John Gilbert, Headmaster of Yorktown Christian Academy (YCA) in Corpus Christi, Texas, had long dreamed of taking some of the students on a foreign mission trip. With perseverance and planning, surrounded by prayer, dreams became a reality on February 15, 2017. “Love Crosses Oceans” was their theme, as the group of twenty-eight eighth graders, parents, and staff prepared to board the plane in good spirits, in spite of the aversive departure hour of 5:00 AM! Enthusiasm remained high during the trip, even through weather delays, until at last they made a midnight arrival at the STCH Ministries site in the Dominican Republic.
The next morning the mission team tackled the construction project of school cubbies.
“Russell’s preparation and pre-planning was amazing. There was no waiting and every volunteer had something to do from the beginning – drilling, cutting, sanding, and painting. I was especially impressed with the balance of activities on this mission trip,” commented one team member.
Cultural and fun experiences, like riding the Metro and public transportation for ice cream, were interspersed with relationship building and service opportunities with children’s ministries and a visit to an orphanage. One person reported, “We ate in homes of the Dominican Christians. You know how it can sometimes be awkward to visit strangers? They had to run us off – we were having such a good time that we didn’t want to leave!”
Delivering groceries to needy families in the Samuel’s Fund program was deeply moving. STCH Ministries receives a yearly grant from the Baptist World Hunger offering, and mission teams use this resource to share with orphanages and sponsored families. One mom reported that when she was asked to lead in a prayer of blessing for the family, tears and hugs took the place of words.
On this mission trip, love truly did cross the ocean, and the participants found their love was multiplied in the joyous service, the warm acceptance, and the heartfelt greetings of “Dios te bendiga!” The team came to give, yet they received so much more. “The people have embraced us!”
The Dominican praise and worship was contagious, as they joined in during the children’s ministries and shared a special song at the IBQ Sunday worship service. “This week has lit a fire within us,” said one dad.
“I have seen both the children and the parents changing right in front of me,” reported John Gilbert. “I believe that this mission trip will have a ripple effect into our whole school, changing the culture, and potentially affecting all thirty-five churches represented in our enrollment!”
by Joanna Berry, Vice President of Family and International Ministries