Wednesday afternoon we traveled to an orphanage that Albert Pujols vehemently supports.
The orphanage we came to was a diamond in the rough. Towering walls and barbed wire separated the abandoned children from a rundown city, but inside the walls is where we knew Pujols had actually reached into his pockets a good ways. To the left, a nursery and cafeteria. To the right, full basketball and volleyball courts with grandstands. Beyond the playground was a church, school, and computer lab. Through the window I could see a teacher working on a lesson plan. I said, "Hola." She responded with, "Hey, hows it goin?". I was semi embarrassed but she came to the window and I found out she is an English teacher here, and had lived in South Carolina before coming to the DR. Like the first village, these kids just wanted to be loved on. Most of them had been dropped off outside the gates by parents who simply couldn't financially support a child.
We boarded a bus Thursday morning that we assumed to be ours because it pulled up to the curb right at 8:00 just as planned. The team needed to get to the SCORE hotel but communicating with the driver was difficult because:
1) Giovanni, our translator, wasn't with us
2) The driver wouldn't acknowledge that we were even on the bus or that we were speaking to him.
Eventually we left the hotel unsure where we would end up. He had a few pictures above his head that looked like mugshots. We joked that it was a Taliban shrine & we were probably riding in a runaway H-bomb on wheels. It was all fun and games and laughs until Giovanni called and said, "You're on the wrong bus." Fortunately it was just a mix up and we were able to get off and onto the correct bus after some inaudible mumbling and dirty looks from the driver. Finally, we were headed to the Atlanta Braves Academy to play against their scout team in San Pedro. It was the first time since being on the island that the opposing team had nicer uniforms and equipment than we did. Seeing this place, it was no wonder that village kids do just about anything to get noticed and play for an academy team. Brand new weight room and locker room facilities encircled a major league quality field with grass like a fairway at Augusta National. Serving as inspiration, the walls were adorned with pictures of former Dominican hopefuls that made it BIG in the major leagues with the Atlanta Braves.
After the game, John Zeller went to WORK with the Gospel message and the Braves players were completely locked in. A good number of these kids grew up in places where their families had to depend on God, and even though they knew about Jesus, for some of them it was the first time learning about repentance and the impact JC can have on their lives. Even the coaches for their team were hit hard with the message. It was a great day.
We got back to the hotel, changed, then prepared to meet with the other missionaries to reflect on the week. Every time we leave the hotel we pass Robinson Cano's house. For people who don't watch baseball, he's the 2nd basemen for the NY Yankees and one of the best players in baseball. Every day around sunset, a security guard grabs a lawn chair and sits in Cano's driveway with a shotgun straight out of Hang 'em High in Halo 1. One of the security guards at SCORE let me hold it, apparently anyone who walks up to him with a camera earns the right to wield his loaded shotgun. Real stickler for security. Cano must not own anything expensive. "Haha", said the Range Rover and two Ecalades.