Tag Archives: little league

A Juice Box

I got the best present ever today. It was a Capri Sun juice box.

Today, as the Little League team I help coach was starting the first inning, six-year-old Anilda came to sit beside me in the dugout. Anilda is the sister of one of our players, and she’s always around when baseball stuff is going on. Anilda’s as adorable as they come. Her strongest language is French, so sometimes I can’t understand her accent and she can’t always understand mine, but we get along just fine. She also thinks it’s hysterical that she’s tri-lingual and I just speak English. Today is April Fools Day, so Anilda had all her best jokes in a mental queue, just waiting for each new person she ran into. My shoes were untied, Stacey magically appeared beside me, and there was a spider on my head. Oh, yes. The usual. And all of it accompanied by a great big, front-tooth-gap six-year old grin and giggles galore.

About a half hour in, Anilda got hungry and asked if she could get her dinner from the snack bar. She showed me her cash: Two dollars for the hot dog and a third for a juice box. Two juice boxes, actually, she told me. Two for a dollar. And she was definitely looking forward to it.

I let her go get her dinner on a break between innings and walked far enough over so that I could see her and still keep track of the pitch count in my head.  She reached in tippy-toes to push her cash onto the counter, grabbed the hot dog in one hand and the Capri Suns in the other, and we hurried back to the dugout.

She stabbed one juice packet with a straw, started sipping, and handed the other to me. “Is this for me?” I asked. She nodded.

When you’re six, fifty cents is a lot of money. Probably, the only money you own is the money your dad gave you for dinner. And a Capri Sun is nothing to sniff at. Giving it to someone else is a pretty big sacrifice, when you’re six.

I felt like I had just been given the moon.

It’s funny how when a kid gives you something like that, it multiplies the value of the object. I could buy a hundred Capri Sun juices if I wanted to. But she could only buy two, and she gave me one of them. And that makes it mean a lot.

I think that’s how it is with us and God. God “owns the cattle on a thousand hills,” yet he loves it when we give him an hour of the day to volunteer at Sunday School or twenty bucks to feed the hungry. Why do we give God our stuff, our time, our money? Not because he needs it, but because he loves it. Just like I don’t need a child to buy me a juice box, but I love that she did and it made my day.

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Photo Credit: Stacey Culpepper

The Trainless Island

What do you do when you have twelve kids who love trains but have never seen a real one? You take them on a train ride, of course!

The island of Saint Martin doesn’t have a train, but the kids from Player Development SXM know a lot about them anyway. Each day, these boys and girls gather on the little league field to practice for baseball games and improve their academic skills. Many days, my friends and I join them to help with reading and math or coaching.

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When practice and homework is done, the kids run inside the repurposed shipping container that serves as their clubhouse to play with their favorite toy: the model train set.

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The kids are excited, because this summer, they get to ride a real train. In August, they’ll be packing their bags for the long trip to Toronto, where many dreams will come true. They get to watch a Blue Jays game, see Niagara falls, play against a Canadian little league team, and ride a real train for the first time. For their homework, some of the kids have written about their hopes for the upcoming adventure:

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For many of the kids, this will be their first time off the 37 square-mile island.

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Many of the kids dream of being a pro ball player, and this will be the first time they get to witness a major-league game.

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This is a really big deal for them.

The logo for the team is, of course, a train. Coach Tom asked me to design it for the team, and my friend Andrea made it into a t-shirt for the kids to wear during the trip.

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Like it? You can actually buy one for yourself, or send one to one of our kids! All the proceeds of the purchase also go toward the kids’ plane tickets. Make a difference for these kids. Click here!

 

Dr. Seuss Day!

On the SXM clubhouse on a warm Saturday

Twenty-five children gathered to read and to play.

The morning was filled with laughter and mirth–

We celebrated Dr. Seuss’ birth!

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We read Hop on Pop

And the words “Plip” and “plop,”

About a beetle bottle battle

And the goo-goose and cattle,

IMG_2568.JPG Continue reading Dr. Seuss Day!

A Day in the Life of an AUC Spouse

After my last post, A Typical Day at American University of the Caribbean, I was encouraged to tell about my own typical day. This is a little harder than sharing a typical day for Ben, mostly because my days are never the same!

Here’s what my day looked like yesterday:

We woke up at 6:30, a little later than usual, because we had a late-night Skype call the night before. I made stove-top toast for breakfast, and Ben left for class at 7:20.

Making food has extra challenges here! I don't read Dutch...
Making food has extra challenges here! I don’t read Dutch…

I organized my laundry and took it to AUC’s dormitory laundry room. Our apartment’s washer and dryer don’t work well, so I always do laundry at school. One of the washers had leaked, so an AUC employee was mopping the floor. I stopped to chat with her for a while. While waiting for my laundry, I studied Swahili from a textbook I got a couple years ago in Kenya.

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At 8:15, I met a couple friends– other spouses– near AUC and went on a 3-mile run with them. The air is humid and warm, so two of us decided to walk to the beach after our run to cool off. My friend brought her dog with us, and it was hilarious to watch her play in the surf!

Sasha plays on the beach
Sasha plays on the beach

Around eleven, I went home and made lunch. I try to have it ready for Ben when he walks in the door. Today we had leftovers from a school-catered lunch we had on Monday.

After eating, the two of us spent a little time together. Then Ben studied his vital signs checklist while I cleaned up after lunch, blogged, and read my Bible.

At two, a friend picked me up and we drove halfway across the island to the little league field. We parked behind the field next to three containers. These containers look rather unassuming from the outside, but inside, they are filled with all the wonderful things we loved in our childhoods– a labeled shell collection, a train track running along the ceiling, a remote-control robot, science projects, books, a rock tumbler, and so much more! The little league coach has set up a player development and tutoring program for some of the island kids. Some of the AUC spouses come to tutor the kids and play ball with them. While we were there yesterday, I got to work on reading with a three or four kids, play catch with two little girls, and do warm-up exercises with the boys.

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We left around 4:30 and headed back to our homes in Cupecoy. I went shopping at the Asian market next to our complex and started a dinner of beans and rice. While everything cooked, I answered emails for my freelance art job. Want to see what I do for work? Check this out!

One of the T-shirts I designed for a client (copyright 2015)
One of the T-shirts I designed for a client
(copyright 2015)

At 6:30, Ben and his friend Matt arrived for dinner.

Dinner at the Johnson's
Dinner at the Johnsons’

At 7:05, I ran out the door, a little late for my Zumba class. I go to a free Zumba session twice at week at AUC’s gym. The class ended at 8:00, and I had a little time to talk with friends before going to band practice.

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At 9:00, I arrived at worship band practice. I’m singing and playing in our church’s worship band on Sundays– next week, I’ll be singing back-up and playing the drum. Some weeks, I’ll be helping out by playing guitar or piano as needed.

Practice went late, so it was almost 10:30 before I got home. Ben and I were both exhausted! We talked for a bit, set the alarm, and fell fast asleep.