Sunday, July 5, 2015

Learning New Things

20 Things I've Learned on This Trip

  1. I love my guitar a lot more than I thought I did. 
  2. Knowing how to say something in three languages but not the language people are speaking is very frustrating.
  3. Kids really like to strum my guitar while I play chords.
  4. Finding out your college roommate while in another country is stressful.
  5. Surprisingly, the wifi seems to work better the farther away from the router you are.
  6. Sometimes you don't need to actually need to get in the pool to cool off, just stick your feet in.
  7. My language skills (and not just my Spanish skills) need some help.
  8. I think I want to take Spanish in college instead of French (shhh I haven't told my mom yet).
  9. Skirts are much more preferable than pants in the tropical heat.
  10. One day of chaos makes the rest seem easy.
  11. Little girls are really good  at putting flowers in your hair.
  12. I still don't like sand and salt water.
  13. Touching up someone else's work is just as important as creating new work yourself.
  14. Having the majority of the Back of the Book memorized can be helpful.
  15. Apparently I can be artistic.
  16. Work comes first, even when you'd rather be playing outside with cute kids.
  17. When boys do something not smart and don't get hurt they will continue doing it until they get hurt, even if others get hurt.
  18. You can learn a lot from someone even when you only speak a little of each other's language.
  19. Don't try shaving at 6:15 in the morning when you're half asleep; it doesn't end well.
  20. Oreos solve all problems. (Okay I already knew this one but I got a new lesson on it.)

Saturday, July 4, 2015

Greetings from the St. Peter's Episcopal Church Mission Team

“Let the favor of the Lord our God be upon us, and prosper for us the work of our hands—O prosper the work of our hands “ Psalm 90:17

Greetings from the St. Peter’s Episcopal Church Mission Team.  We are happy working this week alongside our brothers and sisters in Christ here in the Dominican Republic.

In the mornings we are working at Colegio Episcopal NiƱo Jesus in Montellano, a small neighborhood in the town of Puerto Plata on the northern side of the island.  We have been engaged in a wide variety of tasks.  At the beginning of our time here we mostly assisted with moving  construction materials to the upper story of the school still under construction.  When our last mission team was here three years ago we assisted with the start of construction on the second floor.   Now the concrete walls are up and the workers are preparing the framework so that they soon can begin to pour the concrete ceiling of the second floor. The funds for this construction raised by the people of St. Peter’s will pay for the completion of construction (we hope) in the next three months.

As the week has progressed we have been  repainting walls and ceilings of the downstairs classrooms, painting new and touching up our previously painted murals on the interior walls,  cleaning up the school yard, along with trimming, raking, and pruning.

This morning (Friday) we saw many of the parents and school children arriving at the school to pick up their report cards.  Nine of the school teachers are now sitting in conference  under a shade tree in the school yard.

It is wonderful to see the school prospering as it is and we are thankful for the opportunity to assist them in the completion of their mission.  Their mission is painted in bright red paint on the wall just outside the gate to the school yard.  It is: “We form the citizens of the future.  ‘Train a child in the way he should go and when he is old he will not turn from it’ Proverbs 22:6.”

In the early afternoon we leave by bus for the church, Santa Maria Virgin, our sister parish in the Episcopal Church here in the Dominican Republic. When we arrive we find a delicious lunch prepared for us by the people of the church.  At 2 PM the gate of the church is opened and the children begin to stream in.  We watch with utter amazement at the joy on the childrens’ faces as they begin to run toward the church with great  excitement  and anticipation. Our Vacation Bible School is a big event for them.  One might think at first that it is just another Sunday School lesson.  But when you see the joy on their faces and hear their loud and excited voices singing loudly and enthusiastically, you realize immediately how special this is for them.  This is truly the case of the Lord “prospering the works of our hands.” Whatever we bring is magnified fivefold and tenfold by the Lord working through us.  The joy and happiness on the face’s of the children is indescribable.  It even brings tears of joy to our eyes as well.   We led Vacation Bible School on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Friday this week in Montellano.  Yesterday (Thursday) we held a one day Vacation Bible School in the smaller town of Mosovi at Divina Gracia Iglesia Episcopal. Our craft project yesterday afternoon engaged in children in coloring and decorating masks made from paper plates and string. When we had finished our celebration of the Holy Eucharist in Spanish the children streamed out of the church and began to process down the main unpaved road that runs through the village of Mosovi.  As the children marched joyfully with masks on their faces,  a dog barking loudly, soon joined by another, chased a cow in the other direction.

When we see the joy and happiness on the faces of the children with few possessions or conveniences— no running water or toilets— in this small village, it reminds us not only to be thankful for what we have, but to give thanks that we can share our joy with them and they with us.

Our prayer for our mission trip is this: “Let the favor of the Lord our God be upon us, and prosper for us the work of our hands—O prosper the work of our hands.”

Thanks be to God for the work God has called us to do together in joy and thanksgiving!

This blogpost was written by Fr. Craig Phillips, the Rector of St. Peter’s Episcopal Church, Arlington, Virginia.