Days 6-8

Psalm 113:1-3

“Praise the Lord. Praise, O servants of the Lord, praise the name of the Lord. Let the name of the Lord be praised, both now and forevermore. From the rising of the sun to the place where it sets, the name of the Lord is to be praised, both now and forevermore.  From the rising of the sun to the place where it sets, the name of the Lord is to be praised.” 

We apologize for the lack of entries the past few days as our team has been very busy, rising early in the morning and going until late in the evening.

Thursday was a day filled with activity. The painting crew continued painting while others went to work on preparation for the fiesta that afternoon.  The construction team started laying block for a bathroom in a nearby village. A teachers’ conference was also held that morning and Friday morning where 60 teachers from surrounding villages attended. The topic was Differentiated Instruction. It was a wonderful opportunity to provide encouragement and instruction to these women.  The fiesta was filled with hundreds of children and adults. They just kept coming and coming! Songs were sung, the Word was given and then the children dispersed to different tents with balloon making, face painting and games. It was a great time!

 Friday morning consisted of the teacher’s conference, painting, final completion of the roof and preparation for the concert in Nizao that afternoon.  The concert was an amazing time of worship and praise. The whole town of Nizao was invited and the concert was heard through a huge sound system we rented all throughout the city.  This was probably the most memorable night where our Dominican family and we Americans were worshipping together in Spanish and in English. It was a taste of heaven! Words cannot describe this!

Saturday was a very special ending to our week. We traveled into San Jose, a village very close to our hearts, to deliver food, clothing and shoes. Afterwards we went to the beach with our Dominican family and spent some great time there and made many memories. Our goodbye was a hard one. It took an hour to say goodbye. These people are our true family and we love them so much! We cannot wait until we see them again.

 Our day ended with a very special time of reminiscing of the week and sharing stories with one another as a team. We cried, we laughed and we prayed.  We have become a family here and have shared experiences we will never forget! We look forward to seeing our families but it will be a hard goodbye. God has blessed us with an incredible experience to come and serve Him here in the Dominican! Thank you for your prayers!  

Day 5, Matanzas

“Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth. Worship the Lord with gladness; come before him with joyful songs. Know that the Lord is God. It is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people, the sheep of his pasture.”   Psalm 100:1-3

 So guess what kind of day we had? AMAZING! The day was a blessing as VBS took place in a village called Matanzas. The word was spread and we praise God for that! The construction team had a very full day of work on the church roof. It was completed just in time for our teacher’s conference to be held for the next 2 days.  The painting crew continued to work on the Handfuls of Hope house and it is coming along well! Kim Radwanski did a beautiful job painting the Handfuls of Hope logo on the house. The baseball clinic was a success with 53 kids ranging from age 7-16 years old. 2 boys came to know the Lord today! A room was also built for privacy in the clinic. We also had the opportunity to hand out tracks and concert flyers in the town of Nizao. This is where our concert will take place on Friday night.  The concert team has been practicing for months and all this week so we are very excited about this event. We pray that hearts will be moved and that people will come to the saving knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ!

Our day ended with very special guests- Pastor Vernon and his family came back with us to the hotel to swim, eat and fellowship together. We had a moving worship time together praising our God both in Spanish and English. It was so special.   

A favorite quote from today from a young lady who accepted Christ a week ago said, “I am happy today, tomorrow, and forever!” When asked why she responded, “ Because I have Jesus in my heart!” May we all have her joyfulness!

Until tomorrow- Dios te bendiga! 

Day 4, Carratone

“That if you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.”   Romans 10:9

What power the word of God has! This verse was used today in the teen VBS. Many Dominicans here believe that if they sin they weren’t ever really saved. Some say they don’t “feel” that they’re saved. This was a focal point in our discussion where we spoke of God’s promises and His grace as well as the importance of studying the word, obeying the word and teaching the word. I’m not surprised to tell you that today was another incredible day! The spirit of the Lord was all over and filled us to speak the truth in love. The word of God was spread throughout hundreds more and over 40 people got saved! Praise the Lord! He is good and His word accomplished salvation today!

Much was accomplished in the physical realm today as well. The construction crew completed building the trusses and installed them. The painting crew completed the baseball field and started working on painting the Handfuls of Hope house.  The baseball clinic was a success and will continue into tomorrow.

Our day ended with a nice hot shower, a delicious meal and another time together as a team. Our friend, Kiko from SCORE International, came to share from the Word and passionately shared his heart as how we are to live as believers in Christ. It was an amazing day! Tomorrow we visit a village called Matanzas for VBS and then on to another village called Nizao to street evangelize and pass out invitations for our concert we’ll hold there on Friday afternoon. 

We expect a lot from God!! He has already done SO much! Thank you for your prayers- Dios te bendiga! (God bless you!)

Day 3, Catalina

“As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater, so is my word that goes out from my mouth; It will not return to me empty but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.”    Isaiah 55:10-11

Monday, our first day in Catalina, was definitely a memorable one. Once again, God was at work! The word went out today to hundreds and it will accomplish His purpose!  The group was divided into VBS teams and construction/painting teams.  The VBS team visited two villages- Catalina and Carratone.  Children, teenagers, mothers and teen mothers were all broken into groups where the word of God was spoken.  The teen mothers group was an especially blessed moment where 9 very young moms were encouraged with the truth of God’s purpose in their lives and in their babies’ lives.

The construction team worked on building trusses to repair the church’s roof.  This was an amazing team that worked hard and laughed together in the heat of the sun.  The joy of the Lord was definitely present in their work today.  They will continue working on this tomorrow.

The painting team painted the dugouts at the local baseball field. Another amazing team and they did a beautiful job! This will be completed tomorrow morning in time for the baseball clinic that will take place tomorrow afternoon.

I can’t forget to mention our delicious lunch provided by the women of Catalina. Everyday they work hard to prepare delicious meals for our group of 54.  Today we had rice and vegetables with chicken and lime cake for dessert. It was incredible. Can’t wait for tomorrow’s lunch!

Our day ended with some very special team devotions and worship.  Again, we thank you for your prayers! Keep praying! We are so privileged to be God’s vessels here in the Dominican. Can’t wait to share tomorrow what the Lord has done! Praise Him!

Children's Hospital visit

Praying for a mom and her child“I thank Christ Jesus our Lord who has given me strength, that he considered me faithful, appointing me to his service”   1 Timothy 1:12

 What a day of seeing the Lord’s hand!  We started the day with our own team church service led by the two Dons. Don I. led us in songs of worship, followed by a message from Don Coords who spoke from 1 Chronicles 21:1-25.  The Lord spoke through him and touched all our hearts, challenging us to get our hearts right before the Lord.

 After some free time in the pool, we had the privilege of visiting the Robert Reid Children’s Hospital with a group from a nearby church in Santo Domingo. This is one of the most special times but hardest times. We see children who are sick and never get well. We see their parents burdened and holding on to hope. But God is good! The church group provided a special program on the roof of the hospital with a puppet show and a presentation of the gospel followed by worship from our team. Several moms joined in singing and worship.  After the program, beanie babies were handed out to each child and special bags were made for each mom which included toiletry items for them.  Both these gifts meant so much to them.

The group then split into groups traveling around to different rooms visiting children too sick to come up to the program on the roof. During this time, a couple of our team members were able to lead a couple to the Lord!  Praise the Lord! Please keep Venetia and Ina in your prayers!
A smaller group from our team visited with families in the oncology ward where they presented  each child with a hand made hat donated by Sherri’s Hat Shop. Their smiles were priceless.

This was a very special time at the hospital- too many stories to write here so please ask us when we come home to tell you more!

The rest of the day involved eating dinner which consisted of Dominican Kentucky Fried Chicken and then a night full of prep for the exciting and busy week ahead.  We are excitingly awaiting our arrival tomorrow to Catalina.

 This is all done for the Glory of God! Praise be to Him! Thank you for your prayers!

Our Arrival In Santo Domingo

The HOH team distributes tracts in Santo DomingoOur flight from Newark was uneventful and smooth. Even with such a large group, check-in at Newark airport was surprisingly efficient and, before we knew it, we were in the air and on our way. Our arrival in Santo Domingo was on time and we quickly found all of our baggage waiting for us, neatly arranged in a "group-only" baggage area. After a quick bag lunch we were on our way to the "Mercado" where we  had an opportunity to briefly browse through the wares of the local merchants in search of a souvenier or two.

Leaving the market, we headed to the Colonial District where the team handed out tracts to the many passers-by in the pedestrian area. It was very encouraging to see how nearly every person who had received a tract took the time to stop whatever they were doing to actually read it. The tracts opened the door to some conversations and we trust that seeds of faith were planted. We may never know the far reaching effects of these little one-on-one encounters.

We left the Colonial District and made our way to the hotel. After check-in there was time for a shower or a quick splash in the pool, followed by dinner. The whole team then gathered for a brief team meeting where we discussed Sunday's agenda and sorted through the items that we will be distributing during our visit to the Robert Reid Children's Hospital. There are Beanie Babies, coloring books and crayons, Bibles, and special care packages prepared for the moms of the many children who are confined to the hospital.

Finally, the day is done and we are ready for some much needed sleep.
Please remember us in your prayers on Sunday as we gather for worship and minister at the children's hospital.

Welcome to the HOH Journal

It is Thursday evening, July 14, and we are busily making last minute preparations for the start of our mission trip to the Dominican Republic. We have been packing for weeks but there remains, nevertheless, a seemingly endless collection of miscellaneous items that still have not found their way into a suitcase - VBS supplies, paint brushes, toiletries, Beanie Babies, etc., the list goes on.

Months of planning and preparation are behind us. There were team meetings, fundraisers, prayer gatherings, shopping expeditions (for supplies), countless emails and phone calls and, in general, a whole lot of fun as the team has worked together to prepare. Time has passed quickly and, on the eve of our departure for the DR, there is much excitement and anticipation. Our team of 54 will meet in the wee hours of Saturday morning, load up our luggage, and head off to Newark International Airport for the start of our adventure.

This journal will be updated regularly throughout the week, so we hope you will check in with us regularly. Please pray for our team - for safety, for courage and strength, for willing and humble hearts that we might serve God in a way that is pleasing to Him. We are looking forward to a wonderful week!