SANTO DOMINGO, D.R. – After each day of the Charleston Southern men’s basketball team’s mission trip the Dominican Republic, sophomore forward Paul Gombwer will provide a recap through a nightly blog.
On day three of the voyage, Gombwer discusses the life-changing experience the Bucs’ players and coaches enjoyed at the La Ramana orphanage, and touches on an excellent team performance while produced an 86-69 CSU win over the Dominican Republic’s fifth-ranked team.
For an updated photo gallery of CSU's mission trip to date, click here.
What a day! Today, we woke up at 7:15 and ate breakfast in the dining room. Afterwards, we got on a bus and traveled about an hour to an orphanage for girls in La Ramana.
When we arrived at the orphanage, we immediately saw the kids running towards us and reaching out for our hands. As we entered the gates, the girls immediately wanted us to play board games with them, jump rope with them, play volleyball or just hang around in the playground area. It was so amazing being around these kids watching how each and every one of them was so excited to see us come in to visit them. That made me, my teammates and all the other coaches start thinking about what life would have been like if we had been in their shoes. Even though it was an extremely clean and nice orphanage, to me it looked like they all live in prison because they cannot leave the orphanage any time they want to, like a normal kid could. These kids were so starved for human touch. They could not stop hugging us and hanging on us at the orphanage, and they would not let go.
It was great to see how this experience impacted my teammates and I. After the experience, the entire team shared that they wished there was some way they could adopt some of these kids, and would love to think of ways to help this orphanage in the future. It truly was an unforgettable moment.
I came back to my room still thinking about the kids, even after having lots of experience in Nigeria with orphanages. I asked myself, "Why is it that we have people around the world with billions of dollars in their bank accounts when we have so many kids that need help and have none coming from anywhere except from God?" Our experience was so moving today at this place that several of my teammates have changed their plans in having a free day tomorrow and will return to the orphanage instead.
When we got back to the hotel, we ate lunch again in the dining room and had time for a nap before the game. We drove for about an hour into Santa Domingo for tonight's game where we played a really good team (ranked 5th in the whole country) called San Lazero. Our prayers were answered tonight because the open air gym we played in this evening was only 80 degrees versus the 150 degrees from the previous night's game. We learned from yesterday's experience and we were able to adapt to international rules and style of play much better tonight, winning the contest by 17 points. After the game, SCORE International again shared the gospel and I was able to thank the team personally for allowing us to come and compete with them. I also let them know that it is not all about winning or losing. I told them we are also here for a mission trip and that we want to share the love of Christ with them. We also were able to give our opponents a t-shirt and a bracelet with scripture from John 10:10 on it.
After the game, we traveled back to the hotel for a late dinner and called it a day.
Above all, I would love for you to know that if you have never visited an orphanage before, it would be a good thing for you to experience. The only way you can experience what we experienced today is to get in your car and go.
Paul, for the rest of the team
P.S. Over here, you do not drink water out of water bottles on the bench. You drink water out of bags!
Thanks. Looking forward to Day 4!