news from the DR | 12.2016

On December 7, we had the opportunity to Skype with Luis and Reina, with our friends John and Dianne of GO Ministries translating. We’re thankful technology provides a way to stay connected between trips.

We are so excited to hear the church has grown since our summer trip! Luis and Reina told us they’re seeing many more people on Sundays and were proud to say they’d been told the church is “full of prostitutes and troublemakers,” because it means the church is a place where everyone in the community feels welcome, no matter who they are. The church has also started five new small groups, in part because of our team’s outreach over the summer (providing snacks also boosts attendance; we told them it’s the same for our community groups in Boston!). These small groups have discussion themes each week, but also provide a place for people to share their stories and talk about faith. People are responding to the good news, and Luis and Reina are thrilled to see God moving in La Mosca. They shared one story about a man who has a reputation in the community as corrupt. He and his wife came to church on a Sunday in response to an invitation from Luis. The message made a big impact and they both responded. They’re currently hosting a small group and continue to attend on Sundays.

Building a roof over the church’s outdoor space continues to remain a high priority, so they have room to grow and so the nutrition clinic can better serve the kids of the community. Luis also mentioned that one of the homes hosting a small group is deteriorating, which could be a potential service project for a future trip. They also handed out all of the bibles they had (about 20), and need more. We’re excited to use our Advent Conspiracy offering to help fund the roof project and also provide more bibles for La Mosca!

We asked Luis and Reina if La Mosca had been impacted by the recent flooding, and they said it’s only been an issue near the river. A few houses fell, but only some of the families have accepted help. The church isn’t able to provide new homes, but has given mattresses and mosquito nets. John mentioned that GO has been helping with flood victims throughout the DR, working through their partner churches. It makes a big difference in communities when they see they can rely on their local church to meet tangible needs.

Reina also shared that a sewing ministry is starting in January. The church will have four sewing machines, and will be providing an opportunity for women in the community to learn a trade. GO Ministries was able to build a partnership with a local technical college to provide a free year of sewing classes, as well as training on how to run a business. The hope is these women will be able to create their own self-sustaining small businesses, as an alternative to picking trash at the dump. They asked us to pray the program would be a success.

We also got an update on the young boy we met over the summer, who had been badly burned while working in the dump. Luis has been bringing him to the hospital weekly, and the regular cleaning of his wounds means he’s able to move his legs more and has been able to attend the nutrition clinic. He’s become fast friends with Luis, who has promised him a basketball when he’s well enough to play: motivation to keep working towards recovery. Luis’s love and dedication has also made an impact on the boy’s mother. She used to want nothing to do with church, but with the care and support Luis has freely given to her family, she’s now very interested and has been attending on Sundays.

Although Yeison and Dilson weren’t able to join the Skype call, Luis and Reina said they’re doing well. Yeison is working at a Dominican Home Depot (yes, he gets to wear the orange apron). He’s had a few near misses with accidents at work, so Luis and Reina would appreciate our prayers for his safety! They said he doesn’t have enough time to study, but he’s happy he can buy his own clothes. Dilson, now a junior in high school, is enjoying the best of both worlds. He’s studying and very happy that his older brother can buy him things.

We exchanged Christmas wishes before signing off, and are already looking forward to catching up with them in 2017!

Luis and Reina Vargas Christmas Wishes from REUNION Christian Church on Vimeo.