Click on the movies button to the right for a 7 minute slideshow / video of the 2017 mission trip to the Dominican Republic. Two houses built from the ground up and two more completed by funding the cement floors so the owners could move in. This year we also were fortunate to have the opportunity to spread the gospel message in three different schools via a puppet team.
If you need more information on upcoming trips, please shoot me an email email@example.com or call Rick Raymond at 269-963-1368
Hands of Grace Puppet Team
This year the Motley Mission Crew brought their very own puppet team to the Dominican Republic led and trained by Barbara Engelhart. The puppet team did 5 performances at 3 schools in front of approximately 970 students and teachers. The kids enthusiastically received the show which consisted of skits about Noah's Ark and the Good Samaritan and a couple of contemporary christian songs. There was also a special guest appearance by El Capitan Fantastico who gave the kids a quick English lesson. Gustavo passed out bibles at some of the performances and the mission team passed out tracts and short bible stories and activities to the students. The team was asked by the village police officer if they could come back next year and perform for other schools in the area. One thing that really struck me was that despite passing out so many tracts and bible activities, I did not see one of them that was left on the ground. A portable stage was constructed of PVC pipes and broken down in 32" pieces so it would fit in one suitcase.
The Hands of Grace puppet team was Barbara Engelhart, Nikki Sexton, Shelia Stafford, Lani Hensel, Amy & Landon Asaro, Tammy & Makayla Skidmore, Jan Winder, and Sherry Raymond. Jack Malone co-starred as El Capitan.
Here is what Barbara had to say about the trip:
I was happy we were able to use the puppets to minister to the students and teachers. I hope this ministry can grow in the Dominican Republic. I praise the Lord that all went smooth--even though we lost electricity in the middle of our first show. (Keeps you humble and reminds you that you are not in the USA).
When I was preparing to go on this trip I prayed for God to reveal my individual purpose for being in this mission's trip. I just don't want it to turn out just going for vacation. I wanted to be useful and God sure fulfilled me in this trip with the little talent I have. I want to make sure that the mission was accomplished and I know God help me in working a little part of it. I always want to make sure I am doing the work without selfish ambition or vain conceit or my own interests. I am thankful that God kept a hand of protection on us during this trip. I read 2 Timothy 2:15, which I feel I want to do my best as a worker of God.
Thank you for all you did organizing this trip and getting us back safely.
Lord I Lift Your Name on High (Spanish)
Puppet back stage pass (Noah)
Help Me! Good Samaritan
Puppets with a PURPOSE!
Jack Malone aka "The Saw Man"
JACK "THE SAWMAN" MALONE TAKES ON A NEW ROLE AS "EL CAPITAN FANTASTICO"
For those of us that know and love Jack, it didn't surprise us at all to see him parade around the schoolyards as "El Capitan Fantastico." He was certainly missed around the job site, but hey, superhero's have to go whenever and wherever they are called. Jack filled in while the puppet team changed from one skit to the other and among other things, told the kid's to watch the sky at night and look for him flying by. Jack is the only one who tried out for the part (actually he created it).
Jack is one of those guys that will do just about anything to get the message across. He can engage almost anyone in conversation and before you know it he has made a new friend and won you over. -Rick-
Some thoughts on this year’s trip by El Capitan Jack
After seven trips the experience continues to offer great rewards to us as the "servants." When we build a new house for someone and give it to them with no strings attached, there is no doubt that their lives are changed--and not just for the short term- they are changed for decades. I don’t think we can fully appreciate the magnitude of the gifts, having never had a house given to me. We experience the joy of giving. It’s kind of like giving a Christmas present but knowing this gift will impact the families for decades to come.
This year I was able to visit a sponsored child in the DR because of the mission trip. I was able to travel and assist a friend (Amy) and her 14 year old son (Landon), both were visiting her sponsored child for the first time. They had been corresponding by mail for over 10 years. We traveled by car for 3 hours to Santiago and spent 4 hours with the two children. We gave them gifts we had brought for them. After that we had a great meal together and took them shopping for food and clothing. It was a wonderful experience to see the children in person, to hold them and see the great delight it is to connect with them in person. Our little girl is new for us. She is 6 now, so we have many years to build on the relationship. It was a great adventure to explore the Dominican countyside by car.
The group had wonderful Christian fellowship in working and serving together. There was plenty of time for sitting and enjoying the pleasure of each other in having the common bond in Christ and sharing his love with the Dominican people. We had several opportunities for devotions and building one another up.
The puppets were new this year. They were a huge success. More kids were reached with the Word of God through this powerful medium. It was great fun for the kids and the puppeteers.
If anyone is thinking about doing this trip, I would advise them - just do it. You will not be disappointed!
I forgot to mention the great joy I had in seeing how a family's house was transformed with some money God had clearly given me. Last year, a lady repeatedly showed me how bad her house was in need of a roof. I told her to pray for God to give me the money for her roof. The job turned out to be much larger than just a roof. The walls and foundation also needed repair. The job ended up being more costly than we originally thought. The Lord heard her prayers and provided the money for all the work. She was really happy when I saw her this year at her newly repaired home. She got a new roof and new siding, with rebuilt walls and foundation. God provided way beyond what we asked or hope for.
I am really happy about being able to help. I can't imagine how she feels. You would have just had to have seen it. Btw, that's why you should go! -Jack-
Jack in his new role. El Capitan Fantastico
Give me five, El Capitan...work the crowd.
Lani Hensel's 12 year wait!
Acts 6:1-4 speaks of those chosen during the early days of the church, to be disciples and to serve those who were being neglected. Verse four says" but we will devote ourselves to prayer and to the ministry of the Word." This verse sums up the basic purpose of our mission for the Dominican people. Through our prayer and the prayers of those supporting our mission we were able to minister to the people and spread the good news of the gospel. The people of the Dominican do not speak English and I do not speak Spanish, yet I was able to know how they felt through their hugs and touch how much they appreciated our service to them. I believe they truly felt the presence of God working in their community through us. I definitely left a piece of my heart with the wonderful people of the Dominican Republic.
Lani was scheduled to go on the Motley Mission Team's first trip in 2006, but a difficult pregnancy and concern from her doctor caused her to cancel the trip. Now, with three children (Natalie, Madalyn, and Wes) Lani felt that she was finally able to join the team. In addition to the puppet team, Lani participated in all phases of the trip and even convinced most of the team to sing "Lord I Lift Your Name on High" at a church service in front of the congregation we were visiting. Our thanks go out to her husband Jeremy, as well as all the spouses who support their husband or wife while they stay at home and care for the kids.
Side note: Lani had a little difficulty with the hammer and nail at first, but by the end of the trip she could slam down a nail in 22 strokes or less. I think she could take on Sherry in a nail driving contest. -Ricardo-
Lani demonstrates universal communication
Lani shows off her carpenter 'skills'
Amy, Landon, & Barbara do crafts
Mother and Son Join the Team Together
Our trip to the Dominican this year was the answer to many months of praying for an opportunity to serve Him with my 14 year old son. As any mother, I had concerns about what he would see and how he would be affected by our visit to an environment totally different that what he was accustomed to. I have always wanted my children to understand that many of God's children live in poverty and the challenges they face daily are so much different then those we see here in the United States.
This trip provided the perfect balance of living outside your comfort zone, seeing the Lord's provision for those He loves in the Dominican Republic and an opportunity to serve long side those that seek to love the way that only Jesus can love. To say the trip was a blessing, you should not miss, would be an understatement. The housing is incredible, the host and hostess, a blessing you cannot comprehend until you have stayed in their care for a week, the people, the children you will encounter, will change your life. They changed ours by teaching us both, life is not in the stuff we have, but rather in the relationships we encounter along the way. The memories and friendships we made in the Dominican will be something we treasure always. Thank you Rick and Sherri for your commitment to provide life-changing opportunities for all who travel with you regardless of age or ability. Everyone's gifts were put to good use, Jesus has He hand on this ministry.
Our Children's International child has been part of our lives for the last 13 years. She was a sweet faced three year old when we first saw her picture on our paperwork. This past week she turned 16. Meeting her face to face on our trip to the Dominican last month was an experience hard to explain on paper. For 13 years she has hung on our refrigerator, been part of our conversations, prayers, growing up in our hearts while our own children grew in our home. To hold her close after all these years, to see the difference our simple monthly donation actually provides and to hear her tell me she loved me, there is just no way to describe those emotions. We can make a difference, seeing her run down the steps toward me for the very first time a couple of weeks ago, makes me believe that even more than I did before our visit. Supporting a child through Children's International has changed me, and my family, an opportunity we would not trade for anything in the world. -Amy-
Amy and Landon were terrific additions to the Motley Mission Crew. It is always nice to hear back from trip participants after their first trip. It is important to have people who have been on past trips to help organize things, but all of us enjoy watching the "newbies" experience the mission encounter for the first time. Amy is a long time friend of Sherry's and mine, in fact about 20 years ago I remember hearing her oldest son pray (and I mean pray a prayer from the heart) when he was just a little toddler. It was one of those defining moments you remember from your early Christian days that make you want to start the race and finish it...and help give others the hope that we have in Christ.
It was a real treat to watch Amy & Landon and all the newbies interact with the local community. -Rick-
Amy and Landon
Landon helps make tool boxes
Letter of Thanks to Gustavo & Bien
Gustavo and Bien,
Our sincere thanks once again for your hospitality and hard work. I know it takes a lot of preparation to receive our group and we really appreciate all the effort and hard work that you do, not only while we are there--but before we arrive and after we leave. Could you also let Eusabio (Maestro), Francis, and Moreno know how much we appreciate all the years of hard work and dedication to the Mission team...and we can't forget Cathy in the kitchen and all those delicious meals and fresh juices that her and Bien prepare.
I don't know about you, but this group was very eager to do anything that needed to be done. More and more people from the group are assuming additional responsibilities and my last few trips have been much more enjoyable...and I think we are moving in the right direction. The puppets seemed to be well received and the group is already gearing up for the next trip.
We can't thank you and Bien enough. Looking back over the last 12-15 years...there is no doubt that God was preparing us for this work. Don't know why He chose us, but I'm glad He did.
Like you say, how can you tire of helping others...
I hope we have many more years to serve HIM!
Gustavo with Amy after church
Nikki (loves those kids)
Kevin with his helper on house #2
Jan gets her hair "done"
Seeing the World and Going Fishin'
I went into this mission trip with little expectations. Wanting God to show me His world--and that is exactly what He did. I met so many bequtiful people. Not even a language barrier could stop the overpowering love there. This was a life changing moment for me. God is everywhere, if we only take the time to see. I am thankful the Motley Mission Crew has this love for the Dominican people and they listen to God's calling. I will cherish the time that I spent in the Dominican Republic where I was able to give--and also receive. As if that wasn't enough, I got to share the time there with 13 others--I will carry them in my heart forever. If God calls you to be fishers of men--GO!--You won't be sorry.
Motley Mission Crew 2017
Kevin--An answer to prayer
The trip to the Dominican Republic was an amazing experience! Having never personally traveled out of the country, I was nervous about this new adventure, but I know I felt a calling to get involved in ministry in some way. It was right after church one Sunday morning I prayed asking God how can I be useful to him. I want to be more involved and grow in faith, but I know I need God's direction and guidance. It was right after that prayer that same Sunday, I started talking to Rick Raymond about the trip; He mentioned there wasn't many men going on the trip. It is interesting sometimes how God can answer your prayers at a moments notice or sometimes a progression over time according to what he has planned. I knew from that moment that this was something that I had to do. I love doing construction and working on houses, being right in the middle of remodeling my own house this was right up my alley. This definitely was a life changing experience to see God's work unfold and how people that have so little are so full of life. I feel sometimes we have the outlook that we are just helping them, but I feel even with the language barrier they teach us just as much about what is important in life. I could see how much I was taking for granted on a daily basis. To see a whole community united to help each other, praising God for his blessings, especially during the house dedications what an amazing and powerful event to witness. I was fortunate on the second house to work with a kid that in a lot of ways reminded me of myself at that age. The really cool part was this house was for him and his family. I know at that age I would have loved to help build my families house. I have never met a more patient and mature child at that age to work with. I could tell that if he could have, he would pound every nail in that house himself. He started out with just a hammer, then saw I had a tool belt and he grabbed one, then saw me measuring and grabbed a tape measure and pencil. He got pretty good at marking out boards himself. I remember Gustavo saying that boy is a man for his age. I pray that with this new home that child grows up to be a patient, wise man that loves the Lord. This trip was a huge help to me personally to refocus my own life as well. The team was excellent and we had a great time. I really hope I am able to go again next year and work on Spanish in the mean time! It is amazing that Rick & Sherry, Gustavo & Bien have had this calling in their live's to help the Dominican people for twelve years now. Thank you to Rick and Sherry for your dedication and the opportunity to a part of an incredible mission.
Kevin with his work crew
Barbara (puppet tryouts in the DR?)
Comments from Jan
You asked us for comments on the trip. I don't know where to start..... I first tried to define my favorite part of the trip, and I could not pick just one.....
Bein and Gustavo... Hostess and Host... Beautiful people set out to fulfill God's mission for them.... real as real can be, welcoming, humble, beautiful people.... (and a beautiful home, definitely no roughing it here).
Fourteen people of which I only knew two.... as you may have read before, the 2017 Motley Mission Crew was made-up of more great people. Made some great friends along the way. But just to note: with fourteen people, I suppose it is easy to leave one behind now and then. Benefit of being left behind..... more quality time with Cathy and Bein. (One day we left for the job site and had about 18 people in the back of the truck. We drove to the job site and discovered about an hour later that Jan was left behind...footnote by--Rick)
The fun we had putting on puppet shows... The expressions of the children and teachers are priceless. The overall gratitude of the local people. The children.... precious.
Multiple projects to participate in... picking up the food for the food baskets, delivering food baskets, puppet shows, putting up siding, running a saw, clothes sorting and distribution.... Seeing other things the donations goes towards, cement floors, paint, medications, Bibles, just to name a few. I was impressed by how well cared for the prior years houses were.
The beautiful scenery, the warm sun, the coconut water, the eating sugar cane. Cathy and Bein's great food.
Optional extras...I could have done without the bee sting :( Wish I knew/ studied Spanish. I ignorantly expected the locals to understand and speak more English as I had recently been to the Philippines where they teach one hour of English in their schools at every grade level. Not many locals could understand English.
Guess that is all for tonight... Thank you to you and Sherry for all the work you do to put these together!!! Until we meet again....God Bless......
Don't just talk about it...get to work
Big Movie Night Crowd watches "War Room"
Jan & Nikki help with Bible Crafts
Quick Takes & Coop's Scoup
Jerry is one of those guys that knows what needs to happen, and quietly gets the job done. That's why he surprised us with a "campfire comment." If you see "Coop", ask him how the meal was that Maestro cooked for us over an open fire. MMM Oh, and don't forget to ask why his 'comments' got him in to a little hot water.
Shelia was a real trooper even though she came down with a cold the day we arrived, and kept it all week long. She never missed a beat with the puppets and along with Tammy and Makayla and the rest of the crew made more than a few friendships with the Dominican people, hammered some nails, distributed food and clothing, and always seemed to have a group of kids hangin' around.
Tammy and Makayla renewed old friendships and made new ones. Every year, they add to the number of people that they need to look up. One more year of Spanish and I think Makayla will break out and start translating for us. What do you think Makayla?
EVERYONE pitched in and helped wherever needed--a job well done!
Shelia, Nikki, & Tammy in Construction 101
Shelia with her new friend
Makayla & Tammy selfie demonstration
Motley Mission Crew arrives at Gustavo & Bien's
Ricardo's Thanks!!!! to the Motley Mission Crew 2017
I just wanted to send out an email to everyone on the 2017 Motley Mission Crew to let you know ... you did a fantastic job this year. Thank you for answering the call when God tugged on your heart to be a part of this year's team. You guys pitched right in and everyone...yes, everyone played an important part in fulfilling God's mission to serve the Dominican people. There are not adequate words to describe my gratitude for the team this year in how they presented themselves to the community of Las Mameyes. Whether building houses or building friendships--whether communicating the love of Christ through puppets, movies, or interactions with the community--you all demonstrated what a true Christian should be. Genuine love and friendship.
Do you have any idea what a joy it has been to have your good friends, relatives, acquaintances, and sometimes total strangers join you in a passion that God has laid on your heart...and not only once, but now 12 times. I really can't comprehend how or why God weaves our lives together the way He does, but it is clear to me that He is the one responsible for putting it all together...over and over again. Each trip has its’ similarities and its’ uniqueness. This year, the addition of the puppet team really stepped up our outreach and hopefully planted the seed of salvation in some children's or teacher's heart. We may never know, in this life, what effect we had on the people--but if we are faithful to God's promptings, you know good things will happen--people will come to Christ and lives will be changed for eternity.
Also, I would like to thank the husband's and wife's of the trip participants for supporting your spouse's call to the mission field in the Dominican Republic and the sacrifices that families had to make because a key component of their family was missing. God knows that you were also an important part of His mission.
Last, but certainly not least, I would like to thank my energetic, loving wife...who has passionately embraced the people of the Dominican Republic and recently completed her 11th trip. She spends countless hours collecting, sorting, packing, re-packing, and re-packing again. She has been a real blessing to me...to the people of the Dominican Republic...and to the Motley Mission team.