I often tell the students church should feel more like a family.  That’s hard to accomplish back in America within our own language and culture.  It can be a little more challenging in a completely different country.  Over the course of our time here in the Dominican Republic the team has not only grown closer together, but also with the people of Jarabacoa.  Strangers become more than friends but family in Christ.  From the translators to the churches in El Montana and Los Higos we’ve made some awesome connections with some amazing people we’ll get to spend the rest of eternity with.

The many kids, youth and families in the communities we’ve ministered have become our Familia.  Pastor Jesus and Pastor Damaso, who work separate jobs in addition to their church responsibilities, are great example of God’s love.  Pastor Jesus doesn’t need a mic when he speaks, his voice just booms and yet it seems like its always accompanied by a smile.  Pastor Damaso is a hard working, committed servant leader.  It’s not uncommon that he’s late to an appointment because he’s helping someone else out with a need.  These men and the many other members of their church feel less like strangers and more like familia.

The seven translators that have accompanied us along our trip have been such a huge blessings to have not only because they do great work but also because they are genuinely great people.  Throughout the trip we have had designated team times, a time to unplug a bit and build each other up in Christ.  There was a time where a few of us shared our testimonies with the group and it was so sweet to hear the translators testimonies and how in a few short weeks we have impacted and connected with them.  It is definitely bittersweet connecting with the body of Christ in the DR knowing we’ll soon be heading home to Rochester.

Ben Berryhill giving a sermon during their Sunday night church service
Megan Jensen sharing her testimony during a youth rally
playing the chair game before a youth rally
playing the chair game before a youth rally
We walked around downtown Jarabacoa talking and praying with the locals. We later performed dramas in the town square
Carmen (Pastor Jesus’ wife) appreciating Linnea sharing her message with the youth
Praying over Linnea with Carmen and Rick.
Tikki explaining one of our dramas to the Los Higos church
Roger sharing his testimony
A view on top of the hills of Los Higos
During team time we would have a time of worship and sharing our testimonies, after which we would pray for the person who shared.
La Salle, our camp
Joey Bierbaum sharing words of encouragement
Joey’s biggest fan!
Isaiah Douglas preaching our last Sunday evening church service
Baby dedication
Blessing the church with new bibles.
Saying our goodbyes to our familia

Hello people! It’s Grace Barnhart here. This trip has been CRAZY and amazing and totally God filled. Today we held a big youth conference here at HQ in La Salle. We invited all the teens from Los Higos and El Montana. We actually got a really great turn out! There was a significantly larger number people from Los Higos but due to the fact that Montana is a much smaller community we actually had a great turn out. We played sports and some of us totally failed. By some of us I mean me. Then we had everyone meet up and we had worship and teaching. Then we had the teens write any questions they had about life, religion, etc. anonymously. All of the questions were deep, faith related questions. Before answering, we stopped and had lunch. Afterwards the Team from Calvary answered the Dominicans questions. A few were hard to answer but they were real and important questions. The last question was “how do I ask Jesus into my heart” I was given the opportunity to do the alter call prayer. It was intimidating and I hope I did well. I came back shaking and Amber pointed out that I’m a total pastor’s kid. Which is totally true. But hey there are worse things to be. After that, we tried to have a water war and it lasted a whole 0.2 seconds before pure chaos. Then the Dominican youth went back to their communities and we had alone time. I spent the afternoon with a book in a hammock. God has really been challenging me to learn how to show his love even when I am super tired and have been around people for too long. It has definitely been difficult for me but it has been a blessing to have gracious people around me. I think I can safely speak for the team when I say that we greatly appreciate your prayers. God has been moving in and around this trip and it has been amazing to see what God can do with a group of willing people. Until next time, this is Grace, signing out.

Hey Everyone,

We are approaching the halfway mark of our trip and I would love to fill you in on how things are going.  Our team is ministering in two communities, El Montana and Los Higos.  We have served in several capacities including: painting two houses, laying down a paved entranced into the EL Montana church, enlarging and replacing church windows for better security, going on three days of sports ministry outreach, youth rallies and preaching at two different churches.  We have lead worship in Spanish, performed two different dramas at church and several from our team have already shared their testimonies.   All of this in just the first 6 days.

Recently we re-calibrated ourselves at Los Calabazos.  Los Calabazos is this beautiful mountain river community nestled in a valley in between the mountains of Jarabacoa.  It was steep climb in and out of this tucked away hideout.  We came to Los Calabazos to intentionally connect with God.  Even Jesus pulled away from ministry to connect with the Father, how important than for us to do so also.  The team was instructed to find a spot along the river to pray, read, draw, meditate, speak to, listen in to what God was speaking to them.  They did this individually.  Our desire is that all ministry flows out and through our relationship with Christ, abiding in Him is key.

Prayer requests:

Pray for our health as some have been feeling sick lately.  We also are very active at the work sites, sports ministry camps and youth rallies so prayer for endurance and good sleep.

Pray for team cohesiveness as it will be tested

Pray for those preaching at the youth rallies and churches, drama presentations

Pray for the Spirit to do a work in our hearts and that God would ultimately receive the glory!

Pastor John


        Los Calabazos