Dominican Republic Mission Team Video 2011

This is not a real blog entry. I just wanted to post a link to our Dominican Republic mission team video for archival purposes. It’s an awesome video. You should watch it! It was put together by Kim and Damon Bland, the United Methodist Volunteers in Mission coordinators in the Dominican Republic. If you’re related to a church that’s looking to start an overseas mission relationship, you should consider the Dominican Republic.

Day 7: The Walls are Gone

Well this will end up being a 10 day trip but it looks like I’m only going to have 7 days worth of blogs. Yesterday as we spent our last day at the work-site in Samangola, I was contemplating what scripture to use in my sermon for Saturday’s LifeSign service since I will have very little prep time after I get home about 3 am Friday. I figured I would preach on the trip. And it hit me that the most fitting scripture is the one that we adopted at LifeSign as our vision statement “to tear down the walls that keep us from loving God and each other completely” (Ephesians 2:14-15). I’m going to preach on the whole surrounding passage for context: Ephesians 2:11-24. Continue reading

Day 6: Dominican Mother’s Day

Well I didn´t get access to the magic missionary laptop with satellite Internet the past few days so I´m playing catchup. This past Sunday was the Dominican Mother´s Day so I preached a sermon at the Iglesia Evangelica Dominicana in San Rafael about how motherhood is ultimately a call to be the “pastora” of the family. Admittedly it was pretty mischievous to preach this in a patriarchal cultural setting but I was also preaching in a church with a woman pastor so it felt like an appropriate affirmation of her calling and a way to celebrate and challenge the women of the congregation at the same time on their important holiday. Continue reading

Day 5: Un Bautismo Binacional

This morning I had the very unique privilege of participating in an ecumenical baptism for one member of our team Mariah Hall and a woman from the Iglesia Evangelica Dominicana in San Rafael named Gleny Arias. We went to a natural spring called La Toma that’s just outside of the city of San Cristobal. It’s normally a tourist attraction with an admission fee but Pastor Carolina was able to sweet-talk the guys at the gate into letting us in for free. Continue reading

Day 4: Relationships are Complicated

Complicated is such a loaded word when talking about relationships. It’s kind of like the word interesting in its fake neutrality. In any case, I wanted to write today about how mission relationships are inherently complicated. Communication gaps occur that aren’t anybody’s fault especially when different languages are involved. As some of you from Burke UMC know, we have had a relationship with a school in Cambita for about 13 years. For the first 9 or so years of this relationship, we were helping them build their school-building year after year. Then in 2008, we built a basketball court (that I played on today). Since that time, they have not expressed a need for the kinds of physical unskilled construction projects that Volunteers in Mission teams can do most easily in a week and a half of time. So we’ve gone elsewhere and our relationship with the school that we helped to build has gotten complicated. Continue reading

Day 3: Aprendiendo Cantar Mas Bajo

Yesterday I got drawn into a theological conversation with some of our Dominican friends. A man named Samuel was convinced that eating snake meat is sinful (which apparently some Dominicans do) because God cursed the snake in Genesis 3 for leading Eve into sin. Another man Jochi who’s the bishop’s assistant was debating with him since Jesus said that nothing created is unclean for us to eat. They turned to me and said, “Pastor, what do you think?” Because Samuel was so passionate, I decided to answer in a way that didn’t take sides: “Lo que ves como pecado es pecado” (What you see as a sin is a sin), which is what Paul says to the Corinthians about eating the sacrificial meat. Continue reading

El Mundo Concreto — Day 2

Those of you who have been to countries in the Global South might relate to the way that there’s a basic dichotomy between “their” world and “ours.” What makes the Dominican Republic similar to other countries in Latin America where I’ve been — Mexico, Guatemala, El Salvador, Nicaragua, and Peru — is that life here is lived in what I would call the mundo concreto — the concrete world. I actually mean this quite literally. Concrete is everywhere because it’s cheap and easy to use as a building material. Continue reading