On Aug. 4, 2012, twenty-one members of Faith Lutheran Church arrived in Puerto Plata in the Dominican Republic for our mission trip. Our group consisted of Sarah Dennison and Anna Lee, DeAnn Eis, Kristin Hogan, Jackie Jungemann and her granddaughter, Callie, Jenn Klosterman, Leah and Rachel North, Nichole and Renae Scarpino, Kelly, Richard, Jessica, Ally and Brooklyn Schell, Shiela and Ben Scott, Diana and Ali Stavros and Candy Zelle. We were not traveling light, as we each had our own luggage along with an extra suitcase packed with the generous donations of school and medical supplies by members of our congregations. The New Missions missionaries, Kathy, Joe, Rhea, and Dustin, met us at the airport in two trucks and as we boarded we were pleasantly surprised that another family of four from Atlanta, a pastor and two teenagers from New Jersey, and a young woman from Washington would be joining us for the week. By evening, we were settled into our quarters in Sosua by the Sea and getting acquainted with our surroundings.
The next morning we were picked up by the New Missions trucks, which we realized would be our mode of transportation for the week. We attended the English church service and later went to Playa Chiquita where we would be presenting our weeklong Bible school program to the children of Sosua.
For the next five mornings, we put on the Bible school program, called Sky. We presented the opening and closing sessions in Spanish, and in between, the children rotated through four other stations, including a Bible adventure story, a craft session, snacks and games. The Bible adventures highlighted the stories of Lazarus, and the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus in which the children were able to participate and to help act out. We were able to use video clips to present songs in English and Spanish and music was a strong component of our program. The number of children in attendance grew as the week went on, with the exception of Wednesday, which started out rainy and windy. We were very pleased with the success of the Bible school program and hope that the children will remember it for a long time.
Our afternoons were also busy with trips to visit other children in the area. We visited Redemption Village on Monday and Tuesday, where we met with the children in their school and presented a modified Bible school program for them. On Thursday we visited the children of Lacienaga where we played games with them in a large field and on Friday, we visited the children and some of their families in Bombita.
Wednesday afternoon offered some free time, when people in our group took advantage of various activities, including a tour of Puerto Plata, horseback riding, ziplining and visiting the Monkey Jungle. The hotel pool and beach area were popular places when we were not out in the communities and the hotel restaurant provided some very tasty meals.
By the end of the week we had become a close-knit group, having shared a variety of emotions together throughout our stay. Especially touching were the opportunities that a few members of our group had when meeting their sponsored children and their families. We very much appreciate the work that New Missions is doing in the area and were grateful to have contributed to that work in a small way. We’re thankful for the staff that coordinated our entire experience and for the help from the translators that worked with us to improve our communication. Many of us continue to support some of the children of the Dominican through monthly sponsorship and our church looks forward to sending more groups in the future to continue a supportive relationship with New Missions.