Dr. Cedeno is our really good friend in the DR. He has a great heart for his community. He’s a natural community leader. Today Jake Bihari and I were invited by Dr. Cedeno to the dedication of the regional rehabilitation center. The community raised all the money needed to create a rehab center (something so common for us in the US). Higuey did not have a place for people to recover from accidents, strokes, and the always present motorcycle accidents, etc. They now do. Long story short, during his speech he said all the politically correct things – named every dignitary, graciously thanked the people for their support (he spearheaded the fund raising telethon). At the end of his written remarks, he looked out at us and gave 3 minutes of impromptu remarks about the importance of taking care of the poor. “There are many poor in our area. This center (we just built) is important, but we need to create others now for the poor in our region.” I must admit I was shocked….surprised…overwhelmed. Dr. Cedeno has come to really enjoy the work we do together for the poor in his community. We often talk about immigration, solutions to the water problems, and mostly about how we take care of the poor in his country.
While 300 of the leaders of the community gathered together for the dedication and shared in a light lunch, Dr. Cedeno took to his truck to catch up with Jake and I to make sure we had what we needed to continue our work for the poor in his community. While we were talking, a man came up to tell him “how wonderful the community is that we are building….it’s a model for his country.” Dr. Cedeno simply turned to us to share the good thoughts. The man was the President of the National Architecture Society.
There are many parts to our mission efforts in the DR. We are working to build homes (we moved another family in today). We are working to strengthen family values through the life of the Church. We are striving to create a mission experience that is transformative to the mission team. Mostly, we are trying to create a better world through awareness, advocacy, and action.
Tonight I sat and listened to the mission team tell stories about how this experience has changed them…touched their hearts….stirred a deeper sense of gratitude. Many don’t want to come home because they have found great life and joy in serving those most in need. In the weeks to come. they will share stories with their family, friends and the MP community. You can already see many pictures and reflections on facebook.
The moral of these reflections from the day is pretty simple and sincere – together we are making a real difference in forming the minds and hearts of our mission team, community leaders, and those living in our communities. What we are doing has the power to be sustainable because today Dr. Cedeno, good man and civic leader, chose to make sure we were present and more importantly, chose to talk about the needs of the poor. It’s sustainable because the hearts of our mission team were touched and impacted by their care for the poor. You could see and feel the presence of Christ in the way they painted homes, carried children, taught lessons of faith, and enjoy the company of new friends.
While, in many ways, we are modeling a better way for this community, we are simply following the model of Jesus Christ – what He did, how He lived, what He taught. It’s the vision of God’s kingdom.
All of this happens because of the open hands and hearts of our mission team. All this happens by God’s grace. All this happens mostly because of your care, prayers and support.
The plane heads home on Friday morning. It’s been a great experience!
Somos el Cuerpo de Cristo!
Thanks to all.