Day 8 (Travel Home)
We arrived safely home today! The day started early enough by waking up at 4:30 AM to leave the SCORE Complex at 5:10 AM to catch a flight out of Santo Domingo at 8:10 AM. Things could not have gone any smoother in Santo Domingo as no one had the opportunity to go to a “special room” with armed guards who go through your checked luggage. 🙂 We passed through US Customs in Miami and enjoyed hearing the phrase “welcome home”. Our only glitch on our return trip was finding out in Baltimore that one of our checked bags got an extended trip by being sent to West Virginia. Other than that and a little Baltimore late afternoon traffic, we were home by 7 PM.
What a great trip. Our written words and our pictures only begin to share the experience each one had over the last week. I think the phrase -- “GOD IS REALLY BIG; HE IS REALLY GOOD; HE IS TREMENDOUSLY FAITHFUL; and HE HAS IT ALL PLANNED OUT” – really is a take away not only for a trip like this but for each one of our lives. The students experienced opportunities to serve in a variety of Dominican venues, to experience Dominican culture, food, history, and geography, and to enjoy fellowship, swimming, rafting, horse-back riding, laughing, and more laughing. The best was the individual lessons God had planned for each one. For those, you’ll need to ask them to share. But in the end . . . GOD IS REALLY BIG; REALLY GOOD; TREMENDOUSLY FAITHFUL; AND FULLY IN CONTROL! Enjoy your journey with Him. Our journey continues.
4.12.17 Scribed on behalf of the Class of 2017 by Mr. Puleo
Day 7 (Catalina Island, Argentinian Barbeque, and Final Thoughts)
Today the Senior Class had a fun day as we headed off to Catalina island. We arrived at the dock around 10:00 am and all got onto a medium sized boat and began the 90-minute trip to Catalina island. When we arrived at the island we stopped about 200 feet off shore and we all had a chance to snorkel in a beautiful coral reef with crystal clear water. We then headed to shore where we had a chance to eat and shop and get the girls hair braided. The food was fantastic and we all stuffed ourselves. After lunch we explored the reefs some more and then we all got back on the boat and headed back home. We arrived home to another delicious meal of Argentinian barbeque, which consisted of pork and chicken with potato salad and bread. Then after the meal our waiters shared a brief testimony of their lives and how Christ completely transformed their lives. Also, they expressed how thankful they were for work to support their families as well as their ministries as pastors.
We concluded our last evening with a time of reflection and prayer. We spent some time discussing our “Take Aways/Give Aways” or those main things we learned on the trip and the things we wanted to share with (or give to) others. Here is a sampling of those “Take Aways/Give Aways”:
· I want a joyful culture at home like I found here. I want to bring a joyful culture to those around me.
· The Dominican people have taught us to be content with what we have and recognize that we are blessed. “Be happy and use what you have”.
· People in the Dominican are so grateful for work; we want to learn from them. Let’s be thankful for the opportunities presented to us.
· See the positives even in adverse conditions and step out of your comfort zone to grow.
· Be in the moment; focus on those around you instead of looking ahead.
· Make the most of what you have.
· Be willing to engage in conversations and meet the need of those you talk with by introducing them to Jesus.
· Family is not a mom and a dad, but the culture that is created in the home.
· God is really big, really good, tremendously faithful and He has it all orchestrated.
It was an encouraging time as we looked back on our week and looked ahead. Tomorrow we wake up at 4:30 AM to leave for the airport. Please pray for safety as we spend the day traveling home.
Scribed on behalf of the Class of 2017 by Luke Garcia and Emily Rowell
Day 6 (Soccer & Basketball Clinic at San Pedro Sugar Cane Village and Visit to Pasitos de Jesus Girls’ Orphanage)
The soccer and basketball clinics were held in a sugar cane village on the outskirts of San Pedro. As for the soccer clinic, it was organized and run by myself (Caleb) along with Josh, Luke, Mr. Puleo, and Mr. Rowell. The others entertained the younger children and babies. The soccer clinic lasted 45 minutes and went well. Next up was the basketball clinic, which was run by Will, Emily, and Christa. We introduced the Dominican kids to the game of knock-out which they thoroughly enjoyed. Following knock-out was half a dozen games of 3 v 3 basketball, which Will, Kiko, and I killed at. We never lost… just saying! After the basketball clinic wrapped up, Emily and myself (Caleb) were able to share our testimonies and the Gospel. Having the opportunity to share the gospel was a highlight of my trip thus far. Finally, Kiko shared the gospel with the village before we got on the bus to depart.
In the afternoon, we travelled to Pasitos de Jesus, which is a girls’ orphanage. As for me (Caleb), this place was the most moving. There were about 40 girls at the orphanage, all of which come from bad home situations. Many were physically abused; some came from parents who were alcoholics or drug abusers. Despite this, my takeaway from these girls was their genuine love for people and generosity. While we were there, we colored, did crafts, played volleyball, and threw some water balloons with the girls. Walking away from that place was hard for a few of us simply because of the connections we made with them. I know that Will, Emily, and I (Caleb) all made significant relationships with certain kids there. We were there to serve them, and we did. However, the overflow of affection and little gifts they left us with, also left lasting memories. As a whole, this was one of the team’s favorite days in the D.R. and one we won’t soon forget.
4.10.17 Scribed on behalf of the Class of 2017 by Caleb Puleo and Christa Clouser
Day 5 (A Day of Worship and a Day of Rest)
Our day started in worshiping at Iglesia Bautista Evangélica de Macorís, the church that sponsors Las Palmas Christian School, the school we ministered at on Thursday. One student stated, it is profound to think that millions of Christian are worshipping the Lord all around the world. One person stated, how big is our God that he hears it all and knows each worshipper intimately. We had opportunity to meet up with and encourage Maribel and Louis Montanez, grandparents of two HCS students. Please pray that Louis, who suffered a stroke in February, would regain his speech, his use of his right arm, and the ability to walk. We also were encouraged by the church’s annual them, which hung from a large banner in the sanctuary . . . “1 Historia (Story), Cuerpo (Body), and Misión (Mission)”. What was profound was this mirrored the HCS Theme this year of “One Lord, One Purpose, and One People” as well as the theme of the acquisition of West Shore Christian Academy of “One Lord, One Purpose, Two Schools”. HOW COOL IS GOD! No detail is outside of his sovereign control.
After church, we spent the time riding horses through the local neighborhood (please don’t think suburban neighborhood) and going to the local beach for a couple of hours. We concluded our evening with a time of team worship and reflection, always highlights of a day. Tomorrow we are traveling back to San Pedro de Macorís to organize soccer and basketball clinics with local students who are off from school this week for “Holy Week”. Please continue to pray for safety, strength, and favor.
4.9.17 Scribed on behalf of the Class of 2017 by Mr. Puleo
Day 4 (Trip to Mountain Region to White Water Raft and Horseback Ride)
Today we were up and ready to hit the road at 5:00 AM to travel to Rancho Baiguate in Jarabacoa. On the way to Rancho Biaguate, the group was able to travel through and see a glorious sight of the mountain region. We then arrived at our destination where we ate breakfast and played a little ping pong and billiards (We can just say that I am the best out of the group in ping pong and that I might need to work on my skills in billiards). After we all ate, Mr. Puleo, Mrs. Eifert, Caleb, Josh, and myself went on our way to go White water rafting, while Mrs. Henry, Mr. Rowell, Christa, Emily, and Luke went to go horseback riding. White water rafting was a blast, although the water was pretty cold. The five of us had experienced some nice, but crazy rapids. My personal favorite was the “Mike Tyson” rapid, where a wave a water came over us and I was almost “knocked out” of the boat. We were pretty thankful to have calm waters the rest of the way as it took a great deal of effort to navigate the rapids at the upper part of the canyon.
As for horseback riding, Ms. Henry and Mr. Rowell took Emily, Luke, and I (Christa Clouser) to do a trail ride to a waterfall and back. It was quite the eventful time. Ms. Henry had a horse named “Montequilla” (“Butter” in English). He was a very nice horse but, he did kick my horse in the chest when we got too close. Ms. Henry was thankful that he was so calm. Mr. Rowell had a nameless brown horse in need of a front end alignment for it continually pulled to the right, even if it meant going completely off the trail. Emily had a nice brown horse who liked to go in circles. I started off with a seemingly nice little brown horse named Alonso. It went smoothly for a little while, but then he started lashing out and chasing other horses if they got close. The guides said he was dangerous so our lead guide traded horses with me. I no sooner got my foot in the stirrups and the guide took two steps away, when my new horse bolted and galloped into the sunset. I finally got him stopped at the top of a hill and the guide came galloping after me when he realized I was out of sight. He asked if I was ok and then he showed me how to make him stay at a walk. At the end I found out that the new horse I was given was named “Relampago” (which means “Lightening”). That is the same horse that took Ms. Henry for a couple gallops a few years ago. Needless to say, he has created quite the reputation. Luke had a black horse that obeyed his rider’s smack to its rear and galloped back to the stables in a hoof race with a Dominican guide. When one horse gallops they all followed as we took a pretty nice pace back to the stables.
It was a great day with beautiful mountainous scenery. The ride home was equally exciting and certainly not for the faint of heart. Back safe and sound and prepared for a worshipful and restful Sunday.
4.8.17 Scribed on behalf of the Class of 2017 by Will Wiley and Christa Clouser
Day 3 (Ministry at Little Springs in the Desert Daycare & Tour of Santo Domingo Historic District)
Today the crew headed off too Little Springs in the Desert Daycare. We arrived and began playing and talking with the children. Many of the children were content to just be held while other children played with balloons and bubbles. We also had an opportunity to feed them “breakfast” which looked like something like an oatmeal mixture.
After a couple hours of playing with the kids we headed off to the City of Santo Domingo. Our first stop was at the “straw market”, a flea market like building for which we could shop. Here we were able to roam around in groups to look for items to purchase and practice our bartering skills. We all picked up a few items each and then we traveled to EL Conunco, where we all had this amazing lunch buffet. While we ate, some live authentic dancers came out, and began to perform. After an amazing performance, Josh Jenkins was convinced to get up and dance with a beautiful Dominican dancer in front of the whole restaurant.
Later we took a trip to Santo Domingo and took a tour of the historic district. Throughout the tour we viewed several historical landmarks and monuments of Dominican heroes. Some of the landmarks consisted of Diego Columbus’ house (Christopher Columbus’ son), the oldest church of the western hemisphere, and a chocolate museum that included a reference to Hershey chocolate. The group then headed home where we ate and then swam for a few hours.
On a personal note, I (Luke Garcia), was able to share my testimony yesterday in front of about 25 children and adults at the sugar cane village. I presented the gospel and then talked of my personal experiences of why I believe what I believe. While I was nervous, it was exciting to share God’s love with people.
We all are having a wonderful time. Please continue to pray for strength and safety as we continue this trip. Heading to the northern part of the Dominican Republic to white water raft or horseback ride.
4.7.17 Scribed on behalf of the Class of 2017 by Luke Garcia & Josh Jenkins
Day 2 (Ministry at Las Palmas Christian School & Sugar Cane Village)
Our first morning in the Dominican Republic began with cheese and ham filled empanadas and fresh fruit for breakfast. Las Palmas is a Christian school that was founded eight years ago, and today, 400 plus children receive a bi-lingual education daily. Getting to the school was just as much of an adventure as being there. Driving in the D.R. gives a whole new meaning to offensive drivers. Once at the school we began our field day activities. We played games like “jump the river”, bean bag toss, and a water relay for the 1st through 6th graders. The 7th through 11th grade were very good English speakers and equally competitive (this crosses cultural boundaries J). They enjoyed full-sided soccer (on an all dirt field), kickball, and some basketball. Josh, Will, and I played some Dominican guys in basketball which was a lot of fun… we won’t say who won. We concluded our visit with a giant, 50 person, round of “capture the flag”. I was very exciting to see how Las Palmas continues to grow and minister to families in San Pedro de Macoris.
Following our morning at Las Palmas, the group headed back to grab a quick lunch at the Score complex. Plans changed (as is par for the course) and we headed out to the sugar cane village in the afternoon. On our way, we stopped at Jumbo (the local “Walmart”) and bought food such as rice and beans, pasta, cornmeal, and sugar for those in the village. We packed 20 bags for the families in the village. Unlike the school, the sugar cane village was rural and extremely poor. Stepping off the bus resulted in a flood of hugs and hands reaching and grabbing, shouting “Americanas! Americanas!” For the next hour we played with the children, giving them piggy back rides, blowing bubbles, and throwing ball. Following our play, we worked our way into the villages church building which was no bigger than a class room at HCS. During our time in the church, Mr. Rowell entertained with his juggling tricks. Luke Garcia shared his testimony and the gospel followed my Mr. Puleo’s gospel message. Before leaving the village we left the bags of food we had bought and prepared for them. The poverty and unemployment in the Dominican is prevalent.
After dinner, we had a time of worship and group reflection. It was good start to processing that which we are experiencing. Our evening concluded with an extended time in the pool (oh, we all needed that!) and game of cards. We look forward to another morning of ministry and a tour of Old Town Santo Domingo.
4.6.17 Scribed on behalf of the Class of 2017 by Caleb Puleo
Day 1 (Travel)
We started our day traveling in the school vans to the Baltimore-Washington Airport. We flew from Baltimore to Miami, Florida. Along the way we met this really funny and cute kid named Antoine. He loved to talk to us and pick on the shape of our noses. On the plane ride we played card games, slept, and read Spanish magazines.
We landed in Miami and had a three-hour layover, where we ate dinner, played more card games, and hung out. We flew from Miami and arrived in Santo Domingo at 8:00 PM. On this flight, we played even more card games, ate snacks, talked, and took pretty pictures of the sunset from the sky.
We got off the plane in Santo Domingo where we got through customs fairly easily, only a few bumps to overcome. Hector, our Score International guide, met us at the front of the Santo Domingo Airport and we took a nice bus to the Score International House. The ride took about a half hour and it showed us some of the country, albeit in the dark.
We now reside in the Score International House and have our rooms. We’re excited about the opportunity to minister at Las Palmas Christian School in San Pedro de Macoris tomorrow. We will keep you updated!!
4.5.17 Scribed on behalf of the Class of 2017 by Christa Clouser and Emily Rowell