LUTHERAN EAST
Christ-Centered Education for Life
2018 Dominican Republic Mission Trip

4/18/2018


Ten years ago, I began praying that Lutheran East would get involved in International Mission Trips.  It seemed like a natural fit. We are a Christian school devoted to not only the Gospel, but living the Gospel each day.  Having our students go and serve others around the world while sharing the love of Jesus Christ would allow them to not only experience the world.  It would allow them to live out and speak their faith in ways that they could have a real impact. I did not know how or when, but I was praying that this would become part of our school culture.

In the Spring of 2016, I received word that a member of our Lutheran East community wanted to make this dream of International Missions a reality.  That $10,000 donation kick-started us and led to a year of planning. Eventually, we partnered with Meeting God in Missions - a Missions organization based in Hato Mayor in the Dominican Republic.  We continued fundraising with the goal of taking our Junior class on this trip. We offered it to the entire class free of charge - they only had to get their own passport and vaccinations. Our Spanish teacher, Miriam Uffelman, organized much of the trip.  We had two fantastic volunteer chaperones - JoJo Jesser (Community of Hope LCMS) and Dr. Joe Walker (Abundant Grace Fellowship).

24 students were up to challenge and embarked on a week-long Mission Trip beginning on April 9th.  20 of those students had never even been on a plane before, and now they were headed out of the country!  We flew into Punta Cana and then had a two hour bus ride into the center of the island and the Meeting God in Missions Ministry Center.  We spent our evenings in the Ministry Center and our days out doing work in local sugar cane villages.

Meeting God in Missions focuses on building up villages in the sugar cane fields.  Most of the people there live on less than $5/day - they are among the poorest people in the Western Hemisphere.  MGM works to improve housing conditions, build schools, plant community gardens, build churches, and then train pastors to lead those churches while lifting up the entire community.  They had us working in Village AB-6, about 25 minutes outside of Hato Mayor.

Our students split into two groups each day:  a construction group and a VBS group. Over the course of a week, we moved all of the broken concrete from a damage roof.  We then rehabbed that building. It had 20 rooms, most of which were 8 feet by 12 feet. Each room was home to a family of up to 8 - without power or running water.  We patched, primed, and painted the entire building. We also helped install doors and windows. When we finished, the homes were in much better shape and we had the opportunity to talk about Jesus while doing it!  

While that was going on, we led Vacation Bible School with students in the village and surrounding villages.  We did Bible skits, Memory passages, and personal testimonies with the children. We then played games and spent time building them up.  Their love, affection, and heart for the Gospel were touching to each of us. Spending time with these under-parented children was a highlight of the week mentioned by many of our students as we traveled back.  

Our students worked hard each day, despite the temperature soaring above 90 each day!  During the evenings, we took them on excursions to experience the people and culture of the Dominican Republic.  We worshipped with our Dominican and Haitian brothers and sisters at two different churches. We climbed the mountain overlooking Hato Mayor.  We shopped in the city to get a feel for how the people there lives. Finally, we took them to a beach on the Caribbean to see the natural beauty of the coastline.

Over the course of those 6 days our students experienced more than they often do in entire school years!  They communicated in other languages. They saw incredible poverty - and people who remain joyful through it.  They shared their love for Jesus Christ. They stepped into new cultures. Most importantly, they grew in their relationship with our Lord.  I had more in-depth conversations about faith over the past week than I often have in a school year. God was working in our students while also working through them.

The 2018 Mission Trip was a success on every single level.  I am so thankful to everyone who prayed for us and who contributed to make it happen.  My prayer is that we can raise the support to make this experience possible for our Juniors going forward.  Each class will have the same opportunity to travel, share the love of Christ, and leave changed by the time spent.  Let this be the first of many Mission Trips where Lutheran East works to see the Kingdom of God grow around our world!


In Christ,


Chris Steinmann - Principal, Lutheran High School East

csteinmann@lutheraneast.org
 

 
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