July 6, 2010

A Holy Temple, Built Together

We’re back! Loads of smelly laundry have been done. Stories have been shared. And sleep has been caught up on (sort of). The overwhelming question asked is “How was it?”

Overall our trip to the Dominican Republic was extremely successful. We persevered through rain, sickness, lack of sleep and extremely difficult work conditions to exceed construction expectations. Concrete block walls rise as testimony to that fact! The vision of a church/school/medical clinic is taking shap♠e. 
After five days on the work site, our progress is remarkable.

Jellyfish welt. Ouch!
Remember the challenges I wrote about previously? Well, they continued. During our beautiful, sunny afternoon at the beach, we came under attack. Swimmer after swimmer ran from the surf, wincing in pain as welts developed on injured arms, legs, feet and torsos. We quickly identified the unseen sea monsters—an infestation of jellyfish staked their claim and made their mark (literally) on our one afternoon of leisure. But we didn't let them ruin our day. We just resorted to beach walks, shell collecting, domino playing, ball throwing and plain old relaxing.

Even a brief trip to the mercado for shopping was impeded by incredible traffic and an exploding bus tire. As we all stood on the side of the road during the repair we were treated to a rain shower.

I won’t even go into the issues I had with my hair!

Yet, even though we had few of the comforts of home and were dealt one challenge after another, the spirits of our group remained high. There was little grumbling and complaining. Where people could have quit in resignation or staged a coup, they persevered day in and day out. In fact, most folks are already planning to return next year!

Everyone on the trip has special images that stick in their minds—visual experiences collected like treasures we'll revisit time and again. Here are a few of my favorites:
Despite a steady downpour, the American and
Dominican kids gathered to sing some songs. 

  • Watching the kids, especially my daughter, build relationships, engage and come alive. They all sparkled and I know this experience marked them forever. One little boy said, “This trip is even better than going to Disney World!”
  • While I didn't love digging trenches with pick axes and shovels in the blazing sun, I loved working with the Dominicans on the site— working with mecla and a plana to build walls, bending rebar and making columns, and climbing on top of walls to pour concreto. I'll miss Chi Chi, Andres, Ed, Israel, Nelson, Lucman and the others.
Dave and I worked hard to finish our "windows"
  • Enjoying our afternoon café con leche—despite the fact I was nearing heat stroke on several days.
  • Witnessing the church in action. While we built a physical structure with cement blocks and concrete, we became the Church as Jesus intended—each of us living stones, built upon one another and cemented together by the Holy Spirit.
  • Saying our tearful goodbyes and seeing how much of an impact ten days had on everyone.
    Singing with the kids at VBS in the park.
  • Coming home and appreciating simple conveniences like clean tap water, being able to flush toilet paper and drivers who follow traffic rules. Certainly all our houses are luxurious mansions by Dominican standards.
This was my third mission trip to the island of Hispaniola in less than a year. My first trip to the DR and my trip to Haiti were truly life-changing, mountaintop experiences. I confess I expected more of the same this time and struggled with feeling disconnected and disappointed when that didn't happen.  

Somehow I ended up being
one of the dirtiest every day!

While I might not have the giddy emotions of past mission trips, I realize emotions are a fickle friend. God's timing may not be my timing, but it's always perfect. There's no telling the good He has done and will continue to do in me personally, in my children, in each of our team members and in our Dominican brothers and sisters.

On church this past Sunday I was thrilled to reunite with my fellow missionaries, all of us wearing our official red t-shirts. As we shared stories with our church family, I was so proud to be part of this amazing group who stepped out in faith, rose above the challenges and became the hands and feet of Jesus. Seeing this experience with fresh eyes was the reminder I needed (one I need all too frequently)—it's not about me!

"In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit." (Ephesians 2:20-21)


Added 7/8/10:


Runner Mom said...

Hey Kelli! Great post and pictures!

I love how you said God's timing is not always our timing. That's a new perspective, and I love it! But His timing is perfect and the best...no matter how long it takes us to see that.

Enjoy your week, my friend!
Love ya!

Terri Tiffany said...

Welcome back home! It sounds like an awesome trip all of you had and that you really made a difference for the Lord:)

Dan said...

Torrential rain...minor problem. Demon jellyfish...non-issue. Intestinal unrest...been there, heaved that. But, bad hair? THAT, my friends, is where I draw the line!!!

Great work, everyone. That is a LOT of progress - looking forward to continuing along with this amazing group again next year.

Anonymous said...

Great post friend Kelli. So sorry that I didn't get to talk to you or any of the others on Sunday, however am anxious to hear all about the Glory of God that you all recieved.
We'll have to get together very soon and chat.
Blessings and Love....Peggy


Welcome home. Transitions home after a missions trip can be so interesting. I prayed for you each time I read your blog. Thanks for investing in eternity.


Cheryl Barker said...

So wonderful how God gave you all the strength and perseverance to handle the challenges that presented themselves. And the sweet teamwork and fellowship? One of the best parts of being on a mission team, huh?

So glad your trip was such a success!

Sue J. said...

I think every time you engage in a service endeavor that the experience is different. Sometimes, you see a greater impact in yourself, but, sometimes--and it may be in long-term reflection--you see a greater impact upon other things.

Just seeing how your thought process develops through these experiences is spiritual growth to celebrate. God is continually working in you to show you His Kingdom and to prepare you for your role in shaping it.

Looks and sounds like a wonderful trip, dirt and all! Welcome back....

Tea With Tiffany said...

Thank you for going the distance to touch and change the lives of others. I love reading about your trip less the incidences and sickness. I hope and pray you will continue to go where HE sends you. I'm still dreaming of such a day. I need to jump aboard the next church opportunity. I long to serve with my whole family. Someday, Lord willing.

Enjoy your summer and the modern conveniences of home!