On February 23rd, a team of 15 people from Quarry Community Church in Monticello came to the Dominican Republic for their first adult mission trip.
I was elated that a team from our home church in Monticello and pastors who have been great friends and mentors to me were coming to see what we do and meet the people here who we have come to love so much. I was so excited just to get to spend several days with them in a row!
While the Quarry team was here, they participated in children's ministry, ministry to single mothers, built a home with and for a family in need, participated in care ministry in two hospitals, attended church services and visited homes. Many people were blessed and encouraged by their presence.
One Dominican pastor who has worked with many mission teams over the years commented to me one day during lunch, "This team is different." He saw something special in this group of people - how they were focused on relationships instead of worried about accomplishing tasks, willing to be flexible and remain joyful even when things didn't go according to our plans, and saw the way the team members loved and served one another so well. It was refreshing and a true blessing just to get to be around these people.
Pastor Michael summed it up well in the DR Reporting Service a few Sundays back at the Quarry, "Something really special happens when a group of people set aside time to seek God through prayer and His Word every day for 10+ days in a row, and then set out to give of themselves, love and serve others wherever they go."
A lot of special things did happen. Here are a few highlights:
Ministry with our youth team in Hato Mayor. Time of fellowship, Bible study with the Hato Mayor team members, and then dividing into three teams to go to three different communities to minister to the children.
Building a home with a family in need.
Ministry to single mothers
House Visits - Prayer and Evangelism
Hospital Care Ministry
Church Services and Fellowship
On our free day, we went to Samana to go whale watching. For a few months out of the year, whales from around the world, come to the bay in Samana to have their babies. I had never taken the whale watching tour and was excited to finally get to see the whales. I imagined what it might be like to see these giant, magnificent animals jumping out of the water and couldn't wait for the experience.
Unfortunately, Joselo and I both were so sea-sick we didn't see much of anything except the inside of our eye-lids. Others did see some whales, but I was told that there was no jumping out of the water.
"I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing." - John 15:5
Our leadership team sat down several weeks in advance to clarify our goals for the treat and come up with the activities that would help us accomplish those goals.
Goals for our team retreat:
1. Unify our team on our mission, vision, goals and strategy for 2018.
2. Thank the team members, express appreciation for all of their efforts in serving others through this ministry & congratulate people on a job well-done.
3. Evaluate our work as a team & brainstorm ways to improve our ministry in 2017.
4. Spend time together & get to know each other more.
5. Hear ideas and opinions of the whole team.
6. Teach the team a new skill that can help them improve their ministry.
7. Pray and worship together - commit the ministry and 2018 to the Lord once again.
It was really helpful to take the time to evaluate our work in 2017 and discuss ways to improve in 2018. This year two of our team's oldest leaders are going to be traveling to the newest communities every week to support the new leaders in their work with the children.
In our team building activity, the human knot, the team was really stretched. I had never done this activity with such a big group, and it was honestly a bigger challenge than I anticipated! The group persevered until the end. Though some were frustrated and wanted to quit, the team kept going until they accomplished the goal of untangling themselves.
Afterwards we talked about what behaviors were helpful and what behaviors made things more difficult. We also talked about what kept them going when things got tough.
In the end it was a great learning experience for all of us - and a memorable one!
Once again this year, Belkis Gomez led us in a meaningful devotion on Saturday morning.
We also had a service Friday night for the team and some of the people who support the team. We reflected on the year, thanked God for the wonderful things He did through our ministry in 2017, congratulated those who had major individual accomplishments such as graduations, marriages, new baby (Evan), etc.
And, those who completed the discipleship program received a certificate of completion.
We praise God for a wonderful time, and we pray for His guidance and blessing in all we do in 2018.
Praises!!Wonderful things that God has done in 2017.
·Evan Isaac was born on April 9, 2017 – happy and
·Five new youth joined our team in 2017.Each one has been a GREAT addition to the
team.We can see how their presence has
made our team stronger.
·Our youth team ministered to children and
families in six neighborhoods throughout the year, hosted a special
parent-child day, responded to needs after Hurricane Irma, hosted a hygiene
clinic and began to visit parents and families in their homes each week after
·Four groups, for a total of 22 individuals,
completed the discipleship book , Foundations,
and are now equipped to begin discipling others with this book.
·Three churches we support completed the study of
the book of Luke using the Community Bible Study materials.
·Three mission teams visited our ministry: Bethel
University, San Diego (October), Our Savior’s Lutheran Church (November), and Resurrection
Lutheran Church (August).
·Repaired and added a room to a home in Santo
Domingo, provided a donation towards the rebuilding of another home in
Consuelo, provided a donation towards new chairs for a new church building in
Santo Domingo, provided a donation to build a fence around a new school
building in El Valiente, donated food for hurricane relief.
·Our largest group ever, 42 individuals, attended
the Global Leadership Summit in Santo Domingo.
·We started the process of legal incorporation of
our ministry in the Dominican Republic with the name of Ministerio Ramas Vivas Internacional, which means Living Branches
Plans, goals and prayer requests for 2018
·Rent/buy a larger building for our youth team in
·Complete the incorporation of our ministry.
·Increase our monthly support by $800/month by
finding 6-12 individuals who will invest $50-$200 a month in our ministry.Faithful monthly support allows us to make
plans and add programs with confidence because we know that the money to
support the new ministries will be there each month.
·Be intentional about supporting leaders in new
communities – sending two leaders to supervise, encourage and guide new teams
twice a month.
·Be intentional about getting to know and support
each individual on the ministry team – will do individual meetings with each
individual quarterly to listen, set goals, provide feedback & pray
·Develop our new ministry to adolescents (13-17
years) using workshops (crafts, wood working, music, English, etc) and weekly
·Host two new discipleship classes.
·Start a small business selling the crafts &
sewing projects we’ve learned to make.
We praise God for what He has done, is doing and will do in and thorough our ministry.
Thanks to each of you who have prayed, visited or donated to make this ministry possible.
You are an important part of our team. May God bless you more.