Complete With A Cross

DSC03566 DSC03590 DSC03616 DSC03615 DSC03592 IMG_0685It’s almost like a dream now. I think back to just a few short days ago, when our team arrived on the site of a lot in a sugarcane village, that had been purchased for a church building. It had supposedly been “cleared” and was ready for building, but there was still a little work to be done in order to start the process! This team . . . well, let me just say, “They are AMAZING!” A group of people who have a vision, listen to God, put their hearts and minds to it, and before I could even say, “Shouldn’t you be wearing your safety goggles?”, there was this structure . . .a building . . . full and complete, a sanctuary, ready for a church service!

Many moments surrounding that, jump out in my mind over and over again. Pedro, the town drug dealer, was a huge work horse and tremendous help for our crew; the children wanted to jump in to pick up trash, paint with motor oil, help hammer nails; the thief who was missing half an arm because justice was handled Dominican style, worked ambitiously as if he had no handicap; the soaken wet team members who rarely stopped or took a break, and Miguel’s tears every time he came to check the progress of the building. Some of those moments will never, ever leave my mind, or my heart.

But one day, in a conversation with a team member, Tyler Lay, the importance of the project was made so clear to me. He took me into the building to show me what they had done on the wall . . . .out of two-by-fours, a model of a cross had been created. He said, “No church is complete without a cross.” Then later, with some of the leftover wood, in a last hour attempt to build a podium before we had to leave, there was a glitch in the wood. I don’t remember the details exactly, but it didn’t fit, or wasn’t matching up or something. So he said, “Let’s make a cross on it.” So up front in the church, where Pastor Miguel will stand to preach, there is a cross behind him, and a cross in front of him on the podium. He is surrounded by the CROSS! (But we already knew that anyway!)

We are all “Complete with a cross” . . .a cross where Jesus paid the price for all of our sins and craziness. We can lay it down at that cross because He promises to take away all the sin. Even better, He left that cross and rose again to live with us forever! It’s the ultimate sacrifice, the greatest story . . . .complete with a cross!

I Peter 2: 24
“He himself bore our sins” in his body on the cross, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; “by his wounds you have been healed.”

A Great Word

IMG_0493 IMG_0419 IMG_0451 IMG_0351 IMG_0224 IMG_0120 20150714_130320 20150713_112834 20150716_111607 20150716_110511 IMG_0360I have a new favorite word . . . Neoteny: maintaining childlike characteristics even into adulthood. “Neos” means young; “teinein” means to extend. It’s a great word! You know some of these people – they enjoy life to the fullest; they keep a sense of humor in most circumstances; they never take things too seriously; they are full of youthful zeal and have an adventurous spirit; their joy is contagious; they are free of worry and live on faith. Before you fire back the rebuttals, it does NOT mean irresponsible or foolish, so save your finger muscles! I have a few children of my own who possess this quality! My parents are also like this and we had a great childhood! But I also believe that it’s Biblical. Jesus was pretty clear when He said, “Unless you become like little children, you can not enter the Kingdom of Heaven.” You have probably heard the quote, “Tell others about Jesus and if necessary, use words.” The character quality of neoteny just oozes joy! Others are attracted to you when your life speaks joy and youthfulness . . .and your story can be told without saying a word. If you have ever spent much time with children, you know this is true. I was blessed to spend the past week in the Dominican Republic, in one of the poorest villages around. For 4 days, 120-some kids came for our VBS program in the street, and they were like sponges! They listen; they laugh; they sing; they jump; they run; they crawl all over you; the beg you not to leave; and most of all, even in the worst conditions, they smile. I was also blessed by many team members who have this quality . . .you know who you are! So loosen up and find your youthful zeal . . .others might meet Jesus because of you!


Matthew 18: 3-5
“I assure you,” He said, “unless you are change and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever humbles himself like this child—this one is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. And whoever welcomes one child like this in My name welcomes Me.

Location, Location, Location

20150718_121046 20150718_121000 20150717_143953(0) 20150717_145644 20150716_103404 20150715_100828 20150715_100834 20150717_150227_2 20150713_094830_3The 2015 DR Team is home. . .or back in the US at least.  No flight delays, no overnight unexpected stays, no major events at all!  After every missions trip, my heart is so heavy, the longing for one more day in a village is so overwhelming, the songs are singing in my head (in Spanish), I am thinking about the man’s leg that I bandaged. . .. did he get the antibiotics because I am sure it was infected.  I can’t take a nap because I can’t stop thinking about all the people – Ben (pastor and missionary), Felix (missionary and translator), Bradley (missionary and intern), Miguel (pastor and disciple), Pedro (a born again drug dealer), and all the native Dominicans . . .. the children, the moms, all the pastors, the dads . . .the lost.  I say “home” loosely because today I feel like a foreigner in my house as the luxuries surrounding me bring on a huge wave of guilt and wonder, with thanksgiving and the realization of undeserved blessings all at the same time.  I have a sick feeling in my stomach as I do laundry in my high efficiency washer; I am a little warm because the thermostat on the AC says 78 instead of 74 degrees; I open the freezer to see if we have any ice cream; and I wonder if I should type the blog post on the PC, laptop, or my Tablet.  Then I feel guilty because I feel guilty, knowing that the stuff is all part of God’s blessings in my life, regardless if I deserved it or not!  Simply put, it’s the post-trip crazies and it takes a few days (or years) to be Americanized again! Coming “home” is exhausting!  And is it “home” . . .not really.  It’s a very temporary location.

I love talking with Noah about the trip – he was there, so he gets it.  I always learn a few new things that maybe I missed; I hear a perspective of something I didn’t think about.  One new thing I learned upon our return, was that the end of the street where we led a VBS program each day with 120-some kids, was in front of a building that didn’t look like the houses in the village.  You can see it in the pictures. I remember thinking about it, and wondered what kind of building it was – big, white, ornate.  I learned today that it was a Brothel – a place where prostitutes work.  So for four days, the children’s playground and Bible story “classroom” was the courtyard of the Brothel!  God is so funny!  We were loud; the stories were shouted out; the Gospel message of salvation was preached; praise songs were sung; skits were played out; the name of Jesus had to be heard over and over again by anyone who was anywhere nearby.  I will forever believe that the women inside that place HAD to hear the Gospel message at some point in the week!  That was perfectly orchestrated by God.  I had no idea where we were, but the location was perfectly chosen, and the Word was shouted from the streets!

Location, location, location . . .   Where you preach might not be a church.  Where you teach might not be a classroom.  Where you live might not be your “home”.  But in all of these places, the location is perfectly chosen by God – if it’s the wrong place, He will move you…don’t you worry!


Revelation 21: 1, 4

Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. . . .And God will wipe away every  tear from their eyes, there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying.  There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.

Love never fails


God tells us that the greatest commandment is to love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength. It’s the greatest, because from our love for God flows a natural of compassion and obedience as our hearts become more like His- meaning through this commandment all the other commandments are met.

But Jesus pulls out another commandment specifically naming it as the second most important–to love your neighbor as yourself. It is through our love for others that the love of  Christ is humanized, displayed and realized even 2000 years after love incarnate walked the earth himself.

Hopefully you have seen this team’s love for God as you’ve followed this blog. And I’ll let you know that it is a tangible love- one that is selfless and hardworking, with a fire to share the gospel even when it may be uncomfortable or inconvenient. This love is evident in the way our construction team shares sweat, stories and food with the Dominican workers and the patience and gentleness of our VBS team attending to 120 screaming children who all want to be held and entertained. It’s evident in the prayers of encouragement shared with our brothers and sisters in La Loma church.

And the potency of this team’s love for God is never more clear and never more contagious than when witnessing our love for one other. Nearly 6 months ago, God formed this team of diverse personalities and talents and we spent the months that followed meeting with and encouraging each other as we prepared for this trip.  We are a true team.  We help each other, we look out for each other, we encourage each other to try new things, we make each other laugh, we sing silly songs on the bus,  we bind up each others wounds, we are honest with each other, we point each other to the word of God and discuss things we may not fully understand. We trust each other.  And through this comaradarie- this  love is multiplied we invite others to join us. We are polite to strangers and TSA agents and the airport, we give ice cream every night to the guards at the complex, we get other teams to join our epic games of signs, we invite the construction teams to church, we help carry strangers luggage and on and on and on. This is the family of God.

“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples.” John 13:35

This team is an embodiment of Jesus’ words. And though I can see God work in and through each individual this week, His love is proclaimed by our love for one another. By no means have our lives been easy. There is pain, hurt, guilt and mistakes (ask us about our testimonies)- but there is also, forgiveness, peace and hope from  God that transcends this and makes us one. I LOVE THIS TEAM!!! Perhaps even more so because I have seen so many of them grow up, facing the challenges life throws at them and they persevere and grow.

This week we built a church. And although we leave today we are encouraged that this is just the beginning for Pueblo Nuevo- God has given them a new start with this building a place that will bring many to Christ and a place that will build a family of believers not unlike the team we brought here to build it. And that is awesome.

Thank you for your love and support along the way.

Got to go to the aiport!

Wider Than the Road

20150716_101421_1 20150716_113609 20150715_123049_4 20150713_094713_4 20150716_111841 20150715_134010 20150713_160440_1Today is our last day in the field. You absolutely cannot understand the indescribable emotions of that if you have never been on a mission trip. We are financially “rich” when we come here; God provided above and beyond what we needed for our travel and the projects; money can be a huge tool in blessing those who have nothing . . . So we did our best to meet the needs while we were here. And for goodness sake, in a few short days, we built a church building!

On our way to the work site yesterday, we had to make a run to La Loma to drop some food bags. You can see in the picture, one of the roads we were traveling was very narrow, and looking out the windows of the bus, the bus appeared wider than the road! I missed the picture of the cows moving toward us on that same road a few minutes later! But the bus was bigger, the cows moved over, and we won the game of chicken.

God is wider than the road! We started a journey of evangelizing one of the most wicked villages in the area. As I mentioned earlier, the major drug dealer in the area came to help with the construction. We were warned to “watch him” because he might steal the tools! He was a work horse; instructed and guided us in “Dominican building ways”(which are interesting to say the least), and began to develop a relationship with our team. Pedro is his name (blue snow hat in the picture), and so we began to pray. Wednesday night, we attended Miguel’s church, where Tyler Lay led a men’s discussion on humility. The Gospel was presented and Pedro was invited to accepted Jesus Christ. His answer was YES! He prayed a prayer to invite Jesus into his life. Everyone on the team could have gone home to the US that night! We were a huge tool box of tools that helped this man want something more for his life; he wanted a change; he wanted to be different; he wanted eternal life! He was so excited yesterday! Lots of good-bye hugs and tears, and he had all the men sign his Bible. . .yes, he has a Bible now. PEDRO THE DRUG DEALER IS A BORN AGAIN CHRISTIAN!

The road (path) of a drug dealer is a dangerous road. It’s called sin. So what road is it that separates me from God? You from God? It’s called sin.  It doesn’t matter . . .God is wider than the road. When you play chicken with Him, He will win! I am thankful for that. So is Pedro.

John 14: 6
Jesus said,”I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”

Thursday, July 16th

20150716_110540_1 20150715_125443 20150716_103411 20150715_131908 20150715_100227It is a blessing to be the team member blogging this evening being that today was our final day in Pueblo Nuevo. After four days in the field on my very first mission trip, I finally understand that there is no way I could have ever been truly ready for this trip. No matter how many times I packed and re-packed my suitcase. Pretty sure the final count was 12 times.

Our team is filled with colorful personalities and willing hearts. We have seasoned believers, newcomers, and people still finding their way. We are in a country that is completely different from our home and more importantly we are experiencing this new culture together. I cannot even begin to explain what we have seen or felt…

Saying goodbye to Pastor Miguel and Pueblo Nuevo was just as hard as you might imagine. I have been primarily helping with VBS and making friends with the children. I’m really going to miss a lot of those smiles and hugs. I also picked up a shadow this week. His name is Luigi and he follows me everywhere holding my hand. I’ll be praying for each of the children but slightly more for him. The church looks amazing! It is so insane to believe that we built, primed, and prayed over it in just four days! It warms my heart to know that fellow believers will be worshiping and studying God there very soon.

This week has been especially difficult for me due to the language barrier. But mostly because I came here looking to make an obvious impact. However, I am quietly learning that not every impact comes in neon lights with circus clowns. Our impact happens in time. What a teacher our God is. When you least expect it He will give you an opportunity to learn from Him. Mid blog post I was scooped into a conversation that only God could have planned. Lynda, Aubrey, and Sarah listened to me speak about the difficulties I was facing and reminded of the importance of our team. We each have a position that we play, a skill that we were given. Together we make an unbeatable machine of missionaries. Although finding your place feels important at first in the final days you realize just how significant your love is. My love for Pueblo Nuevo, La Loma, The Score staff, and my team.

Sarah introduced me to a verse tonight that I have not heard or read before. Isaiah 55:11 “it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it.” I have never experienced this much spiritual encouragement in my life. I am so grateful.

It seems I am being called into a very loud game of “Signs” with the team. Better join in! The guys say that it’s bonding time. My name is Brittany. This is my first mission trip but no where near my last. Buenas Noches!


The Scapegoat

20150715_102854_7 20150713_113403 20150715_123400 20150715_094103_1When 121 kids show up for the “programe por los ninos” (VBS in English), it’s tough to give attention to each of them. But every once in awhile, one or two will catch your eye for one reason or another. I saw a little girl…dirty, matted hair….not so different from some of the others, but her “dirt was a little more” and her clothes were a little more ragged. Then I watched…the other little girls were running to the women to tattle on her, blame her for arguments, pointing their fingers at her. The women began to approach her, and one hit her across the head. The other pushed her to the ground and made her sit. One slapped her about 10 times on her back. I realized right away that she had done nothing. She was a scapegoat…the one being picked on and blamed for any discomfort that the others were experiencing. When it calmed down, I went over and picked her up. I kept saying over and over again, “Tu eres bonita” . . “You are beautiful.” She just stared at me and I wonder if she had ever heard it before. It was heart breaking. And then I had to put her down and eventually leave her, knowing she would probably not have a great day. I prayed that she heard the message, the story of Jesus, and that she knows she is “bonita”.

Jesus was a scapegoat too. He was blamed for all the things that were not true. But He willingly took the punishment that we deserved by going to the cross for all my ugliness. It’s sad that a beautiful little girl reminded me of that yesterday. I hope she heard. I hope she will know how beautiful she is in the eyes of our Savior. I will forever pray for that.

Acts 2: 23
This man was handed over to you by God’s set purpose..and you put him to death on a cross…but God raised Him from the dead. It was impossible for death to hold Him.