With bitter sweetness, we started our journey home at 3:30 a.m. We arrived safely back in Washington DC early afternoon. Everyone was exhausted after a long week, but ready to keep going. Most are already looking forward to next year. Thanks to everyone who supported us prayerfully and financially.
Today was our last day in Constanza. We helped Pastor Diegra some more on the church. His plan for the church is far beyond what we imagined last year when the construction started. We expected a simple, plain building that was nothing more than a.shelter from the elements. Oh, were we wrong! Pastor Diegra’s belief is that the church building is an invitation to the community to not only gather for worship, but also a place of peace and protection. He has thought through every detail of what the building is to be now and whatever God has in store for the future. It is truly amazing to see where God has led him and his church with all the obstacles they have overcome.
We also visited with 10 Christian families today to provide them food bags and encouragement. Many of them host house churches. The team split into 3 groups. Alma, Kassidee, and Alexis were one group. Scott, Rona, and Tony were another group and I traveled alone with a Dominican 13-year- old named Leote to guide me to the house where Juliana lived. Juliana is an older lady that hosts a house church and is suffering from several medical and family issues. We spent some time with her and prayed with her, but that was not the key moment for me. It was a long walk and involved climbing a steep hill. About half way up the hill, I commented to Leote how hard it was to climb the hill. His reply was immediate and simple. Leote, a Christian of 3 months, said to me, “It’s not hard when you’re helping people.” I haven’t been able to stop thinking about his words and how spiritually mature those words are. How true it is that if we are really focused on serving others, the burden is light.
Wednesday morning we continued with the construction project at the church. Pastor Diegra has been doing the majority of the construcrion on his own. Occasionally a few volunteers lend a hand, but it is primarily him and his son. He wants to be a good steward of the money we have provided and tries to stretch it as far as possible. At 65 years old, he is still able to work circles around all of us.
The children’s program on Wednesday was very successful. The Dominicans handled the majority of it with Alma keeping things organized and moving along. This was the type of program we hoped for when we started the week. Ben, our missionary partner, was excited they were able to do it since they have not done anything like this before.
We only have one more day in Constanza and really feel like we have a lot left to do.
Tuesday started out as a day of hard labor, but it was not a punishment. We spent much of the day working on the church. The ladies sifted sand for the cement mixture needed to stucco the walls. Ric and Tony covered the walls. Pastor Diegra cleaned up our mess, and Scott proved to be the master finisher.
We still had enough energy left for another session of the children’s program. Alma organized the events and we had a member of Pastor Diegra’s church that assisted with the music and another that led the lessons for the kids. Kassidee gave her testimony and Tony once again demonstrated impressive dramatic versatility as a dove in the story of Noah’s ark.
The kids and adults from yesterday did a great job inviting more kids to come. We had 28 kids yesterday and 63 today. We will see what tomorrow holds as we look forward to even more participation from the church members. Our ultimate goal is that they will be able to organize and run a program on their own. They have some very motivated ladies and great ideas.
Monday started off with a visit with Ben Hand, the missionary we partner with, and his wife. Ric and Scott (and Tony somewhat) helped dig a hole for a water cistern, while Alma and Rona gathered up the village women for a ladies’ Bible study. Kassidee and Alexis led an impromptu children’s program that was a big hit, complete with songs, jump rope, and some face glitter.
In the afternoon, we traveled to Puerto Suelo to train some adults on running a children’s program at our partner Baptist church. They observed us doing it and then prepared for their participation in a combined program for Tuesday. Alexis shared her testimony and Tony was the star of the show as a large fish that swallowed Jonah.
It was a great first day of work.