A mission trip will wreck you – in a good way of course. I knew it would have an impact on my life but not to the extent that it did. Going into the trip I was both excited and nervous – this was the first time I had traveled outside my home country. But the day we returned I was ready to go back. It has now been five months since the trip and my heart still beats for the people there.
We arrived in Santo Domingo mid-afternoon, greeted at the airport by a few of the VisionTrust staff members. They were so gracious and made sure we were well cared for. The two locations we would spend our week at were Remar Orphanage & Ensanche Altagracia. At both places you were instantly greeted by smiling, excited children. I was a little intimidated at first, wishing I had learned A LOT more Spanish before I came. We did have translators with us at all times but saw right off that so much was communicated by facial expressions: smiles and hugs from the kids.
Ensanche Altagracia is a school we were at in a neighborhood called Herrera. This school was started by a woman named Maria Antoine. She began this for children who would often wander the streets alone while their parents were at work. It wasn’t hard to see the Gospel on display here! Maria was such a bright light and I never saw her without a smile. You could tell how much she loved the kids at the school & in that neighborhood. She shared her story with us through a translator. There were many obstacles that came up with opening the school but she was faithful and it is amazing to see how God provided. Our first morning there we were taken on a walking-tour of the community and I’m so glad we were able to do that! We would walk by and see people sitting outside their houses; would wave, smile and say hello. It isn’t always about big productions; those small gestures could leave big impressions.
From the moment we walked in the location we would be at for the day, the kids were ready to go! We had three “stations” throughout the day – crafts, Bible story, and games. Hearing the translators translate the story to Spanish for the kids was one of my favorite parts – it was beautiful. The Gospel is not limited to one group or language, it is for ALL people. Whether it was a craft they were making, jumping rope, or listening to a Bible story – the kids were 100% invested. Each day we were there more kids would show up the following day – word of mouth spread fast and other children wanted to come see what this was about! One image that has stuck with me is the kids at Remar reading their Bibles – you could tell this was something they did often.
We were able to spend quality time as a group as well. One thing I was truly blessed by is having devotions three times a day – a different person shared each time. We had some great fellowship and new friendships formed. At the end of the week, we were able to spend a couple of hours at the beach – BEAUTIFUL! God’s creation is magnificent!
Having to leave and come back to my daily routine was a difficult adjustment. My prayer was to not come back the same. I miss being around the kids and the workers we met. I was only there a week but I can truly say, it was the best week I’ve ever had. If you’re thinking of going on a mission trip, go! Step out of your comfort zone and see God work around the globe and in your heart.
-Allison Branch (Dominican Republic Mission Trip)
Interested in joining one of our 2 Dominican Republic mission teams in 2016? We are holding an informational meeting on Feb 28th at 6:30pm (after the 5:00 service) at our Regional Road location. You can also email Jonathan Spangler to get more information.