After an early breakfast we drove out highway 1 with some of the missionaries to fill in some potholes in a rural village. Not potholes like we have in Pittsburgh, mind you, these are some real potholes, some almost a foot deep and several feet wide. We used close to a billion tons of sand to fill in the holes (though it was probably closer to two tons) and you can see how excited I was about it! (I was actually very excited about it. I am also a huge ham when people try and take photos of me).
The dump truck that was supposed to deliver the billion pounds of sand was almost an hour late so Marvin, myself, Shaq, John, Andrew and Rick spent some time shuttling our pickup truck between the quarry where the sand was kept. As we rode back to the rode with a bed full of half a million pounds of sand, we saw two real, live bulls hanging out along the side of the road. Bull A was as big as the truck and Bull B was bigger (I seriously wish this was hyperbole). We city slickers wanted NO part of the bulls so we were fine when Rick drove the truck past them. We were less fine when he stopped 15 yards after we past them, and even LESS fine when he started backing the truck up towards the bulls! Bull B started staring us down real unfriendly like and since we were riding on the back of the truck we had nowhere to hide from its wrathful gaze. I think the bull was mostly curious about why such small humans would inch toward it and it seemed to be heading towards aggressive when Rick finally got it together and started driving off. When we got back to the road I changed my shorts and got back to work. The nightmares I have remain to be seen though.
One of my favorite prayers ask God to bless us by being his hands and feet in the world. Quite literally, hands and feet. And, as far as I can tell, we were the only people who would ever have the crazy idea to spend our Tuesday morning filling in about a half mile worth of potholes for people we didn’t know and could hardly communicate with. That is holy work right there. Not for a second did I think this was degrading or beneath me. It felt like our sweat and effort were prayers and intercessions for the people who live along the road and who travel on it every day. At least, I sure hope they were.
It was inspiring to see some folks from the community come along side us and help us without bidding. People were thanking us, helping to push water out of the potholes so we could fill them, helping even out the sand and helping us shovel the sand from the piles into the pot holes. It certainly was not glamorous work, nor was it easy or ‘fun’ but it was certainly gratifying. And it was certainly the Lord’s work as well. I really did enjoy myself and loved spending time with the team, the missionaries, and the community. There was a deep sense of pride in our work; not the sinful kind mind you, but the kind that comes after a job well done. This road will be so much easier and safer to travel on and I know that it will be a huge blessing for the community. I certainly hope some of the sweat equity we put in today will be stepping stones for someone on the way to Christ.
After lunch and several sandwiches each, we went to play some baseball with the kids again. Today was a different group of kids though. These kids were older and had a bit of an attitude. They weren’t bad kids, but they were pre-teens and that means that they do like their fun so it was a bit tougher today. All of our biceps were so huge from all the dirt we shoveled that it was hard to throw a ball. There was also the issue of the outfield being dug up while we were playing! It got so bad and the machine doing the ploughing got so close to the infield that we had to switch fields to an abandoned soccer field down the block a ways. Here is where things got a bit testy: one team was made of of all the goobers and the kids who play with daisies while ground balls go between there legs. The other team was all of the older kids who had both a lot of skill and a lot of attitude. Team Goober started to horse around a little bit and Team Pre-Teen got cocky and carried away. Eventually Team Pre-Teen got so far ahead that Team Goober started a wrestling match on the sidelines that rolled onto the field. Unfortunately the rain ended the game before we had the chance to share a testimony with the kids, and we broke for dinner.
After dinner we went to a CMA Church. I know that the whole team has both different attention spans and different levels of Spanish comprehension (mine is hovering right around 0) but I do know that we were all awed the by the presence of the Holy Spirit in the humble chapel. The worship was passionate, heartfelt, and beautiful and led several of the team to tears. Even though I couldn’t understand hardly any of the words it was beautiful to be in a setting where I knew that everyone was desperately praising God and seeking the Spirit as best they could. The Spirit certainly met me tonight and spoke some important truths into my life. It is important for me to remember that words only go so far and that it is faith in grace that Jesus offers me every day that is important. Words are only a vehicle to communicate God’s truth and it is so easy for me to pervert that vehicle instead of speaking truth into someones life. I must carefully watch my words.
After worship we prayed with the person sitting next to us, and then as small groups. My group prayed for a sister CMA church plant on the other side of Santiago and for a missions trip the church we attended was taking to Hati. This struck me as particularly important because there is a great deal of tension between the D.R. and Hati and I prayed that God’s peace and not humans strife would behind and before the mission trip. I ask that you pray for the mission of peace that this church undertakes and ask for God’s healing and reconciliation on our brothers and sisters in the D.R. and Hati. Maybe you just pray tonight. But even that is important and, God willing, enough to bring peace.
After the prayers came the sermon which I am sorry to say that I understood nothing of. It was about the Great Commission, and the processes and challenges that come from carrying it out (as far as I could tell). After church we went for tacos…the best tacos that I have ever had, and then I came home to write this blog post for you! Pray for continued energy, curiosity, and ears and hearts to listen for the whispers of the Holy Spirit as we continue to serve our Lord in the Dominican Republic!