On January 23, 2008 the Motley Mission Crew III (Ken & Darlene Stamm, Marty McMillon, Cheryl Bobinac, Frank Thorpe, Marty & Edelbis Uldriks, and Rick & Sherry Raymond) embarked on a two week journey to Santo Domingo to build two houses. Last year, while distributing food & clothing to the poor, God laid on our hearts what HE wanted us to do in 2008. It's kind of neat how God works, somehow we just knew that this is what HE wanted us to do, and we all felt passionate that HE would arrange the perfect team and funds to accomplish it.
Week # 1 Francis was a man with a heart to help others. If fact, he was a volunteer that was instrumental in building Santos' house in 2006. When Gustavo showed us his house the next year, we were amazed that a man that lived in such conditions with his family could find it in his heart to help others. A 7' x 18' shack with a dirt floor, no windows, a single mattress for the family of five, waking each day wondering if they would eat, but always knowing where they would sleep.
Week # 2 Distributing food and clothing to people that were pointed out to us as the most desperate in need, was a real eye opener for us. One other situation that really jumped out at us was the home of Mercidita and her four children. The single room shack looked like a converted chicken coop. Looking inside, I wondered how anyone could muster the courage to spend even one night in this 'house.' In both cases, it was hard to imagine how anyone could perservere under such conditions, but we thanked God for revealing these needs to us and made plans to build two homes this year for two deserving families.
Francis' Home - 7 feet wide
A Home for Francis & Milagros
The first day on the job site was not a good one. We found out that the Dominican that usually directs the workflow was not going to be with us for the entire two weeks. The foundation was supposed to be completely done, but from what we could see there were only crude footings, and the trenches didn't even look particularly square (they weren't). There were mounds of cement and dirt, stacked blocks, and no one to direct us. Our first thoughts were, "Oh God. How are we ever going to build this house in one week, and where do we even begin?" But a funny thing happens when you turn things over to God. HE makes a way when there is no other way. Even though we had a major problem with the foundation (we had to tear out the back wall) and had to repair the front of the building by removing one wall of siding, we still finished. We pulled together as a team and with all the community support of our Dominican friends, we were able to pull it off.
How can you describe in words how powerful the experience and joy of helping Francis & his family was? The community pulled together to help--from the smallest children to the oldest adults. The constant flow of help, support, joy, and love from everyone with a common purpose. What began three years ago as the first seed--the first home--was growing into a large garden. This was a rather motley garden, filled with many religions, races, languages, and ethnicities, but it was held together by a common bond of love. At the house dedication, we were given a glimpse of what true joy really is as we shared in the laughter and tears of joy with Francis, his family, and the community.
Later that night, the furniture was delivered. Francis, Milagros, and the kids wept. Francis folded his hands, and thanked God as the tears streamed down his face. As I looked around, I could see tears were streaming down a lot of faces. It was one of the most powerful testimonies that we had ever experienced.
Cheryl & Darlene
Dominick & Frank
Sherry, Rick, & Ken
Marty at the home dedication
Marty & Sherry jump-rope 101
Francis gives thanks at their house dedication
I asked God what HE wanted from me on this mission trip. It is not what we do for God, but what HE does through us. "We experienced showers of blessings: -- strength, rest, guidance, grace, help, sympathy, and love -- all from God to us. The love was so powerful and Godly. During the blessings of the homes, everywhere I looked I could see nothing that was not God. The feeling I had was what I had been praying for. -Cheryl-
A Home for Mercidita
Week number 2 was a lot more organized. The foundation and blocks were layed by some of Mercidita's family and friends while we were building at Francis' home, so when we arrived on the job site we began building walls right away. The children in the community helped us carry all of the lumber from the top of a big hill down to the work site. Once again, community volunteers made the job a lot easier. Once again Dominick, Alberto, & Francis were with us every day. We were also joined by several others that helped from youngsters to grandparents.
As the house was being built, something else was going on--we were building friendships. As you looked around the construction site, you could always see a large group of children gathered around a couple of the Motley Mission crew members laughing and bonding. Playing limbo, jumprope, hopscotch, making gospel bracelets, singing songs, or just enjoying each others company.
Once the walls were erected and the siding installed, we were exhausted. We returned the next day to start hauling wheelbarrows full of gravel down the hill to the house. I think the Dominicans that were helping us could sense that we were out of gas, and they offered to pour the cement floor without us. They didn't have to ask twice. About half the crew went shopping for food to go along with the clothes and toys we had packed in the states to distribute to approximately 60 families.
At the house dedication ceremony the Motley Mission Crew sang hymns in English while the community sang in Spanish. Gustavo made the point that the adults should become like the children (who saw no barriers). The kids showed acceptance and love to everyone. It was time that the adults start focusing on their commonalities in Christ and de-emphasizing their differences. One memorable part of the night was when the furniture came-- Mercidita's mother collapsed in thanks - unable to compose herself. Shortly after that she disappeared along with some of the other family members to a nearby house and were found kneeling down giving thanks to God for all HE had done for them.
The last day and 1/2 of our trip was spent visiting with friends and distributing our food & clothing packages to 60 families.
The Motley Mission Crew and our friends in the Dominican Republic thank the many people who support our trips with their generous contributions and prayers--and most of all we thank God for allowing us the privilege of being able to help others. If you have an interest in scheduling one of these trips, please contact anyone on the contact us page.