The 2023 Spring Break mission team to the Dominican Republic included an unusual mix of older couples, Tri-Delta sorority girls from Baylor University with three staff sponsors, a couple of teenage boys, STCH Ministries administrative staff and two young women from El Salvador.
Knitting such a dissimilar group into an effective team occurred because each person came with a common purpose…to serve. There was nothing they were not willing to do.
Throughout the week, you could find them in the kitchen chopping vegetables to help the Dominican cooks, sanding, sawing, drilling to build a playground set, attending to the sick at a medical clinic, delivering food to families with empty cupboards, on the floor helping a child with a craft, blowing bubbles to coax a smile or sharing a meal with a Dominican family. Every afternoon, VBS included singing, dramas, crafts and games along with a Bible memory competition. The team began and ended each day worshipping, focusing on a lesson from God’s Word or sharing a special God moment.
They loved out loud with smiles of joy, fitting each girl with a new dress. The ministry, Dress a Girl Around the World, donated 100 dresses of varying sizes, uniquely sewn to reflect the God-created beauty within each girl. Working together, older adults connected with young boys who may never have held a drill. They hammered, sawed and drilled. They took odd sizes of lumber and fitted them together into a playscape that will remain a lasting contribution to the school-children in this impoverished barrio.
Young women, pursuing a path in the medical field through their college classes, joined an experienced medical nurse, Dominican doctors and volunteers to meet both physical and spiritual needs. Clinics were held in two different neighborhoods to serve children and families.
Perhaps the highlight of this week was the day spent with the boys in the Higuey Home. Twenty-five boys of varying ages, beautiful gifts uniquely created in the Father’s heart, live there as brothers. They were born into a dark world that did not value and care for them, yet they were rescued by the same Father’s love. Dominicans joined by STCH Ministries have provided a home, beds, food and care.
Culture, age and life experiences can create an obstacle for an American team to connect with boys. But not for this group of energetic and determined young people. Inter-mixing and grabbing a partner, the music began. Clapping and stepping together to the rhythm, the cultural divide melted as joy-filled music crammed the spaces between them. Although their lives were worlds apart, on this day their joy and joint activities portrayed the unity we all share as children, all created in God’s image.
For all of us who are immersed in a culture that values pleasure and material possessions as primary goals to pursue, it’s easy to say, “Not my child, not my community, not my problem.” Then there are those who see the needs and choose to respond. They ignore comfort, they sacrifice time and resources and bravely step into the unknown to serve others. They follow the supreme example of the One who left heaven, to show us His mercy, His love and His grace.
This varied group became “unlikely heroes” to the many children and families that they served on this 2023 Spring Break mission trip.
Vice President of Family and International Ministries