Updated: Jul 26
It all started here. We arrived on Saturday and Sunday morning we attended our first worship service at the church that missionary family, Gary & Ali have been called to! Gary preached on the story of Hagar and Ali led worship beautifully on the piano.
Next thing I knew, Ali was serving up plates for lunch and Gary was pouring cups of juice for everyone on the team! Immediately I felt the roles were reversed! We came to serve and minister to them and yet here we were, being served by the missionaries!
Our attempts to make them sit down and let us serve were no good, we all realized that we needed to accept their graciousness and take this moment to learn from them. It was a reminder of the verse in Acts that "it is more blessed to give than to receive".
That evening we went to Pastor Mota's evening church (he pastors two churches) where his son and daughter-in-law led worship and a missionary pastor shared a message. We met two of his beautiful grandchildren and they have one on the way!!
Pastor Mota was also our bus driver the entire week and was the most patient, kind person I met all week!! Anyone who can drive 10+ women in a bus around the DR traffic and motorcycles without losing their mind deserves an award!!!
Monday was cultural immersion!! We started off the day with Diomaris teaching us about the Dominican people and their culture. Then we went out into the local village on a scavenger hunt, taking any opportunity to pray with people we encountered along the way.
Terrible picture of me :-/ but this is real time footage of us walking the neighborhood...
Diomaris communicated with the grandma, asking for some of the items we had to find on our scavenger hunt. I was seeing if I could help the boy fix his bike but it was too far gone! Lol!! Usually with my boys I could help get a chain back on or something but the plastic on his peddle was broken.
She had a few of the items on our list so we snapped a photo to show the other team that we got them!! 3 of the 5 grand babies jumped in the photo.
When asked if we could pray for her, she broke down in tears. She said her son and daughter were both killed in the streets, she was raising her 5 grandchildren alone.
There were photos of her children all over the back wall and it was evident that she needs prayer and resources. Diomaris took note of where they were and said she would go back.
Our next job was to ask someone to show us how to do a "tubi"! I may have volunteered Priscilla for this lovely hairstyle since she has such amazing hair! :-P
There you have it folks! A "tubi"!! I just know Priscilla is trying this at home as I write this!! ;-)
We were a sweaty mess at this point and took the bus back to the church for lunch!
That afternoon, Ali took us to Santo Domingo to immerse ourselves in the culture a little more and see some of the historical sites.
She wears so many different hats because this day she was an amazing tour guide, reciting history and lots of different dates that things may or may not have taken place!! :-P I'm totally giving her a hard time! ;-) It was awesome!!
Tuesday started off by visiting Las Palmas Christian School, where we would be serving on Thursday. Lynn shared the incredible story of how God has provided for them time and time again over the years and how they work hard to educate and fully equip the children for a successful life with Christ as their foundation.
We went to Vision Land where they have several ministries including Paloma House, where they house the women who are working to get off the street. They also had goats, so of course I had to pet the goats!
We prayed over the property and the new building project, that this would be a place of peace and rejuvenation.
That afternoon we went with Ali to the sugar cane village to do a women's event alongside Kelly, a missionary friend. Kelly had baked TONS of muffins for these ladies from scratch and Breanne prepared a devotional to share with them
We broke up into groups and Ali handed out beads, wires and wire cutters from Mercy Workshop. The ladies went to town, each of them creating their own unique bracelet!
The children were adorable and hilarious! :-)
Even if she wasn't crazy about being in pictures, she definitely wanted me to take a picture of her with her bracelet!! :-)
It was pouring rain as everyone left to go home and we loaded back into the bus.
Wednesday morning was Mercy Workshop!! We had all been looking forward to this day SO much!!!! It was a chance to sit with the women who work at Mercy - and if you don't know what Mercy workshop does, it is a jewelry ministry that provides work for women who are trying to escape a life of being trafficked and/or working as prostitutes, women who are still learning that they are worthy and loved by God.
When you understand what Mercy is, this photo becomes so much more than a pile of beads. It's an opportunity for freedom in a culture where that wouldn't be considered an option.
As you can imagine, we were ALL IN on loving these women and letting them know that they are seen and known by God. We also were ALL in on buying some jewelry and supporting the mission!!
When you see what God is doing in these women's lives, budget goes out the window. Buy the dang necklace... or two or 20!!! Seriously, you can do that today from here in the states and be a part of breaking these generational curses!! Click HERE to shop their website!!
That afternoon we went to the town of Boca Chica, which is in the top two worst places for child trafficking in the Dominican Republic. Holts House of Hope, also known as ZOie House is a ministry that focuses on prevention.
They have about 50 school-aged girls in their ZOie program and we were able to spend the afternoon with them.
We played sports, Jen prepared a skit and Ali brought jewelry making supplies and a watercolor project for them to do.
I finally got a chance to use one of the songs I had learned in Spanish before I came on the trip and thankfully, I had written it down because they didn't know the song! They were able to read and sing along "Cuan grande es Dios" - "How Great is our God" was the one we learned.
With Barbie being all the rage right now, anyone with blonde hair and blue eyes to them is "Barbie", so came the nickname all afternoon! Lol!
The next morning, Thursday, we were up bright and early to go lead a morning of kids camp at Las Palmas Christian School!! I think I had two cups of coffee this morning because, well, that's the only way I could keep up with their energy!!!
Our dear friend and adopted "Darlin'", Pattie Stepbach, donated over 80 dinosaurs with paint and brushes for the children to paint!! It was one of their favorite activities and super special because they could take it home!!
Even the preschool children sat and painted for a good long time, giving us all a chance to catch our breath while we watched their little creatures come to life!!
They were so proud of their work!!!
In the afternoon we went back to vision land to paint the Paloma House. We were all a sweaty, hot mess but hey, Jen killed the cockroach, I scared off the lizard (after he scared me first) and we got it done!! ;-)
We had some precious time with Alli too, hearing some of the stories of their ministry and praying over her.
The last day was relax and unwind! They had scheduled a snorkeling adventure and for the first time, we got to see what the tourists come here for! Up to this point I was a little confused as to why the DR is a vacation spot!! :-/
But now it makes sense! This is what most people see. The beautiful, crystal clear water, sandy beaches, AMAZING coffee...
So next time you're thinking about a vacation, consider the DR!! And then take a moment to stop in Mercy Workshop or one of these ministries to buy some jewelry and see first hand what God is doing!! You won't regret it!! :-)
Thanks for reading!!