5:08 pm, somewhere over the Atlantic Ocean
Many adjectives can describe our trip to the Dominican Republic. Many thoughts, words, pictures, and stories will remain with us for the rest of our lives. It is probably cliché to say the trip did more for us than it did for the people of the Dominican Republic – but it may be true.
The players are tired. Three camps and four games in five days can wear a body down. This morning, they got up early and went through a workout on the beach… Dominican style. Coconuts as line markers, running in the sand, running in the water, maxing out their bodies in order to get their best out of the talent God has blessed them with. Would it have been easier to sleep in, get up for breakfast, and then load the buses? No doubt. Would that have helped them reach their ultimate goal as a baseball player? I doubt it. They had to make a decision this morning. Coach asked them to go to the beach to work out. Did they have to go? They’ll tell you yes. But they had a decision to make: they could either go down to the beach, take off their shoes and socks, give a half effort and try to fool the coaches into thinking they were working hard – or – they could delay the simple gratification of lying in bed and give full effort on the beach knowing the reward of that effort will be more gratifying than an extra half hour of sleep.
We each have that decision to make in our faith life, also. Did the players have to come to the Dominican Republic during their Fall Break? They will tell you yes. But they had a decision to make. Give half-effort, get through the week without risking much, and return home – or- engage with the people around them, engage with their own body and soul, and engage daily in a personal relationship with the Father. Which is easier? Which has a greater reward? Coach Heefner tells the players often that discipline is delayed gratification. Give up something simple now to enjoy a greater reward later. It is an easy parallel to draw between baseball and faith life, baseball and marriage, baseball and family. Our prayer is that the discipline these guys showed on this mission trip and the discipline they show in baseball will carry over into every aspect of their life – especially their relationship with God the Father through faith in His Son, Jesus.
The players did great this week. They persevered outside their customary parameters of daily life. They engaged strangers will smiles and handshakes. They fought through tired bodies and tired minds to think outside their own wants and desires to truly think of others first. They lived open-handed and transparent lives with their teammates, with our hosts, and with the children of Boca Chica, Santo Domingo, and the sugar cane fields of the Dominican Republic. May God grant that this discipline and authenticity permeate every aspect of their lives as they continue in the mission field of daily life.
PS – We hope to have a picture gallery on this website early next week. Check back late Monday or early Tuesday to view pictures from the week. Paul Metzgar did a great job of shooting the pictures we have posted with these stories and has many others to share with us.