After nearly 8 days straight in the barrio, I was able to leave on my first day off which are on Thursdays. However… a few days before I was told there was a Dominican/Catholic holiday on Thursday and Friday and many girls were going to be going home and in addition I got the weekend off as well since I wasn't going to be needed. I was also invited to go to the beach with Joy (my boss) and her family for the day on Friday. I couldn't believe at the end of my first week and a half in the DR I was already able to go to the coast that is about two hours away from where I am living!!
The other New Hope Intern that is currently teaching/discipling the girls is Keren. Keren and I are a year apart in age. She is from Colombia and has been involved in missions for years now primarily through YWAM and One Missions Society. Before the weekend we had shared a few times together, one including a 20 minute walk in the pouring rain after we had gone for ice cream one evening. One Americana and another Columbiana under the same pink raincoat walking down street after street in the barrio… what a sight it was.
When leaving the barrio I braced myself for the contrasts that you are immediately met with once you leave the and engage in a totally different lifestyle and environment. I can sometimes be hard to swallow the comforts I get to enjoy with Joy and her family in a city 40 minutes from my home with the girls because of the adaptation I have to go through in my coming and going... but the Lord has stilled my heart and I have been able to receive those times of comfort and blessing with thanksgiving because they are gifts directly from His hands.
My time spent with those I am serving alongside in a place as beautiful as the Caribbean coast was unreal, and not to mention Keren and I ended up talking for at least 72 hours straight (we have witnesses)…. There are many times I meet individuals that I share a sisterhood with and feel as though the Lord knit our hearts together before we ever met and Keren is one of those and more. I don’t know if we could have more in common… Communications, music, photography, creativity, children, ministry, missions…the list goes on and on. There were so many times in our multiple-hour conversations that I couldn’t help but pause in my heart and thank the Lord for such a sister as the one before me.
My time with Joy was also so sweet and filling as well. Just sharing time with her and feeling so comfortable to enter in with her family and in her home proves how beautiful the Lord’s orchestration of our ministry together is. As some of you may know, Joy is the founder of New Hope, the ministry I am serving in and also happened to be my second and third grade teacher WAY back in the day at good old Willamette Primary School. Just a year or two after Joy was my teacher, she moved to the Dominican Republic and began serving there as a teacher/missionary in the very same barrio New Hope is in today.
There are many times I return back to my moments in her classroom because truth be told I so clearly remember many of them! She left an impact to say the least, and I believe the Lord truly was revealing himself to me through her during those precious years. She was one of the first lover’s of Jesus that I had ever met. I think that has something to do with it…
As we were sitting there in her kitchen, talking and eating and cooking, Joy walked into the laundry room and let out something along the lines of, “oh my gosh, Corinne.” I wasn’t quite sure what she had just seen or if something had happened, but in moments she was walking toward me with an empty clear storage box, something you could store markers or school supplies in.
As she brought it closer to me, she was pointing at a label sticker on the front. It had been worn out from years of use, but you could clearly see that the sticker read, “Corinne.”
We both looked at each other and laughed.
Of course, Lord...
There had been a time where there was a drive/fundraiser to donate old school supplies for the ministry that Joy was involved in in the Dominican Republic and my family had chosen to donate mine. Out of all the things that could have made it back into Joy’s home, this box with my name on it still remains.
So, as you can see, continually the Lord is showing me this is where He has brought me.
But... Even still... There are many moments when I look at myself and wonder how a foreign white girl from Portland, Oregon could ever make an impact on these little girls from the barrio who have the hardest stories I have ever heard of, living in a place that a missionary I recently met calls, “Sodom and Gomorrah” and who’s examples outside of these walls are prostitutes, absent/abusive Fathers, cheating “husbands”, and generations of infidelity and incest. It is a harsh reality and can be easy to forget when girls are acting their worst… You want to blame them and become angry and doubtful but I have to remind myself of the hold that the enemy has had on this place and these families for far too long.
So, in these times… I come back to those moments… the many moments the Lord gives me with these girls that prove His faithfulness and the calling that He has on my life in this time and I am hit and reminded that my God is surely at work.
During my time off I got the chance to meet at one of the other missionary’s house in a city away from the barrio where I live who works with the girls for a dinner sharing time with other interns/individuals involved with the New Hope Girls. There is a couple here whom I recently met who are fiercely praying and seeking the Lord to reveal to them persons of peace, individuals who will open their door to us, who are softened and ready to receive Jesus as Lord and who will begin a chain effect on this community of transformation. They continue to meet with different individuals around the city, and are following up right now with a prostitute that recently accepted Christ. They have a heart for evangelism and church planting and I am so inspired by their presence.
As we all sat around the table sharing a meal together, around seven of us in total, I couldn’t help but think of the early church by the way we functioned there together that afternoon. We were sharing testimonies, digesting theology, inspiring one another and encouraging in the calls the Lord has placed on all of our lives. We shared vision, different signs and confirmations the Lord has already shown us and also expressed weaknesses and areas of desperate reconciliation/transformation. We kept saying, “okay it’s time to pray” but then another passion, testimony, or word would come forth and we couldn’t help but dig deeper and hear one anothers hearts.
I just kept thinking…
Wow, I am really part of something.
I couldn’t have felt more at home, more “in place”. When we prayed together my sweet friend Keren began spontaneously singing, “Mighty to Save” in Spanish, and we all joined together proclaiming this truth over the broken place we serve/live in. I couldn’t help but praise God because this was the very song that I loved and sang countless times when I first got saved when I was 11 years old. During our prayer time our hearts continued to grow in agreement with one another as we ushered in the truth that the Holy Spirit was putting in our hearts and the encouragement that we had been filled with during our time together that afternoon.
After we finished praying we packed ourselves into one car and began driving to the barrio as if we had just geared up for battle. I felt the power of the Holy Spirit and one of my fellow missionaries and I imagined that our time we had just shared was like the ones Paul and Timothy used to when they were encouraging one another and spuring one another on in the expansion of the gospel.
It is incredible you we feel like we are part of something. When the passions you possess align with those of others and we can share in a purpose that is far greater than we can even imagine.
We realize that many of our prayers would seem impossible to most:
The breaking of generational sin….
The reconciliation of broken and forsaken families…
The restoration of an entire barrio that is marked by total rebellion and visible brokenness that translates into deep and rooted wounds and spiritual forces for evil…
It’s quite a sight to see but that’s when I remember that this wasn’t even our idea in the first place…
It was ALWAYS His… and for this I know He will never leave the plans and call that He has given us. Pray for this team, all the individuals involved pouring into these girls and this barrio because the war is waging and Satan is willing to take anyone that will go with him.