By Leah Hawley:
During my time of devotions this morning, I came across Matthew 6:34, “Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.” While I am blessed to be writing this blog today, I come with a heavy heart about having time to do so. Steve, my husband, and I made the difficult decision to stay back at the hotel while all three ministry teams spend a full day out in local villages. Since Steve just had surgery and I’m 7 months pregnant, after much prayer we knew the Lord was telling us to take a day to rest (don’t worry Mom and Dad, we really are okay! Being smart about resting!). We have embraced this day and are spending time in His word, as well as prayer for our team as they continue to spread God’s love throughout the villages of the Dominican.
As Donnie reassured me last night in our decision to take a day to rest, an additional blog today is the perfect opportunity to reflect on the week and the growth of our team as a whole. Many of us were timid as we came into the week, but as we debrief each night it has been a blessing to see how God is working in each of our lives. The stories of each individual’s ability to talk to villagers about the gospel are worthy of praise. Each day, there have been several stories of Dominicans being led to Christ through our time with them- praise the Lord! Please pray for these individuals as they begin their new life in Christ; pray that not only will they have opportunities to be strengthened and encouraged by other Christians, but will also seek ways to strengthen their own faith.
Our team is comprised of a variety of individuals, from middle school students to adults with grown children. No matter our walk of life, we have embraced this trip and grown together. As we see others step out of their comfort zones and use broken Spanish to connect to members of each Dominican village, we are strengthened ourselves. Dave Fackler mentioned in our blog last night that our youngest member bravely stood up in front of a crowd and shared her testimony- what a true inspiration and blessing!
While we have four members of our team helping to act as interpreters, those of us who have a limited background in the Spanish language are bumbling our way through the week and trying to continue to learn new phrases and ways to effectively communicate. Just in the few days we’ve been here, I can see my team members who may have initially chosen to allow someone else to translate for them, make the effort and communicate with Dominicans freely, even if awkwardly! It is a joy to see the reactions of each Dominican as we struggle for the correct word to use- they are truly appreciative that we are attempting to communicate directly with them.
A typical day here in the Dominican is a busy one! We begin the morning with breakfast as a team, then head to a quick morning worship time where we learn about what the day will entail. Most days, two teams go out on one bus while the other goes individually. While the teams are out, they are ministering to local villages. This usually includes door to door ministry where we speak with individuals and encourage them in their faith or spread the gospel. As we talk to members of each household, we invite them to a VBS program that will be held following our time walking the village. Once we have all gathered in a common meeting area, we hold a VBS program that has already been prepared. At the conclusion of our program, we pile back on the bus and head to the hotel for lunch. In the afternoon, we go back out to another village to repeat the process. When we return to the hotel for dinner, it is a great opportunity for members of all three teams to eat together and share stories of the day. Generally around 8 pm, we gather as a whole group, spend time in worship, debrief on the day’s events, and then Donnie Cohn or Dave Kroeze will lead a time in the word. Last night, we had the privilege of hearing Frank from Score International share his testimony and short teaching. After worshipping together, we head back to our rooms for time with our small groups to process the day and how we’re coping. After approximately a sixteen hour day, it is certainly time for some rest!
Please keep our team in your prayers as we reach members of the Dominican community. The days we have already spent here have been invigorating, yet heart breaking. The conditions of the villages often make me feel like I’m stepping onto a movie set and not across the threshold of someone’s home. Yet, as we interact with members of each village, we are humbled by the gracious attitudes that can only come from God. There is hope in each of these down-trodden villages and we pray that we will only be able to strengthen that hope and help it to flourish. Thank you for the support you have already supplied our team with and the continued support in prayers as we spread God’s word in the coming days.