2010 Trip--Santo Domingo This year a total of 15 people participated in the trip. For those of us in the 'over 40' group we were excited to have so many young people accompany us. And to those of us in the 'over 50' group, we were ecstatic. The thought of being able to delegate some of the grunt work to the younger generation was very appealing to me. One of the difficulties in preparing for a trip is that each year we try to have everything planned so the trip will go smoothly (especially for the first time mission participants). We always forget that part of the allure of these working vacations is that nothing comes off quite as planned, and despite our best efforts to put together a well-planned trip, there are always obstacles placed in our path that we did not anticipate. This year, from a planning standpoint, everything pretty much fell in to place. At our organizational meeting we had commitments from 14 people and that is pretty much what we ended up with. The Grace Community Praise and Worship Band helped with our fundraising with an outdoor concert and it was a resounding success. Airline tickets were purchased in the early summer at a very affordable price and when all was said and done, the Motley Mission Team had raised over $26,000, collected about 1,200 pounds of clothing and toys, and committed to building 2 new homes in January 2010. Again this year we really give thanks to everyone who helped out with the trip. It is an awesome experience each year to watch how the trip unfolds. Every year we have our doubts--every year God surprises us with a way to get everything accomplished.
Tearing down David & Rosie's old house
David, Rosie, and family
As the team leader, I thought the major challenge this year would be, "How in the world are the Guzmans going to feed all those people at once?" "How will we transport everyone?" "Will there be a major upheavel when we all try to shower?" Guess what..NO PROBLEMA!! Everyone was super. Our hosts, Gustavo and Bien Guzman did a super job preparing the meals and furnishing our transportation. We did have a few problems with the truck that they had borrowed, but once we broke it in (it had over a quarter million miles on it), we were just fine. Other than the guys screaming like little girls when the showers went cold, we did just fine. After the decision is made concerning who will get a house built for them, Gustavo goes over the ground rules with the new home owner. They must have clear title to the property, furnish the help to lay the foundation, and must be working (when work is available) and trying to improve their family's lives. No drinking, gambling, and wasting money. One habitual problem seems to be with the foundation. We need to have foundations in when we arrive so construction can begin immediately. This year on house # 1, the foundation was completed on time. Only problem, there was an extra block on one side wall and an extra block on one of the main walls. So the entire foundation was 8" out of square. Four years ago, I would have totally flipped out, but this year I just figured IT IS WHAT IT IS. We had no choice but to build it on the foundation. There were 14 people that had taken a week's vacation from work to build a home and that is exactly what we set out to do. With 14 people traveling the first week, we estimated that we could finish the house in about 3 1/2 days, leaving us time to paint some of the neighborhood homes and do other repairs. What we didn't count on was the rain (all day the first day) and the fact that we had no lumber. Yes, 14 people traveled over 2,200 miles to build a home, pay for the experience, and there is no lumber. OK, this upset me. After Gustavo spent several minutes on the phone speaking in very loud Spanish, we received a partial delivery. Only one small problem, most of the lumber was the wrong size. By the third day, we still had not received a majority of the lumber we ordered. Gustavo was getting the run-around from the lumber mill, so he hopped on a bus for a two hour ride to Bonai, and said he would not leave the mill without the truck loaded with our lumber. He called about three hours after he left and said, "Some of the lumber is still trees." For crying out loud, they hadn't even sawed the trees into boards yet. MAMA MIA. We worked until dark that night with the lumber we had, and just as the sun was going down, here comes Gustavo riding on the truck with the lumber. Now we were in business. My biggest challenge was trying to keep everyone working. The crew worked together remarkably well considering that you can't really teach someone to build this way. When we finished, we took a step back and looked at the house, and despite the fact that is was 8" out of square, it looked pretty good. Each year I wonder if I can feel the same level of emotion that I did with my first trip, and each year there is a defining moment when you get that welling up in your eyes and have to swallow hard a few times to choke back the tears. This year that happened at the house dedication for David and Rosie. After completing the home, we like to have a furniture truck pull up with new beds, table and chairs, propane stove, and furnishings. When David and Rosie saw this they were so filled with joy that they just couldn't contain themselves. Joy to the point of not being able to talk. It's one of those small things that God lets you witness to show that you are on the right track. Every year, we go to the Dominican Republic thinking we are going to do all these good things for people, and every year it is the Dominican's hearts that do good things for us. We always reap more than we sow.
Dave & Rosie overcome with joy
Dave & Rosie's New Home
Jaime's Trip Report
My trip to the Dominican Republic in January 2010 was unlike any trip that I have ever been on.I had been to the DR once before on poverty awareness trip, but this trip was in a whole new classification; filled with relationship building and personal connections. Let me tell you about it…
It started a few days prior with waking up early to my alarm clock talking of the overnight devastation to Haiti caused by the earthquake.It wasn’t until that very morning that it really sank in that I was packing up and going to a poverty stricken country.With the earthquake I was afraid that the trip would be canceled.
As the day began my brother Tory, my mother Kim, and I left our family home to meet our group in a Detroit motel.The whole way there I was anxious to meet the group of people that I would be sharing an experience of a life time with, other hearts that felt filled when they helped others.
At 8 PM the gang was all in our motel room.It was wonderful to meet everyone.The energy was so strong, every person anxious about the earthquake and the opportunity to be a part of something that would change peoples lives.
We were early to the airport, which was a good thing because I was sleeping in a bed with my mother who was too excited to sleep at all!While checking in, there were many different groups that were gathered to bring their different services to Haiti.Doctors, Nurses, Water Crews, Relief support teams.I felt so proud to be among them, and although I was not going to Haiti, I knew that what our team was about to do would be life changing to people as well.
During the flight two people from our group sat beside a man from Montreal who told them he was going to Haiti to look for his daughter, who had been missing since the earthquake.There was not a dry eye during the story.As we landed, over the speaker the pilot came on telling us he was very proud and honored to deliver all of the humanitarians to the Dominican Republic and Haiti.He shook each of our hands as we descended off the flight.What a powerful entrance to the country!
We quickly got our bags and were met by our hosts, complete strangers to me, Gustavo and Bien.They gathered us, loaded us into the bus and truck and we were off to their home.They had opened their home to us, even moving out of their own bedroom to allow the girls to sleep in a separate space.They gave up every inch of their home to us.Bien had made arrangements to cook every meal for us, and cater to our every food needs!She also braved the streets of the city to ensure that we were able to buy all the food packages and house wares for our families.Gustavo gave us all his time with taking us to our build site, around the community; to get the supplies needed for the build.They helped us tap into their community connections, introduced us to many wonderful people in the community and offered us each a place in their home church.These two amazing people gave up their ENTIRE life for two full weeks for us!What a gift.
We were also overjoyed to have a woman named Cathy join us for the two weeks. She takes her two weeks of allotted vacation yearly and gives us her time to help with the cooking and cleaning.She said it was her way of giving back to the community.What a beautiful thing.We were very lucky to also enjoy the company of her two sons Edward and Ronnie, who my brother Tory adored and played with every night until dark!We also had a girl named Yorkiris join us daily.She helped around the house, and came with us and did a lot of interpretation for us.She is an English student of Gustavo’s and attends his church.She was wonderful company for me.Last but not least Bien’s sister Edelbis, she helped Bien with whatever was needed during the first week when the group was at its largest.What an amazing group of ladies to take care of us and love us!!
During the first build the old house came down very quickly.It was heart breaking to see the family watch their family home come down around them.I wondered if it was a traumatic event for the children to see, or if they understood that we were not just taking it away but providing a new one for them.
The grandmother had a hard time accepting us in her community.I think she wondered the whole time what we would want or expect in return at the end of it.However the rest of the community was so welcoming.All the children get to know our names and wanted to play and help when they could.All of the adults in the community did their part in helping to build this new home.Some cooked for the crew, some watched the children, some housed the family while they had no home, some housed their personal belongings while they did not have a safe space to put them in, and a large portion helped with the build when they could.
There were some very hot days, but that didn’t stop a soul; every day at the crack of dawn people showed up to help out.We would arrive and everyone would be there ready and willing to do whatever was needed that day.
One of the most amazing things to me was being partnered up for the morning or the afternoon with men and woman from the community who were experienced in building, well, more than myself at least.Because of our different languages not a word could be spoken between us, however the communication that took place was incredible. Very few mistakes were made, and where there happened to be one there was laughter because it was due to a misunderstanding.It was a fascinating way to build relationships with people you can not speak words with.
Mid week we spent an evening in the community watching a movie and slide show in Spanish.Some of these children and adults had never seen and may never again see a movie.There was juice and popcorn, hugs and laughter.What an event to be a part of.Watching the children and adults as they sat in rows with each other and us among them, after a very long and hot days work was mesmerizing.
The week in that community came to a close very quickly.The house dedication took place and there were many tears and hugs. There was a surprise for the family when the truck loaded with furniture arrived.Table, chairs beds for all, a countertop and more.The family was taken back by this and so thankful with tears of happiness and love.It was heartbreaking to know that we couldn’t just ‘stop by to visit these new friends anytime as we can at home.We closed with a video slide show of the build over the week and sang songs and letters of thanks. Goodbyes were very hard on everyone.
The Motley Mission Crew 2010
Painting Alexandra's House
Tory, Kim, Jaime
Meeting our Sponsored Children
Mom working her magic
Ken David joins us Week #2
Over the weekend half of the crew departed and the other half finished off some side projects.We were able to paint all the houses in a community, fixing walls, windows and doors in another community.During that time there were two more full communities that came together and we got to be a part of.More friendships were made, more smiles, laughter and hugs…more tears of sadness at the goodbyes.
My mother, brother and I broke away from the group for 2 days and one night so each of us could meet the children that we sponsor.The first morning we were dropped off at the grocery store and it was Tory’s afternoon to meet his boy, Wellington.We all helped pick out a cart full of groceries and we loaded them into a taxi and went to Children’s International to meet Wellington and spend the afternoon with him.It was an amazing thing to be a part of.Watching my brother meet this little boy was a once in a life time experience that I was honored to be a part of.His father invited us to their family home after we all ate some lunch together.We met his brother and two sisters.Tory gave a few gifts to each of them and we chatted and looked at their family photo album where they proudly have a picture of Tory stored in the middle.They had made him a special cup of dessert, which he ate lovingly.Saying goodbye was sad to watch as my brother gave this little boy, who admires him so much, the last hug, at least for this trip, and said goodbye.
We got on a bus and took the trip from Santa Domingo to Santiago.We stayed in a hotel overnight and woke up early to be picked up by Children International staff to take my mother and I grocery shopping then to the community center, Dan’s Place, to meet Genesis, the little girl I sponsor and Leandro, the little boy my mother and father sponsor.
As we were waiting for the two families to arrive to meet us there for pizza lunch, my heart was racing.I was so nervous, I felt like this would be one of the most important days of my whole life.I was scared to meet her mother because I didn’t know how she felt about some woman from Canada showing up in her community wanting to meet her daughter.I didn’t want the mother to think that I felt entitled to meet this little girl just because I sponsor her.And not speaking a word of Spanish I didn’t know how to tell her that I felt honored to be able to be invited to come and meet the family.I was also nervous that I wouldn’t recognize Genesis.
The truck pulled up there she was in the front seat on her grandmothers lap.She busted open the door and ran over to meet me with a hug….it absolutely melted my heart.She was just as beautiful in person as all the pictures I have received over the years.She was smiling ear to ear.I met and hugged her mother, then the rest of her family.We ate a pizza lunch and had some small conversations that were interpreted by the staff members.
We went to Leandro’s house first.We visited as his mother proudly showed us around and all Leandro’s school work.My mother’s eyes were sparkling as she was hugging everyone and chatting with his mother.I remember standing in the door way of their house watching my mom as she interacted so gracefully with everyone -- being so proud of her and her beautiful heart.I remember thinking that I am blessed to be her daughter.My brother was playing with the boys and chatting through the interpreter with the father.It was time to go and visit Genesis’ family home.
The drive to her home was a sign of what was to come.The dirt road was awful, bumps and mud, hill after hill.Finally, we were there.My heart sank; her home is in an almost deserted area, with glass and garbage everywhere.I had to keep thinking to myself not to be sad, because they were very proud to invite me to their home, they are proud to own this home.
As I was being shown around by the mother the grandparents pulled out chairs for me to sit on and hugged me repeatedly.I handed out the few things that I brought for the family and Genesis left for a few minutes than returned with her ballet outfit on.She was so proud to show me her outfit and talked about how thankful she was that I sent her to ballet lessons.I was on the verge of crying because all my childhood I took ballet and when I got her request to attend in the mail, I was more than happy to be able send her to lessons. I went inside to explain to her mother my feeling and we both cried tears of happiness to be able to be a part of each others lives. I walked out of their house and had a feeling of panic because I could not see my mother.I am a 26 year old woman who is very in control and independent, but my emotions were so strong that I had that little girl feeling of I just need my mom right now.I was so glad she was there with me.She came around the corner and I saw her and felt instantly relieved.It was a really refreshing feeling, and when I reflected on it I was amazed that I felt that way, how neat.It was time to return to our home base.Goodbyes were said; no more tears just happiness!
We returned late and went to bed to get up early and join our crew at the second job site.This house was built from the ground up.The family had been living with family, which amazed me.The children were in their teen years and the parents hadn’t been able to sleep in the same bed for years and years, yet the love was still there.
Getting to know that whole family was every bit as rewarding as the first one.We did the same movie night, and the same relationship building.The rest of the week was spent on the job site with he whole community that came out to participate in the building.As the week passed you could feel the excitement of the family as they saw their house being built and finished off.There was also the feeling of community as everyone who helped build was so proud to have helped do such a wonderful thing for others.
The furniture arrived again with surprise for the family and the same tears of thankfulness, love and joy as they hugged and thanked everyone who came to help.We did the video slide show of the week at the build site and closed with singing a few songs and words of thanks.Again the overwhelming feeling of not being able to see this wonderful family every day that I felt like it was there in my stomach, but the happiness of seeing them be able to be a family unit again was worth any ounce of my own selfish sadness.
It was time to return to Canada!So many tears fell as we expressed our gratitude towards our hosts who were off to volunteer in Haiti the day after we left.Again I felt so honored to know them and be a part of such wonderful peoples’ lives.They are so selfless and give all they have to others.Two beautiful hearts!
We met so many amazing people with such pure loving and giving hearts in those communities.As they shared their days with us they shared friendship and laughter, opened their homes and their hearts to us.
The plane ride home was quiet as everyone slept and reflected on the experience.My dad was at the airport ready to pick us up and take us safely home.
As I sit down to write this it has been three and a half months and it still plays like a movie in my head.What an amazing movie to be cast in!
I want to say thank you to everyone who offered prayers of safety while we were there as well as donations so that we could build two houses, paint a community, fix up another, and have the experience of a life time for Dominicans and Canadians.
Bruce & Ryan set a 6 x 6 Post
Lacey, Keli, & Jaime build a window
Cheryl, Keli, & Jaime work on siding
Keli, Val, & Sherry teach Dance Class
Tory on Movie Night
It's nice to have Marty for those hard to reach places