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Monday Afternoon

We're exhausted after a long day in the sun, but VBS at Batey Bermejo was a successful adventure! The construction site? Perhaps a bit less so. We succeeded in tying some steel rebar to prepare for concrete pouring, but a piece of equipment (a special circular saw for cutting thicker pieces of rebar) failed and had to be taken back to the equipment rental place to be replaced... which in turn held up the rest of the work. Still, some of us got to do some helping break up rock in the foundation area with pickaxes.

When we arrived at Batey Bermejo, it was after a bus ride through countless sugarcane fields, stretching as far as the eye could see. The village nearby is little more than a few buildings and ramshackle huts, but the batey itself is even more basic in terms of accomodations, sanitation, technology. They did however have a decently loud PA speaker connected to a portable gas generator (which was also charging a number of cell phones at any given time). That amplification, as well as the small battery-powered guitar/PA amp Dave brought, proved quite useful.

And yet, the kids (and adults) in our little concrete and cinderblock shelter-turned-church were surprisingly quiet and attentive. They loved to dance, they enjoyed singing, and the puppets (which we learned are more usually called "marionetas" here as opposed to the other term "títeres") were a hit as always! In fact, even before we arrived, there were already some older adult women passionately leading songs of praies (mostly in Creole) at the front.

Pastor Mede welcomed everyone with a few responsive words acclaiming the grace and glory of God. They already knew exactly how to respond, much as the church last night did. It was reminiscent in both cases of our typical Lutheran liturgy: "The Lord be with you/And also with you. Lift up your hearts/We lift them to the Lord" and such, or other camp and VBS calls like "God is good/All the time!"

The puppets sang a song, and then Dave lead two more songs--"This Is the Day (Este es el Día) in Spanish, with help from Magalie to lead a verse in Creole, as well as "I've Got the Joy (Yo Tengo Gozo)" in both Spanish and Creole. Lynn did a beautiful job vividly telling the parable of the Good Shepherd (assisted by Magalie translating) from the Spark children's bible, and then the puppets retold the story from their perspective, with Jaime (the new name for Nathan's puppet) wearing little white sheep ears and describing how he got lost and then rescued by the Good Shepherd. His counterpart Diana (Zoraya's puppet) asked if he would ever leave the Good Shepherd again, to which he replied an emphatic "No!"

Allie, with some help from Lauren and Karen and even a bit of Larry dancing (which you have to see to believe), led some circle games with a beach ball and imitative motions, and then a short Zumba dance-workout. We finished with more songs, and a simple yarn and popsicle stick cross craft. Our team added the children's (and many adults') names to the small crosses, along with a bible verse. Karen asked the children to hang their little crosses in their homes (which, in this case, might be little more than a concrete and tin hut if that) as a reminder of God's love and our friendship.

When construction was delayed later, Craig and Dave went with Scott to a local music store to pick up some drum sticks and a guitar cable. We still can't get over how much that young kid was able to do on the batería (drum set) with half a splintered drum stick in each hand! And, the guitar player and keyboard player were constantly struggling with barefly functional (and not enough) guitar cables held together with electrical tape. These humble offerings should help make the most of our time and theirs as we return tonight. Though not originally part of the schedule, the Luz Divina praise band musicians requested if possible for Craig, Dave, and Zoraya to return tonight and continue teaching them about playing as a group, and to help them improve as much as possible. They are so hungry to learn more about music and music ministry, and it's humbling to be part of that work. They work with so little, and bring so much love and unashamed passion to what they do for our God almighty, and for God's people in God's church!


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Bienvenidos a todos

We are here in La Romana, Dominican Republic! After connecting with our local missionary, Scott, we piled into a bus and drove along the coast to La Romana where we checked in to our hotel. Our evening was filled with a warm welcome, fantastic food, some impromptu multilingual music-and-puppet jamming, and an inspiring introduction to Pastor Mede (of the Luz Divinia church we are partnering with here), his wonderful wife and our intrepid translators. More details to come tomorrow...

...In the meantime, many thanks to all who have prayed for us, helped us with a variety of resources and logistics, and inspired us to work and serve alongside our brothers and sisters in the body of Christ here in the D.R.!

-Dave Chávez, Music & Worship Minister, on behalf of our entire 18-person-strong D.R. team

Sunday Morning

¡Buenos días desde La Romana! (Good morning from La Romana!)

If you look at the last photo from yesterday's post, it's hard not to notice the infectious joy written all over Estella's face. She was born in the D.R., and her husband (Pastor Mede) was born in Haiti, and it was so beautiful to hear their story of finding each other as an answer to their prayers, of how God has given them the dream of a thriving church that serves the needy, and how their differing backgrounds give them language skills that balance each other out: he stronger in Creole, she stronger in Spanish! She works as a teacher, a job much in need here.

Speaking of language skills, it's certainly impressive to see the way Pastor Mede and Estella switch freely between Spanish and Creole, but it's nothing short of amazing to hear our translators and PPM (Praying Pelican Missions) Assistant Trip Leaders translate both languages in fluent English! Meet Gia (right) and Magalie Joseph (left).
Without G…