After nearly a year of not being able to travel to the DR (August 2015 was the last trip), last week I traveled for the first time by boat (Fathom cruise) to lead a group of all new missionaries to see the mission. It was an amazing week filled with people from churches across the US that have supported and helped build the mission/school and people that had never heard of Renewed Hope. I also got the honor of traveling with a fellow missionary, Kim Bland, and learn more about her mission. (Kim and I first met in 2009 when her and her husband moved to Santiago. Though we have only seen each other a handful of times over the past 7 years, our mission hearts beat the same beat).
The cruise was amazing, filled with people that love to serve and open to see what God had in store for the week. It was though, just a “taste” of the project. We had a half day on Tuesday to see Puerta Plata and Kim’s mission projects, a full day in Santiago and a full day in Cuesta Arena. It was a great trip and yet a hard trip for me to not get time to “sit” and “be” with the family I have in Santiago and Cuesta Arena. My favorite moment of the week was the arrival in Cuesta Arena and seeing the looks on the faces of the missionaries at the blessing of the school and its impact on the children in the community. It is always my favorite moment to see people connect and love on the children and community I love so dearly. Seeing the missionaries’ faces light up when they saw the school and spend time playing and loving on the children made the mission come alive for so many people that had only heard stories or seen pictures over the years. “The pictures don’t appropriately describe it!!” Was the response so many exclaimed. I am excited to go back on Fathom in October with more new missionaries to experience it all over again.
Tomorrow I leave for graduation. It is our 4th graduation from our preschool. It seems like yesterday we “started” with 20 screaming children ages 2-5 years old, who had never been away from their parents, in the heat of September, in a solid concrete building. What a difference the years have made!!! Graduation is always my favorite trip! I pray the rest of my life I can always travel to see the graduation. It is a celebration of not just the school and the graduates but the church and community and the lives the school has touched and changed. This trip will be extra special as I share the week with another new missionary who had heard me obsess over the school for the past 4 years. I then have the privilege of leading my home church and a group of juniors and seniors who I have lead in small group since my return to the states. They too have heard me obsess over the children and talk about the mission and get to finally experience it themselves. August brings another group of new and old missionaries (let me know if you want to join). After so long being away, I am excited to be “home” even if only for a few weeks. Stay tuned to check in on your children and people you have connected as we hope to blog thought out the time.