May 4, 2019

Mikaelee's update

International Block Learning Trip - London & Toronto HANDS Team:

Mikaelee’s Update:

Hola Amigos!

It’s hard to quantify or even summarize the last few days. The last three weeks have been hard to be away from the students, so it’s been pretty amazing to get the opportunity to come down and connect with them. While our course was designed to prepare them for the context that they were entering, one of the more purposeful goals was to create community within our group. Before even embarking on the adventure we already felt like a family, and a month in has increased that ten-fold. I was already incredibly proud of these students prior to leaving; the thoughts expressed in class blew me away every single day, and yet I see substantial growth in each of the students in only a few short weeks.

This week has been especially wonderful. Yesterday in particular was a favourite for many of us. The last three days have been spent in a batey community called Projecto Velasquez near Monte Plata. Our translator Carlos aptly describes the situation these people are in as slavery. The level of material poverty witnessed here is more than we have seen yet as a group here in the DR. They are without power, running water, and access to really any necessities or resources. Many of the men have left the community for work or other reasons, and so it is mainly the elderly, women, and children. Our task has been to begin the work of building a church in this space. The students remarked how incredible it was that the people of this village sought a church of all things when asked what they needed most.

Over the last three days, we have spent time working as a team to build and to be in the classroom with the kids. Today was particularly special. The kids were out of class yesterday, and free to spend time with the larger group. Being with the people has been an important part of our work, and over the past couple days many of them have sat and watched as we have worked. This is their sign of thanks. However, we have struggled with this because our desire was not to swoop in and build something for them (only to pick up and leave shortly after), but to create connection and work with them. Today though, the entire community was around and working together-everyone from elderly women to small children. We played all day with the children, laughed together, ate lunch together, prayed together, and worked as a team. It really was so beautiful.

There have been so many beautiful moments it is hard to list them all. Some of the things I have loved regarding our group are eating mangos straight from the tree together, circle times, sitting around the table together, Worship Wednesday, and the moments when the whole group spontaneously puts their arms around one another or holds hands. It really has been a unique and incredible learning experience for us all. To parents, thank you for raising such wonderful young individuals. As I said before, we are incredibly proud of them and love them so very much. I don’t think any one of them will return unchanged. God has been working in all our hearts. It’s hard to believe that we’re already past the two-thirds mark. Thank you for your continued prayer.


With love,


P.S. I’ll post pictures when I return to London!


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