When we first got to the Dominican Republic it wasn’t what I expected. I had expected it to be a little more developed than it was, it took me by surprise. I didn’t think it was something I could ever get used to but now we have been here for 10 days and I’ve become used to it. Also, when we first came here, I was also not expecting to like the food because I am a picky eater most of the time, but I ended up loving it. I have come to appreciate how simple everything is, and how everyone just goes with the flow here.

When we go into the communities I go to the neighborhood of Los Higos. Here we build relationships with the youth and adults through sports, crafts, and other interactions. Our main goal is to build connections between the church and teens, which seemed to be a challenge at first. We had a large group of little kids come to the youth camp in the morning who really wanted and got our attention.  However, in the afternoon we got a larger group of teens come but it was somewhat hard to connect with them due to the younger kids hanging around us and the older youth got annoyed with them. When we went the next time, we decided we would really try to focus on the older kids who came and distract the younger kids with a game. This gave us an opportunity to talk with the older youth and build a connection with them. They told us some of what they have gone through or experienced in their life. The next time we went into Los Higos we went to the river there with youth 13 and older. Here we connected with the teens even better being able to talk with them without any younger youth being around. On this day we had someone accept Christ into their heart. This was very special and amazing to witness. At the rally that night we had a group of older teens who had admitted they had no faith. This was sad to hear but they continue to show up to the activities we put on and it was interesting to talk to them about Christ and what they believe. I pray they continue to listen to what the church has to say about Christ and that they will accept him into their hearts.

We went to Los Calabazos with the team one day. It is a beautiful river town where we were given the opportunity to spend time with Christ alone. I was able to reflect on my relationship with Christ and everything he has done for me and my family. I was also able to appreciate the beauty of this earth that God had created for us to live in. After we had spent time reflecting on everything and talking to Christ we went to a different part of the river. Here five people were baptized, and it was amazing to see their reactions because each person was so different. I was glad to be part of such a wonderful experience.  We were also able to jump off a large rock into the river which was a lot of fun. Los Calabazos was a great place to connect with Christ and appreciate the earth and animals he created.

This trip has brought me closer to Christ and other Christians in my church which I am grateful for. I enjoy being able to connect with people who have a culture that is different than mine because it gives me a larger understanding of the differences in the world. I have learned that just because it’s different doesn’t mean it’s wrong. Even though the people here may not have as much as we do many of them are still happy and rejoice in Christ. They are still thankful for everything they have even if it’s not much which is amazing to witness. Overall, I hope that everyone can have an experience like this in their life so they can see the true workings of God and the role he plays in people’s lives daily.

Bailey Kuball

Jacob Michelizzi writing from the Dominican Republic;

Hola! I’m beginning to miss the beautiful weather and landscape from southeast Minnesota, but it’s nice down here though. What a beautiful country and culture the Dominicans have! Hugs and laughter are commonplace, and everyone is quick to welcome you into their homes. At first it seemed odd that total strangers would not only be happy to see me come up to their home but also ask if I wanted coffee. The hospitality of the Dominicans is pretty astonishing. I’m truly going to miss all the warmth and personality of the DR.

Me and my team have been assigned to help missionaries Katie and Derek Allen in a small rural region named Corocito. They are working on planting a local church and we are helping them get everything set up by painting, cleaning and other tasks. The story of how they got the property where the new church building is located is heart warming to say the least. Derek and Katie had been working with children in the DR for many years and had been teaching them things such as aquaponics (growing plants with fish poo) and woodworking. For 10 years they were praying for a good location where they could not only plant a new church but also host their woodworking and aquaponics classes. Last year Derek was sharing their prayer with Totino, one of the Allen’s friends. Totino told Derek “Follow me” and brought him through a large property to a house for sale… with a larger building perfect for a church, a workshop and plenty of usable space for aquaponics. When Derek told us this story it brought tears to his eyes. I was deeply moved by this story and just how faithful God had been to the Allen’s. After hearing his story I was even more excited to help them. Also our team got to be apart of the first church service in Corocito! It was in the Allen’s house because the church building wasn’t quite ready, but it was a beautiful service nonetheless and we had a number of locals excited to be there as well.

Monday, Wednesday and Friday nights we’ve had rallies where we invited all the youth of Corocito to come to a field right next to the Allen’s new property to play games, worship God and share personal testimonies with them. Again I was surprised with how happy the Dominicans were just to come play sports with us. Despite the language barrier it was easy to make friends with them because of how welcoming they were.

If there’s one thing I’ve learned on this trip so far it’s that God is at work. I’ve seen blessing after blessing be poured out upon not just the Dominicans through this trip but also everyone on the team. I know I’m not just speaking for myself when I say that I’ve felt God’s presence in almost every moment of the last 10 days. I look forward to the rest of the trip and seeing how God works through his people.

The Dominican Republic

Hola, my name is Trevor Haddick and I am currently in the Dominican Republic as part of a mission trip. I am on a team that is going to a small little community called Los Higos, our main goal there is to reach the youth to get them to get connected with the church. So far it has been going well and it has been a lot fun. I’ve experienced a lot of new things and I am thankful for God pushing me out of my comfort zone and showing me this whole new world where I can make an impact. Something different about the Dominican culture that I found interesting is that personal space does not exist here which I kind of like because it gives me an opportunity to connect with the people and strike up a conversation. The people here are so welcoming and nice, they are very communally driven so that’s why grabbing youth to the church is so important because if we get them going others will follow.

My Baptism

               Although, the purpose of us coming here is to help other people and impact the communities, I have been taking huge steps in my faith and expanding my relationship with God also learning more about him. Today, (6/18/2019) I was baptized for the first time. On this day our whole group went to a river near a community called “Los Calabazos” It was beautiful place with mountains and this huge river that felt nice in the hot sun. A couple weeks before this mission I was considering getting baptized in the Dominican Republic. I have thought about baptism on and off for a couple years, but I have just been pushing it back continually. Mostly, the reason I haven’t been baptized yet was because I didn’t understand the full meaning of it, and I haven’t felt as strong in my faith. Also, another big reason I wasn’t ready was because I felt like I wasn’t ready to commit to living for God in fear of letting him down. During this trip though I really came to realize that everyone has troubles and things they are not proud of but that’s just what we suffer from as humans. We make mistakes and we take the wrong path sometimes, but Jesus died for our sins so that we can live our lives for Christ. During this trip God has really showed me that its okay and that I can lean on him and not have to put things on my own shoulders all the time. I was on the fence about getting baptized up until I shared my testimony the other night. After I shared, I sat on the balcony and just spent some time with God, I spent a good amount of time on that balcony and after I knew I was ready. I wanted to devote my life to God no matter the troubles I may face. It was like all the sudden I got super excited about God and getting baptized. Last night I just stayed up thinking about what this day was going to bring me. So, this morning we went to the river, we stood on the shore of the river and Pastor Chaco talked for a bit about baptism and I couldn’t help but smile, I was so ready. When it was my turn, he called me down into the river, I talked to the group about how this was my first time getting baptized and how I’ve been debating about doing it for a couple years. When Pastor Chaco dipped me into the water and pulled me back up, I was so happy I let out a big whoop! The group was clapping, I felt such joy and my heart just swelled up. After each person got baptized, we sang a song and at the end it would go “no turning back” this resonated with me because I knew right then that God has me no matter what. I feel like this whole day I have had a smile on my face. Now, I am ready to live for Christ and read the bible and do whatever God has planned for me. This experience was priceless, and it is something I will remember forever. If you are reading this and want to get baptized, I strongly suggest that you do, it makes me so excited to walk with God in my life now and knowing that he is there with me.