Am I the only one who spent years of my youth mystified by how many things Mr. and Mrs. Thurston Howell III loaded on the S.S. Minnow for a “three hour tour?” I’m quite certain that many Americans didn’t have some of those luxuries in their own homes, but the castaways enjoyed them as they desperately hoped to be rescued from their deserted island. Truly, the simple life of Gilligan and the gang would have been much simpler if it weren’t for all the Howells' conveniences.
I’m including a picture today that may take a bit of explanation for you to “get it.” In it, Patti (who works on our staff) is playing with a couple of Dominican boys in Guananico, Dominican Republic. Guananico is an out of the way place, a bit like Gilligan’s Island. Rather than being surrounded by water, it is surrounded by hills and small mountains. It’s hot there and the humidity can completely sap you if you’re not careful. It feels even hotter because the cooling ocean breezes from 20-30 miles away are blocked by the mountains.
Unlike the bigger cities in the D.R., Guananico is far enough out in the country that life is quite a bit slower and less connected. It’s not unusual these days to see many Dominicans in the cities with their smart phones, checking their Facebook friends’ updates. The villages and towns, however, are far more likely to rejoice when they see someone like Patti show up…
…because Patti brings baseballs.
She loads up a bunch of baseballs in her suitcase when she goes and gives them out to kids as she does ministry there. And, to get a full-fledge ball game going, all you need is a baseball. You don’t need gloves or bats or catcher’s gear or a ball diamond. You don’t even need to go very far, since the “windows” of the houses are wooden slats and there’s no glass to break.
That day in Guananico, we pitched and caught and hit with a group of Dominican kids. We used tree branches as bats and did the best we could, laughing and figuring out how to communicate in two languages. These kids needed no inspiration (Bartolo Colón grew up nearby and these kids' heroes are the Dominicans who play in the Major Leagues), just a couple crazy Americans…and a baseball. Game on!
I contrast the simplicity of that afternoon in Guananico, Dominican Republic with the complex noise of our own lives. Everywhere we turn, we run into things that interrupt us from our own fast-paced agendas and some of us have reached the point where we can’t stand the quiet. How many of you turn the TV on as soon as you enter the house, just so you have noise in the background? Why? Is it because of what you fear you might hear if the distraction weren’t there?
Let’s face it: life’s a blur these days and we need a way to restore some focus. Believe it or not, Jesus had some things to say that can help us get there. We’ll talk about His words this weekend at Stone Ridge Church. Can’t join us? Catch the podcast!