Shining Our Light

Dave’s Mission Trip to the Dominican Republic

Corona Virus and a Mission Trip

From the end of October thru the first week of November, I participated in a mission trip to the Dominican Republic with Sowers of the Kingdom (the US arm) and Sombradores Del Reino (Sowers of the Kingdom, the DR arm).  For simplicity both are referred to as SDR.  This was my fifth week long mission trip with them over the last five years.  This trip was Team #47 (forty-seven trip over roughly the last twelve ears).  The main activities during the trip were a Library Dedication, work at the Mission House (church camp / retreat center), Construction of a house for a family, and Home Visits (with food given) to families in need.

The story of the Library Dedication and God’s timing goes back two years when Denise and Barbara first volunteered at Las Ninos Del Reino (LNDR).  LDNR (The Children of The Kingdom) is located in what I call the working part of Las Terrenas.  Las Terrenas is home base for the mission activities and is a resort town in a third world country.  (Yes, there is a beach!!)  This private school is a partnership between a local church there and SDR, specifically started as a drag net for all the kids which were not going to school or not accepted at other schools.  After volunteering in November 2018, Denise and Barbara were nudged by God to offer some Arts and Crafts for these school kids.  (In a third world country arts and crafts are not a part of schools, and many adults have never done any arts and crafts.) 

In March and November 2019, March 2020 and this trip Denise and Barbara again continued to lead Arts and Crafts at LDNR.  However, after the November 2019 trip they were nudged by God to form a library at the school.  A library in a school is a luxury.  Even if children learn to read by forth grade, there is little to no opportunity to reinforce this skill.  (In February 2020 I had a chance to participate in an International Habitat for Humanity house build in this general region.  William, the husband / father, has a third-grade education.  Lady, the wife / mother, has a fourth-grade education.)  In preparation for the Library, in March 2020 book shelves were made while I was doing electrical wiring so fans could be installed.  Over the summer Denise, in celebration of her birthday, started a Go Fund Me to raise money for books.  Her goal was $500, she raised $600.  The pieces were starting to fall into place.

You may have heard me talk about Lidia Dickinson, of Lidia’s Kids.  What can I say, I have met an international rock star (minus the music).  Lidia, after returning to the DR where she was born, asked God what she was to do there.  (Lidia is not one to just sit around.)  The next day someone left a baby on her porch as the mother could not take care of it.  Lidia realized she was being called to combat the cycle of poverty which is so pervasive.  Lidia started Lidia’s Kids which started schools so children could get a real education.  (I have had the honor of being present at three of their high school graduations.  Children are now going onto University, and typically at the top of their class.)  Well, behind Lidia was Terry, her husband.  He ran the logistics of Lidia’s Kids.  In May of this year Terry passed away.  Denise, Barbara and SDR decided to dedicate the Library in memory of Terry Dickinson (and was kept as a surprise for Lidia).

The Library Dedication was scheduled for Wednesday morning.  Early in the week, people’s spirits were low.  Word from the regional superintendent of schools indicated some private schools needed to be closed, with Covid and such.  LNDR was on the list.  His comment was to not even bring their concerns and comments to him, they should instead go across the island directly to the capital, Santo Domingo.  Following the customs in the DR, he was invited to the Library Dedication.  In the DR something like this is “an event”, and it was expected that he would be there.  (Hey, there was going to be coffee, cupcakes and finger sandwiches!!)  Indeed, he did attend the Library Dedication, sitting beside Lidia.  At the end of the ceremony Lidia walked him out and he commented to not bring their concerns and comments to the capital, that he would see what he could do.  (Personally, I thought he was just paying lip service to people so they would not bother him at the ceremony.)

On Thursday morning word across the island was all private schools had to close their doors and go to remote learning, though public schools could remain open.  (You do recognize the absurdity in this, don’t you?  These children barely have electricity at home.  They have no computers.  They have no internet.  This all fell onto the private schools and teachers to hand deliver materials to the student’s homes.)  You do recognize God’s fingerprints here, don’t you?  If the decision to close the private schools had come even one day earlier, the Library Dedication would not have occurred.

Early in the evening on Saturday there was a buzz amongst the team.  Some news was received that afternoon, some good news and some challenging news.  It turns out the regional superintendent of education spent two days in Santo Domingo standing up for LNDR.  But, this went far beyond just keeping the school open.  You see, LNDR is now a nationally accredited school in the DR.  (Lidia, upon hearing this, commented this could not happen.  She worked for eighteen months to get Lidia’s Kids accredited.)  Being accredited, LNDR will receive some government funding, plus each child will get a meal every day.  The challenging part?  The accreditation is in the name of SDR, not the local church where it is currently located.  Plus, the school will need to move into a location with individual rooms for each grade (versus a curtain hanging to separate the classes).  The ministries of SDR are continuing to grow and be blessed.

In all of this, I was able to see a couple of God’s lessons.  First, God can set into motion something in prior years which, in God’s timing, will come to completion despite our current circumstances.  And second, God is calling people out of their comfort zone.  If a group of people from the US and others from the DR had not stepped out of their comfort zone, LNDR would not be an accredited school.  This happened with Denise and Barbara responding to God’s nudging at LNDR.  With people participating in Team #47 despite the presence of Covid.  And finally, with SDR expanding their ministry to include an accredited school and all that comes with this.

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