Thursday, March 22, 2012

Dominican Republic 2012

We are in love again...  :)  With a country...with a climate...with a language...with an orphan boy... with our little ones in ministry...with each other in and out of our elements...with our mission team...with our awesome God.  Let me try to share with you the joys of this trip.  It has changed my life. :)

Grab your popcorn and a drink...this will be a long one! :)

Our trip began eventfully --Erin ran fever, Bodie puked in Joe's hands in Toby and Lisa's van on the way there, and then Bodie couldn't wait to go tee-tee on the way from the airport to the hotel so he went in the van in Erin's sippy cup.  It was then that we decided our trip would have to be put to a song. :)

So right off the bat, we added another lyric to the song when Joe showed his strength by shutting the van door and SHATTERING the window.  Our only casualty was Lisa's toe laceration and a nick on my knuckle.  :)   A 10-minute shop vac fix, blue vinyl, and some duct tape, and we rednecks were ready to go. ;)  We actually found another use for the duct tape -- Bodie managed to blow his shoe on day one of the trip. The entire sole came off! So we duct taped his shoe together for a semi-permanent fix. He was thrilled. :) 

So we began our ministry part of the week joining two missionary pastors at a church in La Espana in their first "youth rally." Missionary pastors Aby and Jeronimo, their families, and our small mission team organized to feed thirty-some chicos and chicas possibly their first and/or only meal for the day, the equivalent of a third of a 6-inch Subway sandwich.  Then, they shared the truth of the Word of God with them.  Erin was still running fever all day so she seemed a little out of sorts, but as we watched together as Pastor Jeronimo gave an invitation for the listeners to believe in Jesus for the forgiveness of their sins for the first time, and as we watched the hands raise all over the place, Erin commented, "Mom, God must speak Spanish, too!"  Her understanding of a bilingual God reminded me of just how BIG our God is.  Oh, to view life through the eyes of a child. :)  A beautiful rain ended our play time with the children, and we were introduced to Josiah's House, an orphange for boys.  The story behind Josiah's house is heart-warming and amazing.  They have partnered with SCORE and the house parents currently have 4 boys living there and are looking to expand to 8.  What an honorable call, to be "parents" to boys who would otherwise never have them.  Amazing.

The second day we enjoyed a joint English/Spanish (mostly Spanish) church service, and Joe got to preach and teach to the English speaking crowd. :) I think it was then that it hit -- how little Spanish we really knew.  As we sat and listened, the only way I know to describe us was that we were all "in a lull" and then suddenly we'd hear something in our language and immidiately we'd perk up! :) After church, We walked to the beach from SCORE and our team got our first glimpse of the Carribbean.  Bodie and Erin received a much more expensive than we had planned horseback ride from a man named Tomas and his horse Te.  We clued in to his pricing and quickly declined his offer of a drink of coconut milk. :)

Monday was an awesome day -- with a small love offering by our team, we were able to put together bags of food that fed every family in an entire villiage, possibly for a week.  We measured out portions and put the items in bags, and then delivered them to the villiage.  We were introduced to Eugene, a man who helps Dr. Bob, our SCORE missionary, with the optometry part of the medical clinic.  He drove us out to the villiage, and after a 45-minute rendition of red light green light and a small amount of whiplash, we glady exited the vehicle and met pastor Caesar who ministers in the villiage we were feeding.  I introduced our group and led a few songs, and then Joe told the Bible story about how Jesus fed 5000 with 5 loaves of bread and 2 fish through our interpreter.  Caesar shared with the audience that the food we were giving them would last a very short time, but the gift of God through Jesus would last through eternity.  He preached with power and passion.  It was amazing.  After we began handing out food bags, Lisa spontaneosly shared her testimony with the group who had gathered.  We played with the little ones for a bit, delivered lots of goodies for Caesar to give out as the Lord led, and braced ourselves (with smiles of course) during the return adventure of red light green light.  We were oh-so-happy to have Bob back as our driver afterwards! :)

Tuesday we spent all day at the church in La Espana again, this time doing an all day medical clinic. Dr. Bob partnered with Pastor Aby and Pastor Jeronimo.  They transformed the church into a make shift medical office, where 165 patients were seen.  Before the clinic opened, the adults listened as the Gospel was shared.  During the clinic, we partnered with a group of youth and their leaders from North Carolina, and we entertained the children who were waiting to be seen in the clinic.  Pastor Jeronimo shared the Gospel, and many, many little ones displayed saving faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.  Such practical, hands-on ministry--a church opening its doors to its community to take care of physical needs and their spiritual needs.  It was like the Acts church was being lived out in front of our eyes.  Out of the 165 patients treated that day, approximately 100 of them had never been to that church before or might not have even known that church was there prior to the clinic.  Our hope is that now that they know it is there, they will continue to go and their lives will be transformed by the teaching and preaching of the Word of God.  While part of our team treated patients inside, a few of us also had the opportunity to go with the NC group and be a part of feeding a Hatian/Dominican villiage.  Again, physical needs met, and spiritual needs met with the preaching of the Gospel.  We heard the Gospel preached in both Spanish and Creole, and we saw hungry families gratefully and thankfully accepting a bag of food that would feed their family.  The girls flocked to Erin, who I had prepared in advance that they would want to touch her hair, and sure enough, they couldn't get enough of touching her long, straight hair.  And when they stopped touching it, she'd take a strand and give it to them again. :)  She held hands with them and practiced a few of the words she had learned from her Spanish teacher here, Pastor Gary.

On Wednesday morning, the girls and boys split up.  We girls spent the morning at a place called Lily House.  It is a place of refuge for Dominican women who have left a life of prostitution.  There, they are discipled in the Word of God, are given a respite home for themselves and their children, and are taught how to make jewelry and sew in order to provide an alternate living for themselves and their families.  I really sacrificed and volunteered to take our two kiddos and the residents' children to the beach while the others stayed behind and painted. I think it was a blessing to all of us. :)  The boys traveled with Bob to visit a nursing home and church in a small community, and the conditions of the nursing home are so sad. :(  If you have an inclination in your heart, they could sure use some donations.  And later in the afternoon, we regrouped  and joined a new driver, Javier, who spoke no English.  We blindly (or maybe I should say mutely) trusted him to drive us to a town an hour or so away...  Whew, we had some uncertain moments there, but the Lord was good to us and we ended up where we were supposed to be!  We cheered on a SCORE softball team to victory in San Luis as they played a Dominican team.  It was there that we met a little 9-year-old girl named Sam.  She was God-sent to us because she spoke very slowly.  We literally had a 3-hour conversation with her in Spanish, where much of the Spanish we had forgotten became familiar again!  One of the questions she had for us was since we were from Texas, did we have horses? :)  So cute.  Parting was sweet sorrow.  She wanted to go with us, and we wanted her to come with us, too.  I pray for her every day.  She said she was a believer in Jesus and she attends a church there in San Luis.  So if we don't see her again in this life, I look forward to reuniting in heaven.  And we'll understand each other perfectly there!  When we left, Javier took us to tour the new sports complex in Boca Chica called Tierra Alta, or the Highlands, and I promise, it has to be the most amazing construction on that island.  Unbelievable. :)  SCORE is really doing an amazing thing.

Then on Thursday, we went to a daycare center that was begun in a 2-room apartment by a woman who saw a need for children who were unable to attend school.  She opened her doors to the poorest of the poor, and with 50-60 kids in her itty bitty apartment, she moved into a larger apartment and accepted more kids.  As people began hearing about her, some donations began coming in, and she currently has a beautiful home and facility and school for the same population of kids -- those who cannot attend school otherwise and for the poorest of the poor.  We led the classes in songs and a Bible story and gave them gifts.  They supplied us with a sweet, young, unexperienced translator, who sort-of wilted and retreated into his shell when we began our story, so as our team looked at each other as to what to do, we were amazed at the Lord's power in our language struggles.  We made the decision to try to present the Gospel in Spanish ourselves.  It is amazing how the Lord gave us Sam the day before to help us remember the language, and then in that room He supplied just exactly what we needed to deliver an effective Bible story in a language we didn't know:  a sweet little girl in the classroom and the three of us who all remembered a few words.  It was awesome.  After we told the story, I swear I couldn't speak a lick of Spanish again the whole trip.  It was like the Lord gave us what we needed, right when when we needed it.  Not a minute late, not a minute early, and not for any longer than we needed it.  Amazing.  I have to confess, I am still pretty proud of us. :)  And afterward, our interpreter was talking all over the place in perfect English...  ???  :)

Following the daycare, we drove to the orphanage in La Romana, where Joe and I had visited 7 or 8 years ago.  We were stunned at the difference.  When we were there before, there was a small facility and a small playground for the orphans living there.  Now, with donations being put to effective use, there is a beautiful courtyard, much improved facilities, a beautiful school, and an amazing chapel.  The children were in school for some of the time we were there, but after they were released, we had a chance to play with the kids.  Erin fell in love with an orphan named Jeffrey.  She will tell you the story if you ask her.  When he was born, his mom didn't want him, and she threw him away in a trash can.  He was found and given to the orphanage.  He is now 9.  He has cerebral palsy and has the most joyful smile that lights up a room.  I got to hold him for hours years ago when we visited before.  So awesome to see him now.  Then, we fell in love with a 10-year-old boy named Marcos.  He flashed a very handsome smile and tried out his English on us.  He played with Bodie, who is very particular, and with Erin, too.  A wouldn't you know it -- Marcos was teaching us how to say "beautiful smile" in Spanish and was flashing that smile as we took pictures of him, and he turned his beautiful smile right into the piece of cement Erin was holding.  He chipped his front tooth...  (shaking my head...)  He reassured me that it had been chipped before and that the dentist comes on Wednesdays.  Good thing they are well taken care of. :)  They don't allow adoption of the orphans there, but if they did, I am pretty sure we would have a Marcos living with us. I pray for him all the time...

Friday, we spent all day with Dr. Bob touring the historic city of Santo Domingo.  We handed out Gospel tracts and recognized that no one can say no to a little boy or girl handing them out ;) (Go, Bodie, Go, Erin!) and afterward swam in the Carribbean and ate pizza on the beach.  The Lord gave us a beautiful rainbow there, and it was a perfect ending for a great week.  Our travel back was much less eventful than our travel there, thank the Lord, and we gladly melted into our own beds when we arrived safely that night. :)
We are happy to be home.  So why is there an aching in my heart?  I think the only way to explain it is that when we left, a part of my heart stayed there.  I find myself constantly making plans for our return.  And Lord willing, we WILL.  I want to thank all the people who contritubed to our trip, financially, through prayer, and through so many donations of gifts and games for the children.  And I want to prepare you now!  If you are interested in being a part of a mission trip like this in the future, by either joining us or supporting us in another way, here's fair warning:  it will change your life if you allow it to.  I hope you'll consider joining us, or going on another mission trip where ever the Lord leads you.  And remember, too, you don't have to go on an oversees trip to do mission work.  The Lord calls all of us who are believers to be witnesses for Him right where we are!!!

Oh, and stay tuned!  Remember that song I said we were making with the highlights of our trip?  It's coming soon!  Just have to work on the vocals! :)

We've put many other pictures on Facebook if you want to take a peak!

Thanks for your interest in our lives!

1 comment:

  1. I so loved reading wish I could have been there with you. The picture of you in that turquoise blouse is beautiful!! Love you, Friend!!