DR Mission Blog

Thanks for coming online to read our mission blog.  We will try to post pictures and stories here each day so you get a taste of what we have been up to, and know how to pray for us.  

Day 8

Day  8               

I am sitting here typing this blog after having sung songs in Spanish, having laughed with our new Dominican friends, and having eaten more rum raisin ice cream than any person probably should in a lifetime.  Today has been one of my happiest days so far in the Dominican Republic, and after today, I think it will be especially hard to leave this beautiful place and these amazing people in just 2 short days. 

Today started with VBS. Despite the uncomfortable combination of maxi skirts and a stuffy church, I think I had the most fun today that I’ve had in a long time. We sang funny songs in Spanish with the kids, and we even shared an English song that they soon were able to pick up themselves. At home in the US, singing a silly song about the love of Jesus with a bunch of kids half my age isn’t generally what I look to first when I want to have a fun time and laugh so hard that my face hurts. Yet, today, I found myself doing both of those things as I stood in the church and sang “Yo tengo gozo, gozo, gozo, gozo en mi corazon…porque Cristo me ama!” (I have joy, joy, joy, joy in my heart, because Jesus loves me) and was reminded of why I decided to come on this trip. Though I’m sure each person who is blessed to share a smile or a joyful moment with a happy Dominican child would say the same, it is true that their energy and love of life is infectious. 

After we finished VBS and (another) delicious meal—tacos!—we headed off to the country’s capitol and largest city of Santo Domingo. Our first stop was at Cure International hospital, which is a worldwide hospital dedicated to serving the medical as well as the spiritual needs of their patients. In the Dominican Republic, Cure focuses mainly on orthopedic surgeries done in order to correct physical disabilities such as bow legs and club feet. What made Cure special was seeing not only the passion of the doctors and hospital employees to heal their patients physically, but also the importance they placed on taking care of the spiritual well being of the patients before, during, and after the surgery.  I am proud that our church has been a long supporter of Cure international, and now our support of this organization has a greater meaning to me.             

Next, we headed further into the city to buy souvenirs and do some sight seeing in the city’s colonial district. We stopped at a gorgeous 16th century Catholic cathedral, and also got to see the home of Christopher Columbus’s son. The city of Santo Domingo is truly beautiful and steeped in history; the colonial streets even resemble those of a European city. 

Upon arriving back at the compound, we were surprised by the red, white, and blue balloons decorating the patio where we eat all of our meals. Our amazing cooks had decorated for us as an early Fourth of July celebration, and had cooked us yet another delicious traditional Dominican meal of rice, beans, chicken, and fresh mangoes. (Mom, take notes—you’ve got a tough act to follow when I come home!) The surprises kept coming when they presented us with an American flag cake and the prospect of ice cream if we agreed to play a series of fun games with the Dominicans. Our last tiebreaker “game” was an ice cream eating contest involving two huge bowls of rum raisin ice cream (…), featuring a Dominican against yours truly. Though I didn’t win, I finished the greater part of the ice cream, and needless to say, I don’t think I’ll be eating any more ice cream for a while. Working at Handel’s did not give me the upper hand…I did not feel too hot afterwards. Regardless, the fun kept coming—we laughed a lot and sang several songs in English and in Spanish. Several Americans, including myself, and a couple Dominicans then gave testimonies about what our time here has meant to them so far. Hearing these testimonies reminded me how blessed I am to have spent even just a small amount of time in this wonderful place with such amazing people, and made me realize just how difficult it will be to leave. Though I must admit I am quite looking forward to air conditioning, seeing my puppy Ivy, and certain American foods (Mom, I want Phil’s pizza for dinner when I get home…seriously!!!!), I will miss this place and the new friends I’ve made in this short time more than I could have ever imagined. For now, I am going to soak up our last full day tomorrow, and we can’t wait to tell you all about our trip when we come home. Adios! 

–Hayden 


One more day of hard work!  Keep us in your prayers as we say good bye (or see you later) to our new friends y hermanos!

Posted by Andrew Hostetter at Wednesday, July 2, 2014 | 0 comments
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Day 7

Day 7 

My relationship with these amazing people has grown so much in the past 7 days. From the first day, we could hardly understand each other, and now, we have full on conversations. Today I wasn’t feeling well, so I stayed inside and played with the Dominican girls. We braided each other’s hair, made friendship bracelets, and talked about the Dominican boys! I wouldn’t have expected to be so similar to these girls who literally have grown up in a completely different lifestyle than me, but I LOVE it. They are so kind, funny, sincere, and understanding. I am definitely going to miss them a lot when we have to travel back to the US. 

I have also been blessed to get to know the Chefs who have cooked all of our meals. I have cooked with them at least once a day, and I have learned how to cook with limited resources. For instance, their stove is made out of tires and they use plantains in almost every recipe! The food here is fantastic (sorry Mom) and I can’t wait to make some of it when I am home. My favorite Dominican food so far is definitely the arroz (rice). It’s sad to say because it is the easiest to make, but it is honestly so good!!             

Every single day we end up playing a game with the locals. Yesterday we played a Dominican version of baseball where we used the lids of liter water bottles as the balls, and a stick for a bat. It was very difficult… no wonder Dominicans are so good at baseball and so many of them play for US teams! We also play a lot of soccer, whether it is a game or just passing around. I can’t believe we only have about two days left… it seems as if we just got here and I don’t ever want to leave! 

 - Emma


Tomorrow we will be leading our second VBS, and visiting CURE International (one of our mission partners) and and checking out the colonial town!  Check out our blog again tomorrow for another update!  

Posted by Andrew Hostetter at Tuesday, July 1, 2014 | 0 comments
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Day 5

Today was our first Vacation Bible School with the children of the community. I opened with a prayer saying, “God you are so amazing. Let us have so much fun worshiping in your faith”. This was the first time I prayed, and nervously tried to keep it short and sweet. I constantly had kids showing me their coloring pages and my response was always a nice thumbs up. We acted out the story of the prodigal son, highlighting the message that God loves you no matter where you go or what you do.  We sang many songs in Spanish, and this has been the hardest part for me on this trip. I know a total of 10 words in Spanish and have been singing nonsense words the majority of the time. Today was the first day where I got almost every word right (singing the easiest song we know).  I don’t think this will happen again, so I will cherish the moment for a long time.             

We also went to the beach today. It was the most beautiful beach I’ve ever seen. The water was warm and was so clear and blue that you could see everything around you. We spent two hours before and after lunch in the water. We played volleyball with kids and met two other groups of American missionaries, one from Orlando, Fl., and the other group from Indiana.             

Today was also the first time a church has ever grilled food on the beach for an FFP group. We each pitched in $10 in order for them to buy the food and it was the best grilled food I have ever had. It meant so much to us that they would haul a grill all the way to the beach. We could have easily packed sandwiches, but they wanted to make our time here even more special than it already is. I had an amazing day today and this trip has meant so much to me. It’s hard to believe we are already half way through our mission trip. I can’t wait until tomorrow! 

-Caroline                           


Today got off to a great start when blessed with an extra 15 minutes of sleep because we were given breakfast at the house where we normally eat our lunch. As always the food was delicious. My favorite dish this morning was the scrambled eggs with chorizo. After we stuffed ourselves for yet another meal, we walked down the street to the church where we began to prepare VBS. I have never seen so many children so excited to learn about God. I didn’t think it was possible for them to be any happier until we started our wonderful skit. As Caroline said it was about the prodigal son, and I was honored to play the lead role. We really brought the house down when Cody, the father in the play, leaped into my arms. The kids loved it; I was not as big a fan. But in all seriousness the VBS experience was one I will never forget. It was incredible to see all the children so excited over a few simple songs, a silly skit, a piece of paper, and two crayons.             

After that we put on our bathing suits and headed to the beach for well-deserved day of relaxation and fun. After applying what I thought was the appropriate amount of sun block (see later reference), we all ran into the lukewarm water. Despite its temperature it was more refreshing than I can describe. After a nice swim we all hopped out for some incredible grilled food. Sorry Mom, but they were the best kabobs I have ever had. We then returned to the water and played volleyball in the ocean with some Dominican kids we had just met. Despite the language barrier, I can safely say that everyone involved had a great time. Then, when we thought the hospitality of the people of the Church couldn’t expand any further, we found a barbecue dinner waiting for us as we got out of the water. It is incredible how much these people are willing to offer to us and the lengths they go to to make sure that we are having an incredible time.             

When we got back home, we packed some hygiene kits before a wonderful group reflection led by Aisha as we looked at all we have learned and seen up to this halfway point in our trip. Overall it was another inspiring day, and I cannot wait to see what tomorrow has in store for us. 

 -Will    

Sorry, no pics today, but keep checking Aisha's facebook wall to see if there are any new posts!  Check again tomorrow for more stories!

Posted by Andrew Hostetter at Sunday, June 29, 2014 | 1 comments
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Day 4

We had another whirlwind day here in the DR.  We just got back from a 2(ish) hour church service with the Pentecostal church we are serving.  They asked us to lead the worship service so we had people playing the Ukele, singing, reading, and preaching.  In true Presby fashion we read liturgy and everything!  It was a truly a beautiful thing to get to worship with both Dominicans and Haitians.  In a country that can to be prejudiced against their neighbors, this church has opened their arms wide to their Haitians brothers and sisters, and to us.  I was reminded that we serve a God that has no borders or allegiances, and that, regardless of our race, culture, language, or class, we are all sons and daughters of God.  

We have only been here for three days, but it is amazing how close we have gotten with the community we are serving.  In the first worship service (2 days ago), we all kind of sat with our group, and talked amongst ourselves.  But today we were all talking and laughing together, and were spread out throughout the whole congregation.  The Carol and Mark were teaching people how to play the Ukele, some of our youth were playing games with the kids in the congregation, and a lot more.  And I have to tell you about our awesome youth.  Many of them have been studying Spanish in school, and have some level familiarity with it.  I think they have surprised even themselves with how much they are using it.  They are always playing with the kids, and talking with the youth and adults helping us.  I even catch regularly catch them communicating with each other solely in Spanish, even when there are no Dominicans around, not realizing that they can speak English!  I am telling you parents, you would be impressed!!  They, and our adults, have just been loving on these people, who have been loving them in return.  I doubt any of us will leave here feeling like we gave more than we were given.             

Earlier today we were again hard at work.  We have been digging 5 ft deep holes (about 5 feet wide and long as well) in which we will later be filling in with concrete which will serve as the pillars of this building.  We have also been moving  A LOT of dirt… I mean A LOT!!!  I cannot tell you how hard we have all been working.  Although we have been sweating (A LOT!) and getting sore arms, legs, and backs, it has been great to work hand in hand with our Dominican and Haitians friends.              

God has been so good, and there is so much more I would like to tell you, but I will hold off and let Meagan tell you more (which will get posted tomorrow morning)!  Blessings to you! 

 ~Andrew 

 PS I have to mention that Dominican food is AWESOME!  It’s possible we all may gain weight while we are here!


Around the worksite, when asked how we are doing, we respond, “Marevia todo!” which means “everything is marvelous.” Everything IS marvelous. Each day the constant drip of sweat down our backs becomes less noticeable and we grow closer to the community. In fact, this morning some of the girls joined the Dominican and Haitian cooks in the kitchen to exchange recipes and traditions. Joining in camaraderie, they made delicious yukka and bacon salad, chorizo, and hot dogs (an authentic Dominican dish).  

 Meanwhile, at the worksite, bucket lines continued and a group of 10 people took down a wall, opening the worksite to the street. Lots of walls have been taken down lately. 

 On our lovely air-conditioned bus, we learned worship songs in Spanish and Creole hours before our worship service tonight (I still can’t get the Creole one out of my head).             

In the words of Aisha, we put on a Presby-costal service tonight.  When given the opportunity to lead this service, we were a little worried our more uh conservative service would be a let down after their uber-hyped-hand-clapping-singing-shouting-praise the lord-Gloria a Dios-(who is Gloria anyway?)-service. But after a five-minute planning session, we got our Presby-costal selves together. Us youth sang, spoke, and read for the congregation and joined in the amazing tri-lingual worship. The little “iglesia” could not contain the congregation’s energy and more people filled the church as the music filled the streets.  After the service, everyone hugged each other as we made our way to the bus, where we sang some more (but to some classic Disney and Americana songs, yep we are totally inconspicuous Americans).             

We topped of the night with some skit practice for VBS tomorrow (more on that later). Oh! How could I forget? After VBS tomorrow, we are going to the beach (vamos a la playa oh oh…) where we will grill and relax after an amazing four days and get ready for more to come. 

 -Meagan 


Posted by Andrew Hostetter at Saturday, June 28, 2014 | 0 comments
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Day 3

Day 2   (of working)

What a difference a day makes.  Our first day on the construction site was a challenging one, as many of us were learning our new roles. By day 2, we were a lean, mean excavating machine.  Working side by side, Dominican and American, young and old, we worked together as one to prepare the foundation for the new church building.  The joy of the Dominican’s was contagious, as they sung joyful songs of praise while they worked.  Some of the youngest children were the hardest workers, as children younger than 10 attached huge piles of earth with pick axes and shovels.  Church members spoke with pride as they explained their plans for the church building, with a water treatment facility (already up and running, it was the first thing they built on the site), a pharmacy, classrooms and a larger sanctuary for their growing congregation.   

Church last night was a special treat.  The church was overflowing with people and enthusiasm for worshipping God.  I reflected on the special privilege it was to be a part of this coming together, Dominicans, Haitians and Americans, to celebrate the love of God, and was filled with gratitude.    Can’t wait for Day 3.   

 ~Doug   

The old saying goes, “It’s the little things that mean a lot,” and so far in the few days we’ve been here, this adage has come to mind more than once.  For example, a fan without an extension cord, in a large room with 2, 2 prong outlets,  and evening temperatures in the high 80’s, is of no use at all.  However, after 2 days and 2 stuffy nights, just a few minutes ago, that little thing that we all have floating around in every junk drawer of our house, an extension cord was found.  Ahh, my stuffy sleepless nights are over!  Showers, after a full day of work at the construction site, in full sun on the bucket line where temperatures have to be at least 101 degrees, where sweat and sunscreen and Off (Deep Woods) mingle with the soot and sand from the site, have also become one of those little things that mean a lot.  I was so desperate on the way back today, I heard myself saying to one of my roommates, in the most Christian-like way I could muster, “I will fight you for one of the first shower stalls if you try to get in my way!”  Of course I was joking but just to be on the safe side, she informed me she was going to rest first and had no intension of standing between me and my shower, -probably thinking that I had had a little too much sun and the shower might bring me back to my senses!!   

Seriously though, there are 100 more meaningful “little things” that happen here everyday.  The hugs from church members just because they haven’t seen you since the day before, the children who come to help with construction in flip-flops because they have no other shoes, the pastor’s son who was not even tall enough to see over the lectern, leading the congregation in song above a keyboard, drum set and bongos, the pantomime that goes on when someone wants to say something more than “Hola,” and the children peeking in through the grated church windows to see what all the excitement and joyful music was all about.  The people here are full of love for God and for us, and that is no little thing at all.    

~ Carol H     

PS Anybody know where I can get a few ice cubes?


That's it for us today.  Check the blog again tomorrow for more!  We will end with these pictures:

          Want to see more photos?  go to Aisha's facebook page!

Posted by Andrew Hostetter at Friday, June 27, 2014 | 0 comments
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First two days

We are wrapping up our second day of our mission trip to the Dominican Republic!  Check out what Clyde and Amanda have to say about the last two days.

Many events and many people have impressed me during the first 24 hours. It began with the large contingent of happy smiling faces who greeted us in the airport and directed us to an air-conditioned bus for late night journey to our sleeping quarters. When we pulled into the compound 20minutes later, I was even more impressed by a large number of church members who played music (small band) and sang and reached out their hands to draw us into an exciting circle as we danced and tried to sing along.   

I was impressed by the temperature of our sleeping quarters (definitely not air-conditioned) as we settled into our bunks to sleep. It was hot, but the temperatures did not stop us from getting some much needed rest. The morning arrived quickly and we joined together for breakfast before heading out to the worksite for our first day of clearing and digging in preparation for the foundations to come. There were many community and church members present throughout the day and we truly worked hand in hand as we removed old foundations and leveled the area for what is to come.   

Men, women and children of all ages and many different backgrounds worked and laughed and sweated and sang and sweated side by side. Things work a little differently here—bucket lines (10 to twelve people handing dirt and rocks down a line ) to remove the old foundations and prepare for the new. I can’t think a better way to spend our first day. I know God had to be smiling at what He saw!   

 ~Clyde   

Today when we first arrived at our worksite, and it wasn’t like I expected. I thought we were in an open field, however we are in the middle of a large town. As soon as we got there I was hoisted up onto the roof to help gather old debris. After we cleared all old debris, we were tasked with digging various holes and leveling out the foundation. We are the first group to be here in Las Minas so we are the first working on this site. We are digging holes for the support beams that will support the three-story building that will be finished in three years. As we take out the dirt, we formed bucked lines to get the dirt out of the worksite and onto the street. It’s an efficient way to get the job done quick and easy. Luckily local people decided to stop and help dig most of the day.   

After our workday we went back to our compound. There are local kids who often hang around here and play games. We noticed they were playing baseball with a stick and a bottle cap. Since we brought extra baseball supplies, we took them out and played with the kids. The look on their faces when they saw the supplies was priceless. They don’t normally get to play with fancy toys like we do so those were very special today.   

Tonight we attended at Pentecostal Church Service that was very different from church at WPC. Everyone is singing and speaking during the service and mostly in Spanish so it was difficult to follow but still fun!   We really feel God’s work here with the Dominican’s.   ~Amanda


God has been good to us and the trip has been amazing.  Please keep praying for us as we continue to love and serve this community, and be loved and served by them!  Catch you tomorrow.

Posted by Andrew Hostetter at Thursday, June 26, 2014 | 0 comments
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Getting Ready to leave

We are about a week out from leaving on our trip!  As our crew gathers their stuff, packs their bag, and practices their spanish, being praying for us that we may be open to what God wants to do in us and through us while we are there.

Make sure you you check out this blog next week to see what we are up to!  Also, don't be alarmed if you don't see many or any posts while we are there (we are not sure how reliable the internet is!).

Blessings, 

Andrew

Posted by Andrew Hostetter at Monday, June 16, 2014 | 0 comments
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