Day 1: 31 Passports

By Thomas Gregory

“Happy are those whose help is the God of Jacob, whose hope is in the Lord their God, who made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them; who keeps faith forever; who executes justice for the oppressed; who gives food to the hungry.” Psalm 146:6-7

31 passports were stamped at Las Americas International Airport in Santo Domingo today. 31 weary travelers loaded a yellow school bus and travelled an hour and a half to La Romana today. And tonight, 31 Christian missionaries gathered after a hot meal to thank God for the opportunity to serve others in the foreign land of the Dominican Republic.

Our trip began at midnight on Friday on a charter bus at First Presbyterian Church in Greenwood, Mississippi. Although almost everyone in our group would confess to not having enough sleep over the past 24 hours, we are all filled with excitement about what is in store for us tomorrow and for the rest of the week.

Our bus ride from Santo Domingo to La Romana was an eye-opener. As we rode through the countryside, along the beaches, past sugarcane fields, and through various towns, the smell of burning trash and burning fields permeated our open-air bus. Poverty was on display as we passed through the outskirts of La Romana.

But once we arrived at the mission house, our home base for the next seven days, all of our concerns were put to rest. The accommodations are simple, but more than adequate. The bunk rooms are clean and the compound is secure. We are sharing our quarters with two other mission groups from Boston, Massachusetts, and Waco, Texas. Everyone we have met has been so nice!

Our meal tonight consisted of fried chicken and a rice-vegetable medley. It proved to be quite delicious and very filling. After dinner, we drank coffee and gathered in the courtyard for a Bible study that gave each participant an opportunity to share their highs and lows from the day, as well as a moment where they saw God at work.

For me, God’s presence has been apparent from the moment we left Greenwood. I saw God on the smiling faces of the people who work at our mission house. I heard God in the prayer of Jack, our Rivers of the World coordinator, as we loaded the bus for La Romana. And I felt God’s spirit during the experiences our group shared with each other tonight.

To our friends and family back at home, thank you for your prayers as we prepare to share God’s love in this place. Above all, rest assured that everyone here is doing well and is excited about the week ahead.