Hola from Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic!
Our group arrived safely on Saturday and were quite the sight in the "sea" of royal blue t-shirts brandishing the name, "Handfuls of Hope DR 2012" on the front and on the back, "One Spirit, One Mind - Philippians 2:2, 'Then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose.' "
After collecting mounds of ministry suit cases, carry-ons and backpacks the group headed off to an orphanage that is the home to 25 disabled orphans. Some were blind, in wheelchairs, disfigured, and all in need of a loving word and gentle hug. Ray J. from the group shared how one of the little girls, named Lisa, who was around five years of age, was such a spit fire. He admired her will to overcome and even proclaimed she would be a future female Billy Graham!
Tommy W. shared how we tend to think God needs us to carry out His work but He has people all over the world caring for others because He puts it on their Hearst to do so. Don C. commented how each year we see how the youth become our "secret weapon" because they are so approachable and are so at ease to just get right down on the floor and play with these precious orphans and bless the hurting children here in the DR.
Janet W. said at first when they all arrived at the orphanage, she felt bad that they didn't have gifts or supplies for them but then she quickly realized all they wanted and needed was human interaction. She had the awesome privilege of sitting with a 19 year old girl who looked about 15, and shared the gospel with her in Spanish. The girl was so moved by her love and kindness that soon she was nestled up against Janet, hugging her and interacting. This girl had been at the orphanage for 6 years without any family or friends to come visit her. Janet noted that there are indeed material needs there such as art therapy, and structured events for daily activities. Janet was so moved when this dear girl shared that, "Jesus says be patient, one day you will have a day of victory!" Janet shared, "This girl gave me the gift, she taught me that all she wanted was love, touch and my time!" Sue C. noted that getting books to the orphanage so that the children there could be read to, and talk therapy would richly bless them. I think we will certainly be looking to collect coloring books, paints and brushes and other art mediums to bring to them to help brighten their worlds. So very little can make such a big difference to these little ones, to whom Jesus referred to as "the least of these."
After a sad farewell, the group boarded buses and headed to the local downtown market. This is truly an authentic experience of Dominican goods and wares shopping. After getting the group safely to the hotel, we all met for a buffet dinner at 7:30pm followed by the group all coming together in the meeting room. There, mounds of bags and suitcases of ministry items such as medical and school supplies, construction tools, clothing, Beanie Babies and mothers' gift bags for the hospital were sorted and piled up ready to go bless those in need! An information meeting followed and we were delighted to be taught the fruits of the spirit in sign language by Laura W. and the Spanish translation of each by Magda Y.
A wonderful start to what should be a most amazing week as we "get to do this ministry!" A pleasant night sleep to all, here in the DR and our friends and families back home. We covet your faithful prayers and please know that your thoughts and prayers are what sustain us to do this work for the Glory of God! Please check back each evening or early morning for our daily updates. Some will be posted quite late as we will be staying later in the village of Catalina certain nights.
Sunday, July 15, 2012 schedule:
9am breakfast at the hotel
Group Worship Service out side 10:30am
3:00pm leave for the Robert Reed Children's Hospital
Meetings for construction, light construction, VBS, drama & music