I was blessed with the priviledge and honor of serving the Lord by going to the D R during spring break this year. Back in mid-January of this year I expressed an interest of going on this trip. I was told that I needed to raise $1600. At the time, I didn't have a clear answer from God as to whether or not I should be going on this trip. I only knew that I had a strong desire to go. However, I was absolutely convinced that God would provide the funds for this trip if it was His will that I go. Well, He provided exactly what I needed, when I needed it. By Feb 10th, I had the funds for my flight and a week or 2 later I had the remainder of my funds. He even provided for the funds for my supplies for the trip. I would pray for a particular need, and someone would show up with a check to support my trip. (I'd reply with praise God and thankyou!) Let me mention now, that we really had no funds for me to go on a trip like this. I am convinced that God funds every venture that He ordains. You may hear me say that alot now.
So it goes without saying, that God wanted me to go on this trip. But why? I asked that exact question as I was there. I didn't know the teens, or most of the adults. I didn't have any real responsibility while there. I felt like I didn't belong in some ways. Yet, the Lord showed me at least a glimpse of why I was there.
1. To pray- There were so many opportunities to pray for people. As we were in the villages, the Lord would prompt me to pray for children. I'd pray blessing on a baby who looked malnutritioned. I prayed for a teenage Haitian girl who was discribed as being 'rough'. I prayed for the teens I was supervising on the trip. I prayed with and for the Makarios staff. I prayed for the Haitians there. The highlight of the trip was during a bible study in the village of Chichigua. My friend Cristina, a Haitian immigrant who works at the Makarios school, taught the bible study. She spoke Creole to the ladies from the village. Then she translated her words into the spanish. Cara, one of the Makarios staff translated her words into English. It was awesome! She asked me to pray. I was so honored. I prayed for the women and sang for them. The Spirit moved in such an awe inspiring way. He knit our hearts and completely removed our language barriers. We embraced like family at the end.
2. To add another perspective to our group. Being in the villages of Chichigua, and Pancho Mateo in some ways felt like home. The people were much like the people of my home in La. Even some of the landscape of the country side reminded me of being in the country in La. Of course, I didn't grow up with beaches and palm trees. I felt a connection with them. It was like I was walking back in time. This is what it was like for my parents, and my grandparents, and their grandparents. It's somewhat difficult to explain, but their was a deep connection with the people there. It was also pretty funny. Because I was black, everyone expected me to speak spanish. I know they were trying to figure out why this black lady who couldn't speak spanish was with all those white people! People of African decent are discriminated against in the D R. Actually much of the country is of African decent, however they try to deny their African heritage. So the blacker the skin, the more discrimination and Haitians have very black skin. I'm not sure if they thought I was Dominican or Haitian. Either way it goes, I would definitely not have the same opportunities as the Dominicans with lighter skin color. Wow, that reminds me of my home town.[As a side note, we were in the D R, but we were serving primarily in the Haitian communities or bateyes. The Haitians immigrate their for a better life. We were in the city of Puerto Plata.]
3. To partner with some new friends there. Before I arrived in the D R, I was able to connect with a wonderful missionary there, Rachel Sticklee. She started a Coop in one of the villages there. She is helping single women to support their children, so they don't have to resort to prostitution. They are learning to create beautiful things like: necklaces, hand-made paper, candles, purses, etc. and she sells them to the missionary groups that come down. She also sells them online. www.latienda.ca I wasn't able to talk to her while I was there, but I was able to bring some donations from the one day homeschooling community I direct and I was able to talk with Cara, who will be joining her very soon. Cara is transitioning from Makarios to work with Rachel. I want to offer my art work in someway. I'm not sure how God will use me, but I also have lots of ideas. If you feel led to pray or give to this ministry, they are trying to raise $10,000 to purchase their own building. Rachel also needs help expanding their business and training the women. They also need art supplies donated. Things like fabric, beads,beads,beads, 20lb fishing string, etc.
I also met a sister there. Cristina. She works at the Makarios school we were there supporting. She has 4 children, 2 boys, 2 girls. Her boys currently live with her grandfather because she and her husband are unable to support them financially. I am praying about how to help them bring their family back together under one roof. Her husband has been out of work for over a year. I have been given the opportunity to support Cristina's English classes. $12 a month. I know that the Lord will multiply that gift abundantly:). I will also begin corresponding with her regularly in order to encourage and support her. My friend Grace Zenteno will be translating our correspondence. Thankyou Grace :) I believe Cristina and her husband are in a position to minister to the poor in the D R and even into Haiti. Because she speaks Creole, she and her husband, with the proper training, are in a great position to disciple Haitian leaders who in turn will disciple the people. Please join me in praying that the truth would go forth and set thousands free in the D R, Haiti, Cuba (where Christians are persecuted), and through out the Caribbean. [Makarios is a ministry based in Austin which ministers to the poor in the D R right now. They have a school in the town(community) of Montellano which serves many of the children unable to attend public school. Many Haitians cannot attend school because they don't have birth certificates. Haitians are seen as less than human. Right now, the school is a preschool, but they have plans to expand. They are asking that everyone give $10 to the cause or more if God's leads you. They are also in the process of building a large home where groups would stay while in the D R. Check out www.makariosinternational.org in order to see their ministries and to support them prayerfully and/or financially]
4. To simply enjoy the beauty and bounty of God's creation in another setting. It was such a stark contrast to see be in an area laden with trash, and then within a couple of minutes be on a beautiful beach beholding the crystal blue waters shimmering in the sunshine. We took the children from the school to the beach. Most of them don't have the opportunity to enjoy the beach, eventhough they live within minutes of it. Sadly, many Europeans visit the island as tourists and ride through the villages on buses looking at the"poor people". They even throw candy at the children as they ride past. [We visited 3 villages(Bateyes): Pancho Mateo, Chichigua, and Tamarindo. The latter 2 were purely Haitian villages. Pancho Mateo did have some poor Dominicans also. We also had the opportunity to visit a tourist beach called Cabarete. Many Europeans travel there. There were shops full of beautiful art, jewelry and clothing to purchase. The beach was full of Europeans there and black vendors trying to sale everything under the sun--an interesting contrast. It was beautiful beach.]
I am motivated to learn Spanish and even Creole now. I know I can do it. Many of the Haitian immigrants there speak 2-3 languages. We're so spoiled in the US. We expect everyone else to learn English. It's time we learn languages so that God can use us to expand His kingdom. Pray for my family as we seek to learn new languages.
I am praying for ideas to support La Tienda. I am thinking of coming up with a unique line of clothing that the ladies could sew. I've always loved designing clothing. I used to design and make my own clothing before I had kids. I'm also planning to paint some art pieces that they can use for post cards.
I plan to go back as soon as the Lord permits. I'm not sure what exactly I'll be doing, but I know it'll involve prayer. Speaking of prayer, there is a little girl in the village of Chichigua who is in a wheel chair. I have felt prompted to pray for her healing. Please join me in that prayer. I don't know what God has planned for her, but I desire to see the God's name made great in that village. That He would use that little girl to reveal His love and His glory!
Thankyou to everyone who partnered with me on this trip. Scripture says that you will be rewarded as though you went yourselves. God is pleased when we support those He ordains to go. Please continue to pray that the kingdom would continue to be expanded, that God would demolish the strongholds in the D R, and Haiti, that the walls of racism would be eradicated, and that God's people would live as one, loving each other so that the world will know that we follow the Infinitely Glorious God of the Universe.
Peace be with you.