In reflection as we are preparing to leave this beautiful island, I will say that this place is overflowing with life. I see it in the lush plants, the reggaeton and merengue music that floats through the air so often, and the riot of colors on everything from the buildings, to the plants, to the people. The people we have met and worked with here have been so warm and welcoming. By U.S. standards they may not have as much, but they share love and energy freely.
In return, I’ve felt so much spirit in myself and in the youth in our group. I’m happy to have all of this feeling and life and great memories to bring home.
(P.S. I just learned that the quickest way to break up a meeting is to send a large insect scurrying through. See? So much life. Not all of it the kind I want to bring home with me.)
Several years ago I concluded to shift my Christian efforts from internal administrative and policy matters at Christ Church Cranbrook to interacting and serving souls outside the four walls of CCC.
Participating in a mission trip was a simple and obvious way of making this transition. While it took me several years, I finally committed to participate in the 2016 mission trip to the Dominican Republic, along with Gwen (wife) and son Matt. Where better to provide service to people desperately hungry for assistance in so many different ways. Little did I know what I would experience!
Small hints of what was to come happened in a planning meeting held in March for all DR participants. Eric (i.e., experience leader) and others talked little about mission work, and more about new and lasting relationships, and finding God’s calling for each of us. That seemed OK to me as fillin between painting, construction, clean up and what ever else they planned for our work.
As the trip became closer and closer, I changed my thinking slightly from work accomplishment to discernment and discipleship; but really a minor mid course correction versus a totally new emphasis.
Then I arrived here. Work was mentioned periodically, but much more emphasis was placed on both relationships and findings God’s calling for me.
This seismic shift then happened here. Work was done for sure, but more joy and lasting impact seemed to be in the games, playing, conversations, and relationships that seeened to be constant throughout our days; conversations with our young adults (and that is really how they behave), talks with incredibly impressive group leaders, dicusssions held by the entire misssion team and the end of most days, and just slowing down to observe, reflect and ponder in ways we don’t typially at home.
So how did it go? Well, not so good in one sense, and incredible in another sense. The work went swimingly, no broken bones, viruses picked up, falls or other events of note. Much work accomplished. A grade of “A” earned. On relationships, a “B” or “B+”, but with a heavy dose of “incomplete.” Loved the time with my new young adult friends, and man are they impressive!! I hope to stay in touch with them periodically despite non-use of social media. I hope to follow them in the future, though a grade of “incomplete” is warranted at this time. The proof is in the pudding, and the batter at this point is neither mixed nor placed in the oven. However, I am very optimistic!!
The third element I earned a terribly dissapointing “F.” That dreaded “God’s calling for me” question. No thunder bolts, no personal visits from God, not even a good two-sided conversation. However, here is what happened. I met Peter on the trip, one of the team leaders who has been doing mission trips since the 1990’s. He described to me both early in the trip and again on our last day here the same story about the epiphany he had when God let him know what Peter’s Christian calling was to be. No bolts of lighting, personal visits, or conversations for him either. Just an open and inquiring mind waiting for the right communication, time and venue. And Whamo, he heard the message clear as day. I am sorry to say that has not yet happened to me. But what has happened is a stronger faith that with the right mind set by me it will happen. I leave this trip confident that if it happened to Peter, it can happen to me. In many ways, this new realization for me has been a “grand slam.” Now I just need to keep my mind right, be patient, and have faith. Thank you Peter.
I feel so blessed to have spent a week with such wonderful and spirit-filled adults, youths and new DR fiends. My participation on this mission experience has been a huge blessing in my life. Next mission experience blog I look forward to reporting on what I have found my calling to be.
May Christ be with you.