DRMT Lite Experience 2015

We were as diverse as we could be and yet we came together as one. We had Josh Powers as our fearless leader and he made sure that everyone had their individual needs met without making anyone feel like a burden. He was very fun to be around, easy to talk to, and made this trip so enjoyable for all of us. He and my roomie, Diana Sarro are the best at making every moment count and living life to the fullest. As a DRMT Lite group, we were separate but for the most part we were able to join the main group in all of the major activities.  Furthermore, as a member of this “elite” group, it was nice riding in a nice, air-conditioned van and, of course, staying at the luxurious Casa de Campo villa. Because Josh had been there before and had developed so many connections throughout the trip we were able to do other exciting things around the Casa de Campo compound and meet many other great people.
DRMT Lite 2015
From beginning to end, it was really a very nice DRMT Lite experience/missions trip for me. I loved talking to the honorary members of the DRMT Lite group hearing stories of the past when they were here many years ago when the project, the school, and the hospital were at its infancy stage. It was really touching to see Pat MaClary cry as she walked through the halls of Buen Samaritano Hospital and reminisced about the time she and her husband, Dave, worked on the foundation of the building. We awed as Deb Huegel walked on the beautiful marbled hospital tiles that she and her husband, Bill once helped carry and installed. I also admired Debbie Gravell’s commitment to help the teachers at the Joe Hartman school at all cost. She not only came with bags of goodies and instructional materials that teachers could use in their classroom, she also made a commitment to help them get what they need in order to teach these needy children. Debbie Gravell was relentless. She also came out in the hot sun to help me with the 20+ kids that had gathered at the school on Monday, July 6th when the Week 2 construction crew were out in the fields working. Debbie Gravell came with a bag full of toys and games for the kids to play and she saw I needed help and that I was greatly outnumbered and decided to give me a hand out there with the kids.
It is so easy for those of us that came afterwards to take for granted what is standing there now but hearing the stories of what once was nothing but dirt and a vision was very touching. Now, meeting and being friends with the people, American and Dominican who had a hand in building it from the ground up is great. Thank you to all of the faithful people that persevered through the years and during the hottest and harshest of conditions to make all this a reality.
– Cindy Jones, RI
For more info on the DR Mission Team, please visit drmissionteam.org or search #DRMT15 on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. 

Ten Years Ago…

La Romana has been in my heart,a passion that ran through my veins, since I was 16 years old. So, I guess I’ll put it out there (haha), for the last 19 years I have had the opportunity to be blessed by this “experience”.

Ten years ago, my life was much different. In the past 10 years, my husband and I have bought a house, changed jobs, and had three *awesome* sons. Going to the DR was put on hold. My plate has been very full, along with my heart. I was content to pray for the mission in those years, happy to help when I could with different projects going on throughout the year for the trip, but it wasn’t my time to go. I had 3 little people that needed me day and night, and I was totally OK with that. Until this past year.

This year, the trip would be different. Bringing my 9 year old son, Noah was what I had dreamed about for years. I know I want to raise my sons to be compassionate and caring, putting others’ ahead of themselves. How better to teach compassion than being in the mission field, right? We had opportunities daily to help, play, pray, distribute food, smile, hug, build…the list goes on and on. So there was no doubt in my mind that this was going to be an EPIC experience for him to be taking. Little did I know, the trip would mean so much more to me also.

Watching Noah take in the sights of a batey, playing baseball with little children who will probably remember that day for years to come, seeing him work hard to pack boxes of food to be distributed to very hungry bellies…I mean, literally, I have no words. I have tears in my eyes just thinking about it. It was everything I had hoped and dreamed for him, and he was soaking it up!

And then there’s me. I’m not sure if I had an expectation for MYSELF on the trip. I had spent so much time and energy fundraising, preparing, telling Noah about it. I’m not sure that I ever really thought too long about MY trip. On Wednesday, I had my big moment…I was working on the roof of The Joe Hartman School with my sister, Wilson, Noah and a few other Americans, along with a handful of workers that work there daily. Sandra was chatting with one and asked him what his name was. Clauvis. Did he have children? Yes, the oldes is Clauson. My heart did this wierd thing. It dropped, but not in a bad way. I knew the next word out of his mouth would be Yeulison, the boy our family has sponsored to attend school for the last 3 years. We have prayed for him nightly, we talked about him like we knew him, but we didn’t, really. I think I grabbed his arm and I think I said “I am his madrina.” He smiled so big, and within minutes, he left the worksite to go home and get him.

The next few minutes I’m not sure what I was doing…just waiting. He walked up the stairs to the roof where we were working and I hugged him so tightly. My sunglasses hid my leaking eyes, and I held myself together. He sorta hugged me back, but he was cautious. Over the next 3 hours we read books together, we played legos, farm animals, talked, and he played ball with Noah. “Yeulison, do you need anything?” “Comida” We gave him every Cliff Bar we had in our bags. He ate them quickly, didn’t savor them at all. He ate them like he was hungry. Very hungry.

His story isn’t an easy one. His dad does his best, working construction jobs, taking care of 5 sons alone, ranging in age from 3-11. The 3 oldest are enrolled at the school but they are not “easy” kids. They sometimes steal things (I don’t know, I might if I had no posessions to call my own too), they are hungry, they fall down and get hurt frequently (maybe I would also, if my belly were always empty). Their house is not in good condition at all, holes throughout their roof that let the rain in to soak their belongings.

By the end of the afternoon, he had hugged me a million times, all caution gone. He smiled. I had seen pictures of him for years, not once had I seen his smile. I. Was. In. Love. If someone had said “Oh, you can take him home with you”, I swear I would have. Aaron would *probably* forgiven me at some point. I mean, what’s another after you have 3 already, right? The following day, we spent the day together, along with his 4 brothers, just playing, reading, talking.

This family has my heart now. I have thought about them every day since I have returned. I’ve told everyone that’s asked how the trip was all about my little guy, Yeulison. I know I can’t change the world. I know I can’t end hunger. I know that I can’t love everyone…I’m only one person. I CAN change his world, though. I can eradicate hunger for his father and the 5 boys. I can pray for them, and I can tell everyone I know about how trips like this change lives. Short term mission trips may be short, but all you need is a moment, and in that one moment on a roof of a school, your life will change. Trips like this will change YOUR life, and you’ll never be the same.

~Danielle Barnhart

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

Danielle with the Louidor boys!

Danielle with the Louidor boys!

Left to right: Noah(9), Yeulison(9), and Clauson(11)

Left to right: Noah(9), Yeulison(9), and Clauson(11)

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. 

A Special Kind of People

I am back home now and I can’t stop thinking about my trip especially, all the people left behind.  I keep picturing their smiles every time they see us coming.  They have such joy even though life is so hard for them.  I always feel bad for the kids that are on the other side of the gate when we have our gathering at Joe Hartman. They have touched me in a way I can’t explain.  I feel so blessed to be able to make someone smile or share my lunch with a couple of the kids.  The parents seem so grateful that we pay a little attention to their son or daughter.  One of the fathers that Shannon and I sponsor took Shannon out from where she was playing and opened up a coconut and poured the juice from it into her month.  They have nothing yet he found a way to show her how much he appreciated us taking care of his son.  The mom who would give her son to us and wanted us to take him to the United States just so he could have a better life.  How selfless!  They are a special kind of people.  Hard workers, joyful, and appreciative. I miss them and the feeling of love all around.  God has not forgotten them and neither will I.

Laurie Hinman

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

“You are Home”

Walking through the halls of the hospital last week, I flashed back to 25 years ago when I was on the same piece of land pouring wheelbarrows of cement into the holes in the ground for the footings of what would become the Good Samaritan Hospital (El Buen Samaritano Hospital).  I knew in 1990 my life was being impacted, but my realization during my two week stay in 2015 is that my heart will forever be with the poor in the Dominican Republic.

The landscape of La Romana literally speaks to me with echoes of “you are home” and “this is where you belong”.  The endless miles of cane set in a backdrop of mountains mesmerizes me and I find myself longing for the bus rides out to the bateyes just to take in the view.  The random sighting of cane workers, appearing so weathered by their harsh living conditions, set against the beauty around them, stirs my soul.  I ask myself, “could I endure the life of the cane cutter and still be as joy-filled?”

Bateyes and bent over sugarcane cutter IMG_9864A young man on Batey 80 talked to me of his confusion and questioning about the suffering around him and where God was in that.  I admitted I didn’t have all the answers.  After a long talk and sharing of scripture and God’s love demonstrated by sending Jesus to stand in our place paying for our sins on the cross, he accepted Jesus as his savior! It was so moving to watch him as he prayed and what came next.  He said he felt different, he felt as though someone was hitting the delete button in his brain and all of his sinful past was being erased. His eyes showed a depth of thought I have never seen.  It was as though he could physically see his thoughts. I have stayed in contact with him through his limited use of Facebook. Remarkably, he has self taught himself to speak/write enough English that we get by. “Don’t drop me” he asks, worried I will forget him.  His most recent communication humbled me and blew me away with his insight. “It is not bad luck to be born poor, it isn’t good luck to grow rich, but each one with the task that God assigned us… to show our love…the rich with the poor and the poor with the rich”.

(This is actually how he wrote it:  is not a bad luck to born poor it´isent a good luck to grow rich but each one with the task that God assined us… to show our love…the riches with the poors and the poors with the riches)

I return to the states not wondering IF I will return to LaRomana, but longing to return now.

– Aimee Powers

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

How can you give to others when you have nothing? 

Weeks before the trip to the DR, I was racking my brain trying to think of something to do with the kids of Batey 50 for the second week of the trip. I wanted to do something more than just hand out toys and play with them. Though there is nothing wrong with that, I felt it was becoming monotonous, and that I wanted to do something different. For years now the kids (and adults) of Batey 50 have been given things, whether it be toys, food, or even a new house. These people are the poorest of the poor, and they, for good reason, are constantly receiving. These kids have absolutely nothing they can give us, other than their love, and I wanted them to know that this was meaningful.

My teammates and I (Lauren, Cindy, Lacey, and Mason), held a week long Vacation Bible School program teaching the kids all week about different ways they can give. They learned about orphanages, and were shocked to find out that some kids don’t have a family. They eagerly made roughly 50 bracelets to be handed out to the kids of the orphanage. They helped make sandwiches for the elderly of the Batey, and then delivered them. They also handed out comfort dolls to all the babies of the Batey, joyfully helped us pick up TONS of garbage in the village, and even made really sweet thank you cards for their parents!

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The children of Batey 50 during their weeklong
Though we did teach them about tangible things they can give to others, we also spent a lot of time teaching them about other ways to give. Throughout the whole week, the kids learned four different dances that they performed for the DR Mission Team as a thank you for working hard to build new houses. The pure joy that erupted from the children while they performed their dances made everything I did this week completely worth it. They learned to give their love and joy to others, and that’s the best gift they could ever give. I am beyond blessed to have been able to have this experience with the kids, and I am so proud of each and every one of them for all the hard work they did this week!

Here is the dance – please watch!

– Bekah Powers

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

A Gift from the Kids of Batey 50 for You!

The children of Batey 50 learned last week about giving back – they wrote letters of thanks to their parent, made bracelets for kids at an orphanage, delivered dolls to babies in the village, and made sandwiches for the older people. Here is their dance they worked on all week as a way of saying “thank you” to you for supporting, praying for, and encouraging them.

#DRMT15

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