On the first full day in the Dominican Republic, Gardner-Webb set out for a village that is located deep in the midst of sugar cane fields and off on its own. The project for the day was to take food to the village to feed 45 families. The team was able to pack bags of food earlier in the morning at the SCORE facility in Juan Dolio and then head to the village from there.
As soon as the team pulled into the village, kids came sprinting out of their homes and surrounded the buses. The village is self-functioning with it's own supply store, church, baseball field, homes, and produce. However, it is an area of great poverty, and with the Runnin' Bulldogs' arrival, the spirits of the villagers were lifted.
The team interacted with the village's kids, teenagers, and adults alike. Some players played whiffle ball on the baseball field, others played soccer in the park center, and some just interacted and brought encouragement to the villagers. At the conclusion of the morning, the team gathered with the villagers in the church, and handed out the bags of food to 45 different families.
The Runnin' Bulldogs were set to play their second game of the trip at 6:30pm. The game took place in downtown Santo Domingo against Club Deportivo San Lazaro. The opposing team hosted a few players that played for the Dominican Republic national team, as well as a handful of professional players from Puerto Rico and Europe - including Jack Michael Martinez, who played at Artesia High School in Lakewood, California before playing professionally in Venezuela, Puerto Rico, and Italy. Martinez has also represented his home nation - the Dominican Republic - in international competition multiple times, and won the gold medal at the 2004 Centrobasket Tournament.
Both Gardner-Webb and San Lazaro got off to quick starts to begin the game, which resulted in the lead changing hands several times in the first few minutes. The first quarter ended with Gardner-Webb trailing 19-16, but after a strong start to the second quarter, the Runnin' Bulldogs found themselves ahead 31-28 at halftime thanks in part to a pair of early Justin Jenkins (Knoxville, Tenn.) three-pointers.
Heading into the second half, Gardner-Webb and San Lazaro continued to exchange the lead as GWU concluded the third quarter with a one-point lead. As the fourth quarter wound down, neither team could pull away. With slightly more than one minute to play, Gardner-Webb found itself down by five and unable to cut into the lead as the Runnin' Bulldogs fell to Club San Lazaro, 68-59, in their second of three contests.
Jenkins paced the Runnin' Bulldogs with a trio of three-pointers to finish with nine points and two steals, as David Efianayi (Orlando, Fla.) ended the night 3-for-3 from the floor with six points. Jamaal Robateau (Queensland, New South Wales, Australia) finished with six points and six boards as 11 players scored for the Runnin' Bulldogs.
Gardner-Webb will play its final game of the tour tomorrow night at 6:30pm. Before the contest, the team is traveling to Pasitos de Jesus Girl's Home to minister and visit with the orphans for their morning mission project.
Tyrell Nelson: Day 2 in his own words
We started out the day by helping feed a village of 45 families in a poverty stricken area. We packed bags of rice, pasta, salt, beans, and flour into one bag of each item - a supply that can feed each family for roughly two weeks. The people in the village were excited when they saw our bus pull up, and they ran up to the windows with a huge smile and eyes full of hope and excitement.
The people here didn't want anything supernatural from us, they just wanted to be cared for. The kids just wanted to play baseball and soccer or just to be picked up and treated equally, while the parents just needed someone to talk to. I can only speak for my team and myself when I say we take a lot of things for granted.
Even after this first full day in the Dominican Republic and seeing a whole other way of life that these people live everyday happily and almost care-free, I can say that we are extremely blessed to have the privileges that we have today. Being able to bless and serve these people and share the Gospel with them was amazing, and an experience that we won't soon forget.