As of April, I had no intention of going on the mission trip this year. One day I was checking my e-mail, and I saw something from John Powers about the celebration planned for Batey 50 day. This wasn’t an email sent specifically to me; it was a mass email to anyone associated with the trip, but the message might as well have been talking to me directly. The email was regarding the completion of the batey and right then and there I knew I had to call John and sign up for the trip. Not only did I sign up to go, but I decided to stay for 2 weeks instead of my usual 1 week. One of my earlier trips to the Dominican Republic we went to Batey 50 and started working on some latrines there. Towards the end of the workweek, some of the people of the batey were complaining of holes in their roofs. In response, a few of us tried plugging the holes in whatever material made up the roof of their tin shack. One of the members, John Litevich, who has a background in construction was saying how there was no point to repairing the holes and that we should just rebuild all the houses; from there an idea was formed.
1 Corinthians 2:9 says, “What no eye has seen, what no ear has heard, and what no human mind has conceived” – These are the things God has prepared for those who love Him.
The people of Batey 50 could never and would never have even thought of having a complete concrete house with a real roof and a floor not made of the dirt the house was built on. Other than the church, there was likely no other structure they had ever seen that was made of concrete; but God had a different plan for these people. A big part of Dominican culture is religion. These people have nothing material, but have everything spiritual. Their love for God is one that every other country should replicate. Their love for God is what allowed them to be blessed with the opportunity of all new houses and in turn allow us volunteers to be blessed by growing with them for 7 years total, 5 years for me.
Fast forward to the trip, the day finally came to celebrate the completion of the last house and the playground we had built for them during our time there this year. Everyone got there and was in high spirits. Unfortunately before the celebration started I had an accident and had to leave to get 8 stitches in my hand; I lost my balance on a fence while trying to help set up for the day. I missed all but maybe 30 minutes of the day. Now what I haven’t mentioned yet is that the whole trip I kept thinking “what is my purpose on this trip, why am I here?” In previous years I had always just thought I was there to work, but this year I wasn’t feeling accomplished with only that. I thought if working wasn’t giving me fulfillment and I’m not even able go to the party to celebrate being done with the houses, then what is my purpose here? Why did I even come? I was scheduled to stay on the trip for 2 week, but I clearly was no longer going to be working like I was the first week which just added to the my questioning. The first night I was back in the US, I was reading my Bible and reflecting on the trip. I came across this verse:
“And here is my judgment about what is best for you in this matter. Last year you were the first not only to give, but also to have the desire to do so. Now finish the work, so that your eager willingness to do it may be matched by your completion of it, according to your means.” 2 Corinthians 8:10-11
This was the answer I had been looking for. My purpose was not just to work, but also to see the work get finished. It wasn’t to be at Batey 50 day, it was to see the project I helped start and had been apart of for the majority of my 6 trips to the Dominican be completed. A project so powerful to me, I even got the logo cut into my hair. At the end of my two weeks I came to this realization and it took less than 12 hours in America to understand it. Seeing a whole village be transformed, knowing I wanted to help start it and was there and just as full of desire to finish it is something I will be able to carry with me all the days of my life. The people there may be blessed with a playground and new homes, but the blessings I’ve been given from working with them and getting to know them can never be matched.