imagen 3 Kingdom CultureShort term missions, long term impact is a phrase that we use often at Students International. It means that everything we do is laser focused on creating experiences that will create life transformation in the lives of both students and community members.

In December, our VC Revolution volleyball team ventured to Guatemala for an international tournament. This journey marked many first-time experiences for the girls, including their initial exposure to a new culture, unique foods, being away from parents for a week, and witnessing greater poverty levels. These firsts, while exciting, also presented challenges.

The brief mission trip fostered personal development in the girls. Crisleidy Ramos documented her thoughts following this character-shaping journey.

“Traveling to Guatemala was an extraordinary experience. I learned a lot of amazing things. I learned to be grateful for everything because we may think that we suffer from many things, but by living 7 days in unusual situations, God showed me I have much to be thankful for here at home. I also learned to hope and work hard for the things that we desire to see happen. In order to see this trip happen, we went through many difficult moments. For example, we often had to get up at dawn to spend 3 or 4 hours on the bus to reach our destination for our games and we often had no way to communicate with our families. But despite those challenges, I am grateful for the wonderful moments we had as a team. While there were uncomfortable moments between us, living together united us and we enjoyed many laughs together. I was grateful for the opportunity to meet the beautiful people who live in Guatemala, hearing their beautiful stories and seeing the beautiful landscapes. I thank God because I know that he was working on this journey, letting us see different situations so that we can learn from them. The word I would use to describe this trip would be transforming!”

Not only was God transforming our girls, but he also used their hard work and dedication to impact those around them. At the tournament there was another team that had come from the DR. Unfortunately the were loud and rude, complained about the food served to them, and often showed up late to scheduled events. Our coaches, Mariela and Mabelis had the opportunity to get to know many of the parents from opposing teams and several of them noticed the stark contrast in behavior between our DR team and the other. One mom was so taken aback by the differences in behavior that she eventually approached Coach Mabelis to ask if both teams were truly from the same culture. Mabelis simply responded “Honestly we are not. While we are all Dominicans, our team represents a kingdom culture, the culture of Jesus.”

The girls truly showed an exceptional performance, exhibiting hard work and intense determination. They wrestled their way to the second place, an incredible achievement in itself. Their spirit was admirable, fighting fiercely till the very end. We’re filled with immense pride seeing their effort and dedication. Each girl in the team contributed significantly, demonstrating teamwork and resilience. Their second-place victory is testament to their tenacity. Each one of them has made us immensely proud.

We appreciate those praying for our work in the Dominican Republic and financially supporting the trip. Our hope is for this experience to positively transform the girls’ lives, drawing them closer to looking like Jesus.