Claire L., a team member from The Crossing Church in Texas, recently travelled with us to serve children in the Dominican Republic. Thanks for sharing your experience with us Claire!
For as long as I can remember I have wanted to go on a mission trip. I remember sitting in church and seeing the video play about going to the Dominican Republic. They needed help building a wall for a school there. I thought as the video played, “I would love to do that!” Little did I know, two months later I would be on a plane headed there with my sister.
As we approached the school in Comendador for the first time, my eyes tried to take everything in. In front of me stood a pale, yellow single story building with a tin roof. It had windows from one side of the building to the other, outlined with iron railing. The ground around the school was made up of rocks and dirt. Painted on the building was a little boy with brown hair holding balloons. Beside the picture, painted in black letters said, “Lo que aprendi de Jesus.” Translated, “What I learned from Jesus.” Each balloon described something different—love, work, respect. Another picture was a elephant, shark, fish, and starfish. Then I saw the map of the Dominican Republic they painted with so many colors. My eyes finally made their way to the wall we would be adding on to. When I was shown the two sections we would be working on I prayed for God to give us strength throughout the week.
In order to make the concrete for the wall, we had to bring the mixture of all the supplies onto the street. I thought making concrete might be easy, but that was far from the truth! First we had to mix the concrete with dirt. Once it was well mixed, someone would come carrying buckets of water and then we would add it slowly into the mix. Most of the time there would be three or four of us grabbing shovels and constantly mixing all the ingredients together. Once the mixture was done it was put in a few buckets and given to whomever was laying the concrete down on the wall. Many trips were made back and forth from runners providing concrete to those who were laying it down. Then once the concrete was placed, the cinder block was lined up with the others on that row very carefully.
The whole time we were working, people would be walking down the street and stop in their tracks just to stand there and stare. One person walked out of his small meat cutting market and grabbed a chair to watch! At first I was thinking they were looking at the wall being built. Then I finally realized no, they are looking at us! I believe God was stirring something in that community, on that street during those days. Many would see use working and comment on how impressed they were with how strong and long we were able to work. Personally, God gave me strength the whole time I was there that was not my own. He provided me with the strength and I am so thankful. When I would see people in the streets watching I thought how amazing it was that God was using this wall to draw people out and to show them His love! It might just be a small seed that was planted in them that day, but my prayer is they walked away thinking, “Why did they come all the way over here to build that wall?” And that the answer would be clear, “God’s love.”
That wall represented so much more to me than just a wall. It was hope. Hope for the community to see our love and to see God’s love. Hope for the children that they would be protected and be able to get a good education. Hope for the school and that it would continue to prosper and teach about God’s love.
Saturday night we came back home tired and sore. Those sore muscles lasted for a few days, but it reminded me of all we did there. The wall we built, the people we saw and spoke to, the children who loved on us. I pray to return one day and see the children and that wall standing there, a symbol of love and hope.