After lurching and rocking our way down this road for a while, we came to a clearing. In the distance we saw a concrete slab with a chain-link section of fence coming upward through the wall of concrete. Someone said, "That looks like a backstop for a baseball field." I glanced out of the window then looked back down at my camera to change the batteries thinking there was no shot this could be our destination. As we got closer we could see a pasture overgrown with weeds, then a group of kids gathered off to the left of the chain-link thought to be a backstop. I asked Zeller, "What are they doing with that bucket?" He said, "Lining the field."
|"Lining the field"|
|This was our dugout for the day.|
I can tell you right now if I picked up a softball and attempted to do that seven consecutive days I would need Tommy-John surgery and a full rotator cuff repair by the 5th day. I doubted the effectiveness of his long toss program until he took the mound and started pumping 90 mph fastballs by some of our hitters. I wont go into a play-by-play but by the 6th inning we were ahead 8-2. Ninety mph fastballs looked pretty fat once we realized he was never taught how to through a curve ball or change-up. This is why some of these kids get drafted when they're 15 years old. Scouts see raw talent with no direction or quality instruction and send them to professional coaches to develop them. Every MLB team has a baseball academy on the island. If a player is good enough he'll be signed at fifteen and placed in one of the baseball academies, provided with housing, three meals a day, and schooling five days a week. At seventeen, they can obtain a visa and come to America to join the minor league teams for the organization they were selected to.
|My first at-bat in 6 months|
|Silky smooth shortstop|
After the game we sat near the tree and Zeller shared the gospel to the other team with the assistance of Giovanni's translation. "How many of you believe there is a God?" Every one of them raised their hands. "How many believe in Jesus?" This time they raised their hands and said 'amen' in unison. "How many of you think that because you believe those two things, you will be in heaven when you die?" Everyone raised their hand. Zeller waited for every hand to go up and said, "The devil believes in God and Jesus." Slowly, everyone put their hands down, surprised by the direct statement. But one kid put his hand back up. He said something in Spanish so we waited for Giovanni and he said, "I don't believe in Jesus, I follow Jesus." Zeller responded with, "Amen Picho!! He ran over and gave him a fist pound. Giovanni didn't bother translating that because his name, obviously, was not Picho. Zeller has been referring to everyone that looks remotely Hispanic as Paco or Picho since we got off the plane. He's probably the funniest guy I've ever met, and the spanglish and jokes were all in good fun. Nonetheless, the group soon heard the true message of the Bible. That salvation is not something you say, do, think, or believe. It is a relationship with Christ, a follow-the-leader walk of faith that you are dedicated to day by day. 18 kids dedicated their lives to Jesus on the field today.
|Zeller and Giovanni giving them the truth|