A group consisting of Sherry Crandal, Leslie Raymond, Marty Uldriks, Ken & Darlene Stamm, and Rick Raymond left for Santo Domingo and Santiago on February 20, 2007. With guidance from our facilitators, Gustavo and Bienvenida Guzman, a brand new home was constructed for Alexandria (a single mother) and her four children. Community support and the sheer number of local volunteers from the local village was overwhelming. When we found out that Alexandria had no furniture, beds, food, cooking utensils, etc. we voted to spend some of our discretionary money to meet her needs. Since her husband left her, Alexandria had been praying faithfully for 2 years to God that somehow HE would provide a home in which she could raise her children. Once again, Gustavo and Bien picked the perfect recipient and we all felt that God orchestrated the whole event--from start to finish. In addition, the Missions Team held Dominican style movie night by projecting Veggie Tale (Spanish Version) and slides of our trip on the walls of buildings in four different villages on four different nights. We would just announce that morning to one or two people in the village what we were going to do and had 50-90 kids show up (in their Sunday best clothes) each night for movies and popcorn. Sometimes the show was interupted by power outages, but everyone still had a good time. Food, clothing, bedding, toys, and supplies were distributed to the poor people in the area of Santo Domingo.
At the conclusion of our trip we visited our sponsored children in Santiago and had productive meetings with the W K Kellogg foundation and Children International regarding our efforts to establish a Community Training Center in Cienfuegos called Dan's Place. We would like to thank everyone who made this trip possible especially the Master Planner.
Darlene shows Ken how it's done
Here is what Sherry Crandal had to say about her first experience on a mission trip:
"Can one person make a difference? Before I went on this trip I had asked God to open my eyes to what he wanted me to see, my ears to what he wanted me to hear, and my heart to what he wanted me to feel. I thought that I was going to help others. What I didn't realize was how the people I was going to help would change my life forever. My eyes were opened to people that in spite of our cultural, ethnic, and economic difference, not only extended a hand of friendship, but an embrace of love.My ears, in spite of our language difference, heard laughter, concern and thankfullnes. My heart felt their joy and love. In spite of little material possessions, they possessed joy that overflowed.
Can one person make a difference? I met an eleven year old girl whose mother had died in childbirth and her father died from poisoning. In spite of her circumstances she wanted to share what little she had; so she saved her milk from school to bring to us. I met a man that volunteered to help build a house for others, yet his house is little more than a shack with no windows where he lives with his wife and children. I met a woman who stood firm in her faith in God, in spite of the loss of a home for her and her children. I met a teenage girl that made baskets for us, even though it took from the materials she had to sell. I met a boy that gave us an egg, because that's all he had to give. I met many other individuals that volunteered that week to help build a house for someome else. These people have little or nothing themselves. Many have nothing to cook on except an outdoor fire; no latrine except the community outdoor one, no bed to sleep on, showers that consist of cold buckets of water taken in an outdoor shower stall; some didn't even have enough clothes to put on their children; and many had little to eat.
Can one person make a difference? The group that I went with had such a strong passion, love and belief in what they were dong that they were contagious. They are a true example of how love conquers all. Their light will shine in the hearts of the people we met for a long time to come.
Can one person make a difference? I was blessed enough to witness the answer. I left a different person than I was when I came. My life has been changed forever. This trip was the beginning of a new chapter in my life. I am looking forward to the many pages I have yet to write. "
And here is what Leslie Raymond had to say about her first mission trip experience:
"Wow, to sum up the trip in only a few thoughts will be difficult. I would have to say that it arose almost every different emotion that I could possibly have in the span of 10 days. I felt hurt, saddness, and grief mixed with an exceptional amount of joy, unexplained bonds, and excitement. And all the emotions could only add up to something I haven't known for a while--peace. You may not know this, but I had been feeling like I had nothing else to offer this world. I was stuck as if I had been plowed into a snow ditch. Dad, when I went there I finally realized that there is something that I can give to this world. I felt like I had been dug out. And for the first time in a long time I felt happy. So to me this trip has helped rekindle my soul and reestablish my faith. I don't know if you can find a way to sum that up or not, but I wanted you to know how I felt about the trip.
Thank you for giving me something to believe in again. I know it sounds cheesy, but I needed it."