SANTO DOMINGO, D.R. – During each day of the Charleston Southern men’s basketball team’s mission trip to the Dominican Republic, sophomore forward Paul Gombwer will recap the activities.
On day four of the trip, Gombwer discusses another meaningful and emotional trip to the La Ramana Orphanage, as well as the Bucs’ exploration of downtown Santo Domingo, and a trip to the SCORE International Headquarters.
Today we woke up at 7:15 and had breakfast again in the dining room. Following breakfast, we split into two separate groups with one group going to the market in Santa Domingo and the other group going back to the orphanage in La Ramana. The group that went back to the orphanage had an even greater connection today with the kids. The kids were able to talk more about why they had come to the orphanage and were also able to share what their needs were. Many of the kids expressed having needs for clothing and shoes and others just continued to want to be hugged. We were also able to talk about when their birthdays were and they always had a smile on their face when they shared that with us. I guess that even in an orphanage, birthdays are still very special.
Once we got back on the van to head back to our hotel, many players were tearful and could not stop thinking about these kids. Many have expressed wanting to support them with financial contributions (no matter how small) when we get back home in the States. This was once again, an amazing experience. It really reminds me of Jesus' words that when you lose your life for His name sake, you really end up gaining your life.
The other group that went to Santo Domingo had a great time exploring a local market and buying some goods that are representative of the Dominican culture. I bought a banner that has most of The Dominican's historical facts on it, and then I also bought a rosary that was decorated with local stones from the Dominican. Other teammates bought Dominican bags, bracelets, banners, flags, and some sunglasses. Most of us were able to barter at the market and get goods for a great price!
Following our time at the market, we then went to a famous local lighthouse monument honoring Christopher Columbus. It is believed that Santo Domingo was one of his most significant stops in the New World. When we returned home from the market and the orphanage home, we had some down time and then ate dinner in the dining room. After dinner we went to SCORE International's headquarters and were able to participate in an evening service. We watched a video with other sports teams that are also here to do mission work (a baseball team from the Southeast US, and a team from New Jersey). The video focused on human trafficking and how Score reaches out to rescue girls who have fallen victim to this horrific societal ill. The sermon tonight at SCORE was taken from John 3:16 and reminded us about the love of God and how His son came to earth to die for us even though we do not deserve it.
It rained a lot today in The Dominican on our free day and because of that we did not get to go to the beach. However, we are hopeful that tomorrow the skies will clear and we can go see the beautiful water that surrounds this country.
Looking forward to Day 5,
Paul, for the rest of the team