Update from our Dominican Republic Mission Team
Here’s an update from David Chavez, Music & Worship Minister, and our Abiding Presence Mission Team serving in the Dominican Republic this week:
We arrived on schedule on Saturday and were delighted to see JC, our mission team leader, and Eliezer, his colleague and a second translator, at the airport. Both JC and Eliezer worked with our team last year, so it was like being greeted by old friends.
Pastor Mede met us at the hotel and shared eloquent greetings for us and our entire church. Every time he speaks about us, whether to us directly, to kids and adults at the bateys (company housing/mini-villages for sugarcane workers), or to the mission trip staff, he expresses appreciation for us leaving our families and homes and spending the time and money to embody the love of God. He talks about how the people we often encounter, many of whom are poor Haitian immigrants, may feel forgotten or may not always directly see the love of God embodied. Pastor Mede also expressed that unlike some other well-intentioned mission groups, the Abiding Presence team is offers actual practical help to him with our donations, presence, work and skillsets.
We twice visited Batey 28, which it turns out is pretty near the batey we have visited previous years. On the second day, we spent the morning doing sports ministry with the children and youth in the batey. Wow, that sun is powerful and hot! In the afternoon, we led a Vacation Bible School program, partially in the mud, but everyone had an amazing time.
During Vacation Bible School, we shared about how God cares for each one of us. We performed a couple puppet skits about God's love for everyone and God hearing our prayers, and everyone made a "God’s eye" craft, which were meant to remind the kids that God is always with them. We told the Bible story of Jesus calming the storm and taught that we do not have to be afraid since God is always with us.
Everyone worked hard, adjusted, improvised, adjusted again with changes in schedule and location and resources, which is often how it goes on a mission trip. Craig, Breanna and I played live music and many of the kids got interested in my small "piano" (the little melodica which you play with air like a harmonica except with small piano keys). I taught some of them a bit of how to play Amazing Grace using only the black keys. A few of the older boys (probably middle teenage years) shared with us a very cool rap song they had written about going to church on Sunday and following/trusting God "cien por ciento!" which means, "One hundred percent!". The next two days were filled with construction at the new church site, and music ministry, and more than I can possibly fill in here!
Though many of the socioeconomic problems persist in Batey 28, they have a major and striking difference from Batey Bermejo. In this batey they have permanent running water at a central location, which is carried by pipes put in by the company, and purified with filters put in by Pastor Mede's church. It was amazing to see the difference that it made in the community to have this basic need met.