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

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Hello, my name is Hannah Eide. This morning we got in the vans to head to Los Calabazos. I got in the van dedicated to silence, we called it the “quiet van”. We have been around our team the whole time and need time to process what we have gotten to see and do. We went to Los Calabazos to reflect and refuel ourselves with Christ. John made a point to check ourselves that we are giving the glory to God, it is easy to feel that we our the great ones and not give the glory to God like we should. Los Calabazos is in the mountains and we had an amazing view of the valley. We hiked down lots of stairs to get to the river. John and Rick gave us guides to follow during quiet time. Then we all got to find a beautiful spot in the woods by the river and strengthen our relationship with God. I prayed and journaled then finally got to a point I wanted to recommit my life to Christ. We then rejoined in the gazebo and sang a couple worship songs in English and Spanish. There was an amazing lunch waiting for us at Los Calabazos. We then got to swim in the river under a long swinging bridge. We jumped off a rock that was probably around 16 feet. We all had an amazing time jumping off it together, doing flips, and belly flopping. Today was a meaningful time with God and a time to continue building relationships with other on our team.

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Hello! My name is Megan Jensen, I am 16 years old. Today was a full day I woke up and went on a run, which I recommend never to do, I was super sore! Right after breakfast we all got into our vans, I ride in the Juan party bus. We arrived late because we were exchanging money, so when we got there we only had an hour and a half to finish painting the house. After we finished that we came back to the camp to get lunch, we came late so we didn’t have that much time. We were off to our sports camps, today I played kickball and volleyball. I got to hear Isaiah’s testimony, which was amazing. Rick had asked one of the Dominican’s to share their story, after a moment of silence this boy, I would say around 19, talked about his life. Both of his parents are not Christians but at the age of 10 he heard the lord talk to him at a youth group he was invited to, he also said how he has to fight for his faith everyday but he wouldn’t have it any other way, that Jesus was worth it. I think it’s so incredible to see such strength and humbleness come from this man. It’s so easy to forget that we worship the same holy God, that we are all a giant family. When the sports camp was done we headed home for dinner, and was delighted when they said we could go for ice cream! We are still bouncing from the sugar. We had a major dance party, where I got to learn how to dance from our Dominican translators, which weird enough was on my bucket list. CHECK!!!! I can’t wait to see how the Lord will work in all of us during the next 10 days.

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On the first full day in the Dominican Republic, we met our translators, and prayed over each team serving in Los Higos and El Montana.

Caught in between excitement and scared,  in between feeling prepared and expecting to be caught of guard, in between trusting in the Lord and tentative for what lies ahead.  It’s a wide range of emotions and thoughts flooding those of us readying ourselves to go to the Dominican Republic.  For each individual its a different process, a different struggle and a different level of anticipation for whats in store.  But God…  you throw in those two words into any situation and it changes…well… everything!

“And you were dead in the trespasses and sins…But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us,  even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved” – Ephesians 2:1,4-5

In any circumstance, in any situation in life, whatever may come our way you can never underestimate those words…but God…because He is greater than anything, even death itself, how much more will the power of God work in us through His resurrecting power!

It is with great excitement and holy fear that our team is traveling to the Dominican Republic.  We have spent months prepping, praying and gathering support and now the day approaches nearer still.  We are blessed that you are traveling with us as you follow along with our blog, may it bless and encourage you because you’re apart of our team too.  You’re support has been such an encouragement to us all, we appreciate your ongoing prayers.  May our stories in life reflect the…but God… moments that inspire others and glorify His name.

Yours in Christ,

2017 Dominican Republic Team

We have a little more than 24 hours before we start heading back home.  I will not miss the roosters crowing all throughout the early morning, but I will miss the our time together as a team.  Throughout the trip I’ve been able to observe student after student step out of their comfort zone and serve the Lord.  I’ve seen students doubt their abilities to teach only to see them pray all the more for His strength and then hear them deliver a great message and come back and tell me they like to teach again.  There have been a few students who have had to gather their composure before sharing their testimonies, stepped outside and prayed or had another student pray over them, come back into the church and share their story like they’ve shared it 100 times before.  And to see the smile on their faces and our team come around them in support has been priceless.  It’s a small glimpse into the working of the Spirit in their lives when we are serving in circumstances that create the opportunity to rely upon Him, more than ourselves.

There have also been some deep conversations.  Conversations that just don’t happen in everyday life but the kind of talks that only happen when you trust someone to share what’s going on beneath the surface.  Struggles have been shared, tears were shed, and relationships strengthen.  I’ve seen, heard and have experience a number of deeper conversations taking place in our team.  Some of the best ones I’ve seen have come during our quiet time.  Twice on this trip we went to scenic locations and spent time in prayer, one on one with God.  As I walked to find my own spot to pray, I could see our team having conversations with God.  Many quietly journaling or prostrate in prayer.  Others crying out to God over the rush of the river.

It has also been a blessing to see change taking place in the Dominicans as well.  While we were here each team held three youth rallies in their communities.  The youth don’t generally attend church so this is a huge deal.  At the end of each rally we would break up into small groups, guys and girls, and ask questions.  It has been encouraging to hear the level of engagement back from the Dominican teens and even seeing them in church the next day.  I ask that you continue to pray for them, pray for the youth of El Montana and Buenos Aires.  Pray for mentors and discipleship to take place.  Pray for a strong teen leader in each community to lead and encourage the other youth.

Lastly I will leave you with some pictures from yesterday.  We spent a good portion of the day at Los Calabaozos, a beautiful little town up the mountain tucked away near a river.  As the team was spending some quiet time with the Lord, a student felt the Lord tugging on her heart.  She shared her story with me and her desire to be baptized in the river.  She then approached another student and in sharing with him was likewise led.  It was moment of celebration with our team, no… our family… as brothers and sisters in Christ celebrated the baptism of Dara and Carter.  I will miss the Dominican Republic that’s for sure, but I am looking forward to what God is stirring beneath the surface in the lives of our students and our leaders.  Thank you all for your prayers!

 

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