2017 Dominican Republic trip
Helping hands unlimited: love your neighbor orphanage
In January 2017 a group of volunteers from Grace Church traveled to the Dominican Republic to assist a local church in reaching out into their community to help those in need of assistance... One might think that we were blessing them but we feel as though we were the ones blessed. Their stories have changed us and we are grateful for the opportunity to serve them as Jesus would. Read their stories and see their faces below and you will see why we were touched by their lives even more than we touched theirs.
"We made new friends, did construction on inner city homes, built relationships with kids at 2 orphanages, taught math and songs in a school and more. You would have enjoyed it...maybe join us next trip?"
Maria was abandoned at birth, her young mother simply walked out of the hospital after she was born. On the fourth day of her life, a supervisor told one of the nurses to take her home and care for her. She did.
When Maria turned 3, the nurse passed away, and Maria was shuttled to a number of different foster homes. When she was nine, she ran away from her foster home and began to live on the streets. She joined a group of homeless kids who slept in a park. Fearing abuse, she dressed up as a boy and started to shine shoes to earn money. With her earnings, she bought food to provide for the other kids.
During the next few years, she was taken in first by a house of prostitutes and then a group of homosexuals. At both places, she was cared for but strictly warned and taught never to get caught up in their life style, for it was not a good life. Eventually she returned to live on the streets.
At fourteen, a woman who knew Maria's mother recognized her and brought them together. They did DNA testing to confirm the match. Maria was curious, relieved and angry to meet her mom. When asked why she was abandoned, her mother said she was young, scared and had no way to care for her. Maria struggled with forgiveness but eventually found peace towards her mother.
Maria, with help from a sponsor, went to school and earned a degree. She developed a passion to help other abandoned children and began to accept orphaned kids into her small home. She did not want any other child to live what she experienced. When local government officials learned of her selfless service to their community and her lack of resources, they provided a large two story multi bedroom house for her at no cost. It had been confiscated from a convicted drug dealer.
Maria now cares for 21 orphans and abandoned children from ages 2 to 13. She provides love, care and a home for them. They call her 'mama.' She named the orphanage "Love your Neighbor" Orphanage because as she says "every abandoned child is your neighbor and they need love. Demonstrating God's love to them is the best thing we can do and what I have been called to do."
You can learn more about Love your Neighbor Orphanage and how you can help by visiting www.helpinghandsunlimited.org
We taught the kids at Luz y Vida Church-School the "Al Son de Cocodrilo" Song using Pastor Tim's balloon props. It's a song about God's creation.
Left to right: Cocodrilo, serpiente, águila, conejo, oso, elefante (crocodile, serpent, eagle, rabbit, bear, elephant).
How many people can you cram into a van?
Demolition, delivery of materials, and construction of Santa's home.
We had fun with approx. 21 excited children (ages 3 and up) from the "Love Your Neighbor Orphanage" that had never been in the ocean or on the beach even though they lived only an hour away. Maria, Emiliano, and Randy Miller in the coach (approx. 44 people in a 24 passenger coach?).
Here we put up a basketball hoop at the Bethesda Girl's Orphanage.
Paint crew at Able's house.
The children at the "Love Your Neighbor Orphanage" were so cute and fun that they had us playing games like we were in grade school
Luz y Vida kids having fun during story time