Team: Umatilla First Baptist Church

Written by: Hayley F.

Another week begins here in the Dominican Republic and it brings new beginnings, new relationships and new foundations. It has also been a time to foster and grow old friendships and continue support.

Watching the team interact has been such a blessing as they constantly pour into and minister to one another. At the beginning of the week the team began with construction of another home in the community. A quick game full of laughter brought together old friends and made for a smooth transition into putting together the base walls of the house. In a matter of hours, the first level of the home was ready for concrete. On one of the breaks, we were truly blessed by one team member’s courage to share with the workers what Jesus had been speaking to him. This man handed over his words to God and allowed truth to be spoken over so many people.

One of the best parts of the day, was watching the team tell the story from Numbers 1 to the children. In labeled t-shirts, they represented the twelve tribes God called Moses to identify. With children in tow, they not only taught them new concepts, but shared the joy of Christ as they performed their small skit.

And to top the day off, many team members were able to share a meal with the children they are currently sponsoring.  High fives, hugs, photographs, but most importantly compassion, were poured out among these families as many small reunions occurred. It was as simple as getting to play a game of soccer or meeting the child’s siblings and parents.

“It was effortless to show [him] attention. I am truly blessed,” one team member commented after throwing the football back and forth with a bright eyed child.

It is only through Jesus that we can have the strength to share, overcome language barriers, and love. And if He can do all of those things in the first day, how much more can He do as the week continues. It is amazing what a simple, “Yes, I will go, Lord,” can do!

Midway through the week the team was still going strong. The house the team has been working on, had all the block walls completed, half the concrete poured, and was ready for the second half of the walls to be poured. Working beside these individuals continues to be a blessing as they are so willing to do this work with excellence for the Lord.

Work in the morning quickly transitioned into being with the children in the afternoon. As the team members continue to teach through Numbers, the skits progress into the bigger story. The children are learning that God cares for each one of them and that He is orderly. The children love being part of the tribes and watching the “Levites” defend the tabernacle.

We also have more new beginnings within El Carrizal as well. One of the interns this summer feels called to help people learn sign language. She prepared posters, flash cards, and other resources to teach this communication.  She has been gathering with a group multiple times this week, and God is doing amazing things. She was teaching them colors and letters. She is also helping one woman learn how to write. One of the young boys she was working with was excited to be able to communicate his name. For one of the first times, he was able to communicate his identity in a way that connected with him. Reflecting on the moment, she said, “It was amazing to see the lightbulb in his head come on. It finally clicked. It was a really special moment.”

I cannot help but think that is a small glimpse of what Jesus feels when we begin to realize our identity in Him. That moment when we start to understand the love and compassion He pours out on us. He knows us by name and cares for each individual. Let me repeat that. The Creator of the universe, knows you by name. Pretty amazing, huh?

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