DRMT LITE: My First Mission Trip at age 62

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Meeting our sponsor child Barbara Libby, Thirl and I have sponsored for three years since she entered the school in Kindergarten was the highlight of my trip.  I must say though there were many highlights and God moments.

Two weeks before we left, God began healing me from all my health issues.  I praise God for healing me completely the moment I stepped on Dominican soil.  I haven’t felt so healthy, vibrant and energetic in years.  I am still feeling well.

One of the reasons I felt God called me to make this trip was to find out how to partner with teachers and families at the Joe Hartman School.  This school has no funding except what individuals give for sponsorship for children and teachers.  I couldn’t believe it when I found out we could sponsor a child or teacher for $180 a year providing the children with uniforms, some books, some supplies and an education for a whole year. Seeing the beginning of the kitchen being built at Joe Hartman School was another highlight.  Knowing that our sponsored child, Escarlin, and all the other children at the school will receive a meal so they can focus and learn means so much to me.  Thank you to all who worked on this project during our two weeks.  Thank you especially to 80 year old Dave Maclary for going out there on Monday and working as hard as the teenagers.  You are awesome, Dave.

Meeting the teachers was so inspiring.  As a retired teacher and Christian Educator, it was heart-warming to see the excitement in these teachers that are not even paid a living wage.  They love the children and the Lord.  Jackie Valentine and Sandra Moya planned a teacher training for the first day our DRMT Lite team arrived.  We were blessed to be able to accompany them to the school for this training.  They had every detail of their presentation planned and all the teachers were present and excited.  They had arranged for a translator.  Our translator would have translated word for word what was being said.  However, God had an even more enriching plan.  On the DRMT Lite team was Cindy Jones.  She asked that morning to go to the school with us.  She said she was a teacher.  I had no idea she spoke fluent Spanish and was of Dominican descent.  She was who God sent to translate for the teachers not only in their language but being a teacher she was able to explain in their language the methodology and answer questions thereby enriching the whole experience.  Thank you God, for Cindy.  Thank you, Cindy, for asking to come.

As the training went on, I took notes as I listened to what the teachers did in the classroom and imagined what supplies and teaching tools they could use to enhance what they were doing.  I watched as Jackie and Sandra demonstrated various activities that could be used to help their classes be more of a community and learn social skills.  I wrote down supplies they would need to do these activities.  The teachers never asked us for anything.  So we asked them.  Some couldn’t even imagine besides a bookcase what they could use to teach.  Some asked for a few materials but only after we invited them to do so.

 Two other days we were privileged to return to the school.  Joe Hartman Day and the Monday before we left.  Many of our team worked in the library sorting the few books they had and reading with children.  There was a crowd of about 20 children who had gathered at the school that morning.  Too many for our small team to read with each of them.   Cindy and I went out with a bag of toys I had “misplaced” that I wanted to give out on Joe Hartman Day.  God had purposely put them aside for us for that morning.  There are very few toys at the school and the children have no toys in their home

That bag of match box cars, bracelets, two frisbees and a box of dice and our imaginations and love for children were all Cindy and I had to keep the children entertained for the morning.  I played frisbee, crashed matchbox cars with the boys and gave out bracelets to these wonderful loving children.  The highlight of that morning was a boy about ten and his friend who spoke a little English.  They went out of their way to talk with me.  The first thing they asked me was if I was a Christian.  When I said yes they rejoiced and praised God with me.  The other boy had a plastic cross around his neck and through sign language, my limited Spanish and his limited English I was able to learn it was his prized possession.  I really believe if I had said no I wasn’t a Christian those boys would have told me about their Jesus right there and then.

What a rewarding and Spirit-filled experience this was for me.  Thank you to all who financially and prayerfully supported me to go on this trip.  These are just a few of the God moments I experienced in those 6 days.  As time goes on and I talk to friends and family I will share more of the God moments I had the privilege to encounter.

Thank you, God.

Debbie Gravell

For more info on the DR Mission Team, please visit drmissionteam.org or search #DRMT15 on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. 

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