The Journey Begins

The journey begins

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As we embark on this journey, this experience, this Life in Christ acted upon by traveling to another country, where life looks so different than our own, how do we do justice to describe to you at home what this looks like as we experience it?  The culture here is so different, and yet relationship does not loose its luster in the man-made differences.  We will experience this as relational and not as an event or the achievement of tasks.

As we planned for this trip we learn and re-learn and reiterate that this is a mission trip about relationship.  As we experience this next week, we will impart how relationship impacts our Life in Christ and how He uses it to impact the communities that we immerse ourselves in. 

The journey began yesterday, late in the day when our travels began.  Red-eye flights as well as a four-hour time change provided for an interruption of sleep and physical rhythms.  And, prior to our flight one of our team members fell ill and was not able to join us, and now we are twelve.  As our group moves and changes shape and interacts with others it is still all about relationship.  For others that we encounter, they will not only experience our relationship with them, they will also observe and experience our relationship with one another. For the extended family at Hillside we can share how we are just a small part of the larger body and how important it is that we see each other as God sees each of us, and respond in His love in all that we do.

As we arrived here today at the airport in Santo Domingo we were greeted by Tom Yaccino, of Red Del Camino, who has encouraged, led, mentored and loved us over the years in our relationships here the Dominican Republic.  We were also greeted by Hervin Fernandez, who is married to Yissel Fernandez. Hervin joined us to help transport us and all of our luggage to the guest hose.  Yissel has served us previously as a translator, consultant and friend, and is currently on maternity leave with their second child, who was born a couple of months ago.  We are hopeful to be able to see her sometime this week and meet their new daughter.

It is such a joy to reconnect with the faithful, and certainly these are the kinds of joys that the apostle Paul often wrote about in his epistles when he talked about his relationship with the church in far-away places and his love for those people.  

In our final planning meeting last Sunday we learned about the different Spanish words that are used for church.  One of those words is templo, which is translated as temple in English, and in Spanish describes the building.  The second word is Iglesias, which is translated as church, and describes the people. In this culture the Iglesias, the church, or the people meet in the templo, or the temple, or the building. The building is only a building, until the church, or the people come to meet in it.  How richly this describes the Church of Jesus Christ.   

In terms of practical matters, we have watched God work through the process of just getting here. Gavin Peacock was unable to join us because of illness.  In the days leading up to our trip, Ginny Kamanitz encountered cold symptoms which we all prayed about and her symptoms were relieved in time for her to attend.  The Penebaker’s arranged their own travel plans and had their flight delayed due to mechanical difficulties, and yet God provided a way for them to join us just a few hours late.  I, James Fowler has had to deal with work demands and being short staffed.  And in all cases, God has shown up and provided a path for His will and a way for all of us to participate on this great adventure.

And today we are grateful to Tom Yaccino who arranged for lunch today at Provocan at the request, if not insistence of Dan Carl, our fearless leader.(Yes, in our community we have and enjoy tongue-in-cheek moments and teasing one another, which is such a blessing!)We cherish your prayers and hope that our experience will provide you with encouragement in your relationship with God.