Summer interns have assisted STCH Ministries International in the Dominican Republic (DR) for 3 years. This year, three college students lived at International’s DR base of operation inside Iglesia Bautista Quisequayana (IBQ), near the capital city of Santo Domingo from May through August. Amanda Longoria, Associate Director of International said the interns helped in many different ways. Their upbeat spirit and endless energy made the summer weeks go by without a hitch. They connected not only with the Dominican nationals but also with Americans traveling to the DR on mission trips. They offered comfort and accommodations to the needs of the groups and served as the hands and feet of Jesus in the Dominican Republic.
Kali, a recent finance graduate of Oklahoma Christian University, resisted the idea of spending six weeks out of the country when she needed to study for her CPA exam. However, God revealed to her the unique opportunity she had. “It hit me that never again (until retirement most likely) would I have six weeks free to go overseas,”
A few of the interns shared their experience in the DR and what they learned about themselves and God as they served. This is Kali’s story, in her own words:
I never expected I would spend six weeks after college graduation in a foreign country without my family or a complete understanding of everything I would be doing while there. However, I have been reminded how much greater God’s plan is than my own. I am so grateful God revealed to me His desire for me to step out of my comfort zone and serve as an intern this summer.
I first went to the DR with STCH Ministries International in March 2018. I was gripped by the work God was doing there. When the trip came to an end, I felt God telling me that I would be back. Nine months later, I returned with another group from my church. I did not know I could love the DR any more than I did, but sure enough, it was possible.
When I learned of the internship position my first instinct was to say no. My last college class ended in May and I already had a job to start in January. I planned to use every week of the six months in between to study and take all four parts of the CPA exam, but God revealed to me the unique opportunity that I had. The dates of the internship were June 18th through August 3rd. My summer master’s classes ended June 15th – graduation was August 16th. God couldn’t have made it any clearer that this is where He wanted me to be.
It’s so hard to sum up everything I experienced, learned and saw God do during my six weeks in the DR. How do you begin to explain the unexplainable joy? Poverty? The friendships made? The endless amounts of VBS, construction projects, ESL classes, orphanage visits, church services, etc.
If I had to choose one word to describe Dominicans, it would be “joy”. The children and their families radiate joy: universal joy, joy independent of material things and joy that radiates Christ. I had several opportunities to go with groups and help deliver groceries to families in need. The homes that I went to typically had dirt floors, no kitchen, one bedroom and poor roofing. You would think someone living in those conditions would be frustrated, perhaps even bitter at God, right? I was blown away with how happy and joyful they were. It was so special to hear them tell their story and list ways God has faithfully provided.
I learned from STCH Ministries International the power of investing in relationships. Being in the DR for six weeks allowed me to witness things groups are not always able to see on a week-long trip. A couple of times throughout the summer we returned to a school or orphanage that we had visited a few weeks prior. It was amazing to watch the kids grow spiritually and see their faces light up as they ran to me for a hug.
I learned that as cliché as it sounds, love has no language barriers. Knowing very little Spanish, I doubted I could be a strong leader in a Spanish speaking country. Yet, I quickly learned that the kids did not care if I could not communicate entirely in Spanish. They simply wanted love. Spending time with the kids at schools and orphanages, loving them and laughing together made me excited for the day we will all be in Heaven, laughing, loving and worshiping God with people from all nations. I remembered that we are all more alike than we are different. This is something that would hit me during the church services when we sang worship songs in Spanish that I knew in English. We all worship the same God, how crazy amazing is that?
My biggest takeaway was a renewed passion to share the Gospel. God reassured me that sharing our faith did not have to be a big, scary thing. A few times throughout the summer I shared my testimony with various Dominicans and Americans. It still amazes me how God can use me and my story to point others to Christ. God is so good.
Getting to know the children and families at IBQ encouraged me. We had so much fun working on my Spanish and their English, playing games and laughing together. In my first week, one eight-year-old girl became my church buddy. We sat together most Sundays – dancing in the pew, reading from a Spanish/English Bible, her copying my English sermon notes while looking at me with a big smile, proud of her work; she stole my heart. Halfway through the summer, I learned that the groups who came last summer built a home for her and her family. She’s gone through so much but you would never guess it, she has so much joy.
Each American volunteer team was different from the others, yet each team welcomed me into their group. Working in the heat was exhausting but time after time groups did it without complaining and set a wonderful example of how the body of Christ is to be.
I cannot talk about my wonderful experience in the DR without talking about the wonderful staff and translators I was blessed to work with. They serve the Lord so fervently and give of their time and energy abundantly. I am so thankful for the staff and translators (and my co-interns) who made this summer the amazing experience that it was.
If you are interested in serving as a summer intern, applications for summer 2020 are open now; those chosen will be notified in early 2020. Please see https://www.STCHM.org/international/summer-intern-application/ for more information.