Today (Wednesday) was full of service opportunities for the baseball team. Five Star Legacy Foundation organized the entire day for us to provide things to those in need throughout the day. It was a long and busy day, but we got so much accomplished.
We got on the bus at 8:15 a.m. and drove about two hours to Higüey. Our first stop was an inner city school in a dangerous part of town with children in 1st-8th grades. The players split into groups and spent time with each classroom. The students had prepared letters for pen pals at a school in Utah and they were able to give those to the team to take back with them. The players spoke with the children about the importance of school and staying away from violence. Some players even sang and danced with their classroom of children. It was a mob scene as we were leaving the school because the children didn’t want us to go. It’s so hard to leave the people we go to visit. We’d always like to stay longer but we know there’s more service to be done.
Next, we got back on the bus and headed out into the middle of the sugar cane fields. There are several villages of people that live in small communities within the sugar cane fields. They all work in the fields and there is extreme poverty among them. Most of these people will never leave their villages in their lifetime, as it is far from town and they have no means. The village we visited was called Los Tocones. The people had been told the night before that we would be coming to deliver bags of food and hygiene kits. Because these people were in great need, they were so excited to have us come and were waiting to greet us as we arrived. All were patient as we quickly sorted out the items. We then split into groups and delivered one bag of food which will last 2-3 weeks and 6 hygiene kits to each dwelling. There were 128 dwellings in all. It was such an amazing and humbling experience to provide basic essentials to people who have such need, something we know we’ll never forget.
After finishing at the village, we returned back to Higüey where the players conducted a baseball clinic for over 200 local kids. The children were so excited to meet the baseball team and learn from them. BYU infielder Bret Lopez said about the clinic:
“They have a lot of raw talent, but leave out a lot of the fundamentals. So we are here today to hopefully teach them some discipline and fundamentals of baseball that will take them to the next level.” They were able to split the kids up into position groups and run through drills. It was a fun couple of hours with the kids that ended in providing bags of gear to 24 different youth baseball teams in the area.
Following the clinic we headed down the street and made a stop to eat some “street burgers”, and then conducted a brief fireside at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Higüey. Speakers included Coach Vance Law, Alex Wolfe and Austin Hall. It was a great way to end the day.
On the way back to Boca Chica, we were almost to the hotel when a tire blew out on the bus. The driver did a great job of maneuvering the situation, although anyone who was sleeping definitely awoke with concern. Since we were so close to the hotel, we just kept driving. Never a dull moment in the DR!
Now it’s time for bed so we can prepare for another ball game tomorrow. We play the DR Red Sox at about 11:00 a.m. Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!