Five women from Syracuse Baptist church went on a ten day mission trip to the Dominican Republic with 13 other women from churches in the Heartland Baptist Conference.  Cheryl Anderson, Tanya Anderson, Tracy Ensor, Amy Peterson-Schmohr, and myself (Laramie Werner) were very privileged to spend February 5-14 serving together with Impact Lives and these other women.
Through the generous support of our family, friends, and the Syracuse community, the funds for our trip were raised over the last year.  In addition to travel expenses, part of those funds paid for materials of a new home for a family.  
The home was quite different from what we would think of as a new home here, but for them it was life-changing.  We built the 25x25 home for a woman and her three teenage children (with direction and assistance from her father and others).  Though their home (like most in that area) does not have plumbing or electricity, the home is a huge blessing to them.
We each took an extra suitcase filled with medical supplies and medications that were donated to a doctor for use in her office, hospital, and free clinics that she conducts in villages outside of the city.  We are thankful for the Syracuse Rescue squad, who donated expired supplies and medications that can no longer be used in the United States.  These will be life-saving for the people who couldn’t otherwise get them.  
Shipping isn’t quite what it is in America.  Even when something has been ordered, it doesn’t always make it there.  By bringing the supplies with us, they definitely received everything!  The other 13 women each brought an additional suitcase of supplies as well.  It was an overwhelming gift for Dr. Bello and the people in that area of the Dominican Republic.  We spent an afternoon in a village conducting a medical clinic in a church with the doctor.  She saw patients and distributed medications to them.
Those of us who at least had some Spanish classes made attempts at small conversation throughout the week without our translators.  This led to some laughter when one of us (who will remain nameless) was taking down name and chief complaint at the clinic.  Instead of asking, “What’s wrong with you?” she was asking “What’s wrong with me?” and didn’t quite understand the strange looks until our translator figured out what was happening and explained through her giggles.
We had countless moments of blessings, laughter, and learning with each other and with the people.  There were many opportunities to minister to people and learn about their lives throughout the week.  We visited a nursing home and spent time visiting with the residents.  We also led a church service in a small village, taught Sunday School to children, and held two women’s ministry events that helped us all get to know each other better.
We stayed in Hato Mayor, and we went out to villages close-by.  We played with children and visited people in their homes.  As soon as we arrived, small children would run to the church where part of our team would blow bubbles, color with them, do other crafts, and play games.  While they played with children, other teams would go throughout the village to meet people and get to know more about their lives.
Daily living for them is much different than ours from a standpoint of material things, and the people were simply amazing.  They asked us to pray with them and welcomed us into their homes as we walked through the villages.  Their faith was incredible, and it was overwhelming to see the secure trust in the Lord for provision of all their needs.
We were continually reminded of Matthew 6:26 “Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?”  God provides for all of us each and every day in ways that we cannot even imagine- whether it be encouragement, physical provision, or wisdom in tough situations.
For those of us who spent this time in the Dominican Republic, we are so grateful for the chance and forever changed by the experience.  Thank you to those who supported us by helping with our families at home, prayer, financial support, and encouragement; you were just as much a part of this experience.