I couldn't get this verse out of my head this morning. Waking up and hearing roosters crowing incessantly will do that to you. That, and the realization that you're no longer in the comforts you're used to. Far from it.
As day three emerges on a mission trip of 24 Americans to the Dominican Republic, you begin to think in different terms. Terms that are foreign to you. The concept of life itself takes on a changed form.
How easy would it be for the people of this island to question the existence of a God? Most make $1,000 or less a year. Living conditions are, in many cases, a roof over your head, four strong bricks walls, "borrowed electricity" and little room for quiet time. Yet, they are in the words of Cristian Santiago, director of Lighthouse Projects, "content". Santiago oversees a Christian school in Los Alcarrizos, a suburb in Santo Domingo. Los Alcarrizos is regarded as a tough neighborhood, but that has not slowed Santiago's approach of providing love and transformation. Nearly 1,200 children attend school here. These are the fortunes of change.....the doctors, lawyers, engineers and business people of Santo Domingo's tomorrow. You'll find out more about them in a future writing. For now, I'll leave you with a snippet of my initial impression.....God is at Work here. Slowly, perhaps what the locals would say.....in Dominican time, but change is taking place. And a key word used here is HOPE.
Before I left for this mission trip, my wife, Joanne, asked our small group about the notion of how God placed us on this earth. "Do you ever think about how God knew where we were going to be born? Have you ever thought about how fortunate you were to be born in the United States.....and why Nigeria wasn't your place of origin". At the time, her comment made me stop and think, but not long enough. Not nearly long enough. In fact, within the first 24 hours here in Los Alcarrizos, I had a discussion with mission member Wayne Blythe about the very same thing. Wayne related a story of asking some American men friends of his, if they ever prayed thanking God where they were born. Their response was probably much like mine, reflective to a point.
And then along came this mission trip that opened my ears and eyes further. Pictures can only show so much. It's when you can feel, breathe and experience something..... that God provides a finishing touch.
On the second day here, Santiago took the group for a walk through the community. Before we departed, he pointed out that we should keep the thought in our heads that what we were about to see in living conditions, was not "how they live".....but "who they are".
|Home is what you make of it.....|
For years I've felt a calling to sports ministry. What does that look like? Gosh, I'm not sure. Is this it?.....time will tell. I do know one thing though. Each morning, as 23 mission members and I wake up, we will be challenged by some roosters offering a challenge for the day. That is, unless we decide to take matters into our own hands and dispose of the little two legged critters,
Sunday, our group loaded onto a bus and traveled three hours to Las Charcas, site of a baseball project Project 52 is are embarking on for this fall. Members of our group and locals played a "fun", but competitive couple of softball games. Nearly everyone (from our group) came away with some sunburn, a few had scrapes on their legs from sliding into base (thinking they were much younger than they actually were) and everyone enjoyed fellowship.
As the day concluded, Bill Clark from Project 52, presented a complete set of baseball uniforms (jerseys, pants, hats, socks, belts, etc.) to the local players. They'll now be able to go forth as one, representing Las Charcas in a very dapper red/gray attire. Additionally, the local youth manager was presented with baseball equipment (gloves, catchers gear, bats, etc.) courtesy of donations from the Urbandale and Dallas Center-Grimes Little Leagues.
|One Team in the End....|
It was a day humbling for both groups. One where cultural differences was replaced with a common theme. Sharing the love of Jesus.........