January 24, 2012

Going Back.

I fell in love with the Dominican Republic the first day I spent there. (And that day was just a little over two years ago now - one week after the devastating earthquake in Haiti.) I think it might often be shrugged off as just a tourist spot, a cruise ship stop; I know I was guilty of thinking that once. It is truly an amazing place - banana trees, ocean, a rugged mountain back drop, and a fascinating eclectic mix of Spanish and African culture, in the food, music, and even the distinctive look of the people. I felt so blessed to be there once, and hoped, but hardly expected to go back. But I did.

My Grandpa, little brother, and I just returned this past weekend from 10 days there.

Our mission was to finish up construction on a local church building.

In a funny twist of providence that only the Lord could
have planned -
it turned out to be an enlargement project on a church my
Grandpa had helped build 35 years earlier. 

He hadn't expected to ever find that church again,
let alone return to work on it once more with 
two of his grandchildren. 

It was amazing to be able to work alongside
the pastor, and even his own small grandchildren,
as we improved and repaired their home and church.

l-r: Missionary, my little buddy- Aylin, and I.
I knew absolutely nothing about tile and grout;
but after three days of non-stop tile work,
I feel pretty proficient. ;)

Despite the fact it's a country hidden in the Caribbean mirage,
it's still a hurting place. 

As much as I struggled with the Creole accent last time,
I truly didn't expect to understand much of anything -
(I certainly haven't studied any Spanish in the past two years.)

So it really struck me as a blessing from the Lord
that my comprehension, and even ability to have basic
conversations was so much greater this time.

I love it when the Lord makes it so obvious that it's Him.
Not me. 

My brother and I found photographer backdrop heaven...

And we found the propane guy again...

And we still complain about gas prices?...   ;)
(That may or may not be in Pesos...)

The increased ability to communicate, along
with lots of insight from a local missionary couple
helped to expand my understanding of this beautiful place. 

In the area we were working,
the clinic down the road receives several
cholera cases a week.
Sanitation, especially unclean water, contributes to this. 

"Dengue Fever" and other mosquito borne illnesses are also
a somewhat common issue.

The Haitian communities especially, are struggling.
Extreme poverty continues to hide in the shadows
of nearby resorts. 

And yet...
The Church is alive and well there.
What a blessing it is to worship alongside Dominican Christians.

Their joy is vibrant.

It doesn't matter how little they have,
or what struggles they are up against.
They testify that their God is greater -
and He continues to show Himself faithful.

A little friend at a local Haitian Church.
And as I've said before -
it becomes more and more evident,
it's when you have nothing else -
that you discover that He is truly all you need.

A 3rd trip seems unlikely, but my Grandpa's been back
8 times...
So we'll see what the Lord does in the future.

On the tearful morning we all parted,
the message exchanged was:

"No Adios, Hasta Luego!"
(Not Goodbye, See you later!")

10 year old Aylin, (pronounced Ilene) and I.
Work buddies. :)

We're back home;
 at the moment. :)


Anonymous said...

So beautiful! I'm so glad that you had this opportunity! :)

Amanda said...

Thank you for sharing your journey Kate, so glad you and both got to go with Grandpa!!

momof3girls said...

I would love for me and my 3 girls to go on a missions trip. Do you go with a certain organization?
Btw, your blog is beautiful. I found you through Simply Vintage Girl. :)

Kate said...

This particular trip was based out of my grandpa's church - but I would highly recommend www.visitingorphans.com as a Christian organization that facilitates trips all over the world. Thank you so much for stopping by! :)