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Kayla Sparks Answers Call Far From the Softball Field

October 3, 2005 · Denise Gideon, MT Media Relations
When Kayla Sparks' number was called she was always ready to enter the game for the Middle Tennessee softball team. So it is no surprise when she received a different calling all together, her helpful nature and take-charge attitude is leading her to a place far from the softball field she once called home.

This past summer, Sparks spent three months in the Dominican Republic doing an internship with a mission group called Manna International, which exists to alleviate suffering through emergency relief and economic development programs to needy communities throughout the world. They provide emergency food aid, water development, agricultural development and health and educational assistance. Manna seeks to not only minister to the hurting and lost of our world, but also works to empower and educate youth to actively address the needs of the world.

During her time in the Dominican Republic, Sparks worked with children at an orphanage and also did manual work projects for people. Her trip over the summer was her second visit to the country as she first made the trip the summer after her senior year of high school.

While she was there in the summer of 2005, she was asked to come back and work in an inner-city coffee house in a town named Rio San Juan. After much soul searching, Sparks decided to forgo school for a year and return to the Dominic Republic.

"The decision was a hard one to make, but I decided that I may never get an opportunity like this again in my life, and school will always be available when I return," Sparks said. "I have fallen in love with the people there and also the beautiful countryside."

Sparks left on September 10 and won't return until next fall. While there, she will be running the coffee house and working with kids and young adults who live really hard and unsafe lifestyles. She will be teaching English classes, showing movies, running study halls and many other tasks.

"At the moment I will be working and living by myself," Sparks said. "It's also completely charity. I will not be receiving a pay while I am working there."

Sparks plans to return to school next fall. She will come back with a new understanding of the world around her and how one person can make a difference.

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