The other night, I had a conversation with a fellow member of our church’s Dominican Republic mission team who was troubled by the way that we are leaving behind people we just barely got to know. It’s the toughest part of every mission trip: saying hasta pronto when you know very well it’s going to be hasta never. I told my teammate what I’ve come to believe: that somehow I’m getting to know God better even through people I barely got to know.
I really think that the fact that we’re all created in the image of God means more than just a static imprint we receive at the beginning of our lives. God’s image is a dynamic reality that we radiate continually as His image-bearers. Granted, not everyone exudes God to the same degree. Sin distorts our ability to be image-bearers, but I don’t think it ever does so absolutely. In any case, when we get to know people in other countries, we’re getting to know another side of God’s personality. The reason it’s not all a wash when we have intensive short-term relationships that end abruptly is because it’s part of our process of getting to know God, and that relationship never ends.
So I wanted to share a little bit about some of our Dominican brothers and sisters who helped me get to know God better this past week:
- Jeremias is the iglesia evangélica dominicana pastor for Sosua. He’s a soft-spoken man with a subtle sense of humor. He came up with nicknames for most of us. Mine was Capitán Morgan, el pirata.
- Miriam is Jeremias’ wife. She made our food every day and it was really good. I told her that I ate so much I would need to fast for the rest of June to get back to my pre-trip weight
- Heidi is Jeremias’ and Miriam’s daughter. She helped cook for us. She actually went to medical school but has not yet been able to find work (a problem I can’t imagine happening in the US). Heidi was very reserved at first but at our going away party she went wild (in a wholesome evangélica kind of way) and showed us a whole different side of herself.
- Rosie is Heidi’s cousin. She was somewhat quiet. She helped Heidi and Miriam with the cooking. She’s very talented at liturgical dance.
- Ernesto is from Haiti. Jeremias has basically adopted him as a son because Haitians are sometimes treated with disrespect in the DR. Ernesto speaks four languages. He just got back from working on a cruise ship in the Mediterranean. He plays piano, guitar, and bass in the church band
- Elias was the foreman for our construction project. None of us knew until Sunday what an amazing voice he has. It turns out he produced a CD of which we all got copies on our last day.
- Mickey is a big, jolly guy who volunteered with us at the work site. He spoke pretty good English and made everyone around him feel light and happy.
- Eleazar is kind of like Mickey but a little younger. He was a bit chatty with some of our young women but it was pretty innocent. And he definitely loves the Lord.
- The Skim Ice guy came every day to sell us Skim Ice Popsicles. He had a long-sleeved purple uniform with a hat that he had to wear every day despite the heat. He would wait patiently while we worked so he could make a sale. One day he got tired of waiting so he started passing concrete buckets with us to expedite the process.
- Cathy and Francisco are the dirigentes of the Piedras neighborhood chapel. The Sosua church has one central building and about 5 chapels throughout the city. Cathy in particular helped us immensely with vacation Bible school. Somehow she had the power to get 60 kids from the ages of 3 to 12 in some semblance of order. Francisco is the more soft-spoken of the two. He has been a baseball coach for twenty years (baseball is the Dominican national sport).
There were many other people whom God used to bless us when we were there. I am sad to leave them but I know that they like all other compañeros in the viaje of coming to know God will forever be a part of who I am.