1 John 4:7 Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God.
When an opportunity arose at work for me to go on an upcoming Dispatch Project trip, I was completely unsure of what to expect, and I had more questions than answers. I decided that I was going to go into this trip with no expectations or predetermined thoughts and let life happen around me so that I could experience the fullness of each moment. What I really came to experience was love in its simplest form.
Our journey started in the Sioux Falls airport, where a collection of strangers with a common purpose gathered to help those in need—and, as we came to find out, we were helped as much as we helped the wonderful people of La Vega.
Our group bonded quickly, as would be expected when you have a common purpose, but I think it went beyond that. We learned about each other’s families, faith, personal experiences, personalities, jobs, goals, and political beliefs, and learned that we all came from many walks of life. What was really cool is that this collection of strangers became friends. And our group of strangers came to call the people of La Vega our friends, too.
We flew into the airport in Santa Domingo early Sunday morning (12:00am) and headed down to the Christian ministry center. There, we got settled in for the night. The next morning we ate breakfast, and headed down to see more of the capital city. After seeing a few quick sites, we left the Capitol and pushed on to La Vega, the city we would call home for the next week.
We quickly settled into the dormitory where we would be lodging for the next seven days. It was tucked away from the hustle and bustle of the La Vega (pop.104,000) and provided a quiet resting place for us all week. After settling in, we went to meet the people we would be helping by getting a tour of their community and then worshipping alongside them. It was an amazing service and we were truly welcomed into the community.
We came to build upon a church alongside the people of La Vega in the Dominican Republican – that was our mission. They had a need to expand their space and, because they were completely landlocked, we needed to build up and add a second floor to their church so they could make room for more worshipers and even have a classroom to teach children.
The project itself looked pretty daunting. We wondered aloud how we were going to take the roof off and build the second floor, all with limited tools and even less expertise. We arrived that Monday morning with a great attitude and jumped in with both feet. Within a day, we had taken off the thick tin roof and had the entire roof removed and separated. That was when the real work began.
The rest of the week we made great progress and continued to build on that second floor, but we really started building relationships, friendships, trust and bonds – along with a larger space for them to worship.
We had the opportunity to visit a school that some of the local children went to - amazing kids that had a strong appetite for learning and bettering their life.
We had an amazing trip full of love, learning, and service. We made lifelong friendships and were taught so much about life from the people in La Vega that it is hard to image how we could repay them for allowing us to come into their lives. The people were so kind, gentle, gracious, thankful, and had an energy and warmth about them that is hard to put into words. If you are ever considering a trip like this, do it. There are very few things that are more rewarding.