February 1, 2014

Reflections

Kitchener HANDS Team:

It seems so long ago that we began thinking about and planning for another short term mission trip and yet here we are safe  and sound back in our own environment with the luxuries of many blessings that have been bestowed on us, hot showers, comfortable furniture and a warm home despite the cold Canadian winter we are having. Was our trip to Dominican Republic a success? I would have to say a resounding yes! but with a roller coaster effect,—feelings of emotions from tears to laugher, from despair to hope, sights of affluence to the poorest of the poor and the joy of brothers and sisters who know the love of Jesus Christ.

We worked hard, accomplished more than we expected after seeing the type of work that was before us on the first day but a STM trip is so much more than the physical work we do there.  The interaction with DR children, parents, teachers, pastors, church services, the vibrant singing, sounds and smells, walking around the church and school communities seeing the conditions so many live in, having water only once a week and electricity sporadically —— all of this could never be replaced by sending just a lump sum of money. We were blessed, we know they appreciated very much the help they received. Many of the 16 schools that are under the COCREF (Colegios Cristianos Reformados) organization are in “bateys” or in former bateys, some of which started as early as 1981. One particular school on private sugar cane property struck many of us, Santa Alicia— one classroom, approx. 25 kids from kinder to grade 3, one teacher to do everything from babysitting, teach, discipline and administer, with one outdoor bathroom facility 80 yards away—- her dedication left a deep impression on all of us.

Our team was truly a intergenerational team from 15 to 68 which was great for us old guys but also for our evening devotions. This is such important part of STM’s, a time to challenge and question, to get to know each other, to come closer to God and each other. Our devotions were on the book of John where there are more than 50 questions where Jesus gives us much to think about, it has been said that for every beautiful answer there is an even more beautiful and profound question, so Harriette Mostert chose 10 and prepared the devotions on them. Following are a few e.g’s

John 1:35-39 What do you want? —- What do you seek on this mission trip

John 6: 60-69 “Lord, to whom shall we go? —- If you have ever experienced a time of doubting, what lifted you out of it again?

John 18: 29-40  “What is truth?” —-Why is truth so important

John: 21:18-24  “Lord, what about him?  —-Are there any things we need to iron out together and make right?

Just four— to give you an idea, a wonderful time of sharing——from all of us Thank You Harriette!

God is Good, all the Time, All the time God is Good, we give all thanks to our Heavenly Father, for the wonderful gift of Grace given to us through Jesus Christ and to the Holy Spirit for continually “hovering” over us, supporting and prodding us to stay within the faith. Thanks to all our family and friends and all in Community CRC.

Lastly thanks to our new friends in Dominican Republic for the hospitality you showed us, Dios los Bendiga, hasta pronto!

-Hank

My favorite/memorable part of the trip was seeing the joy on the children’s faces. They show such joy in a place that we would consider poverty. It is rewarding to know that our work will help give these children a chance for a quality education and a place to learn more about God’s love. Praise God from whom all blessings flow.

-Derrick

 I was reminded again that everyone of us has a calling and the ability to help others, that true happiness has nothing to do with material things and that God's kingdom is made up of of many children all over the world.  Our team was a terrific group!

-Minnie

I was impacted most by the school in Santa Alicia, a school in the sugar plantation.  It was so poor and needy but filled with such joy.  Can you imagine a school with no toilets?  Each child needs to go home to use the facilities and when necessary, the teacher has to find a Mom to take care of the class to go home herself.  It sure puts perspective on to our values and lifestyle here in North America.

-Peter
 
I was affected by so many things, but I think the most by being part of a team that both affirmed each one's strengths and gave space for us to try something new. I came to see how our team was so much more than the eleven of us too--from those with the vision to start La Esperanza school in the 1990's to the work teams that will build on what we did in the weeks to come.

-Harriette

Over the trip I noticed the joy of the people despite their lack of material things.  They have a relationship with God and that is all they need.  Our work building a school was therefore the best thing we could give to the people of the Dominican--more than money loans ar food or posessions.  For me I have begun to understand then the purpose of life, which is to glorify God in all things.  My money, my time, my thoughts, my deeds, my desires, my decisions must all be to the glory of God, and fit into his plan for my life.

-Matthias

The actual physical work we did there is almost insignificant.  A team like ours could spend our lifetime working there and barely scratch the need for more school classrooms in DR.  The fact that we are there, working alongside brothers and sisters in Christ and showing that we care, is what I believe to be the most important part of this trip.

-Chris

I love the children. I loved handing out stickers to all the kids. I loved seeing their faces light up and knowing that I made their day! It's amazing that something so small and simple has that effect!

-Leah

I didn't have any new insights but I was reminded how unfair the world is and how good we in Canada have it.  I hope I can remember that fact through out my life and try to make a difference as I feel God calls us to.

-Harley

I have to say how emotional and moved by the huge contrasts of wealth and poverty, very humbling.

-Joyce and Pete
 

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