August 4, 2018 marked the beginning of the TCP Baseball Mission Trips, with our first trip taking us to the Dominican Republic. Our inaugural year has brought 27 individuals, made up of 13 boys all 12 years old or younger, and 14 adults to Higuey, a city on the western side of the island.
Our journey started at 4am when we all arrived to the airport and miraculously we all made it on time. Other than one small hiccup we made it through security with no issues and took off and landed on schedule.
The months leading up to our departure was filled with excitement, anxiety, headaches, uncertainty, joy and full of learning experiences. This was the first time I have ever decided to go on a mission trip, non the less, coordinate, plan and be responsible for getting 26 other people to our destination. I owe a huge thank you to Josh and Lauren Shirlen’s for their help in all areas of preparing for this trip, THANK YOU!
Once we landed patience was definitely a virtue and mine was tested immediately. After taking 30min to get our luggage sorted and checked we then had to get it scanned and then recounted again and again. With 54 pieces of luggage we were sure to leave someone’s behind, but we escaped that whirlwind with all 54. Again, thank you Lauren.
Heading from the airport to Banana Ranch was a smooth ride, from the time and traffic standpoint. Once we got off the main road it was nothing short of a max speed of 15 mph and filled with pot holes, bumps, mini ditches, turns and unpaved road. As we got closer to the “country” part of Higuey it became apparent we were headed to a location in the middle of no where and we all started wondering, “where the heck are we going”.
Driving by houses that looked to be in the “upper class” part of Higuey we quickly found that a number of the houses were home to squatters who took up housing in unfinished homes that only had a foundation and walls made of concrete – no doors or windows and some had roofs. We quickly passed through this area and found ourselves traveling down the aforementioned unpaved roads that were home to cows and chickens with some houses mixed in that were no larger than 400 square feet.
We finally made it to Banana Ranch around 1:30pm! Hungry, tired and mentally drained, we arrived and were told we have 30 minutes until lunch ends so we better eat quickly. So we rushed to the dinning area where a buffet was waiting for us. My first thought was “great, lunch ends in 30 minutes, it’s a buffet which means the food has probably been out for a while and there is probably not much left.” Boy was I wrong! The food was hot, tasted great and they even brought out some fresh food for us.
With a full stomach it was now nap time, for me at least haha. Most, if not all of the boys got a second wind and took off to play. However, my thoughts are now racing about this week and I sleep is no where in my future. We are really here! What is this week going to unfold for us? Hopefully this makes a lifelong impact on our families and myself. Am I really ready to lead this trip? I really have no idea how this week is going to go but I know some great things are going to come of it.
Those were all my thoughts rushing to me at once, so as you could imagine there was no shot of napping. But we are here! and now is the time to leave a mark on the lives of the 26 who came with me and the dozens of lives we are going to reach while here.