The Dominican Mystery

The Dominican Mystery

 By Kathleen Holmes-Smith

     Dominican Mission Trip June 8-14, 2019

The Dominican people are a mystery you see,

 God brings believers to make a mighty plea,

 Numerous disciples come from far and wide,

 To present the Gospel passionately side by side.

 The Dominicans listen respectfully at first,

 Then come up with excuses to hide their thirst.

 They long to dabble in things forbidden

 The evil and tempting way Satan has hidden.

 Compassionate believers run to and fro

 Calmly loving and blessing through the villages they go.

 The Dominican children greet us with joy

 They laugh, sing, and jump for all to enjoy.

 We bring a story about loving our neighbor

 But as they fight over toys it loses its flavor.

 My amazing roommate Bobbie who loves kids so much,

 Told me to remember their smiles and give God the rest.

 We worshipers are glad for listening ears and a wave,

 As it helps ease the pain our hearts feel when they cave.

 You see, time is running out for the “feeling” they want

 God wants Dominicans in His family to help America out.

 We leave behind pastors who are struggling to survive,

 Who bear heavy loads but continue to thrive.

 Voodoo and witch doctors want to rule the night,

 But won’t stand a chance against an armor of light.

 Angels and demons fight over Dominican souls,

 But in the end, the seeds we’ve sown – Heaven itself will extol!

2019 Mission Updates

2019 On Mission Updates:

Day 1:

Our first day was blessed with good travel! Unlike last year, our flights left on time, arrived early, and connections were smooth! We were able to make a trip to the “Dominican Walmart” called Jumbo to get some supplies for the week. We have the same two ladies cooking for us as in previous years. The same ladies that came to Christ when we shared 3 years ago. We were blessed to connect briefly with a team from TN that was heading home of their week in the field! We prayed for one another and committed to re-connecting once we are back home. This was their first trip to the DR. We celebrated Crismery’s 18th birthday with cake and a Spanish rendition of Happy Birthday! We have known her for 4 years and have come to love her as a part of our family! Tomorrow we head out for Alejandro Bass. We have visited here for 5 years and have many friends to see and lost to share with. Please pray for our team as the heat is far more intense this year and that can take its toll. We are so thankful for your prayers and support!

Day 2:

We spent the day in a village near and dear to us all called Alejandro Bass. We made many friends and saw familiar faces there. When we pull up people literally run to see us and tell us what the prior year has brought in their lives. We have seen kids grow up and families grow over the years. Sadly, we always hear of someone who is no longer there or has moved off to another place. This year we had the pleasure of seeing several saved, including and 84 year-old man. Our students get what it means to love on people! They are not afraid to get sweaty and dirty to connect with the children. It seems that the past year was very “fruitful” as there were so many new babies for our girls to hold! Tomorrow we will worship with a church in Consuelito which is also close to our hearts. We are thankful for your prayers as we look forward to seeing what God has next for our team!

Day 3:

Today was Sunday. It usually comes at the end of the trip, but this year at the beginning. It is different because we attended church service as opposed to walking villages or doing VBS activities. This year we celebrated the morning service at my friend Juan’s church. Four years ago, when we spoke about him being a pastor, he laughed and brushed it off as he felt ill-equipped. Today he preached with boldness in a finished building that was simply a pile of cinder blocks a year ago. He is working hard to reach an unchurched community that still exhibits many signs of Haitian voodoo. He is an amazing pastor and his church is blessed. It rained hard today and it was a nice break from the beating sun. In the afternoon around 4, we attended a much larger church we had visited 2 years prior. It is always nice when the pastor comes over and asks you to deliver the sermon. I am always amazed at their willingness to offer such trust and hospitality to us. Of course, my answer was yes, and we had a grand old time in Joshua 4 and Matthew 27. Juan was beside me for the entire time translating! What a wonderful time. When the rain broke after service the team went into the churchyard and played games with the DR students, while the adults offered prayer for those in need! There is a real kinship among us!! Tomorrow we begin the long stretch of village work. This is always a challenging time for us all physically and emotionally. Thank you for being a part of our team!

Day 4:

Today we went to San Pedro. This is the place where each year we see our dear friend Ramone. He is 94 and runs a small soda shop. In DR terms that translates to selling sodas from a refrigerator out of his front door. He is the nicest and most hospitable man I have met. Recall that last year we shared the gospel with him and his pregnant daughter and both received Christ. This year we were able to meet the baby we prayed for. Her name is Esther and she is 8 months old and all smiles. The students are amazing! They truly know what love does! They have no fears, boundaries, or limits to how they love on people! After lunch, we returned to San Pedro to walk the streets. We returned to a home we have visited each year where we have seen several members of the family saved. This year, this family escorted us door to door proclaiming the gospel alongside us. She would begin an introduction with, “Three years ago this man spoke the truth to me and now I am bringing him here to share it with you.” That’s so powerful!!!! All of the team is well and motivated! Our morning devotionals are amazing and each person is truly sharing truth from their heart! We are so thankful for all of your support to get us to this point! We are so blessed! Continue to pray for us as we head down the home stretch!

Day 5:

We returned to the village where Juan is planting his church. He truly loves the community, and even those that are not Christian are glad he is there. There is a significant influence of voodoo there that remains from their Haitian roots. Just a few hundred yards from Juan’s church is the house where voodoo is practiced. It is painted vivid colors with objects and symbols all around it. Juan and I approached the “witch doctor” and presented the Gospel boldly. He admitted his evil doings and acknowledge the true God. He asked Juan to return in two days to speak more about coming to Christ. The people in the area are warm and welcoming but resistant to the Gospel. They see it through a lens of a set of rules as opposed to living abundantly. I believe there will be a revival here. Juan is truly making a difference. Our team is focused and excited about our final days here. Their stories speak of their desire to see life change happen! Thank you for praying for us.

Day 6:

Yesterday was our last day in the villages of the DR. We returned to places to see people we have known for years. As we were returning last night, Juan noted, “today made it clear that the consistency of your team has changed these villages.” We were standing in front of a store in a shack and the owner waving frantically at us. It was the same store where a year ago that same man offered me a fresh mango and we spoke for hours about God and the Gospel. I remember my heartbreak when he said, “not now.” Getting on the bus that day to head home was so hard. Yet today is frantic efforts to get my attention was for him to tell me that after we left that day he prayed to come to Christ! We also connected with Clay’s friend Oscar. Recall that last year his father became ill and Oscar had to drop out of college to support his family. We committed then to fund his college and help him achieve his dream of becoming an engineer. Three months ago his father died. I was able to sit with his mother. She is painfully at peace. Her 6 children are very special and unique in their village following dreams their dad inspired in their lives. She is so grateful for the help to her son. She was apologetic when I arrived because she said, “I have nothing to offer you as my guest.” I simply told her, “in this season we are to help you.” They are a beautiful family and will change their world. Yesterday was a needed reminder that sometimes we plant, sometimes we water, but God will bring the harvest. Today we head to the capital to visit some sites before heading home Friday.

Days 7 and 8:

Thursday was our free day. We went to the nation’s capital and took a historic tour. It very much reminded me of St Augustine, Fl. On the way back we stopped at McDs and I will tell you I have never been so sick in my life. I have officially been cured of my addiction. Although I was indisposed I hear they had a great time on the beach and pool. It was a well-needed rest for them. This morning Ethan led the Devo teaching on the crazy man in the tombs and how Jesus instructed him to “go home and tell …”. What a great challenge for us all. Today we travel home with encouragement to tell of what we have experienced here.

Dominican 2019 Stories

 

What was the most significant moment that impacted you on this trip? 

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“Walking with Bobbie and talking to women. This young mother decided not to accept Christ, but an older woman who had been listening to our conversation accepted Christ on the spot.” -Rochelle

“The most impactful moments for me were the evangelism team I was with. We went to the women and were on fire. We joined together and God showed up!” -Madison

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“Standing outside one of the churches looking into the church through the window I watched some of the team members dancing with the kids, and seeing how much joy that brought them. At that moment I heard God saying…”Don’t tell me about your faith, show me your faith.” ” -Leon

“The most impactful moment of the 2019 trip took place in San Pedro for me. We were greeted by a woman we had met 3 years prior in 2016. At the time she said “mañana” meaning tomorrow and she didn’t receive Christ, however, a seed was planted. The following year in 2017 she told us that over the course of the year she had dedicated her life to Christ and had been saved. We rejoiced with her. This year she led us through San Pedro to evangelize to her friends and family. She introduced us to her aunt who had recently lost her sister. I was able to introduce her to my little sister and tell her that my first memory which was the day Rochelle was born, but my favorite was the night she was saved. She didn’t accept Christ but I pray and believe a seed was planted. We are seeing value in consistency.” -Amanda

“One of the most significant moments I had this year in Dominican was the team bonding. I knew quite a few people that were going, but there were still a few I didn’t know very well or at all. On this trip, I got to really understand those people. I got to see their strengths and weaknesses. It was cool to see all the different things that each person was bringing to the team and contributing to the mission. I thought this was really cool and it really brought out the extrovert in me. I made new friends and got to spend time with someone id consider to be my third brother. The people on the team really made this year’s trip valuable. People were getting out of comfort zones, going and talking to others, and spreading the word of the Lord. IM SO PROUD! -McKenna

“One of the most significant moments that impacted me was when I handed Pastor Juan a Spanish children’s storybook bible. One of my friends had donated an entire storage unit to us for our yard sale fundraiser and the children’s bible storybook was one of the items I found in the boxes. I sat it aside and knew I’d bring it on the mission trip. I prayed that God would have me give it to the person who could use it the most. On Tuesday afternoon, in Dominican, I went back on the bus for more supplies and I saw the bible- I felt that I knew where it should go. When I handed it to Pastor Juan he was so excited and said they had been waiting for a bible book to teach the children about the stories in the bible. This really shifted my focus and thinking.                                                                    As a children’s pastor for almost 10 years and director for 2, I’ve made a lot of connections KidMin world. I knew that God was going to be able to use me and the opportunities he’d given me to assist Juan.” -Bobbie

 

 

 

What are you hoping for? Dominican 2019

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This year we have another wonderful team ready to fly across the ocean to spread the gospel and share Gods love with the Dominican Republic! We asked a few of the team members to answer this question before the trip…

“What are you hoping that God does in and through you?”

“I am hoping that He refreshes and intensifies my desire to help others and that I am able to make a difference in someone’s life.”

“What am I hoping? I am hoping that I will let anxiety go and allow the Holy Spirit to speak through me with confidence and boldness. I am hoping that souls will be saved, people will be set free, and broken hearts mended. I’ve been also praying for divine appointments. I pray that God would lead those who have been searching or are just curious about Jesus into our path so they can experience an encounter with Him that will make an eternal difference.”

“I am not really sure what I’m hoping for this week. I’m definitely looking forward to seeing and meeting new people that are from a completely different culture and to get out of my comfort zone. I guess I am just looking forward to seeing what God has in store.”

“During or after the trip, I’m hoping God will help me develop better social skills, especially with strangers.”

2018 Mission Updates

2018 On Mission Updates:

Day one:

Pray matters and they made it!
“When the flight was delayed it looked like we would have to wait until the next day. There was a flight to another part of the island with 12 open seats. One would have to stay behind. Then someone decided to drop the flight so there were 13. We had 13 people. 23 hrs of planes, delays, bus rides, but we are here. The students are excited this morning for the day ahead. All is well. We are going to a familiar village today for our 3rd year. Looking forward to friendly faces. It is going to be a good day!”

Day two:

Continue to pray as the team settles in! They ministered in a village they have been to before in previous years, and the smiles say it all! Please join us in praying for focus, influence, clear translation, for love and salvation to be the prevalent message! May this team be bold and intentional!

Day three:

“Yesterday we went to Alejandro Bas. A village with many we consider friends and family. They always greet us warmly and so desire to spend time with us in conversation and fellowship. Six made decisions, including one man who refused a year ago. We are blessed with good spirits and excellent health. The team was solid and focused! One elderly man, 80, said no one had ever shared with him the truth of the gospel before.”

Day four:

“Today we went to San Pedro. A place we have gone each year. We are most excited to see an elderly man who runs a small spade shop. We call him “Father Abraham” but his real name is Ramon. He is probably the nicest, kindest, most hospitable man we have ever met. Today he came out to the bus holding the gifts we gave him last year. He brought out fresh bananas for us and pulled all his plastic chairs out for us to sit. We visited for a short while the left for the church for the kids day program. We told him we would be back in an hour. As I crossed the street it dawned on me that in three years I don’t recall asking him about his salvation. When Juan and I returned home began to explain why we were here each year and apologized for never asking him about Jesus. When I asked he replied, “I am not a Christian.” At once my heart sank and leaped at the same time. I was sad for my assuming his spiritual state, but excited that today was the day for him. After a lengthy conversation, he prayed to receive Christ. My friend is now my brother. What a great day. Yet God was not done because his daughter who carries his grandchild also prayed to receive Christ. What a moment!”

Day five:

“Yesterday we went to Consuelo, a small urban village. We walked the streets and spoke to many. It was hot so most were inside. This area proves to be most difficult to receive the gospel as it is steeped in works traditional beliefs. She many said “tomorrow”. We did see one lady who willingly prayed to be come, Christian. You could see the joy in her face.”

Day six:

Consuelo. We held service in the street as the church is under construction. The students led songs, performed the Jonah skit. There was so much joy and excitement. Eric taught on love and shared his story of the boy, Oscar, who he led to Christ and later passed away. Several came to Christ including an elderly woman who was brought to tears by the love she felt.

Day seven:

We went back to the first village we visited this week called Cansuelito. We had service with them and enjoyed their worship and hospitality. This is the village where the little boy Oscar lived two years ago that passed away. Erik shared the story of Oscar and God’s love to all.

The Power of Consistency

Madisons Story: Dominican 2018

I have had the pleasure of traveling to the Dominican Republic for three years, this being my fourth. I have seen the value of consistency with each successive trip. I’ve seen this consistency give legitimacy to our team and to the Gospel in the eyes of the villages we visit. On year one, I met a 53-year-old man named Domingo. He was so close to receiving Christ, but in the end, rejected it. I told him I would return the following year and he laughed with doubt. The following year I saw him again, we talked, I shared, and he received. He was so excited and he wanted me to meet his mother. We did, I shared, she received, and we all cried. She had hoped that I would have the chance to meet her sister and daughter, but they were unable to come before we left. Year four, upon my return, I went to see Domingo’s mother, but she was not home. Her sister and niece answered the door and we talked. They acknowledged how they had seen such a change in Domingo since the year he became a believer. His consistency had planted seeds in their lives. I shared, they received, we all cried again. As I was leaving, Domingo’s nephew walked through the door. He remembered me and also remarked on the change he had seen in his Uncle Domingo. I shared, he rejected, I prayed, and I promised I would find him next year. He laughed with doubt! I will find him!

It’s Not My Story

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I’ve never had the guts to go on a mission trip until recently. I’ve had the opportunity to go numerous times, but I always found or made an excuse not to go. I had such fear and anxiety of the unknown that I always passed on the opportunity. Three years ago the opportunity came up again to go on a mission trip to the Dominican Republic. Luckily (I thought at the time) my wife stepped up to go with our oldest daughter and our church.  I wanted to go with my daughter for her first trip out of the country, but I couldn’t mentally take the challenge.  They went on the trip and had a great experience and had so many great stories to share of what happened. My wife came back telling me I really needed to go and see what foreign missions was all about. This was her second mission trip (on the first she had gone to Poland). She wanted me to experience it, but also wanted me to see why my daughter had such a passion for missions. I thought that maybe I should, for the sake of my family, but I was still scared. I was so scared to yes and I kept putting off the commitment of saying yes. I went through the exploratory meetings and kept contemplating if it was worth the risk. I finally said yes–like pulling a bandage off your skin, quick and painful. I knew once I said yes I wouldn’t turn back. Those next 8 months were rough as we prepared. I had so much doubt of why I should go, feelings of being inadequate, unprepared, not worthy, so many negative thoughts and that crazy fear and anxiety of the unknown. I was a mental mess, a real basket case.
That scary day finally came in June 2016 for my daughter and I to head off to foreign lands and tell others about my Jesus. I was scared, I was doubting, I was anxious and I wasn’t as prepared as I wanted to be, but I was committed to giving it my all. Before I knew it I had boots on the ground in the Dominican Republic and I remember thinking “what now”. I had just crossed an ocean to a land I couldn’t speak the language in. I had no idea what was going to happen next, but I was fully committed to giving it my all and for living in the moment. When I stepped into that first church filled with smiling faces of kids I was instantly smacked hard with an overwhelming feeling that could only be explained as love. I was overcome with a love that I never felt before, a God kind of love was all I could think. I smiled, shook hands and gave high fives all through the church. It was a simple and  safe gesture, but it was so fulfilling, so so fulfilling. I almost instantly shed a tear at how much I loved them and loved being there in that moment. Where did this feeling come from and what was it really? I knew it was love, but it was so much different from anything I’ve felt before. I couldn’t help but think about the song by Foreigner ” I Want to Know What Love Is”. While the song might be secular in nature, I read the lyrics and they could totally apply to God’s love. We can always learn more about God’s love because it is that big. It is it that dynamic. It is that pure. In just mere minutes I was changed. The trip just kept getting better as we did God’s work. I gave it my all, lived in the moment and felt so fulfilled. I felt and experienced God’s love in a way I never imagined, that pure, unconditional warm embracing love. The first trip was simply amazing and I learned and experienced so much more than I could have ever imagined.
I got back to America and was already planning on going again the next year. The next time I was going to be more prepared and take the whole family, all four of us. Well the plan of all of us going was fulfilled, but the plan of me being more prepared fell behind as the year went along. When the day came to go, I felt nearly as unprepared as the first year. The main difference was that I had an idea of what to expect. That was much better on me mentally, but I was so frustrated on why I wasn’t more prepared. The frustration led to anxiousness, which led to feeling unworthy, which led to so many negative thoughts. I thought: why does God put up with me? Why does He want to use me? I continue to be weak and unprepared and fail Him over and over again, but He continues to call me. Luckily God forgives me and has mercy on me. Luckily He loves me and considers me worthy. Luckily He considers me his child and loves me unconditionally. Luckily I have Jesus. It’s not really luck at all, it God’s perfect plan, but it sounded better to write it that way. I finally put the negative aside and moved forward with the mission, to serve God as I was. Live for God and the moment.
I got to the Dominican again in June 2017 with the whole family and couldn’t wait to get out there and see the people I met the previous year. I couldn’t wait to see those great smiling faces again and feel and give the love of God like I did the previous year. I couldn’t wait to work for God. I couldn’t wait to see what God was going to do.
Well, (long awkward pause here) I was welcomed with terrible news within the first few minutes I was in the first village.  One of the little boys I had made friends with the first year, Little Oscar, had been killed in a motorcycle crash with his grandfather a few months after I left. I was shocked and couldn’t believe what I had heard. How could the first person I asked to see, this little 7 year old boy, be gone? I was struggling to make sense of it, it couldn’t be real. I continued meeting people still wondering if what I heard was true. After a bit I met Little Oscar’s dad Leo. The people of the village had told him I was back and looking for Little Oscar so he found me and came up to speak with me. He confirmed that Little Oscar had passed. I told him how sorry I was to hear this news and showed Leo the picture of Little Oscar and I from the year prior. He proceeded to tell me they have that same picture printed in their home and he went on to tell me how much I meant to Little Oscar and that he looked for me every time a missionary team came to the village. Little Oscar told his family he missed his American friend. After hearing all these things I lost it emotionally and cried and I don’t mean a simple, single tear, but a full out cry.  I couldn’t believe I was so emotional about this. I had only spent a couple hours with Little Oscar over a couple different visits, but in that short time we made a bond that was much stronger than I realized or appreciated. I could tell he was different by the way he always stayed around me, almost like he was watching over me to keep me safe. He had a lovable presence about him that was pure, genuine, sincere and special. We walked hand in hand through the village. We threw rocks at different targets. We picked up small rocks together and smiled at their beauty as I placed them in my pockets. We didn’t say many words together, but he did tell me he had Jesus in his heart. We established a bond that I kept in my heart for a full year and now he is gone. He impacted me and I impacted him. This took me on a whole new journey of God’s love. The very love I thought I had a better grasp on the year before. Well the song came back into my mind “I want to know what love is”.  I was in awe of God seemingly changing the rules of love. I don’t think the rules really changed, but God was showing me, teaching me, exposing me to yet another facade of love. I still don’t fully understand what I learned, and probably can’t explain it any better either, but it’s like a love of separation or something. Even though you have separation by language or culture or death, there is still a love that will bond you together like that separation isn’t there. Like God’s unconditional love. Love is always there just like He is always there. There is no real separation from God once you are a Christian, a child of God.
While I continue to analyze and try to make sense of this story,  I think God is simply reminding me that it’s not my story, but His. Or it’s not about me, but God. All I know is that God has used this experience to magnify His glory and while I might not fully understand it, it has brought people to Jesus. It’s not a story I would have dreamed of writing, but God has made it His story. The perfect story. Before we had left the Dominican I know of at least 10 people that have put their faith in Jesus because of Little Oscar’s story. Even his parents are now followers of the Jesus that Little Oscar told me he believed in.
The mission trip may have begun with bad news of Little Oscar, but it continued to move forward in miraculous ways. The divine appointments we had along our journey were simply amazing. We found friends along the path standing in the hot sun that God just put there at the perfect time. God allowed people to overhear what we were talking about and be saved. He softened the hearts with the story of Little Oscar.  We fostered new relationships and strengthened existing ones. He grew us and loved us. It was all so amazing.
When I started writing this article I quickly noticed how many times I used the word “I” to write my thoughts. It made me realize again that even though this is my story I’m attempting to write, it is not really about me at all. It’s about God and His story, His perfect story. It’s about Gods plan, His perfect plan. It’s all about God. The quicker we learn to put God first in all our ways, the better off we will be in whatever we want to do. I know I’m still learning how to be obedient to God’s direction and probably always will, so please don’t think I have it figured out because I don’t. I do know God deems me worthy of carrying the gospel to the ends of the earth. I know He forgives me and has mercy on me, but most importantly I know He loves me. He loves me with a full abounding unconditional love that is hard for our human minds to understand.
So I encourage you to step out of your comfort zone and serve God. You don’t have to cross an ocean to do it, but you do have to make an effort for it to work. Step out with trembling feet and hands. Step out with doubting and unpreparedness. Step out into the moment. God will meet you and take you on a journey you could have never written on your own. It’s God’s story and consider it a privilege to be included in the greatest story ever told.
-Erik

The Whole Picture

On Thursday, Day Four of our trip, we visited Catalina Island. We took a ferry boat to get to the island. On the ferry boat, I had a conversation with a couple from Germany. As we were talking, they noticed two Dominicans on an old fisherman’s boat. The man began to say that “they are living the good life. This whole island has the beautiful tropical life.”

 

He went on to say that the Dominicans think that we, Americans and Germans, live in the paradise land, but that we have it very hard in Germany and America. He continued saying that he wished he could live in the tropic paradise of Dominican Republic. He wished he could spend his day doing what he thought the Dominicans do, which was floating in the fisherman’s boat and “living the paradise life.”
This couple has only seen the vacation side of Dominican Republic. He has seen Catalina Island, and probably vacation spots similar to Punta Cana. He has only seen the beautiful beaches.
He has not seen the villages. He has not seen the women working in the sugar cane fields because their husbands had died, and they still needed the income. He has only seen the tourist spots, and not the true homes of the Dominicans.

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This man was craving for the life which he perceived how the Dominicans lived. He desired to leave his life behind and trade with the men in the fisherman’s boat. Often, we get tired of our lives and crave for the lives of others. We desire to have an easier or richer lifestyle, but we do not see the whole picture. We do not see the hardship that others go through. This couple never took the time to see the villages. If they did, they would see the trash surrounding them. They would have seen the women working. They would have seen the whole picture.
If people were to see the whole picture, maybe we would be more grateful for what God has provided us. Maybe we would stop comparing our lives to those that we perceive as better than ours. Sometimes we need to stop throwing ourselves pity parties because we do not have what we want, and instead be grateful of what we do have. And we find that we really have a whole lot!!
–Alexis

Return

Every return home from the Dominican Republic comes with an amazement and immediate relief by the quality air-conditioning, the sudden plethora of English signs and directions, and the less-thought-of fact that we can flush toilet paper into the American toilets. We laugh lots from being overjoyed at the thought of returning to our family that awaits us at the airport, and some of us have a little heartache because we have lived life with others the previous week in a new way.

We drive home and sleep in our familiar beds and the next day we unpack, getting used to the free availability of clean ice water and American food, but we always end up thinking a little about the Dominican (and if we’re going back?). Several of us are “veterans”: a handful of us took a chance in the first year of 2015 to go to a place we had never been before, much less heard of. Challenges and blessings ushered us into signing up for another year, grabbing the hands of a few others to join us in our craziness! We’ve been thinking about going back once again, but it hardly ever really hits us that we’re traveling back to the Dominican Republic this June, 2017.

Are we ready?

Are we ever? (Answer: Probably not. Not really. Because God always surprises us in the best of ways!)

We’ve been meeting periodically over the past months to discuss the needs of the country’s people and what we intend to do and bring in order to bring the hope and light of the Gospel. We’ve taken a deep look into the eyes of old and young Haitian refugees and Dominicans alike. We’ve tasted the sugarcane from between our teeth and we’ve held the hands of the elderly who are not far from death. We’ve seen children without shoes and with big white smiles.

This year, we’re stepping up our game.

In all of our Focus Groups, we’re planning to target specific demographics to meet their needs and to share the Truth and joy of Christ that we know and adore! We may not know Spanish or any Haitian Creole, but we do have love and a heart willing to do just about anything.

We’re bringing kids all sorts of fun things–jump ropes, balls, coloring pages, face paint, and so much more! Our Children’s Group has skits written out specifically in order to entertain the children with our funny actions and attempts at acting, but also to show them that we care and that we love them, and more importantly, how God desires them and has a plan for their life!

Our Women’s Group is super excited! Last year we traveled to a village where we had all the women join us in the church, and they prayed like there was no tomorrow. They were so passionate and they hugged us and kissed us (you couldn’t always tell who was crying more…so much joy and praise!). We gave them feminine hygiene kits so they could be reminded that they had no reason to be ashamed or afraid, that they are loved! This year we plan to spend more time in prayer and meeting their needs. How often is it that these women get to be pampered?

For the men, we are thinking of creative ways for our guys to have them open up and talk and understand why we are also here. It’s not just so the white folks can come and take pictures and have a little vacation trip to feel good about themselves, but getting them to understand that there is no Mañana when it comes to accepting Jesus.

Each year, one of the biggest opportunities that each and everyone of us participate in is evangelism. We get to a village and often times we hear from our jubilant translators, “Okay! Go evangelize!”. This means getting into small groups with a translator each, and we journey across the villages, looking into shanties and encounter families (and chickens and dogs and people who think we’re crazy) and we get a chance to talk to them. Some of them invite us into their home and to sit and we’re welcomed with such a sweet hospitality! Others hide their faces from us or scoff. Each of us takes turns listening, praying, asking questions, more praying, and alternating between these things. There is great reward in evangelism, but also some sadness when many tell us they want to wait. This year we are preparing answers to their many questions and arguments, and we are readying up to meet lots of new people!

We’re also launching small groups! Modeled after our own local community groups, we are connecting with our contacts in the Dominican Republic to see if they would coach local groups in villages so that when we leave, they still have an ongoing group to learn and grow and connect.

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Our goal through all of this–all of these meetings, all the preparation, all the communication between countries and through different languages, everything–it’s all so that one might know how loved they are by a really good Papa God.

 

We are returning to the Dominican Republic this June 2017!

 

We are in need of your prayer and help!! If you would be so kind as to pray over what your role in this trip and group could be, please ask God how you can be involved. Sometimes we make the mistake of thinking that we ourselves have to go, but we skip over the act of “sending”. We would love for you to watch us as we have updates on our adventure and as we prepare to travel, we would love your prayer and encouragement.

We are in a critical time, finishing up our funding process, and we are working hard to get everyone 100%+ funded and ready to go make Jesus known. Please pray with us to make God’s will clear and executed in His time and His way!

“But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” (Acts 1:8)

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“How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher? And how shall they preach unless they are sent? As it is written:

‘How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the gospel of peace,
Who bring glad tidings of good things!'” (Romans 10:15)

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We are so blessed and God is too good!

(En El Nombre de Jesus, Amen.)

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–Mal

Secret Church ’16

SC 16 gang

Thirteen people, ranging from mothers to professionals to students from high school to college, crowded into a media room and settled down for the long haul-that is Secret Church, a six hour long simulcast on worldview and world religions. We rotated from couches to tables to the floor. With each break we race to the kitchen and load up on junk food and pour another gallon of coffee so we can stay awake or do workout moves to get the blood flowin’. And when the break is done we return to the room and write faster than we’ve ever written before (one person got a blister from so much writing) and listen to David Platt talk with the speed a rapper who is an auctioneer on the weekends. When the simulcast ended at one in the morning, everyone left exhausted, but in shock of the statistics we had heard and the beliefs we learned about.

Over the course of the six hours we learned about the five most popular religions and beliefs in our world today (Animism, Hinduism, Buddhism, Islam, and Atheism) and what they belief and how to share the gospel with them, and then put those religions in a global perspective. For instance, in 2050, the amount of Muslims in the world will equal the amount of Christians. Or we need to go forth and make babies to aid the growth of Christianity (yes, this was really discussed). We studied what evangelism and conversion were. As the church, we need to step up and counter what our culture believes about children and marriage. Will we make disciples? We can’t stay silent anymore about the treasure we have in Christ. There are far too many people it for us to sit and selfishly keep it to ourselves.

Is the gospel worthy of our lives?

Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age. –Matthew 28:19-20

Kati