A week before leaving, when our trip was nearly canceled due to political unrest in Haiti, our group was unsure what to do next. Mixed feelings stunned the group—do we postpone, or do we go the the Dominican Republic where our group has never been, with teens who have never served overseas? After much prayer and deliberation, in faith, with support of the parents and our church, we decided to go with Mission of Hope to the DR…all eight of us.
Just like some of our other trips to Haiti, our group had the opportunity to still participate with youth programs, small construction projects, and community evangelism. I had no idea that so many Haitians resided in the DR and were largely underserved, not living significantly better than those still in Haiti.
While doing community evangelism, we worked with a group called Until They Know (UTK). They give solar lights to residents, helping prevent house fires from candles. While passing out solar lights, I was able to meet a very special woman named Maria Esther. She is a woman after God’s heart, but she has suffered greatly. She is a young widow twice over who is raising five kids alone. Her 12 year old daughter Mariana has diabetes and needs insulin to keep her healthy and out of the hospital. This medication cost $20. This may not seem much, but to a single mom in the DR, it is a lot.
Maria Ester tells us that just this very morning she was planning to go to her church in need of prayer for her family. She admits that every time she feels sad or overwhelmed, God sends people to help and pray for them. Missionaries built her a great block house, her church gave her a refrigerator, and God continues to provide for her needs. At this point she is in tears and is so thankful for the light, for our prayers, and for our love. I hugged her, and it felt like time stopped for this warm embrace. We were two women from very different cultures, yet sisters in Christ with the same eternal future to live in abundance in heaven.
I realized that most of the people we encountered already knew that Jesus was the true light of the world. This surprised me, as my experience has been that most Americans, especially New Englanders, do not believe Jesus is their Savior. In America, we “have it all,” we don’t need help, and we can do it on our own—at least that’s how we generally think! We are a relatively stable population. We rely on our money, possessions, and abundant opportunities for work.
In Haiti or the DR, where can they find true hope? Their hope is in the One, the only One who can provide real hope, in Christ Jesus, the Savior of the world. What we possess in this life is temporary. Christ is forever.
If you’re looking for a way to serve others this summer, consider a trip with Mission of Hope to the Dominican Republic.