Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Christo Salvador -- Dominican Republic Mission Trip Day 3

This is the third of nine daily blog posts from our Diocesan Mission trip to Santiago, Dominican Republic from July 21-29.  I'm posting one a day now that we have returned to the states.  A daily bog from others of our team can be found on our Diocesan blog:

July 23

Today was a glorious day.  We finally visited Christo Salvador, the church where we will help with Vacation Bible School and run an eyeglass clinic this week.  The church itself is on the corner at the top of a hill in a fairly dense residential part of Santiago.  A mural on the front wall welcomes people to this church, and the large doors on the front and side of the nave remain open throughout the service allowing people to see what is going on inside and join in.  (Of course, the open doors also mean that when motorcycles rumble by outside, speakers stop for a moment until the noise dies down.)  The congregation is made up of all ages, with singing at this morning’s service led by two ladies with tambourines and a number of others. 

I was honored to be invited to celebrate and preach.  I preached in English and a 17-year old from the church who studied English in school for nine years translated. Father Hipólito also asked me to celebrate.  He found a Spanish Book of Common Prayer for me to use to practice last night, and this morning he gave me an alb and stole and I led worship in Spanish for the first time.  Perhaps the most amazing part of being able to participate in the service was how normal it all felt.  The language was different, but the words were the same.  The building was different, but the worship was the same. The individuals present were different, but the people of God were the same. 

I am grateful, however, for the time I spent with the Duolingo language learning app.  Even though its constant beeping when completing each exercise would drive my dog (and other family members) running from the room, I was able to learn a lot through it.  Listening to the occasional Yankee game in Spanish with the MLB app didn’t hurt, either.

After church, we joined Father Hipólito, his family, and some of the parishioners for lunch.  One woman was there with her three children.  She teaches in the church’s preschool.  She came to the church when her house burned down and she lost everything.  Christo Salvador provided a place for her and her children to stay, and even though she could move onto to better paying schools, she is committed to the church and its mission.  After we finished setting up for the eyeglass clinic, she brought her parrot out to play.  The bird seemed especially comfortable with Julia, eating a cookie while perched on her shoulder.  

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