SANTO DOMINGO, D.R. – Throughout the Charleston Southern men’s basketball team’s mission trip to the Dominican Republic, sophomore forward Paul Gombwer has blogged about the many experiences he and his teammates have enjoyed.
On the fifth and final day of the trip, Gombwer discusses the Bucs’ adventure on a Dominican highway, food distribution in a sugarcane village, and a solid win over a talented team from San Pedro. Gombwer and his teammates will make the return trip back home to Charleston on Thursday.
Today we woke up and ate breakfast at 7:15. Following breakfast, we got on the bus and went to Jumbo, which is like an American Wal-Mart, and purchased food for a sugar cane village. Before I tell you about our experience at the sugar cane village today, I want to share with you what it's like to drive on the highways here in the Dominican. First of all, there are really no speed limits at all and the stop lights are not really stop lights. They are just suggestions meaning stop only if you feel like stopping. On Dominican roads, the biggest vehicle and the most stubborn driver prevails!
Anyways, back to the sugar cane village.
When we got to the village which was about 1 hour away, we went straight to the village church where all the villagers came down to get the food that we had purchased. We brought them rice, oil, beans, salt, spaghetti noodles, and some candy. We also handed out our bracelets with a verse of scripture on it – John 10:10. Before we handed out the food, we were entertained by a children's instrumental choir that played bongos and drums. The team, one by one, then stood up and introduced themselves to the congregation. Following the introductions, our leader from SCORE International shared the gospel with the villagers and the village pastor also shared a few words. Following this, a member of each family from the village came forward as his or her name was called and received the food gifts from our team. One team member was responsible for handing the food to the village family member and then walking them outside the church to pray for them. Each of the kids also received their bracelets and candy at this time. Following the food and gift distribution, we had a special song that Coach Radebaugh's wife sang; titled "He's Been Faithful," and then the children's ensemble played one last time. The one thing that stood out to me about this experience was how each family member that received the food was so happy and thankful to receive a single bag of rice, beans and noodles, which means nothing to most of us who daily have the means to fill up our carts at Wal-Mart.
When we got back to the hotel, we ate lunch in the dining room and then had a nap. It rained today in the Dominican, so our plans for the beach were again canceled which was not so bad for me because I can't swim!
We left for the game at 4:00pm and traveled to Santo Domingo once again. Our opponent tonight was a semi-pro team which was probably the most talented team we have played yet. They had five very quick guards who were hard to defend on the court. At first we thought it was going to be a blowout game, but they proved us wrong the first quarter. After the second quarter we decided to go out a compete because we knew we had to. We ended up winning the game by about 13 points.
Above all, it has been an amazing and life-changing 5 days and I'm pretty sure that every member of this team would love to do this again. I want to use this opportunity to say thank you to Almighty God and also to everybody back home that made this trip a successful one. I pray that the good Lord will repay each and every one of you abundantly for the good deeds. Amen.
Paul, for the rest of the team.