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My name is Ben “It’s Cookie Time” Richey and I am a student at Auburn University. Last summer was my first summer at Pine Cove and I am extremely excited that he has given me the opportunity to come serve on this trip. The joy of the Lord is evident here in the Dominican. Yesterday, we had what we call camp skills in the middle of the day. These included swimming lessons, hand-eye coordination games, and cooking instruction among other things. After that, we went to rest time, or what was supposed to be rest time. Instead of taking the scheduled nap, the guys had a gathering in the cabin led by Francesco, a local church member who is working as a photographer here at camp. I have learned much about this culture and what they enjoy when it comes to entertainment amongst themselves. One thing they enjoy specifically is chanting along with a rhythm and a beat that they come up with themselves. Francesco took a wiffle-ball bat and the top of one of our coolers and began to play an upbeat rhythm and the campers and ourselves began to chant to the beat. We left the cabin and chanted to the rhythm after about half of an hour of practice. In this I saw the Lord bringing together people from different countries of different ages who speak different languages as one people growing closer in community with joy evident on the face of everyone.

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Throughout the rest of free time and dinner conversation began to flow more freely and I could feel the barrier of language being broken down and myself beginning to know the staff and campers here much better. I am so impressed by the close attention the campers here pay attention during Bible study and the passion by which they worship. I have attended many beautiful worship sessions before, but hearing brothers and sisters who speak a different language together with us pour out their heart before the Lord is truly a new and incredible experience. Knowing that our God hears all worship, regardless of the language is all the more encouraging.

Today, we had Bible study, played station games, and danced quite a bit. These station games were designed to be very difficult or even impossible to continue to stress the overall message of this camp: Mission Possible. Our life on earth is impossible to live without Jesus. These games are impossible to win without perfect teamwork. We danced Pine Cove dances throughout the day with the campers and tried to teach them some American dance moves since they have taught us so much about their culture.

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I have loved every minute of being in the Dominican Republic. The staff here is absolutely incredible and clearly displays the love of Christ in how they interact with us and the campers. The Lord has encouraged me by bringing all of us closer together despite our cultural differences and that I am grateful that He has allowed myself, no matter how unworthy I am, and the rest of our team to able to be a part of his work here.

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