Covenant supports many international missions with our finances, prayer, and personal participation. For example, Covenant has sent members for short-term mission trips to the Dominican Republic with Rivers of the World in 2010, 2011, 2013, and 2015.
Dominican Republic Mission Report 2015
We are writing to give you a brief report on the recent Dominican Republic mission trip and also to say a big THANK YOU for your prayers and support. Covenant Presbyterian congregation has put some feet to our mission statement of making disciples who love God, love others and serve in the world. I claim Romans 8:28 for this trip “for all things work together for good to those who love God and are called according to His purpose.” One thing we can say about Mission Trips is that each has a distinctive nature about them. This one was about diversity of activities and participants, while dealing with robust sicknesses by many and building relationships through working together with Dominicans and loving orphans. We had intergeneration participants from Alabama (Huntsville, Scottsboro, Birmingham), North Carolina, South Carolina and Texas who ranged in age from middle school thru college to active and retired pastors and senior citizens. We had four families from Covenant with 2 or more participants each and four other families with 2 participants each. Nineteen people from Covenant joined with ten others under the leadership of ROW Ministries to accomplish the following.
- Advanced the construction of a church building near Barahona by manually lifting about 1500 cinderblocks together with sand, cement, gravel and water to the third floor of the building using our backs and a rope/pulley system. The framework of the third story was basically completed by our team in one week with the pouring of the concrete beams on the third floor to support the roof structure.
- Our medical team members helped in the medical clinic at Batay #7 (best described as immigrant camp) by seeing patients and helping the clinic staff organize a vast amount of complimentary drugs.
- Our team poured concrete floors in several of the crudely built one room homes in Batay #7 by making cement mixture in the middle of the road and hand carrying it into the house.
- On Wednesday night, we celebrated Christmas with the orphanage. Central Presbyterian in Huntsville had shipped Christmas gifts to the children before Christmas but they somehow got lost in shipping. They arrived when we were there so we had a Christmas banquet outside feeding everyone with a scrumpous (different from rice and beans) buffet and presented each boy with his Christmas wish gift. A lot of fun and some very, very happy boys.
- Some of our team participated in teaching at the Pastor Training Institute developed by ROW to train pastors in the Dominican Republic. A graduation ceremony was held Friday night before we left for those who have had completed there coursework over the last several years.
- Perhaps most important of all, we continued to renew and build relationships with the children in the orphanage. We repaired their basketball goal so we could play basketball again which made the boys happy.
We are amazed when we review what was accomplished in a week’s time by a ragtag band of believers and faithful supporters like you. The labor was physical and the climate was tropical. The supplies for construction tasks consisted of sand, gravel, concrete mix, cinderblocks and water (which had to carried in buckets) and the only tools were shovels, trowels, hammers, a level, string and several buckets to carry mortar (i.e. no mixing machinery; mixed cement on the floor or ground using eyeball mixtures).
Our prayer for the team was to make a difference and we think we did. Somehow, God provided and sustained all of us to do His will. The mission team returned home safely, no worse for the wear and better off spiritually.
The Dominican Republic is a beautiful country with a population of people who probably know more about what is important in life than we do. When all you have is basically each other, then you value each other more. The openness and friendliness of the people we worked with and with those we observed re-affirmed the value of relationships in our lives. It is truly refreshing to serve with like minded people who within days seem like lifelong friends. We appreciate our relationship with you and pray God’s blessings for you. We also recommend more intergeneration mission trips in the future.
Gratefully in Christ,
Mission Team; Chris Soto, Lora Keiser, Will Keiser, Jon Haden Keiser, Gillian Godard, Alex Godard, Brian Godard, Suzanne Godard, Parker Rowley, Ray Rowley, Charlotte Miller, Tom Coon, Tripp Ford, Abbie Simms, Jennifer Simms, Jesse Simms, Salley Walker, Mila Shackleford, Stuart Turner
Mission trip to Amazon Rain Forest of Peru
by Mila Shackleford
Imagine living in a part of the world that has no electricity (therefore no appliances), indoor plumbing, grocery or department stores, etc. The only way that some of these things are available is if one has the money to purchase solar power, a generator (and the gas to run it). The river and the jungle are their resources.
I was blessed to go on this missionary trip for 4 weeks where I got to experience and witness the above and many more challenges with which the Peruvians of the Jungle live.
God truly led me to this trip and prepared me along the road of preparation; but mainly He continually spoke to me the words, “Blind faith, Mila.” I can now understand why He did so, as those words came to in my mind as I went through the many challenges that I got to go through while there. The challenges made the blessing of the necessity to go to the Holy Spirit for leading and leaning on; because I did not have a clue!
I did not know that I would be the lone missionary in the Jungle, nor that I would be the lone American after the first week of the four I spent there. I am not complaining, as it was His will that I grew closer to Him as each challenge came and for that I am truly grateful.
While there I got to go via kayak to the 3 nearby villages and give the things that God had me take: 120 Spanish NT Bibles, candy, knitted Jesus caps, school supplies, children’s books, some toys and knick knacks, costume jewelry (rings, braided, bracelets, and 150 marble cross necklaces), first aid supplies for the 3 schools (thermometers, band aids, wound cream), a hand crank pencil sharpener, and the list goes on.
I do speak some Spanish and was able to communicate whether by voice or with my hands. I had the necessary words to explain what Jesus was to me, how they could learn of his love and that they could take their challenges to him. Please join me in praying that those who received Bibles will be drawn to them and that they will know to ask God how to comprehend them and then go and share the good news with the others.
I did have problems with the diet, as it changed after the other Americans left. So, after almost three weeks I went into the kitchen and told the cook I could only eat oatmeal, rice, beans and pasta, and did so for the remaining 10 days of my stay. Praise God because I was tired of spending so much time aching in my stomach and going to the bathroom. I got lice after the first week I was there and was quite appalled and angry at first; as I could do nothing about it until I returned home. My first response was that I will not go near the children or homes; but got over it soon and softened to my tasks at hand. I got stung by a scorpion on my foot and praise God that he healed me right away, as the next morning all traces of the repercussions were nil. It was hot, rained a lot and the mosquitoes were very prevalent during my stay.
The Peruvians are dark in color, eyes, skin and hair and the tallest of them (the men) were at least a foot shorter than me. The men were challenged in that women don’t do manual labor such as I did in helping them to tear down a large building (tambo) and building the free clinic. I continued to help the men, but the differences led me to concentrate more so on doing missionary work in other areas. The Holy Spirit gave me many ideas and tasks to do. So, I got in the kayak and utilized the supplies already at the site to do things such as: attending classes and interacting with the students and teacher, creating ABC banners in Spanish for each school, making a swing set and showing the children how it is used, creating scripture plaques for the church (which looked like a large manger scene), made about 25 toy boats and rafts, 30 one foot crosses and 200 small crosses for necklaces and gave them away.
Sitting here typing this report takes me through many emotions. The Spirit within touched me in many ways during my stay and there is so much I could share about the experience. I got to grow up in many ways; and for that I am truly grateful now; NOW being the key word!
I want to thank those of you who prayed for me; as when it got really tough I could feel the flow of prayers and the comfort of His love and presence. And regardless of all of the physical challenges I came back safely.
The most challenging experience above all was that I said “Yo Te quiero” and “Jesus Te quiero tu mas,” to all of the people that i encountered throughout the journey….and got either no response, giggles, or quizzical looks. Those words mean I Love you, and Jesus loves you much. But, the last day of my stay two canoes full of children from ages 4-12 came to visit with me and to say goodbye. We had a great afternoon together playing. At nightfall i watched the children row away and for the last time I shouted, “I love you” and I was so touched when I heard them say “Te quiro Tia Mila” which means I love you Aunt Mila.
The trip was all it was supposed to be and for that I truly am grateful.
Learn more about Covenant’s international outreach:
George and Martha Mixon, Africa
Tom and Vicki Gilliam, Ireland
Lovemore House, Africa
Namumu Orphanage, Africa