family. Click here to view the album.

From Scraps To Prized Possessions


Part of the Sponsor Tour's activities included painting toy cars... but did you know how those cars arrived in the Dominican Republic? Here's a peek into their journey.

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What Does A Sponsor Tour Look Like?

The Best Way To Learn More? 

What’s the best way to fully understand Mission of Mercy’s ministry? See it for yourself, of course!

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