Happy Holidays!

Where I am in life is peace and tranquility intersecting in a glorious cacophony of marvelousness.

 

Today is January 25, 2015 and I am happy to bring you the latest edition of my blog here at Caminante. My life through November, December, and January so far has consisted of a roller coaster of differing emotions and work speeds. During November, I was able to celebrate Thanksgiving with a wonderful family that invited Andrew (Roommate and Cinematographer), and Deondra (USA Peace Corps) and myself to their house for a traditional American meal. We were all very grateful for the hospitality! Thanksgiving embodied for me the fact that all around the world there are souls willing to go that extra mile to welcome others.

After Thanksgiving, there was a deep breath before the storm of Christmas parties, all the country seemed to quiet down as people set up decorations and started their shopping. Naturally, the quietness did not last as the third week of December was entirely a Feliz Navidad. More and more tourists began to visit Boca Chica and our streets became jam packed with people. Caminante matched the Caribbean spirit by ramping up everything. The administration dispatched us to different sites to hand out presents, listen to summaries of 2014, and encourage as people shared their goals for 2015.  We have so many different groups that all desired their own end of year recognition and parties. The women’s health group had their own party, the different vocational classes had their own parties, and last but not least, the kids had their party!

La Casona has a set of stairs up to the fellowship hall where we were having the party that Friday. Those stairs were shaking that day as 140 kids filled the hall!

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That day was wonderful because there was this sense of peace in distributing presents to kids. There was a palpable light in the eyes of the kids that wonderfully warmed my soul 🙂

After the Christmas parties, I was able to do a quick trip home from the 23rd to the 30th. I’d like to share a story from that visit home that captures the essence of why I love the ministries of our churches, here in the Dominican Republic, and in the communities and churches where you, my readers, minister to feed the hungry, cloth the naked, and share Christ’s love.
One evening during the holidays our extended family was at dinner when someone asked me “What are you doing in the Dominican Republic?” I told about the various programs and ministries of Caminante, what we were doing in Boca Chica and surrounding communities. Then I mentioned going each weekday at 11 a.m. to the back door of a local tourist hotel, and collecting leftover foods from the kitchen to feed children. I had been working there for two months before I learned that many of the children we fed actually slept at night right on the beach and on public stairsteps, for they had no homes. For some of them, the weekday lunch was their only regular meal.

My Mom’s cousin was sitting beside me, taking in the whole situation. He volunteered: “My church in North Carolina raises money to purchase just-add-water meals that cost maybe a dollar yet feed six people for a day. Then we have huge packing parties, where we put the dried food bags in boxes and ship them to a processing center, where they are sent overseas to refugee camps and to countries where people are hungry.”
While washing dishes later, my aunt shared with us how her congregation in Virginia went through a process of trying to discover their mission in the community. Some of their church gifts were being hospitable, a commitment to community service, and an accessible location of their building. They asked “Why not partner with the local food bank and serve a meal one night a week to whoever is hungry, rich or poor, young and senior?” My aunt says that project will be launched on Jan. 21, food and room at the table for anyone and everyone, every Tuesday evening. My young cousins are so excited that they will get to be among the greeters and servers.
As my Dad dried and put away dishes, he told what his downtown Decatur, GA, church is doing. This January they are partnering with local high school students to raise $17,000 to pay for 60,000 meals for hungry neighbors around the world. The church will host a fellowship meal and invite diners to donate whatever they would spend on a restaurant meal. And the church’s gym, closed for 7 years in disrepair, is being renovated and transformed into Maker space, where it will be alive, creating and building new projects, and relationships.
I am grateful to be serving as your Global Missions Intern in the Dominican Republic, and I am grateful for your ministries in your own congregations and communities. God bless you!
H

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