By Thomas Gregory
Come, behold the works of the Lord; see what desolations he has brought on the earth. He makes wars cease to the end of the earth; he breaks the bow, and shatters the spear; he burns the shields with fire. ‘Be still, and know that I am God! I am exalted among the nations, I am exalted in the earth.’ – Psalm 46:8-10
At the end of each day this week, our group has gathered to share with each other where we saw God that day. It has been our way of sharing a personal moment from our day with the group while praising our good Lord for his gifts to us. As a result of this daily exercise, I have been going through each day looking for God. It’s funny how easy it is to see God when you are looking.
Yesterday, as I was standing on the roof of our water filtration house raking wet concrete into the forms for the concrete roof, I experienced what I can only describe as a “Dominican moment.” As I took a break from raking, I looked down from the roof, where a man and his child were riding down the street on a mule. In that instant, a stray dog ran across the road and a rooster crowed off in the distance. I looked up at the mountains in the distance and saw some smoke coming from one of them. In that moment, a flood of typical Dominican occurrences happened simultaneously.
As I began to look for God in that Dominican moment, I found him in the plume of smoke billowing from the mountain. For whatever reason, it made me think of when God appeared to Moses in the burning bush on Mount Horeb. When God commanded Moses to go to Egypt to set God’s people free from slavery. In that Dominican moment, I felt that God was with me as I worked 15 feet above ground to free the people of Batey Hata de Mana from the perils of unclean water.
As we raked the last bit of concrete into place, we climbed down from the roof to the ground below. I had met a man named Rafael de la Cruz Solano, who is the president of the Rotary Club in the city of Higuey, a few miles from Hata de Mana. A group of Rotarians had met our team on Wednesday to welcome them and give them treats, but Rafael, an architect, came back on Thursday to help work on the site.
Being a Rotarian myself, Rafael and I got to know each other and he asked if we would follow him to Higuey at the end of our day to exchange Rotary Club flags, a tradition when Rotarians meet up in international locations. We happily obliged and loaded up on the yellow school bus and headed to Higuey at the end of our work day to meet up with Rafael.
The route through Higuey was different from the route we had been taking each day. Higuey is a big city, and our route had been on dirt roads through rural areas the entire way. After taking a photo with Rafael presenting me with his Rotary Club’s flag, we loaded the bus and headed for La Romana. At the edge of town, our bus ran out of gas and our driver managed to restart the engine with just enough gas left to allow us to coast into the Shell station on fumes. We literally ran out of gas as we rolled into the service station.
After filling back up, we headed for home, only to realize that if we had not met Rafael, who insisted we come to Higuey, we would have likely been in the middle of nowhere, Dominican Republic when we broke down. Had we made it another 10 miles out of town, we would have been in the same predicament. It was again in that moment where I recognized God’s providence at work in our day and in the lives of everyone on our bus. It was almost as if God had reached out to us in this moment with a simple reminder to be still.