The organization Project Mañana with whom AWANA Lifeline partnered on this
ministry trip works out of the northern Dominican city of Santiago. So we traveled about two-and-a-half hours north to their headquarters. Being that this was our first traveling outside of the capital (Santo Domingo), we had the opportunity now to see more of the nature of the Dominican Republic with its palms, low ranges of mountains, and flamboyán trees. Beautiful countryside.
Upon arriving in Santiago--the second largest city in the country (with 551,000 inhabitants), we arrived at the Project Mañana headquarters and guest house. All the "girls" (about 11 of us) were upstairs in three rooms of bunkbeds, and all the "boys" downstairs. With tiled flooring, fans strategically placed throughout, two baths and a kitchen on each floor, the facilities were sufficient, simple, and super clean. No bugs except maybe two moths at nighttime.
Our lunch included rice and beans and chicken, with fruit as well. (I had papaya almost every day I was in the country--heavenly blessing.) After a siesta, we ventured out with our leader Brian Berman to survey the various ministry sites that Project Mañana hosts (for specific details about each ministry, visit http://projectmanana.org/projects.php).
Concentrated in a high-risk, high-poverty neighborhood at the perimeter of the city, the ministry efforts include a clean-water project, a nutrition project, a school for preK-fifth grade, a Bible program for young girls and teen girls, and a church plant. Each of these ministries overlaps the others and all focus on this area of San Pablo, and area inhabited by 330 families. We were able to tour the school and see the nutrition center (they feed 220 children five days a week). Brian also explained the clean water project and explained how they controlled the usage of each of these programs and tied them into the gospel message.
As he mentioned, if all that Project Mañana does is educate and feed children, all they will have as a result are a lot of smart, clean children on their way to hell. The goal is to bring them to the Lord.
Lastly, on Sunday we enjoyed (and participated in somewhat) a church service in the neighborhood. Before the service we played with the young girls who came early, and I even had one of them do up my hair. :) The pastor's wife and daughter sang a style of praise choruses that I had never before heard in Latin America--less fluctuation in melody, loud, pronounced, and energetic--almost as if they were pushing that praise straight to the ears of God. An older gentleman and young boy accompanied them on the guiro and tambor, and a connection to traditional African roots was evident.
In turn, four of our ladies (Marina, Marian, Cyndi, and myself) sang a few verses of "Amazing Grace" and invited all who knew the song to sing along. Then one of the pastors in our group, Kevin Hearne, gave the message from 1 Corinthians 2 about the love that constrains us to share the gospel, no matter the culture or location.
The day filled us with the knowledge of need in another corner of our world. Lasting impressions of how supporting ministries around the world is part of God's church working through love to bring people to Him.