We never get tired of hearing how God is using this partnership to make a significant and lasting impact in La Mosca, in Boston, and beyond. Thank you, Lindsay, for sharing your reflections and for your commitment to the Vargas family!
In one of my college Spanish classes, I learned about the disparity of wealth within Latin American nations and how the same country that makes most of its income on tourism also has a significant population who subsists from the income they make from unearthing recyclables in trash dumps to sell back to the government. Although there are a few in Latin and South America, one name has stuck with me: La Mosca (translated as “the place of the flies”).
When I heard an announcement with the words “La Mosca” one Sunday morning at REUNION only a few months after I moved to Boston, my ears perked up and I was instantly confused. I knew that name. Could it really be the same place I studied in college? Surely there had been some changes to La Mosca since then! The more I listened to the REUNION advertisement for the mission trip and as I talked to people who had gone on the trip previously, I knew somewhere deep down that I had to go on the trip. Despite fundraising, not knowing how I could possibly be helpful in a medical clinic, and feeling the discomfort of something new with a bunch of people I didn’t know very well, I had to go.
I’ve done mission trips before so I wasn’t completely out of my element, but I was still humbled by my experiences in the DR. After a few team planning and bonding meetings, we were on a plane headed towards an experience I now so deeply cherish. Once we got through the airport we were immediately greeted by the Vargas family, one of the most kind families that I’ve met. They exude genuine love and hospitality in every action. And despite their hard work, they always have more love to spare.
Soon enough we arrived in La Mosca, greeted by the smiling faces of kids who love Pastor Luis and therefore who loved us, Pastor Luis’s friends.
Before I go any further, I’d like to say that although I’d been on mission trips in the past, I’d never been on one like this: a true partnership trip. As I learned in our planning meetings, REUNION’s year-round support of Pastor Luis and his multi-faceted ministry allows him to do his work without worrying about the financial burden of raising support. As a campus minister myself, I know how fundraising can sometimes distract from the ministry work that needs to be done; I deeply appreciate the gift that we as a church are able to give to Pastor Luis’ ministry and family to alleviate additional burdens and equip him with the tools needed to do year-round ministry.
Furthermore, the work our team accomplished during that one week in July wasn’t done just so we could feel good about helping those in need for a week, but it was about coming alongside a local pastor to assist the restorative work he does daily in a community. What a difference that makes! The deeds we do annually aren’t done to check off a box, but instead are done with a Kingdom outlook in mind: to assist the Vargas family in bringing glimpses of heaven to earth. And I can see how Luis and Reina, alongside other influential neighbors, have brought the Kingdom to La Mosca.
On our first day in La Mosca, some of us walked through the neighborhood as Luis said hello to neighbors, told us the story of the neighborhood, and took moments to pray for our surroundings. As we walked through winding streets of vibrantly-colored wood houses, I learned that a few years ago, Luis and his church began painting houses to love the community. Once a few houses were painted, other neighbors began painting their houses, too, and the trend caught like wildfire! But it wasn’t simply about caring for the outside of the house. This seemingly simple action fostered the idea of good stewardship and care for possessions, which means so much for people near a trash dump.
This set the tone for the rest of the trip for me: the things we do in La Mosca are much more than the action itself, but what that action does for the community. Painting houses and laying concrete floors restores dignity to a community that very few care about. Running a three-day health clinic in a church building shows the church deeply loves and cares for the whole person, not just his or her soul. Having a game night for kids shows there is value in playing, not just working. Working alongside Reina Vargas in her nutrition clinic for kids affirms her tremendously good work. Spending time with the Vargas family means we became a part of their family forever, and they a part of ours.
Even before the trip was over I knew I had to return. Not to feel significant for helping others or to get my service hours in for the year but because that’s what partners, no, what family does.
My life is richer after one short trip to the DR. Sure, I had a horrible cold during the health clinic and rotated between blowing my nose, using hand sanitizer, and providing info sessions for kids on how to brush their teeth. Sure, I was also intimidated by having to use a mosquito net for the first time. And of course I was intimidated by some of the things I was to experience. Many moments weren’t easy, but it was good. I can still feel that deep, soul-filling goodness when I reflect on the trip. The Vargas family is bringing the Kingdom to earth and for some reason they have allowed us, the REUNION family, to be a part of that life-giving goodness.