Dominican Republic Blog
Thursday, March 30
WRITTEN BY MEGAN STRANGE, UPPER SCHOOL PRINCIPAL
Today was a special day in a very different way than the rest of the week. Happy Beach Day everyone! We got up a little later than the last couple of days and gathered for devotions on the roof at 7:30am followed by breakfast at 8am. It was a quieter morning than usual since the other large group left early to build their chapel like we did yesterday.
We left Time mid-morning and headed to Mercado Modelo for some souvenir shopping where our students experimented with bartering…some had more success than others… and then we headed to the beach for lunch and to spend the afternoon. It was another beautiful weather day here in the DR, and some of our teammates got a little more roasted than others, but we had a blast walking the beach, chatting with some of the vendors, and just enjoying time together to celebrate the week.
When we came back to Time, we showered and got dressed up for the end of the week banquet. We enjoyed a wonderful meal, worshipped together, and then had a time of sharing about the week. After that time, we gathered as just the NCCS team to share our prayer partners for the week. We gave out prayer partners at the beginning of the week on a sticky note that everyone was to be praying for and encouraging over the course of the week…and then we revealed them tonight by sharing something we have noticed or appreciated about them this week. That is always a special time of sharing and the kids did great with us…lots of precious encouragement!
As I type, the students are packing and getting things organized for our trip homeward tomorrow. Since you know what their bedrooms look like, you know this may be more complicated for some than others! We won’t leave anyone behind and everyone is being super helpful.
We have had the best week! We are so grateful to the parents of our team and want to say thank you so much for the solid foundation you have laid for your kids at home and the way that your kids are growing in the Lord and were equipped to jump right in this week. We have really benefited from the fruit of your investment in the way that this team came together quickly and been a powerful representation of Romans 12:10 in so many ways.
Every night our team gathered for a time of worship and devotions and we spent time answering one question “Where have you seen God at work today?” Several of the students talked about keeping that tradition when they returned home to their own families. Each night, we have really enjoyed hearing different perspectives of what people have noticed and we’ve all been reminded of a grander perspective being in a place where the language and culture is different than what we normally experience at home. One of the biggest takeaways for the kids is that they have really appreciated the “fellowship of the believers” as we have felt and enjoyed the culture of community here in the DR and in our group.
Thank you for praying for us and cheering us on. We are praying for and cheering on all of the other NCCS Spring Term teams, as well, as they all begin their journey homeward tomorrow!
Wednesday, March 29
WRITTEN BY MEGAN STRANGE, UPPER SCHOOL PRINCIPAL
Happy Chapel building day! Our sweet team did awesome with their 5:15am wake up call. We loaded the tools and supplies for the day into the bus and trailer and followed the flatbed trailer with our chapel pieces down the road. The site we were building our chapel was about 45 minutes away.
When we arrived we ate a quick breakfast and then checked out the site. The foundation was made of concrete blocks. We gathered around and prayed over the site for the Lord to use the chapel for His glory and the good of that community.
The team made quick work of unloading the truck and we got right to work! The framing part went quickly and then we started raising panels. Several of us climbed up to the top to secure things and the roofing, windows, and doors followed quickly. This crew doesn’t stand around…everyone jumped in with the best attitude! It was hot and sunny, but we worked hard together and alongside the Time staff and finished the chapel a little after 2pm.
The whole time we were building, a group from the church was preparing an incredible lunch for our team…and we got to smell it the whole last hour of working. Great motivation to get to the finish line!
After we finished the chapel, we had a short presentation to Pastor Carlos and his family to officially give him the keys to the chapel. This is a place that will be a city on a hill and a light in the darkness for the sake of the gospel. Ryleigh shared with him on behalf of the group that we were honored to be in ministry with him and his church for the sake of the gospel. We prayed together as a group in English and Spanish…took some pictures…and then it was time to eat! And we ate well!
Our heart’s desire at NCCS is to equip our students to be bold and use their gifts and talents to impact the world for Christ. Many precious moments over the last few days. Grateful for the opportunity to serve alongside this awesome team!
Will you join us in praying that many will come to know Jesus as a result of this Pastor, his congregation, and this chapel?
God is faithful. He is working.
We are back at Time after grabbing ice cream on the way back to celebrate. We’ve showered and are waiting for dinner to begin. After dinner we will have devotions on the rooftop and then call it an early night.
Keep reading below for some thoughts on where our students have seen God at work this week in the DR.
Throughout this week I have seen God throughout all of the relationship formed, and strengthened in the group. I have loved getting to talk and work with everyone throughout the day. We have shared so many laughs, but also worked and sweated through the heat but have had fun in all of it. This trip has been made even better because of this, and getting to serve the people of the Dominican Republic!!
-Shelby Smith, Senior
I saw God's beautiful work throughout the entire day but mostly through our attitudes toward each other. When work got frustrating and exhausting, He gave us an immense amount of energy to uplift and encourage each other.
- Reagan Smith, senior
Today we built the chapel that we have been working on for three days. God has blessed us so much, and we are hopeful that the chapel impacts so many lives as it has impacted ours. Building the chapel has brought us closer as a group, and I have gained so many new friendships. I got to know some of the workers and hear about themselves. I am so thankful and blessed for all the memories we have made together.
- Katherine Garcia, sophomore
I have really enjoyed getting to serve in the Dominican Republic this week. Today we finally put up our completed chapel, and it was so rewarding to see what we had been working so hard on come to completion. Getting to serve alongside my classmates and the community leaders was so amazing because it reminded me that God is working all around the world and in the lives of everyone. I have truly enjoyed the opportunity to get to know everyone on this team, and I am so proud of what we did today. While we were working, some sweet ladies in the community were working just as hard to make us a great lunch after we finished work. We also had a time of prayer over the chapel that it would flourish and grow after we left it. This has been a trip I will never forget, and we are all looking forward to a great beach day tomorrow!
- Hannah Reed, Senior
God has moved in so many ways this week.
From getting here safely, to being able to connect with the kids, to building all the pieces for our chapel, to finally being able to put everything together, He has been here through all of it. The only way we have been able to complete all the things we did in such a short amount of time was through Him, and so many lives will be impacted because of it.
- Chloe Clark, Senior
I have seen God working many times throughout this trip. I first saw God at work by just simply providing us to get to the Dominican safely. On Tuesday I saw God at work multiple times. On Tuesday we worked on construction the whole day, and by the end of the day we were all just simply tired and exhausted. But even though we were tired we kept pushing and I truly think God gave us the energy we needed to finish the work we needed to complete. And when we showed the people the church they were simply so excited and so kind to us. They were so grateful for what we did for them and gave us many snacks and a lunch which was truly a blessing.
-Claire Smith, sophomore
I think God has been all over this week in so many ways. I especially saw Him in the way we have fellowship with each other and supported one another, no matter how long the day was or how hard the work was. I also saw God in how quickly we worked today to finished the church. To be honest, I thought we were going to be out there until like 6, but we were done much earlier, and I’m so thankful for that. I’m so excited to see what God does with this church, and I’m so glad we were able to have an impact on this community for God’s glory.
- Ava Morlan, sophomore
Tuesday, March 28
WRITTEN BY MEGAN STRANGE, UPPER SCHOOL PRINCIPAL
The sunrise on the rooftop is a wonderful way to start the day. Our kids have done a great job with getting up and coming ready to worship and start the day in God’s word. After devotions today, we had a special treat! Mrs. Bare’s 4th grade class is our Lower School Prayer Partner, and they sent us some encouraging notes to read over the course of the week.
Knowing that today would be a long and hot one, we gave some of them out this morning and that really encouraged the team! For breakfast, we had fried eggs, fruit, and coffee. Lots of conversation at breakfast about chapel building as our group and the group from FBC Salem are partnering to build 3 chapels. As soon as breakfast was cleaned up, we quickly got to work setting up for construction.
Time has so many great systems here and one of them is the way that they set up the area for construction. We build each of the panels for the church (plain panels, window panels, and door panels) using a template and certain pieces of wood along with specific nails and screws for different parts of the project. You’d be impressed to see how quickly our kids have taken to that. In fact, some of them likely have a bright future in construction!
We worked from 8am-12:20pm only taking a “Coke break” for about 15 minutes mid-morning. The team has been great to remind each other about drinking water, putting on sunscreen, taking a break, etc. It’s been a huge blessing to see the way that the members of the team are putting their own preferences aside in favor of looking for ways to serve one another. Also, there may or may not be a friendly competition going on between the guys and the girls as to who is getting the most work done! As we finish many of the parts of this chapel project…the kids have been so diligent to stop and pray over the completed piece before putting it off to the side to start another part of the project.
Lunch today was beans and rice, beef, coleslaw, and cake. The team ate quickly, finished lunch duty, and enjoyed about 20 minutes of downtime before heading back to it. FBC Salem left campus this afternoon to do their sports ministry, so we had the place to ourselves for the afternoon. Everyone kicked it into high gear and we worked from 2-6pm to finish construction and then we had to load it all up. We spent about an hour loading all of the panels into a flatbed truck and there was a major celebrate when we loaded the last piece a little after 7pm.
For dinner, we enjoyed Mexican lasagna and salad…but we were spent! It was a long and hot day and the kids really poured themselves into the project! After dinner, we gathered for our evening devotions led by Mrs. Carr reminding us of the faithfulness of God and the reminder that we never truly can understand all that God is doing behind the scenes. We can trust His promises and know that He is in all things. Such a great word! As we prepared to call it a night, we reminded the kids that we are leaving camp at 6am in the morning to head out to the site where we will put all these chapel pieces together.
Please be praying for safety and strength to see this project to the finish line. Most of all, please be praying for those who will come to know the Lord and those who will grow in discipleship through their worship in this chapel that God has given us the blessing of being a part of. We are looking forward to a great Wednesday! Thanks for praying for us as we Live Sent.
One thing I love on this trip is getting to know old and new friends. I see how God put all of us together so we can spread His Word. It is amazing how my friends challenge me to grow in my faith in everything I do.
- Blake Gregson, senior
Monday, March 27Written by Megan Strange, UPPER SCHOOL Principal
Monday morning kicked off bright and early with rooftop devotions at 6:30 a.m. Our team was all present and accounted for and mostly wide awake. We joined with the other group from FBC Salem for devotions as we watched the sun come up. After devotions, we enjoyed a breakfast of pancakes, ham, fresh fruit, and hard boiled eggs.
Then we kicked off construction! The teams quickly organized and got right to work. Over the course of Monday and Tuesday, we are building wall panels, panels with windows, and roof panels. Wednesday we will take all of this out to the site where we will put all the pieces together. This morning was a time of power tools, helping each other out, and lots of laughter! Everyone is picking up some new skills. Parents, if you have any home improvement projects on your wishlist, your kids will be ready to complete those when they get home!
The crew worked really hard stopping only for the Time Missions traditional “coke break” at 10:15 a.m. After the coke break, everyone got right back to it and worked diligently until lunchtime. Lunch was rice, chicken pot pie, and salad. We’ve eaten really well, and we are all enjoying unrushed conversations around the table!
Our team had lunch duty today and everyone pitched in to get things cleaned up, put away, and ready for dinner tonight. When the kids heard we had some downtime before leaving for sports ministry, many headed back to their rooms to rest and hang out. As you can imagine, lots of snacks were also consumed!
We left Time at 4 p.m. with the bus loaded with basketballs, snacks, coolers, and lots of enthusiastic team members ready for basketball ministry. It was so fun to hear the kids talking about which kids they were looking forward to see. Some of them picked up things for the kids at La Sirena last night…and it turns out Molly and Caroline are really good at making balloon animals. That’s why we come on these trips…to learn things that we might not otherwise would have learned at school!
Basketball camp went well…super chaotic just like yesterday, but really fun. The whole crew has really pushed themselves to a be a little more bold and to put themselves out there. Several kids shared at devotions tonight about how easy it was to meet people here because there aren’t all the other distractions that keep us busy at home. Mr. Gnann, Ava, and Ryleigh all shared their testimonies this evening. For some of our students, this trip is the first time they have intentionally shared the gospel, and they found that it was easier than they thought it might be. Sometimes the enemy can get in our heads and make us believe that our story of God’s work in our life isn’t worth sharing. Ryleigh shared that a girl came up to her later on at basketball and shared some difficult things that she had been walking through because she appreciated what Ryleigh had to share. Isn’t God good??!! We’ve really challenged our kids to practice telling their story of God’s faithfulness in their life.
Loading up to head back to Time was a hard one. It was the last day of the sports ministry, so we won’t be back to see those kids. They were precious waving goodbye…definitely some tears! We arrived back at Time around 7 p.m. and immediately ate dinner. We had Mac and Cheese, hot dogs, and veggies. Again, it was so nice just to eat and visit without having to rush off anywhere! We had a chance to purchase some Time shirts, coffee, jewelry, etc. to help support Time Missions and some of their missionaries here. Everything here is so intentional. They have great systems, but the goal of those is simply to free up as much time and energy for the actual ministry of sharing the gospel.
After dinner cleanup, we headed back to the Time house for our team time…worship, devotions, and sharing of where we saw God at work today. Each evening, more and more students are sharing as the Lord is softening our hearts with the rhythm of life in the DR. We love the way that the team is looking for opportunities to meet the needs of others! One favorite story this evening was how some of the girls got to sit and sort black beans with one of the ladies in the kitchen today. They just enjoyed being able to help her and spend time in fellowship. We are headed to bed after a very full day. Tomorrow will be busy with construction in the morning and afternoon since we will build our chapel on the site Wednesday. Thanks for praying for us that our hearts would remain tender to the moving of the Holy Spirit and that our eyes and spirits would stay fresh and eager for the work ahead of us. Thanks for praying for us and cheering us on from home!
Playing with the kids was an experience I’ll never forget. I made new friendships and connect with them, even though we did not speak the same language. The kids were truly understanding and kind, and serving them was a blessing that I am glad I got to experience.
- Bethany Akinola, senior
Sunday, March 26 Written by Megan Strange, UPPER SCHOOL PrincipalWe fell asleep last night to the tunes of the neighboring parties and restaurants and woke up to the roosters. I love Latin America! The sights and sounds are fantastic! The kids slept well and many of them even said they were cold in their rooms…great problem to have thanks to air conditioning. I bet they will check those temps a bit more closely tonight. :)
Everyone looked beautiful and handsome in their church clothes, and we gathered over in the Time ministry center for a wonderful breakfast of fried eggs, sausage, coffee cake, and fruit…and of course, the incredible Dominican coffee. After breakfast, we went up to the rooftop area to look around the area near us and to just hang out before church. Lots of picture taking as you can imagine!
We worshipped at Iglesia Bautista Quisqueyana (IBQ), the church that is a part of Time Missions. Our group sat with the other group that is here this week. They are from First Baptist Church in Salem, Oregon…the home of Zeral and Doretta Brown who started Time Missions in 1992. Our crew did a great job singing in Spanish as we worshipped with our new DR friends. A group from our NCCS worship team even led the church in “Goodness of God” as part of the special music.
The Pastor’s message was very timely out of Philippians 2:13, as he talked about “Standing Firm in Hard Times.” He spoke very openly about how the culture is trying to keep us busy so that we won’t spend time studying God’s word and growing in Christ. Pastor shared several verses pointing us back to the truth of what the life of a Christ follower should look like.
After church we had a little bit of time to change clothes and hang out before meeting back in the ministry center. Kris Anderson, the Time Missions Site Coordinator, shared the history of Time Missions. It’s a powerful story of God’s faithfulness to and through Zeral and Doretta Brown saying yes to God’s call on their lives and a challenge to all of us to keep our “yes” on the table to God’s plans.
Lunch was incredible! Rice, Beans, Chicken, Salad, Avacado, and…as always… “special juice” that is different at every meal. Several of our kids hopped right in with serving and cleaning up. They are figuring their way around the kitchen and serving well. We were told that our next scheduled item was the sports ministry meeting at 2pm before heading out for the afternoon. This is a really great group for a lot of reasons, but when they learned we had an hour and a half of downtime after lunch…many of us declared “nap time” and headed back to the Time house.
After naps, we gathered back at the ministry center to discuss the sports ministry and broke into groups. Everyone helped load the coolers and snacks into the bus and we headed out. The basketball court is a half court inside a chain link fence right in the middle of a busy neighborhood and TONS of kids of all ages came to play! Our students jumped right in with helping with basketball drills, braiding hair, taking pictures, chatting with kids, and whatever it took. It was hot, but our kids were great…they played hard and started building some great relationships with the kids.
Part of the design for the sports ministry is to use the sports to encourage the kids to come and then they take a break to share the gospel. The hook is that they serve snacks after the gospel presentation…so no kid is going to leave early and miss the snacks! Hannah, Sophia, and Trey did an awesome job sharing about how Jesus has made a difference in their lives. Powerful picture of 1 Peter 3:15 readiness! The team handed out snacks, and then we rotated several groups through some 3-on-3 competitions, and the gringos held their own!
After we played a while longer, we loaded up on the bus to head back to Time. We pulled up right in time for dinner…taco salad and cake. Even though no one was hungry because we have eaten so well….we all ate heartily yet again. After dinner, we had some time to hang out and then loaded the bus to head to La Sirena (the Dominican WalMart). The kids had a blast checking out some of the different kinds of candy and snacks and some even picked up some sweet new sunglasses. I’m sure you can’t wait to see them!
The traffic continues to keep us entertained while we ride on the Time bus, and we are so grateful for the awesome job that Keny and Kris are doing as our drivers and keeping us safe and sound. We arrived back at Time and closed out the night with our team devotions, led by Hannah and Shelby, a time of worship, discussion about where we saw God at work today, and a quick rundown of tomorrow’s schedule. We start construction of our chapel on the morning.
Thanks for praying for strength and great teamwork as we head into this part of the trip. It’s incredible to consider what God has in store for His people who will be worshipping in this chapel we are building. It’s been a great day and now we are ready for sleep! Check out the thoughts below from three of the girls on our trip.
Today during our sports missions, I was concerned the language barrier was going to be an issue, but I was still able to make beautiful connections and memories. The church was incredible, and I love watching another culture do church in such similar yet drastically different ways.
-Molly Evans, senior
Today we had church at IBQ, and it was the coolest experience. We sang songs that I knew in English, but all the Dominicans were singing in Spanish. It was so cool to see how we were all worshiping Jesus in our our languages. During the message we had a translator, and again it was a reminder that we are all serving the same God. The pastor emphasized how we need to be consistent in reading our bibles and praying because God is constant in our ever-changing world.
-Elizabeth Shaylor, senior
Today we had the most amazing opportunity to do sports ministry!! I am so thankful we were able to do this because I learned that love is universal, and even if you may not speak their language or play/teach sports very well, we can still share the love that Jesus shared with us.
-Michelle Garcia, sophomore
Saturday, March 25
Written by Megan Strange, UPPER School Principal
Our first opportunity to be flexible on Spring Term came when we rolled up to school to load the bus…and it was POURING rain. The Dominican team was awesome about it, and we had a lot of laughs about splashing around together. We gathered in the lobby to pray and snap a quick team pic before we waded back out to the bus to head to the airport.
Check in at the airport went really smooth, and the Delta employees were super kind! Everyone was great through security, and we hopped on the plane train to grab breakfast and meet at the gate. Due to the weather, our flight was delayed about an hour and a half, but that just meant we had extra time to chat, read, and play cards. We also visited with a group of medical students who were headed to the DR to put on a medical clinic for people in the frontier region where they would also be serving Haitian refugees. Our team enjoyed chatting with them, and we agreed to be praying for one another this week.
We loaded the plane and everyone settled in for naps and movies. We landed in the DR around 3:30 and had a fairly smooth run through immigration and customs. At one point, the kids told me that I had to go back because the customs people “had Hannah.” Good news…they didn’t “have her”…they were asking her a question that she handled beautifully! But it was sweet to see the way her friends came to her rescue. That’s been our favorite part of this team so far…they truly are looking for ways to serve each other and put others before themselves.
Keny and Carol from Time Missions picked us up in the Time bus and got us all loaded quickly. As soon as we pulled out, they had sandwiches, chips, cookies, and juice boxes. Our group was grateful and made quick work of our late lunch at 4:30. They were grateful…and had not complained once about the delayed flight stretching our lunch so late. Everyone had fun looking around Santo Domingo through the bus windows on our way to Villa Mella.
We got to Time and quickly unloaded, had a wonderful spaghetti dinner, finished up Time orientation, and had team devotions on the roof with a wonderful evening breeze. Mr. Gnann led our devotion from John 15 and 16 as he reminded us that we have all we need in Christ and we should serve this week out of that understanding. We distributed our prayer partner names to be lifting each other up this week and spent some time answering the question, “Where did you see God at work today?” Trips like this can be so special as we get to carve out time to truly reflect and share what’s on our heart. Some of our students even commented about how nice it’s been not to have much use for their phones here…what a treat!
After devotions, we walked back to the Time house (all in the same complex with the ministry center and church) to get organized and ready to call it a day. Just as we thought everyone was winding down…they caught their second wind to a lot of giggles and funny stories. But…when it was time to check rooms at 10, most everyone was already in bed, and the others were quickly wrapping things up.
Would you join us in praying that we’d be openhanded about whatever God has for our team this week? As we have chatted with the staff and missionaries so far today, it sounds like the ministry opportunities this week will be plentiful. We are asking the Lord to help us be present and fully engaged so that we don’t want to miss a thing.
Thanks for praying for us and cheering us on from home! Live Sent!