I got back from the Dominican Republic on Saturday morning and I wanted to let you know that I was back safe and sound. I can honestly say that I could feel your prayers while I was down there. Conditions were not ideal, but they were not nearly
Each day teams of people would head out to minister to the local people. There was a dental team, an optical team, and teams that did bible walks or other bible related things. And of course the biggest team was the construction team. That is the one that I chose to work with. We had block layers and carpenters who were responsible for erecting the homes for the people of Village 50. And there were a host of unskilled people (like me) who were basically gophers, doing whatever was needed be it carrying cinder blocks, mixing mortar and carrying it to the block layers, or moving sheets of tin and lumber. By Tuesday afternoon I had started working with the carpenters to help put the roofs on the structures. Up till then, I was mostly doing the things I listed above. Couldn't do the roof till the block was laid. We worked all day till around 4 - 4:30 and then headed back to the MGM (Meeting God in Missions) compound where we stayed.
Each day started no later that 6:15 when they sounded a horn to wake you up. That wasn't necessary for me as the beds were so hard that I was awake long before 6AM. We took time for morning prayer and song (usually 45 mins to 1 hour). Then we would have 45 minutes of teaching/discussion, led by the compound director. This turned out to be a blessed time as I was really able to get in touch with the Lord. After that we had a big breakfast. The food was surprisingly good. It was cooked by the locals and it was obvious they had some instruction on what we Americano's eat. Around 8:30 we would load the trucks with supplies needed for the day's work and then jump on a truck for the 45-50 minute drive to Village 50. We stood in the back with the wind blowing in our faces, enjoying the wonderful views of the D.R. landscape. That is till it rained on the way and you got soaked through. That only happened once, but we were dry shortly after arrival at Village 50 as the sun came out quickly. Daytime temps in the mid 80's made us especially cautious of getting dehydrated. Fortunately, no one did and the week went well.
Each night we would have dinner at 5:30 followed by a short rest period. At 6:30 - 7:00, we would all get into the trucks and go to a church service at a local church. I think my favorite was the cowboy church. 45 minute truck ride from the MGM compound, way back in the hills, small church that our 60 people overwhelmed. It was fun. The people are very friendly and they loved to share their love of God with us. It's called the cowboy church because rumor has it that a man came riding up the the church on a horse, so they called it the cowboy church. No western theme though!!. The big surprise for me was the congo line. Half way into the service, the pastor called one of the yound girls up to the front. Music started and the congo line was formed. There were so many people that we had to go outside to get everyone involved. What a hoot!! After we got back home, there was time to socialize, have fellowship, and relax. Most people were thinking about calling it a night because the next day would be soon upon us.
This was the basic pattern each day, while the nights had some variations. We did church on Sunday and 3 other nights. And 2 nights we had some other type of fellowship service. It definitely was a great time to meet other Christians and spend some time in prayer. I highly recommend it.
While Village 50 is in the D.R., it is a Haitian village. Dominicans don't work in the cane fields, Haitians do. They are very poor. Many of them only get one meal every 2 days. The adults are always coming up to you asking for "dinero." I even had one beautiful girl (about 18) holding a baby ask for money for her baby. It's gut wrenching. The sad part is you have to be careful how/what you do. Give them money on Monday and they will hound you all week. Hard to do the work we need to do when that happens. It's a balance and I still don't know how to manage it. I took candy down and gave it to the kids after work. That always brought a crowd. By Friday, everyone was giving away everything, shirts, water bottles, hats. It just felt like the right thing to do.
I don't know anyone who didn't get moved by what we saw and did. The smiles of the children in all of that poverty was very uplifting. The Lord is definitely at work. Deo es glorioso - God is great!! The language is a barrier, but not a deterrent. Love was able to break any communication problems. Would I do it again? Absolutely! I'm planning on next January. Anyone who wants to join me, I'd be thrilled to go with you. I guarantee it will change you. All of the comforts of home and only lost for a short time. We all came back to warm showers, comfortable beds, and home cooked meals. They stayed in their tin huts, sparse meals, and dirt floors. Is it fair? No! But, the mission of MGM and all missionaries throughout the world is to do something, no matter how small, to let these people know that they are loved by Jesus ...and me.
Once again, thank you from the bottom of my heart for all of your prayers - and monetary support. God knows you did your part to make my mission trip a huge success. May God bless you this day and always. I will be eternally grateful for all that you do.
Your friend in Christ,
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