We’ve been talking about life a lot these days. Most of us have resumed our normal routines in this post pandemic world, yet the thought of living has escaped many. Living has everything to do with obeying God’s call for our lives and carrying out the plans that He has for us.
Living is a choice we make everyday as we appreciate the beautiful world that God has given us. Appreciation of this world is full of embracing the amazing people who share this planet with us. Our appreciation is revealed in grateful acts of service.
We serve God in various ways. At H.O.P.E Dominican Republic, we serve God by enhancing the churches in our network and by providing hope to victims of exploitation. Our own lives have been enriched as we live out the call of God.
We live for God and for no other. He alone is our reason to wake up each day. He gives us what we need to move on each day. There is no life like a life that lives for Him.
Six churches are a part of our network in the Dominican Republic. Six churches that we believe are pillars for the community, a local place where relationships can flourish, and people can come and cling to the Lord. These churches are prayed over, fought for, and loved fervently. There are so many people involved in our mission, including our family, the Hope Mountain staff, the hundreds of missionaries that have come and served with us, those that pray for us internationally, and those support us financially.
There are countless hearts invested, which we are incredibly grateful for. Although on paper it may seem difficult to manage everything at times, the Lord calls us to greater things, and he says he will never give us too much to handle (1 Cor 10:13). We can always give our burdens to him because his yoke is easy and his burden is light (Mat 11:28-30). All that being said, why stop at six churches? There is always a need for more, and the Lord has equipped us for more!
Out of the 10,793,067 inhabitants in the Dominican Republic, an astounding 10,758,067 people there do not have a relationship with Jesus Christ. Our Hope4DR churches are unique to the needs and culture of their respective communities. Our church leaders are trained and coached to continue to plant churches. It is our desire to see Evangelical churches in every community. Since many do not have the means to drive to church a few times a week, keeping the churches within the community ensures the attendance and participation of the members. Our six Hope4DR churches work within their respective communities in providing counseling, mentoring, church services and community events.
We have come to see the amazing fruit of our efforts as residents of these communities continually share their stories of difficulty with us. The numbers can be overwhelming but we are determined to not give up, God is needed here, and as vessels for him we will continue to plant churches and bring light to Jesus’ name. “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up” (Gal 6:9).
Dominicans love to sip on a cup of hot chocolate during breakfast or dinner. We want you to experience a little piece of the Dominican Republic as a small thanks to you for all of the great things you do for us!
We have made it this farbecause you continue to give, pray, visit and encourage us.
Our churches in Los Cerritos, Cien Fuegos, Ensanche Gomez, Moca, Luperon, Villa Progresso and Puerto Plata continue to grow. We will all come together on Hope Mountain the first Sunday of January 2022 to celebrate the new year together. Our day will be filled with a celebration worship service, baptisms, family games and lots of food! Praise God for His faithfulness to our church communities in the Dominican Republic.
We launched our college scholarship program, provided for a plethora of needs in our Lajas community, cared for exploited minors and hosted short term missionaries. We added more animals, plants and trees to Hope Mountain as we work towards creating a self sustaining environment for our mission base and community where brokenness meets healing.
Our online bible school is a huge success. Our students are learning more and more about God’s word each week. Upon graduation, they will be ready to lead ministries, pastor churches, serve in the local church body or spearhead projects for the kingdom of God.
Our vision to see everyone in the Dominican Republic personally encounter God as we highlight their destiny and produce an atmosphere that is filled with faith, hope and love is slowly coming together. We have seen the benefit of working with one person at a time. We see the importance of spending time with individuals and patiently waiting for God to work in their lives.
At H.O.P.E Dominican Republic, we are committed to assist Dominican churches in equipping them for ministry and to provide safety and restoration for abused and exploited children. Thanks so much for helping us make this happen.
“BAWKKK” my ears sting as I crack open my sleepy eyes. There are girls sitting up on their beds, others standing, some seem wide awake, and the rest are still half-asleep like me. The bright sun is shining in over the mountains through our two windows. Patches of pink, orange, and yellow sunlight lay across the beds. As I squint from the bright new day’s sky, my eardrums pierce again. “BAWKKK”!! This time I follow where the sound is coming from, my eyes settle upon a frantic rooster, a couple feet from my head. We make eye contact. No joke. Now some of my 19 roommates are also realizing this isn’t just a wake up call, its a confused visitor who has made its way into our room AND has the capability of pecking at us or pooping on our few possessions. As I taste my morning breath and become more aware of my bed head, the rooster hops onto my bed before I get a chance to sit up. It then moves on and begins to make its way around the room as a few of my friends have their try at rooster-wrangling’. We eventually get the loud and panicking rooster out the door, and begin another adventure filled day at Hope Mountain.
I rub my eyes, swing my bare feet out of bed and onto the white tile, and proceed to follow the rooster out the door. First stop is brushing my teeth and opening up my bible. I sit down on a porch chair. I realize that you cannot help but look up at the mountains in the morning and thank God. It is so obvious that the creation praises his name. That is what its made to do. As I sit in silence with God, the serenity takes my breath away. The sun shines, but there is still a crisp mountain breeze that carries God’s comfort and gives me goosebumps. The morning is good. It cannot help but be good because God is there.
As I hear my friend’s and I’s stomachs grumble, Margo brings out the coffee right on cue. We flock to the pot like animals, using way too much sugar and acting like we couldn’t live without the daily 8:15 bitter aroma wafting up our noses. Soon after our favorite chef walks out again with oatmeal, eggs, or some other masterpiece she has put together. We run upstairs to our deck. The deck where we have eaten, laughed, cried, prayed, and done a lot of life here in the DR. We sit together as family, pray for the food and the hands that made it, and feast. With bellies full, we begin our morning devotional, worship together and ask hard questions about the word. Then our sweet host, Vicki, makes her way upstairs, often says a wise word to us, and gives us our ministry assignments for the day.
With newfound strength and motivation for the day, my team marches downstairs to do ministry. In the hot Dominican sun, we grab our brooms and start sweeping the driveway. We sweep and scrub as pebbles fall down the pavement and dust fills the air. We work the morning away until it was lunch time.
The mornings are the beginning. The beginning of either a good day or a bad day. The mornings are the times where I get to choose to thank God first,I get to choose to invite him into brushing my teeth or eating with me. I get to set the tone for the day, wake up early (sometimes to my alarm, sometimes to a rooster), sit with the Lord, thank God for the food in front of me, look out on his creation with gratitude. Praise the Lord for mornings at Hope Mountain DR!
Just like most great parts of the day, the afternoon starts out with food. As morning ministry ends, the black wooden stairs produced a sound of a heard of elephants. Once again a group of hungry missionaries made their way to the deck for the beloved daily rice and beans meal. Lively conversations of morning ministry and afternoon anticipation arise as all the teams come back together once again. Our lunch turns into our afternoon break. Little by little people make their way back downstairs, and as I finally follow suit, I already see people below enjoying their siesta. As I look at one side of the pool, I see friends playing upbeat early 2000’s music as they begin their workout. On the other side I hear sweet country music playing as others lay out to soak up the sun. I head to my room, tiptoeing quietly to my bed as not to wake up the afternoon nappers, grab my book, and head back out to join my friend. I read my book, stick my feet in the pool to combat the heat, and occasionally check my shorts tan line as I rest my mind and body during siesta. Before I know it, we are gathered back on the porch to start the afternoon off in prayer before ministry.
At 2pm our group walks through the streets, handing out flyers to neighbors. We are inviting them to our talent show we are putting on at the end of the month. As clouds begin to cover the sky, we invite local children to meet us at the basketball courts to play. We pull out a jump rope, puppets, and many fun other toys. Wholesome laughter fills the air as we play for hours before getting rained out.
As we walk back to base, soaked, we contemplate what the next hour and a half will look like before dinner. We have a lot of time to spend with God, serve our community, as well as rest here. For many of us, the free time looks like showering, reading, or calling our parents. The day seems to wind down at base, while our neighbors play loud reggaeton, so the party never seems to end. As we eventually eat dinner at 6:30, we reflect on our day and fill our bellies with veggies, meat, and maybe even pasta. The sun sets, and for most of the teams the night looks like board games, team times, movies, and sometimes spontaneous late night pool parties.
The second half of the day is just as eventful as the first half. Every day of ministry looks different and every day has Jesus right smack in the middle of it. The little moments during the days here are so incredibly sweet. Hope Mountain provides a space to walk alongside the Lord, to leave with funny stories, and safely face the hard moments. Praise the Lord for nights at Hope Mountain DR!
If you’re considering going on a short-term Missions trip, this post goes out to you! If you’re not considering, START CONSIDERING!! A 2 week, 3 month, or even 9 month trip can be a great opportunity to broaden your perspective, make lasting relationships, and fall totally in love with the Lord.
To get you started, here’s a few tips, tricks, and lessons I’ve picked up on the field this year. Enjoy!
Especially for short term mission trips, domestic is a fantastic choice. Not only do they generally require less fundraising and preparation, sharing the name of Jesus within your own culture can help to establish deeper relationships within the time constraints of the trip. Spreading the gospel in your hometown is just as important as shouting it to the furthest corners of the globe.
If you’re not organized, GET. ORGANIZED.
There’s a lot of reasons why this tip holds the second slot. First of all, you will never have your own room. Your roommate count will likely be somewhere between 3 and 50, and if you don’t know A) what stuff is yours, and B) where all of it is, you’re going to run into major problems. Also, it’s just generally good roommate etiquette to keep your stuff picked up when you all have roughly 4 square feet to call your own.
Trust me, even if you’re going to be on the field for 9-12 months, any more than 5 shirts will end up being too many. It’s likely you’ll end up with an absolute favorite shirt, and you’re only gonna take it off to wash it once every week or so. Personal example? My “Deutschland” shirt is my home. I only brought 5 shirts with me, and if I’m being honest I only wear 3 of them with any regularity.
Another reason to pack light is that when you gain 20+ roommates, you gain access to this beautiful concept we call “the community closet”. Are you tired of your pants? Wear somebody else’s! Don’t have a shirt in a specific color? Somebody in that room definitely has one.
Besides, more room in your bag means more room for important things. Like peanut butter! Or rolls of toilet paper, depending on your priorities.
Do your laundry in the morning
More importantly just do your laundry in general. I don’t care how hard it is to hand wash jeans, no one enjoys a smelly neighbor. In environments where you will be hand washing, it’s super helpful to wash your clothing early in the morning (before breakfast if you can!) because they will have all day to dry out, and won’t recollect moisture overnight.
Another tip for hand washing, consider packing a scrub brush and some vinegar! Mold is a major possibility when you live in environments that are semi-outdoors, but that’s nothing a little vinegar and a lot of elbow grease can’t knock out.
Pursue unity through Scriptural truth
This one is less of a tip, and more of a warning. On any mission trip, you’re going to encounter a lot of new things, but especially if you’re going on your first Mission trip, be prepared to change your mind. Know that you will be wrong, but also maintain what you know is right. You’ll meet people whose doctrine isn’t quite the same as yours, and that is perfectly okay! What matters isn’t what we eat or don’t eat, or how we dress, or the way we speak. What matters is that we do things out of faith to serve and glorify God. (See Romans 14 & 15:1-7) Everything else is small change in comparison to the beauty of serving as Christ did.
That being said, hold tightly to the absolute truth of God’s Word. Seek understanding through scripture, not through petty argument. A high value on seeking truth in the pursuit of unity is a difficult value to maintain, but it’s an incredibly important one to have.
Anything can be ministry
You’re going to meet people who will change your life. You’re going to see the Lord at work in new and wonderful ways. You will do things to serve the kingdom that you never could have imagined doing.
Did I think I would get to use my 5 years of German to serve God in Costa Rica? Not in a million years. Did I ever conceive that I might be asked to climb 7 feet up a ladder supported only by my squad mate Alex to hack at a piece of bamboo that fell on a power line with a machete? No way! Would it have ever occurred to me, that standing up to my knees in the ocean trying to catch a fish in my water bottle for a 5 year old I met 20 minutes ago might end up being my ministry for the afternoon? Absolutely not! And yet the Lord has used these and all my other new experiences on the field for good.
Our lives become our ministry every time that we live them to the glory of God.
Open your heart so wide it will never have a chance to close again.
In nine months, six months, two weeks, one week, even, you will become so close with the people around you. And what a blessing it will be to walk in greater knowledge of what it means to be Brothers and Sisters in Christ. Don’t close yourself off from those relationships out of the fear that you will have to leave them. That being said…
Growing up, my mom always taught me to “love the one you’re with”. (Side note: I know the original of that song is performed by Crosby Stills and Nash, but check out the Isley Brothers version. It’s fantastic.) The longer I’m on the field, the more I realize how valuable that lesson was. You’re not going to like everyone you live with or work with. It’s a fact of life, and when you live with AND work with the same people 24/7, that fact becomes 10 times as true. You’re not going to like everyone, it is your choice (and dare I say it, your responsibility) to love the ones you are with. It’s what Christ did. The person whose morning breath you cannot stand is the very same person that Jesus died on a cross for, and if the God of the universe can suffer, die, and be resurrected for us, we can all choose to love each other as his image bearers, and as brothers and sisters in his holy name.
Above all, do it for the Lord
Don’t go on a mission trip for pictures. Don’t go to travel. Don’t go to do the things you want to do. Do not go on a mission trip to “help the poor people of xyz”.
Go because you love the Lord. Go with the knowledge that we, as children of God, are all his image bearers; equal in his sight and equally loved by him. Go to unify the body of Christ. Go to glorify His holy name. Go because we as Christians are called to make disciples AS WE GO.
Go because you love the Lord.
I genuinely hope that everyone who reads this post takes some time to pray about going on a mission trip in the future. Whether it’s your first or your fiftieth, regardless of age or location, take some time to consider if the Lord is asking you to step out of your comfort zone, and into life on the field.
Consider a mission trip to the Dominican Republic. Contact us today to schedule your trip!
2020 has been an interesting year. The actuality of feeling stuck lived within homes throughout the world. We all were required to keep our distance from those we cherish, stand in long lines to shop for needed supplies, pray hard for a supply of toilet paper, work from home, maintain our children’s education from home, worship from home and simply stay at home.
The awareness of our stagnant lives left us with a hard choice to make. Would we let the uncertainty of the future dictate our current mobility or would we use our ‘could be’ idle time as our incentive to carry on? Thankfully, we chose the latter.
2020 is almost over, but we are still here. Our circumstances didn’t give us a license to continue, we simply made that choice each day as we made steps that even sometimes feel microscopic. We just keep moving on. Day by day, step by step, choice by choice, we make progress.
You helped us to keep moving on during this difficult year. You stood by our side each time we needed help to ensure we’d make it. Thank you!
As this year comes to end, will you further your support? 2021 offers new opportunities to spread the love of Jesus in the Dominican Republic.
Your financial help enables us to provide assistance to those in the Dominican Republic by:
1. Offering churches necessary training, retreats, camps, conferences and benevolence. 2. Providing essential help to sexually exploited women and children.
Your donations are extremely helpful and always needed. We are grateful to you for helping us to make the right choice to move forward each day.
I walked through the upstairs of our termite eaten house on Hope Mountain a few days ago. What used to be a place that was full of life now looks like a grave yard. The torn out walls revealed the culprit of the bothersome termite dust. Just enough termite wings lingered on the exposed beams to remind me of the need to take it all down.
I couldn’t stop the flow of tears. This was our home. Good and bad memories flooded my mind at that moment. Remembrances of sheer family bliss and thoughts of outright family brawls engulfed my head.
I remember Jose sipping on a cup of tea during a rainy season and saying, “I love it when it rains here.” That moment is relived in my heart each it rains on the mountain. Jose realized that Caroline would be his wife in our home on the mountain. Recollections of their beginnings saturate that house.
Josue sat on the sofa on one of the days right after we moved to Hope Mountain and said, “This place is cozy.” I feel that scene when I sit on that sofa. He and Moriah spent some time with us after they were married. I’ll never forget the joy it brought my heart to watch the new lovebirds in our house.
Jonathan spent weeks with us on the mountain after Army bootcamp. We watched the news each day as we braced the reality of the government shutdown happening during the time. Each time I watch the news in that house, I think of him. Memorialized events of my granddaughter Noa eating breakfast in her high chair while watching Spanish children videos will never go away. Ashley endured the termite dust for a few weeks in our house while visiting. The discomfort didn’t deter her from wanting to return.
Ruben Jr. taking walks with me down my favorite path is an occasion that keeps a smile on my face. He was always so ready and available to lead the mission teams that volunteered with us. I truly don’t know how we get along without him.
Jojo riding his horse alongside his dad were experiences that make us never want to sell our old horse! Jojo provided a special kind of happiness in our home. His absence has truly left a huge gap within our walls.
Thankfully our girls are still there. Selina travels to the DR so often that we don’t usually have time to miss her. Starr keeps music in the air with her precious voice and Soli ensures we have enough snuggles to get us through each day.
Walking through the house was a heartbroken occasion, but the hope in my heart for the future outweighs the dismal reality we face. We stand on the horizon of a new day as our walls are being torn down. The taking away of the old can only leave room for the new.
Will you help us as we strip down to the bare minimum of our home? We still need $55,000 to rebuild. You can click here to create a campaign to help us raise funds. All you need to do is ask your family and friends to help you raise $1,000.
As we rebuild the structure of our home, we will be creating new memories that will continue to fill our memoir with love.
With a smile on her face she handed me an ice cream pop, but undoubtedly there was so much more I received than the sweet refreshing treat.
Driving through the windy roads, we found ourselves in the town of Moca, approximately 30 minutes outside of Santiago. When we arrived at the home of one of the Vida en Cristo church members, we were immediately greeted with big smiles and genuine hospitality. Sandra lives on the street above the church, and enjoys serving her community through selling ice cream and sharing her joy by simply being the light that she is to those around her. The view from her home was gorgeous, with rolling hills and trees surrounding the property. The reason for our visit was to video an interview, but we left feeling as if we had met a new friend.
Although she was a tad nervous once the cameras were on, she ensured to show us Dominican hospitality and made our visit comfortable and familiar. Passion showed in her eyes as she spoke about the way her church family had meant to her, and the positive influence Pastors Ruben and Vicki had in her and her family’s lives. She, like me, is passionate about worship and getting into the presence of the Lord, and encouraged us on the importance of daily entering a time of worship and adoration. Our time concluded with laughter, dancing, and singing, as she and her daughters blessed and entertained us by singing one of their favorite songs from church.
My husband and I ended our visit in Moca by following Jesus Ramon in our car behind his motor through more winding roads and forests, and arrived at his quaint little house alongside a river. The family was so charming and humble, and served us with smiles and refreshments! Their two sons enjoyed showing off their little birds and talking about the dirt bikers who often rode through the mud behind their house! They introduced us to their neighbors who thanked us for visiting their part of town, and invited us to return again soon!
As we were getting ready to leave, Juan scaled up the tree to pick some avocados for us, something I actually hadn’t seen before in my year of living here! They used what looked like a very long bamboo branch and a makeshift basket to retrieve the fruit. We were a little surprised but honored by their determination to give us this gift. We thoroughly enjoyed the teamwork displayed as the mother held the bamboo while the father would throw the avocado to one child who would then roll it to the other to collect in a bag for us.
The humility both families embodied and love for their pastors and Vida en Cristo community was evident, and we knew that they were showing us a glimpse into the core of who they are. The Dominican people not only have a tremendous gift of hospitality, but are an admirable example of the importance of community and family. My experience in Moca was a sweet reminder of the goodness of people, especially during these times we are living in 2020.
This has been an interesting season of video conferencing, virtual prayer time, live church services online and texting at a substantially immense level! COVID-19 has most definitely altered our way of thinking and running this ministry. Though these changes have come as a result of a pandemic, they’ve made us at HOPE4DR better.
Video conferencing has directly placed us face to face with those we love in a way thats really up close and personal. It’s also caused us to plan our meetings more effectively and to work efficiently. Isn’t it funny how we are now living in the future? I know I’m not the only one who grew up watching the Jetsons.
So how do those in developing countries manage in this new world of what feels like exorbitant digital communication? I must admit that fear gripped me in a huge way at the beginning of this pandemic. Most of the members of our churches don’t have reliable wifi and many don’t have any internet at all!
We stepped out on faith and paid for a zoom subscription anyway. The needed faith was for their ability to participate. Going live on social media would require internet access for them too! Going live on Easter Sunday was a disaster, but God still came through with hundreds more views than expected!
Our members began to get used to the idea of purchasing wifi cards or data for their phones so much that we held our “All Church Day”, an event where al of our churches come together, online. We’ve had countless prayer meetings, seminars, church service each week and a women’s conference all through video conferencing.
We are extremely excited about God’s ability to shine through any type of darkness we face. One of reasons He provided the internet way before this pandemic is because He knew we would be here today. This has been our moment to promote Him, truly like never before!
We’ve realized that we won’t stop unless God stops us.
This season has taught us that if God is for us, absolutely nothing can stop us. We continue to shine His light on the Dominican Republic.
Moses was more than likely in a peaceful place when the bush began to blaze before him. He safely escaped his enemy, found a new life and a new profession. He could now comfortably settle in and forget his memoir.
Though I’d never put myself in his league, I can say that I relate a little bit to what it feels like to be in a comfortable place after facing turmoil. Comfort feels good. Convenience isn’t really overrated when you know what its like to not have water for days. The simple amenity of consistent electricity can cause a soul like mine to question my call.
Warm showers on the daily basis are such a delight! Vehicles that don’t break down each week make me feel secure. The ability to control the temperature in my home is a treat. The luxury of doing laundry at any time of the day because there is consistent electricity is probably what I’ll miss most about my time in the states.
The things that the average American takes for granted is truly a treasure to any foreign missionary on this planet. I mean, the ability to drink clean water right from the faucet is something I can’t even wrap my mind around sometimes!
Ruben went back to the Dominican Republic a few days ago to get things ready for the girls and my return.
The look on his face was daunting as he described the condition of our home, “The main wires to the house are fried,” he tried his best to be optimistic, “but I’ll fix it for you, don’t worry.” We recently spent a few thousand dollars to re wire the entire property, but didn’t change the main wires because they seemed fine. Now, that reality faced him. Thankfully, he fixed it. Let’s pray it stays that way.
We don’t pray typical prayers, we pray for the hot water to work when showering on chilly mornings. We pray for the rain to wait a little while after we wash a load of laundry. We pray for the lights to turn on when we flip the switch, even when the bill is paid! We pray for the wifi to work well just so that we can finish a school assignment or an important video call with potential supporters!
So, its no wonder that we hesitate for a minute each time we have to go back.
I’m not afraid to admit that each trip back brings me to my knees a little more than usual. That’s truly why I keep going back.
Our time spent in the states has been necessary. Our family needed us and we needed them. We needed to gain new supporters and we desperately needed care. We are grateful for the ability to get those needs met, but our countdown to return is upon us.
As I prayerfully face going back, I can’t help but to think about Moses. He could’ve said no to God. He tried, yet God was patient. God is patient with me too.
These are bittersweet days for our family as we face the reality of what’s next, but we are confident that God will show up for us just as He did for Moses. He has never failed.
Will you gather a few people to come on a mission trip with us?
1. 7-10 days with us will change your life.
2. You’ll have the chance to change someone else’s life.
3. It’s easy to raise support for a trip, email us for tips.
We endeavor to continue to make Christ known in the Dominican Republic as we share His love with all we encounter. We purpose to move forward in obedience to God just as Moses did and we are sure that He will show up for us the same.