Santiago--2009 The Motley Mission Crew stormed the Dominican Republic for week #3 in the Cienfuegos neighborhood of Santiago. After two weeks of great weather in Santo Domingo, we left for Santiago on February 4th. We arrived in Santiago around noon, checked out the construction site and discovered a few problems: 1. The lumber had not been delivered 2. The foundation was not squared. In fact the side wall had an extra block in it, and was 16" longer than the other side. 3. The foundation was 6 feet wider than our original plan. (By the way, the wood that was ordered was for the dimension of our plan). 4. It had been raining in Santiago for 3 days and the job site was very muddy. OK!! We can deal with this. It's not like we can go home and come back when everything is corrected. You have to learn to adapt when you have just one week to build a house. So we adapted. Ken came up with an alternate plan, using the existing foundation and we decided we would just have to make it work. We had to pick up the Grace Puppet team at the airport at 10 PM and meet a cab driver there to help with the luggage. It was my first attempt at driving in the DR, and I failed. Do you know they don't even have street signs. If you are lost and someone ask you where you are, how do you answer. Luckily Sherry was able to communicate our need to get to the airport, and this guardian angel cab driver had us follow him back to the highway and took us right to the airport exit. Thank you God for arranging that. Well, despite getting lost and being totally frazzled, we arrived before the plane. However, the van & driver that we hired were no where to be found. We loaded the luggage on our truck and waited for the van (which was now one hour late). Barb negotiated for another van to take them to the hotel, and just as they started to get into the new van, the one we hired showed up shouting "Raymond?? Raymond??" Anyway, we made it back to the hotel around midnight, unloaded the luggage and assured Tim that the guy out front with a sawed off shotgun was there for his protection. For the next 7 days, we did not see the sun shine. Enough whining (from me)!!! The group that joined us was wonderful. They took everything in stride, especially the Richard and Rachel and Nellie and Megan and Keli. They are part of the Hands of Grace puppet team that performed live for the children at Dan's Place Feb 4th thru Feb 11th, 2009. The puppet team is led by Barbara Engelhart and team members include Keli Burton, Richard & Rachel Engelhart, Megan Moore, and Nellie Cuyler. The rest of the group including newbies Tim Burton and Dawn Cuyler worked with the rest of us constructing a new home for Germil and his family. Germil is one of the children sponsored by a Project Santiago couple. Our team, including Dan Truax, met him originally when we were working on repairs of homes in the Cienfuegos area in May 2006. The construction was another first for a Motley Mission Crew team--built entirely while wet. Yes, it rained Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday, Monday, & Tuesday. We didn't quite finish the construction, but were amazed to complete as much as we did.
Tim at the saw
Megan, Nellie, and Keli
The Puppet Team The anticipation of getting to the Dominican Republic was pretty high for the entire puppet team, Hands of Grace. When we arrived that evening the night was nice and warm. We were ready for what God had prepared for us.
This mission trip was interesting and different for me in comparison to other mission trips. Our main goal was to glorify God in all we do. One way we planned to accomplish this goal was by performing puppet shows to the underserved children of Cienfuegos and Santiago. Our puppet shows attracted several children as well as adults and they all commented that the shows were amazing. Each performance was well received with euphoria from the audience.
The atmosphere was certainly a time to observe Godís work in the lives of many in the Dominican. It was neat to see how content the local people were with what little they had. It is hard to comprehend how different our cultures are. In the U.S., it seems as though no matter how much we have we always want more and you might even call it a competition to see if the rich can get richer. But in even the poorest of neighborhoods that we visited, the community of the poor did not battle for material things. God allowed me to see that a simple life can offer contentment and peace. I felt God speaking to me to seek to serve others in a way that was sensitive to the Dominican's personal dignity. It was important to do the small things with love, because God will take care of the big things. In this missionís trip situation I had to partner with God through faith and not by sight. I had to stay focused on what He needed me to do and not what I wanted to do.
The Dominican children at the construction site marveled me with their ability to communicate with our young puppeteers. The puppeteers learned to play hand games, which were predominately Dominican, how amazing was that, people from two radically different cultures playing together. At the same time the Dominican children were enthusiastic to learn hand games from America, what a connection our puppet team made with these children. It was the neatest exchange of culture through children.
I thank the Lord for the Spanish classes I took in which I was able to comprehend many of the conversations around us. It comforted me to know that the Dominicans could approach me in Spanish and there was a trusting relationship with the Children International staff and many of the Dominicans, this humbled me that my Lord would give me such a gift. I knew during this trip God was watching over us as he kept the puppet team safe going to the Dominican and bringing us back safely to America.