Dozens of children were waiting at the Community Transformation Center in the Pedro Brand district of Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic when Wilshire Baptist Church volunteers arrived on a Monday morning in early February. More than 100 children showed up that morning, followed by another 100 for the afternoon session.
Thirteen Dallas volunteers led a three-day Bible school for children at the CTC. There were two sessions each day with a program for women sandwiched between. The group led the same program at a second CTC location later in their trip.
Each day, children seemed to come from nowhere, and they kept coming until the space was overflowing. One day, the Bible story was about Jesus feeding the 5,000—an appropriate metaphor.
The team brought costumes to help the children learn and act out a Bible story each day. They also brought craft projects, led in singing, memory verse recitation and recreation. They took photographs of each child —a rarity for poor children—and let the kids decorate their frames.
“The children were thrilled to have a photo to take home,” said trip participant and Buckner staff member Jerilynn Armstrong.
Wilshire Baptist Church helps fund the CTC and other ministries in the Dominican Republic as a signature part of its international missions program. The women volunteers treasured the unique opportunity to work with 35 to 40 women each afternoon.
“As a mom with more material goods than I can ever use, I was truly humbled,” said Abbey Adcox. “The women we met in the Dominican Republic were warm, gracious and filled with joy. Their spirit was a powerful reminder to me to be anxious for nothing and to really examine what my priorities are.”
Christie McFarland and Jerilynn Armstrong taught the women how to knit. Wilshire members donated more than 40 bamboo needles. The volunteers showed them how to make wash cloths.
“At the end of the day, we were not sure if anyone learned how to knit,” Jerilynn said. “But as we drove off, we saw women on their stoops knitting with their friends. On Wednesday, we left all our knitting supplies and instructions for the Buckner staff to continue this project.”
At the end of the trip, Adcox talked about the biggest change she experienced.
“We often refer to experiences as being ‘life-changing,’” she said. “I certainly feel like this experience was ‘spirit-changing’ for me. I have longed to participate in a Wilshire mission trip for years and it exceeded my every expectation in so many ways.”
“All the volunteers from Wilshire Baptist Church led the women and children with smiles on their faces and joy in their hearts,” said Dexton Shores, a regional director of Buckner Latin America ministries. “The impact their Bible studies had on the children is immeasurable. And the knitting skills they taught the women will pay huge dividends – it will help them provide for their families and give them a sense of purpose.”
To learn more about Buckner short-term mission trips, please visit www.itsyourmission.com.
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