Dominican Republic Mission
FIRST TRIP: JUNE 2016
After more than a year of planning and fund-raising, the St. James Parish Mission Team flew to Puerto Plata, a city in the north central Dominican Republic. Their mission was to help repair the roof over the parish hall at the Church of Cristo Rey, a church of the Episcopal Diocese of the Dominican Republic. Our team helped do finishing work on the parish hall, including painting and some minor repairs.
We also helped organize and lead a Vacation Bible School at the Church of Cristo Rey. We, as part of the St. James Mission Team, are open to building the kingdom of God with our brothers and sisters in the Dominican Republic, and are open to the Kingdom being built in us, too.
Plans have begun to make another mission trip to Christo Rey over the summer of 2018.
PREPARING TO DEPART: MISSION #2
On June 22, 2018, St. James will send its second mission team to the Dominican Republic. This time, we will be in the communities of Bani and Nizaõ in the southern part of the island, near Santo Domingo. We will, once again, be sponsoring a Vacation Bible School at San Mattias School in Bani. Additionally, the St. James Mission Team and its 13 members will be working directly with St. Mark’s Episcopal Church (Tampa, Fl) to complete a three-year building project on San Timotéo Church in Nizaõ. The project includes the preparing of an outdoor site for a community garden and a community day care that will live on the second floor of San Timotéo. We are very excited for this venture and look forward to telling the parish and community all about when we return from our June trip. Praise God for His goodness and for the St. James community for its support!
FINAL THOUGHTS (FROM FATHER GEORGE)
Our trip to the Dominican Republic, impossible as it may be to believe, has ended!! More than a year of planning, hoping, dreaming, and so much more has come and gone. Now, the reflection can begin.
On June 17, 2016, sixteen members of St. James Parish and two members from two other parishes (including a deacon from South Carolina) departed on an adventure to Puerto Plata, in the north central Dominican Republic. Our mission team was: Drew Alligood, Emma Buth, Sheila Church, Mitchell Ives, Sam Martin, Cathie Martin, Alanna Orgill, Emily Perow, The Rev. Ann Pilat, Barbara Preneta, Ed Preneta, Tracey Roberts, Fr. George Roberts, Olivia Roberts, Chloe Roberts, Kyle Slusarz, Michael Slusarz, and Dona Waugh.
All of our planning could not have prepared us for the experience we would have but the community came together, as we began our work, in a truly wonderful way. On Saturday, the 18th, we took a day just to be together after a long day of travel on the 17th and visited the beautiful Mt. St. Isabel del Torres, a peak and national preserve overlooking Puerto Plata and the Caribbean. In the afternoon, we went to visit the little village of Mosoví, outside Puerto Plata, down a long dirt road. Mosoví has no running water but they extended their hospitality to us as we all worshiped together in their little Episcopal Church of Divine Grace. The people of the village were living in terrible poverty and isolation from the larger community. The sugar cane plant and fields nearby that once employed many people are now shut down, making the problem of poverty even worse.
On Sunday, we attended church services at two Episcopal churches in Puerto Plata and we went to the beach with many of our new young friends from Cristo Rey in the afternoon. On Monday we got busy with the week-long work at Cristo Rey, with the kind assistance of their Deacon, the Rev. Miguel Murray. Most of our work was painting, painting, and then more painting! There was much scraping and prep to be done on the exterior and interior walls of the parish building which our gang did with gusto! Kyle Slusarz did much needed electrical work in the office and in the new construction area where we were painting, among other places, which was invaluable to Cristo Rey.
Each day was filled with challenges, joys, and much hard, hard work in the heat and humidity of the Dominican Republic. Our group, including our youth, worked as a team, stayed focused, and showed remarkable flexibility. Vacation Bible School accommodated about fifty children each day, with many young volunteers and teachers from the Cristo Rey community. Our friend from SC, the Rev. Ann Pilat, was invaluable in our work in Bible School, as her fluency in Spanish helped her to lead the lesson each morning, communicate in all areas of our work in the DR, and made what could have been a real trial communicating much easier. Tracey Roberts was spot on with our crafts each day, with much assistance from nearly every member of our team, who came in to help with the children from time to time. Thanks to Olivia, Chloe, and Dona for camping out in VBS and being so helpful there! Getting to know the children of Cristo Rey and to share something of God’s word and the love of Christ with them was truly a great privilege. And we learned so much! We were extended much joy and hope by many of the people we encountered. More about the trip, its meaning for members of the team, in their words, and the future of our ministry in the Dominican Republic in later editions of the Epistle.
There is no way that I could thank our youth Minister, Emily Perow, enough for her assistance in organizing this trip, showing leadership throughout, and helping to lead our youth in being such a great, integral part of our mission team. My thanks to our youth, to all the adults, too, who gave so much of themselves, in ways great and small!
Thank you to the parish for your support of our efforts, because it is truly only as a community that we move out into the world. Christ has called us all to be apostles in the world. I am so very encouraged by what I saw from our Mission Team!
Let us go in Peace to love and serve the Lord! ¡Vayan en Paz para amar y servir al Senor!