2009 Mission Trip Overview When planning began for the 2009 trip, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was at 14,000, employment was good, and consumer confidence relatively high. Now, nearly a year later, the stock market averages are down over 50%, unemployment is at a multi year high, consumer confidence is at it's lowest level in years--but that did not deter the MOtley Mission Crew from staying focused on the mission that God had laid on their hearts....and that was building homes for three families in the Dominican Republic; furnishing those homes; distributing bibles, providing food for over 100 families, 1100 pounds of clothing, and toys to the poverty stricken people; performing puppet shows in Dan's Place with the Message; visiting sponsored children; and building lasting friendships with the Dominican people. There were times that it had become apparent that we could not possibly raise enough money to fund all of the projects that we felt God had laid on our hearts--especially in light of the financial crisis that was and still is affecting the entire world. Ken & I had given up on the idea of building 3 homes and resigned to the fact that 2 would do--it didn't occur to us that God (the master planner of this trip) may have other ideas. Within one week of conceding the 3rd house, we had received enough funds to not only build the third house, but to furnish each of them as well. So, while we thank each and everyone for their part in providing the financial means to accomplish our goals--we give the highest thanks to the Master Planner for allowing us to participate in this endeavor, and for opening the hearts of the many people who have supported us. We ask that God will bless each and every person that has supported us either in prayer or monetarily and that He will allow our supporters to feel the joy that we experienced while on the trip. So, once again, thank you to the Motley Mission Crew and every one of our supporters. Congrats! You did it!!--3 Homes in 3 Weeks!! Puppet Shows at Dan's Place, Flumen, and the Assembly of God Church!! Yippee!! Sound the horns and give thanks to our mighty God for making a way when it seemed there was no way. Not only did we accomplish our goals, but thanks to the incredible financial support we received from our friends here and the physical support we received from our friends in the Dominican Republic, we also had the time and money to repair a couple of homes, distribute 400 bibles, purchase extra food for the needy, mattresses for people that were sleeping on rusty springs, roofing material for a home, construct steps on a church, and just spend some quality fellowship time with the people of Santo Domingo and Santiago. You would think that with 12 people the first week, 9 the second week, and 14 the third that there would be a lot of conflicts with personalities and such. But that was not the case. Everyone rolled with the punches. Even after 7 straight days of rain the third week in Santiago, everyone was terrific. Gustavo Guzman, our facilitator in the Dominican Republic, earlier had reported that the housing cost would rise rather dramatically this year to around $5,000 per home. This was not unexpected, but it increased the amount we had to raise from private donors and fundraisers to $13,110. As you can imagine, it is expensive to send this many people on a trip-- feed them, house them, and then buy building materials, furnishings, food, and bibles. Our total budget for the three weeks was $41,670, but we impacted hundreds of people. Our goal was to build and furnish one home per week, and the puppet team built a temporary stage and treated the kids of Cienfuegos and Flumen to many programs. It seemed impossible at times, especially raising the funds, but with God's help anything is possible and He made it all happen. Although the scope of this adventure was far bigger than we had done in the past, we were excited to have a field of talented individuals that were committed to changing the lives of people that have needs far greater than ours--and we knew that God would provide us with the funds if HE wanted us to complete our tasks. It is amazing how that always seems to fall into place. Many, many thanks to everyone who participated in this adventure. Not only the actual mission participants, but those who gave their time, money, and prayers for this worthwhile endeavor. And we sincerely mean that--THANK YOU from the bottom of our hearts!! The MOtLey MiSSion CRew IV -- 2009
Week # 1--New House for Luis & Isabella & Family Dan & Kathy Kunitzer, Ken & Darlene Stamm, Marty & Edelbis Uldriks, Valerie Embury, Kim Walko, Marty McMillan, Dave Finnerty, and Rick & Sherry Raymond--12 Members of the MOtley Mission Crew kicked off the 2009 trip on January 21st, leaving behind the cold and snow in Michigan and arriving in hot & sunny Santo Domingo on a Wednesday afternoon. The first task at hand was to build a new house for Luis and Isabella and their family. The building site was a little more than a mile away from Gustavo & Bien's house and in a more rural setting. Their tiny home was made of tree branches and tin, had a dirt floor, and was typically what younger impoverished families from the area have to live in. Isabella was one of 17 children. Her parents, Marcellus & Josephine lived next door in a small house with some of their younger children. In the Dominican Republic it is not unusual for the children to build on their parents property. In fact, before we finished the new structure, one of Marcellus & Josephine's sons had already moved into the house with his new 'bride' - 14 years old and pregnant. This was particularly distressing to us because we had come to know Nakoui on an earlier trip (she was a bubbly 12 year old orphan living next door to Alexandra) and we were all very fond of her. She assured us that she wanted to have the baby so she could be a good mother and love it. Babies having babies--but that's another story.
Luis & Isabella & Family
Letter from Kim Walko I have had so many mixed emotions since I have come home, watching my own pictures which cannot ever capture the exact moment and explaining what was happening has been very hard to do. I have sure missed everyone and I would love to get together soon & have dinner or whatever together. I will be always be thankful that I found your website and that God gave me the courage to go and meet with all of you. I am still in awe that I was able to do this not just because of me but because my family believed in me too. I have had some lonely moments since I have been home but overall it has been so much fun telling everyone all about my experience. When I think of the third week I think of how lost we seemed the first few days. Honestly in my heart I never believed that it would not be as magical as the first two weeks, I just knew the magic would be different. Thank goodness that Marty listened to me and heard me out each night as we both prayed together that we would accomplish all that was planned for us. I was certainly not surprised when all of us at the end of the week had so much emotion flowing & I know in my heart if any one of us needed each other again, we would all stand together & be happy to help each other no matter how the situation began. I really can't express how thankful I am to have participated in such a meaningful and life altering experience. I realize the behind the scenes worry, from everyone including Gustavo & Rick. I am so blessed to have all of you in my friendship circle and I am so lucky that my family has supported me through the last few months. I hope we can get together soon, I miss you and I will always cherish our friendship. Kim Walko *note: Kim discovered Project Santiago and the Motley Mission Crew by surfing the internet for Mission opportunities in the Caribbean. After spending three weeks with Kim, we now know the reason why God laid it on our hearts to start the website in the first place. Even if no one else finds the website, it was worth twice the time it took to put it all together--just so Kim could find us. Kim (and her family) were enthusiastic additions to the MM Crew and really helped us every step of the way--from collecting clothing to fund-raising to the actual trip itself--their actions shined. It also reaffirmed our belief that when God wants someone to go on one of these trips--He finds a way to get them there. The first time we met Kim she drove 3 1/2 hours from her home in Canada to an organizational meeting with strangers she had never met. That in itself had to be a major test of faith. Anyway, thanks to Kim and her family for their partcipation at many levels.