“Queres Jugar Conmigo?”

First off, we want to apologize to all the families that have been panicking because we have not been able to post blogs this week. We have not had very good wife in the past week, so we haven’t had the opportunity to post. But we are okay. No one has gotten terribly sick, and our hearts are full.

While debriefing with our team, several team members have tried to sum up this week in one sentence. “These people have so much hope.” “God’s providence and faithfulness have amazed me this week.” “There are so many types of ministry we can all use.” “Laughter goes a long way.”

We started our week at Palo Blanco. We had no idea what things would be like, so as we were leaving the team house, anxiety and excitement filled the air. However, once we got there, we were able to see what the kids were interested in and what would work with the children. This was also our first encounter with the language barrier, but thanks to our two amazing Spanish speakers, we were able to work through it.

We spent two more days at Palo Blanco. These days were mixtures of soccer, paper mache, nail painting, and basketball. Everyone tried their hardest to speak Spanish. For some it was a challenge, and for others it was a process of nonverbal communication. Nonetheless, we had amazing connections with a lot of the children.

The last two days were at The Ark, another home for children. This is a community that accepts at-risk children, brings them into a new home and family, and shows them strong practical and Christian values. Here, we had the opportunity to eat with different families from other houses, play with the children, listen to stories, and accomplish some mild construction work. We listened to testimonies from two of the people that are a part of The Ark and how God used The Ark to save them.

We heard heart wrenching stories of mothers abandoning their children and a mother that was killed. We heard phrases like “I remember what my life was like before The Ark. I had to steal and sell beer bottles so my siblings and I could eat,” “I miss my mom very much, but God gave me a new family,” and “The Ark saved my life.” While listening to these stories, many on the team broke into tears because of the hope that both of the stories contained.

The last three days, we were placed in a resort named Casa Tranquila near The Ark. It was relaxing, and a good ending to an inspirational week. Sunday, our last day, we went to church at The Ark where we met one last time with the friends we made. This Easter service was particularly special to celebrate Christ’s resurrection with our new friends.

We could go on for days about what this trip means to us, but unfortunately, we have a plane to catch in a few hours. However, the writers of this blog can speak for the whole team and say that the people of Jarabacoa changed our lives and hearts. When we get home, we would love to share every detail about what God showed us and the work He did around and through us.

We also want to share that because of the wonderful relationships that were made, two members of our team decided to sponsor children, one at Palo Blanco and one at The Ark.

Thank you for all your support, prayers, and encouragement. We will post one final blog when we are back in the States, and we apologize again for the inconvenience of not posting sooner.

Praise God that He is Lord over all! We may not know the impact we made, but we trust that God will continue to move in Jarabacoa. In the words of our pastor on Sunday:

“Behold the Lamb of God for he has come to take the sin of the world!”

We Made It!

Day One:DR.jpg

After a tiring day of plane rides and a bus ride, we are here! We left Upland at 2:30 am, took a one hour flight from Indianapolis to Atlanta, Georgia, a four hour flight from Georgia to Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, and an hour long bus ride from Santo Domingo to Jarabacoa. We are staying at a Kids Alive house while here. Though day one was exhausting and most of us had no sleep, we kept our spirits high as we continued to travel. Everyone is happy to be here, and we are all safe and sound.

Day Two:

Our day started with worshiping with the people of Jarabacoa at a local church. It was so amazing to see two groups of people from different parts of the world worship and praise the same amazing God!! As a team, we took a hike to a beautiful, beautiful waterfall where we swam, jumped off cliffs, and saw the beauty of Jarabacoa.

The Lord has been so good to us during these past two days, and we cannot wait to work with the kids tomorrow! We ask for prayers as God continues to work through us and as we spread the good news of Gospel!

We also ask for prayers for our fellow Taylor University student (not of this trip) as he was in a firearm accident in his home today. He is in stable condition, but needs our prayers. His name is Conner Faulkner. Thank you

The Journey Begins!

The Journey Begins!

We got the email before we left for Christmas break. We either applied for our very first passport or renewed the one we already had. We sat through vaccinations and have survived a two-hour-a-week class. We came to know each other and build friendships with one another. We sent texts to each other asking “What are you wearing for the flight?” and “Did you get sick after taking the typhoid pill?” We spent approximately 9 weeks waiting… It’s finally time! The mosquito repellent, sunscreen, Bibles, journals, and selfie sticks are all packed. Let’s go!

In less than two days, we will begin our journey to Jarabacoa, Dominican Republic to work with Kids Alive International. Our mission will be focused on spending time with kids and showing them the love of Jesus Christ. We will be serving at the Palo Blanco Day School and La Arka children’s home, and during our last days there, we will be debriefing at the Casa Tranquila. We will also have the opportunity to celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ with the amazing people of Jarabacoa. We are so beyond excited to make crafts, play sports and show the children how incredibly loved they are by our Savior, Jesus Christ.

We also want to thank you for the financial and spiritual support that we have received. It has been so humbling to see how many people have supported this trip. This is the beginning to such an exciting journey, and we are ready to love and learn in the land of Jarabacoa.

Our team verse is “But Jesus called the children to him and said,’Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these.’” (Luke 18:16)

These children are our passion, and we desire to reach into their lives and be the hands and feet of Jesus. We cannot wait to learn from them and be blessed by them as well. These young ones are the next generation, and our prayer is that we humble ourselves before God and the children to better serve them.

We ask for continued prayers throughout the next two weeks. Please pray for safety as we travel, for health as we are in a new country and for humility to allow ourselves to be led as we try to lead others. As God leads we hope to follow with rendered hearts for the people we will come in contact with. We are all in for Jarabacoa, and we cannot wait to see how Christ moves. We place all our trust in the King of Kings knowing that his way is the best way! 

Dominican Republic Prayer Requests

– For our team, we ask for prayer that we would go to the DR as servants and learners, that we would embrace all opportunities to serve and love others, and that we would have good energy, health, and safety throughout our travels.

– For our host ministry, Kids Alive International, we ask for prayer that our work would enable the missionaries to build good relationships with the children and communities they serve and that our presence would be an encouragement to KA’s staff.

– For the DR, we ask for prayer that God’s love would be poured out through us, Kids Alive, and through the many believers living in the country. We also ask for prayers for wellness in the face of spiritual and physical ailments.

DR Team Photo 2016

Front row: David Adams, Stephen Richardson, Emma Stevens, Anna Riggenbach, Ruhama Mergia
Middle row: Carolina Alvarado, Erin Rogalla, Abbey Vance, Keri Kauffman, Raegan Lintner, Ariadna Brito
Back row: Steve Estes, Matt Kalustian, Caleb Truax, Grace Hooley, Sara Padgett, Prisca Sakeuh, Wyatt Shanks, Will Schaufelberger.