Mission Accomplished

I just realized that it has been 2 weeks since my last post! Sorry about that, dear readers, but I was on a mission- literally. When I told people I was headed to the Dominican Republic for a quick vacation, their typical response was “Oh, lucky you, the Dominican is so beautiful!” The scenery was indeed, quite breathtaking, as this is a land of great beauty,

scenic vista

but also a land of devastating poverty,

Store front Puerto Plata

that which we experienced first hand during our week-long stay. Coach and I, through the Mustard Seed Communities, accompanied sixteen high school-aged boys from the north shore of Boston, to the Dominican Republic to work at an orphanage for developmentally challenged children: Hogar Immanuel in Sosua, just outside of Puerto Plata.

Mustard Seed        fairy

Anyone who is concerned about the youth of America need to look no further than these extraordinary young men to be reassured that the future of our country will be in good hands. These boys were funny, smart, energetic, engaging and very eager to pitch in to do whatever task awaited them, whether it was feeding the helpless, wheelchair-bound children

feeding Estevan

or cleaning and painting the village playground.

boys painting

Even the local villagers pitched in! (of course, it was rather difficult to explain, in Spanish, why they shouldn’t get oil paint on their hands!!! What a mess!!

locals painting                            painting the playground

While some of their classmates were hitting the slopes in the mountains or sunning themselves on some sunny island during their February vacation, these young men willingly gave up their precious time to volunteer for a cause they believed in. Through Mustard Seed, they were able to see first hand how the impoverished side-away from the fancy restaurants and resorts- of the Dominican operates, and how desperate the need for help is on a daily basis.

Mustard Seed LogoThe Mustard Seed Communities organization was founded in 1978 in Jamaica to service abandoned orphans, most of whom were either ill with HIV/AIDS or severely physically and mentally challenged. From their website: “Mustard Seed Communities has focused on abandoned children with disabilities for several reasons, the most obvious being that these children are the most defenseless in any community. Mustard Seed Communities provides care and shelter for children with severe disabilities”.

Hogar children

The Mustard Seed orphanage Hogar Immanuel in Sosua itself is quite bright and cheerful, and the twenty children that reside there are lovingly cared for by an amazing staff who spend their days feeding, dressing, bathing and entertaining them. The majority of the work is back-breaking, lifting heavy children in and out of bunks and wheelchairs, doing mountains of continuous laundry and preparing food in giant pots three times daily.

laundry

This is the work of angels, and the workers- primarily women- do it all with smiles on their faces and hugs all around. They use whatever available resources they have to create a warm and welcoming environment for the children and volunteers alike.

rug and basketball                               striped rug

These beautiful rugs were created from the leftover plastic diaper packaging- what a great idea! Brilliantly colored, sturdy and easily cleaned with a hose or sponge, they were perfect for blocking the sun, as well as using for mats on the floor.  The children of the village surrounding the orphanage-mainly in bare feet and hand-me-down ragged clothing-come from little.

village laundry

Some not privileged enough to even attend elementary school,  and living in the open shacks with barbed wire fences they called home, they were unfailingly happy and so excited to meet and play with our boys.

bball boys

One of the most dire areas we visited was Christ in the Garbage Ministries, located just a few short miles from the orphanage.

Christ in the Garbage

Here, local Haitian immigrants spend their days in the blazing hot sun picking rotting food, discarded clothing and anything recyclable to sustain themselves and their families. The sight of young men, old women and even some children dressed in rags walking over mountains of fly-infested garbage and filth was overwhelming, to say the least. Through the Mustard Seed Ministry, we spent one afternoon packing up a hundred food packages, then distributing them to these poorest of the poor.

Food Packages

A small contribution, indeed, to these starving and desperate people, but Mustard Seed continues to provide for them, and has set up a school for the local children as well.  To learn more about Mustard Seed, and possible ways to help and contribute to their extraordinary programs, click here        Mustard Seed Logo

So, that’s where I was on my winter vacation.

Palm tree sunset

Restful and relaxing? Not. Amazing, enlightening and incredibly rewarding? Absolutely! Was I happy to return home to clean, hot, running water, a microwave oven and snow? You bet! The greatest lesson I learned this week? Don’t sweat the small stuff, and don’t take anything for granted- we have so much more than so many. Have a sunny Sunday everyone, no matter where on earth you are! Susan

Comments

  1. Great post and beautiful pictures. http://www.facebook.com/onelovenyc will be returning this summer to MSC Jamaica (my third trip there, my friends have gone 6-7 times). If anyone is in the NYC metro area, looking to grow our area network. redfiredesire@yahoo.com

    Like

  2. Claire Schmieler says:

    thank you for this beautiful travelogue …I had a similar experience with MSC in Kingston Jamaica last June and will never forget the beauty and joy of the care providers who have very little, yet were thanking God daily for our presence…

    Like

  3. Lacey Segal says:

    I went on this same trip about 2 years ago. Is Johnny still at the orphanage? He’s about 14 now, love him so much.

    Like

  4. Joan BeJune says:

    Thank you for sharing this with us.
    We are very blessed.

    Like

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