2022 Mission Trip to Juan Tomás, República Dominicana
“This mission trip to the Dominican Republic can be described in so many different ways it’s hard to think of where to begin. God worked in so many incredible ways this trip and changed my heart to understand the importance of community. Right off the bat, we saw how much we take for granted at home in America, yet despite having little, the people of the Dominican had such joy, hospitality, and community. These sweet kids showed nothing but love despite us being complete strangers. The teens we lived with immediately became our friends. And within our own group, I was able to see how important it is to have community with others and to support and encourage one another in all that we do—no matter how hot it got or how hard the work became. This trip certainly had its highs and lows, but God remained faithful through it all. I am beyond grateful for this experience, and I would do it again in a heartbeat. Serving God and loving on others is so incredibly important and being a part of this trip has been a blessing!” -Abby Meyer, 12th Grade
Sometimes God allows one door to close so that another may be opened... and such is the story of how we were able to embark upon our very first mission trip to the Dominican Republic. When the Europe trip was canceled in March of 2020, it gave me the opportunity to pivot and follow my passion—coming alongside God’s people in Latin America. What an absolute blessing it was to then see students understand firsthand what impacted my life in profound ways for the first time some 28 years ago—a depth of joy, passion, hospitality, and community that is the essence of the Latin American people.
Helping to Build a Home
On our first day of work, we formed a long assembly line and passed endless buckets of concrete in order to start building a home, a “primitive act” that seemed to both set the tone for the week and symbolically represent the nature of this team.
Working with the Children
After day one, we interacted with and received hugs from more kids than most on our team have probably encountered in a lifetime. We employed more paint strokes than even Daniel LaRusso (“I’m going to be painting in my sleep—I just know it!” -Aaron Frasa). Working with children both inside and outside of the classroom—we tore down and built walls in deteriorating classrooms, sanded more walls and iron bars than one thought humanly possible, connected with “new children” in a refuge home for girls, and played endless games of soccer, volleyball, and cards every day with the locals (who never seemed to know where “Uno” wandered off to).
A Bonding Experience
Through it all, we sensed that we were all part of one family instead of two cultures maintaining their distinctiveness. From the moment we arrived and were met with smiles and help to put up our mosquito nets—we bonded. Spanish students bridged the gap by practicing the language they have acquired, but even non-Spanish students made precious heart connections through other means... but none more rambunctious than Mr. McCarty frequently yelling, “¡Dios es bueno!” Yes, there are many stories to share, and quite a few inside jokes to keep to ourselves, but these are all part of creating memories that we will forever carry with us.
We know that God went before us, paving the way and allowing us to all stay healthy and safe the entire time. We also need to give credit to Walkiri, Lucenis, and Lina—three wonderful ladies that served us with incredible food, timely cleaning, and labor-intensive laundry services all week. We are also confident that our daily small group devotionals, focusing on “ridiculous faith”, helped us to keep our eyes focused on our team’s personal mission—Hearts on Fire: For God and For Others.
Ongoing Support Through Sponsorship
Not only did we donate over $500 in supplies to the school Manantial de Vida, but we also still had $1500 left to determine how God wanted us to use it while we were there. As the week progressed, so did our love for the Dominicans and their culture grow, and therefore after hearing only a couple of testimonies, we knew what we wanted to do with the money. To date, Oakland Christian School is sponsoring two girls (an elementary student and a high schooler), allowing them to enjoy a Christian education for a full year. Three students and one staff member also felt led to sponsor children, and so they and/or their families are able to provide these with a Christian education as well. These five children will be ongoing sponsorships… and in the future, we hope to sponsor even more children through the support of our OCS community.
A Sense of Community
Finally, not only did we see our love of the Dominicans grow, but we also saw our care for and support of one another flourish. It is now our prayer that we will take all that we experienced—in particular, the sense of community—and use it to bring unity to Oakland Christian School in the fall in the name of Jesus and for His glory. After all, what happened in the Dominican can’t stay there!
View our event photo album HERE.
Secondary Spanish Teacher, and lead teacher for the Dominican Republic missions trip