Our dirty clothes lay in piles on our back deck because they smell so bad from working in the hot and humid sun in the Dominican Republic. Stained with dirt, sweat and the salt of our bodies, these clothes remind me of what we left behind.
The dirt that a mother and her three children sleep on, without a roof to cover their head.
The salt of our tears.
The mess of poverty.
We gave our hearts, we gave our money, we gave our time and we gave our energy this week. But it never seems like enough.
“Mom, that was really hard.” Grace says to me as we walk away from a home visit in a Haitian Batay, after visiting a single mom raising six children.
The mother had told us about her son with a heart condition. “I either buy medicine or I buy food. Sometimes we just go hungry so my son can have his medicine.”
Before this trip, Stephen and I spent months planning the perfect mission’s trip for our group. As we planned this trip, our plans fell apart. We had tried to plan various activities that would include lots of activities for the Compassion children, home visits, and a decent hotel. While some of the plans worked out, other plans fell apart…like the decent hotel. We ended up in a humble, 3rd world retreat center where the septic system backed up and the mosquitoes tried to eat our team alive. However, we saved so much money in our budget, we were able to build a new playground, add a basketball court, and add ventilation to a Compassion child development center. We also brought crafts, games and somehow ended with the ultimate dance-a-thon.
They showed us love. They made the food, they gave us gifts, they played music, and they taught us how to dance. I can’t think of any other time in my life where we have had so much fun. It was Heaven and Jesus met us there through these children.
The Shoe Drop
For the most part, the shoe drop was not what I expected. We had taken 500 shoes to fit the feet of children. I expected this orderly procedure of kids lining up and our team bringing kids into the church one by one to get their shoes. Instead of any sense of order, it was pure chaos. Desperate… is the only word I can describe.
Despite the chaos, Isabel simply did her job.
A mob formed outside the church and people began to pound on the windows. Possibly 1000 people surrounded the church. They wanted in! In my heart, I could hear them screaming. “Don’t forget about me!”
I felt so much pressure and stress. I could see the members of our team and their faces and how overwhelmed this experience was. The movie Schindler’s list came into my mind.
Just one more.
Just one more.
Finally, after the first 150 kids came through, I made a decision to shut it down, as it was growing dark outside. So the amazing and heroic Compassion project staff told the crowd to come another day for their shoes. We waited an hour for people to disperse, and then we all cried as we all said goodbye to the staff of DR 800.
Our sponsored child gave her life to Christ
Finally, on our last day in the Dominican Republic, came the climax of the week. We met Grace’s sponsored child of 10 years. Marielba was shy and beautiful. Grace cried for joy when she saw her. We spent the day learning about her life, hearing her story, hugging her and telling her how much we loved her. Stephen even told this fatherless child that he wanted her to be careful of boys and that he was a protective kind of father!
However, there seemed to be much more behind the beauty of this child and my gut told me that she had secrets.
Grace asked her, “Is your family Christian?”
“No,” she said.
“Are you a Christian?”
“No,” she said.
In the middle of the day, we decided to gather all the families, sponsors and children together. Our staff person, José, spoke a message to the Dominicans. He offered salvation. He offered Christ, and our Marielba walked forward and received Jesus as her Savior. I can’t even describe the emotion of seeing our sponsored child receive Christ.
Grace asked her, “How do you feel?”
“I feel free,” Marielba said, and I wanted to understand why.
At the end of the day, Marielba’s teacher (who I am forever bonded with), pulled us aside. She said, “This day is so important. Marielba doesn’t receive this kind of love at home. She doesn’t get affection. She lives in a dark home where her family practices dark rituals and voodoo. (I won’t go into detail because it was some weird stuff that involved chicken heads). She has so much potential but she lives in a dark world and you need to pray for her and encourage her. I can’t do this alone, I need you to encourage her. I can’t tell you how much this day means to me and Marielba.”
I broke all the way down. My heart didn’t want to let go of her.
Saying goodbye to Marielba was the ultimate blubber session. Grace was a mess and so was I.
I didn’t want to let this beautiful girl, who I was now completely in love with, go back to the dark. Go back to a life that was so foreign to my world. She clung to us and I knew she wanted more.
More of the love.
More of the light.
More of the family.
More of what was in us.
We prayed with her…and I am still praying.
The summary of my long post
We experienced uncomfortable living this week, with septic tanks overflowing and smells all night long…and I don’t even care. My kids are all journaling their emotions tonight because of they are overwhelmed with emotions, my husband is obsessed with pictures of the trip, my family are all writing their sponsored children. We were impacted with the stories that God wanted us to hear, possibly just so we can pray. Possibly just so we can give.
We freakin saw our sponsored child come to the Lord!
That is all I have tonight. So much more is in my heart, but I will need more time to process this trip. I will say it was the most impacting week for my family that we have had thus far. Wow! Christ is everything and I am slowly learning this lesson through the poor and through the least of these. Praise be to Jesus.
Specializing in Marriage and Family Therapy
Life, Family, Faith and Travel...the life of a Jones
Dominican Republic Missions trip
WordPress.com is the best place for your personal blog or business site.