Tuesday, February 26, 2013


I finally began to set into some type of rhythm today....Day number 4 of an eight day mission trip to Santo Domingo in the Dominican Republic.  I've observed the other 23 members of our group in the previous three days, looking for any uptick or crack in the make-up of their mental, spiritual and physical approach to each day.

I say that, not putting myself above anyone else.  I'm just watching because that tends to give me a perspective on what to write about.  And I'll bet their watching everyone else too.  How can you not?  Ever so slowly, we are developing into a  "family unit".  There have been numerous opportunities as a group and individually to provide some sort of soothing words to a previous hurt or misfortune.  Is this beautiful Caribbean Isle the catalyst for letting down walls?  Perhaps.  Is it the common thread of showering in cold water that builds unity?  Probably not.......although its been mentioned more than once.  But even that topic is beginning to fade away.  We are adapting.  Settling in....developing a routine to the day of devotions, eating, work, eating, siesta, work, eating, reflections of the day and collapse.  Somewhere along the line there is the hurried walk to the school office area where the internet connection is found.   It probably goes without saying, the day is not complete without connecting home.  Not in any big emotional way.  But a short reminder of what the people back home mean.  It's a process.....one that will become a habit.  Albeit a short one......    

In a very short order this trip opened my eyes to connecting with loved ones. I was very frustrated, yet ecstatic any time our son Kristopher connected with us when he was in Afghanistan.  Frustrated in that we didn't hear from him enough, or so I thought.  The ecstatic part you easily understand.  Kris had a couple of ways available to reach us.  The thing I didn't see on his end, was the difficulty that he might have had in finding an open computer, a clear line or even the wherewith all to trek down to the "communications center".  Now I get it.  Last night, there were seven people trying to get on the internet through cell phones and laptops.  Some were emailing, others using Facebook....then there were the Big Kahuna's taking up bandwith with Skype.  Minutes later, several more joined the fray.....wow!!!

I tell you this, not to complain, but explain.  It's not like home.......

At the same time, I know several who have returned for their second and third and fourth times.  Lighthouse Schools, without question. is their second home.

There's various reasons....one couple has an "adopted" daughter they met several years ago.  Today, they sponsor her in the pursuit of an education at a local college.  Another has made four trips here and feels a commitment to working with director, Cristian Santiago, in his efforts to provide Hope to an area and people who are thirsting for opportunity.  Another feels moved to share his "gifts" in construction.  And then there are the friends of Trey Blythe, the young man murdered nearly seven years ago in Cedar Falls.  They are the future of Project 52 (named after Trey) and this mission relationship with Lighthouse. And those are simply a few.   For first-timers, the eyes and ears are opened a little more each day.

A morning of celebration at Lighthouse Schools

This morning as the group made their way to begin work on a new dormitory for the school, there came a definite note of celebration in the air.  As I walked up to the school ground area, I stopped and stood and watched as class after class made their way to the stage to celebrate their Independence. The scene was more festive than anything I've ever witnessed.  And it was performed with perfect decorum.  You might notice several flags in the picture above.  That was a small percentage of those flapping in the Santo Domingo breeze.

Los Alcarrizos is an area of staggering unemployment.  It's been suggested that it's over 40%....some even say it's pushing 60%.  So where's the Hope?  I believe you'll be able to see it in my next blog.  Tomorrow I will be talking with a teacher and student at Lighthouse Schools.

From my perspective, I will dig into the who, what, where, why and how they got here and where they're going. Only then, will you be able to see how the Winds of Change do blow in Santo Domingo.

"For I know the plans I have for you", declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.  Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you-Jeremiah 29:11-12



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