Returning from the DR: A Heart of Thankfulness

As I sit here a mere 20 hours after my return from the Dominican Republic, I can’t help but reflect on God’s incredible goodness throughout our time in that beautiful country.  We were able to spend the majority of our time helping at several orphanages, mainly through VBS programs and simply spending time with boys and girls who have lived unbelievably difficult lives.

Neighborhood From Which  Many Orphans Come
Neighborhood From Which
Many Orphans Come

One evening, I was talking to a lady from the church, Edia, who is heavily involved in the orphanage ministry.  I asked her how the kids came to the orphanage, and she said usually the connection is through local child services overflow requests.  She told me how three years ago, Madeleine, now 12, was found roaming the streets—naked—having been homeless for at least several months.  Edia described the extensive injuries on Madeleine’s feet, and how long they took to heal.  Edia went on to say what a huge change they’ve witnessed in Madeleine, a special needs child, throughout the past three years.  While she used to react with outbursts and rage on a regular basis, she now goes weeks without an episode.

Milenny, the Wisest 6-Year-Old
Milenny, the Wisest 6-Year-Old

 

Milenny, an adorable little 6-year-old I connected with, was talking to me one day.  She told me that she used to live with her dad and then her grandma. “I like it here best,” she said, “because I get to learn about Jesus.”  Later in the conversation, she told me that she got to come to the orphanage, because her grandma had been burning her.  Despite her difficult past and young age, I was able to learn from Milenny.  She has a perspective on life unlike any 6-year-old I’ve ever met, choosing to thank God for the little things and encouraging all those around her.

Spending time with these orphans was no doubt an incredible privilege.  In them, I saw such a pure joy singing and learning about Jesus. During our VBS, they would always beg to sing more and more songs before moving on to the other activities.  I was also deeply impacted witnessing the people of Iglesia Bautista de la Gracia (Grace Baptist Church) pour their time and resources into this life-changing ministry.

Watching my students grow and minister together was also a special blessing as they were challenged regularly to adapt and grow.  I have no doubt that every member of our team would say that he or she left the DR having been blessed to minister and also learn from these kids.  For that, I thank you. Each of you, in your financial and prayerful giving, had a hand on this trip.  Without you, I would not have had such a special opportunity to both minister and grow.  Thank you for letting the Lord work through you in this way.

 

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