Mission to the Dominican Republic
¿Quien Vive? ¡Cristo! ¡A Su Nombre, Gloria!
APRIL 19, 2010
by CIRIA PEREZ
Traducción en español>>
After much planning, packing of donations, fasting, and prayer - the Solid Rock Youth Mission Team
departed JFK Airport on a rainy March 29th for the Dominican Republic. A team of 15 adults and teens, led by Pastor Orlando Rodriguez
, set out to bring food, clothing, basic medical supplies and God’s love to the people of Tábara Arriba in Azua
. For most of us, this was our first hands-on experience in world missions and we were full of excitement…however, it would not be long after our arrival in the town that would be our home for the next 6 days that we would witness the overwhelming poverty, incredible challenges, and the awesome power of God in a place longing for the most basic of needs. The chorus to a song I sang as a young girl at my old Spanish church in the Bronx, “¿Quien Vive? ¡Cristo! ¡A Su Nombre, Gloria!” (Who lives? Christ! To His name, Glory!) would become our official greeting to one another by the end of our journey.
Welcomed by the hot and humid temperature of Santo Domingo, we were met by Orby Reyes (Rosana’s cousin), Pastor Edward De Los Santos (the 27-year-old pastor of the host church), and Angela Garcia (Rosana’s cousin) who decided to change her Dominican Republic vacation plans to spend the week with us instead. We boarded our bus and made the 3 hour journey far beyond the paved roads of Azua to the remote town of Tábara Arriba. For the next several days, our team would share a single room in the home of Orby, his wife Audelina, and their 6 kids; just across the street from Pastor Edward’s church, Centro de Restauración Iglesia De Dios (Center of Restoration Church of God).
As you might imagine, our arrival caused a great deal of curiosity among the town’s residents…especially among the seemingly endless crowds of children who would gather wherever we were. After a delicious lunch, we gave a pair of reading glasses and a new Bible to Doña Maria, one of the ladies that helped to prepare our meal, who wanted nothing more than to be able to see clearly enough to read the Word of God. Once Carmen Powell, Melissa Rodriguez and Kim White found the correct optical strength, the expression of joy on her face as she read aloud was one that we often miss in our daily lives. This would be the first of many heart-touching scenes that we would experience in the days ahead.
Accompanied by Pastor Edward, we traveled to seemingly endless (and often remote) areas of his community to deliver clothing and supplies. What amazed us was that having arrived just two months earlier with his own family to head this church…Pastor Edward knew almost every person by name. Entering many of these precariously built, dirt-floor structures, we were overwhelmed at times by what we saw…naked children, mothers with little to feed their families, people bearing the crippling effects of illnesses that could have been prevented with basic immunizations or nutrition…but no matter which home we entered, the greeting was often the same, “Please come in. What may I offer you?” Like the widow at Zarephath who used her last bit of flour and oil to bake bread for Elijah in 1 Kings 17
, these people had so little but were willing to still offer us a refreshment…what a humbling experience when so many others in this world have been blessed with more and are often reluctant to give.
If you’ve had a chance to speak with any member of the team, you would have surely been treated to a personal story or special moment that impacted their lives. For me this trip was a way to continue the ministry that my mother, who passed away last November, dedicated her life to in serving and sharing God’s love with others. I can recall several powerful highlights among the many we experienced on this trip:
- A 3-year-old girl named Vicki who was brought to our door to see if we had something that would fit her and left us with an incredible smile after we bathed her, braided her hair, and provided her with a new outfit.
- Spending time with a 14-year-old boy named Daniel who lives with a sick brother and grandmother in poverty-stricken conditions but demonstrated a passion to serve the Lord like one who knew that he was the son of a King.
- Listening to Claudia Collado as she held the undivided attention of every child while sharing the message of Easter to an endless crowd of faces under the hot tin roof of the church.
- Dancing with the community to the song “Freedom” by Eddie James outside the church with no lights before service started.
- Breaking into teams to take prayer walks to anoint the community and ask for God’s presence in the worship service that would take place Thursday night.
- Hearing Rosana Rosello interpret Pastor Orlando’s sermon into Spanish and then hearing him pray in Spanish as the Lord used him to minister to the congregation.
- Watching Chelsea Powell, Matt Anson, Nicole Perez, Jason Garcia and Danielle Harrison work together with the 17-year-old Youth Leader named Jimmy and the local youth to perform a skit together despite the language barrier.
- Observing how people rejoiced with Milton Aguila as he shared his powerful testimony.
- Listening to Milan Satcher communicate the love of Christ in Creole to a young Haitian mother.
- Rejoicing with the crowd as young Angelo Foster played the congas while we sang songs of worship at the beach on our final day.
- Witnessing the eagerness of the individuals who held their new Bibles in a tight embrace as if their greatest need had been fulfilled.
I could go on but my words would fall short in conveying the emotional and spiritual impact these moments had on all of us.
We ended the week the same way it began…with giving. We gave one of our last pairs of reading glasses to Doña Dori, one of the ladies who worked hard all week taking care of us, who just wanted to be able to thread a needle to mend her family’s clothes. The smile on her face was the perfect way to end this trip.
Six days, a team of fifteen, ten air mattresses, one room for all of us to sleep in, nighttime temperatures in the 90’s, no air conditioning, waking up to the calls of roosters at 4:00am, intermittent electricity, bathing with buckets…meeting new brothers and sisters, touching the lives of people in need, sharing the love of Jesus…priceless!
On March 29th, fifteen members of Solid Rock set out to the Dominican Republic for a mission trip organized by Youth Pastor Orlando Rodriguez.