5th April 2019
I remember sitting here in the boardroom of the British Union Conference office in Watford, waiting for the Teens, Pathfinder and Youth Advisory to start and as the regional directors and I were catching up with each other, we spoke about the terrible hurricane that had recently hit the Caribbean. Pastor Juan Carlos Patrick, Teens & Chaplaincy Director at the South England Conference mentioned how, for some time, he had not been able to contact or locate some of his family members. We sympathised with him, of course, but there was a general feeling of wanting to do more. And this was the birth of the British Union Conference (BUC) mission trip to the Dominican Republic (DR). After starting the meeting with prayer, it occurred to us that this was an additional point which should be added to the agenda, one which was more important perhaps than any of the others. Someone suggested that we could go to the DR and help Pastor Juan and the people living on that storm-damaged island.
Very quickly we started to develop strategies for fundraising, recruiting people, and how best to help once we arrived. Pastor Juan managed to get in touch with the Dominican Conference and this year in 2019 we worked with the Dominican Union to establish how and where we could help the most. They were so nice to us and provided great accommodation and food, and they also assisted with our paperwork by sending a list of the volunteers to the local immigration office for speedier processing. This meant that when we arrived at the airport in Santo Domingo, most of us received a stamp in our passport and were waved through with no delays.
During the February 2018 project we worked on five houses and it was such a blessing for us to see that they had been completed during the 12 months between our visits. In February 2019 we worked on three houses being a mixture of wood and brick. Some had been destroyed by the wind during the storms, and others had been damaged by fallen trees and debris. The daily routine consisted of mainly 4 tasks: 1) carrying bricks, 2) mixing cement, 3) drinking a lot of water, and 4) having as much fun as we could with each other. Some of the parts of the work were more difficult than others and they were bestowed with code words and nicknames which you will only be able to discover for yourselves if you join the project next year!