Judie Hickey, guest blogger
How did this happen? In this month of Valentines and love, how did a beautiful, impoverished Caribbean island country grab part of my heart? How did I become a partner with the ministries and people of the Dominican Republic?
The first visit - It began innocently enough. Back in the late 1990s, my husband and I visited the Dominican Republic on the island of Hispaniola to see our teacher daughter and to witness the work in which she was involved. Our visit didn’t take us to the beautiful tourist areas on the coast; instead, we got to experience a week of life in the town of Santiago. Little did we know that as the years went by the Dominican Republic would become more and more a part of our lives.
The School – In 2004, out of direction from the Lord and love for the people, a friend of our daughter began a mission program in some of the Dominican villages. (This program/organization was named Makarios which means “blessed” in ancient Greek.) She wanted to teach and demonstrate God’s love. Seeing a need for classroom education, nourishment, and health programs for the children of the country, the Makarios program expanded to a rudimentary school, which opened in 2007. When sponsorship funds were required for each child, the need reached our hearts and we partnered with Makarios to sponsor a precious little student. Surely the partnering would end here.
But no--- During several more visits to this island, the people of the DR have touched my heart. Despite possessing very little in earthly goods, Dominicans have reached out with friendliness. During our most recent stay on the island, we visited a small mountain village for a Christmas worship service. Even though we didn’t know the language, we found the service full of such joy, the music spirited, and the people ever so friendly. Following the service the people of this village shared heaping plates full of rice, beans and chicken with us. Such generosity, despite great poverty.
The children- Visiting the children in the towns or in the school makes one realize how precious the kiddos are. Imagine sitting alongside them in their classrooms, as I did, and seeing their proud faces as they read, sing, speak, and play. Their bright eyes sparkle; their hands reach out in affection; their smiles are infectious. Yes, there goes a little more of my heart.
Our family – In 2013, we saw our daughter, son-in-law, and three little grandchildren leave the U.S. to become missionaries in the Dominican Republic. It was with both joy and sadness to have them leave to serve the Lord in the Makarios ministry. Anyone who is a grandparent knows that part of his/her heart is with the grandkids. This family-connection touched us to be an even bigger partner in the Makarios ministry.
The word “partner” can be used as a noun or a verb. Let me use it in both ways. Makarios is a partner to us as we partner with the organization in student sponsorships, general giving, missionary support, and, of course, prayer. The portion of my heart that is part of the Dominican Republic is rejoicing in the Makarios partnership.
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