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!
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!
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.
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.
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!
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.
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:
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?"
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...
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?