La Republica Dominicana fue Maravillosa!

Our Cabrera students' enthusiasm was contagious!

Our Cabrera students' enthusiasm was contagious!

The Dominican Republic was wonderful! But, wow! What a whirlwind! Our two weeks in the DR just flew by. We had a great time, enjoyed working with our teams, and feel confident that our training had a positive impact. All in all, it was time well spent!

Motorbikes and motorcylces were everywhere, and the traffic patterns were amazing!

Motorbikes and motorcylces were everywhere, and the traffic patterns were amazing!

We went to the DR as the guests of Steve and Toby Hopper, our GTN colleagues. They've been working in the DR for some time and we so appreciated the opportunity to join in. Regrettably, Toby couldn't make this trip - she was caring for their adult son, Steve, who had recently broken his hip and elbow!

Week 1 Team (L to R): Doug, Abby, Ann, Michael, Mary, Mesa & Steve

Week 1 Team (L to R): Doug, Abby, Ann, Michael, Mary, Mesa & Steve

Our DR hosts, Mesa and Mary Taveras, were amazing. Their warm welcome, wonderful personalities, constant consideration of our needs and outstanding translating abilities really made the trip easy.

Week 2 Team (L to R): Mesa, steve, Sandy, Mary, Abby Compa & Doug

Week 2 Team (L to R): Mesa, steve, Sandy, Mary, Abby Compa & Doug

Our fellow team members, Ann Yorty & Michael Brogna (week 1) and Sandy Brown (week 2), were so much fun and were very gifted teachers, as well. It was wonderful to work with them.

Our driver, Compa (short for compadre), was terrific. Watching him negotiate the motorcycles in cities where stop signs are "only a suggestion" was truly a sight to behold.

And, last but certainly not least, Steve was a great team leader who kept us Christ-centered and focused every day, encouraged us every step of the way and was a delight to hang out with.

Templo Biblico del Sur in Barahona was one of our host churches.

Templo Biblico del Sur in Barahona was one of our host churches.

We taught in four locations, Rio San Juan (10/23-25), Cabrera (10/26-27), Barahona (10/30-11/1), and Azua (11/2-4). At each location, we were warmly welcomed by the host pastor and his wife. We taught pastors, pastors' wives, elders, key leaders and laypersons at all four locations. Everyone warmly welcomed us!

Our students were focused and attentive.

Our students were focused and attentive.

Abby taught Family & Church Systems, helping the students to understand the Lord's plan for their lives and ministry. I taught Key Themes of the Old Testament in Rio San Juan and Making Disciples in the other locations.

Abby's Barahona students were very responsive!

Abby's Barahona students were very responsive!

The need for training in the DR is enormous. Mesa explained to us that, outside the larger cities, pastors are typically untrained and work full-time jobs outside the church. Comments we received from pastors echoed this:

Pastor Jesus and his wife, Virginia, warmly welcomed us in Azua!

Pastor Jesus and his wife, Virginia, warmly welcomed us in Azua!

One pastor said, "I've never received teaching like this before!" Another commented, "You have planted a seed in our hearts which will not fail to bear fruit." Still another, "When are you coming back to teach an overview of the New Testament?"

Eddie, the Worship Leader in Azua, was an especially enthusiastic student who spoke English fluently, and it was great to get to know him.

Eddie, the Worship Leader in Azua, was an especially enthusiastic student who spoke English fluently, and it was great to get to know him.

Our hosts in Cabrera were Pastor Julio and his wife, Maritza, who welcomed us into their home, fed us several great meals, and gave us a tour of Maritza's Christian school which welcomes special needs kids. The school was beautiful and the presence of the Holy Spirit was palpable. It was great to get to know Julio and Maritza who both spoke great English, by the way. Ahh...

Pastor Julio and his wife, Maritza, were delightful!

Pastor Julio and his wife, Maritza, were delightful!

We enjoyed meeting this precious girl, a "little person," who attends Maritza's school.

We enjoyed meeting this precious girl, a "little person," who attends Maritza's school.

Steve, Mesa and Mary have graciously invited Abby and me to return to the DR to do further training. Would you join us in prayer as we seek the Lord's will about this? One thing we do know, if we decide to return we'd like to learn a bit of Spanish. No debería ser muy difícil, ¿verdad?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What a great start in the DR!

Abby and I have been getting to know Pastor Miguel and his wife, Persida, a delightful couple!

Abby and I have been getting to know Pastor Miguel and his wife, Persida, a delightful couple!

We weren't sure what to expect when we left home for the Dominican Republic. On the one hand, we knew we had a great team leader in Steve Hopper, one of our GTN colleagues. But, we hadn't met our other team members, Michael Brogna and Ann Yorty, or our hosts, Mesa and Mary Taveras. Well, what a wonderful few days it's been! Our hosts are awesome, our team has meshed beautifully and Steve's doing a great job leading.

We've been training in a great church in Cabrera and the training's gone very well. Abby & Ann, with Mary interpreting, have been training about sixty women and Michael and I, with Mesa interpreting, have been training about thirty men. 

Preparing the whiteboard for training! (The chart at the top is © 2017 by Michael Brogna.)

Preparing the whiteboard for training! (The chart at the top is © 2017 by Michael Brogna.)

Abby & Ann have focused on the family and Michael and I have focused on the Old Testament, both per request and the teaching has been well received.

The response from the students has been great with lots of interaction. Mesa says the students are "on fire" about the training and are already asking when we'll return to do more!

Persida cooked an amazing lunch for us today!

Persida cooked an amazing lunch for us today!

We ate an amazing lunch today at Pastor Miguel and Persida's home. Persida's quite a cook and we feasted on roast chicken and pork, cucumber & avocado salad with salsa dressing, rice, beans, plantain balls stuffed with cheese, and papaya for dessert! Wow!

All in all, we're grateful for such a terrific start. Thanks for your support and prayers. Please keep praying!

 

Dominican Republic

Abby & I will be training pastors and leaders in the DR from October 22 - November 5!

Abby & I will be training pastors and leaders in the DR from October 22 - November 5!

When Steve and Toby Hopper (GTN colleagues) asked Abby and me to consider joining them in the Dominican Republic as part of a training team, we were excited to say, "Yes!" The truth is, we'd been praying about this for a year, ever since they'd mentioned their work in the DR at our GTN annual training event in February of 2016.

Most people think of resort vacations when they think of the DR. We certainly did and it's a great place to vacation, for sure. Apparently the golf resorts are amazing, not to mention the fishing, diving, beaches and whale watching!

But the DR, according to steve and Toby, is also a place where pastors and leaders are hungry for sound biblical training. We've talked with a couple of other people this week who've been to the DR on mission trips and they've confirmed the hunger and need for training like ours.

While I'm sure we'll enjoy the beautiful surroundings, we're looking forward most to meeting and training about 200 key leaders in four locations over our two week trip. We'll be training in Rio San Juan (10/23-25), Cabrera (10/26-27), Barahona (10/30-11/1), and Azua (11/2-4).

Abby will be teaching the women Family Systems and I'll be teaching the men the Old Testament and Discipleship. We typically teach men and women together in Africa, so this will be a new experience for us. We're excited to have this opportunity!

Would you please pray for us, our team members Steve, Michael, Ann and Sandy, as well as our hosts, Mesa & Mary. Pray that the Holy Spirit will unite us as a team and empower us to teach the Word in a life-changing way! Thanks!

 

Hey, it's good to be back home again!

August 1-3: The trip to Livingstone had been hot and bumpy, making the eight hours seem much longer. Still, we were grateful that we'd be arriving soon to Fawlty towers, our old, comfortable and welcoming lodge. It would be good to see Miriam, Ernestine, Wilkin, Elisa , Joy, Timothy and other staff who are always so good to us.

Regrettably, as we drove into Livingstone, Abby came down with the stomach flu which was to sideline her for several days. She was really quite miserable and unable to join me in the scheduled training which made her pretty sad. I, also, was to get a milder case over the weekend, but I was able to teach in between rests.

Pastor Fred leads worship at Kingdom Impact Ministry.

Pastor Fred leads worship at Kingdom Impact Ministry.

August 4-6: Pastor Fred of Kingdom Impact Ministry welcomed Percy and me on Friday evening (see video above). Fred had worked with YWAM for some time, but in recent years has been planting a church for the "broken and confused." His worship center was donated to him by a night club owner who had became a Christian and Fred's congregation has many young people in it. We had a great time of worship and training with about 10 young Christians, focusing on the Gospel's power to deal with our guilt, shame and fear.

Saturday evening, Percy and I met with Fred's elders and the focus was on Christian leadership. We pushed them as we discussed how Jesus turned the traditional understanding of leadership as power upside-down. We used John 13:1-17 as a paradigm for Christian leadership, as Jesus takes the lowest position and washes the disciples feet. The elders were extremely open and responsive. It was a worthwhile session.

Sunday morning, Percy, Muyunda and I worshiped with Kingdom Impact Ministry and I preached on the nature and cost of discipleship. Again, we were well received. The congregation was lively and responsive. Interestingly, Pastor Fred is spearheading an effort to plant a large garden on a couple of acres on the church grounds to help make the church sustainable.

John Zulu, one of our amazing students, now leads an interdenominational prayer ministry.

John Zulu, one of our amazing students, now leads an interdenominational prayer ministry.

Sunday afternoon, Percy and I traveled to our old student, John Zulu's interdenominational prayer gathering. This group of 30-40 Christians from a number of Livingstone churches meets every Sunday afternoon from 2-8pm for teaching and prayer. John launched this ministry after our training last year and it's going really well!

John had asked me to teach the group what I had taught in my keynote at The Rise Missions Conference earlier this summer when I had taught on the nature of discipleship. John had been able to join us in South Africa and had heard my talk there. So, I did. According to Percy, they were still talking about what I taught for several days after the meeting. Apparently, I struck a chord and John was spot on when he asked me to address this topic. I am grateful.

August 7-9: Abby and I were on the mend and we were able to meet with Percy daily to discuss our plans to reach into Angola with our training next year. On Monday evening, we celebrated Percy's birthday with his wife, Muyunda, and daughters, Natasha, Thabo and Nsala. We had a wonderful evening together. On Tuesday evening, Percy joined us at The Old Farm House restaurant for a lovely dinner around a bonfire. On Wednesday, Abby and I enjoyed a late afternoon trip to Victoria Falls to see the sunset. Amazing, as always! Then, it was a final dinner with Percy before our Thursday morning departure.

August 10-11: Thankfully, our trip home was relatively uneventful and we arrived on schedule. Our dear friends, Robert and Cyndie Howard picked us up at the airport and we enjoyed a meal together. When we arrived home, our Lake Forest Church mission support team members Lisa Hunter and Virginia White had stocked our refrigerator for us which was great. In addition, Cyndie had given them some home grown tomatoes and cantaloupe for us. Delicious!

Please pray for Percy and his family and all our dear friends in South Africa and Zambia. And please pray for us as we sort our our trip and try to discern all the Lord wants us to learn form these seven weeks. And, as always, thanks to all of you who support our work. Your presence on our team makes all the difference! Thank you!