2011 Dominican Trip--Santo Domingo Motley Mission Crew goes International This year's crew consisted of Jaime and AJ from Newfoundland, Kim, Matt, Dave, and Teri from Sarnia, Ontario Canada, and Jalen P, Lacey M, Marty P., Marty & Edelbis U., Jack M, Ken S., Ken-David F., Ryan S., Dan & Cathy K., Rick & Sherry R. all from Michigan.
An Open Letter to the Trip Participants Hello to everyone!
Just wanted to welcome everyone back home. If I did not get a chance to express Sherry's and my gratitude to everyone individually, I would like to do so now to everyone as a group.
Each trip brings new memories and accomplishments. Some we can see, others not. Rest assured though, you helped make a major difference in many lives of the people we served. Three new families now have homes. I can tell you from past experience, they will never, ever forget what you have done for them. Countless others benefited from food, clothing, and toys that were distributed (over 2,400 pounds worth that we carried in our suitcases plus everything that was purchased there). Over 200 bibles and new testaments were distributed to people that WANTED to have a bible to read. Our hope is that as a result of placing the Word of God in the hands of so many people each year, many will come to Christ. The word of God is a powerful tool.
Many homes were made more secure with the concrete, wood, and other items that we ordered extra. One entire home was given a concrete floor. Several others will be using the extra wood to make doors and repair siding. Work will begin soon on a home in Los Gomez (the husband died after starting it and for the past two years the widow and her children have been living on dirt floors with less than 1/2 of the roof and siding on the house. The house will be completed by ordering cement blocks to complete the walls, rafters to hold the roof tin, 60 sheets of tin for the roof, wood for windows and doors, gravel for fill, and the cement for the floor. The project will be completed with an all-volunteer crew of local help (honorary Motley Mission Crew Members from the villiage). Total cost to give someone the comfort and security of having a completed home ($1,800). This was made possible by the extra donations that were received from both participants of the trip and our supporters--thanks to everyone involved. After hearing the story we were convinced that this would be money well-spent.
Many children were given love and affection and that was definitely noticed by the parents. Movie nights were attended by 100- 200 people. For the first time the community really came together to thank us collectively. I wish everyone could have attended the celebration that the neighbors threw for us the second week. It was nice to hear several members of the community come together and offer prayer that we would continue to have the resources and desires to help the people in their community.
In past years we have always prayed that the construction would go smooth, that we would have square and level foundations..yada, yada, yada...and it seems that we always had problems that we would have to overcome. This year we focused our prayers that God would allow us to be part of something bigger--that we would be His workers and He could use us any way that He wanted. We prayed that whatever we would do, would lead some to be closer to Him or maybe even encourage someone to get to know God for the first time. The net result--construction went smooth. Two homes were built in the first 6 days. The job sites were all prepared with relatively level and square foundations--and for the first time, concrete floors that were in when we started construction of the walls. What a joy that was from a building standpoint. I thought this year the whole team was remarkable. Everything seemed to flow very well and despite having 13 people each week, there were no major problems or mishaps. I was proud of the way everyone carried themselves to accomplish so many things. I hope everyone has time to reflect on everything that was accomplished with the help and direction of God. I thank Him each and every year for letting me be a part of this ministry and along with a lot of people both here and in Gustavo's village--I also pray that He continues to give us the resources to be able to do this each and every year. Preparations will begin soon for the 2012 trip.
I would appreciate any comments that you can make--both positive and negative (as long as they are constructive). I need some comments to post on our web page and for the slideshow and we just want to know if there are ways to make this a more enjoyable and productive ministry. PLEASE take a couple of minutes to send me an email with comments.
Thanks again for your dedication and the sacrifices that you made to go on this trip. And for all you newbies....you are now a part of this wacky group that derives pleasure from paying to work while on vacation...I can't explain it so it must be a God thing.
Rick & Sherry Raymond
THE HOUSE VIRGINIA BUILT
Every year we have had the pleasure of meeting & helping a family move forward. Each one of these families is special for both their circumstances and the desire to move ahead and help one another. We have witnessed countless blessings that these families have both received and then in turn, given back.
This year, we had the opportunity to help a family that was working together each day just to get through the day. This family had limited options…. but much love.
Here is their story as we understand it through minimal translation but with much interaction.
The Grandmother’s name is Mercedes. She still has a son living with her, he is 14 & his name is Feliz.
For the past 5 years Mercedes has had the responsibility of raising her grandchildren. Their mother died from aids and their father is in the last stages of life, also from aids.
Her daughter Foil & her husband Willy have supported Mercedes, her son Feliz, her niece and nephews Kaley age 12, Reily age 6, llasmely age 8. They also have three children of their own. Foil and Willy have Maiver age 15, Winnifer age 11 & Ashlyn age 2.
Willy works everyday to provide for this large family. We were blessed to be invited into their lives to help them have a place to call home. Willy and Foil rent the current house that the whole family lived in and they shared everything. They take the older sons to their father’s house for a few days at a time as he hasn’t much time left to spend with his children.
Each home has its special circumstances, but this family had many people in the community that were truly happy for Mercedes & Fiol so that they would have enough space to live and be happy. All of the neighbors understood the sadness surrounding this family because the children soon would have no parents.
The building went smooth, the family and friends helped have everything ready for us. The family was overjoyed with all the furnishings (beds with frames), propane stove, pots, pans, linens, cleaning utensils, dining room table, and chairs. The only part that was unexpected was that they touched all of our hearts in such a special way. I feel that I truly witnessed a miracle when this family was given hope.
I have never met you Virginia and Lillian, but I will always be part of your generosity & love that helped give this special family a home. We were told that no recognition was needed or wanted but I feel that you should know how much your gifts of love provided. The house dedication was truly a happy event, but so much more happened when those children had a place to call home.
May God shower many blessings on you and may you have the same peace that you have given these children forever.
Dios le Bendiga, from the Canada Crew. Kim, AJ, Jaime, Matt, Teri, & Dave...
Sometimes, at life's darkest moment, when there seems to be no hope for the future...God sets a plan in motion. In His infinite wisdom He unites the extreme need of someone (this time a family in the Dominican Republic) with the desire of someone else to help (this time two women in Michigan and the Motley Mission Crew). It is hard to imagine how any entity can be so smart and loving and capable of opening the eyes of our hearts to see what He wants us to see and encourage us to do what He wants us to do. Somehow though, He unites the needs of someone 2,000 miles away with the desires of two women who want to help. God lays things on our heart sometimes that we can not possibly understand, but if we follow His promptings, blessings will abound for both the giver and the recipient of the gift. The whole Motley Mission Crew gives thanks not only to Virginia and Lillian, but to everyone who supports us with their donations and prayers. Because of you, lives are changed each and every year. Hope is born and joy is placed on the hearts of many. As MMC crew members, we have the opportunity to witness that joy firsthand, and we thank you for partnering with us. God is the Master Planner, and it is sweet when He allows us to be a part of His plan. If God is speaking to your heart--don't ignore it. Follow Him wherever He wants you to go. Remember, if God is for us, who can stand against us--He is the author of our lives and all creation.
This is the second year I have been a part of the Motley Mission Crew.There were a lot of friendships made, and a lot of past friends visited.Three family homes were built.Many clothing and food packages distributed.There was a lot to reflect on when I returned home. This year there were two significant events that took place during this trip for me personally.Both events are tied to the second family that we built a new home for. The following is the story of the second family followed by one of the events that will forever be with me; The Grandma Mercedes takes care of her three grandchildren; Fraley (grandson 12) Llsmely (granddaughter 8), Reily (grandson 6).Also her son, Feilz-Manuel (14) is still under her care. Two years prior Mercedes and the four children in her care had moved in with her daughter, Fiol and her husband Willy.They have three children of their own;Maiver (son 16), Winnifer (daughter 11), Ashlyn (daughter, 2).When Mercedes became the guardian of the three children she could not provide for them all so she was welcomed into her second daughters two bedroom home. Mercedes became the guardian of Fraley, Llsmely and Reily in 2009 when her daughter died of AIDS.Her daughter had been infected by her husband, the children’s father, after he had been unfaithful to her and contracted the AIDS virus when Reily was 2 years old. All three of the children were tested and tested negitive for HIV/AIDS. The father was on his death bed in the hospital with AIDS as the new family home was being built for the Grandmother and four children. Fiol works every day, part time, at a little fruit stand, her husband Willy works, physical labour, every day with a construction company.Mercedes makes different crafts and sells them on the weekends in the city when Fiol is home to be with the children. This family was chosen for the second home.It was built on the land right beside Fiol and Willy’s home.As the children grow up they will inherit the family home. For me, personally, this was one of the hardest situations I have ever been in contact with.The sadness was not comparable to anything.Llsmely touched my heart.She is a very sad child at this time, still mourning the loss of her mother.The day of the dedication of the home to the family we were all standing on the porch, she was holding my hand.The sun was going down, people were singing songs of happiness and different members of the family spoke to thank the MMC for coming to build this house for them, and thank them for all their kindness and grace.A member of the community got up and was very thankful saying that this family needed a new start, a new home would be a wonderful way to begin their new lives, that the mother would be so happy if she could be there.She knew that the mother was watching and was thankful for helping her children, and her family be able to live in a safe home that was theirs. At that point Llsmely went into the new home, all the new furniture sat in a pile on the middle of the dining room floor.I went in behind her; she was in a dark corner crying big painful tears.She looked at me and reached up.I picked her up and put her in my lap.I was sitting on a wooden chair, she was crying so hard and looked at me and just kept saying “mama”.It broke my heart.All of these new things, house, toys, clothes….she wanted her mother.We sat and cried for almost a half hour together while the dedication went on without us outside.Her oldest brother, Fraley, came in and sat on the chair next to me and we wrapped him in a hug as his tears came.We sat like that until it was pitch black outside and in.The MMC came into the house with the Grandma and Aunt to show them all the furniture to help them set it in the right rooms.The youngest child, Reily, came over to us.He didn’t understand the tears.He hugged his brother and his sister and took his grandma’s hand with a big smile and looked back at his siblings who were looking at him.They all smiled at each other. Each year I think that people connect with individuals and whole families.They say that there will be select special people that come across our paths during this mission work, now I know what they mean when they say that.
The second event that will always be with me is shared with my mother.One afternoon during the second build we went to the community with a backpack full of 2 large boxes of crackers, 2 jars of peanut butter and 5 packs of juice.We knocked on Foils front door with the plan to ask her if we could use her kitchen table to make up peanut butter and crackers for the people on the job sit for a snack.She welcomed us in very happily.She got us two butter knives.Her daughters, Winnifer and Ashlyn and her niece, Llsmely joined us at the table.She turned on the radio and handed us some platters for the ones that were done.The girls broke the crackers and passed them to us, we put on the peanut butter and put them on the platter.Foil was in the kitchen making the juice. I remember having the thought cross through my mind; here I am at this table.This is a stone building that a family has made a home.They have welcomed me and my mother into it, we are sitting at their table with their children making a snack.We can’t communicate very well with each other but that doesn’t matter.We are off on an island in a poor neighbourhood that is not on any map.No one outside of our crew knows where we are, in such a small world we are lost among people that have much less than we could ever dream they would have. I felt so small, but not lost because I was sitting here with my mother, what an amazing place to be and what an awesome experience to have shared.Just two people, in someone’s family home helping fix a snack with her and children.
One of the most heart wrenching experiences of our trips is when we identify a need so great, that it is hard to put it off until the next year. Please look deep into the picture on the left. Try to imagine spending one night in this house. The house is located in the same neighborhood as David & M's house that was completed this year. One side of the house is being held up by a bamboo pole, the other side consists of loose cement blocks piled up against tin siding. The back of the house is tied down to a fence with bungee cords and a bra strap. When we asked the owners if we could go inside, there was a beautiful four month old baby napping on a bed. It is doubtful that the house will still be standing when we arrive next year, but the picture of that baby sleeping inside that pitiful shack will stay with each of us until we return in January 2012 to build them a new home. Again, we give thanks to God for allowing us to help deliver someone from this hopeless existence to something better. Come with us in 2012--and find out what an incredible experience it is to be a part of something that the Master Planner has put together. Even if you have never been a part of a team like this, consider stepping out of your comfort zone and joining us for an incredible experience. Contact Rick Raymond at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.