Category: Dominican Republic

Dominican Republic – Update #2

Today we spent our last day with Pastor Wesley & his church. In the morning we installed the last of the water filters and saw parts of that community we had not yet seen. We even encountered a few goats along the way. After lunch, we put on another skit… this time about God’s mercy and forgiveness. The kids really seemed to enjoy that. We sang and danced to “Lean on Me” and learned “this little light of mine” in Spanish. we were able to connect with the kids again even with the language barrier. after that we played kickball & other games with the kids, embracing every moment we had left with them. Before we left we were graciously thanked with kind words from Pastor Wesley and his wife along with a cake. Collectively, we all put some cash together and donated $210 to help Pastor Wesley continue with his ministry in the church & school. We have built such a unique relationship with him by watching him interact with the community. He never turns a child away from his school, he feeds, educates, and loves them just like Jesus. 

It’s been very hot – but we have made the best of being sweaty and gross. After we returned to our “base church”, we had some time to relax, play with the local kids, and further build relationships with the group who we share this space with before dinner. After dinner we had a meeting with JC to reflect on the trip thus far. Many of us shared thoughts and memories that have impacted us one way or another. 

I think a big theme of this trip has been adaptability. We have taken every obstacle with grace and made it into something beautiful. I credit a lot of this to what we have learned from the people we have been serving. While they have so little possessions, they have so much love and joy. They adapt to their situation in the most wonderful way possible. They never give up on their faith, they have hope for the future, even when they literally don’t have food to eat or a bed to sleep in. We have been patient and creative in any challenge we have faced – yet these “challenges” for us are the reality of these people. Tonight during our meeting JC told us that we’re “doing”. He praised us for sleeping on air mattress, showering with buckets, and handling the heat. My instant thoughts came from the book “Love Does” by Bob Goff. In the book he says “I used to think you had to be special for God to use you. But now I know you simply need to say yes.” We all chose to be here because we said yes to the love in our hearts. We aren’t playing the role of God, we aren’t bringing God to these people, they know God and they know we are here because God’s love isn’t stationary, it does.

— Mackenzie Hodgson, Student Leader

Dominican Republic – Midweek Update

The trip had a rough start. Our plane got struck by lightning on the ground before we got on, which took out the navigation system and had us spend the rest of the day at the Nashville airport. By the time we got to our hotel in Miami, we got 3 hours of sleep before getting up for our new flight to the Dominican Republic (DR).

Thankfully our host partner, Praying Pelican Ministries (PPM), was gracious and was able to accommodate our new plans. We settled into the church where we are staying at and got a nice overview of the DR and how PPM works in the community. We got assigned to a local pastor, pastor Wesley, who leads a church and school in a poor neighborhood of Haitian immigrants. Our mornings consist of installing the water filters which we brought and then doing sports ministry with the children in the afternoon. We even did a skit about the parable of the good Samaritan, which could rival any professional acting Troupe. We do various activities in the evening including playing basketball with the neighborhood kids at the local court, hosting movie nights for the school children, and doing devotionals for the group. We are blessed that our group from Belmont has good synergy and I think everyone will be truly blessed by this experience.

As someone who struggles with the benefit of short-term mission trips, I have been encouraged by several things. The first is that the Haitian community is blessed by not only the water filters, which are desperately needed to help prevent disease, but also by our presence. Pastor George (who partners with PPM and often accompanies our group as a translator) said that our physical presence helps the people in the community believe in the work of pastor Wesley and the fruits of his labor. That hope is something so intangible and immeasurable that I often forget its true power, and it cannot be bought with money. God does not need us to accomplish His work here, but He is gracious in making us a face of the hope He gives to this community. The second encouraging thing I have received is the group’s response to the experience. Having travelled a fair amount myself, it is hard to reimagine my first time placing myself in the shoes of someone born and raised in a completely different community with a completely different reality than I. But seeing how God is using this trip to work in the hearts and minds of each member of the group reminds me that these trips are an invitation from God to open our hearts and allow Him to give us a glimpse of His work in the world and begin to break our hearts for what breaks His.

On a personal note, I have been blessed by being able to use my French and help translate for the group. The official language in the DR is Spanish, but Pastor Wesley speaks French, Spanish, and Creole in the Haitian community. Many members of the group have commented on how they desire to communicate so much more to people but don’t have enough Spanish to do so, so it is nice for me to use what I have learned at Belmont to be of service to those around me.

The book of Job has been powerful for both me and the group during this trip as we consider the proper response to the poverty and suffering we see. Pray we continue to experience God’s mercy and grace here in the DR.
“He causes the [storm] to come, whether for correction, or for His land, or for His mercy. Listen to this, O Job; stand still and consider the wondrous works of the Lord…God is awesome in majesty. As for the almighty, we cannot find Him; He is excellent in power, in judgement and abundant justice; He does not oppress. Therefore men fear Him; He shows no partiality to any who are wise of heart.” Job 37:13-14, 22b-24, NKJV

— Sean Grossnickle, student leader

Student Take: Tiffanie Bohrer

The author Marianne Wilson once said, “Success means we go to sleep ay might knowing that our talents and abilities were used in a way that served others.”  Today, Tiffanie Bohrer shares with us her experience serving, and how her talents and abilities have been used and can be used on the mission field.  Tiffanie has great insight into the power that a short term mission has to pull you a little further out of your comfort zone, which ultimately stretches and grows your threshold for service, understanding, and empathy.  We are so excited for you to read Tiffanie’s take on serving the Kingdom!

“I am so very excited to serve with Belmont and Praying Pelican Missions this spring break! This past October, I went with Belmont to Memphis, TN for a weekend service trip called Plunge, and I am so ready to take my experience serving with Belmont  on Mission outside of the country. This trip is going to be different for me, being a freshman, because I am one of the younger participants. This gives me the opportunity to learn from older students. I also don’t know anyone on the trip very well so it is going to be a great experience with a brand-new community of people. Praying Pelican Missions does an amazing job of setting up short-term mission trips for teams just like ours. They work with a church and ask them what they need help with. That is where we come in. We get to be the hands and feet of Jesus by serving those in need in the Dominican Republic.

I have been on two other international mission trips to El Salvador and Jamaica, and I am excited to see how this one will differ from those two. Each of those trips were different in the sense that what we were doing for the community was vastly different because of how the communities operated. In El Salvador, we helped build two houses for two families. In Jamaica, we ran a Vacation Bible School and did more outreach-based activities with the local church in addition to doing various small labor projects. In Jamaica, I was stretched more than ever as I gave my testimony on the street to passersby’s.  I, then, was pushed even more as I was asked to give a message during the church service on Sunday morning. I learned about the country and the culture, but I also learned more about myself and the gifts the Lord has given. Going on a mission trip is a great way to put those gifts to use. The Lord calls us to be a light to those who need light and to spread the good news. I am so excited to do this in a place where I have never been to before.

I chose to go on this trip because I haven’t done an international serving trip in a few years, and I missed learning about different cultures. The Dominican Republic is a country where I have never been.  I am very excited to experience their ways of doing life and to serve them in any way they need possible. Mission trips are a great way to go out of your comfort zone and step into a place that is unknown while you act as an example of Jesus to those around you. You can serve in any capacity and anywhere in the world, but I am so excited to take it a step further and travel a bit farther to spread love and bring my own gifts to a place where I can effectively help.”

If you have any questions about the Dominican Republic mission with Praying Pelican Missions or any upcoming mission trips in general, please reach out!

Host Partner Spotlight: Praying Pelican Missions

Each spring, Belmont students travel with Belmont on Mission all over the world to serve the Kingdom of God. While some teams stay in the United States to serve more locally, many teams travel abroad. In doing this, it is really important that groups partner with organizations that are well established in that area because those organizations know the context that students will be stepping into. In doing this, Belmont students are able to effectively serve and have a lasting impact.

This march, a group of students will be traveling to the Dominican Republic to serve with Praying Pelican Missions. Praying Pelican Missions connects the local church on a global level through short-term mission trips. Praying Pelican Missions acts as a catalyst for groups who wish to serve. They organize groups to work directly alongside local ministries where they can work to meet the real needs of the community. Praying Pelican Missions has the goals of genuine, long-term impact in healthy short-term mission trips. This is achieved through genuine partnerships, long-term relationships, and sustainable ministry.

In just over a month students will be in the Dominican Republic beginning their ministry. Students will do a variety of service projects with many different organizations in the community. If you have any questions about Praying Pelican Missions, or any upcoming International trips, please reach out!