Saturday, March 15, 2014

Reflect and Relax

Our final morning in the DR began with sleeping in, meeting at the beach at 10 AM for devotions.  The team is sad to be going home, although happy to return to their families and friends.  We have been moving at warp speed all week and are tired.  Nevertheless, a chance to reflect on our experiences during devotions confirmed how meaningful the trip has been for all.

After prayer, the students ordered virgin daiquiris from the outdoor bar and lazily shuffled to the beach for a final hour in the sand.  I looked out from my shady chair on the pool deck to see Graham being buried up to his neck in sand by his good friends.  I wondered if the group talked Graham into the stunt or if he had begged the others to do this to him.  No telling.  Could have gone either way.  What a great way to end our time together in the sunny and gracious DR!

Friday, March 14, 2014

Brillo Pads, Pharmaceuticals, and Motorcycles

I love micro-financing!  Micro-financing empowers people to borrow small amounts of money at low interest rates to start small businesses, working primarily out of their homes.  A hand-up, not a hand out, the money loaned is paid back over time as businesses prosper.

We had the opportunity to view micro-financing in action yesterday at a community bank meeting held in a business owner's home.  Hope International, partnering with Esperanza International is the source of the loans which are typically $50-200.  Most of the loans are made to women.  The women at the meeting yesterday paid on their loans, but also shared with us the details of their businesses.  Following the meeting, we were able to walk to several of the women's homes to see their products.  We were introduced to a variety of products available for sale, including super glue, brillo pads, hair products, and vegetables

The standout of the businesses we glimpsed is owned and operated by Megalina, a strong, driven and determined Dominican woman.  She operates a local pharmacy and also owns a motorcycle repair shop.  Her son helps with the pharmacy and her husband helps with the motorcycle repair.  What an awesome combination!  Talk about creativity.

The Little Children

Jesus said, "Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these."
Matthew 19:14

Following breakfast on Wednesday morning, we said sad goodbyes to our new friends at Pico Escondido and headed out for a morning of work and visiting with students at Doulos Discovery School.  Doulos is a private college-prep Christian school focusing on servant leadership and expeditionary learning.  The school's vision and mission line up nicely with Trinity School.  I have to admit that after two grueling days of wielding pick axes and shovels, we were definitely not in the mood for more work!  Nevertheless, the students worked hard on landscaping projects before enjoying lunch with the Doulos students.

After lunch, we loaded up and headed to Santo Domingo with our old friend, Obed, who works for Hope International.  We had been invited to a discipleship graduation ceremony of Dominican children who had finished the Explorer Program, an offshoot of Operation Christmas Child.  Upon arrival, we entered a tiny, very warm room, packed with young children who were singing and praising God in their loudest voices (think rock concert noise level!). Following the praise time, the children were presented with a Certificate of Completion by our students. Following the presentation, we were treated to a dessert made of rice, nutmeg, cinnamon, and something else unidentifiable, but delicious!  After praying, the celebration tumbled out of the room into the gravel street for a million photos and hanging out.  

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Crazy Fun!

By yesterday afternoon, all holes had been dug, cinderblock walls had been built and the "mother of all palm trees" had been transplanted.  The group was exhausted, but satisfied with a very full two days of work at the camp.  Celebration ensued in the form of  Pico's Giant Swing.  As I was the only team member without guts enough to lose my stomach on the initial drop, I was able to capture some photos that say more than words.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Working Hard!

Another video from Jason:

Good Morning from the Team!

Thanks to Jason for this morning movie.  Enjoy!


Are You a Sinker or a Floater?

We gathered on the back porch early this morning to begin our day with a devotion about taking risks.  After reading the familiar passage in Matthew about Peter walking on water, we spent time discussing the idea that faith requires concentration on God.  Peter was walking on the water until he was distracted by the storm around him.  Only at that moment did Peter begin to sink.  However, Peter showed courage in leaving the boat to walk to Jesus.  The other disciples made no attempt to step out.

In making the decision to come to the DR, we all took a risk.  We left the comfort zone of North Carolina, our families, and friends, to travel to a place of new people and experiences.  This week will be full of risks, requiring concentration on God.  With eyes fixed on Him, risks will be rewarded.

Late yesterday afternoon, the students had the opportunity to literally take a risk on the water at a swimming hole nearby.  A few students eagerly climbed the big rock to jump into a deep pool of frigid water, yet others took their time before finding the courage to take the plunge.   As I watched them dive and then rise to the surface each time, I realized that they are all Floaters!  May they continue to concentrate on God as they move through this week of new experiences.