This discussion was shared at our second 2016 team meeting on April 4.
Take a couple minutes and think about this question:
What is the result of our physical presence in the DR?
Consider these scriptures about the importance of encouragement in our relationships:
But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called “Today,” so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness. —Hebrew 3:13
And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds —Hebrews 10:24 (The ESV translation adds a slightly different tone by saying, “consider how we stir up one another…”)
What we do during our week in the Dominican is tough to explain. To some degree, it changes every year with each unique group of people and talents. But it always falls into two categories.
The concrete. This includes the physical work of renewal, like construction and painting directed by Luis in La Mosca. It includes working with kids through children’s ministry, playtime, and the feeding center. It includes providing medical care at our pop-up clinic. It includes many other opportunities based on the skills and talents of team members, like an art mural or worship clinic. These are important, but they are not it.
The abstract. Encouragement. Emotional support. Listening. Prayer. Planning. Deepening the partnership. These are it.
We need to remember the primary reason we go is to be in relationship and encourage those who do the hard work in La Mosca every day.
Consider the following questions. Dwell longest on the last question, as that will help us prepare ourselves to be as encouraging as possible to the Vargas family during our week together.
Why is encouragement a worthy purpose?
What does encouragement look like?
How can you encourage Luis and Reina even if you don’t know them well and/or don’t speak Spanish?
Keep in mind this scripture as we talk about what the trip does to us:
And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit. —2 Corinthians 3:18
We are not benevolent beings simply going to give our time and energy in a one-sided relationship. Our partnership with the Vargas family and La Mosca is indeed two-sided and based on bilateral transformation. Jess and Torre came on a mission trip to the DR years ago and chose to live and work there as GO staff. Magen’s work in the medical clinic led her to pursue a nursing degree. Danielle decided to do a South American Spanish immersion to better communicate with the Vargas family. Amanda and Ben are pursuing serving as a family in new ways, locally and internationally, due to their involvement in the DR trip.
In countless ways, team members’ experiences in the DR have led them to see their world differently and act according to the needs they see.
Be aware and be prepared for what God may challenge you with, lead you toward, and bring you discomfort about. Start asking God now what s/he wants to show you. Remember, we go so we can continue to share our ever-developing stories.