We deplaned in Santo Domingo and were hit with the kind of heat that could melt chocolate in your mind. This kind of heat takes your breath away for a few seconds and you have to decide to either keep walking or queue back up for the return flight. We kept walking. Next stop was the rental car place where we had a van waiting for us, or that was the agreement anyway. Three hours later we are loaded up and headed for the other side of the island. I asked the rental clerk if the van came equipped with GPS and he said, “No.” We asked if he had a map and he said, “No, it’s an island, if you get lost you will come back here eventually.” Dominicans are quite laid-back and tend to think in circular patterns. I, on the other hand, tend to get lost and relish the security of a map, but I’d made the trip as a passenger several times and felt good about finding La Romana, and if not C’est la vie…the van had a fabulous air conditioner.
Our work in La Romana was in a slum adjacent to the Ebenezer Baptist Church where a new school was being built through a unique combination of government, the private sector, the Good Samaritan Hospital, the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship and JCBC. The Dominican government has declared a goal of 24,000 new classrooms and an overhaul of their educational system, one that consistently ranks among the world’s worst. As I wrote a few weeks ago, Haiti has a much better educational process than the D.R., and if you’re staring up at Haiti it can’t be a good thing.
We went to work on the school and assisted paid block masons and carpenters. Essentially, we were temporary laborers on this mammoth job and we put in our three days and were able to see progress. We hauled gravel, sand and cement mix, along with blocks, rebar, and wet mortar in buckets. All of it became heavier as the day(s) went by. Shade was a commodity and water was a necessity. Not one of us do hard, hot labor for a living. This is an important distinction. Most often missional endeavors are extra-ordinary. Missional giving is over and above giving; Missional prayer is specific and pointed prayer; and, Missional participation is (for most people) out of the ordinary-type service. Our trip included a communications executive, a technology executive, an insurance executive, a C.P.A., a retired health administrator, a college student and moi (sorry, I used a French phrase in the first paragraph and I’m on a roll). To a person we do not mix mortar, haul blocks or shovel sand in our regular lives. We did so in the D.R. as an act of missional service that we hope God will use for extra-ordinary benefit.
So, thanks for the extra-ordinary prayer that supported us while we were away. Thanks for the extra-ordinary financial gifts that paid for the supplies we used. And, thanks to the men who accompanied me, who gave of their time, money and sweat equity, to do the work. JCBC will play a part in raising the educational standards in the D.R. The Ebenezer Baptist Church, next door to the project, will be active in the future school so there will be a Christian witness and influence. To coin a phrase, the whole endeavor is extraordinarily, extra-ordinary…and that’s the way it’s supposed to be!
Johns Creek Baptist Church