Every night of this mission trip, we have paused after dinner to each share what our greatest ‘wow’ moment of the day has been. For most of us, the whole day has been a ‘wow’ moment! Our day began with prayer, but this morning it had a little twist. One of our fellow Dominican construction workers, Roberto, led us in prayer with Cesar, our in-country leader translating. His prayer, guided by his personal faith in Christ and his own unique life experiences was a blessing beyond words. We then got to work on finishing the house began yesterday. When we left it yesterday it was only half done. Beginning early, we added the second course of styrofoam building blocks, tying off the top rung of rebar and then pouring the entire structure with concrete, bucket by bucket.
Every bit of concrete was mixed on site with a team of four shoving gravel, sand and cement into the mechanized mixer filling wheelbarrow after wheelbarrow. Each of them had to be guided by the strong effort of several of our team to the locations where the concrete would then be hoisted by bucket to others on scaffolding along the walls. It was hard and dirty work. By the time our work crew was finished three hours had passed. I think we had more concrete on us than in the walls! It is an amazing thing to build a house of solid concrete molded by a kind of styrofoam ‘lego’ system. While it is more expensive than regular concrete block construction, it is actually stronger and can be done by literal construction rookies. It is a thing to behold!
We broke late in the morning to get ready to minister to and with the children of the community. As we have each morning we prepared to share the joy of music led by Pastor Bill, a life truth from the life of Joseph led by Pastor Mark and a time of activity with the kids guided by all our team members including Steve P., Matt G., Steve K., Clark B. and our incredible translator Kenia. Each day the number of children has grown and this morning was no exception. The children’s faces light up as we sing our ‘action’ songs that Beverly Hild had prepared for Pastor Bill before he left. Everyone is pretty amazed watching Pastor Bill do the funny music from the stage. It is even rumored that there are hilarious videos being circulating showing the respected senior pastor of First Sarasota ‘making the fool’, leading the children in “Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes!” Pastor Bill remarked that he wasn’t sure which was more exhausting, pouring concrete for three hours or doing twenty minutes of children’s action songs!
After the morning Children’s ministry, Cesar drove us up to the top of a nearby hill to look down upon the one-hundred home Project which One More Child has established in this beautiful part of the Dominican Republic. It was just the continuation of our entire ‘Wow’ day! From the nearby heights we could see how this complex, which did not exist two year ago, is going to make a tremendous impact in the quality of life for many.
Back in the Community Transformation Center (CTC), our team enjoyed a meal of home cooked meatballs that were delicious. We rested for a few minutes and then walked back to the house that we had just constructed. The funding for this home was provided by a member of First Sarasota, requesting that the home be dedicated to the memory of one of our dearest church members who recently passed, Bettye Payton. We painted “Dedicated to Bettye Payton” on the side of the house and then entered inside to place scriptures on the walls of this amazing home! Each team member placed a favorite scripture somewhere in the house. We then went room to room and prayed for those who would one day turn this house into a home!
We then began to prepare once again for the afternoon Children’s ministry. We were soon to be overwhelmed by nearly 200 children and adults, most coming from a nearby school. The local church we were working with had invited the school to be our guests as we gave out school supplies including 80 backpacks and hundreds of notebooks and other assorted school supplies. The church which meets in the CTC is seeking to outreach to the entire community. Blessing the local elementary school, Centro Educativo el Puerto and its students, is but one single strategy of many that Pastor Kavier P. is using to touch the surrounding community with the love of Jesus. The outcome of this outreach was an overwhelming success! Another ‘Wow’!
We then rested for a few moments and then began to prepare for the Wednesday evening services. We were not sure what to expect as to how many would be in attendance, but as everything else in this day, the response was greater than the event before. The entire sanctuary was full to overflowing. After singing three lively worship and praise songs in Spanish, Pastor Bill preached a message from John 15 about God’s desire to have us live in close connection with Him, as branches do to a vine. Out of this close relationship, God desires fruit to come forth. Pastor Bill reminded us that Jesus told us that the fruit would have a horizontal dimension, love for one another, and a vertical dimension, the joy that only comes from being in close communion with the Father. He then gave an invitation where upwards of eight persons prayed to receive Jesus into their life as Lord and Savior!
As a final joy, the team passed out ‘glow bracelets’ to all the children. It was a sight to behold as over a hundred children walked home in the dark with what looked like lightning bugs all going home in a row! One more final ‘Wow’!