Sunday July 15, 2012.
The group enjoyed breakfast followed by a dynamic worship service outside. We opened with incredible worship songs of praise led by Don I. We reflected on some of the words of the songs we sang, particularly the bridge to "Here I Am To Worship" that says, "I'll never know how much it cost to see my sin upon that cross." We then read Psalm 103 and confirmed again that our statement for the week and life is, "Praise the Lord!" Because we get to do this ministry!! Don C. preached on Abram being called fourth by God and how he was faithful to do so, and settled in Bethel. But when the famine came he relied on himself and took his family to Egypt, out of God's will. How many of us are in our own "Egypt" in our lives? Don challenged us that when we are in "Egypt" we miss God's power, His promises and His peace. It's time to get back to "Bethel" in our lives. Don had smooth rocks collected by our Catalina "family" and sent to the hotel for us to each take one along with a black permanent marker and write on the stone what is keeping us out of "Bethel" and in our "Egypt." We had ten minutes of quiet individual prayer and then were encouraged to bring our rocks to the front "altar" of stones and give up to God whatever is keeping us from His will in our lives. God says in Scripture if we don't give Him our all we give Him nothing. After service we prayed for healing for those who were not feeling well physically or spiritually.
We had some pool time, followed by lunch, then preparation for Robert Reed Children's Hospital. Bags of Beanie Babies and hand puppets were loaded onto buses along with balloons for balloon animals and instruments for music. Upon returning back to the hotel, many shared their hospital experiences. Some of them so deeply moved by their experience, they could barely speak. What some shared:
Paul R. said the older child patients really enjoyed the puppets and the Beanie Babies handed out to each child are always a huge success.
Kyndra M. and friends visited with Mom's whose children were in the ICU. There were about 15 parents in the waiting room so Kyndra and a few others sang songs and prayed with them. They were warmly received and appreciated.
Tom W. said his heart goes out to all the parents, families and children in the hospital. "They really wanted our prayers for their children. That touched my heart. We witnessed to some of the parents but one mother was open and honest and said she knew all about Jesus but wasn't ready to make a decision because she feared being harassed and discriminated against by her family and friends who want her to party with them." Tom shared with her that none of us know if we have another "tomorrow" to make that choice for Jesus. Again, she understood that but the pressure was so strong. She knew her children loved Jesus so that was enough for her for now. "That is so hard to deal with," Tom stated, "there isn't much more you can do after that other than pray!" Tom also noted that the encouragement from the local church that teamed up with us to assist in translation really made the experience more impressive. Two local churches have made it their Sunday mission to alternate Sundays so that each Sunday of every month there are groups visiting the patients with juice and cookies.
Zach J. shared, "As the group was getting ready to leave the hospital, Sean L. started playing a Spanish song on his guitar and Don I. joined in. The group formed a line and filed out singing the song. To their delight, parents, doctors, nurses and staff all came out of rooms and stood in doorways to watch and even sing along. Even mobile patients stood holding their IV bags, smiling and singing as the group filed out of the hospital."
Faith M. one of our teens handmade 50 pillow cases that she got to dispense at the hospital. She had the joy of bringing some into the children's cancer ward.
Don C. held an adorable abandoned baby and stated, "This is why we need to get the Handfuls of Hope orphanage up and running so we can be the conduit between the hospital and Christian families both in the DR and USA to get these abandoned children into loving homes. We were overjoyed to discover later that the baby was adopted today by a Christian family! Hallelujah!
We joined together for dinner in the conference room and discussed our Monday trip to Catalina!! Our real "home base!" We have 25 first timers on this trip, with 26 different churches represented in our group of 75. We have 28 males, 47 females and 45 of them are under the age of 25! Remember...the youth are our "secret weapons" and it will be so exciting to see how God uses them in a mighty way the next several days in the villages.
James M. closed our evening out with a reading from Matthew and a challenge to go that extra step further as Christ did for us. Rob C. has provided everyone with index cards to share encouragement with those we see doing something special and notable. This is such a wonderful way to edify one another.
Pray for Pastor Vernon, his wife Nancy and "Mama & Papa," Vernon's parents as they have prepared exhaustively for our arrival. Pray for all the helping hands who attend Pastor Vernon's church and have become our dear friends and God-family
For our traveling mercies as we travel in 2 buses 50 minutes out to Catalina to greet our Dominican family! We will hit the ground running with hundreds of children awaiting our arrival
Many mothers and children will walk for miles to be there for the Vacation Bible School program
Pray for the teens who will have their own VBS program
Pray for the Mother's who will have a craft and Bible teaching time
Pray for the teacher's conference and training
Pray for the construction teams as they work on various projects
Pray for light construction - landscaping team
Pray for all our VBS helpers, leaders and attendees
Pray for open hearts, changed lives and hope in our Savior, Lord and King!